Posts Tagged ‘political historian’














Review, “To Make Men Free,” Washington Post, October 3, 2014

Here’s a good rule of thumb for studying the history of American political parties: Forget what you know about the present. A century ago, Republicans were likely to be the country’s big-government progressives, its advocates of civil rights and social reform. Democrats were often small-government conservatives, especially in the one-party stronghold of the Solid South. The electoral map looked radically different, with a swath of blue below the Mason-Dixon line and a block of red in the Northeast. Just about the only things that have stayed the same are the party names: Democrat vs. Republican, locked in eternal electoral combat. In “To Make Men Free,” Boston College historian Heather Cox Richardson sets out to tell half of the story about how we got from there to here. “The journey,” she notes dryly, “has not been straightforward.” Read the rest....

“Unanswered Questions about Watergate,” Slate, April 22, 2013

The title of Robert Redford’s new documentary, which aired on the Discovery Channel last night, is All the President’s Men Revisited. At times, it seems more like All the President’s Men Repeated. Though created to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Watergate, the first half of the film contains little that could not be found in Alan J. Pakula’s 1976 political thriller starring Redford and Dustin Hoffman. You know the story: A pair of scrappy young reporters named Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein stick to their guns when nobody else will, and their reporting helps to bring down a president. This is, to be sure, a terrific story. No matter how many times you’ve heard it before, there is something gripping about watching Nixon’s slow, painful descent into national disgrace. Read the rest....


“Greater Expectations,” New York Times Book Review, September 18, 2011

We might as well call it: The American left is dead. Faced with the greatest crisis of capitalism in almost a century, the left has mounted no effective mass protests, inspired no significant uprisings, spawned no major institutions or policy revolutions. In Wisconsin, labor unions lost their greatest public battle since Ronald Reagan’s showdown with air traffic controllers. In the midterm elections, the Tea Party, not the left, took advantage of economic discontent to upend the status quo. Today, the dream of socialism exists mostly as a far-right phantom, to be conjured up when Democrats dare to imply that Medicare or Social Security might serve the public good. Read the rest....

“American Macho,” New York Times Book Review, June 14, 2009

On March 11, 2003, about a week ­before President George W. Bush began bombing Iraq, the cultural historian Jackson Lears published an Op-Ed article in The New York Times pleading for sanity. He sensed that it was already too late, and suggested that war opponents might be “fingering a rabbit’s foot from time to time.” As a historian, however, Lears couldn’t help asking when the “regenerative” impulse to seek national glory through war first took root. The result is “Rebirth of a Nation,” a fascinating cultural history that locates the origins of Bush-era belligerence in the anxieties and modernizing impulses of the late 19th century. Read the rest....