tags: Top Young Historians
Eric Rauchway, 36
Teaching Position: Professor, Department of History, University of California, Davis.
Area of Research: US political, cultural, and intellectual history
Education: PhD in History, Stanford University, 1996
Major Publications: Rauchway is the author of Blessed Among Nations: How the World Made America (Hill & Wang, 2006) , Murdering McKinley: The Making of Theodore Roosevelt's America (Hill & Wang, 2003), and The Refuge of Affections: Family and American Reform Politics, 1900-1920(Columbia University Press, 2001). Rauchway is currently working on The Great Depression and the New Deal: A Very Short Introduction(Oxford University Press), and The Gift Outright: The West, the South, and America, 1867-1937 (Hill & Wang).
Awards: Rauchway is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Murdering McKinley was named one the "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" top ten for 2003;
Chancellor's Fellow, University of California, Davis, 2003-2008;
MA by Special Resolution of Congregation, Oxford University, 1998.
Rauchway formerly was University Lecturer, Faculty of Modern History, University of Oxford (1998-2001), and Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Nevada, Reno (1996-1998).
Rauchway has written for "The American Prospect," "The Financial Times," "The Los Angeles Times," "Newsday," and other publications.
He currently writes for "The New Republic's" "Open University" feature.
Rauchway has contributed commentary and book reviews to MSNBC.com's "Altercation," and has commented on television for the History Channel and C-SPAN, and appeared on both public and commercial radio programs in the U.S. and abroad.
Lacking a piquant or plangent anecdote I thought I would provide a brief explanation of why I am a historian. As I wrote here I have always had a sense of being not-quite: neither Protestant nor Jewish, I've lived in North, South, West, and overseas, as well as in towns both small and enormous; I register as a no-party voter and I attended a school that is famously neither entirely public nor private. I can't claim to contain multitudes -- I'm still squarely a white male American of middle-class standing, and a family man at that. But neither can I honestly claim to belong to any single one of the traditions within that identity.
Therefore I hope, and strive, to have some qualities in common with historians who used a similar sense of insider-outsiderhood to fuel their work. (Like Richard Hofstadter, as above; or Charles Beard, the dirt-farmer Ivy League political-scientist historian Republican radical -- I hasten to add I am as cool as neither, but one should aim high.)¹ They did not readily take sides, or come easily to any political position; even their scholarly conclusions they regarded as provisional and subject, always, to revision. Which is not to say that they were intellectually wimpy; on the contrary, I tend rather to think their working outside a fixed tradition made them feel especially responsible for defending the conclusions they reached.
I meant particularly my second and third books to reflect this ambition toward a strong insider-outsiderhood in different ways. Murdering McKinley is about the strength and weakness of social science -- it's about how by looking at age, race, work, belief, ethnicity, sexuality, education etc. we can tell so much about someone, while still failing to discover the most important thing (in this case, why they might shoot the President).² Blessed Among Nations is about the strength and weakness of American political tradition -- it's about how America's characteristic institutions reflect, not so much an ideological commitment to small government, but rather practical adaptations to circumstances, and how American policies succeeded or failed as those circumstances changed.
I guess that books especially designed not to stick with any political or interpretive tradition run the risk of being disliked, or worse, ignored. But I hope these books also exhibit another virtue typical of, though certainly not limited to, those older scholars -- they had, I think, a particular, emotional attachment to America as a country whose commitment to liberty didn't demand that you take sides too easily or too often, allowing people to live and believe as they wished. Certainly, that is the America to which I feel myself attached, and which I hope to serve well by good scholarship.
¹I purposely avoid mentioning anyone living, though certainly I have role models among breathing historians.
²Lest anyone mention the singular "they," see here.
By Eric Rauchway
When you put on your new glasses after delaying a visit to the doctor for too long, you suddenly wonder how you could ever have stood to look through the old ones. I hope this book will help us see America’s place in the world with the same freshness, so that we can see the same old story with a new clarity and begin to wonder how we could ever have stood to look at the world through those quaint old spectacles, missing so much of such importance.
Specifically, using globalization as a lens brings into focus the relationship between the United States and the rest of the world in the late nineteenth century, and how this relationship shaped American political development. Capital and labor from overseas pushed American political development in noticeably unusual directions during a particularly important growth spurt. This early formative influence bequeathed the United States some peculiar and lasting habits of government. The effects of globalization helped the country become a powerful nation without developing (in comparative terms) a powerful central government. In the United States, as in some other countries, we often argue over the appropriate size and authority of national government, and usually we argue from principle: a big government is better because it can provide security; a small government is better because it can allow freedom. These arguments from principle have what to a historian seems like an unfortunately timeless quality, as if government were some uniform product, of which you can have too much or too little, but which is always the same thing. If we look at how government grew in the first place, we might remember that it is a set of solutions to a set of problems—not theoretical problems, but practical problems—and that, in practice, not all peoples face the same problems. During its growth into a powerful nation, the United States faced a set of problems unlike those any other nation has encountered. Americans formed their habits of government by solving a set of problems specific to their circumstances. And we know that habits often outlast the circumstances that justified them, just as we often wear prescription eyeglasses long after our eyes have changed, and sometimes with bad consequences. -- Eric Rauchway in "Blessed Among Nations How the World Made America"
About Eric Rauchway
"He is an amazing professor. Though he talks very quickly he has such passion for the subject which encourages you. My best professor so far and if I could I would take his class again. History has finally become fun and you learn so much."
"Good professor. Lectures are interesting enough to get me out of bed in the morning."
"Simply fantastic professor. His lectures are highly lively and easy to understand... he will really highlight and increase your love of the subject, especially if you get involved in class. I highly recommend him."
"Rauchway was a wonderful professor. He talks fast during lectures, but he is very animated and always keeps you interested. I would reccommend him to anybody, I LOVED his class."
"Professor Rauchway is one of the few professors I really feel I have learned something from."
"One of the greatest history lecturers of all time. I highly suggest taking his classes... or even more classes if you previously have. He has an excellent knowledge of history, even though it seems boring, he somehow makes it interesting." -- Anonymous Students
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