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cultural history



  • The Freeing of the American Mind

    Louis Menand joins Ezra Klein's podcast to discuss his new book and the intellectual history of the cold war era. 


  • "Juke": Bluesman Bobby Rush on the Roots of Rock and Roll

    by Bobby Rush with Herb Powell

    Blues musician Bobby Rush's new autobiography chronicles his life and career, and the way that the appropriation of Black music into American popular culture often left Black entertainers behind. Read here how he remembers the roots of rock and roll. 



  • The Last Time There Was a Craze About UFOs and Aliens

    by Daniel N. Gullotta

    A recent resurgence of interest in UFOs in respectable public discourse recalls the 1990s, when the X Files reflected a similar moment of distrust in authority and conspiratorial thinking. 



  • Tracing the African Diaspora in Food

    Jessica B. Harris's book "High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America" traces the African diaspora through food cultures. It will debut as a Netflix series next week. 



  • Weary of Work

    by Emily K. Abel

    Historian Emily Abel's book on fatigue deals in part with how Progressive era reformers approached the problem of the tired industrial worker. Ultimately, they favored solutions that emphasized efficiency and management, undercutting the ability of the labor movement to demand shorter work hours. 



  • Are you ready for the Roaring '20s?

    by Nicole Hemmer

    The end of the pandemic may portend a repeat of the "roaring 20s" a century later. But anyone anticipating a wild party should recall the nativism, racism, and rampant inequality of the era. Can the individual desire to live life to the fullest support a politics of inclusion and equality? 



  • Runaway American Dreams

    by Dennis M. Hogan

    What does it say about American liberalism that it's cultural tribune, Bruce Springsteen, is doing a corporate-sponsored podcast with the former President of the United States? 


  • When Did America Stop Being Great?

    by Nick Bryant

    Nick Bryant began observing America as a 16 year old at the patriotic spectacle of the 1984 Olympics. His book traces the path from "Morning in America" to "American Carnage," fixing some blame but also seeking a way through. 



  • What Attacks on Science Get Wrong

    by Andrew Jewett

    Reductive diagnoses of a "war on science" ignore the specific political and cultural stakes of controversies around vaccination, climate, or creationism. 



  • America’s Most Hated Garment

    Atlantic writer Amanda Mull turns to fashion historians Marley Healy and Valerie Steele to place the growing social acceptance of sweatpants in a pattern of clothing standards changing in response to cultural influences and social conditions. 



  • How Americans Came to Distrust Science

    by Andrew Jewett

    Scientists and their supporters cannot overcome the current moment of hostility toward their profession and rejection of their expertise unless they confront the cultural history of skepticism toward science, in both conservative and liberal forms. 



  • The Struggle to Document COVID-19 for Future Generations

    by Pamela Ballinger

    Images of suffering have been powerful spurs to humanitarian action in history, but the process has the potential to reinforce messages of fault, blame, and separation. Assembling a visual archive of the age of COVID must avoid those traps to be useful in the future.