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book reviews



  • Tracing the Origins of Today's Archconservatives (Review)

    by Randall J. Stephens

    "John Huntington convincingly concludes that Trump 'tapped into the government mistrust, racial resentment, and conspiratorial beliefs that had festered within conservatism for decades'."



  • Is the Narrative Impulse Dangerous (Review)?

    by Timothy Snyder

    Jonathan Gottschall's book proposes that human intellect is a captive of the structure of stories. Reviewer Timothy Snyder is skeptical of his case. 



  • Direct Action: The Practical Politics of Protest

    by Erin Pineda

    "Protesters may be a loud minority of citizens, a set of especially motivated and impassioned individuals who are in many ways not representative of the general public. But the silent majority of voters are not as disconnected from—or dismissive of—protest as many assume."



  • Should Germany Prosecute the Few Surviving Nazis?

    by David Motadel

    "Most of the perpetrators of the Holocaust have passed away, but German courts still have an opportunity to prosecute those who remain alive. It is the final chapter in the country’s long and not very successful history of ensuring justice for their victims."



  • Radical Movements and Political Power: Terence Renaud on New Lefts

    by Justin H. Vassallo

    Terence Renaud's history places the international New Left movements that emerged in the 1960s, and today's left activism, in the context of radical traditions that have sought to avoid hierarchy and rigidity. Questions remain about how ideals and ethics can combine with organizing to change institutions.



  • Land of Capital: Jonathan Levy's "Ages of American Capital" Reviewed

    by Steven Hahn

    "Ages of Capitalism" is one of the first synthetic accounts of the relationship of capitalism and American politics and society, and provides an important vocabulary for a developing field of inquiry. It also, oddly, resonates with the older consensus history that assumed capitalism as a core part of American life.



  • "This Obstinate Little Man": Tom Segev on Ben-Gurion as the King Lear of Zionism

    "Ben-Gurion was not a saint and should not be made into one posthumously. An unvarnished account of his vices is essential, but so is an appreciation of his merits." A reviewer says Tom Segev's new biography sheds little light on his influence over the Zionist movement and the Israeli state.



  • Rebel is Right: Reassessing the Cultural Revolution

    by Chaohua Wang

    A new book by the Chinese scholar Yang Jisheng examines the Chinese Cultural Revolution's lasting impact on the Communist Party, concluding that the generation of party leaders who experienced it were indifferent to utopianism but deeply attracted to the exercise of absolute power. 



  • What Is Owed: The Limits of Darity and Mullen's Case For Reparations

    by William P. Jones

    A historian argues that a recent and influential book calling for reparations could strengthen its case by considering the arguments made by historians about the connections of American slavery to other manifestations of racism. What's needed is to link reparations to a global overturning of racial inequality.



  • Where America Went Wrong in Afghanistan (Review Essay)

    by Fredrik Logevall

    "It will be up to historians of the future, writing with broad access to official documents and with the kind of detachment that only time brings, to fully explain the remarkable early-morning scene at Bagram and all that led up to it. But there’s much we can already learn — abundant material is available."



  • The Liberals Who Weakened Trust in Government

    by Kim Phillips-Fein

    Historian Kim Phillips-Fein writes that Paul Sabin's new book "Public Citizens" adds to understanding of the rise of conservatism and the power of attacks on "big government" by focusing on the role of liberal public interest groups in exposing the capture of the liberal regulatory state by big business interests. 



  • What is Left of the New Deal?

    by Michael Kazin

    Eric Rauchway's book on the New Deal stresses that FDR believed democracy could survive only if people accepted, and government supported, their mutual dependence on one another. Preserving the New Deal political order means recognizing and celebrating its tangible achievements. 



  • The Revolution that Wasn't: What did 1960s Radicals Achieve?

    by Michael Kazin

    A new book of narrative history of the 1960s New Left repeats a common error: mistaking rhetoric for revolution and ignoring a key outcome of the decade: that the right emerged more powerful, argues reviewer Michael Kazin. 



  • The Color Line (Review Essay)

    by Annette Gordon-Reed

    New books examine the innovations in data-driven research that WEB DuBois developed as intellectual weapons in his battle against the rising tide of global white supremacy in the early 20th century. 



  • The Unknown History of Black Uprisings

    by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

    Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor reviews Elizabeth Hinton's new "America on Fire" and explains how it shakes up established accounts of a "good" and "nonviolent" civil rights movement giving way to protest and violence.