New Books Network

Matthew Goodman, “The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York” (Basic Books, 2008)
The modern newspaper is not as old as you think. Until the early nineteenth century, they were thin and expensive. It was only with the advent of the penny press circa 1830 that the truly mass broadsheet was born. Yet selling a paper for a cent was not a straight-forward... Read More
Matt Wasniewski, et al., “Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007” (U.S. House of Representatives, 2008)
In just a few days, the United States will inaugurate its first black president, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. And though it’s a momentous day for the cause of equality, Mr. Obama is hardly the first African American to come to DC to serve the people of the United States.... Read More
John H. Summers, “Every Fury on Earth” (Davies Group, 2008)
The vast majority of historians write history. Perhaps that’s good, as one should stick to what one knows. But there are historians who braves the waters of social and political criticism. One thinks of Arthur Schelsinger Jr., Richard Hofstadter, Christopher Lasch, Robert Conquest, Richard Pipes, Eric Hobsbawm, E. P. Thompson,... Read More
Vicki Ruiz, “From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth-Century America” (Oxford UP, 2008)
There was a time when “history” was the history of powerful people. Shakespeare captures this notion of history in the prologue to Henry V: O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend The brightest heaven of invention, A kingdom for a stage, princes to act And monarchs to behold... Read More
Donald Worster, “A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir” (Oxford UP, 2008)
If you study pre-modern history in any depth, one of the most startling things you will discover is that “traditional” societies usually had an adversarial relationship with “nature.” They fought the wild tooth and nail in a never-ending effort to bring it under human control. It never really occurred to... Read More
Katherine Jellison, “It’s Our Day: America’s Love Affair with the White Wedding” (University of Kansas Press, 2008)
If you ask me, the “white wedding” is the oddest thing. I’m a modern guy and my wife is a modern woman. We’re feminists. We have an equal partnership. But when it came to getting married we both agreed that I would play the role of Prince Charming and she... Read More
Edwin Burrows, “Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War” (Basic Books, 2008)
While researching his Pulitzer-Prize-winning Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (with Mike Wallace; Oxford UP 1999), Edwin Burrows uncovered the story of thousands of American soldiers who had been held prisoner by the British during the Revolutionary War in and around New York. Now he’s back to... Read More
Laura Wittern-Keller, “The Miracle Case: Film Censorship and the Supreme Court” (University of Kansas Press, 2008)
Did you ever wonder how we got from a moment in which almost everything on film could be censored (the Progressive Era) to the moment in which nothing on film could be censored (today)? From the Nickelodeon to Deep Throat? The answer is provided by Laura Wittern-Keller and Raymond J.... Read More
Ray Boomhower, “Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary” (Indiana UP, 2008)
As some of you may be aware, there’s a big election coming up. Yes, it’s time to pick a new auditor for Iowa City, Iowa, my hometown. It’s a hotly contested race between a jerk with a drinking problem and a twenty-four-year-old who ran a cake business into the ground.... Read More
David E. Kaiser, “The Road to Dallas: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy” (Harvard UP, 2008)
There are some topics that historians know not to touch. They are just too hot (or too cold). The assassination of JFK is one of them. Most scholars would say either: (a) the topic has been done to death so nothing new can be said or (b) it’s been so... Read More