New Books Network

Mark Bradley and Marilyn Young, “Making Sense of the Vietnam Wars” (Oxford UP, 2008)
What to think about the Vietnam War? A righteous struggle against global Communist tyranny? An episode in American imperialism? A civil war into which the United States blindly stumbled? And what of the Vietnamese perspective? How did they–both North and South–understand the war? Mark Bradley and Marilyn Young have assembled... Read More
Charles Lane, “The Day Freedom Died: The Colfax Massacre, the Supreme Court, and the Betrayal of Reconstruction” (Henry Holt, 2008)
Why did Reconstruction fail? Why didn’t the post-war Federal government protect the civil rights of the newly freed slaves? And why did it take Washington almost a century to intercede on the behalf of beleaguered, oppressed African Americans in the South? In a terrific new book, Charles Lane explains why.... Read More
Louis Hyman, “Debtor Nation: The History of America in Red Ink” (Princeton UP, 2011)
I remember clearly the day I was offered my first credit card. It was in Berkeley, CA in 1985. I was walking on Sproul Plaza and I saw a booth manned by two students. They were giving out all kinds of swag, so I walked over to see what was... Read More
Noah Feldman, “Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Supreme Court Justices” (Twelve, 2010)
Franklin D. Roosevelt promised the country “bold, persistent experimentation” to address the Great Depression – but for quite a while his ideas were a little too bold for the justices of the Supreme Court, who struck down many New Deal laws as unconstitutional. FDR had his day: over the years... Read More
Gregory J. W. Urwin, “Victory in Defeat: The Wake Island Defenders in Captivity” (Naval Institute Press, 2010)
Gregory J. W. Urwin’s Victory in Defeat: The Wake Island Defenders in Captivity (Naval Institute Press, 2010) tells the story of the Americans captured on Wake Island in December 1945. The Wake Island garrison’s defeat of the initial Japanese landing attempt was one of the few bright spots for Americans... Read More
Virginia Scharff, “The Women Jefferson Loved” (HarperCollins, 2010)
Most Americans could tell you who George Washington’s wife was. (Martha, right?) Most Americans probably couldn’t tell you who Thomas Jefferson’s wife was. (It was also Martha, but a different one of course). They might be able to tell you, however, who Thomas Jefferson’s alleged concubine was, as she has... Read More
Nell Irvin Painter, “The History of White People” (Norton, 2010)
We in the West tend to classify people by the color of their skin, or what we casually call “race.” But, as Nell Irvin Painter shows in her fascinating new book The History of White People (Norton, 2010), it wasn’t always so. The Greeks didn’t do it, at least very... Read More