New Books Network

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
Richard Fogarty, “Race and War in France: Colonial Subjects in the French Army,  1914-1918” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2008)
The thing about empire building is that when you’re done building one, you’ve got to figure out what to do with it. This generally involves the “extraction of resources.” We tend to think of this in terms of things like gold, oil, or rubber. But people can be “extracted” as... 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
Mark Mazower, “Hitler’s Empire: Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe” (Penguin, 2008)
It’s curious how historical images become stereotyped over time. One hears the word “Nazi,” and immediately the Holocaust springs to mind. This reflexive association is probably a good thing, as it reminds us of the dangers of ethnic hatred in an era that knows it too well.  But in another... Read More
Andrew Gentes, “Exile to Siberia, 1590-1822” (Palgrave-McMillan, 2008)
Being “sent to Siberia” is practically a synonym for exile even in English-speaking countries. Why is this? In his fascinating new book Exile to Siberia, 1590-1822 (Palgrave, 2008), Andrew Gentes explains. And it’s quite a story indeed. The tsars began to dispatch people to Siberia almost as soon as they... Read More
James Willbanks, “Abandoning Vietnam: How America Left and South Vietnam Lost Its War” (University of Kansas Press, 2008)
U.S. forces invade a distant country in order to disarm an international threat to American security. They fight well, and win every major battle decisively. They become occupiers, and find themselves engaged in a low-level guerrilla war against a determined though shadowy enemy. The American-backed government has a tenuous hold... Read More