Alan E. Steinweis, “Kristallnacht 1938” (Harvard UP, 2009)
One of the most fundamental–and vexing–questions in all of modern history is whether cultures make governments or governments make cultures. Tocqueville, who was right about almost everything, thought the former: he said that American culture made American government democratic. Neocon theorists, who have been wrong about most things, believe the... Read More
Rebecca Manley, “To the Tashkent Station: Evacuation and Survival in the Soviet Union at War” (Cornell UP, 2009)
By the time the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the Bolshevik Party had already amassed a considerable amount of expertise in moving masses of people around. Large population transfers (to put it mildly) were part and parcel of building socialism. Certain “elements” needed to be sent... Read More
Brett Whalen, “Dominion of God: Christendom and Apocalypse in the Middle Ages” (Harvard UP, 2009)
In the Gospels, the disciples come to Jesus and ask him about the End of Days. He’s got bad news and good. First, everything was going to go hell, so to say: “And Jesus answered . . . many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall... Read More
Kevin Kenny, “Peaceable Kingdom Lost: The Paxton Boys and the Destruction of William Penn’s Holy Experiment” (Oxford UP, 2009)
It’s hard to be a Christian. It’s even harder to be a good Christian. But being a good Christian on the frontier of Pennsylvania in the eighteenth century seems to have been next to impossible. That’s one possible gloss of Kevin Kenny‘s eye-opening new book Peaceable Kingdom Lost. The Paxton... Read More
Tony Michels, “Fire in their Hearts: Yiddish Socialists in New York” (Harvard UP, 2005)
I always assumed that the Jews who emigrated from Eastern Europe to New York and created the massive Jewish American labor movement brought their leftist politics with them from the Old Country. But now I know different thanks to Tony Michels’ terrific Fire in their Hearts. Yiddish Socialists in New... Read More