Historians are by their nature public intellectuals because they are intellectuals who write about, well, the public. Alas, many historians seem to forget the “public” part and concentrate on the “intellectual” part.
Why the heck is “America” called “America” and not, say, “Columbia?” You’ll find the answer to that question and many more in Toby Lester‘s fascinating and terrifically readable new book The Fourth Part of the World: The Race to the Ends of the Earth,
Why did communism collapse so rapidly in Eastern Europe in 1989? The answer commonly given at the time was that something called “civil society,” having grown mighty in the 1980s, overthrew it. I’ve always been more than a little uncomfortable with bot...
One of my favorite bumper stickers reads “Unions: the Folks Who Brought You the Weekend.” Indeed they did. Organized labor has had a rocky history in the U.S. It’s been hounded for leaning left, associating with mobsters, and being corrupt.
I’ll be honest: I have a Ph.D. in early modern European history from a big university you’ve probably heard of and I couldn’t name a single female writer of the Renaissance before I read Sarah Ross’s new book The Birth of Feminism.
To Americans, Hitler et al. were a confusing bunch. The National Socialists were Germans, and Germans had a reputation for refinement, industry, and order. After all, many Americans were of German descent, and they surely thought of themselves as refin...
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 buildin...
There are certain dates that every European historian knows. Among them are 1348 (The Black Death), 1517 (The Reformation), 1648 (The Peace of Westphalia), 1789 (The French Revolution), 1848 (The Revolutions of 1848),
We like to think of countries as permanent fixtures. They aren’t. They come and go. In 1989, a place called the Deutsche Demokratische Republik, or East Germany, was going. It was never really an “ordinary” place.
Think of this. From the origins of civilization roughly 5000 years ago to around 1900 AD, the condition of women did not fundamentally change. They weren’t “second class citizens.” Rather, they weren’t citizens at all.