Book Review: Revolutionaries for the Right: Anticommunist Internationalism and Paramilitary Warfare by Kyle Burke

By its very nature, the American New Right was destined to have an ambiguous relationship with the state. A movement fusing Cold War hawks, social conservatives, and economic libertarians, it on the one hand called for handing over considerable amounts of money and authority to the state for ‘national security’ while on the other demanding that same state be severely restricted in its control over any aspect of national life deemed ‘the economy.’ Kyle Burke’s fascinating and illuminating book, Revolutionaries for the Right, proves that this ambiguity went deeper than the mere results of coalition politics – and, in doing so, provides a window onto the origins of the political forces that have increasingly displaced the New Right following the 2016 US presidential election. Continue reading

“They Need Us and They Want Us”—Erecting the Empire in the Vietnam War

In the view of the late Amy Kaplan, the practice of US imperialism is denied and projected onto other nations in the discourse of American culture studies (13). Whereas the research in this field only marginally engages with the idea of the US being an imperial force, a cursory look… Continue reading

Book Review: Forging a Laboring Race: The African American Worker in the Progressive Imagination by Paul R. D. Lawrie

The Progressive Era (1890-1920s) was a time of intense social, economic, and political reform largely carried out by the middle class. Most scholars of Progressivism, including David Thelen and Daniel T. Rogers, argue that Progressivism is not monolithic and there has never been a coherent definition. Paul Lawrie has chosen to focus on one particular aspect of the Progressive Era: the deepening inequalities that occurred due to an industrial and economic boom, causing a rise in racism and racial policy. Continue reading

Book Review: Democracy Promotion, National Security and Strategy by Robert Pee

The era that Pee covers was, of course, one of high political and cultural tension, thus the arguments that he elucidates in Democracy Promotion are often controversial and heavily mediated by particular political and social persuasions. It is therefore refreshing to find that Pee’s opening chapter recognizes many of these tensions and seeks to forge a path between them. Continue reading

Review: Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas: “Food and Work in the Americas” edited by Susan Levine and Steve Striffler

The essays in Labor seek to provide its readers with sustainable analysis of the unbreakable linkage of food and labor in different periods and locations of the Americas, thus successfully unveiling food as the crucial but often hidden aspect of production work. Continue reading

Book Review: Baptists in America: A History by Thomas S. Kidd and Barry Hankins

What do Jimmy Carter, former United States’ Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, the late Jerry Falwell, and progressive thinker Walter Rauschenbush have in common? The answer is that they were all American Baptists. In Baptists in America: A History, Thomas Kidd and Barry Hankins try to make sense of the diverging views and characters that make up the story of Baptists in the United States. Continue reading

Book Review: Legal Realism and American Law by J. Zaremby

At a first glance, the concept of realism appears somewhat dated, belonging to a particular epoch of legal scholarship. Being essentially a movement that had emerged during 1920s “out of a fundamentally progressive mood” [1] and gradually has fallen by the wayside since, it may appear as a quaint historic notion that a few dedicated academics grew to be fond of perusing, in a way reminiscent of an interest in pennyfarthing bicycles or silent film. Continue reading

Book Review: An Infuriating American: The Incendiary Arts of H. L. Mencken by Hal Crowther

Facing a canonical author with an intimidating wealth of existing scholarship can, at times, beg the question: what is really left to say? Mencken certainly falls into this category, a fact acknowledged in the “Disarming Introduction to an Alarming American”. Yet, in only seventy-seven pages, Crowther manages to offer a valuable and engaging contribution to the discussion of an extensively discussed man. Continue reading

Over the Ice: Polar Exploration from the Air

For Americans, the spring of 1926 was an exciting time in long-distance aviation. The newspapers were full of thrilling tales of pioneering flights, including three aerial expeditions aiming for the North Pole. The excitement came to a head on 9 May 1926, when Richard E. Byrd, a young American naval aviator, returned to his expedition’s base at King’s Bay, Spitsbergen (Svalbard), after a flight of just over 15 hours, proclaiming that he and his co-pilot Floyd Bennett had become the first people to reach the North Pole by air. Byrd’s announcement triggered a patriotic outpouring in the American press, with headlines trumpeting the United States’ polar conquest. Byrd returned home a national hero, where he was met by cheering crowds and public accolades, including the Congressional Medal of Honor. Continue reading