Book review: The Presidency of Donald J. Trump: A First Historical Assessment

With The Presidency of Donald J. Trump (2022) a prominent group of historians take on the challenge of providing a first historical assessment of an administration which editor Julian Zelizer describes as ‘unlike anything else American democracy had experienced in recent decades, if ever’ Oscar Winberg, PhD, reviews new book where leading historians provide perspective Donald Trump’s four turbulent years in the White House. Continue reading

Book Review: FDR in American Memory: Roosevelt and the Making of an Icon by Sara Polak

Sara Polak. FDR in American Memory: Roosevelt and the Making of an Icon (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 2021), £54.   In FDR In American Memory: Roosevelt and the Making of an Icon, Sara Polak evaluates how President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s image was constructed to resemble that of an American icon…. Continue reading

Book Review: The Republican Party and the War on Poverty: 1964-1981 by Mark McLay

In The Republican Party and the War on Poverty, Mark McLay analyses how the Grand Old Party (GOP) responded to Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, and the issue of poverty more broadly, between 1964 and 1981. He considers what Republican opposition to anti-poverty measures reveals about the GOP and wider US politics during this period. In chronological chapters, McLay examines continuity and change in Republican approaches to poverty. He shows persuasively how Republican reactions to the War on Poverty shaped the GOP’s enduring conservative, anti-statist, and racialised responses to poverty, alongside how anti-poverty measures were understood by the wider public, for years and decades to come. Continue reading

Review: HOTCUS Work-in-Progress Meeting 2019

Review: HOTCUS Work-in-Progress Meeting 2019, University of Oxford, 17 October 2019. At the second annual work-in-progress session, two developing articles were discussed: Liam O’Brien’s (University of Cork) paper, ‘Winning Back the Peace: The George H.W. Bush Administration and the Creation of Operation Southern Watch, 1992’ and Dr. Meghan Hunt’s (University… Continue reading

Book review: The Royalist Revolution by Eric Nelson

In recent years there has been a renewed interest in executive power on both sides of the Atlantic. In January 2017 the Supreme Court had to decide whether the United Kingdom’s EU membership withdrawal notice could be given by Government ministers without Parliament’s prior authorisation. It could not. The royal prerogative was insufficient. [1] In August 2017, President Trump controversially used the power granted to his office to pardon former law official Joe Arpaio. [2] He could. The President has the “Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States”. [3] Eric Nelson’s ambitious and provocative book The Royalist Revolution: Monarchy and the American Founding successfully demonstrates that these events are in a way deeply connected by uncovering the historical link between the British royal prerogative and the powers of the presidency. Continue reading

University College Cork: Review: Irish Association for American Studies Annual Conference 2019

Conference Review: ‘Confidence-Men and Hucksters, Corruption and Governance in the U.S.’, Irish Association for American Studies Annual Conference, University College Cork, Ireland, April 12th-13th 2019 Interested in the parallels between Donald Trump’s presidency and the 2004 novel The Plot Against America, in January 2017, The New Yorker ( contacted… Continue reading

Book Review: Constructing Presidential Legacy: How We Remember the American President by eds. Michael Patrick Cullinane and Sylvia Ellis

From presidential farewell addresses to depictions of presidents in film, advertising and literature, Michael P. Cullinane and Sylvia Ellis’s edited volume Constructing Presidential Legacyoffers a valuable addition to the growing body of literature concerning American presidential legacies. Continue reading

1919: the Boston Molasses Flood and the Year of Violence and Disillusion

This year marks the one-hundredth anniversary of the Boston Molasses Flood, arguably one of the strangest disasters in American history. Twenty-one people died, 150 were injured, and homes and buildings were destroyed. In the midst of the after-math of World War I, Calvin Coolidge assumed the role of Governor of Massachusetts, and in doing so he inherited the responsibility of Boston, a city that was in the midst of social and economic crisis. The Molasses Flood only served to heighten feelings of unease, with some of Boston’s leading figures and its media looking to place blame, with anarchists and communists heading the list of potential suspects. Ultimately, the Molasses Flood was a preamble for a year of upheaval in Boston that would see widespread violence, acts of terrorism, and a historic police strike. This article looks briefly at the events of that fateful day on January 2, 1919 and its impact. Continue reading

Northumbria University: BAAS PG Conference 2018: Keynote Review

USSO Keynote Competition Winner – James West, ‘Write Me In: Dick Gregory and the 1968 Presidential Campaign’, BAAS PG Conference 2018, 3rd Nov. 2018 Available at: James West (University of Northumbria) opened 2018’s USSO Keynote speech with a list of Dick Gregory’s occupations: ‘activist, author, artist, conspiracy theorist, nutritionist,… Continue reading

Roosevelt Institute for American Studies, Middelburg, The Netherlands: Review: Pursuing the Rooseveltian Century

Pursuing the Rooseveltian Century, 31 November – 1 December 2017 The two-day conference ‘Pursuing the Rooseveltian Century’ was the inaugural conference of the recently rebranded Roosevelt Institute for American Studies (RIAS) located in Middelburg, the Netherlands. The conference called on scholars of American studies to reinterpret important moments in modern… Continue reading