Tag Archives: History

Yale History Professor Timothy Snyder Brings the Holocaust Under New Scrutiny

9781101903452By Timothy Snyder, author of Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (Tim Duggan Books, September 2015).

Many of us want, need, or are simply required to teach the history of the Holocaust. But how should we do so? One problem, at least on American campuses, is that the Holocaust, in its very intensity and horror, seems too intense to be history, eluding context and thus understanding. Students can be left with images and memories, but with no clear sense as to how such an event took place. I wrote Black Earth in the hope that the Holocaust could be understood as part of global history, and that students interested in the wider world of the past could read the book as part of that journey. Continue reading

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Free Reader Copies of The Full Catastrophe: Travels Among the New Greek Ruins by James Angelos Available

9780385346481Over the last three years, tiny Greece, normally associated with ancient philosophers and marble ruins, whitewashed island villages and cerulean seas, has repeatedly brought world financial markets into panic and has cast the 60-year project of cultivating European unity into question. In The Full Catastrophe, journalist James Angelos makes sense of these two images of Greece and explains how and why Greece became the corrupt, socially fractious and bankrupt nation it is today. With vivid narratives and engaging reporting, he brings to life some of the causes of the country’s financial collapse, and examines the changes emerging in its aftermath.

The Full Catastrophe was published on June 6th, 2015. Please email rhacademic@penguinrandomhouse with your name, college and course information to request a complimentary copy.

Click here to read to about the book in The New York Times Book Review

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Fighting the Stigma of Sex Work: Burlesque, Beyonce, and sex-positive feminism

9780807061237By Melinda Chateauvert, author of Sex Workers Unite: A History of the Movement from Stonewall to SlutWalk (Beacon Press, March 2015)

My mother kind of freaked out when I told her about the proposal for Sex Workers Unite! I never thought of her as a prude. When I was growing up, she rarely seemed embarrassed about sexuality matters, and her several non-traditional relationships definitely influenced my critique of the whole white picket fence family idea. But for her daughter to write about prostitutes’ rights threw her for a loop. Continue reading

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Writing A Disability History of the US: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach

A DISABILITY HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES by Kim E. Nielsen

by  Kim E. Nielsen, author of A Disability History of the United States (Beacon Press, 2012)

A Disability History of the United States has been both the hardest and most exciting intellectual project in which I’ve engaged. Disability history is labor history. It is gender history, immigration history, education, class and political history. It is central to the American narrative but has thus far remained largely unacknowledged.

I fumbled my way into disability history by accident over a decade ago when I ran across a political speech of Helen Keller’s.  Doing so transformed my basic understandings of U.S. history—making me a better teacher, scholar, and historian.

My hope for this book is that it will provide new directions from which to examine the difficult questions about the American past. Which peoples and which bodies have been considered fit and appropriate for public life and active citizenship? How have people with disabilities forged their own lives, their own communities, and shaped the United States? How has disability affected law, policy, economics, play, national identity, and daily life? In what ways has disability woven together with race, class, gender, and sexuality Continue reading

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How to Get Students on the True Path to Knowledge

THE PATH TO HOPE by Stephane Hessel and Edgar Morin

by Jeff Madick, foreword writer for The Path to Hope (Other Press, 2012) and author of The Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present  (Vintage, 2012).

I do not necessarily believe in pluralism for its own sake. It always makes sense for students to understand opposing viewpoints, of course.  But reading the many opposing views on key intellectual issues is not always an adequate path to knowledge. Should young students be required to read the works in support of creationism, for example, to understand the pros and cons of evolutionary theory? Or all the efforts to undermine global warming theories?  At some point, one has to separate the theories that move beyond superstition, that are grounded in adequate deductive thought, and that are based on available empirical knowledge from those that do not.   

The social sciences clothe themselves in the virtues of being grounded in deductive thought and empirical knowledge, of course, and that is the problem. How can students broaden their perspectives constructively? Economics in most academic institutions has Continue reading

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Israel-Palestine: A Binary Fallacy

HOW TO UNDERSTAND ISRAEL IN 60 DAYS OR LESS by Sarah Glidden

by Sarah Glidden, author of How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less (Vertigo, 2011)

When I used to think about growing as a person, I visualized my life as a sort of graph: a steadily climbing, sometimes dipping line that would crawl forward over time until a certain age when the graph would plateau into a stable flatness. The way I looked at it, one’s teens and early 20s are all about discovering who you are and what you think about the world. At some point, all my opinions, beliefs, and values would become fixed into a solid identity that I would carry with me into the future like an amber shield.

This fantasy carried over into the way I approached other topics, such as history and politics. I had been interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for some time but felt fatigued by it; I was itching to just figure it out and then move on. I was familiar with the “two sides” of the conflict in American discourse. Conservatives blamed the Palestinians, calling them “terrorists” and “monsters,” while liberals maintained that the Israelis were occupiers and thus the real monsters. While I had always identified more with the latter camp, there was something unsettling to me about defining a conflict as a struggle of “good vs. evil.” I wanted to truly understand the mess in the Middle East. I had read plenty on the subject, had gone to lectures, and had watched many documentaries. The only step left was to visit the country to see it with my own eyes. The finish line was in Jerusalem somewhere, and all I had to do was to get there. Continue reading

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Teaching the Cold War to a Generation Born After

UNCIVIL SOCIETY by Stephen Kotkin

by Stephen Kotkin, author of Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment (Modern Library, 2010)

I started teaching at Princeton University in September 1989—and two months into my first course the Berlin Wall fell. The ink on my Ph.D. was barely dry. Within two years, the Soviet Union was gone. The conundrum of Communism’s collapse has haunted me ever since.  In 1989, more than 1 million people gathered in protests on Tiananmen Square, but the Chinese Communist regime endures. In Poland, there were hardly any street demonstrations in 1989, yet it was the first Communist regime to go.

Obviously, it was necessary to look inside Eastern Europe’s Communist establishments (what I call the “uncivil society”) and not just at the protesters (usually called “civil society”). What struck me was that the 1989 “roundtable” initiated by the Polish Communists with the opposition Solidarity was not intended as an end to the system—by either side. Continue reading

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