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Fascist Americas: It Can’t Happen in the High Castle

By some coincidence, I found myself immersed in two stories of alternate history this fall. Both imagined the hypothetical scenario of American democracy being hijacked by mid-twentieth-century fascism. The first was It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, a 1935 satirical novel in which the author asserts that it very much could happen here in […]... Read More
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Investing in Young People: The Last Best Hope for a Progressive World?

When President Obama gave his farewell address on January 10, 2017, he took on the momentous task of consoling supporters crushed by the results of the 2016 election. Despite his own frustration and disappointment, Obama did his best to strike a positive note: That’s why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this […]... Read More
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Episodic History: Kevin’s Picks

Continuing with our series on eras and events that we think would make for great television, I’ve pulled together my own list of ideas. Make sure to check out Bryan’s and Ryan’s as well. The English Civil War—Enough with the Tudors! The rest of English history needs some love. Imagine a sprawling Game of Thrones-type […]... Read More
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Terror in Rosewood: A Film with Enduring Relevance

As the nation wrestles with last weekend’s implications for who we are as a country, I thought it might be appropriate to look back at a lesser-known movie from two decades ago. John Singleton’s Rosewood is set during the 1920s in a small Florida town of the same name. If its plot were entirely invented, […]... Read More
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In Defense of Radical Responses to Civil War Monuments

I began writing on this topic several weeks ago, well before the despicable rally that took place in Charlottesville over the weekend. The controversy over Confederate monuments has been unquestionably transformed by the alliance of neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and the so-called Alt-Right that came out “in defense” of Charlottesville’s Robert E. Lee monument. […]... Read More
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Finding John Brown’s Body

There is a place in North Elba, New York, where pine trees encircle a meadow. Looming over the pines are two ski jump towers used during the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. From the parking lot can be seen a small enclosure, a weathered barn, a wooden farmhouse, and a pond. Standing before it all is a larger-than-life statue depicting an unbowed and unbroken John Brown with his arm over the shoulder of an African American child.... Read More
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Holding the Moral High Ground: Reflections on Just War Then and Now

I recently picked up a copy of D. H. Dilbeck’s 2016 book A More Civil War. Given my interests in the intersection of the morality and consequences of war, it seemed like something worth reading. As I went through it, I found myself not thinking of it just as a work of Civil War scholarship but also as reflection upon the enormous shifts in our understanding of moral warfare since the 19th century.... Read More
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Sirens’ Song: The Appeal of Romanticism in History

During our launch week this past Wednesday, we had fun producing a list of some of our favorite ‘guilty pleasure’ history movies. These were movies that we each love, but as historians we cannot help but squirm at the liberties taken with the history or time periods that they portray. Many, if not most, of our criticisms came from certain stylized depictions of the past that, while appealing, range from not quite accurate to horribly misrepresentative. Indeed, these romanticized portraits of history prove so appealing that even as we criticized our chosen films we reaffirmed our affection for them. Never ones to let such cognitive dissonance go unchallenged, we decided to pry a bit further. Why can romanticism in history be so alluring, even to those trained to resist its charms?... Read More