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In the last year several books appeared focused on the United States in the world that seek to combine a study of intellectual history, popular culture and politics in a long breath of the 19th century.
In the latest of our occasional Reviews in History podcast series, Jordan Landes talks to Joanna Cohen about her new book and the role and nature of the consumer in the US throughout the nineteenth century.
Joanna Cohen is a Senior Lecturer in American History at Queen Mary University of London.
Since the turn of the millennium it has become increasingly common for general histories of magic and witchcraft to include a section on the phenomenon of magic in the contemporary western world, but the precise relationship between contemporary manifestations of magical belief and their historical antecedents is rarely explored.
Much like the American public, following the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s scholars of United States history have had a complex relationship with blackface minstrelsy. For scholars, as for many Americans, blackface minstrelsy partook in a vibrant and rich vernacular tradition, albeit one that by now most Americans have rightfully grown ashamed of.
Although ostensibly a book focused on New Orleans, in Slavery’s Metropolis Rashauna Johnson uses the experiences of individuals and groups of African heritage who resided in the city, as well as those who left from, arrived in, and passed through from local and transnational locations to outline a theory of ‘confined cosmopolitanism’.
In Enslaved Women in America: From Colonial Times to Emancipation, Emily West masterfully presents the narrative of women’s lived experiences in slavery through the prism of gender.
In the autumn of 2014, Alabama, with the backing of 72 per cent of its voters, became the seventh state to ban Sharia law. In doing so, it joined Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, South Dakota, Missouri, and Tennessee in banning ‘foreign laws’.
Although most Americans take pride in being ‘a nation of immigrants’ (a slogan apparently popularized by John F. Kennedy), the process of immigration causes perennial controversy in the United States. That is true even in New York City, which would not exist without it, and which stars in many historical narratives of it.
Imagine the surprise of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft when, on a humid July day in 1846, he picked up a copy of the Albany Argus, a New York state Democratic Party newspaper, only to learn that he had been murdered. The paper carried an obituary which reported that Schoolcraft had been shot in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan by a ‘half breed’ named John Tanner.
Here is a textbook that lives up to the best ideals of the genre. The Long Sixties promises us ‘a brief narrative history of the 1960s – a quick trip, as it were, through a momentous decade’ [p. vi].