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AE: United States History, Volume 2: Reconstruction Through the Present, 21/e
1. The American Civil War, Emancipation, and Reconstruction on the World Stage, Edward L. Ayers, OAH Magazine of History, January 2006
The Civil War, Emancipation, and Reconstruction were seminal events in American history. The author argues that the war and its aftermath "has carried a different meaning for every generation of Americans" and "embodied struggles that would confront people on every continent."
2. How a War of Terror Kept Blacks Oppressed Long after the Civil War Ended, Steven Budìansky, American History, April 2008
Between 1865 and 1877 more than 3,000 freedmen and their white allies were murdered in the South in efforts to keep blacks subservient. A particularly gruesome example of this savagery took place in 1876 at Hamburg, South Carolina, where a mob of whites carried out a massacre in this predominantly black community.
3. The Nez Perce Flight for Justice, W. David Edmunds, American Heritage, Fall 2008
Despite a long history of cooperation with whites, in 1877 the Nez Perce Indians led by Chief Joseph were thrown off their historic lands in Oregon. Driven from place to place over a distance of 1,000 miles, the exhausted band finally was defeated in September of that year. "I am tired. My heart is sick and sad," Joseph stated. "From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever."
4. How the West Was Spun, Stephen G. Hyslop, American History, October 2008
William "Buffalo Bill" Cody’s Wild West Show was enormously popular in this country and in Europe. Hyslop goes behind the daring rescues and cavalry charges, to discuss why this extravaganza was so attractive. It reassured Americans "that they would never be too civilized to beat the braves and bullies of the world at their own game."
5. Gifts of the "Robber Barons," James Nuechterlein, Commentary, March 2007
Corporations grew to unprecedented size during the post-Civil War period. Those who headed these organizations often were referred to as "Robber Barons" for their shady business practices and exploitation of labor. The author examines the lives of two of these individuals, Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon. He concludes that they were "neither heroes nor villains in the roles they played."
6. Lockwood in ’84, Jill Norgren, Wilson Quarterly, August 2002
In 1884, lawyer Belva Lockwood ran for the presidency on the Equal Rights Party ticket. Although women’s suffrage was her priority, she took progressive stands on most of the day’s leading issues. She was the first and last woman (so far) to stay in a presidential race right up to Election Day.
7. A Day to Remember: December 29, 1890, Charles Phillips, American History, December 2005
On this date the 7th Cavalry attacked a group of Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota, killing about 300 people most of whom were women and children. Author Phillips analyzes the events leading to this massacre, including the rise of what became known as the Ghost Dancers.
8. Utopia Derailed, Arthur Melville Pearson, Archaeology, January/February 2009
Industrialist George Pullman created a model community in a town outside Chicago that was supposed to create harmony between labor and management. This "harmony" dissipated into a bitter strike in 1894 when Pullman slashed workers’ wages but not their rents or other costs of living.
9. Where the Other Half Lived, Verlyn Klinkenborg, Mother Jones, July/August 2001
The Mulberry Bend section was one of the most notorious slums in New York City. Danish-born reformer Jacob Riis photographed and wrote about the squalor and unbelievably crowded conditions in which the mostly immigrant population of the Bend had to live.
10. TR’s Wild Side, Douglas Brinkley, American Heritage, Fall 2009
The story of Teddy Roosevelt and his "Rough Riders" during the Spanish-American War has been told often. Brinkley uses this as a starting point, but zeroes in on Roosevelt’s concern about the wildlife he encountered in Cuba. Though an avid hunter, Roosevelt went on to become an ardent conservationist and our first "green" president.
11. Joe Hill: ‘I Never Died,’ Said He, Ben Lefebvre, American History, December 2005
The author describes the life and times of Joe Hillstrom, better known as "Joe Hill," a legendary labor organizer and agitator. After his execution for a murder he may not have committed, Hill became a martyr to many in the labor movement.
12. "A Machine of Practical Utility," Tom D. Crouch, American Heritage, Winter 2010
Experiments conducted on December 17, 1903 by the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina generally are regarded as the first powered and controlled flights in history. The longest flight made that day, however, lasted only 59 seconds. Not until 1905, Couch shows, did they become certain that "they had invented an aircraft that could be flown reliably over significant distances under a pilot’s complete control."
13. A Brief History of Fear, Jerry Useem, Fortune, September 3, 2007
Financial panics have been a recurrent phenomena throughout American history. During the Great Panic of 1907, one man—J. Pierpont Morgan—almost single-handedly prevented the panic from turning into a crash.
14. A Day to Remember: March 25, 1911: Triangle Fire, Charles Phillips, American History, April 2006
Beginning in late 1909, employees of the Triangle Waist Company joined in a strike led by the Women’s Trade Union League calling for better pay, shorter hours, and improvement of horrible working conditions. The strike ended with few gains. The 1911 fire, which claimed 146 women, brought to public attention the squalid and dangerous circumstances found at Triangle and other sweatshops. Blocked exits and faulty fire hoses resulted in many needless deaths.
15. The $5 Day, Robert H. Casey, American Heritage, Winter 2010
In January 1914 executives of the Ford Motor Company announced that they were going to double the minimum wage for an eight hour working day to $5. Henry Ford became something of a hero to workers, who flocked to his plant to enjoy higher pay. Author Casey explores some of the unanticipated consequences of this bold move.
16. To Make the World Safe for Democracy, John Lukacs, American Heritage, Winter 2010
On April 2, 1917 President Woodrow Wilson appeared before Congress to ask for a declaration of war against Germany. "The world," he stated, "must be made safe for democracy." The allies won the war, but Wilson failed to attain the kind of settlement he wanted at the Paris Peace Conference and the United States Senate repudiated his plan for a League of Nations. Twenty years later Americans faced the horrifying prospect of another world war.
17. The Democrats’ Deadlocked Ballot Brawl of 1924, Peter Carlson, The Washington Post Weekly Edition, March 10–16, 2008
In 1924 Democratic frontrunners Al Smith and William Gibbs McAdoo deadlocked at the convention. Smith backers tended to be Northern, urban, "wet" (against prohibition), and Catholic; McAdoo appealed to the South and West, "dry" and Protestant. There were 103 ballots taken before a compromise candidate was selected.
18. Between Heaven and Earth: Lindbergh: Technology and Environmentalism, Glen Jeansonne and David Luhrssen, History Today, January 2008
Charles A. Lindberg’s solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927 "symbolized the triumph of technology over geography and the human spirit over the barrier of space." Seldom mentioned is that in his later years Lindberg came to have grave doubts about the impact of technology on the planet, and devoted himself to a number of environmental issues.
19. Evolution on Trial, Steve Kemper, Smithsonian, April 2005
The Scopes Trial of 1925 pitted William Jennings Bryan against Clarence Darrow in a highly publicized clash over the teaching of evolution in Dayton, Tennessee. Kemper points out that 80 years later many residents of Dayton refuse to accept Charles Darwin’s theory about the common ancestry of humans and primates.
20. Remember the Roaring ’20s?, Robert S. McElvaine, The Washington Post National Weekly Edition, October 6–12, 2008
"The task facing business in the 1920s," the author writes, "was replacing the work ethic with a consumption ethic." He sees a great deal of similarity between the Bull Market of the 1920s and the economic bubble that burst in 2008.
21. 15 Minutes That Saved America, H. W. Brands, American History, October 2008
On March 12, 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt made the first radio broadcast of what would become known as his "fireside chats." In a calm, intimate manner he spoke to the American people about the banking failure that had almost paralyzed the nation and what he proposed to do about it. Author Brands regards this as perhaps the most important 15 minutes in American history.
22. Lessons from the Great Crash, James Piereson, The Weekly Standard, March 31/April 7, 2008
Piereson analyzes the overall impact of the New Deal on the American economy and society. If FDR did not "save" capitalism, Piereson concludes, "he at least steered it through its greatest crisis by engineering a package of moderate and constructive reforms."
23. When America Sent Her Own Packing, Steve Boisson, American History, October 2006
During the Great Depression about 1 million people of Mexican descent were driven from the United States by raids, deportations, and scare tactics. Los Angeles County, for instance, sponsored trains to "repatriate" Mexicans. Americans, bewildered by the economic disaster, sought a convenient scapegoat and "found it in the Mexican community."
24. Labor Strikes Back, Robert Shogan, American History, December 2006
In December 1936 the United Auto Workers launched a sit-down strike against General Motors. Shogan discusses events leading up to the strike and the violence that resulted. The success of the strike sparked a wave of similar actions in workplaces across the nation. According to the author, "the sit-down strikers wrote a new chapter in the annals of American labor."
25. Flight of the Wasp, Victoria Pope, American Heritage, Spring 2009
The Women Air Force Service Pilots served as a home front Army auxiliary during World War II. They flew cargo, transported new planes from factories, and towed aerial targets. Always controversial in an age when the ability of women to perform such functions was controversial, the group was disbanded in 1944. An initially skeptical General Harold Arnold, Chief of the Army Air Forces, said of their performance: "It is on the record that women can fly as well as men." Unfortunately, it was not until the 1970s that they were officially recognized as veterans.
26. Ike at D-Day, Michael Korda, Smithsonian, December 2007
General Dwight D. "Ike" Eisenhower commanded a force of 3 million men scheduled to invade France during the first week of June 1944. Planning for the operation had been meticulous but could not account for the weather. Author Korda describes the run up to Ike’s decision to "go."
27. Dollar Diplomacy, Niall Ferguson, The New Yorker, August 27, 2007
The end of World War II found the economic structure of Europe in ruins. The harsh winter of 1946–47, further depressed economic and social conditions. Fearing a collapse into chaos, American Secretary of State George C. Marshall in the spring of 1947 proposed a massive aid program to get Europe back on its feet. Niall Ferguson evaluates the Marshall Plan, which has been called "among the most noble experiences in human affairs."
28. Command Performance, David Halberstam, Smithsonian, November 2007
Just five years after the end of World War II, Americans found themselves involved in the Korean War. Halberstam analyzes the role of General Matthew B. Ridgway in reorganizing demoralized American forces after China entered the conflict.
29. Crisis at Central High, John A. Kirk, History Today, September 2007
In September 1957, nine black students attempted to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Kirk analyzes events leading up to this courageous act and its lasting consequences.
30. Launch of a New World, Joel Achenbach, The Washington Post Weekly Edition, October 8–14, 2007
In October 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first space satellite in history. Sputnik, as it was named, had an enormous impact on the way Americans viewed their society and their future. Their confidence in American technological superiority was badly shaken and the Soviets had gained an insurmountable military edge in the Cold War.
31. Will the Left Ever Learn to Communicate across Generations?, Maurice Isserman, The Chronical Review, June 20, 2008
During the tumultuous 1960s several generations of radicals vied to determine the course of protest movements. Their inability to cooperate effectively severely damaged their cause.
32. King’s Complex Legacy, Kevin Merida, The Washington Post National Weekly Review, April 14–20, 2008
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. is rightly remembered as the towering Civil Rights leader of his time. Less well remembered, however, is that he was a beleaguered man during the last years of his life. His opposition to the Vietnam War and his embrace of social and economic goals some considered extreme alarmed even some of his supporters who believed he "had taken on too much."
33. The Spirit of ’78, Stayin’ Alive, Kenneth S. Baer, The Washington Post, July 13, 2008
Many writers have claimed that if you want to understand the present, you should look back to 1968. Not so, according to the author. "If you peer deeply into the polyester soul of 1978, you can see the beginnings of the world we live in today."
34. Soft Power: Reagan the Dove, Vladislav M. Zubok, The New Republic, June 21, 2004
Ronald Reagan, once considered by many to be a bungling incompetent, now occupies a much higher place in the ranks of twentieth century presidents. This transformation has come about, Zubok argues, not because of his embrace of militant policies such as Star Wars but because he sought the path of peace with the Soviet Union when the opportunity arose.
35. The Tragedy of Bill Clinton, Garry Wills, New York Times Book Review, August 12, 2004
Most people agreed that Bill Clinton was an able politician, regardless of whether they agreed with his objectives. This article analyzes the man and the scandals that mortally wounded his presidency. Wills argues that Clinton would have better served himself and his programs had he resigned from office.
36. The Rove Presidency, Joshua Green, The Atlantic, September 2007
President George W. Bush’s key strategist, Karl Rove, "had the plan, the power, and the historic chance to remake American politics." This seemed especially true after 9/11. The Bush/Rove vision of creating a permanent Republican majority dissipated through a series of blunders. "Bush will leave behind a legacy long on ambition," Green writes, "and short on positive results."
37. Good Health for America?, Martin Gorsky, History Today, February 2010
Written shortly before passage of President Obama’s health care bill, Gorsky provides a brief history of why previous attempts failed. "The key point," according to Gorsky, "Is that the political institutions of the U.S. tend to impede deep and contentious reforms."
38. An Empire at Risk, Niall Ferguson, Newsweek, December 7, 2009
The United States is the lone superpower with unrivalled military and economic strength. Ever mounting deficits, Ferguson warns, could pave the way to disaster. "Call it the fatal arithmetic of imperial decline."
39. What Do We Owe the Indians?, Paul VanDevelder, American History, June 2009
The treatment of Indians has been a sordid chapter in American history. Pushed off their ancestral lands, many tribes were herded onto reservations that could barely sustain existence. A new generation of educated Indians are using the courts to make certain that the 371 active treaties, many of which have been broken or ignored, are interpreted fairly.
40. Becoming Us, Alan Ehrenhalt, Governing, July 2008
For nearly 200 years those who consider themselves "Americans" have been worried about successive waves of immigration. Will the newcomers eventually blend into society, or will they remain a quasi-alien presence for the foreseeable future? The author analyzes this issue as it applies to Mexican immigrants.
41. Ending the Slavery Blame-Game, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The New York Times, April 23, 2010
One of the most contentious issues in American racial history has been that of reparations: "that the descendants of American slaves should receive compensation for their ancestors’ unpaid labor and bondage." Gates explores the relatively unknown role of Africans in providing bodies for the deplorable slave trade.
42. The American Character, Louis P. Masur, The Chronical Review, January 16, 2009
Going against recent scholarly trends, historian Simon Schama argues that there is an American character that sets us apart from other nations. He cites four topics that "will inform America’s future because they have indelibly stamped its past: war, religion, immigration and abundance."
43. Global Warming: Who Loses—and Who Wins?, Gregg Easterbrook, The Atlantic, April 2007
Global warming, Easterbrook argues, could cause a "broad-based disruption of the global economy unparalleled by any event other than World War II." He points out that this phenomenon probably will do more harm to those nations already mired in poverty and might actually benefit the more affluent ones. He also discusses what must be done to stave off disaster.
44. Boomer Century, Joshua Zeitz, American Heritage, October 2005
"Baby Boomers" are generally referred to as those who were born between 1946 and 1964, a period when the national birthrate skyrocketed. "Raised in an era of unprecedented affluence and national omnipotence, but coming of age in a time that perceived more limited resources and diminished American power," Zeitz points out, "the boomers have long been defined by a vain search for satisfaction."
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