When the World Turned Upside Down: Politics, Culture, and the Unimaginable Events of 2019-2022

When the World Turned Upside Down: Politics, Culture, and the Unimaginable Events of 2019-2022

by Luis Martínez-Fernández
When the World Turned Upside Down: Politics, Culture, and the Unimaginable Events of 2019-2022

When the World Turned Upside Down: Politics, Culture, and the Unimaginable Events of 2019-2022

by Luis Martínez-Fernández


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When the World Turned Upside Down is a collection of 66 essays and opinion columns written between 2019 and 2022, a period of momentous—some unimaginable—developments in the United States and across the world. This book stands at the intersection of opinion journalism, history, and chronicling offering a dialogue between past and present (or present and past). They are, to use the often-quoted phrase, first drafts of history.

Over the past five years, the world has witnessed several "unimaginables" about which the author felt compelled to write. Some of the book’s essays identify, analyze, and connect parallels between the U.S. Antebellum and Civil War and the contemporary increasingly polarized context that reached an explosive peak during the 2020 elections and the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Shrouded in a cloud of unprecedented global pestilence, the world has witnessed dramatic political and geopolitical change, mostly for the worse: China, Russia, Hungary, Belarus, Myanmar, Cuba, even Puerto Rico. Essays in this book discuss these transformations from a historical perspective as well as mass popular resistance, in places like Cuba, where they seemed unimaginable.

The book’s final section, "Not Boring at All: Globalization and World Politics," explores the global ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical rearrangements related to China’s meteoric ascendance as a world power, Russia’s militaristic expansionism, and related topics.

"In When the World Turned Upside Down, Luis Martínez-Fernández demonstrates that he is not ‘merely’ an acclaimed historian, but an engaging, sharp-witted social commentator. This excellent collection of columns, written during and about what Martínez-Fernández rightly terms ‘the unimaginable events of 2019-2022,’ is dazzling for his easy, readable blend of history, sociology, popular culture, politics and more."

—Jeff Robbins, Columnist, Boston Herald and Creators Syndicate

"Martínez-Fernández’s book reads like a series of missives from the front, capturing the drama of unfolding, often unpredictable, events. The author is a master story-weaver, drawing from the warp and weft of our national and global histories to reveal patterns in today’s events."

—Suzette Martinez Standring, Author of The Art of Column Writing

"Professor Martínez-Fernández fuses the perspective of a historian with a journalist’s eye on wide-ranging contemporary events. The result is an exhilarating read and a broader understanding of today’s world."

—George Breslauer, Professor and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Emeritus, UC Berkeley

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781433196140
Publisher: Peter Lang Inc., International Academic Publishers
Publication date: 01/30/2023
Pages: 420
Product dimensions: 5.91(w) x 8.86(h) x (d)

About the Author

Dr. Luis Martínez-Fernández is a historian, university professor, nationally syndicated columnist, and public speaker whose fields of expertise include Latin America; the Caribbean; education; world cultures; and Latino/Hispanic politics, culture, and society.

Table of Contents

Foreword – Acknowledgments – Abbreviations – Introduction – Trump, Fake News, and Why History Matters More Than Ever – "All History Is Contemporary": A 20/ 20 Look at the Antebellum and Civil War – Polarization, Nationalism, and Secessionism (Past and Present) – Race and Politics: Contemporary Echoes of the U.S. Antebellum – How Do Lincoln, Kennedy, Obama, and Trump Compare? – I Cannot Believe the Things I Have Been Reading in the Pre- election Media – Statehood for Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico in Historical Perspective – The 2020 U.S. Census: Historical Precedents and What Censuses Tell Us about Populations and Power, Past and Present – Is That a Constitution in Your Pocket? – Democratic Socialism in the United States: Does Bernie Sanders Need Rebranding? – Do the Riots in Minneapolis Forbode Greater Civil Unrest? – Pandemic, Pandemonium, and the November 2020 Elections – June 14– June 20, 2020: Trump’s Worst Week to Date? – Election- Eve Carpet Bombings, Scarier- Than- Usual Halloween Costumes, and Other Things We May See Before and on Election Day 2020 – Fifty- Five Hours Binge- Watching the Never- Before- Seen and the Unimaginable (America, January 4–6, 2021) – Happy 2021 Valentine’s Day, Mr. Trump – Tucker and the Talking Heads: Anatomy of a Fox News Show Built on Deceit and Demagoguery –"Epic," "Heroic," "Patriots": Words We Have Abused into Meaninglessness – The Diplomacy of Haggling – "Ask Them to Spell Their Names" and Other Real- Life Blunders in Transcultural Communications – Lost in Cultural Translation – The Summer Solstice, Kupalo/ Kupala and St. John the Baptist – The Ajiaco, the Cuban Sandwich, and Other Cuban/ Caribbean Foods for Thought – Barbados: The Caribbean’s First Slavery- and- Sugar Plantation Complex and World’s Newest Republic – Puerto Rico: The Holiday Island with the Longest Christmas Season – A Russian Soldier Put a Bullet Through the Poet’s Head – The Schoolboy’s Old, Red English Atlas – My Offshore Library: University of Puerto Rico, 1978–1985 – The Seven Deadly Sins of the Modern American University – Diverse Pathways in Education and Life: Seven Real- Life Stories – The Epidemic That Will Outlive the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Spiraling Mental Health Crisis Among Our College Students –An Almost Dangerous Occupation? Teaching History in Florida’s Public Schools and State Universities – Rethinking Columbus and 1492 in and out of the Classroom – Would You Like to Have Coffee with the Author? – I Saw My Entire Life Flash Before My Eyes – Hispanic? Latino? Latinx? What’s Nextx? – Hispanic Heritage Month 2020: Some Advice from the Trenches – Latinos in Florida’s 2020 Election – A Second Opinion: The Democratic Party Needs a Battery of Tests and Biopsies to Figure Out Why Its Support among Latino Voters Slipped in 2020 – Crisis in Paradise – Puerto Rico’s Democratic Revolt Result of Decades of Mounting Tectonic Pressure – Puerto Rico, Its Expanding Diaspora and the 2020 Elections – The 20 Plagues of Contemporary Puerto Rico – Can’t We Just Sell Multi- Plagued Puerto Rico and Solve the Political Status of the World’s Oldest Colony? – Should We Get Married or Continue Living Together? Puerto Rico’s Never- Ending Status Question – "My Good Friend Roosevelt": Fidel Castro to FDR, November 6, 1940 – Unsolicited Advice for Bernie Sanders: Stay Away from the Cuba Trap – "Are We Not Your Fellow Artists? ": The Solitude of Cuba’s San Isidro Movement – A Tale of Two Other Cities: Rising Authoritarianism out of Washington, D.C., and Havana – An Honest Response to a Colleague’s Views on Cuba and U.S. Policy Toward That "Immiserated" Island – The Shattered Mirror: Democracy and Anti- Democracy on Both Sides of the Florida Straits, 2021 – Sixtieth Anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis Finds Communist Island in Deepest Crisis Ever – What History Tells Us About COVID-19’s Future Impact – 1989, History’s Stubborn Twists and the Commencement Speaker Who Warned Us to Remain Vigilant – The Right, the Left and Everything at the Other End – The Strange Etymologies of "the Left," "Liberals," and "Progressives" – Wars and Rumors of Wars in Times of TikTok: Is America Ready for a Major Conflagration? – Olympic Ceremonies: Spectacles of National Branding and Global Projection – Olympic Games, Truces, and Wars (Sochi, 2014; Beijing, 2022) – History’s Ghosts Trample Roughshod over Ukraine – We Know How Things Start But Not How They Are Going to End: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine – Queen Elizabeth II’s Passing and the U.S. Media: Reflections of a Lowercase "r" Republican – If History Is of Any Value: March 2020, Revisited – Putin’s Dirty War, Geopolitical Adjustments and Prospects for Future Wars – Toward a Second American Civil War? – The Global Authoritarian Wave, Democratic Countercurrents and Dangerous Crosscurrents – Epilogue: Deadlines, Periodization and This Book’s Title – Index – About the Author.

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