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History > U.S. History > 20th Century

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Blowing the Whistle on Genocide Cover

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Blowing the Whistle on Genocide

Josiah E. DuBois, Jr. and the Struggle for a U.S. Response to the Holocaust

by Rafael Medoff

Blowing the Whistle on Genocide tells the story of Josiah E. DuBois, Jr., a young treasury department lawyer who risked his career to alert the world to the Holocaust

Bodies of Reform Cover

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Bodies of Reform

The Rhetoric of Character in Gilded Age America

James Salazar, 0, 0

“James Salazar takes the term ‘character’—pervasive and elusive—and accounts for its centrality by showing how it embodies the contradictions of modern America. In a series of intricate literary readings, he analyzes the ways in which the late-nineteenth-century obsession with building ‘character’ vivified social distinctions but also, in its instabilities, became the pivot for critique.”

Bodies of War Cover

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Bodies of War

World War I and the Politics of Commemoration in America, 1919-1933

Lisa Budreau

The United States lost thousands of troops during World War I, and the government gave next-of-kin a choice about what to do with their fallen loved ones: ship them home for burial or leave them permanently in Europe, in makeshift graves that would be eventually transformed into cemeteries in France, Belgium, and England. World War I marked the first war in which the United States government and military took full responsibility for the identification, burial, and memorialization of those killed in battle, and as a result, the process of burying and remembering the dead became intensely political. The government and military attempted to create a patriotic consensus on the historical memory of World War I in which war dead were not only honored but used as a symbol to legitimize America's participation in a war not fully supported by all citizens.

The saga of American soldiers killed in World War I and the efforts of the living to honor them is a neglected component of United States military history, and in this fascinating yet often macabre account, Lisa M. Budreau unpacks the politics and processes of the competing interest groups involved in the three core components of commemoration: repatriation, remembrance, and return. She also describes how relatives of the fallen made pilgrimages to French battlefields, attended largely by American Legionnaires and the Gold Star Mothers, a group formed by mothers of sons killed in World War I, which exists to this day. Throughout, and with sensitivity to issues of race and gender, Bodies of War emphasizes the inherent tensions in the politics of memorialization and explores how those interests often conflicted with the needs of veterans and relatives.

Body and Soul Cover

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Body and Soul

The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination

Alondra Nelson

Between its founding in 1966 and its formal end in 1980, the Black Panther Party blazed a distinctive trail in American political culture. The Black Panthers are most often remembered for their revolutionary rhetoric and militant action. Here Alondra Nelson deftly recovers an indispensable but lesser-known aspect of the organization’s broader struggle for social justice: health care. The Black Panther Party’s health activism—its network of free health clinics, its campaign to raise awareness about genetic disease, and its challenges to medical discrimination—was an expression of its founding political philosophy and also a recognition that poor blacks were both underserved by mainstream medicine and overexposed to its harms.

Drawing on extensive historical research as well as interviews with former members of the Black Panther Party, Nelson argues that the Party’s focus on health care was both practical and ideological. Building on a long tradition of medical self-sufficiency among African Americans, the Panthers’ People’s Free Medical Clinics administered basic preventive care, tested for lead poisoning and hypertension, and helped with housing, employment, and social services. In 1971, the party launched a campaign to address sickle-cell anemia. In addition to establishing screening programs and educational outreach efforts, it exposed the racial biases of the medical system that had largely ignored sickle-cell anemia, a disease that predominantly affected people of African descent.

The Black Panther Party’s understanding of health as a basic human right and its engagement with the social implications of genetics anticipated current debates about the politics of health and race. That legacy—and that struggle—continues today in the commitment of health activists and the fight for universal health care.

Bold They Rise Cover

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Bold They Rise

The Space Shuttle Early Years, 1972-1986

David Hitt

After the Apollo program put twelve men on the moon and safely brought them home, anything seemed possible. In this spirit, the team at NASA set about developing the Space Shuttle, arguably the most complex piece of machinery ever created. The world’s first reusable spacecraft, it launched like a rocket, landed like a glider, and carried out complicated missions in between.
 
 
Bold They Rise tells the story of the Space Shuttle through the personal experiences of the astronauts, engineers, and scientists who made it happen—in space and on the ground, from the days of research and design through the heroic accomplishments of the program to the tragic last minutes of the Challenger disaster. In the participants’ own voices, we learn what so few are privy to: what it was like to create a new form of spacecraft, to risk one’s life testing that craft, to float freely in the vacuum of space as a one-man satellite, to witness a friend’s death. A “guided tour” of the Shuttle—in historical, scientific, and personal terms—this book provides a fascinating, richly informed, and deeply personal view of a feat without parallel in the human story.

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Borders of Equality

The NAACP and the Baltimore Civil Rights Struggle, 1914-1970

Lee Sartain

As a border city Baltimore made an ideal arena to push for change during the civil rights movement. It was a city in which all forms of segregation and racism appeared vulnerable to attack by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's methods. If successful in Baltimore, the rest of the nation might follow with progressive and integrationist reforms. The Baltimore branch of the NAACP was one of the first chapters in the nation and was the largest branch in the nation by 1946. The branch undertook various forms of civil rights activity from 1914 through the 1940s that later were mainstays of the 1960s movement. Nonviolent protest, youth activism, economic boycotts, marches on state capitols, campaigns for voter registration, and pursuit of anti-lynching cases all had test runs.

Remarkably, Baltimore's NAACP had the same branch president for thirty-five years starting in 1935, a woman, Lillie M. Jackson. Her work highlights gender issues and the social and political transitions among the changing civil rights groups. In Borders of Equality, Lee Sartain evaluates her leadership amid challenges from radicalized youth groups and the Black Power Movement. Baltimore was an urban industrial center that shared many characteristics with the North, and African Americans could vote there. The city absorbed a large number of black economic migrants from the South, and it exhibited racial patterns that made it more familiar to Southerners. It was one of the first places to begin desegregating its schools in September 1954 after the Brown decision, and one of the first to indicate to the nation that race was not simply a problem for the Deep South. Baltimore's history and geography make it a perfect case study to examine the NAACP and various phases of the civil rights struggle in the twentieth century

Braceros Cover

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Braceros

Migrant Citizens and Transnational Subjects in the Postwar United States and Mexico

Deborah Cohen

Drawing on oral histories, ethnographic fieldwork, and documentary evidence, ###Braceros# applies a cultural approach to analyze the political economy of labor migration, the rise of large-scale corporate agriculture, and state-to-state relations, showing how the World War II and postwar periods laid the groundwork for current debates over immigration and globalization. Cohen creatively links the often unconnected themes of exploitation, development, the rise of consumer cultures, and gendered class and race formation to show why those with connections beyond the nation have historically provoked suspicion, anxiety, and retaliatory political policies.

Brand NFL, Pbk Ed. Cover

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Brand NFL, Pbk Ed.

Paperback edition, With a new preface by the author — Making and Selling America's Favorite Sport

Michael Oriard

Professional football today is an $8 billion sports entertainment industry--and the most popular spectator sport in America, with designs on expansion across the globe. In this astute field-level view of the National Football League since 1960, Michael Oriard looks closely at the development of the sport and at the image of the NFL and its unique place in American life. New to the paperback edition is Oriard's analysis of the offseason labor negotiations and their potential effects on the future of the sport, and his account of how the NFL is dealing with the latest research on concussions and head injuries.

Broken Brotherhood Cover

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Broken Brotherhood

The Rise and Fall of the National Afro-American Council

Benjamin R. Justesen

Broken Brotherhood: The Rise and Fall of the National Afro-American Council gives a comprehensive account of the National Afro-American Council, the first truly nationwide U.S. civil rights organization, which existed from 1898 to 1908.  Based on exhaustive research, the volume chronicles the Council’s achievements and its annual meetings and provides portraits of its key leaders.

Led by four of the most notable African American leaders of the time—journalist T. Thomas Fortune, Bishop Alexander Walters, educator Booker T. Washington, and Congressman George Henry White—the Council persevered for a decade despite structural flaws and external pressures that eventually led to its demise in 1908.

            Author Benjamin R. Justesen provides historical context for the Council’s development during an era of unprecedented growth in African American organizations. Justesen establishes the National Afro-American Council as the earliest national arena for discussions of critical social and political issues affecting African Americans and the single most important united voice lobbying for protection of the nation’s largest minority. In a period marked by racial segregation, widespread disfranchisement, and lynching violence, the nonpartisan council helped establish two more enduring successor organizations, providing core leadership for both the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Urban League. 

Broken Brotherhood traces the history of the Council and the complicated relationships among key leaders from its creation in Rochester in 1898 to its last gathering in Baltimore in 1907, drawing on both private correspondence and contemporary journalism to create a balanced historical portrait. Enhanced by thirteen illustrations, the volume also provides intriguing details about the ten national gatherings, describes the Council’s unsuccessful attempt to challenge disfranchisement before the U.S. Supreme Court, and sheds light on the gradual breakdown of Republican solidarity among African American leaders in the first decade of the twentieth century.

 

 

Brown Decision, Jim Crow, and Southern Identity Cover

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Brown Decision, Jim Crow, and Southern Identity

James C. Cobb

The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling was a watershed event in the fight against racial segregation in the United States. The recent fiftieth anniversary of Brown prompted a surge of tributes: books, television and radio specials, conferences, and speeches. At the same time, says James C. Cobb, it revealed a growing trend of dismissiveness and negativity toward Brown and other accomplishments of the civil rights movement. Writing as both a lauded historian and a white southerner from the last generation to grow up under southern apartheid, Cobb responds to what he sees as distortions of Brown’s legacy and their implied disservice to those whom it inspired and empowered.

Cobb begins by looking at how our historical understanding of segregation has evolved since the Brown decision. In particular, he targets the tenacious misconception that racial discrimination was at odds with economic modernization--and so would have faded out, on its own, under market pressures. He then looks at the argument that Brown energized white resistance more than it fomented civil rights progress. This position overstates the pace and extent of racial change in the South prior to Brown, Cobb says, while it understates Brown’s role in catalyzing and legitimizing subsequent black protest.

Finally, Cobb suggests that the Brown decree and the civil rights movement accomplished not only more than certain critics have acknowledged but also more than the hard statistics of black progress can reveal. The destruction of Jim Crow, with its “denial of belonging,” allowed African Americans to embrace their identity as southerners in ways that freed them to explore links between their southernness and their blackness. This is an important and timely reminder of “what the Brown court and the activists who took the spirit of its ruling into the streets were up against, both historically and contemporaneously.”

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