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American Women, Transatlantic Marriages, and Anglo-American Relations, 1865-1945
From 1865 to 1945, a number of prominent marriages united American heiresses and members of the British aristocracy. In Informal Ambassadors, author Dana Cooper examines the lives and marriages of the American-born, British-wed Lady Jennie Jerome Churchill, Mary Endicott Chamberlain, Vicereine Mary Leiter Curzon, Duchess Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, and Lady Nancy Astor. This cohort of women surprised their families—both British and American—by exhibiting an extraordinary degree of agency in a period that placed women solidly outside the boundaries of politics and diplomacy.
Without the formal title of diplomat or membership in Parliament, these women nonetheless exerted significant influence in the male-dominated arena of foreign affairs and international politics. As the wives of leading members of the British aristocracy, they had uncompromised and unlimited access to the eyes and ears of individuals at the highest level in Great Britain—the very decision makers who formulated and implemented foreign policy with their home country. Collectively and individually, these informal ambassadors worked to improve relations at the turn of the twentieth century, and by no coincidence, the United States and Great Britain began to view one another less as adversaries and more as allies.
Combining diplomatic history with gender and women’s history, Informal Ambassadors demonstrates not only that could women act as transnational envoys at a time when they could not apply for State Department employment but that they influenced Anglo-American relations to a degree never before considered by historians.
The New Deal and the Great Depression
In this second volume of the Interpreting American History series, experts on the 1930s address the changing historical interpretations of a critical period in American history. Following a decade of prosperity, the Great Depression brought unemployment, economic ruin, poverty, and a sense of hopelessness to millions of Americans. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs aimed to bring relief, recovery, and reform to the masses.
More than seventy-five years after Roosevelt took the oath as president, Americans are still debating what did and did not happen in the 1930s to help the nation recover from its worst economic depression. Proponents and detractors have cast the successes and failures of the New Deal in many lights. Historians have argued that the New Deal went too far, that it did not go far enough, that it created more problems than it solved, and even that its shaky foundations are the reason for the economic and social instability of the Great Recession of the early twenty-first century.
The contributors to this volume explore how historians have judged the nature, effects, and outcomes of the New Deal. Arranged in three sections, the essays discuss Roosevelt’s New Deal revolution, explore the groups on the fringes of the New Deal, and consider the legacies of 1930s reform. Chapters focus on specific areas of study, including politics, agriculture, the environment, labor, African Americans, the economy, social programs, the arts, mobilization for World War II, and memory. These fields represent today’s emerging interpretations of one of the most significant decades of the twentieth century.
Interpreting American History: The New Deal and the Great Depression introduces readers to this important period by examining the major historical debates that surround the 1930s, giving students a succinct and indispensable historiographic overview.
In his day he dominated the political landscape like no one in Ohio’s long, proud history ever had—or likely ever will. James A. Rhodes (1909–2001) plotted a path that took him from tiny Coalton, Ohio, to the governor’s office. In this first biography of Rhodes, his life and political career are scrutinized by those who knew him best—the working press. Written by three journalists who covered Rhodes in overlapping periods, this account traces, often with uproarious humor, his unlikely rise to power. It discusses his four terms as governor, his subsequent 20 years as a political elder, and even his avocation as an inventor.
Rhodes was a far cry from a typical politician, shunning ideology to the point of alienating Republican leaders. He was elected because he promised the unobtainable, and at times he actually delivered. “Find out what people want, and give it to them” was his credo. In private life, he joined cronies in the business world and made millions of dollars, sometimes using inside knowledge to help start commercial ventures.
James A. Rhodes, Ohio Colossus recounts Rhodes’s upbringing in a single-parent household, his modest schooling, and an illness that deprived him of a lung. It chronicles the attempts to tar Rhodes with scandal and the tragedy that indelibly marred his tenure as governor—the National Guard shootings of student protesters at Kent State University in May 1970. His later years as governor were highlighted by his stubborn resistance to environmental protection, something he thought would cost jobs, especially in the coal industry. According to Rhodes, “Every social ill among able-bodied Ohioans” was the consequence of joblessness.
In his post-public life, Rhodes got a patent on a complex system of airlocks and filters making indoor air more than 99 percent germ-free. He envisioned an “Environmental City” that could prolong life. His grandiose ideas didn’t always pan out in the short run, but in some cases they came to fruition years later. He once devised a scheme for a bridge across Lake Erie, which was at first received with public ridicule, and four decades after he proposed it was considered a revolutionary concept.
The office of governor was tailor-made for him and he knew it. He seldom apologized and never looked back.
The Politics of Principle
This first full-length biography of John Joyce Gilligan argues that Ohio’s sixty-second governor was the most significant Democrat in the state’s postwar years. But it is more than the story of a governor. Through painstaking research and dozens of interviews, author Mark Bernstein paints a vivid picture of Ohio’s past and its prospects for the future that includes an array of lesser politicians— some of them outlandish—who aided or opposed Gilligan’s efforts.
Gilligan did not intend to have a political career. The Cincinnati native resolved to join a Jesuit seminary, but when Pearl Harbor was bombed, he enlisted in the Navy and won the Silver Star at Okinawa. While on leave, Gilligan married the former Katie Dixon, whom he had known since childhood. After the war, the Gilligans settled in Cincinnati where Jack attended graduate school and taught at Xavier University. What drew him into politics was Adlai Stevenson’s 1952 presidential campaign, which ignited in Gilligan a belief in politics as public service. His service included a decade on Cincinnati’s city council and his 1964 election to Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” congress as the representative for Ohio’s First District.
Through these years, Ohio’s Democratic Party was largely conservative. It was dominated by five-time governor and two-term senator Frank Lausche. Gilligan allied himself with labor, minorities, and academics to launch the long shot senatorial campaign that defeated the incumbent in the 1968 Democratic primary. Though Gilligan lost by a narrow margin that November, he emerged as the state’s leading Democrat and its successful 1970 gubernatorial candidate.
By the 1970s, Ohio’s ills were manifest. Schools closed for lack of funds; the heavily polluted Cuyahoga River caught fire. Once in office, Gilligan financed improvements by maneuvering the state’s first income taxes through a Republican-controlled legislature. He expanded support for education and mental health, while establishing the Ohio EPA and campaign finance reform. It was a record that prompted talk of a Gilligan presidential run in 1976.
Bernstein examines the reasons for Gilligan’s wholly unexpected defeat for reelection in 1974 and shows that afterward, Gilligan steadfastly pursued his commitment to civic engagement by heading the Peace Studies program at the University of Notre Dame, establishing the Civic Forum at the University of Cincinnati and, in 1999, running successfully for Cincinnati school board—at age 78.
John J. Gilligan: The Politics of Principle presents a lively and fascinating portrait of a distinctive figure of postwar American liberalism.
Woodrow Wilson Covenant Theology, and the Mexican Revolution, 1913-1915
How Wilson’s religious heritage shaped his response to the Mexican Revolution
“In Wilson’s view, America had a part to play as a divine instrument. To deny the United States an active role in the world was an attempt to deny God’s will.” —from the Introduction
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution mandates that government and religious institutions remain separate and independent of each other. Yet, the influence of religion on American leaders and their political decisions cannot be refuted. Leading Them to the Promised Land is the first book to look at how Presbyterian Covenant Theology affected U.S. president Woodrow Wilson’s foreign policy during the Mexican Revolution.
The son of a prominent southern minister, Wilson was a devout Presbyterian. Throughout his life he displayed a strong conviction that covenants, or formal promises made binding by an oath to God, should be the basis for human relationships, including those between government and public organizations. This belief is demonstrated in Wilson’s attempt to bring peaceful order to the world with the 1919 Covenant of the League of Nations.
Through careful investigation of Wilson’s writings and correspondence, along with other contemporary sources, author Mark Benbow shows how Wilson’s religious heritage shaped his worldview, including his assumption that nations should come together in a covenant to form a unitary whole like the United States. As a result, Wilson attempted to nurture a democratic state in revolutionary Mexico when rivals Venustiano Carranza and Pancho Villa threatened U.S. interests. His efforts demonstrate the difficulty a leader has in reconciling his personal religious beliefs with his nation’s needs.
Leading Them to the Promised Land adds to the growing body of scholarship in international history that examines the connections between religion and diplomacy. It will appeal to readers interested in the history of U.S. foreign relations and the influence of religion on international politics.
A U.S. Volunteer Writes Home
Letters from the Spanish Civil War provides a unique perspective into the motivations that led a young man from the American heartland to defy U.S. neutrality and travel to Spain to fight in defense of democracy against Nazi- and Fascist-backed aggression. Born in a small town in rural Ohio, Carl Geiser came from a deeply religious German-speaking family that had recently emigrated from Switzerland. The onset of the Great Depression exposed Geiser to the reality of hard times and discrimination, challenging his belief that hard work would bring self-reliance and just rewards. This awakening led him to question the logic and values of capitalism and to become active in a range of youth and student organizations linked to the Communist Party.
Following the 1936 military uprising that was supported by Hitler and Mussolini against Spain’s legally elected Republican government, Geiser decided that more needed to be done than simply delivering speeches and raising money to fight fascism. Joining with over 35,000 volunteers from fifty countries to cross the Pyrenees and help defend the beleaguered and isolated government, Geiser acted on his personal political ideology, which was based on American small-town communal values and internationalist ideals of class-based solidarity.
In Letters from the Spanish Civil War, possibly the largest surviving collection of letters written by a U.S. volunteer during this conflict, Geiser eloquently describes to family and friends the deep personal motivations that led him to risk his life to defend democracy in a faraway country. His detailed descriptions of the daily reality of warfare in one of the first battlefields of World War II sought to inspire those back home to awaken the U.S. public opinion and policy makers to the global threat of Fascist expansionism.
Teaching Issues and Reading Practices
New pedagogy for studying literature in translation
In the last several decades, literary works from around the world have made their way onto the reading lists of American university and college courses in an increasingly wide variety of disciplines. This is a cause for rejoicing. Through works in translation, students in our mostly monolingual society are at last becoming acquainted with the multilingual and multicultural world in which they will live and work. Many instructors have expanded their reach to teach texts that originate from across the globe. Unfortunately, literature in English translation is frequently taught as if it had been written in English, and students are not made familiar with the cultural, linguistic, and literary context in which that literature was produced. As a result, they submit what they read to their own cultural expectations; they do not read in translation and do not reap the benefits of intercultural communication.
Here a true challenge arises for an instructor. Books in translation seldom contain introductory information about the mediation that translation implies or the stakes involved in the transfer of cultural information. Instructors are often left to find their own material about the author or the culture of the source text. Lacking the appropriate pedagogical tools, they struggle to provide information about either the original work or about translation itself, and they might feel uneasy about teaching material for which they lack adequate preparation. Consequently, they restrict themselves to well-known works in translation or works from other countries originally written in English.
Literature in Translation: Teaching Issues and Reading Practices squarely addresses this pedagogical lack. The book's sixteen essays provide for instructors a context in which to teach works from a variety of languages and cultures in ways that highlight the effects of linguistic and cultural transfers.
“In Little Nest Diana Lueptow shows a unique skill for bridging the everyday and the mythic. In lines and sentences that blend formal elegance with earthy, idiomatic force, Lueptow weaves surprising and moving connections between ourselves and our histories, just as she reconciles our vulnerability with our fundamental need for what Stevens once called ‘ideas of order.’ But don’t be fooled by this poet’s meticulous technical care: ‘Nimble isn’t the half of it. Fierce is. . . .’ begins ‘Mink and Rabbit,’ and that declaration makes a fitting emblem for Lueptow’s own well-wrought yet ferocious collection.”—Peter Campion
“A thread runs through this wonderful gathering of poems, a thread connecting mythology and ancient places to the sometimes duller here and now. Upon that thread a timeless song is played, a song of longing and loss, and yet a song capable of transforming grief. These poems float in the waters of a dream-state where the currents of memory and imagination collide, surely the dreamy realm where lyric poetry begins and rises.”—Maurice Manning
“Local Fauna opens with a meta-poem about Jack Spicer, and I couldn’t help but think of his ‘dictated’ poetry, poetry as vessel, poetry getting down what needs to be said. Brian Brodeur’s poems have this urgency—life, death, cruelty, politics, war, capitalism, and love. Hard truths come through the past, radio interviews, zoo animals, neighbors, personas, and pop songs. Brian Broduer’s poetry has insistence and morality, inclusivity and beauty. Local Fauna is terrific.”—Denise Duhamel
“Brian Brodeur’s formal skill, his feel for the whole history beneath a sentence, a line, a syllable, is matched here only by his unsentimental compassion for the people he renders in his poems. I can think of few other poets who capture what contemporary American life actually feels, looks, and sounds like as movingly as Brodeur does. Poems such as ‘Cousins,’ ‘Local Fauna,’ and ‘The Register’ will be with us for a long time indeed. Brian Brodeur is a marvel.”—Peter Campion
Kent State, 1970; A Play
On May 4, 1970, National Guardsmen occupying the Kent State University campus fired 67 shots in 13 seconds, leaving four students dead. This tragedy had a profound impact on Northeast Ohio and the nation and is credited as a catalyst in changing Americans’ views toward U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Supported by the Ohio Humanities Council, May 4th Voices was originally written and performed as part of a community arts project for the 40th commemoration of the events of May 4th.
The text of David Hassler’s play is based on the Kent State Shootings Oral History Project, begun in 1990 by Sandra Halem and housed in Kent State University Libraries’ Department of Special Collections and Archives. The collection is comprised of over 110 interviews, with first-person narratives and personal reactions to the events of May 4, 1970, from the viewpoints of members of the Kent community; Kent State faculty, students, alumni, staff, and administrators who were on campus that day; and National Guardsmen, police, hospital personnel, and others whose lives were affected by their experience. Weaving these voices and stories together anonymously, Hassler’s play tells the human story of May 4th and its aftermath, capturing the sense of trauma, confusion, and fear felt by all people regardless of where they stood that day.
Directed by Katherine Burke, May 4th Voices premiered on May 2, 2010, on the Kent State University campus. It offered the Kent community an opportunity to take ownership of its own tragic story and engage in a creative, healing dialogue. Now, with the publication of the play and its accompanying teacher’s guide and DVD, May 4th Voices brings to a national audience the emotional truth of this tragedy, connecting it to the larger issues of war, conflict, and trauma. A powerful work of testimony, May 4th Voices offers a new and unique contribution to the literature of the protest movement and the Vietnam era.