Moments When Time Stands Still and History Changes Dramatically: Just Before Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, 1863

For students of history of almost every generation, there are moments when time stands still, to be relived over and over: what if the central characters had acted differently? What if Gavrilo Princip did not successfully murder Archduke Franz Ferdinand and set off WWI? What if it was raining (as predicted) and the roof went up on … Continue reading Moments When Time Stands Still and History Changes Dramatically: Just Before Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, 1863

Does African History Disprove Jared Diamond’s Theory That Guns, Germs and Steel Explain Western Dominance?

Cynical Historian: "There’s a question in the history profession that if sufficiently answered could not only reshape how we conceive ourselves, but reveal the best course of action for politics around the world. What makes the West strong? While there are many answers, the most popular of these has been Jared Diamond’s "Guns Germs and … Continue reading Does African History Disprove Jared Diamond’s Theory That Guns, Germs and Steel Explain Western Dominance?

Backlash or Whitelash, and Identity Politics

“If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you.” -- President Lyndon Johnson to Bill Moyers. History of Whitelash or White Identity Politics. Identity Politics Should you vote … Continue reading Backlash or Whitelash, and Identity Politics

Labor Unions, From Industrial to Information Revolutions

Among industrialized nations, the United States is one of the few that doesn't have a political party devoted to laborers, advocating for the rights of workers such as collective bargaining. To understand why, we have to compare and contrast the history of labor in the United States vs. European countries, as I started to do … Continue reading Labor Unions, From Industrial to Information Revolutions

Should Gerrymandering Be Legal?

Should politicians be able to choose their voters using computer programs that analyze voting patterns of Democrats and Republicans down to the neighborhood and street level? The Supreme Court ruled narrowly, by 5 to 4, in 2019 that outlawing such a practice is "beyond the scope" of the high court and would greatly expand the … Continue reading Should Gerrymandering Be Legal?

Could America Have Survived Without Slavery?

How does one reconcile the basic contradiction of America? Its founders, who proclaimed that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, owned slaves? And that our founding fathers could not have had the time to read, philosophize and construct their ideas without the support of slaves? And that … Continue reading Could America Have Survived Without Slavery?

Questions From the Introduction to ‘These Truths’

Jill Lepore's book "These Truths," a history of the United States, is so much more readable and well-written than a group-written textbook. I cannot put it down. She hopes it will be used as a text for American history and civics classes. I'm considering it. I composed the following questions from the seven pages of … Continue reading Questions From the Introduction to ‘These Truths’

Comparing American History to French and South American History

British historian Niall Ferguson offered these fascinating comparative questions: “Why did the American Revolution turn out so much better—with a far lower death toll—than the French Revolution?” The French Revolution was a rebellion against authoritarianism of the monarchy but after a period of terrifying violence and chaos, they replaced it with a republican government in … Continue reading Comparing American History to French and South American History

Search for Your Modern Tribe

When teaching ancient history, I start out by asking students what is the basic foundation of society? They usually say, "the family." In the Middle East, my students easily understood that the extended family -- uncles, aunts, and cousins -- or tribe came next. In the United States, where extended families are often scattered and … Continue reading Search for Your Modern Tribe