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Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Recent
Film

Jordan Peele's 'Us', Postmodernism, and Free-Floating Racism

Before terrifying us, Peele overwhelms with cultural signifiers untethered from their referents in his latest, Us.

Books

A Troubled Sound Rings on in Danny Goldberg's 'In Search of the Lost Chord'

Danny Goldberg's In Search of The Lost Chord: 1967 and The Hippie Idea resonates with today's activist readers.

Film

Framing White Nationalism in Spike Lee's 'BlacKkKlansman'

Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman most dramatically reveals how race is a performance, not a biological essence, as it focuses on the importance of language in structuring racial representations.

Books

'May We Forever Stand' Explains Why "Lift Every Voice and Sing" Is an Immortal Song

"Lift Every Voice and Sing" has been embedded in black America's DNA for more than 100 years. We've sung it every February ever since Black History Month was a thing, and every December since Kwanzaa was a thing.

Books

On a Turning Point for Martin Luther King, Jr.

Biographer Patrick Parr takes readers through a vital and decisive phase of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life virtually unexplored by other biographers.

Books

Civil Rights Document, 'A More Beautiful and Terrible History', Is Revelatory, Sobering and Relevant

Theoharis's work is deeply (and sadly) relevant to our current condition. Many of the same issues Theoharis decries -- media inattention, liberal passivity on racial justice issues, government harassment of activists -- are still in play.

Books

The Rationality of Violence: The Kerner Commission and the Riots of 1967

Separate and Unequal provides a riveting account of a crucial moment in US history. It offers a penetrating insight into the manner in which good intentions and just causes necessarily confront the mechanisms of governmental bureaucracy.

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Is This the Death of Democracy in America?

The United States has pulled back from the brink of authoritarianism before. But a new study reveals the daunting challenges the country faces in preserving its democracy.

Books

'Bunk' Joins the Dots Between Barnum and Trump

Kevin Young painstakingly presents the history of hoaxes and why we keep falling for the same old shtick.

Books

'A Pictographic History of the Oglala Sioux, 50th Anniversary Edition' Is a Treasure

There's really nothing quite like this in other collections of "primitive" art, or even in the grand narrative painting from the European tradition.

Books

'Chocolate Cities' Draws New Maps of Black American Life

A classic Parliament track inspires a new look at how black Americans moved, made connections, and created a nation-within-a-nation.

Books

'Cartoon County' Life in Post-WWII America

Cartoon County reminds that beneath a post-WWII decade of seeming complacency and prosperity, comics strips were clear reflections of a society in transition.

Books

'Soul of a Nation' and 'The Wall of Respect' Prompt New Looks at Cutting-edge Black Art

No matter where you are on the wokeness spectrum, the Black Power era has yet to stop informing.

Books

A Weak Case for the Important Issue of 'Muslims and the Making of America'

A book like Muslims and the Making of America is necessary in these times, and it's for that very reason that Hussain's effort is so disappointing.

Reviews

Nobody Won the 'War for the Soul of America'

Andrew Hartman’s engaging exploration of the culture wars confirms that the conflicts will never be resolved because both sides are too extreme for America's moderate middle-ground.

Politics

The Love of Light: Gore Vidal, 1925 - 2012

We must approach any consideration of Gore Vidal's vast body of work with fear and trembling, because if we do not properly understand and absorb his wisdom, we will have missed yet another opportunity to truly grasp American history and identity.

Reviews

'The President is a Sick Man': Delightfully Underhanded Stories of Deception and Manipulation

Matthew Algeo's engaging book takes an obscure piece of history and crafts it into an engrossing narrative.

Culture

Art and the American Evolution: The Arts of the Americas Wing at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts

In America, art tells the story of an early predominance of classical European ideals, the emergence of a national identity amidst civil war, and the melting-pot existentialism that dominated a media-obsessed 20th century.

Politics

Lynd Ward and Walt Disney: Illustrators of America's Tumultuous History

Much as Walt Disney would do with his famed television programs of the '50s and '60s, Lynd Ward used his talents with watercolor, oil, brush and ink, mezzotint, and lithography to illustrate hundreds of inspiring historical biographies of true-life American heroes for children to admire and emulate.

Reviews

'The Warmth of Other Suns': A Time When the Bible Itself Was Segregated

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson's powerful narrative, The Warmth of Other Suns, is vital to understanding the plight of African Americans, vital to understanding the United States, and should not be ignored.

Books

Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln by John Stauffer

In John Stauffer's capable hands, the tug-of-war between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass is a study in the evolution of both a friendship and a political world view.

Politics

Howard Zinn: The Dying of a Light

A tribute to the signature interwar polymath: the historian, activist, dramatist, dockyard worker and teacher Howard Zinn.

Books

East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart by Susan Butler

Butler's book illustrates the fact that Amelia Earhart became the embodiment of adventurous spirit because she was such a formidable force.

Books

Slumming: Sexual and Racial Encounters in American Nightlife, 1885-1940 by Chad Heap

If you want to understand race and sexuality in the United States, don't bother with policy -- look at entertainment!

Books

Leaving India by Minal Hajratwala

“Each time we move, we must leave something of ourselves behind; perhaps then the map of a Diaspora consists, like a constellation, mainly of gaps.”

Books

Meriwether Lewis by Thomas C. Danisi

Danisi and Jackson claim a definitive explanation for Lewis' dramatic final act, and move to dispel the more sensationalist and macabre embellishments that have tarnished his reputation in the 200 years since his death.

Books

Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, by John Stauffer

Stauffer demonstrates in amusing and enlightening fashion the pivotal role fisticuffs and fighting had in helping Lincoln and Douglass define themselves and take control of their fates.

Books

It Still Moves by Amanda Petrusich

Petrusich is not concerned with how many records are sold or what tactics artists use in the studio. Her approach is more intangible, hence more emotionally tactile.

Books

The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell

American Exceptionalism has the potential to spur great innovation and bring about profound change, yet it can also be a destructive, insular force that pits the country against those who dare question its authority.

Michael Patrick Brady
Books

The United Symbolism of America by Robert Hieronimus and Laura Cortner

The symbols aren’t sinister -- we’ve just forgotten how to read them. These days, if something isn’t clear in a literal sense, it is inherently suspicious.

Michael Noble
Books

A Treasury of Foolishly Forgotten Americans by Michael Farquhar

You may be galvanized to the point that you grab foolish historical forgetfulness by the throat and form a William J. Burns awareness society.

Kim Simpson
Books

The Jamestown Project by Karen Ordahl Kupperman

For as long as it's been a part of history, the colony at Jamestown has been a bit of an older, ugly stepsister compared to the Pilgrims at Plymouth.

Michael Patrick Brady
Books

American Food Writing by Molly ONeill [Editor]

Any food lover will tell you that to learn about a culture, one can do no better than to pull up a chair and pick up a fork.

Erika Nanes
Books

The Fabric of America by Andro Linklater

Linklater offers an account of the extent to which clearly demarcated boundaries, of both the states and the nation, contributed to the formation of the American character.

Frank Wilson
Books

The Jamestown Project by Karen Ordahl Kupperman

All nations need foundation tales. If they don't exist, it's necessary to invent them. And if the real story doesn't play well, foundation myths come in handy. At least until the real story comes back to bite.

Carlin Romano
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