June 6, 1944 was arguably the most pivotal day of World War II. Operation Overlord was set to be launched and if successful, was to open a second front in Europe so as to attack Germany from all sides. Stalin’s Soviet Army had been battling the German Army since late 1942 in Stalingrad, Leningrad, and Moscow. Germany was unable to force the Soviets into surrender and Stalin’s troops slowly pushed the Germans back from Russia. The Soviet soldiers defended their motherland honorably; however, they needed a reprieve from the German armor and killing squads sent east to execute and imprison Russian Jews and political prisoners. The Western front Stalin had been insisting upon was finally coming into the realm of reality.
The invasion named Operation Overlord was planned to unfold in three parts; the break-in, the buildup, and the breakout. The first stage was the most dangerous and challenging as the Allied troops were tasked with attacking and holding the beaches of Normandy in the face of an open German assault. The elements of nature seemed to conspire against the Allies and the German defenses, although not optimal, were solid and treacherous. The ultimate detriments to the Allied strategy of the break-in phase; however, were the mistakes made by the Allies themselves.
This is the Top Ten Social History of American Medicine Booklists. First, why did we leave Paul Starr’s The Social Transformation of American Medicine (Basic Books, 1984) off this Top Ten list? It is perhaps the best known American medical history book, and it is an essential reference. Pretty much anyone who has written about the history of American medicine has cited it. Should you read it? Yes. Check it out or buy it and skim the parts that interest you. It is probably the one book on the list that most historians are aware of and that is why we left it off.
Historians have always had a tough time writing about media. The danger of technological determinism tends to loom over any discussion of technologies such as television or the Internet—the risk of arguing that a particular medium or device causes people to behave or think a certain way. That fear has been present since the earliest days of media studies, when the War of the Worlds and the pioneering audience research of Paul Lazarsfeld and the Bureau of Applied Social Research in the 1930s raised questions about the “effects” that mass media had on people, both as individuals and groups. Meanwhile, the power of Hitler’s megaphone implied that people as a mass were pliant, susceptible to a sort of top-down manipulation that sits uneasily with most historians, with their concern for contingency, complexity, and agency in the past.
The United States has been conducting surveillance of its citizens since it was created, but the ability of any government to spy on its citizens has dramatically improved in the digital age. How should United States balance national security and personal privacy? Does the Constitution provide adequate protection against unrestricted government surveillance? What can advocates do to strengthen personal privacy rights? These concerns will only intensify in the years to come.
Anthony Gregory’s new book American Surveillance: Intelligence, Privacy and the Fourth Amendment published by the University of Wisconsin Press examines the history of surveillance in the United States and grapples with these problems. He examines what the role the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against illegal government searches and seizures has played in protecting Americans from government surveillance and how courts have frequently circumvented it. Daniel Ellsberg has described Gregory’s book as essential to “those who want to protect liberty, peace and justice, and who want to take the debate to the highest level, will find this book indispensable.”
As a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Gregory has written pieces published by The Atlantic, Christian Science Monitor, Salon, Reason, and many others, and authored The Power of Habeas Corpus in America: From the King’s Prerogative to the War on Terror.
The Civil War is the most written about event in United States history. There are an extraordinary number of books covering all aspects of the war from large overviews like James McPherson’s Battle Cry Freedom, Gary Gallagher’s books on The Union War and The Confederate War, Allan Nevins 8 volume set on the conflict, and Shelby Foote’s three volume set of books on the war. Like a lot of people, I started with Shelby Foote’s books, but over the years I have drifted towards more academic works. Unsurprisingly, all kinds of different authors have written non-fiction books on the topic. Some of these authors are academic historians such as James McPherson and Gary Gallagher, more literary authors such as Winston Groom (author of fiction works such as Forest Gump and Civil War nonfiction works Shiloh, 1862 and Vicksburg, 1863) and Shelby Foote, and an extraordinary number of independent scholars. I would not be surprised to learn that there are more self-published books on the American Civil War than any other American historical topic.
Creating this list has been both very easy and extraordinarily difficult. It is easy to find great books on Civil War Battles, but it is almost impossible to pick only ten. If you are a stickler and count the books listed, you will notice that the final is little bit higher than 10. Therefore, this list is not comprehensive. That would be impossible. Additionally, it only focuses on specific battles or campaigns of the war. Even when you intentionally restrict the number of total books on the war, you are still left with thousands of book titles. There are over 1,000 books available on Amazon discussing some aspect of the battle of Gettysburg. At the very least, these books are a great place to start an exploration of the Civil War.
January 1, 1863 marked a pivotal moment in the American Civil War. On this date the Emancipation Proclamation, the preliminary of which was issued by President Lincoln on September 22, 1862, took full and permanent effect, thus changing the Union’s ultimate war goal. The Civil War was no longer being fought to preserve the antebellum Union but rather, in the words of Lincoln, was to be a war of “subjugation…the [old] South” was to be destroyed in favor of “new propositions and ideas.”
Once the aim of the war changed for the Union, so too did its leaders. The harsh and unpopular actions that were necessary to prevent the prolonged bloody carnage of continual war were tasked to three men. Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and William T. Sherman innately understood what needed to be done in order to end the war and they courageously performed these duties.
Creating a Top Ten List for the Gilded Age/Progressive Era is challenging. There are an extraordinary number of outstanding books on this period. These books are a selection of our favorites. Most of these books are focused on trying to define this era as whole, instead of focusing on a single issue. In other words, several of these books are seeking to create a grand narrative of the era to help their readers understand it.
Admittedly, the border between the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era is somewhat murky. There are not any of the easy starting and stopping points that can be pointed to for defining eras such as Colonial America, the American Civil War, Reconstruction or the Cold War. Arguably, even the term Gilded Age is somewhat archaic and perhaps the era should be renamed. In a way, this listed is focused on the last thirty years of the Nineteenth Century and the implications of those decades on the start of the Twentieth Century. Many people have pointed to similarity of the issues between the Gilded Age/Progressive Era and our present America.