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The Edge of the American West





Last Build Date: Mon, 06 Nov 2017 12:32:41 +0000

 



England Expects (note on Dunkirk)eric

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 16:08:37 +0000

First of all, let nobody say Christopher Nolan lacks a sense of humor: for the second time, he’s kept Tom Hardy under a voice-distorting face mask for almost an entire movie. I am morally certain that Nolan understands this as a wink to the audience as well as a challenge to Hardy; the director likes […](image)


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I think @dandrezner was right to be “f**king embarrassed” by Sessions’s prepared remarks about immigrantseric

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 12:52:11 +0000

Yesterday Dan Drezner said it was embarrassing that US Attorney General Jeff Sessions called illegal aliens “filth.” Today Drezner apologized, because while the word “filth” was in prepared remarks, Sessions didn’t say it, and because even in the prepared remarks, “The context is clear: Sessions was going to use ‘filth’ to describe MS-13 and drug […](image)


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Is Trump a president with precedents? Would you rather Brexit, or Mr. Brexit?eric

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 00:58:44 +0000

Those of you fortunate enough to be able to pick up BBC Radio 4 on your wireless sets may wish to tune in after your lunches this week of the Trump inauguration, at 13:45 for fifteen minutes each weekday,1 to hear Trump: The Presidential Precedents, a programme hosted by UCL historian and 2015 Broadcaster of […](image)


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An open letter from the populists of the 1890s to the populists of todayeric

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 19:53:12 +0000

Dear unhappy voters of 2016: We keep hearing you called populists and, to put it in your vernacular, you had one job and you’re doing it wrong. Like you, we were concerned about an America on “the verge of moral, political, and material ruin” in which “corruption dominates the ballot-box, the Legislatures, the Congress and […](image)


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Trumpism, local and globaleric

Tue, 15 Nov 2016 20:51:05 +0000

Below the fold you will find what I had to say about the election before the election. This excerpt comes from a paper I wrote for a conference about the Obama presidency; the papers were due October 28. In the New York Times story about the conference, you will read that “the overwhelmingly liberal group” […](image)


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Paddy Power Pays Out on the Presidencyeric

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 15:52:41 +0000

“Paddy Power is paying out to customers who backed Hillary Clinton,” I read. Reminds me of another story about election day bets that make punters sweat. Early in the evening of November 8, 1932—election day, that year—Sam Lamport was running around Democratic National Committee headquarters in mid-Manhattan (just by Grand Central Terminal) trying to find […](image)


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A gold-ish dollareric

Mon, 01 Feb 2016 18:19:29 +0000

On this day, the first of February, in 1934, the New York Times carried Franklin Roosevelt’s proclamation of a new gold value for the US dollar. Previously it had been worth 25 8/10 ounces of gold 9/10 fine; now it would be worth 15 5/21 ounces of gold 9/10 fine—or, as it is more commonly […](image)


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Clinton’s counterfactual and mine; or whither Lincolnian Reconstruction…eric

Tue, 26 Jan 2016 21:06:37 +0000

Hillary Clinton is taking flak today for her summary repetition of the white supremacist Dunning School of historical interpretation, which held that the attempt in the 1860s and 1870s to provide African Americans with their civil rights was a terrible imposition on the white folks of the South. [Lincoln] was willing to reconcile and forgive. […](image)


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‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands; being some notes on moneyeric

Sat, 23 Jan 2016 19:23:14 +0000

In the current Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal Michael W. Clune1 writes about odd small episodes, “particularly ephemeral perceptual experiences” we have that may alert us to the gap between how things seem and what they are. Riffing on Rei Terada’s Looking Away, he lists mirages, after-images; “clouds taken for mountains … looking at […](image)


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Inaugurate when convenient.eric

Wed, 20 Jan 2016 21:58:48 +0000

A year from today, the US will inaugurate a new president. But inauguration day has not always been thus fixed. In the early years of the Republic, habit (rather than statute) placed the date of inauguration at March 4—though even that convention was not quite firm. In 1821, with the incumbent President James Monroe about […](image)


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A wreck by any other name: on the inadequacy of “Great Recession”eric

Wed, 20 Jan 2016 00:00:26 +0000

I dislike the term “Great Recession” to describe our times, for technical and political reasons alike. Technically, the severe recession ended in June 2009. But, as the NBER says there, In determining that a trough occurred in June 2009, the committee did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that […](image)


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The Passion of the West; notes on Tarantino’s The Hateful Eighteric

Tue, 12 Jan 2016 17:13:07 +0000

Non-specific plot details discussed herein. Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight opens with a close shot of Christ’s face as he hangs on a cross; the frame widens to show us it’s a roadside crucifix somewhere in a desolate snowscape. Along that road sweeps a stagecoach bearing a bounty hunter—whose dual nature is revealed in his […](image)


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Hitchens minor on the English and their historyeric

Sat, 02 Jan 2016 16:51:40 +0000

Peter Hitchens is less well known in the United States than his late brother, but when asked to write for the New York Times, he delivers his Mail columnist goods, full-strength. Regarding Robert Tombs’s English and their History: Even in free countries it is sometimes necessary to alter the past to suit the present. For […](image)


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George Will’s Serious Historical Credentialseric

Mon, 09 Nov 2015 17:42:55 +0000

The estimable Heather Cox Richardson sympathizes with George Will in his despair over Bill O’Reilly’s book, Killing Reagan. Will decries “today’s cultural pathology of self-validating vehemence with blustery certitudes substituting for evidence.” Just so. But one recalls this example of “the Magisterial Mr. Will” (oh yes, dear readers, for that is how he was billed […](image)


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Trump, populism, Hofstadter, Heer.erichitler elephant.jpg

Tue, 25 Aug 2015 16:03:04 +0000

In The New Republic, Jeet Heer says that Donald Trump is not a populist, he’s “the voice of aggrieved privilege—of those who already are doing well but feel threatened by social change from below, whether in the form of Hispanic immigrants or uppity women.” Or the voice of the white American man enraged at the […](image)


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Watch out, Peter. David Brooks wants to rob you to pay Paul.eric

Mon, 04 May 2015 14:38:25 +0000

Ronald Reagan in “A Time for Choosing,” the Gipper’s speech for Barry Goldwater in 1964: Welfare spending [is] 10 times greater than in the dark depths of the Depression. We’re spending 45 billion dollars on welfare. Now do a little arithmetic, and you’ll find that if we divided the 45 billion dollars up equally among […](image)


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Grandpa Was a Famous NaziericTeege

Fri, 01 May 2015 17:32:35 +0000

With Abenesia in the news, I thought it might be useful to talk about another Axis nation’s complicated struggle with the memory of the Second World War. Jennifer Teege found out, at the age of 38, that not only was her grandfather a Nazi, he was an especially infamous Nazi: Amon Goeth, the commandant of […](image)


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Roosevelt v. HitlerericTLS

Mon, 27 Apr 2015 22:44:30 +0000

Now, or recently, at newsagents In the TLS for 17 April, you can find my essay on Nicholas Wapshott’s The Sphinx, about the presidential election of 1940, the isolationists, and how Franklin Roosevelt engineered the US shift toward war. The essay starts like this: Franklin Roosevelt recognized the threat Adolf Hitler posed from the moment […](image)


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Excerpting memory.ariImage 25

Thu, 09 Apr 2015 16:34:40 +0000

If you’re interested, Slate just posted an excerpt from a chapter — on Appomattox and memory — from Battle Lines, the graphic history of the Civil War I’ve written with Jonathan Fetter-Vorm.(image)


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“We are all Americans.”ari

Thu, 09 Apr 2015 05:04:03 +0000

Perhaps my favorite story of the Civil War comes from Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox, which took place 150 years ago today. Here’s an excerpt, below the fold, from a piece I wrote last year about that episode. A patient historian could have traced the long arc of the Civil War by waiting out […](image)


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