Category Archives: Books

Eric Foner Wins 2016 American History Book Prize


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Eric FonerDr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, has announced that historian Eric Foner will be awarded with New-York Historical’s annual American History Book Prize for Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2015). The award recognizes the best book of the year in the field of American history or biography.

Professor Foner will receive a $50,000 cash award, an engraved medal, and the title of American Historian Laureate, which will be presented on April 8, 2016. The ceremony is part of New-York Historical’s Chairman’s Council Weekend with History, a two-day event featuring an array of speakers discussing important historical events that have impacted New York City and the nation. Continue reading

Law, Order, and Sexual Misconduct in Colonial New England


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ben_franklins_worldLaw and order stood as a sign of civilization for many 17th-century Europeans, which is why some of the first European settlers in North America created systems of law and order in their new homeland.

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore the legal history of colonial New England with Abby Chandler, author of Law and Sexual Misconduct in New England 1650-1750 (Ashgate, 2015). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/069

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Jim Blackburn: Time Traveling in Tuckerton, NJ


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Cover - The Price Sisters’ DiariesIn the film Back to the Future Part II (1989), the characters of Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to the future year of 2015. Not to go too far into the plot (which many of you may already know), while in the future Marty gets the idea to buy a sports almanac to bring back from the future and make money betting on sports. But before they leave 2015 (October 21st to be exact) Doc discovers the almanac and gives the reasoning behind the building of his time machine. Doc say to Marty: “I didn’t invent the time machine for financial gain. The intent here is to gain a clear perspective on humanity. Where we have been. Where we are going. The pitfalls and the possibilities. The perils and the promise of perhaps an answer to that universal question – why?” Continue reading

The Remarkable Rise of Eliza Jumel


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the remarkable rise of Eliza JumelThe Morris-Jumel Mansion in Washington Heights was built in 1765, and is Manhattan’s oldest surviving house. George Washington made it his headquarters during parts of the Revolutionary War, and today it is a not-for-profit museum open to all, yet the mansion flies mostly under the radar of even the most erudite of New Yorkers.

Margaret A. Oppenheimer sheds light on the mansion and its most notorious occupant in her new book, The Remarkable Rise of Eliza Jumel: A Story of Marriage and Money in the Early Republic (2015 Chicago Review Press). Continue reading

Founders’ Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln


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ben_franklins_worldAbraham Lincoln grew up as the son of a poor farmer. Yet, he became the 16th President of the United States.

How did the son of a poor farmer achieve election to the presidency?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we investigate the life of Abraham Lincoln and his journey to the presidency with Richard Brookhiser, author of Founders’ Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln (Basic Books, 2014). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/068

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Race and Real Estate: Conflict and Coperation in Harlem, 1890-1920


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race and real estate conflict and cooperation in harlemThrough the lens of real estate transactions from 1890 to 1920, Kevin McGruder’s book Race and Real Estate: Conflict and Cooperation in Harlem 1890-1920 (Columbia Univ. Press, 2015) offers unique perspectives on Harlem’s history and reveals the complex interactions between whites and African Americans at a critical time of migration and development.

During these decades Harlem saw a dramatic increase in its African American population, and although most histories speak only of the white residents who met these newcomers with hostility, this book uncovers a range of reactions. Continue reading

An Environmental History of Early California & Hawaii


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ben_franklins_worldIn this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore how Spanish longhorn cattle influenced the early American and environmental histories of California and Hawaii with John Ryan Fischer, author of Cattle Colonialism: An Environmental History of the Conquest of California and Hawaii (UNCPress, 2015).  You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/067

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The Amazing Career Of Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler


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nicholas miraculousIn Nicholas Miraculous: The Amazing Career of the Redoubtable Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler (Columbia Univ. Press, 2015), Michael Rosenthal explores the life of Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler (1862–1947).

To some, like Teddy Roosevelt, he was “Nicholas Miraculous,” the fabled educator who had a hand in everything; to others, like Upton Sinclair, he was “the intellectual leader of the American plutocracy,” a champion of “false and cruel ideals.” Ezra Pound branded him “one of the more loathsome figures” of the age. Whether celebrated or despised, Nicholas Murray Butler was undeniably an irresistible force who helped shape American history. Continue reading

Crossing Broadway, Washington Heights and the Promise of New York City


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Crossing BroadwayIn Crossing Broadway Washington: Heights and the Promise of New York City (Cornell University Press, 2014), Robert W. Snyder explores New York City in the 1970s.

When the South Bronx burned and the promise of New Deal New York and postwar America gave way to despair, the people of Washington Heights at the northern tip of Manhattan were increasingly vulnerable.

The Heights had long been a neighborhood where generations of newcomers — Irish, Jewish, Greek, African American, Cuban, and Puerto Rican — carved out better lives in their adopted city. But as New York City shifted from an industrial base to a service economy, new immigrants from the Dominican Republic struggled to gain a foothold. This was followed by the crack epidemic of the 1980s,  and the drug wars. Continue reading

Washington’s Spies: America’s First Spy Ring


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ben_franklins_worldIn this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore espionage during the American Revolution and the origins and operations of the Culper Spy Ring with Alexander Rose, author of Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring (Bantam, 2007) and a historian, writer, and producer for AMC’s television drama TURN. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/065 Continue reading