Category Archives: Books

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

Destruction and the American Civil War


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ben_franklins_worldThe American Civil War claimed more than 620,000 American lives. It also cost American forests, landscapes, cities, and institutions.

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore the different types of ruination wrought by the American Civil War with Megan Kate Nelson, author of Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War (University of Georgia Press, 2012). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/063

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The Bill of Rights on the Ben Franklin’s World podcast


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ben_franklins_worldDid you know that when James Madison originally proposed the Bill of Rights, it consisted of 36 amendments and that the House of Representatives did not want to consider or debate Madison’s proposed amendments to the Constitution?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore the Bill of Rights and its ratification with Carol Berkin, author of The Bill of Rights: The Fight to Secure America’s Liberties (Simon and Schuster, 2015). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/062

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