Category Archives: Books

Radical Gotham: Anarchism in NYC


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radical gothamNew York City’s identity as a cultural and artistic center, as a point of arrival for millions of immigrants sympathetic to anarchist ideas, and as a hub of capitalism made the city a unique and dynamic terrain for anarchist activity. For 150 years, Gotham’s cosmopolitan setting created a unique interplay between anarchism’s human actors and an urban space that invites constant reinvention.

A new book edited by Tom Goyens’, Radical Gotham: Anarchism in New York City From Schwab’s Saloon To Occupy Wall Street (UI Press, 2017) gathers essays that demonstrate anarchism’s endurance as a political and cultural ideology and movement in New York from the 1870s to 2011.

The authors cover the gamut of anarchy’s emergence in and connection to the city. Some offer important new insights on German, Italian, and Yiddish- and Spanish-speaking anarchists. Others explore anarchism’s influence on religion, politics, and the visual and performing arts. A concluding essay looks at Occupy Wall Street’s roots in New York City’s anarchist tradition. Continue reading

Beauty In The City: The Ashcan School


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beauty in the cityRobert A. Slayton’s new book Beauty In The City: The Ashcan School (SUNY Press, 2017) takes a look back to the beginning of the twentieth century, when the Ashcan School of Art blazed onto the art scene, introducing a revolutionary vision of New York City.

In contrast to the elite artists who painted the upper class bedecked in finery, in front of magnificent structures, or the progressive reformers who photographed the city as a slum, hopeless and full of despair, the Ashcan School held the unique belief that the industrial working-class city was a fit subject for great art.

Beauty in the City illustrates how these artists portrayed the working classes with respect and gloried in the drama of the subways and excavation sites, the office towers, and immigrant housing. Their art captured the emerging metropolis in all its facets, with its potent machinery and its class, ethnic, and gender issues. Continue reading

Chenango Canal: A Million Dollar Ditch


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Chenango Canal: The Million Dollar Ditch A new book by author Wade A. Lallier, Chenango Canal: The Million Dollar Ditch (Arcadia Publishing, 2017) chronicles the story of a Central New York State canal and how it changed the region. In 1825, the Omnibus Canal Bill had called for a survey of a canal linking the Susquehanna River at Binghamton to the Erie Canal in Utica. The idea of a canal was well received in the Chenango Valley but was opposed by many outside it. Continue reading

The Making of the United States Constitution


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ben_franklins_worldHow did the framers draft the Constitution of 1787? What powers does the Constitution provide the federal government? Why do we elect the President of the United States by an electoral system rather than by popular vote?

These are some of the many questions listeners have asked since November 2016. And in this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, we’re going to explore some answers with Michael Klarman, author of The Founders’ Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution (Oxford University Press, 2016). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/143

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A Remarkable WWII Veteran With NYC Ties


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the indestructible manA new book about a little-known hero of World War II — and one with strong ties to the New York City area — has just been published by local writer David Rocco. Rocco has recently co-authored the book The Indestructible Man (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017), the story of Navy officer Dixie Kiefer, who was an instrumental player in major battles in World War II. Kiefer was the executive officer on the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown at both the Battle of the Coral Sea and Battle of Midway. He was the last man off Yorktown before she sank at Midway.

Though seriously injured, he swam through shark-infested waters pushing a life raft filled with hurt sailors toward a rescue ship. Later, as captain of the carrier USS Ticonderoga, his ship came under attack by kamikaze aircraft. Though critically wounded by flying shrapnel, he remained on the bridge, overseeing counter-attacks and damage control for twelve hours. Continue reading

A History of Abolition


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ben_franklins_worldMost histories of American abolitionism begin just before the Civil War, during the Antebellum period. But the movement to end chattel slavery in America began long before the United States was a nation.

In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, Manisha Sinha, a professor of history at the University of Connecticut and author of the award-winning book The Slaves Cause: A History of Abolition (Yale University Press, 2016), takes us through the early American origins of the the abolition movement. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/142

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Nathaniel Bowditch: 19th-Century Man of Business, Science, and the Sea


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ben_franklins_worldNathaniel Bowditch worked as a navigator, mathematician, astronomer, and business innovator. Over the course of his lifetime, his fellow Americans hailed him as the “American Sir Isaac Newton.”

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Tamara Thornton, a professor of history at the University of Buffalo and author of Nathaniel Bowditch and the Power of Numbers: How a Nineteenth-Century Man of Business, Science, and the Sea Changed America (UNCPress, 2016), leads us on a detailed exploration of the life of Nathaniel Bowditch. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/140

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Brooklyn Ghost Ship: Revolutionary War British Prison Ship HMS Jersey


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Brooklyn Prison ShipA new book by Robert P. Watson, The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn (Da Capo Press, 2017) tells the story of a prison ship employed by the British during the American Revolution.

Moored off the coast of Brooklyn until the end of the war, the derelict ship, the HMS Jersey, held thousands of Americans either captured by the British or accused of disloyalty.

Crammed below deck – one thousand men at a time – without light or fresh air, the prisoners were scarcely fed food and water. Disease ran rampant and human waste fouled the air as prisoners were held at the mercy of British and Hessian guards. Continue reading

Women Will Vote: New Book On Winning Suffrage in NYS


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Suffrage in New YorkSusan Goodier and Karen Pastorello have released a new book, Women Will Vote (Cornell University Press, 2017), which coincides with the 2017 centenary of women’s right to full suffrage in New York State.

The book highlights the activism of rural, urban, African American, Jewish, immigrant, and European American women, as well as male suffragists, both upstate and downstate, that led to the positive outcome of the 1917 referendum.

Goodier and Pastorello argue that the popular nature of the women’s suffrage movement in New York State and the resounding success of the referendum at the polls relaunched suffrage as a national issue. If women had failed to gain the vote in New York, Goodier and Pastorello claim, there is good reason to believe that the passage and ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment would have been delayed. Continue reading