The Haunted Mr. Hawthorne

Salem Is My Dwelling Place: A Life of Nathaniel Hawthorne by edward haviland miller university of iowa press, 596 pages, $35 Jefferson’s public career focused on securing for Americans,” the historian Edmund S. Morgan has written, “a right of expatriation from the past.” This was a large . . . . Continue Reading »

The Myth of the Civil War

The Civil War A film by Ken Burns Shown as a PBS television series; also available on nine VHS videocassettes (11 hours). Individual purchases from Time-Life Videos, $180. Institutional price from PBS Videos, $350. Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution by James M. McPherson Oxford . . . . Continue Reading »

History in the Past Perfect

Is not the past large enough to let you find some place where you may disport yourself without becoming ridiculous? —Nietzsche It is nothing new for poets, painters, and philosophers to harken back to Utopian “golden ages” when greatness or harmony flourished. The German Romantics . . . . Continue Reading »

Race and Urban Politics

The Closest of Strangers: Liberalism and the Politics of Race in New York by jim sleeperw. w. norton, 345 pages, $21.95 Most Americans have the sense that something went terribly wrong in the nation’s big cities sometime in the middle of the 1960s. Since then, urban areas have been perceived . . . . Continue Reading »

Populist Protestantism

The Democratization of American Christianity by nathan hatch yale university press, 312 pages, $25 In 1802 a flamboyant Baptist preacher named John Leland presented a twelve-hundred pound “mammoth cheese” to Thomas Jefferson at a White House ceremony. Molded in a cider press from the milk of . . . . Continue Reading »

The Theses of Martin Luther King, Jr.

News stories of recent months underscore the fact that the place of Martin Luther King, Jr. in our national mythology is still not secure. Perhaps that should not surprise us. Myth-making in a nation so large and various as ours takes time. In that light, the twenty-three years since Dr. King’s . . . . Continue Reading »

A Government for Real People

As a geographer, I learned years ago that my fellow countrymen are not only uninformed about the location of places and things; they are uninterested and, indeed, resentful when someone suggests that it might be helpful for them to know where in the world they are. It took last year’s budget . . . . Continue Reading »