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American Guides
The Federal Writers’ Project and the Casting of American Culture
Wendy Griswold
University of Chicago Press, 2016
In the midst of the Great Depression, Americans were nearly universally literate—and they were hungry for the written word. Magazines, novels, and newspapers littered the floors of parlors and tenements alike. With an eye to this market and as a response to devastating unemployment, Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration created the Federal Writers’ Project. The Project’s mission was simple: jobs. But, as Wendy Griswold shows in the lively and persuasive American Guides, the Project had a profound—and unintended—cultural impact that went far beyond the writers’ paychecks.

Griswold’s subject here is the Project’s American Guides, an impressively produced series that set out not only to direct travelers on which routes to take and what to see throughout the country, but also to celebrate the distinctive characteristics of each individual state. Griswold finds that the series unintentionally diversified American literary culture’s cast of characters—promoting women, minority, and rural writers—while it also institutionalized the innovative idea that American culture comes in state-shaped boxes. Griswold’s story alters our customary ideas about cultural change as a gradual process, revealing how diversity is often the result of politically strategic decisions and bureaucratic logic, as well as of the conflicts between snobbish metropolitan intellectuals and stubborn locals. American Guides reveals the significance of cultural federalism and the indelible impact that the Federal Writers’ Project continues to have on the American literary landscape.
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An American in Hitler's Berlin
Abraham Plotkin's Diary, 1932-33
Abraham Plotkin; Edited & with an introduction by Catherine Collomp & Bruno Grop
University of Illinois Press, 2007
This is the first published edition of the diary of Abraham Plotkin, an American labor leader of immigrant Jewish origin who lived in Berlin between November 1932 and May 1933. A firsthand account of the Weimar Republic's final months and the early rise of Nazi power in Germany, Plotkin's diary focuses on the German working class, the labor movement, and the plight of German Jews. Plotkin investigated Berlin's social conditions with the help of German Social-Democratic leaders whose analyses of the situation he records alongside his own.

Compared to the writings of other American observers of the Third Reich, Plotkin's diary is unique in style, scope, themes, and time span. Most accounts of Hitler's rise to power emphasize political institutions by focusing on the Nazi party's clashes with other political forces. In contrast, Plotkin is especially attentive to socioeconomic factors, providing an alternative view from the left that stems from his access to key German labor and socialist leaders. Chronologically, the diary reports on the moment when Hitler's seizure of power was not yet inevitable and when leaders on the left still believed in a different outcome of the crisis, but it also includes Plotkin's account of the complete destruction of German labor in May 1933.

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Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands since the First World War
Edited by William S. Livingston and Wm. Roger Louis
University of Texas Press, 1979

Three forces—dwindling British power, rising American influence, and nationalism in a variety of forms—have transformed Australia, New Zealand, and the adjacent islands since 1919. In this volume, some of the most distinguished scholars of the Pacific region assess these significant historical changes.

These essays deal with international relations, politics, changing social structures, and literature since World War I. The themes of the volume as a whole are social and humanistic; they concern the evolution of both a regional identity and separate national identities in the Southwest Pacific. The unique areal and thematic concentration of this book makes it essential reading for all those interested in the history, politics, and culture of the Pacific.

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Austrian Reconstruction and the Collapse of Global Finance, 1921–1931
Nathan Marcus
Harvard University Press, 2018

In 1921 Austria became the first interwar European country to experience hyperinflation. The League of Nations, among other actors, stepped in to help reconstruct the economy, but a decade later Austria’s largest bank, Credit-Anstalt, collapsed. Historians have correlated these events with the banking and currency crisis that destabilized interwar Europe—a narrative that relies on the claim that Austria and the global monetary system were the victims of financial interlopers. In this corrective history, Nathan Marcus deemphasizes the destructive role of external players in Austria’s reconstruction and points to the greater impact of domestic malfeasance and predatory speculation on the nation’s financial and political decline.

Consulting sources ranging from diplomatic dossiers to bank statements and financial analyses, Marcus shows how the League of Nations’ efforts to curb Austrian hyperinflation in 1922 were politically constrained. The League left Austria in 1926 but foreign interests intervened in 1931 to contain the fallout from the Credit-Anstalt collapse. Not until later, when problems in the German and British economies became acute, did Austrians and speculators exploit the country’s currency and compromise its value. Although some statesmen and historians have pinned Austria’s—and the world’s—economic implosion on financial colonialism, Marcus’s research offers a more accurate appraisal of early multilateral financial supervision and intervention.

Illuminating new facets of the interwar political economy, Austrian Reconstruction and the Collapse of Global Finance reckons with the true consequences of international involvement in the Austrian economy during a key decade of renewal and crisis.

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Between the Brown and the Red
Nationalism, Catholicism, and Communism in Twentieth-Century Poland—The Politics of Boleslaw Piasecki
Mikolaj Stanislaw Kunicki
Ohio University Press, 2012

Between the Brown and the Red captures the multifaceted nature of church-state relations in communist Poland, relations that oscillated between mutual confrontation, accommodation, and dialogue. Ironically, under communism the bond between religion and nation in Poland grew stronger. This happened in spite of the fact that the government deployed nationalist themes in order to portray itself as more Polish than communist. Between the Brown and the Red also introduces one of the most fascinating figures in the history of twentieth-century Poland and the communist world.

In this study of the complex relationships between nationalism, communism, authoritarianism, and religion in twentieth-century Poland, Mikołaj Kunicki shows the ways in which the country’s communist rulers tried to adapt communism to local traditions, particularly ethnocentric nationalism and Catholicism. Focusing on the political career of Bolesław Piasecki, a Polish nationalist politician who began his surprising but illuminating journey as a fascist before the Second World War and ended it as a procommunist activist, Kunicki demonstrates that Polish communists reinforced an ethnocentric self-definition of Polishness and—as Piasecki’s case demonstrates—thereby prolonged the existence of Poland’s nationalist Right.

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The Clash of Moral Nations
Cultural Politics in Pilsudski’s Poland, 1926–1935
Eva Plach
Ohio University Press, 2006

The May 1926 coup d’état in Poland inaugurated what has become known as the period of sanacja or “cleansing.” The event has been explored in terms of the impact that it had on state structures and political styles. But for both supporters and opponents of the post-May regime, the sanacja was a catalyst for debate about Polish national identity, about citizenship and responsibility to the nation, and about postwar sexual morality and modern gender identities.

The Clash of Moral Nations is a study of the political culture of interwar Poland, as reflected in and by the coup. Eva Plach shifts the focus from strictly political contexts and examines instead the sanacja’s open-ended and malleable language of purification, rebirth, and moral regeneration.

In tracking the diverse appropriations and manipulations of the sanacja concept, Plach relies on a wide variety of texts, including the press of the period, the personal and professional papers of notable interwar women activists, and the official records of pro-sanacja organizations, such as the Women’s Union for Citizenship Work.

The Clash of Moral Nations introduces an important cultural and gendered dimension to understandings of national and political identity in interwar Poland.

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Constructing Iron Europe
Transnationalism and Railways in the Interbellum
Irene Anastasiadou
Amsterdam University Press, 2012
Although the years between the world wars were ones of diplomatic tension in Europe, they also saw the construction of countless miles of international railroads on the continent. In Constructing Iron Europe, Irene Anastasiadou examines this era of railroad building and argues that, contrary to most conventional histories—which view railroad building as an aspect of nation- or empire-building—the construction in this era was deliberately transnational, and ultimately aimed at tightening links between nations and constructing a closer-knit European community.
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The Contested Country
Yugoslav Unity and Communist Revolution, 1919-1953
Aleksa Djilas
Harvard University Press, 1991
Published amid the unraveling of the second Yugoslavia, The Contested Country lays bare the roots of the idea of Yugoslav unity--its conflict with the Croatian and Serbian national ideologies and its peculiar alliance with liberal and progressive, especially Communist, ideologies.
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Dancing Fools and Weary Blues
The Great Escape of the Twenties
Edited by Lawrence R. Broer and John D. Walther
University of Wisconsin Press, 1990
Often, the decade of the 1920s has been stereotyped with such labels as “The Roaring Twenties,” “The Jazz Age,” or “The Lost Generation.” Historical perspective has forced reevaluation of this decade. Articles in this collection are presented in the most definitive anthology dealing with 1920s America.
    The contributors have put aside stereotypes to offer a valuable critique of the American dream during a time of major crises. Dancing Fools and Weary Blues also presents its readers a picture of the continual redemption and revitalization of that dream, and reasserts its basic democratic values.
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Daring to Look
Dorothea Lange's Photographs and Reports from the Field
Anne Whiston Spirn
University of Chicago Press, 2008

Daring to Look presents never-before-published photos and captions from Dorothea Lange’s fieldwork in California, the Pacific Northwest, and North Carolina during 1939. Lange’s images of squatter camps, benighted farmers, and stark landscapes are stunning, and her captions—which range from simple explanations of settings to historical notes and biographical sketches—add unexpected depth, bringing her subjects and their struggles unforgettably to life, often in their own words.

When Lange was dismissed from the Farm Security Administration at the end of 1939, these photos and field notes were consigned to archives, where they languished, rarely seen. With Daring to Look, Anne Whiston Spirn not only returns them to the public eye, but sets them in the context of Lange’s pioneering life, work, and struggle for critical recognition—firmly placing Lange in her rightful position at the forefront of American photography.

“[A] thoughtful and meticulously researched account of Lange’s career. . . . Spirn, a photographer herself, traces Lange’s path, visiting her locations and subjects in a fascinating series of ‘then and now’ shots.”—Publishers Weekly

“Dorothea Lange has long been regarded as one of the most brilliant photographic witnesses we have ever had to the peoples and landscapes of America, but until now no one has fully appreciated the richness with which she wove images together with words to convey her insights about this nation. We are lucky indeed that Anne Whiston Spirn, herself a gifted photographer and writer, has now recovered Lange’s field notes and woven them into a rich tapestry of texts and images to help us reflect anew on Lange’s extraordinary body of work.”—William Cronon, author of Nature’s Metropolis

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Deconstructing the Monolith
The Microeconomics of the National Industrial Recovery Act
Jason E. Taylor
University of Chicago Press, 2019
The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) was enacted by Congress in June of 1933 to assist the nation’s recovery during the Great Depression. Its passage ushered in a unique experiment in US economic history: under the NIRA, the federal government explicitly supported, and in some cases enforced, alliances within industries. Antitrust laws were suspended, and companies were required to agree upon industry-level “codes of fair competition” that regulated wages and hours and could implement anti-competitive provisions such as those fixing prices, establishing production quotas, and imposing restrictions on new productive capacity.
            The NIRA is generally viewed as a monolithic program, its dramatic and sweeping effects best measurable through a macroeconomic lens. In this pioneering book, however, Jason E. Taylor examines the act instead using microeconomic tools, probing the uneven implementation of the act’s codes and the radical heterogeneity of its impact across industries and time. Deconstructing the Monolith employs a mixture of archival and empirical research to enrich our understanding of how the program affected the behavior and well-being of workers and firms during the two years NIRA existed as well as in the period immediately following its demise.
 
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Down in the Dumps
Place, Modernity, American Depression
Jani Scandura
Duke University Press, 2007
Mucking around in the messy terrain of American trash, Jani Scandura tells the story of the United States during the Great Depression through evocative and photo-rich portraits of four locales: Reno, Key West, Harlem, and Hollywood. In investigating these Depression-era “dumps,” places that she claims contained and reclaimed the cultural, ideological, and material refuse of modern America, Scandura introduces the concept of “depressive modernity,” an enduring affective component of American culture that exposes itself at those moments when the foundational myths of America and progressive modernity—capitalism, democracy, individualism, secularism, utopian aspiration—are thrown into question. Depressive modernity is modernity at a standstill. Such a modernity is not stagnant or fixed, nor immobile, but is constituted by an instantaneous unstaging of desire, territory, language, and memory that reveals itself in the shimmering of place.

An interpretive bricolage that draws on an unlikely archive of 1930s detritus—office memos, scribbled manuscripts, scrapbooks, ruined photographs, newspaper clippings, glass eyes, incinerated stage sets, pulp novels, and junk washed ashore—Down in the Dumps escorts its readers through Reno’s divorce factory of the 1930s, where couples from across the United States came to quickly dissolve matrimonial bonds; Key West’s multilingual salvage economy and its status as the island that became the center of an ideological tug-of-war between the American New Deal government and a politically fraught Caribbean; post-Renaissance Harlem, in the process of memorializing, remembering, grieving, and rewriting a modernity that had already passed; and Studio-era Hollywood, Nathanael West’s “dump of dreams,” in which the introduction of sound in film and shifts in art direction began to transform how Americans understood place-making and even being itself. A coda on Alcatraz and the Pentagon brings the book into the present, exploring how American Depression comes to bear on post-9/11 America.

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The Eagle Unbowed
Poland and the Poles in the Second World War
Halik Kochanski
Harvard University Press, 2012

The Second World War gripped Poland as it did no other country in Europe. Invaded by both Germany and the Soviet Union, it remained under occupation by foreign armies from the first day of the war to the last. The conflict was brutal, as Polish armies battled the enemy on four different fronts. It was on Polish soil that the architects of the Final Solution assembled their most elaborate network of extermination camps, culminating in the deliberate destruction of millions of lives, including three million Polish Jews. In The Eagle Unbowed, Halik Kochanski tells, for the first time, the story of Poland's war in its entirety, a story that captures both the diversity and the depth of the lives of those who endured its horrors.

Most histories of the European war focus on the Allies' determination to liberate the continent from the fascist onslaught. Yet the "good war" looks quite different when viewed from Lodz or Krakow than from London or Washington, D.C. Poland emerged from the war trapped behind the Iron Curtain, and it would be nearly a half-century until Poland gained the freedom that its partners had secured with the defeat of Hitler. Rescuing the stories of those who died and those who vanished, those who fought and those who escaped, Kochanski deftly reconstructs the world of wartime Poland in all its complexity-from collaboration to resistance, from expulsion to exile, from Warsaw to Treblinka. The Eagle Unbowed provides in a single volume the first truly comprehensive account of one of the most harrowing periods in modern history.

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Fascination with the Persecutor
George L. Mosse and the Catastrophe of Modern Man
Emilio Gentile and and Stanley G. Payne, translated by John and Anne Tedeschi
University of Wisconsin Press, 2021
In 1933, George L. Mosse fled Berlin and settled in the United States, where he went on to become a renowned historian at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Through rigorous and innovative scholarship, Mosse uncovered the forces that spurred antisemitism, racism, nationalism, and populism. His transformative work was propelled by a desire to know his own persecutors and has been vital to generations of scholars seeking to understand the cultural and intellectual origins and mechanisms of Nazism.
 
This translation makes Emilio Gentile’s groundbreaking study of Mosse’s life and work available to English language readers. A leading authority on fascism, totalitarianism, and Mosse’s legacy, Gentile draws on a wealth of published and unpublished material, including letters, interviews, lecture plans, and marginalia from Mosse’s personal library. Gentile details how the senior scholar eschewed polemics and employed rigorous academic standards to better understand fascism and the “catastrophe of the modern man”—how masculinity transformed into a destructive ideology. As long as wars are waged over political beliefs in popular culture, Mosse’s theories of totalitarianism will remain as relevant as ever.
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The Fiume Crisis
Life in the Wake of the Habsburg Empire
Dominique Kirchner Reill
Harvard University Press, 2020

Recasting the birth of fascism, nationalism, and the fall of empire after World War I, Dominique Kirchner Reill recounts how the people of Fiume tried to recreate empire in the guise of the nation.

The Fiume Crisis recasts what we know about the birth of fascism, the rise of nationalism, and the fall of empire after World War I by telling the story of the three-year period when the Adriatic city of Fiume (today Rijeka, in Croatia) generated an international crisis.

In 1919 the multicultural former Habsburg city was occupied by the paramilitary forces of the flamboyant poet-soldier Gabriele D’Annunzio, who aimed to annex the territory to Italy and became an inspiration to Mussolini. Many local Italians supported the effort, nurturing a standard tale of nationalist fanaticism. However, Dominique Kirchner Reill shows that practical realities, not nationalist ideals, were in the driver’s seat. Support for annexation was largely a result of the daily frustrations of life in a “ghost state” set adrift by the fall of the empire. D’Annunzio’s ideology and proto-fascist charisma notwithstanding, what the people of Fiume wanted was prosperity, which they associated with the autonomy they had enjoyed under Habsburg sovereignty. In these twilight years between the world that was and the world that would be, many across the former empire sought to restore the familiar forms of governance that once supported them. To the extent that they turned to nation-states, it was not out of zeal for nationalist self-determination but in the hope that these states would restore the benefits of cosmopolitan empire.

Against the too-smooth narrative of postwar nationalism, The Fiume Crisis demonstrates the endurance of the imperial imagination and carves out an essential place for history from below.

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The Floating University
Experience, Empire, and the Politics of Knowledge
Tamson Pietsch
University of Chicago Press, 2023
The Floating University sheds light on a story of optimism and imperialist ambition in the 1920s.

In 1926, New York University professor James E. Lough—an educational reformer with big dreams—embarked on a bold experiment he called the Floating University. Lough believed that taking five hundred American college students around the globe by ship would not only make them better citizens of the world but would demonstrate a model for responsible and productive education amid the unprecedented dangers, new technologies, and social upheavals of the post–World War I world. But the Floating University’s maiden voyage was also its last: when the ship and its passengers returned home, the project was branded a failure—the antics of students in hotel bars and port city back alleys that received worldwide press coverage were judged incompatible with educational attainment, and Lough was fired and even put under investigation by the State Department.
 
In her new book, Tamson Pietsch excavates a rich and meaningful picture of Lough’s grand ambition, its origins, and how it reveals an early-twentieth-century America increasingly defined both by its imperialism and the professionalization of its higher education system. As Pietsch argues, this voyage—powered by an internationalist worldview—traced the expanding tentacles of US power, even as it tried to model a new kind of experiential education. She shows that this apparent educational failure actually exposes a much larger contest over what kind of knowledge should underpin university authority, one in which direct personal experience came into conflict with academic expertise. After a journey that included stops at nearly fifty international ports and visits with figures ranging from Mussolini to Gandhi, what the students aboard the Floating University brought home was not so much knowledge of the greater world as a demonstration of their nation’s rapidly growing imperial power.
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Framing the Audience
Art and the Politics of Culture in the United States, 1929-1945
Isadora Helfgott
Temple University Press, 2015

Framing the Audience explores the cultural politics of the Great Depression and World War II through the prism of art appreciation. Isadora Helfgott interrogates the ideological and political motivations for breaking down barriers between fine art and popular culture. She charts the impact that changes in art appreciation had on the broader political, social, cultural, and artistic landscape.

Framing the Audience argues that efforts to expand the social basis of art became intertwined with—and helped shape—broader debates about national identity and the future of American political economy. Helfgott chronicles artists’ efforts toinfluence the conditions of artistic production and display. She highlights the influence of the Federal Art Project, the impact of the Museum of Modern Art as an institutional home for modernism in America and as an organizer of traveling exhibitions, and the efforts by LIFE and Fortune magazines to integrate art education into their visual record of modern life. In doing so, Helfgott makes critical observations about the changing relationship between art and the American public.

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The GI Bill Boys
A Memoir
Stella, Suberman
University of Tennessee Press, 2012

In her warm and witty new memoir, Stella Suberman charms readers with her personal perspective as she recalls the original 1940s GI Bill.  As she writes of the bill and the epic events that spawned it, she manages, in her crisp way, to personalize and humanizes them in order to entertain and to educate.  Although her story is in essence that of two Jewish families, it echoes the story of thousands of Americans of that period.

Her narrative begins with her Southern family and her future husband’s Northern one – she designates herself and her husband as “Depression kids” – as they struggle through the Great Depression.  In her characteristically lively style, she recounts the major happenings of the era:  the Bonus March of World War I veterans; the attack on Pearl Harbor; the  Roosevelt/New Deal years; the rise of Hitler’s Nazi party and the Holocaust; the second World War; and the post-war period when veterans returned home to a collapsed and jobless economy.  She then takes the reader to the moment when the GI Bill appeared, the glorious moment, as she writes, when returning veterans realized they had been given a future.

As her husband begins work on his Ph.D., she focuses on the GI men and their wives as college life consumed them.  It is the time also of Senator Joseph McCarthy and the “Red Scare,” of the creation of an Israeli state, of the Korean War, and of other important issues, and she discusses them forthrightly.  Throughout this section she writes of how the GI’s doggedly studied, engaged in critical thinking (perhaps for the first time), discovered their voices.  As she suggests, it was not the 1930’s anymore, and the GI Bill boys were poised to give America an authentic and robust middle class.

Stella Suberman is the author of two popular and well-reviewed titles: The Jew Store and When It Was OurWar.  In its starred review, Booklist called The Jew Store “an absolute pleasure,” and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote that it was “valuable history as well as a moving story.” When It Was Our War received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and in another starred review, Kirkus Reviews described it as “Engaging . . . A remarkable story that resonates with intelligence and insight.”  Mrs. Suberman lives with her husband, Jack, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
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The Great Depression
An International Disaster of Perverse Economic Policies
Thomas E. Hall and J. David Ferguson
University of Michigan Press, 1998
The Great Depression was the worst economic catastrophe in modern history. Not only did it cause massive worldwide unemployment, but it also led to the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany, World War II in Europe, and the tragic deaths of tens of millions of people. This book describes the sequence of policy errors committed by powerful, well-meaning people in several countries, which, in combination with the gold standard in place at the time, caused the disaster. In addition, it details attempts to reduce unemployment in the United States by Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, and in Germany by Hitler's National Socialist economic policies.
A comprehensive economic and historical explanation of the events pertaining to the Depression, this book begins by describing the economic setting in the major industrialized countries during the 1920s and the gold standard that linked theory economies together. It then discusses the triggering event that started the economic decline--the Federal Reserve's credit tightening in reaction to perceived overspeculation in the U.S. stock market. The policy bungling that transformed the recession into the Great Depression is detailed: Smoot Hawley, the Federal Reserve's disastrous adherence to the real bills doctrine, and Hoover's 1932 tax hike. This is followed by a detailed description of the New Deal's shortcomings in trying to end the Depression, along with a discussion of the National Socialist economic programs in Germany. Finally, the factors that ended the Depression are examined.
This book will appeal to economists, historians, and those interested in business conditions who would like to know more about the causes and consequences of the Great Depression. It will be particularly useful as a supplementary text in economic history courses.
Thomas E. Hall and J. David Ferguson are both Professors of Economics, Miami University.
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Herbert Hoover as Secretary of Commerce
Studies in New Era Thought and Practice
Ellis W. Hawley
University of Iowa Press, 1981

In this second volume in the Hoover Centennial Seminars series, seven scholars reexamine a major segment of Herbert Hoover's public career and in doing so offer fresh perspectives on the political, administrative, and diplomatic history of the 1920s. Drawing upon new materials and new insights, they reconstruct Hoover's transformation of the Commerce secretariat, explore his thinking and action in a variety of policy areas, and explode conventional depictions of Hoover's political conservatism. These essays show a resourceful and creative mind wrestling with the central problems of twentieth-century America and projecting solutions remarkably similar to current proposals for public use of the private sector.

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Hitler’s Economy
Nazi Work Creation Programs, 1933–1936
Dan P. Silverman
Harvard University Press, 1998

When Hitler assumed the German chancellorship in January 1933, 34 percent of Germany’s work force was unemployed. By 1936, before Hitler’s rearmament program took hold of the economy, most of the jobless had disappeared from official unemployment statistics. How did the Nazis put Germany back to work? Was the recovery genuine? If so, how and why was it so much more successful than that of other industrialized nations? Hitler’s Economy addresses these questions and contributes to our understanding of the internal dynamics and power structure of the Nazi regime in the early years of the Third Reich.

Dan Silverman focuses on Nazi direct work creation programs, utilizing rich archival sources to trace the development and implementation of these programs at the regional and local level. He rigorously evaluates the validity of Nazi labor market statistics and reassesses the relative importance of road construction, housing, land reclamation, and resettlement in Germany’s economic recovery, while providing new insights into how these projects were financed. He illuminates the connection between work creation and Nazi race, agriculture, and resettlement policies. Capping his work is a comparative analysis of economic recovery during the 1930s in Germany, Britain, and the United States.

Silverman concludes that the recovery in Germany between 1933 and 1936 was real, not simply the product of statistical trickery and the stimulus of rearmament, and that Nazi work creation programs played a significant role. However, he argues, it was ultimately the workers themselves, toiling under inhumane conditions in labor camps, who paid the price for this recovery. Nazi propaganda glorifying the “dignity of work” masked the brutal reality of Hitler’s “economic miracle.”

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Ignacy Paderewski
Poland
Anita Prazmowska
Haus Publishing, 2009
The thirteenth of President Wilson's Fourteen Points of 1918 read: "An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant." Ever since the Third Partition in 1795 brought Polish independence to an end, nationalists had sought the restoration of their country, and the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 did indeed produce the modern Polish state. The Western Allies saw a revived Poland as both a counter to German power and a barrier to the westward expansion of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia—a role the Polish army fulfilled by defeating a Soviet invasion in 1920. But caught between two powers and composed of territory taken from both of them, Poland was vulnerable, and in 1939 it was divided up between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany following the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The highest profile Polish representative at the Conference was the pianist and politician Ignacy Paderewski (1860-1941), the "most famous Pole in the world", whose image had done much to promote the Polish cause in the West. But he was joined by the altogether less romantic figure of Roman Dmowski (1864-1939), whose anti-Semitic reputation Paderewski took pains to distance himself from when seeking support in the United States.
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Insatiability
Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, translated from the Polish by Louis Iribarne
Northwestern University Press, 1994
Witkiewicz's 1927 masterpiece, made famous in Polish dissident and Nobel laureate Czesław Miłosz's The Captive Mind, is one of the most unforgettable depictions of the tensions and trade-offs between ideological loyalty and individual conscience in world literature. Futuristic, experimental, and remarkably prophetic, Insatiability traces the choices of a young Pole as his divided nation both opposes and welcomes a communitarian invasion from the east offering a narcotic that both removes anxieties and induces obedience. An anti-Utopian classic, it foretold the irresoluble and sometimes deadly choices that faced Eastern European thinkers, writers, and politicians during the years of Soviet domination.
 
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The Insider
How the Kiplinger Newsletter Bridged Washington and Wall Street
Rob Wells
University of Massachusetts Press, 2022

When Willard M. Kiplinger launched the groundbreaking Kiplinger Washington Letter in 1923, he left the sidelines of traditional journalism to strike out on his own. With a specialized knowledge of finance and close connections to top Washington officials, Kiplinger was uniquely positioned to tell deeper truths about the intersections between government and business. With careful reporting and insider access, he delivered perceptive analysis and forecasts of business, economic, and political news to busy business executives, and the newsletter’s readership grew exponentially over the coming decades.

More than just a pioneering business journalist, Kiplinger emerged as a quiet but powerful link between the worlds of Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt, and used his Letter to play a little-known but influential role in the New Deal. Part journalism history, part biography, and part democratic chronicle, The Insider offers a well-written and deeply researched portrayal of how Kiplinger not only developed a widely read newsletter that launched a business publishing empire but also how he forged a new role for the journalist as political actor.

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Lard, Lice and Longevity
The Standard of Living in Occupied Denmark and the Netherlands, 1940-1945
Ralf Futselaar
Amsterdam University Press, 2008

Lard, Lice and Longevity reconstructs economic policies implemented in Denmark and the Netherlands during the German occupation. It clearly shows that the experiences of both these countries during World War I, and during the 1930s equipped them to introduce extensive and intrusive economic controls to ward off a subsistence crisis.

In spite of the strong similarities between the two countries in terms of policies and economic order, there remains a glaring difference between the two. Throughout the occupation years, the Netherlands suffered a markedly higher level of child mortality than before or after the war, caused by an upsurge of infectious diseases. Child health in Denmark, on the other hand, declined during the occupation years, and infectious diseases rose only marginally there. In spite of similar policies, hence, the outcome in terms of the biological standard of living was dissimilar.

By closely investigating the impact of various policies on everyday life, and the amounts of goods available to different groups of consumers, this study identifies the causes of this remarkable divergence.

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Making Choices, Making Do
Survival Strategies of Black and White Working-Class Women during the Great Depression
Lois Rita Helmbold
Rutgers University Press, 2023
Making Choices, Making Do is a comparative study of Black and white working-class women’s survival strategies during the Great Depression. Based on analysis of employment histories and Depression-era interviews of 1,340 women in Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and South Bend and letters from domestic workers, Lois Helmbold discovered that Black women lost work more rapidly and in greater proportions. The benefits that white women accrued because of structural racism meant they avoided the utter destitution that more commonly swallowed their Black peers. When let go from a job, a white woman was more successful in securing a less desirable job, while Black women, especially older Black women, were pushed out of the labor force entirely. Helmbold found that working-class women practiced the same strategies, but institutionalized racism in employment, housing, and relief assured that Black women worked harder, but fared worse. Making Choices, Making Do strives to fill the gap in the labor history of women, both Black and white. The book will challenge the limits of segregated histories and encourage more comparative analyses.


 
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Mencken’s America
H. L. Mencken
S. T. Joshi
Ohio University Press, 2004

Long famous as a political, social, and cultural gadfly, journalist and essayist H. L. Mencken was unafraid to speak his mind on controversial topics and to express his views in a deliberately provocative manner.

Mencken was prolific; much of his best work lies buried in the newspapers and magazines in which it originally appeared. Mencken’s America is a sampling of this uncollected work, arranged to present the wide-ranging treatise on American culture that Mencken himself never wrote.

The core of the book is a series of six articles on “The American” published in the Smart Set in 1913-14. Never before reprinted, they embody the essence of Mencken’s views on the deficiencies of his countrymen.

What was the problem with America? For Mencken, it could be summed up in one word: Puritanism. Puritanism accounted for much that was wrong with American culture: the prevalence of “militant morality” represented by Prohibition, by campaigns against prostitution, and by religious fundamentalism. American hostility toward the fine arts led to furious attempts to suppress any work of art that was thought to contravene conventional morality-attempts that Mencken chronicles with impressive scholarship in the essay “Puritanism as a Literary Force.”

Mencken reserved his greatest scorn for American political institutions. Opposed to the very principle of democracy and universal suffrage, he maintained that, in the absence of an educated electorate, all politicians are compelled to become demagogues.

Bracing, infuriating, and pungent, H. L. Mencken’s writings retain their relevance even after the passage of nearly a hundred years, cogently discussing issues with which Americans of the twenty-first century are still wrestling. Sagaciously edited by S. T. Joshi, one of the country’s foremost Mencken scholars, Mencken’s America is a superb example of America’s turning the looking glass on itself.

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Metropolitan Belgrade
Culture and Class in Interwar Yugoslavia
Jovana Babovic
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018
Winner of theMihajlo Misa Djordjevic Book Prizeawarded by the North American Society for Serbian Studies

Metropolitan Belgrade presents a sociocultural history of the city as an entertainment mecca during the 1920s and 1930s. It unearths the ordinary and extraordinary leisure activities that captured the attention of urban residents and considers the broader role of popular culture in interwar society.

As the capital of the newly unified Yugoslavia, Belgrade became increasingly linked to transnational networks after World War I, as jazz, film, and cabaret streamed into the city from abroad during the early 1920s. Belgrade’s middle class residents readily consumed foreign popular culture as a symbol of their participation in European metropolitan modernity. The pleasures they derived from entertainment, however, stood at odds with their civic duty of promoting highbrow culture and nurturing the Serbian nation within the Yugoslav state.

Ultimately, middle-class Belgraders learned to reconcile their leisured indulgences by defining them as bourgeois refinement. But as they endowed foreign entertainment with higher cultural value, they marginalized Yugoslav performers and their lower-class patrons from urban life. Metropolitan Belgrade tells the story of the Europeanization of the capital’s middle class and how it led to spatial segregation, cultural stratification, and the destruction of the Yugoslav entertainment industry during the interwar years.
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Middle Class Union
Organizing the ‘Consuming Public’ in Post-World War I America
Mark W. Robbins
University of Michigan Press, 2017
Middle Class Union argues that the period following World War I was a pivotal moment in the development of middle-class consumer politics in the 20th century. At this time, middle-class Americans politically mobilized to define for society what was fair in the growing consumer marketplace. They projected themselves as guardians of the producerist values of hard work, honesty, and thrift, and called for greater adherence to them among the working and elite classes. In this era and in later periods, they flexed their muscles as consumers, and claimed to defend the values of the nation.

Combining social history with interdisciplinary approaches to the study of consumption and symbolic space, Middle Class Union illustrates how acts of consumption, representations of the middle class in literary, journalistic, and artistic discourses, and ground-level organizing combined to enable white-collar activists to establish themselves as both the middle class and the backbone of the nation. This book contributes to labor history by examining the nexus of class and consumption to show how many white-collar workers drew on their consumer identity to express an anti-labor politics, later facilitating the struggles of unions throughout the post–World War I years. It also contributes to political history by emphasizing how these middle-class activists laid important groundwork for both 1920s business conservatism and New Deal liberalism. They exerted their political influence well before the post–World War II period, when a self-interested and powerful middle-class consumer identity is more widely acknowledged to have taken hold.

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Nickel's Worth of Skim Milk
A Boy's View of the Great Depression
Robert J. Hastings
Southern Illinois University Press, 1986

Told from the point of view of a young boy, this account shows how a family “faced the 1930s head on and lived to tell the story.” It is the story of grow­ing up in southern Illinois, specifically the Marion, area during the Great Depression. But when it was first published in 1972 the book proved to be more than one writer’s memories of depression-era southern Illinois.

“People started writing me from all over the country,” Hastings notes. “And all said much the same: ‘You were writing about my family, as much as your own. That’s how I remember the 1930s, too.’”

As he proves time and again in this book, Hast­ings is a natural storyteller who can touch upon the detail that makes the tale both poignant and univer­sal. He brings to life a period that marked every man, woman, and child who lived through it even as that national experience fades into the past.

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One Third of a Nation
Lorena Hickok Reports on the Great Depression
Lorena Hickok
University of Illinois Press, 1981
Between 1933 and 1935, Lorena Hickok traveled across thirty-two states as a "confidential investigator" for Harry Hopkins, head of FDR's Federal Emergency Relief Administration. Her assignment was to gather information about the day-to-day toll the Depression was exacting on individual citizens. One Third of a Nation is her record, underscored by the eloquent photographs of Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and others, of the shocking plight of millions of unemployed and dispossessed Americans.
 
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Our America
Nativism, Modernism, and Pluralism
Walter Benn Michaels
Duke University Press, 1997
Arguing that the contemporary commitment to the importance of cultural identity has renovated rather than replaced an earlier commitment to racial identity, Walter Benn Michaels asserts that the idea of culture, far from constituting a challenge to racism, is actually a form of racism. Our America offers both a provocative reinterpretation of the role of identity in modernism and a sustained critique of the role of identity in postmodernism.
“We have a great desire to be supremely American,” Calvin Coolidge wrote in 1924. That desire, Michaels tells us, is at the very heart of American modernism, giving form and substance to a cultural movement that would in turn redefine America’s cultural and collective identity—ultimately along racial lines. A provocative reinterpretation of American modernism, Our America also offers a new way of understanding current debates over the meaning of race, identity, multiculturalism, and pluralism.
Michaels contends that the aesthetic movement of modernism and the social movement of nativism came together in the 1920s in their commitment to resolve the meaning of identity—linguistic, national, cultural, and racial. Just as the Johnson Immigration Act of 1924, which excluded aliens, and the Indian Citizenship Act of the same year, which honored the truly native, reconceptualized national identity, so the major texts of American writers such as Cather, Faulkner, Hurston, and Williams reinvented identity as an object of pathos—something that can be lost or found, defended or betrayed. Our America is both a history and a critique of this invention, tracing its development from the white supremacism of the Progressive period through the cultural pluralism of the Twenties. Michaels’s sustained rereading of the texts of the period—the canonical, the popular, and the less familiar—exposes recurring concerns such as the reconception of the image of the Indian as a symbol of racial purity and national origins, the relation between World War I and race, contradictory appeals to the family as a model for the nation, and anxieties about reproduction that subliminally tie whiteness and national identity to incest, sterility, and impotence.
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Our Common Country
Mutual Good Will in America
Warren G. Harding, Edited by Warren G. Harding, III, & Intro by Robert H. Ferrell
University of Missouri Press, 2003
Our Common Country is a collection of informal addresses, eighteen in all, given by Warren G. Harding as president-elect that defined his vision for the United States. What makes these addresses as relevant today as they were in 1921 is the unsettled mood of the country. Even though World War I is now a distant memory, today’s Americans have suffered through similar conflicts.
In 1917 when Americans went off to war, the red, white, and blue flew everywhere. Two million American soldiers went to France and fifty thousand of them died; the battle of the Meuse-Argonne was one of the costliest in American history. With the announcement by America’s allies that the United States’s contributions to the war were insignificant compared to their own, President Wilson’s leadership began to collapse. Also, the domestic economy’s boom was turning to a bust and the national debt was expanding. The general consensus of Americans was that “things had gone to hell in a handbasket.”
            In an effort to ease the minds of troubled and confused Americans, President Harding tried to provide them with inspiration. Addressing different groups of the population—mothers, veterans, patriots, farmers, businessmen, the press—he sought to send a consistent personal message of reassurance. During his administration, he would bring a formal end to the war by signing the Treaty of Berlin and would limit strategic armaments through the treaties of the Washington Conference. He would also establish the Bureau of the Budget, thereby bringing order to the departmental and bureaucratic requests that had disgraced budget making for decades. He planted the seeds for a department of health, education, and welfare, which was finally realized thirty years later. Although the former president was much maligned after his death, his good works during his term of office speak for themselves and show concern for his fellow Americans. His warmth, strength of character, and intelligence are demonstrated throughout these addresses. Harding spoke to his own time, yet these addresses speak to our own confusing times as well.
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Pasic & Trumbic
The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
Dejan Djokic
Haus Publishing, 2010
Nicola Pasic and Ante Trumbic: The book will provide the first parallel biographies of two key Yugoslav politicians of the early 20th century: Nikola Pasic, a Serb, and Ante Trumbic, a Croat. It will also offer a brief history of the creation of Yugoslavia (initially known as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes), internationally accepted at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919-20 (at the Treaty of Versailles). Such an approach will fill two major gaps in the literature - scholarly biographies of Pasic and Trumbic are lacking, while Yugoslavia's formation is due a reassessment - and to introduce the reader to the central question of South Slav politics: Serb-Croat relations. Pasic and Trumbic's political careers and their often troubled relationship in many ways perfectly epitomize the wider Serb-Croat question.
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Penny's Worth of Minced Ham
Another Look at the Great Depression
Robert J. Hastings
Southern Illinois University Press, 1986

Hastings experienced the rural and small town side of an event that touched all who weathered it—the economic crash of 1929 and its 10-year aftermath.

The author grew up in Marion, Illinois, entering the first grade in 1930, the start of the Great Depression. This book, which recalls memorable epi­sodes in the life of that boy, is a sequel to the pop­ular ANickel’s Worth of Skim Milk.

What Hastings experienced as a child was typical of depression-era life. Those who were young then can relive lost youth in Hastings’ books. And there were moments worth reliving: Hastings tells of “laughter and love and tears in the midst of hunger and cold and deprivation.” Those too young to have experienced the economic devastation can see those hard days through the eyes of a trained storyteller reporting from the point of view of a child.

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The Perils of Prosperity, 1914-1932
William E. Leuchtenburg
University of Chicago Press, 1993
Beginning with Woodrow Wilson and U.S. entry into World War I and closing with the Great Depression, The Perils of Prosperity traces the transformation of America from an agrarian, moralistic, isolationist nation into a liberal, industrialized power involved in foreign affairs in spite of itself.

William E. Leuchtenburg's lively yet balanced account of this hotly debated era in American history has been a standard text for many years. This substantial revision gives greater weight to the roles of women and minorities in the great changes of the era and adds new insights into literature, the arts, and technology in daily life. He has also updated the lists of important dates and resources for further reading.

“This book gives us a rare opportunity to enjoy the matured interpretation of an American Historian who has returned to the story and seen how recent decades have added meaning and vividness to this epoch of our history.”—Daniel J. Boorstin, from the Preface
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Power and Culture
The Japanese–American War, 1941–1945
Akira Iriye
Harvard University Press, 1981

Power and Culture challenges existing assumptions about the war in the Pacific. By focusing on the interplay between culture and international relations, one of the world’s most distinguished scholars of United States–Japanese affairs offers a startling reassessment of what the war really meant to the two combatants. Akira Iriye examines the Japanese–American war for the first time from the cultural perspectives of both countries, arguing that it was more a search for international order than a ruthless pursuit of power.

His thesis is bold, for he convincingly demonstrates that throughout the war many Japanese leaders shared with their American counterparts an essentially Wilsonian vision of international cooperation. As the war drew to a close, these statesmen began to plan for a cooperative world structure that was remarkably similar to the ideas of American policymakers. Indeed, as Iriye shows, the stunning success of Japanese–American postwar relations can be understood only in the light of a deep convergence of their ideals.

Iriye has drawn his conclusions from original research, using official Japanese archives and recently declassified American documents. These offer a totally new perspective on the ways leaders in both countries actually viewed the war they were waging.

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Primed for Violence
Murder, Antisemitism, and Democratic Politics in Interwar Poland
Paul Brykczynski
University of Wisconsin Press, 2017
In 1922, the new Republic of Poland democratically elected its first president, Gabriel Narutowicz. Because his supporters included a Jewish political party, an opposing faction of antisemites demanded his resignation. Within hours, bloody riots erupted in Warsaw, and less than a week later the president was assassinated. In the wake of these events, the radical right asserted that only “ethnic Poles” should rule the country, while the left silently capitulated to this demand.
            As Paul Brykczynski tells this gripping story, he explores the complex role of antisemitism, nationalism, and violence in Polish politics between the two World Wars. Though focusing on Poland, the book sheds light on the rise of the antisemitic right in Europe and beyond, and on the impact of violence on political culture and discourse.
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Quest for Power
European Imperialism and the Making of Chinese Statecraft
Stephen R. Halsey
Harvard University Press, 2015

China’s history in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries has often been framed as a long coda of imperial decline, played out during its last dynasty, the Qing. Quest for Power presents a sweeping reappraisal of this narrative. Stephen Halsey traces the origins of China’s great-power status in the twentieth century to this era of supposed decadence and decay. Threats from European and Japanese imperialism and the growing prospect of war triggered China’s most innovative state-building efforts since the Qing dynasty’s founding in the mid-1600s.

Through a combination of imitation and experimentation, a new form of political organization took root in China between 1850 and 1949 that shared features with modern European governments. Like them, China created a military-fiscal state to ensure security in a hostile international arena. The Qing Empire extended its administrative reach by expanding the bureaucracy and creating a modern police force. It poured funds into the military, commissioning ironclad warships, reorganizing the army, and promoting the development of an armaments industry. State-built telegraph and steamship networks transformed China’s communication and transportation infrastructure. Increasingly, Qing officials described their reformist policies through a new vocabulary of sovereignty—a Western concept that has been a cornerstone of Chinese statecraft ever since. As Halsey shows, the success of the Chinese military-fiscal state after 1850 enabled China to avoid wholesale colonization at the hands of Europe and Japan and laid the foundation for its emergence as a global power in the twentieth century.

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Radical Visions and American Dreams
Culture and Social Thought in the Depression Years
Richard H. Pells
University of Illinois Press, 1998
      This edition of Richard H.
        Pells's classic work of American intellectual history includes a new preface.
 
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Remembrance of Things Present
The Invention of the Time Capsule
Nick Yablon
University of Chicago Press, 2019
Time capsules offer unexpected insights into how people view their own time, place, and culture, as well as their duties to future generations. Remembrance of Things Present traces the birth of this device to the Gilded Age, when growing urban volatility prompted doubts about how the period would be remembered—or if it would be remembered at all. Yablon details how diverse Americans – from presidents and mayors to advocates for the rights of women, blacks, and workers – constructed prospective memories of their present. They did so by contributing not just written testimony to time capsules but also sources that historians and archivists considered illegitimate, such as photographs, phonograph records, films, and everyday artifacts.

By offering a direct line to posterity, time capsules stimulated various hopes for the future. Remembrance of Things Present delves into these treasure chests to unearth those forgotten futures.
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Resistance against the Third Reich
1933-1990
Edited by Michael Geyer and John W. Boyer
University of Chicago Press, 1994
"The history of resistance affords a powerful example of why the present should try to remember a more distant, early modern past" write Michael Geyer and John W. Boyer in their introduction to Resistance against the Third Reich. Addressing the legacy of European resistance, this volume examines the nature of political opposition to unjust rule, which is so often grounded in the bitter conflicts between church and state. This collection is a timely effort to link recent advances in European history with lingering questions concerning resistance against the Third Reich.

Contributors include Geoffrey Cocks, Werner G. Jeanrond, Tony Judt, Claudia Koonz, Hans Mommsen, and Frank Trommler.
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Rome’s Most Faithful Daughter
The Catholic Church and Independent Poland, 1914–1939
Neal Pease
Ohio University Press, 2009

When an independent Poland reappeared on the map of Europe after World War I, it was widely regarded as the most Catholic country on the continent, as “Rome’s Most Faithful Daughter.” All the same, the relations of the Second Polish Republic with the Church—both its representatives inside the country and the Holy See itself—proved far more difficult than expected.

Based on original research in the libraries and depositories of four countries, including recently opened collections in the Vatican Secret Archives, Rome’s Most Faithful Daughter: The Catholic Church and Independent Poland, 1914–1939 presents the first scholarly history of the close but complex political relationship of Poland with the Catholic Church during the interwar period. Neal Pease addresses, for example, the centrality of Poland in the Vatican’s plans to convert the Soviet Union to Catholicism and the curious reluctance of each successive Polish government to play the role assigned to it. He also reveals the complicated story of the relations of Polish Catholicism with Jews, Freemasons, and other minorities within the country and what the response of Pope Pius XII to the Nazi German invasion of Poland in 1939 can tell us about his controversial policies during World War II.

Both authoritative and lively, Rome’s Most Faithful Daughter shows that the tensions generated by the interplay of church and state in Polish public life exerted great influence not only on the history of Poland but also on the wider Catholic world in the era between the wars.

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Secrets and Rivals
Wartime Letters and the Parents I Never Knew
R. Bruce Larson
University of Missouri Press, 2015
Ruth Larson saved nearly 700 letters she and her husband Bob exchanged during World War II. Opening the box while his mother lay dying, her son Bruce expected to find commonplace details of his parents’ early life together. He instead discovered a story of deception, obsession, and betrayal.

Reading through the letters, he is drawn into his parents’ courtship amid the hardships of separation and war. Beyond the tumultuous romance, Larson finds that he barely recognizes his father, whom he knew only as distant and impassive. He uncovers shocking truths about his mother, Ruth, whom family lore had pigeonholed as sweetly pious.

At the time of the letters, Bob is a young Coast Guard clerk fighting off depression with thoughts of his dream girl back home. Back in Minnesota, Ruth passes the days adrift in romantic fantasies and liaisons with local admirers. Bob’s suspicions about Ruth and his obsession with her from afar threaten the young man’s fragile hold on his sanity, but he will not give her up. Decades later, their son comes to feel a tenderness for both his parents and to understand how their losses, fears, and reluctance can transform and refashion family bonds.

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See Me Naked
Black Women Defining Pleasure in the Interwar Era
Tara T. Green
Rutgers University Press, 2022
Pleasure refers to the freedom to pursue a desire, deliberately sought in order to satisfy the self. Putting pleasure first is liberating. During their extraordinary lives, Lena Horne, Moms Mabley, Yolande DuBois, and Memphis Minnie enjoyed pleasure as they gave pleasure to both those in their lives and to the public at large. They were Black women who, despite their public profiles, whether through Black society or through the world of entertainment, discovered ways to enjoy pleasure.They left home, undertook careers they loved, and did what they wanted, despite perhaps not meeting the standards for respectability in the interwar era. See Me Naked looks at these women as representative of other Black women of the time, who were watched, criticized, and judged by their families, peers, and, in some cases, the government, yet still managed to enjoy themselves. Among the voyeurs of Black women was Langston Hughes, whose novel Not Without Laughter was clearly a work of fiction inspired by women he observed in public and knew personally, including Black clubwomen, blues performers, and his mother. How did these complicated women wrest loose from the voyeurs to define their own sense of themselves? At very young ages, they found and celebrated aspects of themselves. Using examples from these women’s lives, Green explores their challenges and achievements.
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Serbia under the Swastika
A World War II Occupation
Alexander Prusin
University of Illinois Press, 2017
The 1941 Axis invasion of Yugoslavia initially left the German occupiers with a pacified Serbian heartland willing to cooperate in return for relatively mild treatment. Soon, however, the outbreak of resistance shattered Serbia's seeming tranquility, turning the country into a battlefield and an area of bitter civil war.

Deftly merging political and social history, Serbia under the Swastika looks at the interactions between Germany’s occupation policies, the various forces of resistance and collaboration, and the civilian population. Alexander Prusin reveals a German occupying force at war with itself. Pragmatists intent on maintaining a sedate Serbia increasingly gave way to Nazified agencies obsessed with implementing the expansionist racial vision of the Third Reich. As Prusin shows, the increasing reliance on terror catalyzed conflict between the nationalist Chetniks, communist Partisans, and the collaborationist government. Prusin unwraps the winding system of expediency that at times led the factions to support one-another against the Germans--even as they fought a ferocious internecine civil war to determine the future of Yugoslavia.

Comprehensive and judicious, Serbia under the Swastika is a rare English-language foray into the still-fraught history of Serbia in World War II.

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The Slovak Question
A Transatlantic Perspective, 1914-1948
Michael Cude
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2022

Winner, 2022 SSA Best Book Prize
The so-called Slovak question asked what place Slovaks held—or should have held—in the former state of Czechoslovakia. Formed in 1918 at the end of World War I from the remains of the Hungarian Empire, and reformed after ceasing to exist during World War II, the country would eventually split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia after the “Velvet Divorce” in 1993.

In the meantime, the minority Slovaks often clashed with the majority Czechs over their role in the nation. The Slovak Question examines this debate from a transatlantic perspective. Explored through the relationship between Slovaks, Americans of Slovak heritage, and United States and Czechoslovakian policymakers, it shows how Slovak national activism in America helped the Slovaks establish a sense of independent identity and national political assertion after World War I. It also shows how Slovak American leaders influenced US policy by conceptualizing the United States and Slovakia as natural allies due to their connections through immigration. This process played a critical role in undermining attempts to establish a united Czechoslovakian identity and instead caused a divide between the two groups, which was exploited by Nazi Germany and then by other actors during the Cold War, and proved ultimately to be insurmountable.

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The Social Construction of Expertise
The English Civil Service and Its Influence, 1919–1939
Gail Savage
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996
The British created a system wherein the social identity of civil servants clearly influenced their position on official matters. This privileged class set the tone for major policy decisions affecting all members of society.  Savage addresses this social construction of power by analyzing the social origins and career patterns of higher-level civil servants as a backdrop for investigating the way four different social service ministries formulated policies between the two World Wars: the Board of Education, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Labour, and the Ministry of Health.
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Taste of the Nation
The New Deal Search for America's Food
Camille Bégin
University of Illinois Press, 2016
During the Depression, the Federal Writers' Project (FWP) dispatched scribes to sample the fare at group eating events like church dinners, political barbecues, and clambakes. Its America Eats project sought nothing less than to sample, and report upon, the tremendous range of foods eaten across the United States.
 
Camille Begin shapes a cultural and sensory history of New Deal-era eating from the FWP archives. From "ravioli, the diminutive derbies of pastries, the crowns stuffed with a well-seasoned paste" to barbeque seasoning that integrated "salt, black pepper, dried red chili powder, garlic, oregano, cumin seed, and cayenne pepper" while "tomatoes, green chili peppers, onions, and olive oil made up the sauce", Begin describes in mouth-watering detail how Americans tasted their food. They did so in ways that varied, and varied widely, depending on race, ethnicity, class, and region. Begin explores how likes and dislikes, cravings and disgust operated within local sensory economies that she culls from the FWP’s vivid descriptions, visual cues, culinary expectations, recipes and accounts of restaurant meals. She illustrates how nostalgia, prescriptive gender ideals, and racial stereotypes shaped how the FWP was able to frame regional food cultures as "American."
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Taylored Lives
Narrative Productions in the Age of Taylor, Veblen, and Ford
Martha Banta
University of Chicago Press, 1993
Scientific management: technology spawned it, Frederick Winslow Taylor championed it, Thorstein Veblen dissected it, Henry Ford implemented it. By the turn of the century, practical visionaries prided themselves on having arrived at "the one best way" both to increase industrial productivity and to regulate human behavior. Martha Banta takes a close look at texts ranging from mail order catalogs and popular romances to the works of Henry Adams and Nathanael West to trace the effects of the efficiency craze on the full fabric of American culture.
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These Days of Large Things
The Culture of Size in America, 1865-1930
Michael Tavel Clarke
University of Michigan Press, 2009

The United States at the turn of the twentieth century cultivated a passion for big. It witnessed the emergence of large-scale corporate capitalism; the beginnings of American imperialism on a global stage; record-level immigration; a rapid expansion of cities; and colossal events and structures like world's fairs, amusement parks, department stores, and skyscrapers. Size began to play a key role in American identity. During this period, bigness signaled American progress.

These Days of Large Things explores the centrality of size to American culture and national identity and the preoccupation with physical stature that pervaded American thought. Clarke examines the role that body size played in racial theory and the ways in which economic changes in the nation generated conflicting attitudes toward growth and bigness. Finally, Clarke investigates the relationship between stature and gender.

These Days of Large Things brings together a remarkable range of cultural material including scientific studies, photographs, novels, cartoons, architecture, and film. As a general cultural and intellectual history of the period, this work will be of interest to students and scholars in American studies, U.S. history, American literature, and gender studies.

Michael Tavel Clarke is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Calgary.

Cover photograph: "New York from Its Pinnacles," Alvin Langdon Coburn (1912). Courtesy of the George Eastman House.

"A fascinating study of the American preoccupation with physical size, this book charts new paths in the history of science, culture, and the body. A must-read for anyone puzzling over why Americans today love hulking SUVs, Mcmansions, and outsized masculine bodies."
---Lois Banner, University of Southern California

"From the Gilded Age through the Twenties, Clarke shows a nation-state obsessed with sheer size, ranging from the mammoth labor union to the 'Giant Incorporated Body' of the monopoly trust. These Days of Large Things links the towering Gibson Girl with the skyscraper, the pediatric regimen with stereotypes of the Jew. Spanning anthropology, medicine, architecture, business, and labor history, Clarke provides the full anatomy of imperial America and offers a model of cultural studies at its very best."
---Cecelia Tichi, Vanderbilt University

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To The City
Urban Photographs of the New Deal
Authored by Julia L. Foulkes
Temple University Press, 2011

In the 1930s and 1940s, as the United States moved from a rural to an urban nation, the pull of the city was irrepressible. It was so strong that even a photographic mission designed to record the essence of rural America could not help but capture the energy of urbanization too. To the City showcases over 100 photographs from the Farm Security Administration (FSA) project along with extracts from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) guidebooks and oral histories, to convey the detail and dimensions of that transformation.

This artfully grouped collection of photographs includes magnificent images by notable photographers Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans and Gordon Parks, among many others. Foulkes organizes this history of Americana into five themes: Intersection; Traffic; High Life and Low Life; The City in the Country; and Citizens to illuminate the changes in habits, landscapes, and aspirations that the march to cities encompassed.

As the rural past holds symbolic sway and the suburb presents demographic force, the urban portion of our history—why and how cities have been a destination for hope—recedes from view. To the City is a thoughtful, engaging reminder.

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To Zenzi
Robert L. Shuster
New Issues Poetry and Prose, 2021
To Zenzi is the extraordinary story of Tobias Koertig’s odyssey through the apocalypse of Berlin in 1945. An orphaned thirteen-year-old who loves to draw, Tobias is coerced into joining the German youth army in the last desperate weeks of the war. Mistaken for a hero on the Eastern Front, he receives an Iron Cross from Hitler himself, who discovers the boy’s cartoons and appoints Tobias to sketch pictures of the ruined city.

Shuttling between the insanity of the Führer’s bunker and the chaotic streets, Tobias must contend with a scheming Martin Bormann, a deceitful deserter, the Russian onslaught, and his own compounding despair—all while falling for Zenzi, a girl of Jewish descent (a mischling) who relays secret news of death camps and convinces Tobias to make a treacherous escape to the Americans.

With thrilling risks in plotting and prose, with moments of pathos and absurdity, Shuster richly conjures a mad, tragic world.
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Topographies of Class
Modern Architecture and Mass Society in Weimar Berlin
Sabine Hake
University of Michigan Press, 2010

In Topographies of Class, Sabine Hake explores why Weimar Berlin has had such a powerful hold on the urban imagination. Approaching Weimar architectural culture from the perspective of mass discourse and class analysis, Hake examines the way in which architectural projects; debates; and representations in literature, photography, and film played a key role in establishing the terms under which contemporaries made sense of the rise of white-collar society.

Focusing on the so-called stabilization period, Topographies of Class maps out complex relationships between modern architecture and mass society, from Martin Wagner's planning initiatives and Erich Mendelsohn's functionalist buildings, to the most famous Berlin texts of the period, Alfred Döblin's city novel Berlin Alexanderplatz (1929) and Walter Ruttmann's city film Berlin, Symphony of the Big City (1927). Hake draws on critical, philosophical, literary, photographic, and filmic texts to reconstruct the urban imagination at a key point in the history of German modernity, making this the first study---in English or German---to take an interdisciplinary approach to the rich architectural culture of Weimar Berlin.

Sabine Hake is Professor and Texas Chair of German Literature and Culture at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of numerous books, including German National Cinema and Popular Cinema of the Third Reich.

Cover art: Construction of the Karstadt Department Store at Hermannplatz, Berlin-Neukölln. Courtesy Bildarchiv Preeussischer Kulturbesitz / Art Resource, NY

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An Unchosen People
Jewish Political Reckoning in Interwar Poland
Kenneth B. Moss
Harvard University Press, 2021

A revisionist account of interwar Europe’s largest Jewish community that upends histories of Jewish agency to rediscover reckonings with nationalism’s pathologies, diaspora’s fragility, Zionism’s promises, and the necessity of choice.

What did the future hold for interwar Europe’s largest Jewish community, the font of global Jewish hopes? When intrepid analysts asked these questions on the cusp of the 1930s, they discovered a Polish Jewry reckoning with “no tomorrow.” Assailed by antisemitism and witnessing liberalism’s collapse, some Polish Jews looked past progressive hopes or religious certainties to investigate what the nation-state was becoming, what powers minority communities really possessed, and where a future might be found—and for whom.

The story of modern Jewry is often told as one of creativity and contestation. Kenneth B. Moss traces instead a late Jewish reckoning with diasporic vulnerability, nationalism’s terrible potencies, Zionism’s promises, and the necessity of choice. Moss examines the works of Polish Jewry’s most searching thinkers as they confronted political irrationality, state crisis, and the limits of resistance. He reconstructs the desperate creativity of activists seeking to counter despair where they could not redress its causes. And he recovers a lost grassroots history of critical thought and political searching among ordinary Jews, young and powerless, as they struggled to find a viable future for themselves—in Palestine if not in Poland, individually if not communally.

Focusing not on ideals but on a search for realism, Moss recasts the history of modern Jewish political thought. Where much scholarship seeks Jewish agency over a collective future, An Unchosen People recovers a darker tradition characterized by painful tradeoffs amid a harrowing political reality, making Polish Jewry a paradigmatic example of the minority experience endemic to the nation-state.

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Understanding Economic Recovery in the 1930s
Endogenous Propagation in the Great Depression
Frank G. Steindl
University of Michigan Press, 2003
Although much has been published about the economic downturn that began in mid-1929, very little has been written about the recovery from this cataclysmic period. Long, tortuous, and uneven as it was, there was indeed a recovery. In this important book, Steindl explores the much-neglected topic of the recovery, concentrating in particular on the macroeconomic developments responsible for the move back to a pre-Depression level economy.
Providing strong evidence for the role of the quantity of money in the revitalization, the author ultimately concludes that the seemingly robust monetary explanation of the recovery is deficient, as is any that relies principally on aggregate demand impulses. An accurate understanding of this phenomenon must account for the inherent tendency of the economy to revert to its long-run high employment trend.
Frank G. Steindl is Regents Professor of Economics and Ardmore Professor of Business Administration, Oklahoma State University.
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Urban Farming in the West
A New Deal Experiment in Subsistence Homesteads
Robert Carriker
University of Arizona Press, 2010
From 1933 to 1935, the federal government’s Division of Subsistence Homesteads created thirty-four New Deal communities that sought to provide a healthier and more economically secure life for disadvantaged Americans. These settlements were designed to combine the benefits of rural and urban living by offering part-time farming, uplifting social functions, and inexpensive homes. Four were located in the West: in Phoenix, Arizona; El Monte and San Fernando, California; and Longview, Washington.

Robert Carriker examines for the first time the intricate histories of these subsistence homestead projects, which have long been buried in bureaucratic records and clouded by misunderstanding, showing that in many ways they were among the agency’s most successful efforts. He provides case studies of the projects, rescuing their obscure histories using archival documents and rare photographs. He also reveals the machinations of civic groups and private citizens across the West who jockeyed for access to the funds being allotted for New Deal community building.

By describing what took place on these western homesteads, Carriker shows that the DSH’s agenda was not as far-fetched as some have reported. The tendency to condemn the Division and its projects, he argues, has failed to appreciate the good that came from some of the individual homestead communities—particularly those in the Far West.

Although overshadowed by the larger undertakings of the New Deal, some of these western communities remain thriving neighborhoods—living legacies to FDR’s efforts that show how the country once chose to deal with economic hardship. Too often the DSH is noted for its failures; Carriker’s study shows that its western homesteads were instead qualified accomplishments.
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A Violent Peace
Media, Truth, and Power at the League of Nations
Carolyn N. Biltoft
University of Chicago Press, 2021
The newly born League of Nations confronted the post-WWI world—from growing stateless populations to the resurgence of right-wing movements—by aiming to create a transnational, cosmopolitan dialogue on justice. As part of these efforts, a veritable army of League personnel set out to shape “global public opinion,” in favor of the postwar liberal international order. Combining the tools of global intellectual history and cultural history, A Violent Peace reopens the archives of the League to reveal surprising links between the political use of modern information systems and the rise of mass violence in the interwar world. Historian Carolyn N. Biltoft shows how conflicts over truth and power that played out at the League of Nations offer broad insights into the nature of totalitarian regimes and their use of media flows to demonize a whole range of “others.”
 
An exploration of instability in information systems, the allure of fascism, and the contradictions at the heart of a global modernity, A Violent Peace paints a rich portrait of the emergence of the age of information—and all its attendant problems.
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Visions of Annihilation
The Ustasha Regime and the Cultural Politics of Fascism, 1941–1945
Rory Yeomans
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013

The fascist Ustasha regime and its militias carried out a ruthless campaign of ethnic cleansing that killed an estimated half million Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies, and ended only with the defeat of the Axis powers in World War II.

In Visions of Annihilation, Rory Yeomans analyzes the Ustasha movement’s use of culture to appeal to radical nationalist sentiments and legitimize its genocidal policies. He shows how the movement attempted to mobilize poets, novelists, filmmakers, visual artists, and intellectuals as purveyors of propaganda and visionaries of a utopian society. Meanwhile, newspapers, radio, and speeches called for the expulsion, persecution, or elimination of “alien” and “enemy” populations to purify the nation. He describes how the dual concepts of annihilation and national regeneration were disseminated to the wider population and how they were interpreted at the grassroots level.

Yeomans examines the Ustasha movement in the context of other fascist movements in Europe. He cites their similar appeals to idealistic youth, the economically disenfranchised, racial purists, social radicals, and Catholic clericalists. Yeomans further demonstrates how fascism created rituals and practices that mimicked traditional religious faiths and celebrated martyrdom.

Visions of Annihilation chronicles the foundations of the Ustasha movement, its key actors and ideologies, and reveals the unique cultural, historical, and political conditions present in interwar Croatia that led to the rise of fascism and contributed to the cataclysmic events that tore across the continent.

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The War in American Culture
Society and Consciousness during World War II
Edited by Lewis A. Erenberg and Susan E. Hirsch
University of Chicago Press, 1996
The War in American Culture explores the role of World War II in the transformation of American social, cultural, and political life.

World War II posed a crisis for American culture: to defeat the enemy, Americans had to unite across the class, racial and ethnic boundaries that had long divided them. Exploring government censorship of war photography, the revision of immigration laws, Hollywood moviemaking, swing music, and popular magazines, these essays reveal the creation of a new national identity that was pluralistic, but also controlled and sanitized. Concentrating on the home front and the impact of the war on the lives of ordinary Americans, the contributors give us a rich portrayal of family life, sexuality, cultural images, and working-class life in addition to detailed consideration of African Americans, Latinos, and women who lived through the unsettling and rapidly altered circumstances of wartime America.
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Women’s Work and Family Values, 1920–1940
Winifred D. Wandersee
Harvard University Press, 1981

Changing occupational patterns during the 1920s and 1930s opened up new opportunities to women in a variety of fields. In a fresh approach to the history of women, Winifred D. Wandersee explores how the family, work, and family values took on new shapes during this critical period. By the 1920s, the increase in consumerism, encouraged by high production and mass advertising, had redefined the idea of an acceptable standard of living. For some, it was not possible to achieve this standard on the income of one wage earner, and women's employment outside the home became increasingly necessary. For most women, Wandersee shows, this trend to outside work was a reflection not of feminist ideology but of women's commitment to family values.

Wandersee finds that economic demands exerted even less influence on women than did societal and domestic demands. The proportion of married women who were gainfully employed during the 1920s, for example, was never more than 25 percent of all wives. Those who adapted to a joint economic and domestic role usually did so because their need was great, or their employment opportunity was favorable, or their value system stressed the material comfort of the family at the expense of traditional concepts of women's roles. Wandersee relates the experiences of these last two groups of women to the long-range changes in values and life-styles that have culminated in the American family of today.

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