During the nineteenth century, nearly ten thousand Americans traveled to Germany to study in universities renowned for their research and teaching. By the mid-twentieth century, American institutions led the world. How did America become the center of excellence in higher education? And what does that story reveal about who will lead in the twenty-first century?
Allies and Rivals is the first history of the ascent of American higher education seen through the lens of German-American exchange. In a series of compelling portraits of such leaders as Wilhelm von Humboldt, Martha Carey Thomas, and W. E. B. Du Bois, Emily J. Levine shows how academic innovators on both sides of the Atlantic competed and collaborated to shape the research university. Even as nations sought world dominance through scholarship, universities retained values apart from politics and economics. Open borders enabled Americans to unite the English college and German PhD to create the modern research university, a hybrid now replicated the world over.
In a captivating narrative spanning one hundred years, Levine upends notions of the university as a timeless ideal, restoring the contemporary university to its rightful place in history. In so doing she reveals that innovation in the twentieth century was rooted in international cooperation—a crucial lesson that bears remembering today.
Since the dawn of the republic, faith in social equality, religious freedom, and the right to engage in civic activism have constituted our national creed. In this bracing history, Kathleen D. McCarthy traces the evolution of these ideals, exploring the impact of philanthropy and volunteerism on America from 1700 to 1865. What results is a vital reevaluation of public life during the pivotal decades leading up to the Civil War.
The market revolution, participatory democracy, and voluntary associations have all been closely linked since the birth of the United States. American Creed explores the relationships among these three institutions, showing how charities and reform associations forged partnerships with government, provided important safety valves for popular discontent, and sparked much-needed economic development. McCarthy also demonstrates how the idea of philanthropy became crucially wedded to social activism during the Jacksonian era. She explores how acts of volunteerism and charity became involved with the abolitionist movement, educational patronage, the struggle against racism, and female social justice campaigns. What resulted, she contends, were heated political battles over the extent to which women and African Americans would occupy the public stage.
Tracing, then, the evolution of civil society and the pivotal role of philanthropy in the search for and exercise of political and economic power, this book will prove essential to anyone interested in American history and government.
High-rise public housing developments were signature features of the post–World War II city. A hopeful experiment in providing temporary, inexpensive housing for all Americans, the “projects” soon became synonymous with the black urban poor, with isolation and overcrowding, with drugs, gang violence, and neglect. As the wrecking ball brings down some of these concrete monoliths, Sudhir Venkatesh seeks to reexamine public housing from the inside out, and to salvage its troubled legacy. Based on nearly a decade of fieldwork in Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes, American Project is the first comprehensive story of daily life in an American public housing complex.
Venkatesh draws on his relationships with tenants, gang members, police officers, and local organizations to offer an intimate portrait of an inner-city community that journalists and the public have only viewed from a distance. Challenging the conventional notion of public housing as a failure, this startling book re-creates tenants’ thirty-year effort to build a safe and secure neighborhood: their political battles for services from an indifferent city bureaucracy, their daily confrontation with entrenched poverty, their painful decisions about whether to work with or against the street gangs whose drug dealing both sustained and imperiled their lives.
American Project explores the fundamental question of what makes a community viable. In his chronicle of tenants’ political and personal struggles to create a decent place to live, Venkatesh brings us to the heart of the matter.
A comprehensive and engaging history of a century of Polish immigration and influence in Chicago.
Every May, a sea of 250,000 people decked out in red and white head to Chicago’s Loop to celebrate the Polish Constitution Day Parade. In the city, you can tune in to not one but four different Polish-language radio stations or jam out to the Polkaholics. You can have lunch at pierogi food trucks or pick up pączkis at the grocery store. And if you’re lucky, you get to take off work for Casimir Pulaski Day. For more than a century, Chicago has been home to one of the largest Polish populations outside of Poland, and the group has had an enormous influence on the city’s culture and politics. Yet, until now, there has not been a comprehensive history of the Chicago Polonia.
With American Warsaw, award-winning historian and Polish American Dominic A. Pacyga chronicles more than a century of immigration, and later emigration back to Poland, showing how the community has continually redefined what it means to be Polish in Chicago. He takes us from the Civil War era until today, focusing on how three major waves of immigrants, refugees, and fortune seekers shaped and then redefined the Polonia. Pacyga also traces the movement of Polish immigrants from the peasantry to the middle class and from urban working-class districts dominated by major industries to suburbia. He documents Polish Chicago’s alignments and divisions: with other Chicago ethnic groups; with the Catholic Church; with unions, politicians, and city hall; and even among its own members. And he explores the ever-shifting sense of Polskość, or “Polishness.”
Today Chicago is slowly being eclipsed by other Polish immigrant centers, but it remains a vibrant—and sometimes contentious—heart of the Polish American experience. American Warsaw is a sweeping story that expertly depicts a people who are deeply connected to their historical home and, at the same time, fiercely proud of their adopted city. As Pacyga writes, “While we were Americans, we also considered ourselves to be Poles. In that strange Chicago ethnic way, there was no real difference between the two.”
There’s no sound quite like it, or as viscerally terrifying: the ominous rattle of the timber rattlesnake. It’s a chilling shorthand for imminent danger, and a reminder of the countless ways that nature can suddenly snuff us out.
Yet most of us have never seen a timber rattler. Though they’re found in thirty-one states, and near many major cities, in contemporary America timber rattlesnakes are creatures mostly of imagination and innate fear.
Ted Levin aims to change that with America’s Snake, a portrait of the timber rattlesnake, its place in America’s pantheon of creatures and in our own frontier history—and of the heroic efforts to protect it against habitat loss, climate change, and the human tendency to kill what we fear. Taking us from labs where the secrets of the snake’s evolutionary history are being unlocked to far-flung habitats whose locations are fiercely protected by biologists and dedicated amateur herpetologists alike, Levin paints a picture of a fascinating creature: peaceable, social, long-lived, and, despite our phobias, not inclined to bite. The timber rattler emerges here as emblematic of America and also, unfortunately, of the complicated, painful struggles involved in protecting and preserving the natural world.
A wonderful mix of natural history, travel writing, and exemplary journalism, America’s Snake is loaded with remarkable characters—none more so than the snake at its heart: frightening, perhaps; endangered, certainly; and unquestionably unforgettable.
This book is the first devoted entirely to an examination of working-class activism, broadly defined as that of farmers’ organizations, labor unions, and (often biracial) political movements, in Arkansas during the Gilded Age. On one level, Hild argues for the significance of this activism in its own time: had the Arkansas Democratic Party not resorted to undemocratic, unscrupulous, and violent means of repression, the Arkansas Union Labor Party would have taken control of the state government in the election of 1888. He also argues that the significance of these movements lasted beyond their own time, their influence extending into the biracial Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union of the 1930s, the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and even today’s Farmers’ Union and the United Mine Workers of America.
The story of farmer and labor protest in Arkansas during the late nineteenth century offers lessons relevant to contemporary
working-class Americans in what some observers have called the “new Gilded Age.”