An invention of the Industrial Revolution, the accordion provided the less affluent with an inexpensive, loud, portable, and durable "one-man-orchestra" capable of producing melody, harmony, and bass all at once. Imported from Europe into the Americas, the accordion with its distinctive sound became a part of the aural landscape for millions of people but proved to be divisive: while the accordion formed an integral part of working-class musical expression, bourgeois commentators often derided it as vulgar and tasteless.
This rich collection considers the accordion and its myriad forms, from the concertina, button accordion, and piano accordion familiar in European and North American music to the exotic-sounding South American bandoneón and the sanfoninha. Capturing the instrument's spread and adaptation to many different cultures in North and South America, contributors illuminate how the accordion factored into power struggles over aesthetic values between elites and working-class people who often were members of immigrant and/or marginalized ethnic communities. Specific histories and cultural contexts discussed include the accordion in Brazil, Argentine tango, accordion traditions in Colombia, cross-border accordion culture between Mexico and Texas, Cajun and Creole identity, working-class culture near Lake Superior, the virtuoso Italian-American and Klezmer accordions, Native American dance music, and American avant-garde.
Contributors are María Susana Azzi, Egberto Bermúdez, Mark DeWitt, Joshua Horowitz, Sydney Hutchinson, Marion Jacobson, James P. Leary, Megwen Loveless, Richard March, Cathy Ragland, Helena Simonett, Jared Snyder, Janet L. Sturman, and Christine F. Zinni.
The clerk attended his desk and counter at the intersection of two great themes of modern historical experience: the development of a market economy and of a society governed from below. Who better illustrates the daily practice and production of this modernity than someone of no particular account assigned with overseeing all the new buying and selling? In Accounting for Capitalism, Michael Zakim has written their story, a social history of capital that seeks to explain how the “bottom line” became a synonym for truth in an age shorn of absolutes, grafted onto our very sense of reason and trust.
This is a big story, told through an ostensibly marginal event: the birth of a class of “merchant clerks” in the United States in the middle of the nineteenth century. The personal trajectory of these young men from farm to metropolis, homestead to boarding house, and, most significantly, from growing things to selling them exemplified the enormous social effort required to domesticate the profit motive and turn it into the practical foundation of civic life. As Zakim reveals in his highly original study, there was nothing natural or preordained about the stunning ascendance of this capitalism and its radical transformation of the relationship between “Man and Mammon.”
Act Up-Paris became one of the most notable protest groups in France in the mid-1990s. Founded in 1989, and following the New York model, it became a confrontational voice representing the interests of those affected by HIV through openly political activism. Action=Vie, the English-language translation of Christophe Broqua’s study of the grassroots activist branch, explains the reasons for the group’s success and sheds light on Act Up's defining features—such as its unique articulation between AIDS and gay activism.
Featuring numerous accounts by witnesses and participants, Broqua traces the history of Act Up-Paris and shows how thousands of gay men and women confronted the AIDS epidemic by mobilizing with public actions. Act Up-Paris helped shape the social definition not only of HIV-positive persons but also of sexual minorities. Broqua analyzes the changes brought about by the group, from the emergence of new treatments for HIV infection to normalizing homosexuality and a controversy involving HIV-positive writers’ remarks about unprotected sex. This rousing history ends in the mid-2000s before marriage equality and antiretroviral treatments caused Act Up-Paris to decline.
In the American Civil War missives from relatives to soldiers relating the details of what was occurring in the villages and towns unscarred by the conflict were rare. Edited by Barbara Butler Davis, Affectionately Yours: The Civil War Home-Front Letters of the Ovid Butler Family includes transcriptions of sixty-five holograph letters written from 1863 to 1865 to their son Scot. The letters are housed in the collection of the Irvington Historical Society and relate a fascinating social history of the Indianapolis community during the Civil War. The book also includes a foreword by Civil War historian Alan T. Nolan.
While stories of organized crime most often dwell on groups like the Mafia and Chinese Triad or Tongs, African Americans also have a long history of organized crime. Why have scholars and journalists paid so little attention to African American organized crime? What can a history of these criminal networks teach us about the social, political, and economic challenges that face African Americans today? What is specific to African American organized crime, and how do these networks differ from the criminal organizations of other racial and ethnic groups? How can a historical study of African American organized crime enrich our understanding of all criminal activity?
Rufus Schatzberg and Robert Kelly take us through almost a century of African American organized crime. Chapters focus on the numbers gambling that took place in New York City from 1920 to 1940, the criminal groups that operated in ghettos from the 1940s to the 1970s, and the gang activities that began in the 1970s and continues today. While providing a compelling analysis of African American organized crime, the authors also challenge existing stereotypes of African Americans and demonstrate the importance of studying any criminal activity within its historical and social context.
In recent decades, ties between Africa and Asia have greatly increased. And while most of the scholarly attention to the phenomenon has focused on China, often with an emphasis on asymmetric power relations in both politics and economics, this book takes a much broader view, looking at various small and medium-sized actors in Asia and Africa in a wide range of fields. It will be essential for scholars working on Asian-African studies and will also offer insights for policymakers working in this fast-changing field.
Age of Concrete is a history of the making of houses and homes in the subúrbios of Maputo (Lourenço Marques), Mozambique, from the late 1940s to the present. Often dismissed as undifferentiated, ahistorical “slums,” these neighborhoods are in fact an open-air archive that reveals some of people’s highest aspirations. At first people built in reeds. Then they built in wood and zinc panels. And finally, even when it was illegal, they risked building in concrete block, making permanent homes in a place where their presence was often excruciatingly precarious.
Unlike many histories of the built environment in African cities, Age of Concrete focuses on ordinary homebuilders and dwellers. David Morton thus models a different way of thinking about urban politics during the era of decolonization, when one of the central dramas was the construction of the urban stage itself. It shaped how people related not only to each other but also to the colonial state and later to the independent state as it stumbled into being.
Original, deeply researched, and beautifully composed, this book speaks in innovative ways to scholarship on urban history, colonialism and decolonization, and the postcolonial state. Replete with rare photographs and other materials from private collections, Age of Concrete establishes Morton as one of a handful of scholars breaking new ground on how we understand Africa’s cities.
Just over a thousand years ago, the Song dynasty emerged as the most advanced civilization on earth. Within two centuries, China was home to nearly half of all humankind. In this concise history, we learn why the inventiveness of this era has been favorably compared with the European Renaissance, which in many ways the Song transformation surpassed.
With the chaotic dissolution of the Tang dynasty, the old aristocratic families vanished. A new class of scholar-officials—products of a meritocratic examination system—took up the task of reshaping Chinese tradition by adapting the precepts of Confucianism to a rapidly changing world. Through fiscal reforms, these elites liberalized the economy, eased the tax burden, and put paper money into circulation. Their redesigned capitals buzzed with traders, while the education system offered advancement to talented men of modest means. Their rationalist approach led to inventions in printing, shipbuilding, weaving, ceramics manufacture, mining, and agriculture. With a realist’s eye, they studied the natural world and applied their observations in art and science. And with the souls of diplomats, they chose peace over war with the aggressors on their borders. Yet persistent military threats from these nomadic tribes—which the Chinese scorned as their cultural inferiors—redefined China’s understanding of its place in the world and solidified a sense of what it meant to be Chinese.
The Age of Confucian Rule is an essential introduction to this transformative era. “A scholar should congratulate himself that he has been born in such a time” (Zhao Ruyu, 1194).
Age of Fracture
Daniel T. Rodgers Harvard University Press, 2011 Library of Congress E169.12.R587 2011 | Dewey Decimal 973.91
Rodgers presents the first broadly gauged history of the ideas and arguments that profoundly reshaped America in the last quarter of the twentieth century. From the ways in which Ronald Reagan changed the formulas of the Cold War presidency to the era’s intense debates over gender, race, economics, and history, it maps the dynamics through which mid-twentieth-century ideas of structure fell apart between the mid 1970s and the end of the century. Where conventional histories of modern America have focused on specific decades, the book traces the larger transformations in social ideas and visions that reshaped the era from the early 1970s through the end of the century.
Sound transformed British life in the "age of noise" between 1914 and 1945. The sonic maelstrom of mechanized society bred anger and anxiety and even led observers to forecast the end of civilization. The noise was, as James G. Mansell shows, modernity itself, expressed in aural form, with immense implications for the construction of the self. Tracing the ideas, feelings, and representations prompted by life in early twentieth century Britain, Mansell examines how and why sound shaped the self. He works at the crux of cultural and intellectual history, analyzing the meanings that were attached to different types of sound, who created these typologies and why, and how these meanings connected to debates about modernity. From traffic noise to air raids, everyday sounds elicited new ways of thinking about being modern. Each individual negotiated his or her own subjective meanings through hopes or fears for sound. As Mansell considers the different ways Britons heard their world, he reveals why we must take sound into account in our studies of cultural and social history.
The early 1960s are remembered for the emergence of new radical movements influenced by the Cuban Revolution. One such protest movement rose in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. With large timber companies moving in on the forested sierra highlands, campesinos and rancheros did not sit by as their lands and livelihoods were threatened. Continuing a long history of agrarian movements and local traditions of armed self-defense, they organized and demanded agrarian rights.
Thousands of students joined the campesino protests in long-distance marches, land invasions, and direct actions that transcended political parties and marked the participants’ emergence as political subjects. The Popular Guerrilla Group (GPG) took shape from sporadic armed conflicts in the sierra. Early victories in the field encouraged the GPG to pursue more ambitious targets, and on September 23, 1965, armed farmers, agricultural workers, students, and teachers attacked an army base in Madera, Chihuahua. This bold move had deadly consequences.
With a sympathetic yet critical eye, historian Elizabeth Henson argues that the assault undermined and divided the movement that had been its crucible, sacrificing the most militant, audacious, and serious of a generation at a time when such sacrifices were more frequently observed. Henson shows how local history merged with national tensions over one-party rule, the unrealized promises of the Mexican Revolution, and international ideologies.
Aiming for Pensacola
Matthew J. Clavin Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress E450.C55 2015 | Dewey Decimal 305.800975999
Before the Civil War, slaves who managed to escape almost always made their way northward along the Underground Railroad. Matthew Clavin recovers the story of fugitive slaves who sought freedom by paradoxically sojourning deeper into the American South toward an unlikely destination: the small seaport of Pensacola, Florida, a gateway to freedom.
A thorough, accessible, and heavily illustrated history of Alabama
Alabama: The Making of an American State is itself a watershed event in the long and storied history of the state of Alabama. Here, presented for the first time ever in a single, magnificently illustrated volume, Edwin C. Bridges conveys the magisterial sweep of Alabama’s rich, difficult, and remarkable history with verve, eloquence, and an unblinking eye.
From Alabama’s earliest fossil records to its settlement by Native Americans and later by European settlers and African slaves, from its territorial birth pangs and statehood through the upheavals of the Civil War and the civil rights movement, Bridges makes evident in clear, direct storytelling the unique social, political, economic, and cultural forces that have indelibly shaped this historically rich and unique American region.
Illustrated lavishly with maps, archival photographs, and archaeological artifacts, as well as art works, portraiture, and specimens of Alabama craftsmanship—many never before published—Alabama: The Making of an American State makes evident as rarely seen before Alabama’s most significant struggles, conflicts, achievements, and developments.
Drawn from decades of research and the deep archival holdings of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, this volume will be the definitive resource for decades to come for anyone seeking a broad understanding of Alabama’s evolving legacy.
Designed to appeal to students of history and foodies alike, American Appetites, the first book in the University of Arkansas Press’s new Food and Foodways series, brings together compelling firsthand testimony describing the nation’s collective eating habits throughout time. Beginning with Native American folktales that document foundational food habits and ending with contemporary discussions about how to obtain adequate, healthful, and ethical food, this volume reveals that the quest for food has always been about more than physical nourishment, demonstrating changing attitudes about issues ranging from patriotism and gender to technology and race. Readers will experience vicariously hunger and satiation, culinary pleasure and gustatory distress from perspectives as varied as those of enslaved Africans, nineteenth-century socialites, battle-weary soldiers, impoverished immigrants, and prominent politicians. Regardless of their status or the peculiarities of their historical moment, the Americans whose stories are captured here reveal that U.S. history cannot be understood apart from an examination of what drives and what feeds the American appetite.
In modern culture, the essay is often considered an old-fashioned, unoriginal form of literary styling. The word essay brings to mind the uninspired five-paragraph theme taught in schools around the country or the antiquated, Edwardian meanderings of English gentlemen rattling on about art and old books. These connotations exist despite the fact that Americans have been reading and enjoying personal essays in popular magazines for decades, engaging with a multitude of ideas through this short-form means of expression.
To defend the essay—that misunderstood staple of first-year composition courses—Ned Stuckey-French has written The American Essay in the American Century. This book uncovers the buried history of the American personal essay and reveals how it played a significant role in twentieth-century cultural history.
In the early 1900s, writers and critics debated the “death of the essay,” claiming it was too traditional to survive the era’s growing commercialism, labeling it a bastion of British upper-class conventions. Yet in that period, the essay blossomed into a cultural force as a new group of writers composed essays that responded to the concerns of America’s expanding cosmopolitan readership. These essays would spark the “magazine revolution,” giving a fresh voice to the ascendant middle class of the young century.
With extensive research and a cultural context, Stuckey-French describes the many reasons essays grew in appeal and importance for Americans. He also explores the rise of E. B. White, considered by many the greatest American essayist of the first half of the twentieth century whose prowess was overshadowed by his success in other fields of writing. White’s work introduced a new voice, creating an American essay that melded seriousness and political resolve with humor and self-deprecation. This book is one of the first to consider and reflect on the contributions of E. B. White to the personal essay tradition and American culture more generally.
The American Essay in the American Century is a compelling, highly readable book that illuminates the history of a secretly beloved literary genre. A work that will appeal to fiction readers, scholars, and students alike, this book offers fundamental insight into modern American literary history and the intersections of literature, culture, and class through the personal essay. This thoroughly researched volume dismisses, once and for all, the “death of the essay,” proving that the essay will remain relevant for a very long time to come.
The American mestizos, a group that emerged in the Philippines after it was colonized by the United States, became a serious social concern for expatriate Americans and Filipino nationalists far disproportionate to their actual size, confounding observers who debated where they fit into the racial schema of the island nation.
Across the Pacific, these same mestizos were racialized in a way that characterized them as a asset to the United States, opening up the possibility of their assimilation to American society during a period characterized by immigration restriction and fears of miscegenation. Drawing upon Philippine and American archives, Nicholas Trajano Molnar documents the imposed and self-ascribed racializations of the American mestizos, demonstrating that the boundaries of their racial identity shifted across time and space with no single identity coalescing.
American Socialist Triptych: The Literary-Political Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Upton Sinclair, and W. E. B. Du Bois explores the contributions of three writers to the development of American socialism over a fifty--year period and asserts the vitality of socialism in modern American literature and culture.
Drawing upon a wide range of texts including archival sources, Mark W. Van Wienen demonstrates the influence of reform-oriented, democratic socialism both in the careers of these writers and in U.S. politics between 1890 and 1940. While offering unprecedented in-depth analysis of modern American socialist literature, this book charts the path by which the supposedly impossible, dangerous ideals of a cooperative commonwealth were realized, in part, by the New Deal.
American Socialist Triptych provides in-depth, innovative readings of the featured writers and their engagement with socialist thought and action. Upton Sinclair represents the movement's most visible manifestation, the Socialist Party of America, founded in 1901; Charlotte Perkins Gilman reflects the socialist elements in both feminism and 1890s reform movements, and W. E. B. Du Bois illuminates social democratic aspirations within the NAACP. Van Wienen's book seeks to re-energize studies of Sinclair by treating him as a serious cultural figure whose career peaked not in the early success of The Jungle but in his nearly successful 1934 run for the California governorship. It also demonstrates as never before the centrality of socialism throughout Gilman's and Du Bois's literary and political careers.
More broadly, American Socialist Triptych challenges previous scholarship on American radical literature, which has focused almost exclusively on the 1930s and Communist writers. Van Wienen argues that radical democracy was not the phenomenon of a decade or of a single group but a sustained tradition dispersed within the culture, providing a useful genealogical explanation for how socialist ideas were actually implemented through the New Deal.
American Socialist Triptych also revises modern American literary history, arguing for the endurance of realist and utopian literary modes at the height of modernist literary experimentation and showing the importance of socialism not only to the three featured writers but also to their peers, including Edward Bellamy, Hamlin Garland, Jack London, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Claude McKay. Further, by demonstrating the importance of social democratic thought to feminist and African American campaigns for equality, the book dialogues with recent theories of radical egalitarianism. Readers interested in American literature, U.S. history, political theory, and race, gender, and class studies will all find in American Socialist Triptych a valuable and provocative resource.
The Institute for American Values began its work on thrift-—the ethic of wise use—-in 2004, when they were invited to partner with the John Templeton Foundation in a scholarly exploration of thrift as an American value. What they discovered was a forgotten history–but more importantly, IAV’s research uncovered limitless contemporary possibilities in an irreplaceable virtue.
“We see thrift as a comprehensive and transformative lens to inspire and measure the aspirations of more productive, self-reliant, imaginative and resilient—in short thriving—individuals and communities,” says the Institute. “In the area of thrift education, our dream is for every young American to benefit from at least one module of high-quality thrift education before reaching age 18, through a school, library, youth-serving organization, or financial services organization.”
With American Thrift: A Reader, David Blankenhorn and Andrew F. Kline provide a key resource in the pursuit of that goal.
The cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon, is one of only three cultivated fruits native to North America. The story of this perennial vine began as the glaciers retreated about fifteen thousand years ago. Centuries later, it kept Native Americans and Pilgrims alive through the winter months, played a role in a diplomatic gesture to King Charles in 1677, protected sailors on board whaling ships from scurvy, fed General Grant’s men in 1864, and provided over a million pounds of sustenance per year to our World War II doughboys. Today, it is a powerful tool in the fight against various forms of cancer. This is America’s superfruit. This book poses the question of how the cranberry, and by inference other fruits, will fare in a warming climate. In her attempt to evaluate the effects of climate change, Susan Playfair interviewed growers from Massachusetts west to Oregon and from New Jersey north to Wisconsin, the cranberry’s temperature tolerance range. She also spoke with scientists studying the health benefits of cranberries, plant geneticists mapping the cranberry genome, a plant biologist who provided her with the first regression analysis of cranberry flowering times, and a migrant beekeeper trying to figure out why the bees are dying. Taking a broader view than the other books on cranberries, America’s Founding Fruit presents a brief history of cranberry cultivation and its role in our national history, leads the reader through the entire cultivation process from planting through distribution, and assesses the possible effects of climate change on the cranberry and other plants and animals. Could the American cranberry cease growing in the United States? If so, what would be lost?
With this first scholarly biography of Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919), Trisha Franzen sheds new light on an important woman suffrage leader who has too often been overlooked and misunderstood.
An immigrant from a poor family, Shaw grew up in an economic reality that encouraged the adoption of non-traditional gender roles. Challenging traditional gender boundaries throughout her life, she put herself through college, worked as an ordained minister and a doctor, and built a tightly-knit family with her secretary and longtime companion Lucy E. Anthony.
Drawing on unprecedented research, Franzen shows how these circumstances and choices both impacted Shaw's role in the woman suffrage movement and set her apart from her native-born, middle- and upper-class colleagues. Franzen also rehabilitates Shaw's years as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, arguing that Shaw's much-belittled tenure actually marked a renaissance of both NAWSA and the suffrage movement as a whole.
Anna Howard Shaw: The Work of Woman Suffrage presents a clear and compelling portrait of a woman whose significance has too long been misinterpreted and misunderstood.
In Appalachian Dance, Susan Eike Spalding employs twenty-five years' worth of rich interviews with black and white Virginians, Tennesseeans, and Kentuckians to explore the evolution and social uses of dance practices in each region.
Spalding analyzes how issues as disparate as industrialization around coal, race relations, and the 1970s folk revival profoundly influenced freestyle clogging and other dance forms. She reveals how African Americans and Native Americans, as well as European immigrants drawn to the timber mills and coal fields, added to local dance vocabularies. By placing each community in its sociopolitical and economic context, Spalding explores how the formal and stylistic nuances found in Appalachian dance reflect the beliefs, shared understandings, and experiences of the community at large.
"The tourist archipelagoes of my South / are prisons, too, corruptible" writes the poet Derek Walcott. While Walcott refers to the islands of the Caribbean, the analogous idea of a land made into solitary islands by an imprisoned and inherited corruption is historian J. Mills Thornton III’s American South. The captivating essays in Archipelagoes of My South: Episodes in the Shaping of a Region, 1830–1965 address this overarching and underlying narrative of Alabama politics and the history of the South.
Highlighting events as significant as the role of social and economic conflict in the southern secession movement, various aspects of Reconstruction, and the role of the Ku Klux Klan in the politics of the 1920s, Thornton draws from various points in the southern past in an effort to identify and understand the sources of the region’s power. Moreover, each essay investigates its subject matter and peels back layers with an aim to clarify why the enormous diversity of the southern experience makes that power so great, all the while allowing the reader to see connections that would not otherwise be apparent.
Archipelagoes of My South gathers together previously uncollected essays into a single volume covering the entire length and breadth of Thornton’s career. The author’s principal concerns have always been the arc of regional evolution and the significance of the local. Thus, the mechanisms of political and social change and the interrelationships across eras and generations are recurring themes in many of these essays.
Even those who have spent their entire lives in the South may be unaware of the fractured layers of history that lie beneath the landscape they inhabit. For those southern residents who seek to comprehend more of their own past, this landmark compilation of essays on Alabama and southern history endeavors to provide illumination and enlightenment.
“I reckon stranger you have not been used much to traveling in the woods,” a hunter remarked to Henry Rowe Schoolcraft as he trekked through the Ozark backcountry in late 1818. The ensuing exchange is one of many compelling encounters between Arkansas travelers and settlers depicted in Arkansas Travelers: Geographies of Exploration and Perception, 1804–1834. This book is the first to integrate the stories of four travelers who explored Arkansas during the transformative period between the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and statehood in 1836: William Dunbar, Thomas Nuttall, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, and George William Featherstonhaugh.
In addition to gathering their tales of treacherous rivers, drunken scoundrels, and repulsive food, historian and geographer Andrew J. Milson explores the impact such travel narratives have had on geographical understandings of Arkansas places. Using the language in each traveler’s narrative, Milson suggests, and the book includes, new maps that trace these perceptions, illustrating not just the lands traversed, but the way travelers experienced and perceived place. By taking a geographical approach to the history of these spaces, Arkansas Travelers offers a deeper understanding—a deeper map—of Arkansas.
In the final volume of Asia Inside Out, a stellar interdisciplinary team of scholars shows the ways that itinerant groups criss-crossing the continent have transformed their culture and surroundings. Going beyond time and place, which animated the first two books, this third one looks at human beings on the move.
First published in 1967, Rufus Spain’s thorough investigation into Southern Baptist attitudes set the stage for research on religion in the American South. In At Ease in Zion, Spain questions the titular “ease” with society that Southern Baptists seemed to maintain following the Civil War. His analysis of denominational newspapers, as well as reports from the Southern Baptist Convention and state conventions, paint a compelling picture of the subjects’ complacency with their social existence, even as they criticized personal and recreational ethics.
While the South faced significant social, economic, and political changes after the Civil War, religion remained the primary moral influence. As the Southern Baptist denomination made up a significant majority of the population at that time, its leaders and attitudes had a clear and undeniable impact on social norms. Rufus Spain was one of the first writers to actively demonstrate the relationship between Southern religion and Southern society, and his work displays meticulous attention to the ways in which we are affected by complacency. He asserts that Southern Baptists viewed the American South as a version of God’s ideal society; any issues they wished to address were caused by individuals (such as those who did not conform to societal norms) or external attitudes (such as those in differing religions or regions).
At Ease in Zion is a critical part of the scholarly discussion on religion in society. Spain’s research offers a bold analysis of the American South and its citizens during one of the most tumultuous times in its history while providing a basis for arguments on “social Christianity” and its ever-shifting role in the world.
Robert L. Green, a friend and colleague of Martin Luther King Jr., served as education director for King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference during a crucial period in Civil Rights history, and—as a consultant for many of the nation’s largest school districts—he continues to fight for social justice and educational equity today.
This memoir relates previously untold stories about major Civil Rights campaigns that helped put an end to voting rights violations and Jim Crow education; explains how Green has helped urban school districts improve academic achievement levels; and explains why this history should inform our choices as we attempt to reform and improve American education. Green’s quest began when he helped the Kennedy Administration resolve a catastrophic education-related impasse and has continued through his service as one of the participants at an Obama administration summit on a current academic crisis.
It is commonly said that education is the new Civil Rights battlefield. Green’s memoir, At the Crossroads of Fear and Freedom: The Fight for Social and Educational Justice, helps us understand that educational equity has always been a central objective of the Civil Rights movement.
Founded during World War II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was a vital link in the U.S. military’s atomic bomb assembly line—the site where scientists worked at a breakneck pace to turn tons of uranium into a few grams of the artificial element plutonium. To construct and operate the plants needed for this effort, thousands of workers, both skilled and unskilled, converged on the “city behind a fence” tucked between two ridges of sparsely populated farmland in the Tennessee hills.
At Work in the Atomic City explores the world of those workers and their efforts to form unions, create a community, and gain political rights over their city. It follows them from their arrival at Oak Ridge, to the places where they lived, and to their experiences in a dangerous and secretive workplace. Lured by promises of housing, plentiful work, and schooling for their children, they were often exposed to dangerous levels of radioactivity, harmful chemicals, and other hazards. Although scientists and doctors intended to protect workers, the pressure to produce materials for the bomb often overrode safety considerations. After the war, as the military sought to reduce services and jobs in Oak Ridge, workers organized unions at two plants to demand higher wages and job security. However, the new Taft-Hartley Act limited defense workers’ ability to strike and thus curbed union influence.
The book examines the ongoing debates over workers’ rights at Oak Ridge—notably the controversy surrounding the new federal program intended to compensate workers and their families for injuries sustained on the job. Because of faulty record keeping at the facilities and confusion over exposure levels, many have been denied payment to this day.
Drawing on extensive research into oral history collections, transcripts of government proceedings, and other primary sources, At Work in the Atomic City is the first detailed account of the workers who built and labored in the facilities that helped ensure the success of the Manhattan Project—a story known, heretofore, only in broad outline.
Some of the most divisive contests shaping the quest for marriage equality occurred not on the culture-war front lines but within the ranks of LGBTQ advocates. Nathaniel Frank tells the dramatic story of how an idea that once seemed unfathomable—and for many gays and lesbians undesirable—became a legal and moral right in just half a century.