Category Book Reviews
Book Review: Marcus Collins and Peter N. Stearns, Why Study History? (London Publishing Partnership)
University history class enrollments are down nationwide and fewer students are majoring in history. Now is the time for a book to come along to save history departments, or at least to provide good arguments for students to major in history so that history departments can flourish again. This book, directed at undergraduate students who […]
This book might be categorized as a memoir or more precisely a set of reflections about teaching history. It is only secondarily a guide or how-to book about teaching history. Caferro has been teaching history at the university-level for 35 years. He graduated from Yale, began his career as an adjunct teacher, taught for a […]
Review of Richard Bell, Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped Into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home (Simon & Schuster, 2019)
In the summer of 1825, five free black boys were kidnapped in Philadelphia and sold as slaves in the South. Each had been lured to a ship at the harbor with promises of good pay to help unload fruit. The con man they followed was an African American, John Purnell, who earned high wages working […]
Book review: Robert Tracy McKenzie, A Little Book for New Historians: Why and How to Study History (InterVarsity Press, 2019).
Book Review: Robert Tracy McKenzie, A Little Book for new Historians: Why and How to Study History (InterVarsity Press, 2019) This is a well-written but fairly standard history methods book with an interesting Christian and conservative perspective. Like dozens of authors before him, McKenzie begins with a definition of history that draws a distinction between […]
Mike Maxwell is reader of this blog and a fellow historian who sent me a copy of his new book. The general message of the book is that history education, specifically at the high school level, is a mess. The first 55 pages of the book diagnose the problem, which is that history education does […]
Book Review: Helena Rosenblatt, The Lost History of Liberalism: From Ancient Rome to the Twenty-First Century (Princeton University Press, 2018).
This book is more than a coherent and straightforward synthetic history of liberalism. First, let me note that the book is impressive in its scope of covering hundreds of years and multiple countries, although limited primarily to Western Europe and the United States. It also brings together a large historiography about liberalism and has a […]
History research generally does not need to be consumed as quickly as scientific work. History books can remain the definitive voice on a topic for 10, 20, even 30 years. So, as a historian, I don’t always try to read the newest books, but the best ones. In 2018, I’ve made a conscious effort to […]
Book Review: Marshall T. Poe, How to Read a History Book: The Hidden History of History (Zero Books, 2018)
There have been a rash of history books recently with incorrect titles. Sam Weinburg’s Why Study History when its Already on Your Phone has very little to do with justifying learning of history in the age of the smart phone, and Alex Rosenburg’s How History Gets it Wrong: The Neuroscience of Our Addictions to Stories […]
Book Review: David C. Krakauer, John Lewis Gaddis, Kenneth Pomeranz, eds. History, Big History History & Metahistory (Santa Fe Institute, 2017)
The Santa Fe Institute sounds like an Elon Musk/ Lex Luther style lair, where the brightest thinkers come together to hatch a scheme for controlling the planet. What many of the participants of the book want to control is the shape and scope of historical narrative. They want history to be big, to cover grand […]
Book Review: Sean Patrick Adams, How Americans Kept Warm in the 19th Century (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.
In the 18th century, Americans burned a lot of wood to keep their homes warm. But everything from a log cabin to a brick house had an open fire place with a chimney made of brick or stone. These open fires were quite inefficient. As Adams notes, houses in the Northern states would burn ten […]