Morris Dickstein has written a history of the Great Depression through the arts of that period. The thirties ushered in a national culture, for the first time, because of the advent of radio, records, and movies. The books we read, poetry we recited, movies, photographs, design, and art we saw, the music we heard, sang, and danced to are recalled and cast in a new light. Dickstein deals with race and proletarian literature and escapist entertainment. Dancing in the Dark, as seen through Rogers and Astaire, was our effort to “assert a life-saving grace, unity and style against the encroaching darkness.” The need for collective energy created a sense of public purpose that took people past themselves. That desire can be felt in unlikely places, such as the movie The Wizard of Oz: the isolated and lonely Dorothy learns she can get home only by working with others. This period is one of the few in American history when collective action superseded individualism.

Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393072259
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 14th, 2009

Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393338768
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 6th, 2010

It was George Kennan who promulgated the containment policy. In his famous long telegram from Moscow, he guessed at Soviet intentions and urged that the U.S. had to contain the USSR. In his perceptive and intriguing book, the very young Nicholas Thompson offers a joint biography of Kennan and Paul Nitze, who opposed Kennan’s position of waiting patiently until the USSR imploded. He advocated a strong military buildup, although, in truth, he was very cautious about deploying the weapons. Both men came from the same upper class background and Ivy League schools. Both served in important civilian positions during World War II and both believed deeply in public service. Kennan had served in the Embassy in the Soviet Union and was able to hold opposing views about our one-time ally.  Nitze seemed to see the situation as either/or – either the Soviets were our friends or they were our enemies. Thompson does an admirable job of crafting a vast trove of material into a readable history. It is still not clear whether the military build-up prolonged the Cold War with a paranoid foe or contributed to its fall.

The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312658861
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - September 28th, 2010

Douglas Brinkley brings the double expertise of an academic and a journalist to this masterful account of President Theodore Roosevelt’s crusade for preserving the great forests along with their birds and other wildlife. Although he was an enthusiastic big-game hunter, Roosevelt’s alliance with visionary naturalists led him to launch the modern conservationist movement, which sought to establish bison, elk, and antelope preserves as well as numerous bird refuges.  As an outspoken advocate for the environment, Roosevelt continued his crusade well into retirement, railing against those who wantonly turn America’s rivers into sewers, pollute the air, and destroy the forests.

The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060565312
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Harper Perennial - May 4th, 2010