Comments on: What’s wrong with this vision of American history? History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sun, 21 Sep 2014 12:24:08 +0000 hourly 1 By: David Kowalski Sun, 12 Jan 2014 05:04:54 +0000 Unfortunately, many of the books I remember are old. Some are certainly by women:

A Diary from Dixie: The Civil War Diary of Mary Chestnut, 1905

What is interesting here is the one fact not included in the book: Chestnut’s husband, James, was the largest slave owner in the United States with over 1,000 slaves.

She goes on in lots of details about the privations, both major and minor, suffered by a South Carolina woman in Richmond for the war.

The Strange Career of Jim Crow by C. Vann Woodward

The Mind of the South by W.J. Cash, 1941

Yankee from Olympus by Catherine Drinker Bowen, 1944

The Course of Empire by Bernard DeVoto, 1952

1846: The Year of decision by Bernard DeVoto, 1943

Fighting Prophet by Lloyd Lewis, 1932

Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull House (not so much for her book as for her unique life: the founder of modern social work, a founder of the NAACP and the ACLU, and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize).

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream

A best-seller in its time, Goodwin worked for LBJ off and on for a long time. he emerges here as crude, effective, caring, and self-centered. Yes, this is contradictory, but that was the point. LBJ was a mix of his mother’s culture and the crass politician who was his father. He gave Goodwin 29 electric toothbrushes with a Presidential seal because she made the mistake of saying she liked the first one.

Men and Women of the Corporation by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, 1977

Calling this a “history” may be stretching it but Kanter looks into the interplay of power, sexism (not mentioned by word) and gender roles within a mythical corporation. Yes, it is really sociology but then that is what some of John Judis’ books were. I loved this book and must have read it a minimum of six times.

By: tony grafton Mon, 06 Jan 2014 00:13:21 +0000 It’s true, our interests narrow with time. But a reasonably curious scholar who keeps up with his or her field will surely encounter innovative work of women, whatever that field may be. I work on the history of classical and historical scholarship, from the Renaissance to the present. That sure sounds like a boys’ field, and once upon a time it was. But it has been totally transformed by Suzanne Marchand, Caroline Winterer, Mary Beard, Giovanna Ceserani, Miriam Leonard, Kristine Haugen and many others. Any list of my top reading hits would include all of them.

By: rustonite Sun, 05 Jan 2014 19:34:03 +0000 I’m a medievalist, so I’ve read literally none of the books that’ve been mentioned here, and don’t have a dog in the fight. So I’m going to play devil’s advocate. Of the books each of you is recommending, how many did you read after grad school? It seems to me that that’s when we’re both required and able to read broadly. I’ve observed that, once they’re on the tenure track, professors tend to read only what they have to to advance their research projects. That’s not ideal, but we’re all busy, and broad, casual reading doesn’t get included in a tenure portfolio (which is judged by people who got out of school even longer ago than you, and so are probably even more disconnected from current historiography). Is it possible this is a symptom of career pressure?

By: Matt_L Sun, 05 Jan 2014 13:49:08 +0000 I read City of Women in undergrad and really liked it. I have to ask, what is the statute of limitations on a book, no matter how good it is?

I am teaching a class on Modern Russian and Soviet History for junior’s and seniors this spring. One of the problems we have is getting our students to identify arguments and apply the concepts they learned in Historiography to the readings in our upper division classes. So I am assigning two books on the Russian Revolution, Trotsky (1932) and Richard Pipes (1989), because both authors have obvious political and methodological axes to grind. I am hoping that the obviousness will help my students identify the arguments Pipes and Trotsky are making so they can understand the debates. We’ll also read a set of more recent articles that address the social history of the Russian Revolution.

The problem is that both books are really old, and by no means definitive. (In fact I much prefer Sheila Fitzpatrick’s history of the Russian Revolution). But they do help make a historiographic point. I still wonder if I am going to end up with some students who never go beyond what they read in this class to pick up other books about the Russian Revolution.

By: Lance Sun, 05 Jan 2014 13:05:58 +0000 Even for a retrograde thinker, this is a terrible list. I mean, I don’t just question his commitment to new histories of/by women, people of color, working men and women, and many others. I also question his ability to read even old-timey books about white guys well. Croly and Hartz? All of that Miller book? Not just an essay or two? Not his other, arguably more important books? All of Warren Susman? Really, cuz parts of that book are really not so interesting.

By: Adam Arenson Sun, 05 Jan 2014 04:02:09 +0000 Ugh is right. In general it just feels dated — were these assigned to him, way back? — but I agree that is not a complete excuse; I still teach Christine Stansell’s _City of Women_ (1986) and I like the contrast(s), professional and personal, with Sean Wilentz’s _Chants Democratic_ (1984).

But I do think we can cheer how many of the most influential books in recent years come from scholars beyond those listed here; for US-centered lists, both the Bancroft and Beveridge prize lists can provide a reader guidance, and they will meet Jill Lepore, Linda Gordon, Margaret Jacobs, Jacqueline Hall, Laurel Ulrich, Lizabeth Cohen, etc.

By: Shaz Sun, 05 Jan 2014 01:47:48 +0000 And if you might doubt the impact: I looked up *Crisis of The Negro Intellectual* on Amazon, and now Amazon suggests that I’d like to read everything else on Judis’ list…

By: Feminist Avatar Sun, 05 Jan 2014 01:36:21 +0000 I am also made slightly ancy by the comments in a lot of places about this list that it’s ‘just out of date’, and that women would be there if he’d read more recent work. WOMENS HISTORY WAS ABOUT IN THE 70s and 80s! Mary Beth Norton published Women of America in 1979; Sara Evans Born for Liberty was 1989; Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s Good Wives was 1982; Marylynn Salmon’s Women and the Law of Property was 1986. And, I’m not an Americanist so I’m guessing they weren’t alone.

As Historian’s Whig of History reminds us, historical forgetting is a very useful way of bolstering the conservative status quo.

By: Ben Railton Sun, 05 Jan 2014 01:20:26 +0000 Agreed! Just wanted to note that I created a quick blog page where I listed a complementary top 10 of my own–most post-1988, half by women, engaged with different ethnic and cultural histories, etc. A couple folks have added great suggestions in comments, too. It’s here:


By: truffula Sun, 05 Jan 2014 00:54:24 +0000 I am interested in Janice’s comment. It’s an idea that occurs to me immediately regarding diversity; diversity of methodology. I just don’t know enough history scholarship to comment.