Are you headed to the 2018 Organization of American Historians conference in Sacramento? We are! Stop by our booth during the OAH Opening Reception Thursday, April 12, 6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. to meet our authors and editors, and sign up for our iPad giveaway!
Here are 6 books to look out for at #OAH18
Before Rosa Parks and the March on Washington, four African American women risked their careers and freedom to defy the United States Army over segregation. Women Army Corps (WAC) privates Mary Green, Anna Morrison, Johnnie Murphy, and Alice Young enlisted to serve their country, improve their lives, and claim the privileges of citizenship long denied them. Promised a chance at training and skilled positions, they saw white WACs assigned to those better jobs and found themselves relegated to work as orderlies. In 1945, their strike alongside fifty other WACs captured the nation’s attention and ignited passionate debates on racism, women in the military, and patriotism. Sandra M. Bolzenius presents the powerful story of their persistence and the public uproar that ensued.
A permanent political class has emerged on a scale unprecedented in our nation’s history. Its self-dealing, nepotism, and corruption contribute to rising inequality. Its reach extends from the governing elite throughout nongovernmental institutions. Aside from constituting an oligarchy of prestige and power, it enables the creation of an aristocracy of massive inherited wealth that is accumulating immense political power. In a muckraking tour de force reminiscent of Lincoln Steffens, Upton Sinclair, and C. Wright Mills, Ron Formisano demonstrates the way the corrupt culture of the permanent political class extends down to the state and local level.
Graham A. Peck meticulously traces the conflict over slavery in Illinois from the Northwest Ordinance in 1787 to Lincoln’s defeat of his archrival Stephen A. Douglas in the 1860 election. Douglas’s attempt in 1854 to persuade Northerners that slavery and freedom had equal national standing stirred a political earthquake that brought Lincoln to the White House. Yet Lincoln’s framing of the antislavery movement as a conservative return to the country’s founding principles masked what was in fact a radical and unprecedented antislavery nationalism. It justified slavery’s destruction but triggered the Civil War.
Louis Moore draws on the life stories of African American fighters active from 1880 to 1915 to explore working-class black manhood. As he details, boxers bought into American ideas about masculinity and free enterprise to prove their equality while using their bodies to become self-made men. The African American middle class, meanwhile, grappled with an expression of public black maleness they saw related to disreputable leisure rather than respectable labor. Moore shows how each fighter conformed to middle-class ideas of masculinity based on his own judgment of what culture would accept.
Sarah M. Griffith draws on the experiences of liberal Protestants, and the Young Men’s Christian Association in particular, to reveal the intellectual, social, and political forces that powered this movement. Engaging a wealth of unexplored primary and secondary sources, Griffith explores how YMCA leaders and their partners in the academy and distinct Asian American communities labored to mitigate racism. The alliance’s early work, based in mainstream ideas of assimilation and integration, ran aground on the Japanese exclusion law of 1924.
Beyond Respectability charts the development of African American women as public intellectuals and the evolution of their thought from the end of the 1800s through the Black Power era of the 1970s. Brittney C. Cooper delves into the processes that transformed these women and others into racial leadership figures, including long-overdue discussions of their theoretical output and personal experiences. As Cooper shows, their body of work critically reshaped our understandings of race and gender discourse. Cooper’s work, meanwhile, confronts entrenched ideas of how–and who–produced racial knowledge.