Sunday, June 20, 2010

Nativism, Neo-Conservatism, and more in the book reviews

Not Fit for Our Society: Immigration and Nativism in America by Peter Schrag is reviewed in the Los Angeles Times. Mark Arax finds it “a thoughtful, especially timely look at the spasms of anti-immigration that have defined our nation from the very beginning.” Schrag writes: "The history of American attitudes about immigration and immigration policy has long been a spiral of ambivalence and inconsistency, a sort of double helix, with strands of welcome and rejection wound tightly around one another."

An Artist in Treason: The Extraordinary Double Life of General James Wilkinson
by Andro Linklater, and The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Iconby John Ferling are taken up by Gordon Wood in the New York Review of Books, prompting Historiann to ask: "And why in the h-e-double-hockey sticks are we talking about George Washington? Again! (Like we haven’t done that enough for the past 250 years?)" and to urge that early Americanists "just stop writing about the so-called 'Founding Fathers!' Stop it! Stop! Go find something new, interesting, and utterly undiscovered in the archives, for a change!"

And last week while I was away last week, NEOCONSERVATISM: The Biography of a Movement by Justin Vaïsse, translated by Arthur Goldhammer, was reviewed in the New York Times. Barry Gewen calls the book "essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the contours of our recent political past. Vaïsse is a historian of ideas. 'Neoconservatism' demonstrates, among other things, that ideas really do make a difference in our lives."

David Oshinsky reviewed a prison memoir: IN THE PLACE OF JUSTICE: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance by Wilbert Rideau in the New York Times. Also in the NY Times, a review of THE LAST STAND: Custer, Sitting Bull and the Battle of the Little Bighorn by Nathaniel Philbrick, and EMPIRE OF THE SUMMER MOON: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S. C. Gwynne.