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An American on the Western Front

An American on the Western Front

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An American on the Western Front allows us a fresh glimpse of the United States’ story in World War I. A narrative history of America’s war, it is woven around the story and letters of the American serviceman Arthur Clifford Kimber. Kimber carried the First Flag of the United States to France in spring 1917 and served as an ambulancier and pilot with both French & American forces. Visit our website here (http://www.americanonthewesternfront.com) and our Twitter can be found here (https://twi ...
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Mexican Americans have often fit uncertainly into the white/non-white binary that has goverens much of American history. After Colorado, and much of the rest of the American West, became American claimed territory after the Mexican-Americna War in 1848, thousands of formerly Mexican citizens became American citizens. Flash foward a century to post-…
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Omar Valerio-Jiménez's book Remembering Conquest: Mexican Americans, Memory, and Citizenship (UNC Press, 2024) analyzes the ways collective memories of the US-Mexico War have shaped Mexican Americans' civil rights struggles over several generations. As the first Latinx people incorporated into the nation, Mexican Americans were offered US citizensh…
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A powerful analysis and call to action that reveals disability as one of the defining features of environmental devastation and resistance. Deep below the ground in Tucson, Arizona, lies an aquifer forever altered by the detritus of a postwar Superfund site. Disabled Ecologies: Lessons from a Wounded Desert (U California Press, 2024) tells the stor…
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Cyrus McCormick invented the revolutionary mechanical reaper in 1831...right? At least, that's how the story has been told for decades. In Harvesting History: McCormick's Reaper, Heritage Branding, and Historical Forgery (U Nebraska Press, 2023), National Park Service historian Daniel Ott argues that not only have textbooks and other sources of his…
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In Mexican Exodus: Emigrants, Exiles, and Refugees of the Cristero War (Oxford University Press, 2019), Julia G. Young reframes the Cristero War as a transnational conflict, using previously unexamined archival materials from both Mexico and the United States to investigate the intersections between Mexico's Cristero War and Mexican migration to th…
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Herman J. (1897–1953) and Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1909–1993) wrote, produced, and directed over 150 pictures. With Orson Welles, Herman wrote the screenplay for Citizen Kane and shared the picture’s only Academy Award. Joe earned the second pair of his four Oscars for writing and directing All About Eve, which also won Best Picture. In The Brothers M…
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In 2022, the U.S. Mint released the first batch of its American Women Quarters series, celebrating the achievements of U.S. women throughout its history. The first set of five included Maya Angelou, Sally Ride…and Anna May Wong, the first Asian-American to ever appear on U.S. currency. Katie Gee Salisbury takes on Anna May Wong’s life in her book N…
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The Pacific Ocean is twice the size of the Atlantic, and while humans have been traversing its current-driven maritime highways for thousands of years, its sheer scale proved an obstacle to early European imperial powers. Enter Lope Martin, a forgotten Afro-Portuguese ship pilot heretofore unheralded by historians. In Conquering the Pacific: An Unk…
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Imagine an environmentalist. Are you picturing a Birkenstock-clad hippie? An office worker who hikes on weekends? A political lobbyist? What about a modern day timber worker? This last group is at the center of University of Oregon historian Steven C. Beda's new book, Strong Winds and Widow Makers: Workers, Nature, and Environmental Conflict in Pac…
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In Code Work: Hacking Across the US/México Techno-Borderlands (Princeton UP, 2023), Héctor Beltrán examines Mexican and Latinx coders’ personal strategies of self-making as they navigate a transnational economy of tech work. Beltrán shows how these hackers apply concepts from the code worlds to their lived experiences, deploying batches, loose coup…
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Amanda Mei Kim speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “California Obscura,” which appears in The Common’s most recent issue, in a portfolio of writing and art from and about the immigrant farmworker community. Amanda discusses how the essay changed and developed over many drafts. The finished piece explores her childhood growing up…
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American guns have entangled the lives of people on both sides of the US-Mexico border in a vicious circle of violence. After treating wounded migrants and refugees seeking safety in the United States, anthropologist Ieva Jusionyte boldly embarked on a journey in the opposite direction—following the guns from dealers in Arizona and Texas to crime s…
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Born in Yorba Linda and raised in Whittier, California, Nixon succeeded early in life, excelling in academics while enjoying athletics through high school. At Whittier College he graduated at the top of his class and was voted Best Man on Campus. During his career at Whittier's oldest law firm, he was respected professionally and became a chief tri…
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In this never-before-told history of Buffalo Bill and the Mormons, Brent M. Rogers presents the intersections in the epic histories of William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody and the Latter-day Saints from 1846 through 1917. In Cody's autobiography he claimed to have been a member of the U.S. Army wagon train that was burned by the Saints during the Utah Wa…
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The birchbark canoe is among the most remarkable Indigenous technologies in North America, facilitating mobility throughout the watery world of the Great Lakes region and its borderlands. In Muddy Ground: Native Peoples, Chicago's Portage, and the Transformation of a Continent (UNC Press, 2023), Texas Tech University historian John William Nelson a…
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In Rim to River: Looking into the Heart of Arizona (University of Arizona Press, 2023), Tom Zoellner, a fifth-generation Arizonan, takes the reader on a walk across the length of the state, his narrative interspersed with essays on Arizona’s history, culture and politics. Our conversation focuses on such topics as how Arizona anticipated the Trump …
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One January day in 1923, a young boy came across the dead body of a twenty-year-old woman on a San Diego beach. When the police arrived on the scene, they found the woman’s calling card, which read simply, “I am Fritzie Mann.” Yet Fritzie’s identity, as revealed in this compelling history, was anything but simple, and her death—eventually ruled a h…
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The history of Native people and the National Park Service in the United States is fraught. Dispossession, cultural insensitivity, and outright erasure characterize the long relationship that the NPS has with Indigenous groups. But change is possible, as Drs. Christina Hill, Matthew Hill, and Brooke Neely adeptly demonstrate in National Parks, Nati…
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In the mid-2010s, a passionate community of Los Angeles-based storytellers, media artists, and tech innovators formed around virtual reality (VR), believing that it could remedy society’s ills. Lisa Messeri offers an ethnographic exploration of this community, which conceptualized VR as an “empathy machine” that could provide glimpses into diverse …
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Today’s book is: Secret Harvests: A Hidden Story of Separation and the Resilience of a Family Farm (Red Hen Press, 2023), by David Mas Masumoto. In his new memoir, Mas discovers his “lost” aunt. She had been taken away in 1942 when all Japanese Americans were considered the enemy and imprisoned. Due to a disability, she became a “ward” of the state…
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The Overland Trail into the American West is one of the most culturally recognizable symbols of the American past: white covered wagons traversing the plains, filled with heroic pioneers embodying the nation's manifest destiny. In American Burial Ground: A New History of the Overland Trail (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2023), University of Nev…
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In September of 2019, Luis Alberto Quiñonez—known as Sito— was shot to death as he sat in his car in the Mission District of San Francisco. He was nineteen. His killer, Julius Williams, was seventeen. It was the second time the teens had encountered one another. The first, five years before, also ended in tragedy, when Julius watched as his brother…
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For western colonists in the early American backcountry, disputes often ended in bloodshed and death. Making the Frontier Man: Violence, White Manhood, and Authority in the Early Western Backcountry (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2023) by Dr. Matthew C. Ward examines early life and the origins of lawless behaviour in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentu…
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Teenage Black Elk has lived a full life by the time he witnessed Little Big Horn and became a healer but there is so much left. We discuss Sioux religious cerimonies, Wounded Knee and a somewhat decisive book Black Elk dictates in the 1930s. Sources The Sacred Pipe by Joseph Epes Brown Black Elk Speaks by John G Neidhart Black Elk by Joe Jackson Ni…
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An essential—and monumental—member of the Sonoran Desert ecosystem, the saguaro cactus has become the quintessential icon of the American West. In the Arms of Saguaros: Iconography of the Giant Cactus (U Arizona Press, 2023) shows how, from the botanical explorers of the nineteenth century to the tourism boosters in our own time, saguaros and their…
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California’s wine country conjures images of pastoral vineyards and cellars lined with oak barrels. As a mainstay of the state’s economy, California wines occupy the popular imagination like never before and drive tourism in famous viticultural regions across the state. Scholars know remarkably little, however, about the history of the wine industr…
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In the late 1960s, as the United States was wracked by protests, assassinations, and political unrest, students in Washington State seized the moment. In Washington State Rising: Black Power on Campus in the Pacific Northwest (NYU Press, 2023), California State University, Bernardino, history professor Marc Robinson tells the story of African Ameri…
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From the Black Power movement and state surveillance to Silicon Valley and gentrification, Medina by the Bay: Scenes of Muslim Study and Survival (Duke UP, 2023) examines how multiracial Muslim communities in the San Francisco Bay Area survive and flourish within and against racial capitalist, carceral, and imperial logics. Weaving expansive histor…
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Food is at the center of everything, writes University of Washington professor of American Indian Studies Charlotte Coté. In A Drum in One Hand, A Sockeye in the Other: Stories of Indigenous Food Sovereignty from the Northwest Coast (U Washington Press, 2022), Coté shares stories from her own experience growing up and living in the Pacific Northwes…
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Monte Carlo and Las Vegas have become synonymous with casino gambling. Both destinations featured it as part of a broad variety of leisure and consumption opportunities that normalized games of chance and created emotional atmospheres that supported the hedonistic aspects of gambling. Urban spaces and architecture were carefully designed to enable …
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The City Aroused: Queer Places and Urban Redevelopment in Postwar San Francisco (University of Texas Press, 2024) by Dr. Damon Scott is a lively history of urban development and its influence on queer political identity in postwar San Francisco. By reconstructing the planning and queer history of waterfront drinking establishments, Dr. Scott shows …
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Youve heard the vision but do you know the context? Black Elk lives through the most turbulent era in the Midwest with famous first cousin Crazy Horse and lives to see Harry Truman become President. Sources The Sacred Pipe by Joseph Epes Brown Black Elk Speaks by John G Neidhart Black Elk by Joe Jackson Nicholas Black Elk: Medicine Man, Missionary,…
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Darnise C. Martin's Beyond Christianity: African Americans in a New Thought Church (NYU Press, 2005) draws on rich ethnographic work in a Religious Science church in Oakland, California, to illuminate the ways a group of African Americans has adapted a religion typically thought of as white to fit their needs and circumstances. This predominantly A…
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By putting the Midwest at the center of Vast Early America, University of Illinois historian Robert Morrissey reconfigures the power dynamics in the story of North America during the era of colonialism. In his award-winning People of the Ecotone: Environment and Indigenous Power at the Center of Early America (U Washington Press, 2022), Morrissey t…
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Underlying every great city is a rich and vibrant culture that shapes the texture of life within. In The Speculative City: Art, Real Estate, and the Making of Global Los Angeles (U Minnesota Press, 2021), Susanna Phillips Newbury teases out how art and Los Angeles shaped one another’s evolution. She compellingly articulates how together they transf…
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In this episode, Dr. Anthony Christian Ocampo takes us both inside and beyond his new book, Brown and Gay in LA: The Lives of Immigrant Sons (NYU Press, 2022), to talk about the craft of writing nonfiction, the importance of writing communities and fellowships, and about putting your writing out into the world. Today’s book is: Brown and Gay in LA:…
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In The Gateway to the Pacific: Japanese Americans and the Remaking of San Francisco (University of Chicago Press, 2019), Meredith Oda shows how city leaders and local residents in San Francisco fashioned a postwar municipal identity through their promotion of what Oda calls transpacific urbanism. Though the Japanese American presence in prewar San …
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Hunter S. Thompson was never a hippie, but his writing nonetheless helped define the counterculture and the San Francisco scene of the 1960s and early 1970s. In Savage Journey: Hunter S. Thompson and the Weird Road to Gonzo (U California Press, 2022), literary scholar and California historian Peter Richardson examines Thompson less as a cultural fi…
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What do Tulsa, Santa Fe, and New Orleans have in common? When viewed from the perspective of Indigenous arts and culture, the answer is quite a bit. In Urban Homelands: Writing the Native City from Oklahoma (U Nebraska, 2023), Oklahoma State University professor of English Lindsey Claire Smith draws connections between Indigenous art, particularly …
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Despite living and working in California, one of the county's most environmentally progressive states, environmental justice activists have spent decades fighting for clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and safe, healthy communities. Evolution of a Movement: Four Decades of California Environmental Justice Activism (U California Press, 2022…
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American Visions: The United States, 1800-1860 (Norton, 2023) is a revealing history of the formative period when voices of dissent and innovation defied power and created visions of America still resonant today. With so many of our histories falling into dour critique or blatant celebration, here is a welcome departure: a book that offers hope as …
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Did you know Sidney Poitier was a western icon? In a genre best known for John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, African American actors and directors have played an important role in both shaping, and subverting, Hollywood westerns. In Black Rodeo: A History of the African American Western (U Illinois Press, 2023), Vassar College film professor Mia Mask u…
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In rural northern Idaho in the winter of 2013-2014, Syringa Mobile Home Park’s water system was contaminated by sewage, resulting in residents’ water being shut off for 93 days. By summer 2018 Syringa had closed, forcing residents to relocate or face homelessness. In Trailer Park America: Reimagining Working-Class Communities (Rutgers UP, 2023), Dr…
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The 19th-century Mexican-American borderlands were a complicated place. By the 1860s, Confederates, Americans, Mexicans, French, and various Native societies were all scheming and vying for control of the region bifurcated by the Rio Grande. In Illusions of Empire: The Civil War and Reconstruction in the U.S.- Mexico Borderlands (U Pennsylvania Pre…
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Understanding and Teaching Native American History (University of Wisconsin Press, 2023), co-edited by Kristofer Ray and Brady DeSanti, is a timely and urgently needed remedy to a long-standing gap in history instruction. While the past three decades have seen burgeoning scholarship in Indigenous studies, comparatively little of that has trickled i…
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A fascinating look at Walt Disney's last, unfinished project and the controversy that surrounded it. It was going to be Disneyland at the top of a mountain. A vacation destination where guests could ski, go ice skating, or be entertained by a Disney Imagineer-created band of Audio-Animatronic bears. In the summer, visitors could fish, camp, hike, o…
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National Parks are sites where politics, cultures, and ecology converge. University of Northern Colorado historian Michael Welsh argues that, at Big Bend National Park in West Texas, a fourth dynamic is at play: diplomacy. In Big Bend National Park: Mexico, the United States, and a Borderland Ecosystem (U Nevada Press, 2021), Welsh tells the story …
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In March 2011, people in a coastal Japanese city stood atop a seawall watching the approach of the tsunami that would kill them. They believed—naively—that the huge concrete barrier would save them. Instead they perished, betrayed by the very thing built to protect them. Erratic weather, blistering drought, rising seas, and ecosystem collapse now a…
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The conquest of Indigenous land in the eastern United States through corrupt treaties and genocidal violence laid the groundwork for the conquest of the American West. In Gallop Toward the Sun: Tecumseh and William Henry Harrison's Struggle for the Destiny of a Nation (Random House, 2023), acclaimed author Peter Stark exposes the fundamental confli…
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