Modern American Lives: Individuals and Issues in American History Since 1945 (M.E. Sharpe, 2008).
This book acquaints students with the lives of a variety of influential Americans, both famous and lesser-known, who decisively shaped the course of events in the decades following World War II. Through those lives, it provides a comprehensive examination of the critical issues that determined the course of modern American history.
The individuals presented in these narrative biographies significantly, and sometimes decisively, impacted contemporary American life in a wide range of areas, including national politics, foreign policy, social and political activism, popular and literary culture, sports, and business.
"Modern American Lives is a wonderful book. These highly readable biographies of men and women who have shaped recent U.S. history illuminate important political, diplomatic, social, and cultural trends of these decades. The introductions and other supporting materials enhance the work's value and embed the biographies firmly within their historical context. From George Kennan to Noam Chomsky, Marilyn Monroe to Tiger Woods, every biography provides a rich harvest of perceptive insights." -- Paul S. Boyer, University of Wisconsin
Smokejumpers of the Civilian Public Service in World War II: Conscientious Objectors as Firefighters for the National Forest Service (McFarland, 2006).
This is the story of Civilian Public Service smokejumpers, who battled dangerous winds, searing heat, and devastating fires from 1943 until 1945. Fewer than 300 World War II conscientious objectors served their country in this fashion, operating out of CPS bases in Montana, Idaho, and Oregon. But that small band of men helped keep Forest Service operations alive in the Pacific Northwest. When the war ended, CPS smokejumpers, like millions of World War II combat soldiers, were ushered out of wartime service. Some, like returning GIS, encountered difficulties in adjusting to civilian life; many went on to make remarkable contributions to their communities, their nation, and the world.
The Red Count: The Life & Times of Harry Kessler
“Laird M. Easton’s The Red Count: The Life & Times of Harry Kessler can be enjoyed as both cultural history and ironic tragedy. And as comedy. . . . This rich and careful biography fills in the tragic fate of one more figure of goodwill and intellect defeated by fanaticism and unbridled cruelty.” --Harpers Magazine, August 2002
“Aesthete, patron, diplomat, diarist, peace campaigner, defender of the Weimar republic and exile from Nazism, this ultra-sophisticated German count belongs to a type that probably no longer exists: a moneyed and cultivated amateur whose brains and background brought him effortless access to politics, society and intellectual life in any capital where he set foot. . . . In the first full biography in English, Laird Easton describes Kessler’s life in detail and well.” --The Economist, August 24-30, 2002
“Laird M. Easton . . . has written a thoughtful, well-researched, and fascinating biography of Kessler’s life that is also a contribution to the history of fin de siècle avant-garde art.” --The New York Review of Books, October 24, 2002
Chosen by The Economist as one of the five best biographies of 2002.
Selected by the editors and contributors of The New York Review of Books for inclusion in The Reader’s Catalog, a list of the best books in print.
Translated into German as Der Rote Graf: Harry Graf Kessler und seiner Zeit (Klett-Cotta, 2005).
“Uncommonly worth reading because of its elegant and fluid [style]. . . . Finally we are able to make the acquaintance of one of the most fascinating, politically farsighted, and culturally receptive Germans of the 20th century, thanks to Easton's vivid and erudite portrait. This book is truly an enriching experience." Deutschlandradio, December 25, 2005
Listed as one of the best books of 2005 in Die Literarische Welt, December 3, 2005
The Ambivalent Revolution: Forging State and Nation in Chiapas, 1910-1945
My first major research project grew out of my longstanding interest in nationalism, marginalized populations, and revolution. Chiapas, Mexico, is an ethnically diverse, impoverished state bordering on Guatemala, and it proved to be the ideal laboratory for the study of state- and nation-building after 1920. Teachers from Mexico’s fledgling Ministry of Public Education (SEP) sought to bring to rural Chiapas the land, labor, and pro-Indian reforms that we usually associate with the Mexican revolution. Ranchers, coffee planters, alcohol merchants, debt labor contractors and even state governors resisted the federal blueprint. They fiercely defended their interests against teachers who doubled as agrarian reformers, unionizers, political agitators, social reformers, and labor inspectors. Mestizo (mixed Spanish and Indian) peasants and workers, for their part, generally supported the teachers and came to embrace populist pedagogy during the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-40). Meanwhile, the state’s highland indigenous communities rejected the SEP's cultural project throughout the period of study. Indeed, the Zapatista insurrection of 1994 dramatically indicted several decades of failed federal Indian policy in Chiapas and underscored the revolution’s “ambivalent” outcome.
The Eagle and the Virgin: National Memory and Cultural Revolution in Mexico, 1920-1940 (Durham, 2006)
My co-edited volume with Mary Kay Vaughan, The Eagle and the Virgin: National Memory and Cultural Revolution in Mexico, 1920-1940 (Durham, 2006) was inspired by my frustration over teaching the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920 or 1910-1940, depending on who’s counting). How was it possible that so few classroom texts were available to teach the most exciting, most important period in Mexican history? I think the volume does a good job at highlighting the state’s top-down state- and nation-building designs (in music, education, film, radio, architecture and the arts) as well as the responses of peasants, women, indigenous peoples, conservative Catholics, and industrial workers, among others.
Swallowed by Globalism: John M. Vorys and American Foreign Policy (2001)
A critical development in mid-twentieth century American politics was the evolution of conservatives from isolationism to staunch support for U.S. globalism. In "Swallowed by Globalism", Jeffery C. Livingston examines Republican Congressman John M. Vorys' role in piloting the conservative odyssey.
John Bidwell and California: The Life and Writings of a Pioneer 1841 - 1900 (2003)
"Defying all odds, Gillis and Magliari have established that academics can indeed write history in a readable way. They put together a wonderfully intelligent--sometimes downright thrilling--narrative at the beginning of each section. Then they amplify it all with Bidwell's own writings....the initial printing of this book sold out within weeks of its arrival. A second printing is now selling briskly."
Former president of the Oregon-California Trails Association
Review in the May 2003 issue of Folio
"Gillis and Magliari...invested eight years of intensive and extensive research to present a more balanced view of John Bidwell, his accomplishments, and his failures. The result is clearly the definitive account of a complex man....This is not a revisionist account, but a thorough analysis and presentation of the historical record. Controversial issues...are explored and presented in an even-handed manner. Interesting facts abound throughout....The sixteen-page bibliography, a boon to future researchers and historians, stands as a testament to the research that has gone into this book. _John Bidwell and California_ is highly-informative and a great pleasure to read; it is well-written, with no wasted words and without the verbosity found in some scholarly works. A few words (such as hagiography and kulturkampf) may give pause or have the reader reaching for the dictionary, but they are a rarity. Enjoy!"
Review in Spring 2003 issue of Overland Journal
The Reluctant Crusade: American Foreign Policy in Korea, 1941-1950
"Out of the ashes of its defeat in World War II, Japan arose to become the foremost economic power in East Asia and a major player on the world economic stage. How did it do this? This work provides a concise summary and analysis of Japan's emergence as a global economic power. This guide discusses the growth of Japan as an unconventional global power based on the strength of its economy and the softening of its economy in the 1990s. Six topical essays are supported by a timeline of events in postwar Japan, biographical profiles of key players, the text of important primary documents, a glossary of terms, and an annotated bibliography."
Japan's Emergence as Global Power (2000)
East Asia and the United States: An Encyclopedia of Relations Since 1784, 2 vols.
"James Matray has pulled off the Trifecta of academic reference books by making the East Asia and The United States comprehensive, accurate, and, above all, readable. This will be a 'must buy' for both personal and institutional libraries."
Author of Douglas MacArthur: The Far Eastern General
Book cover endorsement
Japan's Emergence as Global Power (2000)
Out of the ashes of its defeat in World War II, Japan arose to become the foremost economic power in East Asia and a major player on the world economic stage. How did it do this? This work provides a concise summary and analysis of Japan's emergence as a global economic power. This guide discusses the growth of Japan as an unconventional global power based on the strength of its economy and the softening of its economy in the 1990s. Six topical essays are supported by a timeline of events in postwar Japan, biographical profiles of key players, the text of important primary documents, a glossary of terms, and an annotated bibliography.
Sacred History and National Identity: Comparisons Between Early Modern Wales and Brittany
Religious Cultures in the Early Modern World
Hb: 256pp: March 2009
978 1 85196 623 3: 234x156mm: £60.00/$99.00
978 1 85196 599 1
The sixteenth century saw a redrawing of the borders of north-west Europe. Wales and Brittany entered into unions with neighbouring countries England and France. Nice uses Brittany and Wales’s responses to unification to write a comparative history of national identity during the early modern period.
The Estates of Brittany and the Council in the Marches of Wales sponsored works of sacred historiography which manipulated history to defend their jurisdictions and legitimize their legal claims. Nice argues that the sacred histories of each country fostered contrasting national identities, one differentialist and the other assimilationist. This distinction, which uses terms characteristic of twentieth-century nationalism, demonstrates that the original function of national identities must be considered in order to appreciate their historical specificity and mutability.
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Land of Fair Promise: Politics and Reform in Los Angeles Schools 1885-1941 (1992)
This book uses a case study of education and educational reform in Los Angeles as a lens for viewing a wide range of political and cultural questions involved in urban development in the American West, notably the manner and motives of those who changed school policy. Rapid population growth after 1885 and the recognition that large numbers of school children were either non-white or non-English-speaking compelled Western Progressives to reestablish order and end corrupt schoolboard practices. Drawing on the ideas of Jane Addams and John Dewey, reformers made the Los Angeles school system an instance of apparently effective reform, not only in educational terms, but also administratively and in the broad range of social services provided under school direction - penny-lunch programs, after-hour playgrounds, day-care centers, adult classes, and home classes for shut-in mothers. But these achievements bore increasingly equivocal results as industrialization, immigration, and urbanization contributed to immense social and economic problems, and reformers intensified programs to Americanize immigrant children. More complicated and divisive progressive politics vied increasingly sure from immigrant groups to determine education policy. Many of the leading Los Angeles reformers were women, newly empowered by suffrage, who expanded their campaigns for social change. Also, since women composed most of the teaching force, they began to see themselves as professional educators. But professionalization proved to be a double-edged sword. Better trained than their predecessors, women nevertheless had to fight to hold on to their status as the school system became more efficient, more structured, and more impersonal. Professionalization also led to clashes between professionals: psychologists introduced IQ measurement, and many classroom teachers found mental testing unreliable and sought alternate methods to evaluate the abilities of children. Reformers, educators, and ethnic organizations worked assiduously to modify the social behaviour of the now-diverse school population. Despite differences, these groups together built a new social fabric, a patch-work shaped by the unrelenting realities of twentieth-century America.