Jasper Johns, Flag (1954–55), MOMA

For those of you who love reading historical biographies or military history but want to go deeper, here is a list of five books that I’ve chosen to help you broaden your horizons. As someone with a Ph.D. in American history, I’ve tried to stay away from the books that are popular among academic historians but are too complicated or technical for the average reader. (I’m happy to write a separate post on some of those books if you’re interested!) For now, I’ve focused on books that are more accessible but no less important to read!


Review: Omar El Akkad, American War (2017)

Omar El Akkad’s Map of the United States c. 2075

The year is 2084. America is in the throes of a second Civil War. California is burnt to dust because of global warming. Though nominally called the Mexican Protectorate, the Southwest resembles something akin to a lawless frontier. In the East, the seat of government is now Columbus, Ohio, moved from Washington, D.C. as a result of rising sea levels which have eaten away much of the Atlantic coast and completely submerged Florida and the entire city of New Orleans. A high wall encloses South Carolina to quarantine its war-ravaged population from spreading…


According to a new antitrust lawsuit filed against Amazon

Amazon Founder & CEO, Jeff Bezos, Wikimedia Commons

The big idea
The lawsuit, filed a couple of weeks ago by the firm Hagens Berman, accuses Amazon of illegally colluding with the Big 5 book publishers — Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster — to fix the price of eBooks and raise the price of eBooks sold through Amazon’s competitors by as much as 30%.

In exchange for these higher prices, and therefore higher revenues, the Big 5 protect Amazon from competition from both existing eBook retail platforms and new entrants to the market. The anticompetitive…


Why we failed then continues to haunt us today

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In 2016, Donald Trump won the presidency, but lost the national popular vote by almost 3 million votes. Before Joe Biden’s victory last November, two of the previous three presidents had been elected by a minority of voters thanks to the electoral college. Such a scenario has only happened three other times in American history.

When the framers wrote the Constitution, they themselves didn’t think the electoral college was a good way to decide the presidency. They felt it was a hasty, slap-dash compromise born out of fatigue. Many thought it…


The famous orator was skilled at landing rhetorical blows, but he wasn’t afraid to duke it out either.

Frederick Douglass c. 1866, New York Historical Society

Frederick Douglass — the nineteenth-century runaway slave turned fiery abolitionist and political activist — wrote and spoke out against the injustice of slavery and the hypocrisy of Christian slaveowners. Whether in the columns of his antislavery newspaper, The North Star, or during one of his hundreds of stirring speeches on various lecture tours in America and Great Britain, Douglass maintained a relentless barrage of attacks against prevailing white supremacist notions of Black inferiority.

As you might imagine, his rhetoric drew the ire…


Review: Claire Vaye Watkins, Gold Fame Citrus (2015)

Dry Season (2007) by Mary Mattingly

The water has run out. The land has dried up. The sun scorches your back. No matter what you do, sand crawls across your skin, under your fingernails, between your toes, in your ass crack.

California and the entire Southwest are in the process of being evacuated. A raging sandstorm, known as the Amargosa — born in the Mojave Desert and nurtured by America’s repeated failures to deal with climate change — slowly expands across the country and consumes everything in its path.

Not everyone leaves. Those that stay must scrounge for…

Pete Pellizzari

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