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John Morrow and Jeffrey Sammons share their insights on the story of the fabled 369th Infantry Regiment in their book, Harlem’s Rattlers and the Great War: The Undaunted 369th Regiment and the African American Quest for Equality (University Press of Kansas, 2014).  Our guests reveal a great deal about the state of African Americans in prewar New York civil and political society, while also presenting for the first time a complete narrative of the regiment’s service in the First World War, using American, French, and German archives.  Harlem’s Rattlers and the Great War is the most authoritative and compelling history of this famous regiment, and goes far to restore their actual experiences to public notice, while also dispelling many misperceptions and myths that have accrued over the last century.


Beth LinkerWar’s Waste: Rehabilitation in World War I America

September 23, 2014

Beth Linker is the author of War’s Waste: Rehabilitation in World War I America (University of Chicago Press, 2011).  As she reveals, the story of individual rehabilitation from war-related injury was intertwined with other political concerns at multiple levels.  These century-old accounts matter greatly, as the First World War was that point where modern rehabilitative [...]

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Guy ChetThe Ocean is a Wilderness: Atlantic Piracy and the Limits of State Authority, 1688-1856

September 22, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Law] Guy Chet, Associate Professor of early American and military history at the University of North Texas, in his book The Ocean is a Wilderness: Atlantic Piracy and the Limits of State Authority, 1688-1856 (University of Massachusetts Press, 2014) makes a well-crafted argument for the persistence of Atlantic piracy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, after the [...]

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Willard SunderlandThe Baron’s Cloak: A History of the Russian Empire in War and Revolution

September 4, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Russian and Eurasian Studies] The Russian Empire once extended from the Baltic Sea to the Sea of Japan and contained a myriad of different ethnicities and nationalities. Dr. Willard Sunderland‘s The Baron’s Cloak: A History of the Russian Empire in War and Revolution (Cornell University Press, 2014) is an engaging new take on the empire [...]

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Tom WeinerCalled to Serve: Stories of Men and Women Confronted by the Vietnam War Draft

July 31, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in American Studies] In 1969, the United States created and implemented a new method of drafting young men for military service–the “draft lottery.” The old system, whereby local draft boards selected those to enter service, was corrupt and unfair. The new system, whereby men would be chosen at random, would be incorruptible and [...]

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Jacqueline E. WhittBringing God to Men: American Military Chaplains and the Vietnam War

July 5, 2014

In this original and innovative study of the American military chaplaincy, Jacqueline E. Whitt examines the institution’s challenges and struggles in the post-World War II era, with the Vietnam War acting as the fulcrum for existential change in its identity and mission.  By all accounts a largely ecumenical based ministry before Vietnam, according the Whitt [...]

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Filip SlaveskiThe Soviet Occupation of Germany: Hunger, Mass Violence and the Struggle for Peace, 1945–1947

July 2, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in History] For over three years, from June 1941 to late 1944,  the German Army and related Nazi forces (the SS, occupation troops, administrative organizations) conducted a Vernichtungskrieg–a war of annihilation–against the Soviet Union on Soviet soil. The Germans killed millions upon millions of Red Army soldiers, Communist Party officials, and ordinary Soviet citizens. [...]

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David WilliamsI Freed Myself: African American Self-Emancipation in the Civil War Era

June 5, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in History] Lincoln was very clear–at least in public–that the Civil War was not fought over slavery: it was, he said, for the preservation of the Union first and foremost. So it’s not surprising that when the conflict started he had no firm plan to emancipate the slaves in the borderland or Southern [...]

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Stephen R. PlattAutumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War

June 3, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in East Asian Studies] Stephen R. Platt’s new book is a beautifully written and intricately textured account of the bloodiest civil war of all time. Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War (Vintage Books, 2012) is a deeply international history of the Taiping Civil [...]

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Geoffrey WawroA Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire

May 27, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in History] When I was in graduate school, those of us who studied World War One commented regularly on the degree to which historians concentrated their attention on the Western front at the expense of the other aspects of the war. In the years since then (I won’t say how many), historians have [...]

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