He made a decision that turned out to have a staggering cost in blood, and when he died, a fellow jurist said, “Shame will forever roll its burning fires over his memory; and such a consummation is justly his due.” But if you can’t quite place him, don’t worry: he will appear next month—along with a gallimaufry of statesmen and soldiers and quotations to remember—in “101 Things Every College Graduate Should Know about American History.” This enlightening exercise in quintessence has been compiled by John A. Garraty, professor of American history at Columbia, who knows what you need to know to be a useful citizen of the Republic.
So growled Boss Tweed a century ago when confronted with evidence of his systematic looting of New York City. “Not much” is the answer suggested in headlines generated by the most recent revelations of corruption. In a sweeping study Peter Baida traces the history of civic corruption in New York City; his narrative, by turns horrifying and mordantly funny, leads beyond boodle aldermen and little tin boxes of loot to probe basic questions of governance in a democracy.
That our long, painful war is finally history is indicated by the blossoming of courses about it in colleges across the country. Ronald H. Spector teaches some of those courses, and he is one of the few who do who actually served in Vietnam. He assesses the work now being done to understand the war—and comes to the conclusion that the historians have let us down.
Twenty years ago, hardly anyone understood what the term meant. Today, old buildings are being rejuvenated throughout the country, and the chances of a monument like Pennsylvania Station being wantonly swept away are slim indeed. James Marston Fitch has a good deal to do with this happy situation: he set up the country’s first graduate program in historic preservation; and his views define the field. In a lively and outspoken interview, Fitch tells of the battles he has fought—and of the ones that still lie ahead.
The chambermaid whose 1935 lawsuit over back pay remade our whole judicial system … our Second Annual Winter Art Show … stern and magnificent battalions of tin soldiers … Creole cooking, our only native cuisine…and—with a seasonal impulsiveness that would please Old St. Nick—more.