Recent Posts

1919: A Poilu Comes Home

Edward M. Strauss— Mobilized in August 1914 at age 35, infantry Corporal Louis Barthas spent almost four years in the trenches. After his health collapsed in early 1918 he served in rear echelons, guarding German POW’s and training young French conscripts in Brittany. He remained in uniform after the November

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National Emergencies and the Rise of Presidential Unilateralism

Benjamin Ginsberg— President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to help provide funding for a border wall has touched off a furious controversy with many commentators pointing to what they see as another abuse of power by Trump. Unfortunately, though, President Trump is merely following the well-worn path of unilateral

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The 50th Anniversary of Portnoy’s Complaint

Bernard Avishai— Irving Howe famously said that the cruelest thing one could do with Portnoy’s Complaint was “read it twice.” But why reread it when the first time was unforgettable? Back when the book was published, exactly 50 years ago, I knew people who sat around in coffee shops, student unions,

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Choosing the Leader

Matthew N. Green and Douglas B. Harris— Party leaders in Congress matter. They shape the agenda and the rules of their chamber, control lawmakers’ access to internal information, and assemble and enforce collective agreements within the legislature. They negotiate on behalf of their colleagues with interest groups and elected officials

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Spirit of Zen

Sam van Schaik— Peace of mind The earliest Zen teachers talked about meditation in terms of peace of mind, a state free of the anxieties and irritations which afflict us all. They taught that this peace is not to be obtained through our usual preference of surrounding ourselves with what

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Who Was King Arthur?

Nicholas J. Higham— Chapter 56 of the History of the Britons, written in North Wales in 829-30, presented Arthur as a warrior who, with divine aid, led the Britons to victory against the Saxon (i.e. English) invaders.   ‘Then in those days Arthur fought with the kings of the Britons against

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Q&A with Denise Murrell, author of Posing Modernity

Yale University Press: Posing Modernity began as a term paper that became a dissertation and has now become both an exhibition and a book.  What changes or shifts in focus have you encountered since you started the project? Denise Murrell: The main change was to shape the initially academic project

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Ep. 68 – A Natural History of Beer

Grab a cold one as we discuss the history and science of beer. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | Soundcloud

The Shadow of the Present

Tony Spawforth— As I write about the remote past, I never feel that history has repeated itself. Even so, there are times when the Greek and Roman worlds seem to offer an eerie prefiguring of the present. Democracy In 415 BC the adult males who made up the politically empowered

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