Monday, December 30, 2013

10 Books Every Student of US History Should Read: Ben's Sequel

[Recently, historian John Judis published a piece in The New Republic listing "Ten Books Any Student of American History Must Read." By Judis' own admission, the list focused on particular topics and areas; it also happened to include no books published after 1988 (and only two from the 1980s), and featured only white male authors. All ten books on Judis' list are well worth your time, but inspired by those absences, as well as by ongoing Twitter conversations about the list, I decided to start the ball rolling on alternate lists, ones featuring more recent works, more multi-gendered and -ethnic ones, and generally other approaches to American history and culture that would complement but enrich the original list.

This is simply my list of nominees, all pulled from my shelves. Most are from post-1988, with two noteworthy 1970s works thrown in. I'd love to hear everybody else's suggestions too, whether in comments or in posts of your own (whether on your blog or, if you'd like, sent to me and posted here).]

10 More Books Any Student of American History Must Read:
Arthur Barbeau and Florette Henri, The Unknown Soldiers: African-American Troops in World War I (1974).
John Kasson, Amusing the Million: Coney Island at the Turn of the Century (1978).
Lizabeth Cohen, Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939 (1990).
Susan Glenn, Daughters of the Shtetl: Life and Labor in the Immigrant Generation (1990).
George Sanchez, Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945 (1993).
Ronald Takaki, A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America (1993).
James Goodman, Stories of Scottsboro (1994).
Judy Yung, Unbound Feet: A Social History of Chinese Women in San Francisco (1995).
Karl Jacoby, Shadows at Dawn: A Borderlands Massacre and the Violence of History (2008).
Robin Bernstein, Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights (2011).


  1. I'm enough removed from the discipline of history that I feel a little tentative here, but: 1) the Taylor Branch trilogy on the King years; 2) Martin Duberman's books on Black Mountain and Paul Robeson.

  2. On Twitter, Erin Curtis nominates Michel-Rolph Trouillot's *Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History* (1995).

  3. Robin Bernstein herself suggests George Chauncey's *Gay New York* and Lillian Faderman's *Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America*.