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The American History Podcast

A Program Of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

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Upcoming BookStory Selections

We are pleased to announce the BookStory selections through December 2019. We sought to cast a wide net with these titles, covering a wide variety of areas and periods in American history. All books are currently available or will be released soon. Happy reading!

 

July

Women’s War: Fighting and Surviving the American Civil War – Stephanie McCurry

We think of war as a man’s world, but women have always played active roles in times of violence and been left to pick up the pieces in societies decimated by war. In this groundbreaking reconsideration of the Civil War, the award-winning author of Confederate Reckoning invites us to see America’s bloodiest conflict not just as pitting brother against brother but as a woman’s war.

August

On the Heels of Ignorance: Psychiatry and the Politics of Not KnowingOwen Whooley

Psychiatry has always aimed to peer deep into the human mind, daring to cast light on its darkest corners and untangle its thorniest knots, often invoking the latest medical science in doing so. But, as Owen Whooley’s sweeping new book tells us, the history of American psychiatry is really a record of ignorance. On the Heels of Ignorance draws from intellectual history and the sociology of professions to portray an ongoing human effort to make sense of complex mental phenomena using an imperfect set of tools, with sometimes tragic results.

September

Anointed With Oil: How Christianity and Crude Made Modern AmericaDarren Dochuk

Anointed with Oil places religion and oil at the center of American history. As prize-winning historian Darren Dochuk reveals, from the earliest discovery of oil in America during the Civil War, citizens saw oil as the nation’s special blessing and its peculiar burden, the source of its prophetic mission in the world. Over the century that followed and down to the present day, the oil industry’s leaders and its ordinary workers together fundamentally transformed American religion, business, and politics — boosting America’s ascent as the preeminent global power, giving shape to modern evangelical Christianity, fueling the rise of the Republican Right, and setting the terms for today’s political and environmental debates.

October

The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across CaliforniaMark Arax

Mark Arax is from a family of Central Valley farmers, a writer with deep ties to the land who has watched the battles over water intensify even as California lurches from drought to flood and back again. In The Dreamt Land, he travels the state to explore the one-of-a-kind distribution system, built in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, that is straining to keep up with California’s relentless growth.

This is a tale of politics and hubris in the arid West, of imported workers left behind in the sun and the fatigued earth that is made to give more even while it keeps sinking. But when drought turns to flood once again, all is forgotten as the farmers plant more nuts and the developers build more houses.

November

The Accident of Color: A Story of Race in ReconstructionDaniel Brook

In The Accident of Color, Daniel Brook journeys to nineteenth-century New Orleans and Charleston and introduces us to cosmopolitan residents who elude the racial categories the rest of America takes for granted. Before the Civil War, these free, openly mixed-race urbanites enjoyed some rights of citizenship and the privileges of wealth and social status. But after Emancipation, as former slaves move to assert their rights, the black-white binary that rules the rest of the nation begins to intrude. During Reconstruction, a movement arises as mixed-race elites make common cause with the formerly enslaved and allies at the fringes of whiteness in a bid to achieve political and social equality for all.

By returning to the birth of our nation’s singularly narrow racial system, which was forged in the crucible of opposition to civil rights, Brook illuminates the origins of the racial lies we live by.

December

The Chinese Lady: Afong Moy In Early AmericaNancy E. Davis

In 1834, a young Chinese woman named Afong Moy arrived in America, her bound feet stepping ashore in New York City. She was both a prized guest and advertisement for a merchant firm–a promotional curiosity used to peddle exotic wares from the East. Over the next few years, she would shape Americans’ impressions of China even as she assisted her merchant sponsors in selling the largest quantities of Chinese goods yet imported for the burgeoning American market. 

In this first biography, Nancy E. Davis sheds light on the mystery of Afong Moy’s life as a Chinese woman living in a foreign land.

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