U.S. Intellectual History Blog

Intellectual History Book Preview-palooza 2017

The following is a rundown of some interesting intellectual history books coming out in 2017. This is an open thread, so please add more books as you hear of them. We plan to step up our book review coverage this year, so plenty of these books will be reviewed on the blog. By no means is this a complete or thorough list.

Harvard University Press features some interesting books, including Pillars of Justice: Lawyers and the Liberal Tradition, which addresses the links between legal history and civil rights history. That should be of importance to American intellectual historians, as legal arguments formed a key component of thought about civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s. Apollo in the Age of Aquarius looks to tell of the links between the American space program and domestic concerns about civil rights and domestic unrest.

UNC Press has some interesting titles coming out in the new year about race and American history. Congo Love Song offers up a much-needed look at how African Americans viewed central Africa. Also, questions of how white Americans view the “African American experience” form the core of Black for a Day. Civil Rights, Culture Wars is a fascinating edition of the history of modern education in America, focused on history textbooks in Mississippi.

Philip Gorski’s American Covenant: A History of Civil Religion from the Puritans to the Present promises to be the ultimate history of American civil religion. Coming out from Princeton University Press in March, it should prove to be of interest to many of our readers and bloggers. Meanwhile, Hitler’s American Model offers a unique example of transnational history—in this case, how American laws influenced the rise of Nazi race policy in the 1930s. Reaping Something New also promises to be a fascinating read, tying together Victorian literature with African American literary and intellectual history.

Other books, such as Mainstreaming Black Power (from University of California Press) or Holocaust Memory in the Digital Age (from Stanford University Press) both promise to look at well-known topics through new lenses. Reconsidering Roots (UGA Press) will offer a series of critical examinations of Roots as a cultural and intellectual phenomenon. The Liberal Consensus Reconsidered  (University Press of Florida) promises to also open discussion among historians about the idea of a “consensus politics” in mid-20th century American history.

In short, it looks to be another exciting year of books in intellectual history. I am, of course, keeping an eye out for other books. Again, if there’s anything you’ve heard of that I missed here (or wish to discuss the books above) by all means leave a message in the comments.

10 Thoughts on this Post

  1. I’ll plug my own forthcoming book from UNC Press: The Dying City: Postwar New York and the Ideology of Fear. It examines, among other things, intellectual engagement with the idea of New York during the urban crisis.

  2. Hi All,

    Just wanted to mention that while my new book, *History and Hope in American Literature: Models of Critical Patriotism*, isn’t exactly IH, I believe that the evolving concept of critical patriotism is an interesting thread in these conversations and so wanted to highlight the book briefly here FWIW.

    The Google Books version below includes an excerpt, and I’m always happy to email an e-copy of the book’s full proofs to anyone who might be interested. Thanks and I look forward to checking all these out too!


  3. Thanks, Robert!
    There also appears some amazing fiction on the way that should appeal to USIH folks, much of it about the latter half of the nineteenth century (in a way following the lead of Colson Whitehead’s award-winning Underground Railroad). I’ll link to Amazon pages for convenience:

    • Sebastian Barry, Days without End: “a powerful new novel of duty and family set against the American Indian and Civil Wars”
    • George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo: “a moving and original father-son story featuring none other than Abraham Lincoln, as well as an unforgettable cast of supporting characters, living and dead, historical and invented”
    • Francis Spufford, Golden Hill: “follows the adventures of a mysterious young man in mid-eighteenth century Manhattan, thirty years before the American Revolution”
    • Robert Coover, Huck Out West: “At the end of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, on the eve of the Civil War, Huck and Tom Sawyer decide to escape “sivilization” and “light out for the Territory.” In Robert Coover’s Huck Out West, also “wrote by Huck,” the boys do just that, riding for the famous but short-lived Pony Express, then working as scouts for both sides in the war.”
    • Sana Krasikov, The Patriots: “A sweeping multigenerational debut novel about idealism, betrayal, and family secrets that takes us from Brooklyn in the 1930s to Soviet Russia to post-Cold War America”

    Looks like a good year for historical fiction!

  4. I don’t have anything to add for 2017 books, but I read some great intellectual history books in 2016. Among my favorites:

    Susanna L. Blumenthal, Law and the Modern Mind: Consciousness and Responsibility in American Legal Culture

    Mark Philip Bradley, The World Reimagined: Americans and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century

    Caitlin Fitz, Our Sister Republics: The United States in an Age of American Revolutions

    Sam Lebovic, Free Speech & Unfree News: The Paradox of Press Freedom in America

    Mark G. Schmeller, Invisible Sovereign: Imagining Public Opinion from the Revolution to Reconstruction

    Alfred L. Brophy, University, Court, and Slave: Pro-Slavery Thought in Southern Colleges and Courts and the Coming of Civil War

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