Book gems of 2016, Part 2

This week … a brief look at some of the best works on presidents and the political world.

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Summer is upon us, and the season of leisure is the perfect time for new stories, characters, ideas, and adventures. Throughout the next few weeks, Stillness of Heart continues its occasional series of critical recommendations, from Civil War battle histories to memoirs, and from intellectual histories to photobooks almost as beautiful as the natural world they celebrate.

Read Part 1 of this 2016 series here and subsequent essays in this series here.

This week … a brief look at some of the best works on presidents and the political world.

Editor Edith Gelles presents Abigail Adams: Letters (Library of America, 1180 pp., $40), a stellar collection of correspondence capturing the complexity, nuances, and uncertainties of the American Republic’s earliest era and of its first generation of political and intellectual leaders. It is a tribute to her intelligence, insight, bravery, and patriotic devotion. It is best read alongside John Adams: Writings from the New Nation, 1784-1826, edited by Gordon S. Wood (Library of America, 905 pp., $40). Taken together, the books illustrate a decades-long romance between a brilliant man and woman, the intellectual and cultural forces that shaped their lives, and an inspirational example for all Americans who should be just as devoted to the enrichment of their democracy as the Adamses.

Ronald L. Feinman’s Assassinations, Threats, and the American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama (Rowman & Littlefield, 274 pp., $38) grimly examines the consistent danger faced by presidential candidates when the harsh public spotlight is perverted into a bullseye on their lives. Feinman turns the historic attempts and successful murders into case studies analyzing the government’s and public’s reactions to the crimes, providing fascinating and important perspectives on a too-often understudied aspect of presidential and political history. Mel Ayton’s Plotting to Kill the President: Assassination Attempts from Washington to Hoover (University of Nebraska Press, 376 pp., $32.95) takes a broader and more casual approach to the same issues, but from a different time frame and with many more details and anecdotes. They should complement each other quite well.

Seymour Morris Jr.’s Fit for the Presidency? Winners, Losers, What-Ifs, and Also-Rans (Potomac Books, an imprint of University of Nebraska Press, 462 pp., $32.95) arrives at the perfect time, just when Americans are overwhelmed from the campaign season’s speeches, news coverage, political ads, and scandals. If it makes us feel any better, previous generations of Americans did not have it much better. Morris unfurls an amazing and very colorful tapestry of personalities, ambitions, bizarre surprises, and the raw emotions of victory and defeat. Nothing better complements or enriches presidential history than the shadow history of the people those presidents defeated.

Jefferson Cowie’s The Great Exception: The New Deal and the Limits of American Politics (Princeton University Press, 288 pp., $27.95) promises to be a fascinating and sobering reminder that any progress toward economic equality in American society is essentially paddling against the stream of traditional social and economic inequality. A strong, centralized, pro-active federal government forcibly reordered the democratic system to better benefit the lower-class citizens, from the early 1930s to the early 1960s, and that may be what is required for today’s America. Cowie’s book is not just a smart history but a call to action for today’s citizens and political leaders, along with a warning from the past of what resulted from inaction.

Marne L. Campbell’s Making Black Los Angeles: Class, Gender, and Community, 1850-1917 (University of North Carolina Press, 246 pp., $29.95) paints an extraordinary portrait of black families from the post-Mexican War era to World War I, illustrating how they grew, endured countless forms of discrimination, and struggled to build and sustain a viable community as the town steadily grew into an important city. Women, she discovered, were key to strengthening the relationships between different classes of black communities, thereby enabling their entire community to fight for economic independence, racial expression, and, ultimately, political power.

LBJ’s Neglected Legacy: How Lyndon Johnson Reshaped Domestic Policy and Government, edited by Robert H. Wilson, Norman J. Glickman, and Laurence E. Lynn, Jr. (University of Texas Press, 493 pp., $29.95), is an excellent essay anthology examining the lasting effects of Great Society legislation on modern American society, government, and economics. As the title suggests, the contributors argue that Johnson receives too-little credit for how his ambitions and political skills built the governmental and ideological architecture shaping today’s American society and the issues over which today’s loudest debates take place.

Doreen Mattingly’s A Feminist in the White House: Midge Costanza, the Carter Years, and America’s Culture Wars (Oxford University Press, 304 pp., $23.96) reminds us that the fight for feminism and equal rights could be difficult even under Democratic presidents. Costanza challenged President Jimmy Carter to support women’s right to choose, LGBTQ rights, and gender equality. She was a bright light in a dark America desperate for an undeniable and intelligent voice in the halls of power. Mattingly’s portrait challenges today’s generations to remember the heroic efforts that lead the initial assaults in the civil rights struggles still waged today.

******

Book gems of 2016
An occasional series
Jan. 3: Antiquity, Civil War, World War II, and space
June 22: Presidents and the political world
June 29: Texas and Texas history
July 6: Latin America
July 13: Slavery and the Civil War era
July 20: World War I and II, science, culture, and literature

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Trump’s first 100 days? / Trump’s battle against Clinton / Freak kangaroo / Boots on the ground / Does Texas still matter in politics?

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This week: Trump’s first 100 days? / Trump’s battle against Clinton / Freak kangaroo / Boots on the ground / Does Texas still matter in politics?

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. Trump: The First 100 Days
By Matt Latimer | Politico Magazine | February 2016
“It’s time to start thinking about his — gulp — presidency.”

2. The Republican Horse Race Is Over, and Journalism Lost
By Jim Rutenberg | Mediator :: The New York Times | May 5
“[Y]ou have to point the finger at national political journalism, which has too often lost sight of its primary directives in this election season: to help readers and viewers make sense of the presidential chaos; to reduce the confusion, not add to it; to resist the urge to put ratings, clicks and ad sales above the imperative of getting it right.”

3. Trump’s deportation plan could slice 2 percent off U.S. GDP: study
By Luciana Lopez | Reuters | May 5
“About 6.8 million of the more than 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally are employed, according to government statistics. Removing them would cause a slump of $381.5 billion to $623.2 billion in private sector output. …”

4. Yes, It’s Early, but Donald Trump Would Have Uphill Battle Against Hillary Clinton
By Nate Cohn | The Upshot :: The New York Times | May 3
“Trump’s biggest problem is that he would be the most unpopular major party nominee in the modern era, with nearly two-thirds saying they have an unfavorable opinion of him.”

5. Analysis: Texas Political Influence Nosedives in National Campaign
By Ross Ramsey | The Texas Tribune | May 3
“[I]t’s not only the state’s candidates who were getting knocked around in the race for president; the ideas that have propelled Texas Republicans for the past two decades — ideas like federalism and social conservatism — have taken a hit, too. Texas is getting clobbered this year.”

6. How Does Ted Cruz Return To The Senate?
By Abby Livingston | The Texas Tribune | May 3
“[W]hen he returns to the Senate with two and a half years left in his freshman term, he will enter hostile territory.”

7. Watch Kangaroo Crack Car Windshield In Terrifying Feet-First Leap
By Lee Moran | Huffington Post | May 3
“The driver unleashes a series of curse words as it hits the window.”

8. Q&A: When is a Boot on the Ground not a Boot on the Ground?
By Lolita C. Baldor | Associated Press | May 3
“The semantic arguments over whether there are American ‘boots on the ground’ muddy the view of a situation in which several thousand armed U.S. military personnel are in Iraq and Syria.”

9. Trump’s VP: Top 10 contenders
By Jonathan Easley | The Hill | May 5
“It could be a difficult undertaking, as some potential candidates might be hesitant to hitch their political future to a polarizing figure like Trump. But there will be plenty willing to roll the dice and join Trump’s historic outsider campaign.”

10. History’s Lessons in Crisis Management
By Michael Beschloss | HistorySource :: The New York Times | July 2014
“A student of history, as well as a sardonic, self-protective political operator, J.F.K. was always attuned to the possibility that some unforeseen event could quickly send history into an unwanted direction.”

About: Tejanas of La Raza Unida Project

I’m proud to be a part of this fascinating project.

The Women Of La Raza Unida

Incredible Texas women worked tirelessly in the 1960s and 1970s to make our state a better, more equitable place. We want to celebrate these women, and their unique experiences as political and community activists, as told through their work with La Raza Unida.

It was important that they share their stories in their own words; we eventually hope to include the transcripts in a book. We aim to gain a new understanding of Texas history through the lens of some of its most stellar daughters, who found their way into activism vis-à-vis La Raza Unida.

We hope you enjoy their stories and learn from them — and please share with your friends and family.

  • Laura Varela is a filmmaker based in San Antonio, you can contact her here.
  • Andrew Gonzales is a filmmaker based in Austin, you can contact him here.
  • Fernando Ortiz is an historian based in…

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CV of Fernando Ortiz Jr.

So far, so good … but there’s so much more to do.

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So far, so good … but there’s so much more to do.

Illustrating the heart in a million different ways

Some friends have told me how much they love the photos I include with most of my posts.

Some friends have told me how much they love the photos that accompany most of my posts. Their compliments honor me.

I don’t consider myself a photographer, just someone who loves interesting patterns — the more abstract and colorful and contrasted the better. I tend to find beauty in everything I see.

My simple Tumblr blog collects and displays the best of the art I’ve used on Stillness of Heart, along with a variety of other odd photos, gifs, and videos.

Follow me on Tumblr, and enjoy.

Undiscovered countries: The books we need

Insightful celebrations of worthy works, considerations of upcoming titles, and general musings on great writing will all meet here on a regular basis.

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Stillness of Heart‘s range of popular and academic book criticism widened and deepened in recent years, and many more reviews are on the way. Insightful celebrations of worthy works, considerations of upcoming titles, and general musings on great writing will all meet here on a regular basis.

As always, the Stillness of Heart community of writers, readers, intellectuals, historians, journalists, and artists welcomes your ideas and recommendations. Tell us what we should be reading.

*****

Some of 2015’s best Civil War books … so far
Cold Harbor to the Crater: The End of the Overland Campaign, edited by Gary W. Gallagher and Caroline E. Janney
Defining Duty in the Civil War: Personal Choice, Popular Culture, and the Union Home Front, by J. Matthew Gallman
The Civil War and Reconstruction in Indian Territory, by Bradley R. Clampitt
The World the Civil War Made, edited by Gregory P. Downs and Kate Masur
Fortune’s Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth, by Terry Allford
The Smell of Battle, the Taste of Siege: A Sensory History of the Civil War, by Mark Smith
The War That Forged a Nation: Why the Civil War Still Matters, by James M. McPherson
Learning from the Wounded: The Civil War and the Rise of American Medical Science, by Shauna Devine
Originally published in July 2015
“Publishers in 2015 offer excellent work that both casual and serious readers of the Civil War should know about.”

The Silent Enemy
Polio: An American Story, by David M. Oshinsky
Originally published in December 2014

“The United States battled polio long before it ever faced the Soviet hegemonic threat, but only during the Cold War did the U.S. achieve significant victories in the battle against the virus.”

From a flame into a firestorm
A consideration of the French Revolution and its unexpected consequences.
Originally published in September 2014
“Why the French Revolution devoured its own people”

Dealing with the real America
Puerto Rican Citizen: History and Political Identity in Twentieth-Century New York City, by Lorrin Thomas
Originally published in August 2014
“Dealing with Puerto Rico means dealing with the key issues of the 21st century. Few in the U.S. government may have the stomach for that rollercoaster.”

The wars over the war
Hospital Sketches, by Louisa May Alcott
Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War, by Charles B. Dew
The Revolution of 1861: The American Civil War in the Age of Nationalist Conflict, by Andre Fleche
The Union War, by Gary W. Gallagher
The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy Toward Southern Civilians 1861-1865, by Mark Grimsley
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, by Harriet Jacobs
“The North American Crisis of the 1860s,” by Patrick J. Kelly, in The Journal of the Civil War Era
“Who Freed the Slaves?” by James M. McPherson, in Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society
“Who Freed the Slaves? Emancipation and Its Meaning,” by Ira Berlin, in Union & Emancipation: Essays on Politics and Race in the Civil War Era
Originally published in July 2014

“Nine key books and articles taken together can explain what led to the first sparks of civil violence and how those sparks ignited what evolved into the bloodiest and most important war in U.S. history.”

Endless Borderlands
Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, by Gloria Anzaldua
Peace Came in the Form of a Woman: Indians and Spaniards in the Texas Borderlands, by Juliana Barr
Walled States, Waning Sovereignty, by Wendy Brown
Pacific Connections: The Making of the U.S.-Canada Borderlands, by Kornel Chang
The Comanche Empire, by Pekka Hämäläinen
A Tale of Two Cities: Santo Domingo and New York after 1950, by Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof
Bridging National Borders in North America: Transnational and Comparative Histories, edited by Benjamin H. Johnson and Andre R. Graybill
Migra!: A History of the U.S. Border Patrol, by Kelly Lytle-Hernandez
The Line Which Separates: Race, Gender, and the Making of the Alberta-Montana Borderlands, by Sheila McManus
Border Dilemmas: Racial and National Uncertainties in New Mexico, 1848-1912, by Anthony P. Mora
Stranger Intimacy: Contesting Race, Sexuality and the Law in the North American West, by Nayan Shah
Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border, by Rachel St. John
Bárbaros: Spaniards and their Savages in the Age of Enlightenment, by David Weber
“On Borderlands,” by Hämäläinen and Samuel Truett, in the Journal of American History
“From Borderlands to Borders: Empires, Nation-States, and the Peoples in Between in North American History,” by Jeremy Adelman and Stephen Aron, in American Historical Review
Originally published in June 2014
“Fifteen essays and books explore the borderlands field with passion and intelligence, daring their readers to leave behind their old worlds and follow them into new ones.”

The Battle for Boricua
Reproducing Empire: Race, Empire, and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico, by Laura Briggs
Originally published in January 2014
“Is Puerto Rico the battleground for America’s intellectual future?”

Torn in the USA
Polio: An American Story, by David M. Oshinsky
Make Love, Not War: The Sexual Revolution: An Unfettered History, by David Allyn
Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939, by Lizabeth Cohen
Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class, by Jefferson Cowie
In Search of the Black Panther Party: New Perspectives on a Revolutionary Movement, edited by Jama Lazerow and Yohuru Williams
Quixote’s Soldiers: A Local History of the Chicano Movement, 1966-1981, by David Montejano
“Resistance in the Urban North: Trumbull Park, Chicago, 1953-1966,” by Arnold R. Hirsch, in the Journal of American History
“Crabgrass-Roots Politics: Race, Rights, and the Reaction against Liberalism in the Urban North, 1940-1964,” by Thomas J. Sugrue, in the Journal of American History
Originally published in September 2013
“Life, liberty, and the doomed pursuit of happiness.”

Nixon lurking in the shadows
Richard M. Nixon in books, in the news, on TV, and in my dreams
Originally published in December 2011

“Richard Nixon was in my dream last night. The post-presidency Nixon. The bitter, self-pitying, damned Nixon, coiled in the shadows of La Casa Pacifica in San Clemente, dark eyes glaring at the world as it spun on without him.”

Homo universalis
A reflection on my intellectual ambitions.
Originally published in July 2011
“I’ve always been blessed with a hunger for knowledge, a curiosity that often flares into full-blown passion for new arenas of experience, a curiosity perhaps sparked by a bittersweet frustration that I don’t know as much about literature, science, mathematics, history and culture as I think I should.”

Torn in the USA

Life, liberty, and the doomed pursuit of happiness. A review essay by Fernando Ortiz Jr.

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Life, liberty, and the doomed pursuit of happiness.
A review essay by Fernando Ortiz Jr.

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Discussed in this essay:

Make Love, Not War: The Sexual Revolution: An Unfettered History. By David Allyn. (New York: Routledge, 2001. 400 pp. $26.96).

Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939. 2nd ed. By Lizabeth Cohen. (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2008. 568 pp. $25.99).

Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class. By Jefferson Cowie. (New York: The New Press, 2010. 488 pp. $15.98).

“Resistance in the Urban North: Trumbull Park, Chicago, 1953-1966.” By Arnold R. Hirsch. The Journal of American History. (82, no. 2 [September, 1995]: 522-550. JSTOR [accessed Feb. 1, 2013] ).

In Search of the Black Panther Party: New Perspectives on a Revolutionary Movement. Edited by Jama Lazerow and Yohuru Williams. (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2006. 408 pp. $24.01).

Quixote’s Soldiers: A Local History of the Chicano Movement, 1966-1981. By David Montejano. (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2010. 360 pp. $23.70).

Polio: An American Story. By David M. Oshinsky. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. 368 pp. $16.95).

“Crabgrass-Roots Politics: Race, Rights, and the Reaction against Liberalism in the Urban North, 1940-1964.” By Thomas J. Sugrue. The Journal of American History. 82, no. 2 [September, 1995]: 551-578. JSTOR [accessed Feb. 1, 2013] ).

I.

The New Deal caressed with warm rays of hope the hearts and minds of millions of Americans grappling with the Great Depression. Shimmering ideals carved into the pillars of 1930s bureaucratic power re-invented the relationship between government and the people it represented. The New Deal also served for subsequent generations as a gateway opening onto a glowing era without racism, illness, or injustice. Citizens only needed to step towards the entrance to realize the core tenets – and challenges — of their American democracy: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Select academic and popular works from the past two decades beautifully illustrate how Americans dared to aspire for better lives, to reach out for democracy’s sweetest fruits, and to confront adversaries unwilling to share the treasures of freedom.

The aspiration for a better life often began with fair employment. Lizabeth Cohen’s Making a New Deal and Jefferson Cowie’s Stayin’ Alive both focus on the journey the working-class endured throughout six decades of economic turbulence and doomed political alliances. Cohen sets the stage by exploring Chicago’s ethnic working-class communities from about 1920 to 1940. Before the Great Depression, companies corralled their workers into paternalistic corporate societies. Workers enjoyed picnics, medical care, education, and other key aspects of a full life, yet all existed in the company’s shadow, without leverage to demand higher wages or a significant voice to improve worker conditions. Corporate authority framed workers’ identities. Cohen’s tapestry of Chicago communities gradually changed their understanding of who they were – from automatons governed by heartless corporate machinery to autonomous citizens who could no longer look to their employers for economic protection. Just as they changed their outlook, the liberal Democratic Roosevelt administration grew in political power and effectiveness. They reached out for each other. Energized unions offered workers a new avenue towards their goals of economic security, social legitimacy, and a viable political voice. The Democratic Party valued union support, listened to workers’ needs, and institutionalized the view that government could protect workers from corporate manipulation and financial unrest.

But the freedom from corporate autocracy, Cohen explains, added to workers’ lives a new vulnerability to “new tyrannies.” Chicago workers, along with workers throughout the U.S., became so closely bound to Democratic policy that when the Roosevelt administration, faced with entry into World War II, moved closer to companies needed to make war materiel, workers had no choice but to endure the consequences of corporate-friendly agreements. Alliances with political groups, Cohen also points out, meant workers swam in deeper political waters, filled with large allies but even larger enemies. Workers savored their new political value, but their leaders also did whatever was necessary to hold on to that influence on parties, administrations, and elections. Political enemies like Richard Nixon targeted that desire and the frustration workers felt over advantages the civil rights movements afforded to minorities.

Cowie’s Stayin’ Alive examines labor after the New Deal’s light faded beyond history’s horizons. He focuses on the years between 1968 and 1982. The working-class identity in the midst of that postwar political dusk was still proud and hopeful, hand-in-hand with liberal determination to transform the working-class into a new segment of the middle class. Three decades later, the working-class identity was a mutilated and incinerated political corpse quietly spat upon and dumped into Ronald Reagan’s ashbin of history.

The 1968 presidential election opened amid the cacophony of riots over the Vietnam War and years of unrest over the Great Society’s promised solutions to workplace, school, and social inequalities. Vice President Hubert Humphrey emerged from Democrats’ circular firefight as the presidential nominee, with only the labor machinery at his side, Cowie writes, making labor the “big boss in the Democratic Party.” Richard Nixon, leading a united Republican Party, raced into the gaps in the Democratic ranks, slicing off white working-class workers with manufactured sympathy over their growing hostility to effete Northern “elitists,” the anti-war movement, women who refused to recognize traditional patriarchal authority, and empowered minorities disrupting workplaces and intensifying corporate hostility to labor’s aspirations for better wages and improved worker rights. Workers in 1968 and 1972 slipped into a warm electoral spa with Nixon, a python sympathetically caressing their dreams as his coils squeezed them to death. Nixon, Cowie deftly points out, was the last president to view the working class in the context of their New Deal legacy of political empowerment. He invented a new chess board on which workers were neutralized as electoral threats and absorbed into the net Nixon cast over the landscape of American voters. He lured them into his New Majority by targeting the cultural-vs.-material dichotomy in the workers’ outlook, appealing to their sentimental ideal of New Deal America and blurring the financial danger his party posed to workers’ dreams for better lives.

The danger Nixon directly posed to labor’s aspirations ended with his 1974 resignation. But Ronald Reagan’s 1980 victory – secured in part with his own Nixonian seduction of working-class patriotic sentiments — worsened what Nixon began. His election followed four years of Democrat Jimmy Carter, who was never a stalwart labor ally and was hardly the mortar needed to rebuild the old alliances the civil rights and antiwar movements fractured. Economic problems sparked in the late 1960s intensified in the 1970s. Industries moved to regions that fought union organization and offered corporate-friendly employment laws. By 1980, Cowie wrote, “a unionized manufacturing job” was a precious drink of water for workers crawling across a blasted economic wasteland. The dire predicament worsened when the Reagan administration shattered the Professional Air Traffic Controllers (PATCO) strike in 1981, legitimating conservative disregard for labor as a viable element of the political calculus and exposing workers, stripped of government allies, to corporate manipulation. Cohen’s workers embarked on a journey to build new and better lives. Cowie’s workers continued the journey but failed to overcome the obstacles that moved into their path. The menagerie of groups gathered under the New Deal canopy may have simulated solidarity but they also stimulated real (if not lasting) determination among labor, even if bitter divisions negated their triumphs.

II.

One of the New Deal’s sparks ignited the civil rights movement in the 1960s and 1970s. As the working class pursued better economic lives, blacks and Latinos throughout the United States pursued liberty. David Montejano’s Quixote’s Soldiers and Jama Lazerow’s and Yohuru Williams’ In Search of the Black Panther Party both portray inspired individuals striving for the dignity of equal treatment, but the authors also refuse to portray equally inspirational coalitions that overcame every level of institutional opposition. Internal divisions, as Cohen and Cowie illustrate with their labor histories, threatened the civil rights movements at every turn.

Montejano’s three-part local history explores the multifaceted Chicano civil rights fight in San Antonio from 1966 to 1981. Chicanos targeted the “gringo supremacy” that governed the city and region. They saw Anglos dominating the social scenes and annual Fiesta events. They blamed Anglos for limiting Latino economic mobility and quality of education. The Latino movement descended from World War II and Korean War Latino veterans who returned home with legitimate expectations, particularly “first-class citizenship,” from the society they fought to defend. Social activists tried to ease the ravaging effects of gang violence and drug use on youth culture by encouraging Chicanismo or “carnalismo” — a sense of Chicano brotherhood that appreciated Latino history and aimed to improve a Latino identity unfairly associated with poverty, ignorance, and violence. Latinos demanded better schools and textbooks, and they conducted school walkouts to drive home their displeasure. They marched in the streets to protest police brutality and housing discrimination. They formed organizations like the Mexican American Youth Organization to coordinate messages, register voters, and gather participants.

Montejano considers much of San Antonio’s Chicano movement a success. But with progress came resistance. Montejano points to U.S. Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez, who saw the new fiery Chicano voices as a threat to his institutionalized power base. Like patriarchal labor leaders willing to deal with any political power that preserved their status, Gonzalez perceived Chicano protestors’ “aggressive nationalism” as disruptive to fragile local understandings and arrangements with the “gringo supremacy” and to his own ambitions. Chicanas demanded equality from the paternalistic community that expected them to remain subordinate to Chicano goals, tactics, and directions, and resistance to their demands also caused internal rifts. Women, Montejano writes, challenged male activists to extend the equality principle to their own households and “machismo” attitudes that oppressed Chicana expression and progress. The struggle echoes Cohen, who wrote that female members of the Congress of Industrial Organizations were not allowed in positions of union leadership because “the male breadwinner would represent the family’s interests in policy making.”

Lazerow and Williams take a dispersed approach to the Black Panther Party’s accomplishments and contributions. In Search of the Black Panther Party uses fourteen essays to connect their battles to a wide array of revolutionary movements within and beyond U.S. borders. Contributor Jeffrey Ogbar’s piece on Black Panther connections to Latino nationalists best illustrates their struggle in a larger racial context. The Black Panthers inspired the Chicano Brown Berets and the Puerto Rican Young Lords and Latin Kings. The aggressively vocal “black demand for equality,” embodied by Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, also energized Latino youths who realized their demands could be heard by institutions that could address them. Black nationalist themes of “multinational alliances and cooperation” resonated with Chicanos who saw paralyzing U.S. colonialism in Central America and with Puerto Ricans in the U.S. who saw pervasive Caribbean poverty. The Black Panthers also played a uniting factor among strivers for liberty. In 1970, Ogbar explains, the Party “became the first major black organization to align itself with a women’s liberation movement,” which was seen as an Anglo cause. They later embraced the gay rights movement. The Panthers linked Latinas to bolder visions of social equality their patriarchal Chicano partners could not stomach, and they injected Black Power’s pride and dignity into the Latino movements, enriching the struggles as well as the rewards.

Social divisions often crippled the civil rights struggles. Arnold R. Hirsch’s study of white resistance to community change in Chicago from 1953 to 1966 and Thomas J. Sugrue’s study of similar disdain in Detroit from 1940 to 1964 both brutally underline the tragic consequences of unresolved racial differences among the New Deal’s descendants. Hirsch’s microstudy of a plan to move black families into Chicago’s Trumbull Park Homes and Sugrue’s local history of Detroit’s white working class illustrate how some Americans reached their economic goals and left other similar groups behind. In Chicago, whites refused to live with blacks in the same neighborhood. In Detroit, whites worried that rights for minorities threatened their workplaces, wages, schools, and communities. Social, personal, and material concerns, Hirsch and Sugrue demonstrate, mattered more than the moral struggle for equality and justice.

Americans pursued better lives and secure liberties. They also pursued happiness – fuller lives, longer lives, and healthier lives. The New Deal’s defeat of poverty and the World War II defeat of fascism primed Americans for victory in an old war at home: the fight for freedom from disease and, decades later, the fight for freedom from sexual oppression.

III.

David Oshinsky’s Polio: An American Story explores the national endeavor to eradicate the polio virus with a safe vaccine. Millions of dollars were raised. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, also a polio victim, encouraged the multi-city celebration of his birthday to raise funds for the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. He inspired women canvassing their communities for donations. Citizens and politicians worked together for the common good. A vaccine would help young and poor, of any race or religion, and prove the benefits of a democratic society free to fulfill its potential. It also showcased U.S. scientific abilities as the postwar era darkened into the Cold War era. Experts like Jonas Salk became the public face of American ingenuity. The 1954 vaccination trials offered tangible hope and a sense of progress towards an ultimate cure.

The polio story touches on race, ethnicity, and class. Before the vaccine’s development, Americans blamed immigrants for bringing disease and viewed lower-class slums as cesspools of infection. But rich and poor were struck equally. Scientists thought black Americans were less susceptible to polio, so they received less attention during outbreaks. By the mid-1950s, polio ravaged the lower classes who could not afford the three-shot-plus-booster combination.

Freedom from oppression is just as important as freedom from disease. David Allyn’s Make Love, Not War tenderly explores a sexual renaissance that ebbed and flowed from the 1960s to the 1980s, opening new social spaces for expressions of gay sexuality, experiments with group sex, sophisticated sexual education, the birth control pill, and an open sexual life.

Allyn argues that the sexual revolution changed the most important element of any sex life: the mind. Every phase of the revolution, from acceptance of sexual literature at bookstores to a woman deciding to have an abortion or control her fertility, prepared for the ground for more changes in Americans’ outlook on their times. Swinger parties were incorporated into normal suburban lives. Couples consulted illustrated sex manuals to improve their nocturnal time together. Gay Americans celebrated their desires in clubs that were no longer hidden away in shameful corners of the urban landscape. The revolution introduced to Americans a new freedom from fear, and that freedom still flourishes — and must still be defended — today.

The pursuits of life, liberty, and happiness eventually end for some as others begin the journey anew. Superior forces obstructed the revolutions’ progress. Tragic internal weaknesses, inherent or introduced at a later point, ripped apart movements’ ideological cohesion and lasting power. These works offer larger lessons and warnings to future revolutionaries and idealists: know where you want to arrive before beginning the journey, and bind yourselves tightly to your most unlikely of allies. These works silently demand perseverance, patience, and belief that the American Dream belongs to everyone. One must only fight for it, even if it means fighting other marginalized Americans. There may never be enough of the Dream for everyone.

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Profiles of first ladies / Childfree and loving it / A boring mission to Mars / A Texas-made space telescope / Nixon’s love for Jews

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This week: Profiles of first ladies / Childfree and loving it / A boring mission to Mars / A Texas-made space telescope / Nixon’s love for Jews

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. The First Ladies
C-SPAN | 2013 and 2014
Watch the stunning and fascinating series about the women as intelligent, complex, canny, and noble (if not more so) than the presidents their husbands became.

2. The Choice To Be Childfree
On Point with Tom Ashbrook :: NPR | Aug. 23
“Childless by choice. We look at the trend of couples saying ‘no thanks’ to having kids.”

3. Dating Superman
By Seth Stevenson | Slate | May 2013
“The ultimate superpower would let you find, woo, and mate with the perfect person”

4. Olivia Wilde Takes Center Stage
By Emma Brown | Interview | Aug. 22
Drinking Buddies is Olivia Wilde’s first time carrying a film, but it is certainly not her last. With upcoming roles in everything from Rush to Spike Jonze’s Her and Paul Haggis’ Third Person, Wilde is the girl of the moment.”

5. Danger! This Mission to Mars Could Bore You to Death!
By Maggie Koerth-Baker | The New York Times Magazine | July 2013
“It would be catastrophic if humanity’s greatest voyage were brought low by the mind’s tendency to wander when left to its own devices. ”

6. Some Newly Uncovered Nixon Comments on the Subjects of Jews and Black People
By Elspeth Reeve | Atlantic Wire :: Atlantic Monthly | Aug. 21
“Richard Nixon was like many a Millennial (or middle-aged politician) who’s gotten busted for sending racy emails or sexts — even though he knew everything he was saying would be archived forever, he still said really inappropriate things.”

7. UT, A&M telescope to be 10 times sharper than Hubble
By Robert Stanton | Houston Chronicle | Aug. 21
“This Saturday, the third mirror for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) will be cast inside a rotating furnace lab at the Steward Observatory in Tucson, Ariz. It’s the only facility in the world where mirrors this large are being made.”

8. Turkey’s Women Strike Back
The New York Review of Books | Aug. 19
“Just as some Turks have recognized for the first time that violence against the Kurds in the east is no different than the police violence they are now experiencing in the west, they are also becoming aware that state meddling in women’s lives means meddling in the lives of everyone.”

9. Not-so-empty nests: When adult children live at home
By Adriene Hill | Marketplace Life | May 2013
“There are more than 22 million adult children still living at home with their parents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”

10. The End of Second Acts?
By Shadd Maruna and Charles Barber | The Wilson Quarterly | Spring 2013
“The mass warehousing of convicts is a sign of America’s faltering belief in second chances. Considering how individuals atone for their crimes can help us restore rehabilitation as an ideal.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Tracking whale sharks / How Nixon chased women / Dead vice presidents / Man-made eggs, woman-made sperm / Chronicling Syria’s bloodshed / Friday’s blues

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For this week:
Tracking whale sharks / How Nixon chased women / Dead vice presidents / Man-made eggs, woman-made sperm / Chronicling Syria’s bloodshed / Friday’s blues

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. Where the Whale Sharks Go
By Christopher Joyce | Morning Edition :: NPR | Aug. 22
“After tagging more than 800 whale sharks over nine years, the team discovered that after feeding, the sharks head off in seemingly random directions. Some travel thousands of miles, and they can dive a mile deep.”

2. How the Nixon Administration Tried to Woo Women
By Emma Green | The Atlantic | Aug. 22
“It turns out that the Republican strategy on women in the 1970s was about as nimble as ‘binders full of women’ ”

3. Have any vice presidents died in office?
By Anthony Bergen | Dead Presidents | August 2013
“Yes, quite a few of our Vice Presidents have died in office, actually — SEVEN out of 47 total, so about 15% of the VPs didn’t survive their term.”

4. Lab-Made Egg and Sperm Precursors Raise Prospect for Infertility Treatment
By David Cyranoski | Nature / Scientific American | Aug. 21
“A technical tour de force, which involved creating primordial germ cells from mouse skin cells, is prompting scientists to consider attempting this experiment with human cells”

5. Syria’s civil war: A chronicle of bloodshed
By Emily Lodish | GlobalPost | Aug. 21
“News of a possible chemical weapons attack in Syria follows a chain of deadly events. Here’s a look at the worst of the worst.”

6. The Latinos turning to Islam
By Katy Watson | Newshour :: BBC World News | August 2013
“With more than 50 million Hispanics living in the US, the Latino community is now the country’s biggest minority. ”

7. Covering Nixon
The New York Review of Books | Aug. 9
“The sheer number, variety, and viciousness of David Levine’s drawings of Nixon provide some sense of his place in The New York Review’s pages during the five and a half years of his presidency.”

8. Bezos, Heraclitus and the Hybrid Future of Journalism
By Arianna Huffington | LinkedIn | Aug. 14
“The future will definitely be a hybrid one, combining the best practices of traditional journalism — fairness, accuracy, storytelling, deep investigations — with the best tools available to the digital world — speed, transparency, and, above all, engagement.”

9. The Man Who Knew Too Much
By Marie Brenner | Vanity Fair | May 1996
“Angrily, painfully, Jeffrey Wigand emerged from the sealed world of Big Tobacco to confront the nation’s third-largest cigarette company, Brown & Williamson. Hailed as a hero by anti-smoking forces and vilified by the tobacco industry, Wigand is at the center of an epic multibillion-dollar struggle that reaches from Capitol Hill to the hallowed journalistic halls of CBS’s 60 Minutes.”

10. Are Apostrophes Necessary?
By Matthew J.X. Malady | Slate | May 2013
“Not really, no.”

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TUNES

Tonight I’m spending some time with the blues, specifically with the Texas Blues Café. Check out the line-up and then listen here.

1. Gary Moore — Texas Strut
2. Paul Rodgers & Gary Moore — She Moves Me
3. Dr. Wu — Storm Watch Warning
4. Needtobreathe — Prisoner
5. Rick Huckaby — Can’t Miss Kid
6. The Mark Knoll Band — High Time
7. Preacherstone — Old Fashioned Ass Whoopin’
8. Brian Burns & Ray Wylie Hubbard — Little Angel Comes A-Walkin
9. Cody Gill Band — Crazy
10. Ramblin Dawgs — Worse Without You
11. Pat Green & Cory Morrow — Stuck In The Middle With You
12. Bobby Manriquez — How We Started
13. WSNB — True Love
14. Shane Dwight — Boogie King