So we’re not even three full weeks into the semester, and for incomprehensible reasons I already need to submit textbook orders for Spring. I’m reworking the reading list for my “US Since 1950” course, and I’m totally without ideas for what to assign for the week we’ll be devoting to the Bush I/Clenis years. Last time I used Thomas Frank’s One Market Under God; I’ve always enjoyed that book, but students weren’t so keen on it, so I’m on the lookout for something new. Here’s what we’ll be reading so far (I think):
Paul Boyer, Promises to Keep (broad survey of post-WWII US) H.W. Brands, The Devil We Knew (survey of the Cold War) Ruth Rosen, The World Split Open (post-WWII feminism and politics) James Baldwin, Fire Next Time (short essays on race and religion) Timothy Tyson, Blood Done Sign My Name (white dude’s memoir of race and power in a small NC town) Michael Herr, Dispatches (reporter’s memoir of US War in Vietnam) Michael Schaller, Reckoning with Reagan (survey of the 1980s, mostly focusing on politics) Rashid Khalidi, Resurrecting Empire (US policy and the Middle East)
Though we’re looking memoirs and surveys for the most part, I’m open to all suggestions — I usually assign a novel or fiction of some other kind (like Tim O’Brien’s Things They Carried), so that’s also an option. So far, the list doesn’t really have much on immigration, and so I’m thinking of using David Reimers’ Unwelcome Strangers, which examines the new nativism and its ties to the hard right; I’ve also considered Mary Romero’s Maid in the USA (about domestic labor). I haven’t assigned Romero or Reimers before, but I’m sure either one would be a barrel of laughs.