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2017: A Historian’s Reading


At the end of last year, I put up a list of the books I read for professional reasons in 2016. People seemed to like it, so here is this year’s list. Just as a refresher, I read these books for my own purposes–to prepare for teaching, to keep up or catch up on the historiography in my fields, occasionally to broaden my horizons. So I do not read every word of these books, nor do I generally read for factual information. I read for preparation for my work, whether my own professional writing, to inform my blog posts, to prepare for new courses, or to think through harder questions. That often means simply being aware of the basic outlines of a book so that I can go into more detail later when I need to write about a given subject. I also included the few books on contemporary politics I read this year, since there’s not much sense separating those out from historical books given my writing. Some of these are new books, most are from the last decade or so, a few are old classics that I had either never read or haven’t read in the last decade. I have also placed bold faced asterisks after 20 books I think LGM readers would find particularly useful/I think you should buy and read. That’s not necessarily the same as what I think are the 20 best books, although there is obviously a lot of crossover. Anyway, here it is:

1. Kornel Chang, Pacific Connections: The Making of the U.S.-Canadian Borderland
2. Mark Aldrich, Safety First: Technology, Labor, and Business in the Building of American Work Safety
3. David Nye, When the Lights Went Out: A History of Blackouts in America
4. Richard Widick, Trouble in the Forest: California’s Redwood Timber Wars
5. Michael Rawson, Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston
6. George Lipsitz, Rainbow at Midnight: Labor and Culture in the 1940s
7. Kathryn Shively Meier, Nature’s Civil War: Common Soldiers and the Environment in 1862 Virginia
8. Seth Rockman, Scraping By: Wage Labor, Slavery, and Survival in Early Baltimore
9. Lindsey Churchill, Becoming the Tupamaros: Solidarity and Transnational Revolutionaries in Uruguay and the United States
10. Alan Draper, Conflict of Interests: Organized Labor and the Civil Rights Movement in the South, 1954-1968
11. Lane Kenworthy, Social Democratic America
12. Kathleen Bartoloni-Tuazon, For Fear of an Elective King: George Washington and the Presidential Title Controversy of 1789
13. Tom Chaffin, Fatal Glory: Narciso López and the First Clandestine U.S. War Against Cuba
14. John Kuo Wei Tchen, New York before Chinatown: Orientalism and the Shaping of American Culture, 1776-1882
15. Robbie Ethridge, Creek Country: The Creek Indians and Their World, 1796-1816
16. Daniel Cornford, Workers and Dissent in the Redwood Empire
17. Laura Browder, Rousing the Nation: Radical Culture in Depression America
18. Robert Zieger, ed., Life and Labor in the New New South
19. Piero Gleijeses, Visions of Freedom: Havana, Washington, Pretoria, and the Struggle for Southern Africa, 1976-91 ***
20. Kara Swanson, Banking on the Body: The Market in Blood, Milk, and Sperm in Modern America
21. Susan Strasser, Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash
22. Lynn Staehli and Don Mitchell, The People’s Property? Power, Politics, and the Public
23. Leon Fink, Joseph McCartin, and Joan Sangster, eds., Workers in Hard Times: A Long View of Economic Crises
24. Darren Speece, Defending Giants: The Redwood Wars and the Transformation of American Environmental Politics***
25. Zachary Falck, Weeds: An Environmental History of Metropolitan America
26. Adam Tompkins, Ghostworkers and Greens: The Cooperative Campaigns of Farmworkers and Environmentalists for Pesticide Reform
27. Adam Hochschild, Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 ***
28. Julie Weise, Corazon de Dixie: Mexicanos in the U.S. South since 1910
29. Dimitra Doukas, Worked Over: The Corporate Sabotage of an American Community
30. Finis Duniway, Seeing Green: The Use and Abuse of American Environmental Images ***
31. Katrina Jagodinsky, Legal Codes and Talking Trees: Indigenous Women’s Sovereignty in the Sonoran and Puget Sound Borderlands, 1854-1946
32. Andrew Needham, Power Lines: Phoenix and the Modern Southwest ***
33. Sunil Amrith, Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and Fortunes of Migrants ***
34. Ruth O’Brien, Worker’s Paradox: The Republican Origins of New Deal Labor Policy, 1886-1935
35. Leonard Richards, The Slave Power: The Free North and Southern Domination, 1780-1860
36. Kate Brown, Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters ***
37. Sarah Jaffe, Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt ***
38. Arlene Stein, The Stranger Next Door: The Story of a Small Community’s Battle over Sex, Faith, and Civil Rights
39. John Judis, The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics
40. Mark Schantz, Awaiting the Heavenly Country: The Civil War and America’s Culture of Death
41. Maurice McInnis, The Politics of Taste in Antebellum Charleston
42. Kim Moody, Workers in a Lean World: Unions in the International Economy
43. Elizabeth Tandy Shermer, Sunbelt Capitalism: Phoenix and the Transformation of American Politics
44. Tyina Steptoe, Houston Bound: Culture and Color in a Jim Crow City
45. Frank Warren, Noble Abstractions: American Liberal Intellectuals and World War II
46. Rachel St. John, Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border
47. Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 ***
48. Jarod Roll, Spirit of Rebellion: Labor and Religion in the New Cotton South
49. Scott Nelson, Steel Drivin Man: John Henry, The Untold Story of an American Legend ***
50. Brian Purnell, Fighting Jim Crow in the County of Kings: The Congress of Racial Equality in Brooklyn
51. Deborah Fink, Cutting into the Meatpacking Line: Workers and Change in the Rural Midwest
52. Miriam Frank, Out in the Union: A Labor History of Queer America ***
53. Beth Slutsky, Gendering Radicalism: Women and Communism in Twentieth-Century California
54. Philip Foner, The Great Labor Uprising of 1877
55. Thomas Sugrue, Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North
56. Glenda Gilmore, Defying Dixie: The Radical Roots of Civil Rights, 1919-1950 ***
57. O. Alan Weltzien, Exceptional Mountains: A Cultural History of the Pacific Northwest Volcanoes
58. Zandria Robinson, This Ain’t Chicago: Race, Class, and Regional Identity in the Post-Soul South
59. Emily Brock, Money Trees: The Douglas Fir and American Forestry, 1900-1944
60. John Mack Faragher, Eternity Street: Violence and Justice in Frontier Los Angeles ***
61. Heather Ann Thompson, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy ***
62. Thomas Geoghegan, Only One Thing Can Save Us: Why America Needs a New Kind of Labor Movement
63. Martha Biondi, To Stand and Fight: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City
64. Daniel Bell, The Coming of Post-Industrial Society
65. Robert Stolz, Bad Water: Nature, Pollution, and Politics in Japan, 1870-1950
66. Geoff Cunfer, On the Great Plains: Agriculture and Environment
67. Ann Fabian, The Skull Collectors: Race, Science, and America’s Unburied Dead
68. Robert Steinfeld, Coercion, Contract, and Free Labor in the Nineteenth Century
69. Sue Fawn Chung, Chinese in the Woods: Logging and Lumbering in the American West
70. Julie Saville, The Work of Reconstruction: From Slave to Wage Laborer in South Carolina, 1860-1870
71. Nancy Langston, Where Land and Water Meet: A Western Landscape Transformed
72. Maria Kefalas, Working Class Heroes: Protecting Home, Community, and Nation in a Chicago Neighborhood
73. Sarah Elkind, How Local Politics Shape Federal Policy: Business, Power, and the Environment in Twentieth Century Los Angeles
74. Meg Jacobs, Pocketbook Politics: Economic Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America
75. Dan Carter, The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism, and the Transformation of American Politics
76. Margaret Humphreys, Malaria: Poverty, Race, and Public Health in the United States
77. Kristen Oertel, Bleeding Borders: Race, Gender, and Violence in Pre-Civil War Kansas
78. Allen Dieterich-Ward, Beyond Rust: Metropolitan Pittsburgh and the Fate of Industrial America ***
79. Carolyn Ross Johnston, Cherokee Women in Crisis: Trail of Tears, Civil War, and Allotment, 1838-1907
80. David Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class ***
81. Sean Holmes, Weavers of Dreams, Unite! Actors’ Unionism in Early Twentieth-Century America
82. David Vogel, Lobbying the Corporation: Citizen Challenges to Business Authority
83. Beth Bates, Pullman Porters and the Rise of Protest Politics in Black America, 1925-1945
84. Bruce Cumings, Dominion from Sea to Sea: Pacific Ascendancy and American Power ***
85. William P. Jones, The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of the Civil Rights Movement ***
86. David Pellow, Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago
87. Matthew Basso, Meet Joe Copper: Masculinity and Race on Montana’s World War II Home Front
88. Suzanne Simon, Sustaining the Borderlands in the Age of NAFTA: Development, Politics, and Participation on the US-Mexico Border
89. Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds, Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men’s Counties and the International Challenge of Racial Equality
90. Don Mitchell, The Lie of the Land: Migrant Workers and the California Landscape
91. Frank Van Nuys, Varmints and Victims: Predator Control in the American West
92. Charles Postel, The Populist Vision
93. Jacqueline Moore, Cow Boys and Cattle Men: Class and Masculinities on the Texas Frontier, 1865-1900
94. Brian Frehner, Finding Oil: The Nature of Petroleum Geology, 1859-1920
95. Susan Eva O’Donovan, Becoming Free in the Cotton South
96. Chandra Manning, What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War
97. Leon Litwack, Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery
98. Laurie Green, Battling the Plantation Mentality: Memphis and the Black Freedom Struggle
99. David Roediger and Elizabeth Esch, eds, The Production of Difference: Race and the Management of Labor in U.S. History
100. Matthew F. Delmont, Why Busing Failed: Race, Media, and the National Resistance to School Desegregation ***
101. Peter Alagona, After the Grizzly: Endangered Species and the Politics of Place in California
102. Kendra Smith-Howard, Pure and Modern Milk: An Environmental History Since 1900
103. Psyche Williams-Forson, Building Chickens Out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, and Power
104. David Lewis Coleman, Race Against Liberalism: Black Workers and the UAW in Detroit
105. Gary Gerstle, American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century ***
106. Leon Fink, Workingmen’s Democracy: The Knights of Labor and American Politics
107. Cruz Miguel Ortiz Cuadra, Eating Puerto Rico: A History of Food, Culture, and Identity
108. Jeffery Marcos Garcilazo, Traqueros: Mexican Railroad Workers in the United States, 1870-1930
109. Ronald Takaki, Pau Hana: Plantation Life and Labor in Hawaii, 1835-1920
110. Andrew Battista, The Revival of Labor Liberalism
111. Chad Pearson, Reform or Repression: Organizing America’s Anti-Union Movement
112. Daniel Usner, Indian Work: Language and Livelihood in Native American History
113. Megan Kate Nelson, Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War

Am more than happy to discuss the books more in comments, provide recommendations for people’s specific interests, etc.

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