Historiann: The New York Times Book Review Interview

cowgirl3a

Giddyup!

Today’s post is was inspired by the interview with James McPherson in the New York Times book review last weekend.  I reviewed that interview in yesterday’s post.  Today, I’ve interviewed myself, and I encourage you to interview yourself too, either in the comments below, on your own blog, and/or on Twitter.  (Be sure to tag me @Historiann and #historiannchallenge.)

What books are currently on your night stand?

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis, and some travel guides for southern California.

What was the last truly great book you read?

If you mean a work of history, I’d say Foul Bodies:  Cleanliness in Early America by Kathleen Brown. That’s a book that makes a powerful argument about status and cleanliness, and how women became responsible for both of these things in their families and in the wider world. It’s a book that has tremendous implications about the ways in which body care became intensely gendered over the longue durée, which is something I think about whenever I see a housekeeper, a janitor, an employee of a nursing home or rehab facility, or a home health aide.

Who are the best historians writing today?

In no particular order: Lynn Hunt, Jill Lepore, Annette Gordon-Reed, Natalie Zemon Davis, and Judith Bennett. I could go on, but just reading those authors will keep anyone busy for a few years.

What’s the best book ever written about American history?

That’s a ridiculous question. What the hell is a “best book ever?” What do you think I’m going to say–France and England in North America by Francis Parkman?  Best book in the last century? Best book since 1776? Doesn’t the answer vary according to the fashion of the times and our own tastes? History is constantly being revised and updated by each succeeding generation of historians, so no book can ever be a “best book ever” for more than a few years.

Sorry–I didn’t realize.  Maybe I should ask if you have a favorite biography?

Nell Painter, Sojourner Truth: A Life, a Symbol is one of those books I come back to again and again. I also deeply admire Annette Gordon-Reed’s The Hemingses of Monticello:  An American Family. I read Jean H. Baker’s Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion last fall, and I thought that was a terrific model that bridges popular and academic audiences for a biography.  All of these books do that, actually.

What are the best military histories?

Mary Louise Roberts’s What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American G.I. in World War II France is a brilliant, fine-grained study of the ways in which the U.S. Army sold the Normandy invasion to its army by deploying stereotypes about France as full of conquered, unmanned men and grateful, sexually available women. It’s also a story about the French experience of invasion and the challenges of dealing with yet another army of occupation.

These are the kinds of military history that I think are getting loads of well-deserved attention.  Another title to watch out for is Jennifer Mittelstadt’s The American Military Welfare State which will be published by Harvard University Press in 2015.  That book is going to blow some doors down.

And what are the best books about African-American history?

I believe I’ve already answered that question in part, but I can recommend others. For me, Jennifer Morgan’s Laboring Women:  Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery was a path-breaking book because it gave us a new way to think about slavery and continuity versus change over space and time. Ira Berlin’s insight that slavery varied according to both location and time was important, but it overlooked the crucial continuities that enslaved women experienced because of their sex and their capacity to be sexually abused and exploited for reproduction.

A few modern memoirs also deserve a mention here because they were foundational to my development as a historian: Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi. I came across Angelou’s book among my mother’s books and read it for the first time not understanding that the protagonist was black. I was a white girl growing up in suburban Ohio attending mostly white schools, so my imagination defaulted to “white” when I read books and imagined the characters in them. It was only when some neighbor girls are referred to as “white trash” that it dawned on me that Marguerite and Bailey were black children. That gave me something to think about.

I didn’t read Moody until I was in college, in a class on women’s autobiography that was taught by the fantastically smart and talented literature scholar Maureen Corrigan, who’s now at Georgetown and more famous as the book critic for NPR’s Fresh Air. (She was just as smart and as thoughtful in class as she is on Fresh Air.) By age 20 or so, I understood that Moody was African American, and raced through her account of her childhood and coming of age in the Civil Rights movement in a single night because it was so absorbing.

I wonder if Angelou’s and Moody’s memoirs are why I was drawn to writing history instead of fiction. I always found women’s lives to be so much more intrinsically interesting to me if they were real lives, so that’s probably why I studied history and eventually gravitated to biography as a genre of writing history.

During your many years of teaching, did you find that students responded differently over time to the history books you assigned?

The history of sexuality is something that college students have really embraced, at least in part because so many of them are going through the kinds of sexual experimentation and questioning that many of us experience in our late teens and early 20s. My women’s history class is always very popular, which means that I’m always surprised when I’m informed in course evaluations in my non-women’s history classes that some students didn’t think I was teaching American history, or colonial history, but instead that I was teaching a women’s history course instead, as though that’s a different thing entirely from women’s history. I also get scolded by white students for focusing overmuch on African Americans or Native Americans, because of course that’s not real American history, which we all know is about white men.

I wonder where my students get these ideas?

What kind of reader were you as a child?

A voracious one. I’ve mentioned already a few books that were memorable and important to me as a child and young adult. I loved fairy tales—not so much the sanitized, Americanized ones, but the really weird and bloody stories straight out of the eighteenth-century Schwartzwald.  I also was a major fan of the Little House books. I was a child in the 1970s when those books enjoyed a revival because of the popular television series based on the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I’m sure it was the TV show that led me to the books, but once I found the books and the imaginative world that Wilder created there, I couldn’t take the TV show seriously. Even then I think I sensed that it was based in fact on 1970s ideals and values, not the 1870s. (But then, who among us is nostalgic for 1870s values?) It just seemed very modern and hollow to me after reading the books.

When I got older, I was a tremendous Judy Blume fan. Although neither my parents nor the other parents in my circle of friends were particularly bothered by the books, we enacted the ritual sharing of the newest, most scandalous Judy Blume book by passing it around secretly. Each of us had one night apiece to read the book, hiding it under our mattresses to keep it away from prying parental or sibling eyes. Anyone could read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret or Deenie in the open. Forever and Then Again, Maybe I Won’t had to be handled with more discretion.

If you had to name one book that made you who you are today, what would it be?

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750 is a book I pulled off the shelves of the Boston Public Library in the summer of 1987 when I was eighteen and living on my own for the first time. It was the first history book I ever read that focused entirely on women—and I was a young feminist attending a women’s college! Needless to say, it changed my life.  Sadly, I think that many young history students today could say the same thing about a book they encountered on one of my syllabi. I think some of us think that women’s history is more integrated into the college curriculum than it really is.

I never read any of Natalie Zemon Davis’s books until graduate school, but I vividly recall her multi-week visit to Bryn Mawr College in the winter of 1988 or 1989.  She gave a public lecture, visited several classes, and talked about the research in what would eventually become Women on the Margins:  Three Seventeenth Century Lives, in particular about Glikl Bas Judah Leib.  When I was in graduate school at Penn she gave a fantastic public lecture there on Maria Sibylla Merian, another of the women in Women on the Margins.  She is such an energetic presence, a force of tremendous intelligence, and her influence on my work is very clear.

If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?

Who cares what the president of the United States reads?  He’s got a college degree.  He’s done very well for himself.  He’s written a few books, one of which was pretty good.  He’s probably a fine arbiter of his own literary tastes.  I think a better question is what I books I would recommend to someone who wants to learn more about American history and that would interest people of across political, sectarian, and ethnic lines.  How about Edward J. Blum’s and Paul Harvey’s The Color of Christ:  The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America.  If you want to be a better, more compassionate person as well as a more historically informed person, read that book.

You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?

Dorothy Parker, Nora Ephron, and Lena Dunham. Are there any other American writers you’d rather dine with?

I’d have a separate dinner with M.F.K. Fisher, whom I’d keep all for myself. I was thinking about her recently, as she was a Californian and I’m living in California this year.  She wrote so movingly and specifically about her life on an early twentieth-century farm, of being sent crates of avocados when she was in college, and of feasting on the wild gathered greens of an older friend of hers who seemed to live in a cottage on the beach.  It’s an evocation of a lost California.

Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What book did you feel as if you were supposed to like, and didn’t? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?

I was going to say James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom, but no, it’s too much of a cheap shot, even for me. I own the book, and I’ve read parts of it, and I’ve even used it for lecture material as well as to settle bar bets. I own his book, but does he own or read any of the books I’ve mentioned? Does he ever think about them or learn from them?  The world may never know.

What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?

Laurel Ulrich’s Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History. I keep thinking it was just published, but no—it’s been out for the better part of a decade now (since 2007). A partial explanation for my negligence is that the book is regularly checked out of my university’s library, which is good news as far as I’m concerned.

What do you plan to read next?

Laurel Ulrich’s Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History. Duh! Now that I’ve owned it, I need to fix it, don’t you think?

29 thoughts on “Historiann: The New York Times Book Review Interview

  1. I love your answers! And I’m totally with you on why I write history, not fiction – never mind that I am defeated by dialogue. I read just about every biography, especially of women, in my elementary school library. Autobiographies too, of course, but fewer of those were available in the mid 60s. In junior high I turned to fiction, but read 19th c fiction – Austen, all the Brontes (probably the only 13 year old who read The tenant of Wildfell Hall), the on to Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and the other Russians. But fiction was a way into history: I thou I’d study Russian history, not literature.

    My dinner party would be, I think, Jane Austen, George Eliot, and Marilynn Robinson.

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  2. My answers to select questions, modeled after those in the NYT interview. Amazing how similar our answers are. And as Susan pointed out yesterday, we do wind up stuck in our fields…

    What books are currently on your night stand?
    Crystal Feimster’s *Southern Horrors: Woman and the Politics of Rape and Lynching* and Estelle Freedman’s *Redefining Rape*. In not-so-different ways, these books chronicle the many Americans who labored under such insuperable odds that just surviving horrific abuse was a real triumph.

    What was the last truly great book you read?
    Stephanie Smallwood, *Saltwater Slavery*. A powerful analytic narrative that reshaped the way I viewed enslavement and the middle passage.

    Who are the best historians writing today?
    Kathleen Brown, Jennifer Morgan, Tiya Miles, Ann Stoler, Terri Snyder. In thoughtful prose, based on arduously created research, they have remade the way we undertake historical analysis, refusing to substitute the comfort of a singular narrative for the often-troubling complexity of American and imperial history.

    What’s the best book ever written about the Civil War?
    Can we please get past the ideas that books are the center of unshifting intellectual production? The most influential publications I’ve read lately are Steven Salaita’s tweets. They helped me crystallize my concerns about zionism and understand its relationship to colonialism and indigenous studies (and, unfortunately, academic freedom) in a new way.

    Do you have a favorite biography of a Civil War-era figure?
    No, haven’t really been a biography fan since 5th grade. Though I still have a soft spot for Natalie Davis’ Return of Martin Guerre, which changed the way I thought history could be done.

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  3. Thanks, Susan and shaz! Yes, great minds think similarly, if not alike. (After all, we don’t want to feed the notion of “unshifting intellectual production,” do we?)

    I added a brief notice to a forthcoming book in American military history by Jennifer Mittelstadt to the military history question above, FYI. (Because it’s a forthcoming book, I needed to double-check the title and production schedule with the author!)

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  4. What book is currently on your night stand?

    George R. R. Martin, _A Feast for Crows_

    What was the last truly great book you read?

    Judith Bennett, _History Matters: Patriarchy and the Challenge of Feminism_

    Who is the best historian writing today?

    Judith Bennett

    What’s the best book ever written about American history that you have read?

    Howard Zinn, _A People’s History of the United States_

    Maybe I should ask if you have a favorite biography?

    Augustine of Hippo, _Confessions_

    What is the best military history that you have read?

    Denis Winter, _Death’s Men_

    During your many years of teaching, did you find that students responded differently over time to the history books you assigned?

    Of course, although with texts like Abelard’s _Historia Calamitatum_, and the letters which Heloise exchanged with him, response tends to be more a function of the shades of feminist and non-feminist thought amongst the students.

    What kind of reader were you as a child?

    A voracious consumer of fantasy literature. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

    If you had to name one book that made you who you are today, what would it be?

    J.R.R. Tolkien, _The Silmarillion_

    If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?

    _The Quran_

    You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?

    Paul, Luke, and Augustine. Oh? Did you mean living writers?

    Are there any other American writers you’d rather dine with?

    Stephen King and George R.R. Martin.

    Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What book did you feel as if you were supposed to like, and didn’t?

    F. M. Stenton, _Anglo-Saxon England_

    Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?

    Salman Rushdie, _The Satanic Verses_

    What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?

    T.S. Brown, _Gentlemen and Officers: Imperial Administration and Aristocratic Power in Byzantine Italy A.D. 554-800_ (My Ph.D. supervisor’s first book).

    What do you plan to read next?

    George R. R. Martin, _A Dance With Dragons_

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  5. HA-ha. I love my commenters who read St. Augustine. (Do you pronounce it the English way, AuGUStin, or the American way, AugustEEN?)

    Tell me more about Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. I don’t know that one. (I don’t know much at all about Tolkien in any case, but I’ve heard of the Lord of the Rings books, etc.)

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  6. This is a brilliant idea, but we need to get away from the US a bit here. It’s been an interesting window into changes in my own Russian/Eurasian field. About 30 years ago we had a slate of male historians who wrote “big picture” political studies about how Muscovy and Imperial Russia developed so differently from the West and thus turned into the evil Soviet Union. I’m thinking of Marc Raeff, Martin Malia, and Richard Pipes as the dominant voices. Not accidentally, the founders of Russian history in the US were overwhelmingly refugees from Eastern Europe, which colored the histories they wrote.

    The big upheaval started in the 1980s with “revisionists” who read the published documents closely and without the Cold War blinders so firmly in place, and who produced social histories that depicted the USSR as a somewhat normal country that allowed modernization and social mobility. The leading voices here were Sheila Fitzpatrick, J. Arch Getty, and Lynn Viola, and boy did they get hammered as “Stalinists” by the old male guard.

    Since the USSR fell and the archives opened up (and are now closing again) I cannot point to one or even three historians who are anywhere near as dominant as Pipes Fitzpatrick were in their heydey. Plus, the exciting work has shifted way back to Muscovy and the early modern period (that’s roughly 1500-1762, in my idiosyncratic periodization). No one writes “this is the meaning of all of Russian history” books anymore.

    Here are a few books that I think all historians would benefit from reading:

    Kate Brown, “A Biography of No Place.” She pulls off a first-person narrative voice to tell the story of the complex region between Poland and Kiev, and how that transformed from a multi-ethnic mosaic to the Ukrainian national heartland. Passionate and powerful, and a fascinating historiographical study. Her newest book “Plutopia” compares the nuclear testing grounds of Kazakhstan and Montana.

    Lindsey Hughes, “Russia in the Age of Peter the Great.” Fabulous biography and study of modernization by a British scholar who died far too soon.

    Nancy Shields Kollman, a series of deep studies of Muscovite society that really change the old historical line.

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  7. Great post Historiann!

    Please allow me to contribute my two cents… I’ll just drop some responses. If your esteemed readers should be so inclined I think they can click though to my ancient blogspot blog to read the rest.

    -What books are currently on your night stand?
    Stanislaw Lem, Tales of Pirx the Pilot; Karl Marx, Capital vol 1, and David Harvey’s Guide to Reading Marx’s Capital. Marx is my breviary if you will.

    -What was the last truly great book you read?
    For my area specialization in history, Modern Central and Eastern Europe, its got to be Martin Mevius, Agents of Moscow: The Hungarian Communist Party and the Origins of Socialist Patriotism 1941-1953 (oxford 2005). The book really changed how I understood the wartime and late Stalinist communist parties of Eastern Europe. A revelation.

    Another book I stand in awe of is Georgi M. Derluguian, Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in the Caucasus: A World-System Biography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005. Totally mind blowing. It canvases everything from the collapse of the Soviet Union, the wars in the Caucasus, to late Soviet politics on the regional level. The interpretive framework is unique. The sources and fieldwork are incredible. A unique book.

    -Who are the best historians writing today?
    In my specialization, Holly Case, Nancy Wingfield, Katherine Verdery, Tara Zahra, Larry Wolff, Keely Stauter-Halsted, Michael Palairet, John Lampe, and Mary Gluck among others.

    -During your many years of teaching, did you find that students responded differently over time to the history books you assigned?

    Marx and the Communist Manifesto. When I started teaching we were in the throws of Post-Cold War Triumphalism. My students were very dismissive of Marx and I had to work hard to make a case for why he was still relevant for understanding contemporary European politics. After the 2007-2008 recession, I find students somewhat more receptive, but he is totally alien to their mode of thought.

    -If you had to name one book that made you who you are today, what would it be?
    One book is tough. I guess it would be Carl Schorske, Fin-de-Siècle Vienna. New York: Vintage books, 1981. Walter Benjamin’s essay, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction is another influence. I am ashamed to admit it, but everything I wrote starting out as a graduate student was a pale and failed imitation of either Carl Schorske or Walter Benjamin. You are what you eat, or read, in this case. Fortunately, I learned not to be an imitator of Schorske. The Benjamin habit is proving harder to kick. It remains mostly in remission.

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  8. I’ve been thinking about this on and off between teaching today and celebrating marriage equality in Colorado. I think I will include an exercise like this either for our sophomores taking their how-to-do-history course or our seniors engaging in their senior seminar.

    I keep coming back to the biography question. Like you, Historiann, Nell Irvin Painter’s _Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol_ is a book I return to repeatedly. I have taught it and reference it often in teaching. An older biography I love is Edith Gelles’s biography of Abigail Adams (_Portia_). I appreciated Jill Lepore’s recent biography of Jane Franklin and kept thinking about it at a recent, regional Eighteenth Century Studies conference. It seemed relevant to everything people were talking about. I haven’t read it yet, but a visiting professor recommended Jennifer Fleischner’s _Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly_.

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  9. I actually had to go back and read McPherson’s interview again, contrasting it with your post, to truly recognize how fossilized he has become/is/always was. The A. Scott Berg bit is really precious. I wonder if he thought he was being interviewed by the alumni magazine.

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  10. I have to correct a hasty comment: we’ve actually had two recent “this is the key to all of Russian history” books, and I’ve even read both of them, but found that neither is successful. “Vodka Politics” by Lawrence Schrad is entertaining/horrifying (a good text to use to persuade your students to drink less) but ultimately too reductionist. J. Arch Getty’s “Practicing Stalinism” is a sophisticated attempt to trace long-term political patterns from Muscovy to Putin. I think everybody in the field meditates on the continuities in Russian political culture across the centuries, but Getty’s focus on personal political behavior is too narrow to be a fully satisfactory explanation.

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  11. Thanks, everyone, for your contributions–especially Northern Barbarian and Matt L. for internationalizing this conversation.

    I will be away from the internets today–there’s a confab of Huntington and Getty Fellows at the Getty, so I’ll check in later this evening when I’m back at the ranch.

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  12. Wicked smart. I’m going to do this tonight on my own blog.

    Regarding history books: I’ve a policy to include at least one female authored or co-authored textbook in every class that I teach. Many times this is easy-peasy (gratifyingly so) but I’m finding it a challenge as I prepare my reading list for January’s premodern war course (Eurocentric, late medieval through 1650). May fall back on Krista Kesselring’s “The Northern Rebellion of 1569” unless another, more directly germane tome crosses my desk in the next week.

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  13. Janice, try Carol Belkin Stevens, “Soldiers on the Steppe: Army Reform and Social Change in Early Modern Russia” (1995) or “Russia’s Wars of Emergence, 1460 – 1730” (2007).

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  14. I’ve been looking forward to this thread since your post yesterday, H! I love the celebration of all these fantastic scholars, and I wanted to add that one of my objections to the language of “best” (either book or historian) is that it leaves out the legion of innovative, exciting scholars who are just beginning. That’s not meant as a criticism of the exercise we’re engaged in, which obviously adopts the language of the original article. But “best’ makes me feel like I should choose someone with a high profile, very advanced career, which is not reflected in all my choices below.

    The two most compelling things I’ve read in a while were Karen Melvin:Building Colonial Cities of God: Mendicant Orders and Urban Culture in New Spain; and Felice Lifshitz’s The Name of the Saint: The Martyrology of Jerome and Access to the Sacred.

    Some of my favorite historians: Francesca Trivalleto, Nancy Van Deusen, Alexandra Walsham, Joan Cadden, Judith Walkowitz.

    Book(s) that made me who I am today: Little Women and Carolyne Walker Bynum’s Holy Feast and Holy Fast.

    Next up on my to read list: Emma Anderson, The Death and Afterlife of North American Martyrs.

    Books on my nightstand: JK Rowlings, Harry Potter

    AuGUStin ftw!

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  15. My to-read list just got a lot longer. Thanks! (I think).

    More than that, this conversation is reminding me how out of touch I am with current scholarship (in my own discipline as much as in history). That’s understandable given that I’ve got a 4/4/2 (summer) teaching load, and no current-job-related research expectations, but still something I want to remedy. I should come back to this post for inspiration (i.e. a reminder both of things I’d like to read, and of my desire to be able to given cogent answers to this sort of question) when I’m not in the middle of midterm grading.

    In the meantime, in no particular order:

    On my nightstand: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s _Life Together_ (I’ve never actually read anything by Bonhoeffer, and since another member of the adult ed committee at church, on which I sit, is offering a class on him later this fall, I decided it was time).

    Next up to read: Marilynne Robinson’s _Lila_ (I’m delighted she’s written the book, since I’ve been wanting to hear more of Lila’s backstory ever since I read _Gilead_, and since it looks like she’s engaging some interesting theological questions).

    Biographies I’ve enjoyed (relatively) recently: Debby Applegate’s _The Most Famous Man in America_, Jean Fagan Yellin’s _Harriet Jacobs: A Life_. I own _The Hemingses_, but/and still need to read it. And, like others here, I’m an admirer of Painter’s _Sojourner Truth_.

    Historian in his own field I think McPherson should have mentioned: Kate Masur (_An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle for Freedom in Washington, D.C._ would make a nice complement to Oakes).

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  16. Love the post and love the shout out to Judith Bennett!! Also Profane, I just had the conversation about how teaching Abelard and Heloise has changed in 20 years on my FB page. Now I wish I had time to read all these books.

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  17. All of this is quite wonderful, but I especially appreciate that response to the question about African American history, because OF COURSE if we are thinking about history, and good historical studies, the topic of race is woven throughout, not segregated into a separate moment when we get around to thinking about “those people.”

    I will say as someone who holds degrees in both history and literature, and writes both history and literature for non-academic audiences, that fiction has its place. I wrote a novel based on a three-paragraph description of Mary Bowser that I read in Darlene Clark Hine’s *A Shining Thread of Hope.* It includes many historical figures and events, and it has reached maybe close to a 100,000 readers who will never pick up a work of non-fiction, even a biography. I also wrote about some of my historical research, and the challenges of confusing fiction for history, for publications like The Atlantic and the Los Angeles Review of Books, all of which helps bring the complexity of “history” to readers beyond academia. (One of my proudest moments was when Hine, whom I’d never met, attended a talk I gave about Bowser, and told me she recommends my novel to her graduate students).

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  18. I should have expected it, but I cracked up and spilled coffee at the answer to the “put down without finishing” question!

    I was at the Maria Sibylla Merian talk too, I think in an auditorium at the Annenberg School, although she gave talks at Penn two years in a row on two different parts of that project. I was struck by something she said and sent her an actual note the next day and got a nice note back a few days after that. A couple of years later she materialized from a sinuous check-in line and saved me from a possible embarrassing security alarm lapse at an airport. N.Z. Davis did, I mean, not M.S. Merian!

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  19. This is only a partial list, but I would have Eric Foner, Drew Faust, Mae Ngai, Jill Lepore and David Blight on my “best” list.

    The last book that truly moved me was This Republic of Suffering by Drew Faust. I was just talking with someone today about how much I loved that book.

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  20. You’re hosting a literary dinner party.

    Well we had a poetry dinner recently. I asked all of our guests to bring a “favourite” poem by a lady poet. The poems were excellent and so was the conversation about the how and why of our selections. The children in attendance participated as well. Really good. Some of us could not choose just one and by the end of the evening we were watching Pam Ayres online.

    I read Ursula LeGuin, “House of the Spider” and Marianne Moore, “Feed Me, Also, River God.” One of my boys read Emily Dickinson, “Fame is a Bee” and the other read two poems, Gwendolyn MacEwen, “Let Me Make This Perfectly Clear” and Adrienne Rich, “Diving Into the Wreck.”

    We had real German fairy tales when I was a kid too. They were the original scared straight campaign. I have vivid memories of Struwwelpeter that will never go away.

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  21. As for the history of sexuality, you might be sure students are aware of Masters of Sex, which I’m now reading. The cable series, too, is occasionally silly but in many ways well-written. The characters are more than cartoons, and no one has an easy out. Pun, I guess, intended.

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  22. Pingback: The Historiann Challenge: Tackling The New York Times Book Review Interview - Elizabeth M. Covart | Elizabeth M. Covart

  23. Pingback: #Historiannchallenge update, with loads of linky goodness! | Historiann

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