american history

  Every American president, when faced with a crisis, longs to take bold and decisive action. When American lives or vital interests are at stake, the public—and especially the news media and political opponents—expect aggressive leadership. But, contrary to the dramatizations of Hollywood, rarely does a president have that option.


  Acclaimed biographer James McGrath Morris latest book, Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press, brings into focus the riveting life of one of the most significant yet least known figures of the civil rights era—pioneering journalist Ethel Payne, the “First Lady of the Black Press."

A self-proclaimed “instrument of change” for her people, Payne broke new ground as the Washington correspondent for the Chicago Defender. She publicly prodded President Dwight D. Eisenhower to support desegregation, and her reporting on legislative and judicial civil rights battles enlightened and activated black readers across the nation. In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson recognized Payne’s seminal role by presenting her with a pen used in signing the Civil Rights Act. In 1972, she became the first female African American radio and television commentator on a national network, working for CBS. Her story mirrors the evolution of our own modern society.


  There will be a Black History Month event at The Egg in Albany on Saturday, Feb. 28, that will combine music, speeches and a panel discussion to mark the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights marches and to discuss ongoing civil rights efforts.

They keynote speakers will be Dr. Mark Morrison-Reed and Colia Liddell Lafayette Clark.

Dr. Mark Morrison-Reed joins us. His most recent book is The Selma Awakening: How the Civil Rights Movement Tested and Changed Unitarian Universalism.


A prideful and unchanged narrative of the American Revolution pervades U.S. history. Serving as the event which established the nation’s sovereignty, naturally, the popular account of the American Revolution has carried with it patriotic myths which exalt select figures and influence the public spirit of Americans.

Still, according to Andrew Schocket, director of American culture studies and associate professor of History and American culture studies at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, the prominent narratives surrounding the prideful event are oftentimes incomplete. In his new book, Fighting over the Founders: How We Remember the American Revolution, Schocket explores how politicians, screen writers, activists, biographers, jurist, museum professionals, and reenactors portray the American Revolution and how our angled perception of the past could influence America’s future.

  In The Return of George Washington: 1783-1789, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Edward J. Larson recovers a crucially important—yet almost always overlooked—chapter of George Washington’s life, revealing how Washington saved the United States by coming out of retirement to lead the Constitutional Convention and serve as our first president.

  Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States. He was one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence. But he was also a lawyer and an ambassador, an inventor and a scientist. He had a wide range of interests and hobbies, but his consuming interest was the survival and success of the United States.

Thomas Jefferson: President and Philosopher is an illustrated edition of the #1 New York Times bestselling Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jon Meacham. The book intends to teach young readers about the life and political philosophy of one of our Founding Fathers.

  George Washington was famously unknowable, a man of deep passions hidden behind a facade of rigid self-control. Yet before he was a great general and president, Washington was a young man prone to peevishness and a volcanic temper. His greatness as a leader evolved over time, the product of experience and maturity but also a willed effort to restrain his wilder impulses.

Robert Middlekauff focuses on Washington’s early years in his new book, Washington's Revolution: The Making of America's First Leader.

  They met in person only four times, yet these two men—Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee—determined the outcome of America's most divisive war and cast larger-than-life shadows over their reunited nation. They came from vastly different backgrounds: Lee from a distinguished family of waning fortunes; Grant, a young man on the make in a new America. Differing circumstances colored their outlooks on life: Lee, the melancholy realist; Grant, the incurable optimist.

  When Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address in 1863, he had broader aims than simply rallying a war-weary nation. Lincoln realized that the Civil War had taken on a wider significance—that all of Europe and Latin America was watching to see whether the United States, a beleaguered model of democracy, would indeed “perish from the earth.”

In The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War, distinguished historian Don H. Doyle explains that the Civil War was viewed abroad as part of a much larger struggle for democracy that spanned the Atlantic Ocean, and had begun with the American and French Revolutions.

  On the eve of the Civil War, one soldier embodied the legacy of George Washington and the hopes of leaders across a divided land. Both North and South knew Robert E. Lee as the son of Washington’s most famous eulogist and the son-in-law of Washington’s adopted child. Each side sought his service for high command. Lee could choose only one.

In The Man Who Would Not Be Washington, former White House speechwriter Jonathan Horn reveals how the officer most associated with Washington went to war against the union that Washington had forged. This extensively researched and gracefully written biography follows Lee through married life, military glory, and misfortune.