american history

  Renewed and vigorous debate over the death penalty has erupted as DNA testing has proven that many on death row are in fact innocent. In this debate, however, the guilty have been forgotten. In his new book, Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America's Death Penalty, legal scholar Austin Sarat describes just how unquiet death by execution can be. If we assume a death row prisoner is guilty, how can we be sure that we are fulfilling the Supreme Court's mandate to ensure that his execution is "the mere extinguishment of life" and not a cruel and unusual punishment?

  On July 17, 1944, a massive explosion rocked the segregated Navy base at Port Chicago, California, killing more than 300 sailors who were at the docks, critically injuring off-duty men in their bunks, and shattering windows up to a mile away.

On August 9th, 244 men refused to go back to work until unsafe and unfair conditions at the docks were addressed. When the dust settled, fifty were charged with mutiny, facing decades in jail and even execution.

  Mississippi Eyes chronicles the events and the powerful witness of five young photographers in The Southern Documentary Project, working during the pivotal summer of 1964 in the segregated South. Together they captured the sometimes violent, sometimes miraculous process of social change as segregation resisted then gave way to a new beginning toward social justice.

    After suffering stinging defeats in the 1960 presidential election against John F. Kennedy, and in the 1962 California gubernatorial election, Nixon's career was declared dead by Washington press and politicians alike. Yet on January 20, 1969, just six years after he had said his political life was over, Nixon would stand taking the oath of office as 37th President of the United States. How did Richard Nixon resurrect a ruined career and reunite a shattered and fractured Republican Party to capture the White House?

In his new book, The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority, Pat Buchanan offers an insider account of one of the most remarkable American political stories of the 20th century.

  Published to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation from office, New York Times bestselling author John Dean, a key player in the Nixon administration, divulges the full and complete story of Nixon’s role in Watergate.

Based on Nixon’s never-before-released secret White House recordings, The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It looks to connect the dots between the perceived understanding of Watergate and what actually happened.

John Dean was legal counsel to President Nixon during the Watergate scandal, and his Sen­ate testimony lead to Nixon’s resignation.


  We are very happy to continue our weekly feature on The Roundtable, entitled – Ideas Matter: Checking in with the Public Humanities. It is our chance to check in with the Humanities Councils throughout our 7-State area to discuss important ideas and why they do indeed matter.

Today we check in with the New York Council for the Humanities and learn about about the history of Freedom Summer - 50 years ago - and its importance today. We are joined by Dr. Emilye Crosby is a history professor at SUNY Geneseo and the coordinator of the Africana/Black Studies program. She has written A Little Taste of Freedom: The Black Freedom Struggle in Claiborne County, Mississippi and edited Civil Rights History from the Ground Up: Local Struggles, a National Movement.

    On June 27, 1844, a mob stormed the jail in the dusty frontier town of Carthage, Illinois. Clamorous and angry, they were hunting down a man they saw as a grave threat to their otherwise quiet lives: the founding prophet of Mormonism, Joseph Smith. They wanted blood.

At thirty-nine years old, Smith had already lived an outsized life. In addition to starting his own religion and creating his own “Golden Bible”—the Book of Mormon—he had worked as a water-dowser and treasure hunter. He’d led his people to Ohio, then Missouri, then Illinois, where he founded a city larger than fledgling Chicago. He was running for president. And, secretly, he had married more than thirty women.

In American Crucifixion, Alex Beam tells how Smith went from charismatic leader to public enemy: How his most seismic revelation—the doctrine of polygamy—created a rift among his people; how that schism turned to violence; and how, ultimately, Smith could not escape the consequences of his ambition and pride.

  Michelle Delaney is the Director of the Smithsonian’s Consortium for Understanding the American Experience and is the author of the observation that the Catskill Region is not only the Birthplace of American Art, but she says growing research shows that it’s also the Cradle of American Art. Delaney will be speaking tomorrow at 1PM at the Pratt Museum in Prattsville.

Delaney will be giving the Keynote Address for the Pratt Museum’s 2014 Season which is titled: “Big History, Small Museums: Understanding the American Experience through Collaboration.”

The Paintings, Watercolors and Drawings of D. F. Hasbrouck American Impressionist is the new exhibition at The Pratt Museum. Carolyn Bennett, Museum Director is here to tell us about that and big history of THIS small museum.

  Emily Arnold McCully will be reading from her new biography, Ida M. Tarbell: The Woman Who Challenged Big Business – and Won!, at the Chatham Bookstore on Sunday from 2-4.

Born in 1857, Tarbell was one of America’s first investigative journalists, “a fascinating and complex person: quirky, opinionated, reserved, adventurous, independent – a woman proving herself in a man’s world.

Emily Arnold McCully received the Caldecott Medal for Mirette on the High Wire. The illustrator of more than 40 books for young readers, she has a lifelong interest in history and feminist issues and she joins us this morning.

    Joseph Ellis is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Founding Brothers. His portrait of Thomas Jefferson, American Sphinx, won the National Book Award.

His new book, Revolutionary Summer, tells an old story in a new way about the summer months of 1776 and how they witnessed the most consequential events in the story of our country’s founding.