This week I’m spotlighting three interesting non-fiction books about the White House, which each reveal three very different narratives about the building, its many presidents, and American politics more widely.
The White House is a symbol for many things in America. It is the home to presidents, their families; it is the workplace of staffers, advisors, journalists and commentators; it is the creche for First Children; it is the beating political heart of a nation. However it also embodies many of the core contradictions of the United States. The White House is a symbol of freedom, and yet it was built by slaves. It represents equality, and yet there have been no female presidents. It embodies honesty and authenticity, despite the years of presidential mishaps, cover-ups and mistakes. It is a symbol which exists out of a desire for the purity it stands for; a desire which has so far outweighed the political reality. Let’s see how the symbolic meaning of the White House continues to develop and change under President #45.
Continue reading “Sunday Non-Fiction Spotlight: White House Histories”
If you head over to twitter right now you’ll see #HistoryBooksByWomen trending like you wouldn’t believe. This week I’m going to pick out five very different histories written by women about gender, sexuality and themes of oppression and discrimination.
Continue reading “Sunday Non-Fiction Spotlight: Five #HistoryBooksByWomen”
I’ve thrown my planned post out of the window today to highlight the amazing book that accompanies sell-out Broadway success Hamilton. It’s a book that tells the story of how the musical came to exist; shares insights from cast and political pundits alike; and spells out a stark, clear message about the historical prominence of protest, rebellion and revolution in the political legacy of the United States.
Continue reading “Sunday Non-Fiction Spotlight: Hamilton, Mike Pence, and American Protest.”
I spent a lot of time thinking about America this week. I wrote two short editorials about the election, and I thought that this week’s non-fiction spotlight might pick up on the things I discussed there, but instead I’ve chosen to reflect on the changes that have happened throughout history to the role that the president plays in the US.
Theodore Roosevelt has been much explored for his role as a huge transformative force in US politics: one of the most interesting things to consider is the role that his personal character, one might call it a ‘brand,’ had on how the public viewed him as a person, and how it has since changed the role the president plays in America.
Continue reading “Sunday Non-Fiction Spotlight: Theodore Roosevelt and celebrity-presidents.”
This Sunday is the first ever non-fiction spotlight in the new format of the blog, so I thought it might be a good time to introduce a particular genre that you’ll be seeing a lot of: the microhistory. Sunday posts might also involve biographies, essays or other stuff.
Microhistories are close to my heart: they are intense historical studies based on close-reading of specific source material which produces a detailed piece of work that looks at first glance like a case study, but actually stretches itself outwards to broader themes and ideas within longue-durée historical narratives. You find case-studies in lots of normal histories, but the microhistory uniquely focuses on a small time frame, often a single event, or a small group of people, or an individual, in order to flesh out an important stitch that would otherwise be missing in the fabric of history.
Continue reading “Sunday Non-Fiction Spotlight – Microhistories & ‘The Cheese and the Worms’”