George Washington firmly believed that the “hand of Providence" was "conspicuous" in the miracle of American independence—secured by a ragged army, more than once on the brink of annihilation, against the greatest military power on earth. Certainly, astonishing fortune seemed to attend the Americans—perhaps no more so than in Washington's improbable relationship with Alexander Hamilton. Their alliance uncannily blended the strengths of both men into a vital force that launched America and changed the world.
"Indeed, no other founding collaboration was as important to achieving victory and nationhood as Washington and Hamilton's," Stephen F. Knott and Tony Williams argue persuasively in this feisty new account.Read more
"Dollars damn me,” Herman Melville confessed to Nathaniel Hawthorne in June 1851, when he was contemplating the finishing touches on Moby-Dick; or, The Whale. “What I feel most moved to write, that is banned,—it will not pay. Yet, altogether, write the other way I cannot.Read more
Long before cannons, muskets, blood, and bitter sacrifices settled the question of American independence, a revolution occurred “in the minds and hearts of the people,” John Adams recalled late in life.Read more
The Dynasty. The Evil Empire. The Bronx Bombers (and, at times, Zoo). Valued at $2.5 billion. Winner of 18 division titles, 40 American League pennants, and 27 World Series. No sports franchise in America approaches the orbit of the New York Yankees.Read more
When Abigail Adams first met her daughter-in-law Louisa, wife of future president John Quincy Adams, she was not greatly impressed. Even before the marriage, Abigail “was troubled by the fear that Louisa might not be made of stuff stern enough, or brought up in conditions severe enough, to suit a New England climate, or to make a sufficient wife for her paragon son, and Abigail was right on that point,” wrote Louisa’s grandson, Henry Adams.Read more
Every Christmas season a new load of books about the Beatles appears, capitalizing on a baby-boom market that has yet to flicker out and the enduring love many middle-aged people feel for the Liverpudlians’ joyous noise from the 1960s. But the fanatics among us have been waiting with mounting impatience for something special, a work we knew would be both authoritative and groundbreaking: the first of three volumes of a history of the band by one Mark Lewisohn.Read more
For decades, the lords of big-league baseball scrambled to protect their antitrust exemption, warning that the professional game would fall apart if the owners could not conspire against free markets to run it their way. Most of all, they wanted to protect the reserve clause, under which a player was bound to one club as long as that club wanted him rather than permitted to sell his services to the highest bidder.Read more
A few years ago, I found the scorecard my grandfather had kept of a September 16, 1904, doubleheader he attended at Boston’s Huntington Grounds. He saw Cy Young pitch in the opener for the Boston Americans (now Red Sox) and Jack Chesbro pitch in the second game for the New York Highlanders (now Yankees). A newspaper clipping noted that George Wright, a member of the first openly professional baseball team, the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, had watched the action that day from the front row.Read more
His contemporaries called him “the Little Giant.” They recognized that although Stephen A. Douglas was physically a pipsqueak—standing only 5-foot-4, small even for his generation—he loomed over American political life through his intensity, intelligence, and energy. Unfortunately for his historical reputation, he clashed with another Illinois man—a tall, homely, and ungainly fellow named Abraham Lincoln, who well over a century ago was transmogrified into a secular god, beloved by conservatives and liberals alike.Read more
Just how awful was Thomas Jefferson? In an academic and media culture that sometimes seems determined to trash all things that hint at the magnificence of America, pretty awful. Jefferson, the brilliant Founder and chief author of the Declaration of Independence, that essential document of the dignity of the individual in defiance of the bullying state, has been found guilty of being the ultimate cad and hypocrite.Read more
Many of the Founders revered their Puritan ancestors, who had braved the deadly Atlantic, endured bitter winters, and fended off Indian attacks and starvation to establish a new society in New England, free from the oppression of the British crown. When it came time to fight the slide toward tyranny under George III, those who supported the revolution drew strength from their ancestors’ courageous insistence on a measure of self-government.
But a book like The Devil Made Me Do It! makes you wonder ifRead more
We human beings seem to crave creation myths. The tale of Adam and Eve moved people for millennia, and still seems thrilling and sad, even though we know all about natural selection. And we still talk, however jokingly, about Abner Doubleday as the inventor of baseball.Read more
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