Books for Spring 2014 Courses

It’s that time again. Here are the books I plan to use in the Spring 2014 semester.

Modern U.S.

The past couple of years, I’ve tried to focus the readings in the U.S. survey courses on a specific theme. This semester, it’s American culture and society.

Glenn Altschuler, All Shook Up: How Rock ‘n’ Roll Changed America (Oxford Univ. Press, 2004) ISBN 9780195177497

I was torn between this book and Michael Bertrand’s Race, Rock, and Elvis. I chose Altschuler’s because it is shorter and takes a broader national perspective.

Karen L. Cox, Dreaming of Dixie: How the South Was Created in American Popular Culture (Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2013) ISBN 9781469609867

I hope this book will resonate with students because of our geographic location.

Eric Rauchway, Murdering McKinley: The Making of Theodore Roosevelt’s America (Hill and Wang, 2003) ISBN 0809071703

I’m fudging a bit with this book. It’s about a president’s assassination, but Rauchway also addresses American culture and society.

Conspiracy Theories

Michael Barkun, A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America (Univ. of California Press, 2013) ISBN 9780520276826

I like Barkun’s orientation of conspiracy thinking within a political, religious, and sociological framework.

Donald T. Critchlow, John Korasick, and Matthew C. Sherman, eds., Political Conspiracies in America: A Reader (Indiana University Press, 2008) ISBN 9780253219640

I’m using this book again because it’s more up-to-date than other readers.

David C. Keehn, Knights of the Golden Circle: Secret Empire, Southern Secession, Civil War (LSU Press, 2013) ISBN 9780807150047

I’m hoping this book is as good as I think it is.

Kathryn Olmsted, Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11 (Oxford Univ. Press, 2011) ISBN 9780199753956

I used Robert Alan Goldberg’s Enemies Within: The Culture of Conspiracy in Modern America the previous two times I taught this class. In an effort to shake things up and get a more current perspective, I’m going with Olmsted’s book this time around. David Aaronovitch’s Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History is also good, but its British bent doesn’t work for me in this course.

Jacksonian Democracy

Mark R. Cheathem, Andrew Jackson, Southerner (LSU Press, 2013) ISBN 9780807150986

I’ve thought a long time about whether I would use my new biography of Jackson when it came out. I decided that it was worthwhile for a couple of different reasons. I will be donating the potential royalties to our Dressler Scholarship for first-year history students.

Jack Larkin, The Reshaping of Everyday Life (HarperPerennial, 1989) ISBN 0060916060

A favorite book of mine, and one I haven’t used in a long time.

Harry L. Watson, Liberty and Power: The Politics of Jacksonian America(Macmillan, 2006) ISBN 978-0-8090-6547-9

Still the best book on Jacksonian politics.

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