Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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A journey through 500 years of African American history

By Leslie Asako Gladsjo
This fall, my colleagues and I completed work on Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s documentary series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, which began airing on national PBS in October. In six one-hour episodes, the series traces the history of the African American people, from the 16th century to today.

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Raising the Thanksgiving turkey

By Neil Prendergast
A century ago, the turkey was in truly poor shape. Its numbers had dropped considerably during the late nineteenth century, largely due to overhunting, habitat loss, and disease. In 1920, there were about 3.5 million turkeys in the United States, down from an estimated 10 million when Europeans first arrived in North America.

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The bin of plenty

By Travis McDade
In a desk donated to the Vermont thrift store at which he worked, Tim Bernaby was pleasantly surprised to find several letters and cards written by Robert Frost. He took these missives and sold them for $25,000. When asked about it, he said he found the items not in the desk, but in the trash.

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Five things you didn’t know about Franklin Pierce

By Michael Gerhardt
There are few presidents more forgotten – and perhaps worth forgetting than – Franklin Pierce. To the extent he is remembered at all, historians and others dismiss him as a weak president who allowed strong-willed senators sympathetic to slavery interests to force him to take actions, which helped to provoke a near civil war in Kansas and bring the nation itself closer to the Civil War that formally broke out in 1861.

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Thoughts on the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination

As we recall the “crime of the century” in Dallas a half century ago, it seems appropriate to ponder some thoughts perhaps relevant to that terrible event. I make no claims to having inside information on President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, but I am aware of several theories that range from the lone gunman to any number of conspiracies involving any number of conspirators.

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Lincoln’s rhetoric in the Gettysburg Address

Perhaps no speech in the canon of American oratory is as famous as the “Dedicatory Remarks” delivered in a few minutes, one hundred and fifty years ago, by President Abraham Lincoln. And though school children may no longer memorize the conveniently brief 272 words of “The Gettysburg Address,” most American can still recall its opening and closing phrases.

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Climbing Pikes Peak 200 years ago

By Jared Orsi
Today marks the anniversary of an event little remembered but well worth noting. On 15 November 1806, Lieutenant Zebulon Pike paused on the high plains in what is now Colorado, peered through his spyglass, and saw the mountain that would later bear his name, Pikes Peak.

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The Vietnam Veterans Memorial

By Steven Casey
Just over forty years ago, President Richard M. Nixon ran a successful reelection campaign based partly on a simple insight. Americans, he believed, were not opposed to the Vietnam War as such; they were simply opposed to their boys dying in Vietnam.

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“God Bless America” in war and peace

If you watched the World Series this year, you may have noticed a trend in the nightly renditions of “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch: all five performances were by soldiers in uniform.

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FDR, Barack Obama, and the president’s war powers

By Richard Moe
Barack Obama earlier this year became the first president in recent memory to propose limiting the powers of his office when he called for reigning in the use of drones. “Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions,” he said on 23 May 2013.

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A close call: the victory of John Adams

Today marks the 217th anniversary of the start of the third election of the president of the United States on 4 November 1796. Still a young country, the election was center stage that year as George Washington decided to stop running. Many patriots were viable candidates, but John Adams had served as vice president under Washington and was an obvious choice for a candidate.

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White versus black justice

By Martha J. Cutter
My nephew Jake Silverman is a brainy, confident, energetic, and strong-willed six-year-old. He eats more food than I ever thought it was possible for a six-year-old boy to consume, loves my iPad with a passion, and sometimes has temper tantrums when he doesn’t get precisely what he wants. He already knows he wants to be a doctor, and I have no doubt that he will be an unruly teenager who will mature into a brilliant, handsome, and talented young man. At least that is my hope.

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Q&A with author Craig L. Symonds

There are a number of mysteries surrounding the Battle of Midway, and a breadth of new information has recently been uncovered about the four day struggle. We sat down with naval historian Craig L. Symonds, author of The Battle of Midway, newly released in paperback, to answer some questions about the iconic World War II […]

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Building the hydrogen bomb

By Patrick Coffey
Even before the Manhattan Project began, Edward Teller found the idea of building the Super (a hydrogen bomb) irresistible. After the Project’s end, Teller prepared a fifty-nine-page report, “A Prima Facie Proof of the Feasibility of the Super,” which he presented at an April 1946 conference at Los Alamos.

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