If the infrastructure—roads, rails, water, and sewer lines—is the foundation of our economy, we are living on ruins and on borrowed time. The fragility of our infrastructure symbolizes the failure of a national ideology that has submerged public welfare under an ocean of private interests.
History is important to collective identity in the same way that memory is important to our sense of ourselves. It is difficult to explain who we are without reference to our past: place and date of birth, class background, education, and so on. A shared history can, by the same token, give us a shared identity—to be a Manchester United fan is to have a particular relationship to the Munich air disaster, the Busby babes, George Best, Eric Cantona, and so on.
Listen to season two of The VSI Podcast for concise and original introductions to a selection of our VSI titles from the authors themselves.
As Europe reopens, consider a Roman road trip that takes inspiration from an ancient travel guide. The Vicarello itineraries describe what we might call the scenic route from Cádiz to Rome. Glimpses of the empire’s superlative architecture can be found along the way, and emerging digital tools can put primary sources at your fingertips.
Last summer, during the “Black Lives Matter” protests in US cities galvanized by the murder of George Floyd, it was common to hear marchers chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!” In some instances, police seeking to break up the protests also took up this chant, an ironic retort to the crowd’s claim to political power. These contesting claims to possession of the city streets framed a conflict over social representation in contemporary US life: “whose streets” are they really
Mexico had been battling its way towards independence from Spain for some years when, in 1820, the Mexican-born officer, Agustín de Iturbide y Arámburu (1783-1824), proclaimed a new rebellion on behalf of what he called the Plan of Iguala. This called for Mexican independence, a constitutional monarchy with the Spanish king or another member of the Bourbon dynasty at its head, the Catholic religion as the only religion of Mexico, and the unity of all inhabitants, no matter what their origin, ethnicity, or social class.
The nineteenth century saw the publication of several books explaining how magical effects and spectral appearances could be performed using the science of optics. It started in 1831, when Sir David Brewster (famed for his discovery of Brewster polarization and inventing the kaleidoscope) published “Letters on Natural Magic.” In this book, Brewster showed how to produce images of ghosts using partially silvered mirrors and by using a magic lantern to project images onto screens or onto clouds of vapor.
Though not a believer himself, Napoleon was well aware that religion was a vital tool for any ruler, especially when many of his subjects were believers. As he said to his secretary, Emanuel Las Cases, on St Helena at the end of his life: “from the moment that I had power, I hastened to re-establish religion. I used it as foundation and root. It became the support of good morals, of true principles, of good manners.”
Bastille Day is a French national holiday, marking the storming of the Bastille—a military fortress and prison—on 14 July 1789, in an uprising that helped usher in the French Revolution. In the lead up to the anniversary of Bastille day, we’re sharing some of the latest French history titles, for you to explore, share, and enjoy. We have also granted free access to selected chapters, for a limited time, for you to dip into.
In the long history of America’s influence on the politics of innovation in Europe, the case of the planned football Super League stands out. This is not because of the project as such, but simply because, of all the variety of responses Europe has produced when faced with the latest American novelty, none has provoked enthusiasm and rejection—above all rejection—with such extraordinary intensity, unity, and speed.
The question of whether Athens was a Greek or Roman city seems straightforward, but among scholars there is some debate.
In the late twentieth century, New York City transformed into a model of neoliberal governance. While at mid-century, city government maintained the most robust social democratic program in the country, by the late twentieth century, much of this program had been curtailed and the private sector and market had gained a far greater role in providing services previously maintained by government.
Although the issue of economic inequality has long been neglected by economists, it has become increasingly important in academic and public debate over the past decade. International institutions long considered pro-liberal, such as the OECD and the IMF, are now openly calling on governments to take redistributive and tax justice measures to enable more inclusive and equitable growth.
On 1 June 1921, mobs comprised of ordinary white Oklahomans destroyed Greenwood, a black neighborhood in Tulsa sometimes referred to as “Little Africa.” The rioters proceeded to subject their African American neighbors to injury, murder, looting, pillaging, and arson. At least a hundred residents of Greenwood were killed while thirty-five city blocks were torched, destroying churches, businesses, and all sorts of other dwellings. The riot rendered more than a thousand families homeless.
On 16 June 1871 the Prussian army, 42,000 strong, entered Berlin in triumph. Wilhelm I, King of Prussia, had been proclaimed German Emperor five months before in Versailles.
How did the Peanuts gang respond to–and shape–postwar American politics? How has a single game become a cultural touchstone for urban Chinese Americans in the 1930s, incarcerated Japanese Americans during World War II, and Jewish American suburban mothers? Were 19th Century Brits very deeply bored? Cultural and social history bring to life the beliefs, understandings, and motivations of peoples throughout time. Explore these nine books to expand your understanding of who we are.