Politics+Society

Books

Unwarranted Influence, by James Ledbetter

The most famous farewell addresses in the history of the American presidency are those delivered by two of the greatest military leaders to occupy the office: George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower. Both warned of the threat that military power and its interests posed to the nation.

Books

The Myth of American Religious Freedom, by David Sehat

In 1859, an 11-year-old Catholic boy, Thomas Whall, refused to recite the Ten Commandments from the King James Bible in a public school. McLaurin Cooke, an assistant principal, whipped Whall's hands with a rattan rod for 30 minutes. With his hands bleeding and swollen, the boy finally gave in. Police arrested Cooke, but a court dismissed charges of assault and battery.

Books

Tocqueville’s Discovery of America, by Leo Damrosch

To European visitors in the first half of the 19th century, Americans were like their newfangled steamboats: noisy, combustible, always on the move—and dirty. "I hardly know any annoyance so deeply repugnant to English feelings as the incessant, remorseless spitting of Americans," Frances Trollope reported.