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About 40 years ago, the field of US intellectual history entered a period of self-doubt about the rigor of its methods, about the narrowness of its archive and its interests, even about the ontological gravity of the subjects it treated.
Paradigm shifts in historiography seem to come all at once rather than being spaced evenly along the disciplinary trajectory. The last such shift in writing about slavery and race (including civil rights) in the United States came between the late 1950s and the mid-1970s.
Gary Gerstle’s Liberty and Coercion is a tour de force account of American governance that manages to survey the chronological and geographical breadth of US history with a judicious depth of precise detail and example.
The Devils We Know: Us and Them in America’s Raucous Political Culture brings together a fine selection of James A. Morone’s essays combining the two areas to which he has devoted the last 25 years of his career: American political thought and American political development.