History

A recent presidential edict will make it harder for historians to practice their trade.

When “the unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America” was distributed on July 4, 1776, its fourth complaint against the King of Great Britain read: “He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.”

 
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Visiting The Cold War Today

From Berlin to Washington to Area 51, landmarks of the era are opening up to tourists.

Berlin, on a Cold War day only George Smiley could love: John Le Carré’s hero would recognize the chill rain of this false spring. But the Kurf’fcrstendamm remains thick with tourists. Berlin’s revived status as a political and cultural capital may be the main lure for these visitors, but seeing the places most associated with the Cold War is a big draw too. Americans want to see the monument to the Berlin airlift, the markers commemorating the former Soviet military headquarters, and, of course, the Wall itself.

 
 
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The Conventional Wisdom Why It’s Wrong

When the two parties gather to select their candidates, the proceedings will be empty glitz, with none of the import of old-time conventions. Or will they?

 

At some point in this election-year summer, as thousands of politicians, delegates, and journalists gather for the quadrennial rites of democracy known as national political conventions, commentators will complain that the proceedings have devolved to nothing more than a long television commercial.

 
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The Temper Thing

How bad is it when Presidents get really sore?

The rumor first began to spread around Washington last year: Sen. John McCain had a skeleton in his closet. Was it something to do with his past as a war hero in Vietnam? His voting record in the Senate? The role he had played as one of the Keating Five in the savings and loan scandal? Read more »

The American Century

The English journalist has spent more than a decade preparing a book on this country’s role in the most eventful hundred years since the race began. He liked what he found enough to become an American himself.

Evans likes to refer to The American Century as “history for browsers.” There are searching essays at the start of each chapter, but most of the book consists of tiropage spreads concerning particular people or events. Read more »

What Made The Government Grow

…and grow, and grow, from almost no employees to three million. Don’t blame the welfare state, or the military; the truth is much more interesting.

 

The tradition of distrusting government—almost any government—has such deep roots in the American past that a newcomer could justifiably think of the United States as a nation of a quarter of a billion near-anarchists. After all, it was Tom Paine, a major voice of the American Revolution, who declared that “government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.” Is Paine too radical for you? Read more »

Liberalism Overthrown

THIRTY YEARS AGO A HARD-FOUGHT gubernatorial campaign heralded the third great political upheaval of our century

IT WAS A FUNERAL TO REMEMBER. The rain had been pelting for hours when the mourners gathered in St. Cecilia’s Roman Catholic Church, in the Sunset district, but now the skies cleared as four National Guard helicopters clattered overhead in a “missing man” formation ” as scores of dignitaries—governors and representatives, senators and aides from Sacramento and Washington, Los Angeles and New York—stared gravely at the casket, draped in the red and white state flag. It was February 17, 1996, and Edmund G.Read more »

The Federal Debt

And how it grew, and grew, and grew…

The federal government was still in the process of establishing itself in 1792 and did not have a good year financially. Total income was only $3,670,000, or 88 cents per capita. Outlays were $5,080,000. The budget deficit therefore amounted to fully 38 percent of revenues. The next year, however, the government sharply reduced expenses while enjoying increased tax receipts and showed its first budget surplus.Read more »

“we Had A Great History, And We Turned Aside”

A long-time Republican-party insider and close student of its past discusses how the party has changed over the years—for better and for worse —and where it may be headed.

Jack Kemp was born in 1935 in Los Angeles; his father owned a small trucking company. He came of political age in a time and place that made it likely enough that he would become a lifelong Republican, and he did. But the kind of Republican Jack Kemp became defies stereotype. Read more »

How The Seventies Changed America

The “loser decade” that at first seemed nothing more than a breathing space between the high drama of the 1960s and whatever was coming next is beginning to reveal itself as a bigger time than we thought

That’s it,” Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then U.S. ambassador to India, wrote to a colleague on the White House staff in 1973 on the subject of some issue of the moment. “Nothing will happen. But then nothing much is going to happen in the 1970s anyway.” Read more »