Book cover of Bedlam in the New World: A Mexican Madhouse in the Age of Enlightenment by Christina Ramos
Americas

Bedlam in the New World: A Mexican Madhouse in the Age of Enlightenment

A rebellious Indian proclaiming noble ancestry and entitlement, a military lieutenant foreshadowing the coming of revolution, a blasphemous Creole embroiderer in possession of a bundle of sketches brimming with pornography. All shared one thing in common. During the late eighteenth century, they were deemed to be mad and forcefully admitted to the Hospital de San Hipolito in Mexico City, the first hospital of the New World to specialize in the care and custody of the mentally disturbed. […Learn More]

Book cover of West of Slavery: The Southern Dream of a Transcontinental Empire by Kevin Waite
Civil War

West of Slavery: The Southern Dream of a Transcontinental Empire

When American slaveholders looked west in the mid-nineteenth century, they saw an empire unfolding before them. They pursued that vision through diplomacy, migration, and armed conquest. By the late 1850s, slaveholders and their allies had transformed the southwestern quarter of the nation – California, New Mexico, Arizona, and parts of Utah – into a political client of the plantation states. […Learn More]

Book cover of The Heart of Hell: The Soldiers' Struggle for Spotsylvania's Bloody Angle by Jeffry Wert
Civil War

The Heart of Hell: The Soldiers’ Struggle for Spotsylvania’s Bloody Angle

The struggle over the fortified Confederate position known as Spotsylvania’s Mule Shoe was without parallel during the Civil War. A Union assault that began at 4:30 A.M. on May 12, 1864, sparked brutal combat that lasted nearly twenty-four hours. By the time Grant’s forces withdrew, some 55,000 men from Union and Confederate armies had been drawn into the fury, battling in torrential rain along the fieldworks at distances often less than the length of a rifle barrel. […Learn More]

Book cover of Inventing Disaster: The Culture of Calamity from the Jamestown Colony to the Johnstown Flood by Cynthia Kierner
Colonial Period

Inventing Disaster: The Culture of Calamity from the Jamestown Colony to the Johnstown Flood

When hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and other disasters strike, we count our losses, search for causes, commiserate with victims, and initiate relief efforts. Amply illustrated and expansively researched, Inventing Disaster explains the origins and development of this predictable, even ritualized, culture of calamity over three centuries, exploring its roots in the revolutions in science, information, and emotion that were part of the Age of Enlightenment in Europe and America. […Learn More]

Book cover of City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles, 1771–1965 by Kelly Lytle Hernández
Law

City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles, 1771–1965

Los Angeles incarcerates more people than any other city in the United States, which imprisons more people than any other nation on Earth. This book explains how the City of Angels became the capital city of the world’s leading incarcerator. Marshaling more than two centuries of evidence, historian Kelly Lytle Hernandez unmasks how histories of native elimination, immigrant exclusion, and black disappearance drove the rise of incarceration in Los Angeles. […Learn More]

Book cover of The Virgin Vote: How Young Americans Made Democracy Social, Politics Personal, and Voting Popular in the Nineteenth Century by Jon Grinspan
History

The Virgin Vote: How Young Americans Made Democracy Social, Politics Personal, and Voting Popular in the Nineteenth Century

There was a time when young people were the most passionate participants in American democracy. In the second half of the nineteenth century–as voter turnout reached unprecedented peaks–young people led the way, hollering, fighting, and flirting at massive midnight rallies. Parents trained their children to be “violent little partisans,” while politicians lobbied twenty-one-year-olds for their “virgin votes”—the first ballot cast upon reaching adulthood. […Learn More]

Book cover of To Master the Boundless Sea: The U.S. Navy, the Marine Environment, and the Cartography of Empire by Jason W. Smith
History

To Master the Boundless Sea: The U.S. Navy, the Marine Environment, and the Cartography of Empire

As the United States grew into an empire in the late nineteenth century, notions like “sea power” derived not only from fleets, bases, and decisive battles but also from a scientific effort to understand and master the ocean environment. Beginning in the early nineteenth century and concluding in the first years of the twentieth, Jason W. Smith tells the story of the rise of the U.S. Navy and the emergence of American ocean empire through its struggle to control nature. […Learn More]