THE HISTORY CLUB

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Post World War II American History Reading Group

Starting June 2017

Please Read: Suggestions on how to Meaningfully and Constructively Participate in our History Reading Groups

After the books above we will select the next books we read from the list below. Feel free to recommend a book from the list below the form or another book you have read.

Our Current Book and Chapter

Our Reading Schedule by Week and Chapter Title For The Current Book

  1. Introduction and Prologue

    Thought Questions
    - What are the main themes does the author introduce?
    - How does the author use the term "empire"?
    - In what ways was this a period of change? and a period of continuity?

    American Literature Supplemental Reading
    - Begin reading "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac
  2. Chapter 1: Power and Politics

    Thought Questions
    - What and How did Americans debate the proper role of government in a more global society?
    - What and How did Americans debate the place of individual rights in a more integrated and mobile society?
    - How was this a time of change in the balance of labor, business and consumer interests?
    - How did industrialization, urbanization and World War II effect the relationship between the Federal Government and Americans?

    (Keep these questions in mind as you read the remainder of the book)

    Primary Sources
    - The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (Wagner Act)
    - The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938

    Articles
    - Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938: Maximum Struggle for a Minimum Wage

    American Literature Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Continue reading "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac
  3. Chapter 2: Cold War

    Thought Questions
    - In comparison with the traditional European great powers what ways was the United States in a different international position at the end of World War II?
    - How and why did the United States change its orientation towards the world after the war?
    - In what ways did the United States use economic development to create stability at home and abroad?
    - What international and domestic conditions existed that limited the effectiveness of American led post war international reforms?
    - How was American Internationalism expressed differently in Europe, Japan and the developing world?
    - How was the new "American Internationalism" superficially different from "European Imperialism" and how did these differences shape misconceptions about post war American Imperialism?
    - How did the post war American national security establishment grow out of World War II?
    - What is the concept of "Country Club Racism" and how did it effect post war American foreign policy?
    - What international organizations were formed after World War II and how did their formation reflect American military and economic power?
    - In what ways did the period after the end of World War II reflect the period after the end of World War I? What were the most significant differences? How did the Atlantic Charter reflect Wilson's Fourteen Points?
    - What idea was the metaphor "Iron Curtain" intended to convey?
    - How did misconceptions in the United States and Soviet Union about each other contribute to the development of the Cold War?
    - What was the Potsdam Declaration and how was it related to the beginning of the Cold War?
    - Describe the development of the Western and Eastern division of Europe in the early Cold War

    Primary Sources
    - Truman Doctrine - 1947
    - The American Century by Henry Luce
    - Churchill's The Sinews of Peace (Iron Curtain) Speech - Transcript and Audio
    - Potsdam Declaration

    Articles
    - Henry Luce and 20th Century U.S. Internationalism
    - Henry R. Luce and the Rise of the American News Media
    - Brief Biography of Robert Taft
    - Summary of the Potsdam Conference
    - Brief Biography of Bernard Baruch
    - The Uncommon Man: The strange life of Henry Wallace, the New Deal visionary
    - Brief Biography of James Byrnes (1882-1972)
    - Churchill and the Great Republic


    Optional Supplemental Viewing
    - Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb

    Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Prologue: Architects of the American Century in The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made by Walter Isaacson

    American Literature Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Finish reading "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac
  4. Chapter 3: Stalemate in Washington

    Thought Questions
    - How did the Democratic Party coalition fracture after World War II?
    - Describe how the civil rights movement effected the immediate post war period
    - How did the issue of civil rights effect the United States and it's struggle with communism?
    - What were the recommendation of Truman's civil rights commission?
    - How did the Republican Party coalition fracture after World War II?
    - Who were the "Dixiecrats" or States' Rights Democratics?
    - How did the Truman administration build on the New Deal?

    Primary Sources
    - A Summary Evaluation of the Taft-Hartley Act (1958) - Yale University
    - Audio with transcript: June 20, 1947: On the Veto of the Taft-Hartley Bill
    - Audio with transcript: January 20, 1949: Truman Inaugural Address
    - Audio: Truman Address To The NAACP
    - 1948 Democratic Party Platform
    - 1948 Republican Party Platform
    - 1948 Platform of the States Rights Democratic Party

    Articles
    - Biography of Harry S. Truman - The Miller Center University of Virginia
    - Biography of Harry S. Truman - The White House
    - 1947 Taft-Hartley Substantive Provisions
    - The Truman White House Renovation
    - Brief Biography of Adlai Stevenson
    - Henry Wallace - The Uncommon Man (The New Yorker)
    - Brief Biography of Thomas Dewey
    - Brief Biography of Robert A. Taft

    Links
    - Truman Presidential Library

    Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Chapter 1 -The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made by Walter Isaacson

    American Literature Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Begin Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  5. Chapter 4: National Security State Nation

    Thought Questions
    - How did the Korean War effect the United States domestic and international policy?
    - How did the national security state and the early Cold War effect the cultural and social life of Americans?
    - How many Americans were killed in the Korean War?
    - How many Americans were wounded in the Korean War?
    - How many Koreans were killed in the Korean War?
    - How many Koreans were wounded in the Korean War?
    - How did decolonialism effect the international situation and how did Korea develop into North and South?
    - How did misunderstanding between the United States, China and the Soviet Union effect the Korean War?
    - How did the Korean War unfold and resolve into stalemate?
    - In what ways did the Korean War effect the balance of power between Congress and the President in the area of foreign and military affairs?
    - How did the Korean War effect post war Japan and Germany?
    - In what ways did the Cold War effect science, education and the economy in the United States?
    - How did the anti-communistism and anti-LGBT forces unite in the 1950s?
    - In what ways did the government increase involvement the personal beliefs and lives of Americans in the 1950s because of the Cold War?
    - Who was Alger Hiss?
    - Who was Joe McCarthy and what was McCarthyism and Red Baiting?

    Optional Supplemental Viewing
    - Mission to Moscow (1943) - Movie Trailer
    - Mission to Moscow (1943) - Full Movie
    - Song of Russia (1944) - Movie Trailer
    - Song of Russia (1944) - Full Movie

    Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Chapter 2 -The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made by Walter Isaacson

    Primary Sources
    - National Security Act of 1947
    - Security Council of the United Nations Complaints of aggression upon the Republic of Korea (1950)
    - NSC 68: United States Objectives and Programs for National Security (April 14, 1950)

    American Literature Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  6. Chapter 5: We the Union Army
    This is my favorite chapter in the book. It explains a interesting and complex story with lots of interconnected elements in an meaningful and understandable way, but obviously not comprehensively due to space.

    Thought Questions
    - How did World War II effect civil rights in the post war period?
    - How did the Klan and similar organizations effect and use religion?
    - How did economics play a role in advancing and resisting Civil Rights?
    - Who were the Dixiecrats?
    - What was the background to the Brown v Board of Education case?
    - What were the main arguments in Plessy v. Ferguson?
    - What were the main arguments in the Brown v Board of Education case?
    - In what ways did states and communities resist integration?
    - Who was Emmett Till and how did he become a symbol of Southern racial violence?
    - Who was Rosa Parks and how were bus boycotts a part of the civil rights movement?
    - How were Christian Churches involved - in different ways - in the civil rights movement?
    - How was the labor movement, unions, socialists and communists involved - in very different ways - in the civil rights movement?
    - Describe the history of the Montgomery Bus Boycott movement and the Woolworths demonstrations?
    - What was the Southern Christian Leadership Conference?
    - What was the NAACP?
    - How did the Cold War effect civil rights in the United States?
    - Why was Little Rock High School desegregation different from other school desegregations?
    - How did civil rights effect the admission of Hawaii and Alaska as states?
    - How were Hispanic, Asian and Native American communities effected by the civil rights movement?
    - In what ways were non-violent protests successful in advancing civil rights and how did they effect public opinion?
    - In what ways was Perception and Reality on civil rights positions a factor in the Kennedy-Nixon 1960 election? (Nixon was a manipulative person non above self serving racism - just like Kennedy and Johnson - thank G-d for Gerald Ford).

    Primary Sources
    - Supreme Court Decision - Plessy v. Ferguson - 1896
    - Supreme Court Decision - Brown v Board of Education - May 17, 1954
    - Photos related to Emmett Till (Graphic content)

    Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Chapter 3 -The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made by Walter Isaacson

    American Literature Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  7. Chapter 6: Hour of Maximum Danger

    Thought Questions
    - In what ways does this chapter demonstrate the 1960's were the "Hour of Maximum Danger"
    - Describe the beginning of the Space Age in the United States and Russia?
    - How did the Cold War and the end of Western Colonialism effect the developing world?
    - What were the events surrounding the western interventions in Iran, Egypt and Lebanon?
    - How did American involvement in Latin America progress after World War II?
    - In what ways were the views of Eisenhower and Kennedy on the Cold War in similar and different ways?

    Articles
    - Brief Biography of John Foster Dulles
    - Brief Biography of Allen Dulles
    - Brief Biography of Nikita Khrushchev
    - Brief Biography of Gamal Abdel Nasser
    - JFK 100: Milestones & Mementos
    - John F. Kennedy Brief Biography

    Links
    - John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
    - Dwight Eisenhower Presidential Library

    Primary Sources
    - Kennedy Inauguration Address
    - Photos of the Kennedy Presidency

    Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Chapter 4 -The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made by Walter Isaacson

    American Literature Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  8. Chapter 7: The Democratic Revolution

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Chapter 5 -The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made by Walter Isaacson

    American Literature Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Finish Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  9. Chapter 8: Apocalypse Now

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Chapter 6 -The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made by Walter Isaacson

    American Literature Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Begin Reading The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  10. Chapter 9: Sixties to Seventies, Dreams to Nightmares

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Chapter 7 -The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made by Walter Isaacson

    American Literature Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  11. Chapter 10: The Landscape of Decline

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Chapter 8 -The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made by Walter Isaacson

    American Literature Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Finish Reading The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  12. Chapter 11: The Politics of Stagnation

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Chapter 9 -The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made by Walter Isaacson

    American Literature Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Begin Reading The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  13. Chapter 12: The Corporate Revolution

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Chapter 10 -The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made by Walter Isaacson

    American Literature Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  14. Chapter 13: The Reagan Revolution

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Chapter 11 -The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made by Walter Isaacson

    American Literature Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  15. Chapter 14: Cold War Redux

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Chapter 12 -The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made by Walter Isaacson

    American Literature Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  16. Chapter 15: I’m Running Out of Demons

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Chapter 13 -The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made by Walter Isaacson

    American Literature Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  17. Chapter 16: Triangulation

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Chapter 14 -The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made by Walter Isaacson

    American Literature Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  18. Chapter 17: Living Large Epilogue: America After 9/11

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Chapter 15 -The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made by Walter Isaacson

    American Literature Optional Supplemental Reading
    - Finish Reading Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Here is our current reading list and the books that are proposed:

  1. American Empire: The Rise of a Global Power, the Democratic Revolution at Home, 1945-2000 by Joshua Freeman and Eric Foner
  2. The Fifties by David Halberstam
  3. The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage by Todd Gitlin
  4. The Seventies: The Great Shift In American Culture, Society, And Politics by Bruce J. Schulman
  5. The Glory and the Dream: A Narrative History of America, 1932-1972 by William Manchester
  6. Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974 by James T. Patterson
  7. The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War by David Halberstam
  8. Where the Domino Fell: America and Vietnam 1945 - 2010 (6th Edition) by James S. Olson and Randy W. Roberts
  9. The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made by Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas
  10. The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam
  11. A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam by Neil Sheehan
  12. A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo
  13. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
  14. The Korean War by Max Hastings
  15. From the Jaws of Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement by Matthew Garcia
  16. The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle by Lillian Faderman
  17. Youth, Identity, Power: The Chicano Movement by Carlos Munoz
  18. The Cold War: A New History by John Lewis Gaddis
  19. Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965 by Juan Williams
  20. God's Forever Family: The Jesus People Movement in America by Larry Eskridge
  21. From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality by Michael J. Klarman
  22. The Other Women's Movement: Workplace Justice and Social Rights in Modern America by Dorothy Sue Cobble
  23. The Other Movement: Indian Rights and Civil Rights in the Deep South by Denise E. Bates
  24. The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society by Julian E. Zelizer
  25. The Wars of Watergate: The Last Crisis of Richard Nixon by Stanley I. Kutler

Welcome and thank you for your interest.

After the first books listed above we will select the next books we read from the list below. Provide us feedback and suggestions for our next book by clicking here.

Click here to see the list of suggested books we may decide to read