Steven Hahn (Ph.D. Yale) is a professor in the Department of History at the University of Pennsylvania. Here he deftly summarizes his new book about the United States from 1830-1910 as seen more from the South, West, and Mexico rather than from the Northeast: A Nation Without Borders – Process
Author Candice Millard (with whom we at Northwestern College are familiar because of our use of her Destiny of the Republic in our First Year Seminar) provides a lucid overview of a new biography of George Armstrong Custer. I’ve got my copy of the book in hand, but it will be a while until I am able to read it … You can find Millard’s review at the New York Times here: ‘Custer’s Trials,’ by T. J. Stiles – The New York Times
Randall Balmer is a historian of American religion, and especially of evangelicalism. (Our paths have crossed a few times, although there is no reason for him to remember me.) His latest book is a biography of Jimmy Carter.
At Religion Dispatches, you can find an enlightening interview with Balmer about his book on Carter: His Own Received Him Not: Jimmy Carter, First Evangelical President | Religion Dispatches.
Black Elk Speaks is a classic book in the field of American Indian Studies. It is an autobiography of a Lakota medicine man who has visions, who was at the Battle of Little Bighorn, who traveled with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, who saw the aftermath of Wounded Knee, and who became a Catholic lay worker among his people. Although shaped by John Neihardt, the voice of Black Elk is powerful in it.
Inside Higher Education has a fascinating story of how the book has recently migrated among academic publishers. It is good that is now back home with its original publisher, the University of Nebraska. You can read about it all here.
I am fond of biography as a genre. I have engaged in it in article form.
However, see this post from The Historical Society:
Reviewer Michal Jan Rozbicki identifies an important trend that needs to be named and resisted. Learned hagiography reinforces another trend: heroification, i.e., the bestowing of the status of hero to anyone who does anything “good.” Life and human nature are more complicated than that. Historians, of all people, should be about reminding us of this.