Must Read Book

Williams, William Appleman, Contours of American History (1961).

The single most influential US history book after The Rise of American Civilization, by Charles and Mary Beard, because it firmly established the idea that the US is an empire, was an empire from its earliest days, and the nature of its expansion was always imperial, at base economic, rather than the "extension of freedom" (A.Schlesinger Jr and those to his Right). Williams' classic weakens badly after 1860 and he misses the rise of the lower classes from the Gilded Age onward. But in offering the first clear view of "corporate liberalism" (he didn't coin the phrase but he made sense of it for a generation of anti-war speakers and generations of scholars), he reset the notion of bipartisanship on crucial issues at home and abroad.

Recommended by Paul Buhle, Brown University

Paul Buhle, Visiting Professor since 1997, has founded several journals and the Oral History of the American Left collection at Taminent Library, New York University. His twenty-one books include biographies of C.L.R. James and William Appleman Williams; the pictorial history Images of American Radicalism; Tender Comrades: A backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist; Marxism in the United States; Free Spirits, Annals of the Insurgent Imagination; A Very Dangerous Citizen: Adam Polonsky and the Hollywood Left; several volumes on Rhode Island labor and the built environment; and Encyclopedia of the American Left, now in its second edition. He contributes frequently to the Nation, and writes a quarterly column for the environmentalist journal CNS.