Skip to content

To stand in Mann’s study today, with editions of Goethe and Schiller on the shelves, is to feel pride in the country that took him in and shame for the country that drove him out—not two Americas but one. In this room, the erstwhile “Greatest Living Man of Letters” fell prey to the clammy fear of the hunted. Was the year 1933 about to repeat itself? Would he be detained, interrogated, even imprisoned? In 1952, Mann took a final walk through his house and made his exit. He died in Zurich, in 1955—no longer an émigré German but an American in exile.

— Alex Ross, “The Haunted California Idyll of German Writers in Exile,” The New Yorker, March 9, 2020 issue.

The Sod

Leveling hummocks in dust bowl, thirty miles north of Dalhart, Texas. Farmer: “Every dime I got is tied up right here. If I don’t get it out, I’ve got to drive off and leave it. Where would I go and what would I do? I know what the land did once for me, maybe it will do it again.” Son: “It would be better if the sod had never been broke. My father’s broke plenty of it. Could I get a job in California?”

—Dorothea Lange for the Farm Security Administration, June 1938. New York Public Library.

“Naomi [who denounces ‘climate alarmism’] said her political activism was sparked a few years ago when she began asking questions in school about Germany’s liberal immigration policies. She said the backlash from teachers and other students hardened her skepticism about mainstream German thinking.”

— Desmond Butler and Juliet Eilperin, “The Anti-Greta: A Conservative Think Tank Takes on the Global Phenomenon.”


Yes, our cognition is bound up in our social existence, as Ludwik Fleck noted in 1935.

F12F247D-542F-42AE-BF08-591713893B82

Saco River in Conway, NH, just upstream from the covered bridges on afternoon of December 25, 2019.

My latest editorial project: Migrant Knowledge, a blog with Andrea Westermann and Swen Steinberg for the German Historical Institute Washington.

Female employees of the German munitions factory WASAG in their work clothes, 1916. The one on the right seems to have been “conscripted” (zwangsverpflichtet), though it is unclear on what basis. She was also apparently highly skilled insofar as she was a production manager (Produktionsleiterin) of some kind. Source: Haus der Geschichte Wittenberg, “Arbeiterinnen der WASAG Reinsdorf.”.

The Changing Faces of Nationalism

As a historian who sometimes teaches about Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, I have to give Trump credit for one thing: His constant upending of the broad political consensus that emerged after World War II and the Cold War means that basic historical terms are constantly making it into the news and national discourse as quasi new problems, new questions. As upsetting as these times are, as abhorrent as Trump is, it is hard to deny the value of Ron Elving’s reaction to the president’s recent statement about… Read more The Changing Faces of Nationalism