A Guide to the History of Illinois

By John Hoffmann | Go to book overview

8
ILLINOIS SINCE 1945

CULLOM DAVIS

BIBLIOGRAPHIC STUDIES OF contemporary history are a perilous enterprise. They suffer under the double risk of instant obsolescence and myopic perspective. Each new review journal, publisher's catalog, and dissertation list introduces additional items for consideration, so that any bibliographic essay is doomed to miss a growing number of pertinent works. It is also difficult to assess the quality and enduring contribution of recent studies on contemporary subjects; the direction of research and the patterns of interpretation are too unclear and unstable to permit definitive analysis.

Many noteworthy events, personalities, and issues since 1945 have contributed to Illinois history, yet few have so far received careful and serious attention. Like any contemporary subject, their initial treatment has largely been in the hands of headline historians and popular biographers. Most of the serious historical effort has focused on government and politics, with limited attention devoted to topics such as education and urban affairs. Economic and cultural history have been slighted. There are as yet no broad thematic studies or syntheses of the period.

The modern era roster of prominent Illinois political figures is lengthy, but only Adlai E. Stevenson and Richard J. Daley have been extensively studied. Governor William G. Stratton (Rep., 1953-61) is covered in David Kenney, A Political Passage: The Career of Stratton of Illinois ( Carbondale, 1990), while Robert E. Hartley, Big Jim Thompson of Illinois ( Chicago, 1979) is a

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