American Heritage

Articles from Vol. 49, No. 7, November

Always: A Singer's Journey through the Life of Irving Berlin
Like the most baby boomers, I grew up hearing his songs and taking them for granted. I never gave a thought to who Irving Berlin was or how he had come to write the music that flowed through our lives. In the 1970s I saw a newspaper photograph of him...
Boss Tweed Goes to Jail; 1873: One Hundred and Twenty-Five Years Ago
On November 19 William M. Tweed, the deposed boss of New York City's monumentally corrupt municipal government, was convicted on 204 misdemeanor counts of approving fraudulent invoices. The invoices in question accounted for only a small fraction...
Dewey Defeats Dewey; 1948: Fifty Years Ago
On November 2 President Harry S. Truman was returned to office by the voters, defeating Gov. Thomas E. Dewey of New York in the greatest upset in the history of American presidential elections. The famous Chicago Tribune headline DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN,...
Dr. Strangelove's Children: Growing Up on a Cold War Base in the Shadow of the Big One
Growing up on a Cold War air base in the shadow of the big one "Do you realize there are fifteen hundred babies born a month in SAC?" says Jimmy Stewart, playing a B-36 pilot in the 1954 film Strategic Air Command. I was raised among those babies. I...
Family Heroes
Exactly a year ago in this space, I griped at Steven Spielberg for being insufficiently cognizant of the dreadful grandeur of World War II. This was in connection with the conclusion of his Indiana Jones trilogy, when the various miracles that attended...
Grant Wood's Road: You've Written a History of America from Columbus to Clinton; What Do You Put on the Cover?
For the last several years Douglas Brinkley has been working on a massive illustrated narrative, The American Heritage New History of the United States, to be published this month by Simon & Schuster. This essay is adapted from the introduction....
'I Learn a Lot from the Veterans': Reminiscences of World War II's European Theater Add Up to Considerablly More Than a Bunch of Good War Stories
Reminiscences of World War II's European Theater add up to considerably more than a bunch of good war stories Last fall the author published his book Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army From the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany,...
Iron Augury: It Was a Bankrupt Ruin by the 1660s; Nevertheless, the Saugus Ironworks Foretold America's Industrial Might
In the last quarter-century the American steel industry--once the very symbol of American economic power--has undergone wrenching change. While steel production has declined somewhat (from 131.5 million tons in 1970 to 105.3 million in 1996), employment...
Near-Perfect Conditions: America's Very First Alpine Ski Resort - They Invented the Chair Lift There - Is Still as Good as Good as It Gets
I was standing on top of a mountain with skis under my feet for the first time in thirty years. The instructor who had assured me I'd be able to make it back down off the mountain, Tom Neely, paused with me after I glided from the chair lift, and...
Secret Summer
In June of 1941, just before my seventeenth birthday, Harry Goldberg, my physics instructor at Brooklyn Technical High School, asked me if I would be interested in a summer job at Columbia University. He could not tell me what the job was, but he...
The Also-Rans
Besides Truman's stunning upset, the 1948 race is remembered for having two serious minor-party candidates, Strom Thurmond of the States' Rights Democrats and Henry Wallace of the Progressives. Thurmond, campaigning almost exclusively in the South...
The Count: Bela Lugosi Began by Playing Laertes and Romeo, Only to Become Forever Trapped in Very Different Roles
It is hard to believe now, but there was a time when moviegoers did not know about vampires. Didn't know you do them in with a wooden stake through the heart, didn't know a ray of sunlight is injurious to their health, that they sleep in coffins all...
The Long, Stormy Marriage of Money and Politics ... or Why in America Campaign-Finance Reform Never Succeeds
... or why in America campaign-finance reform never succeeds In the summer of 1787 a sweaty group of politicians was debating the clauses of a proposed constitution in humid Philadelphia. Endless problems reared their ugly heads: the distribution...
The Movie of the Century: It Looks Both Backward to Everything Hollywood Had Learned about Westerns and Forward to Things Films Hadn't Dared Do
It looks both backward to everything Hollywood had learned about Westerns and forward to things films hadn't dared do It is a phrase so high-concept it ought to be the title of a movie, or at least the slogan for a marketing campaign, the ultimate...
Under the Spreading Mushroom Cloud
"Who's next?" sang Tom Lehrer in his darkly funny Cold War ballad about nuclear proliferation. We're still asking. It all seemed familiar: the sobering headline, the quick survey of responses from Washington and other capitals, then the solemn...
Whistle Stop
During the golden Indian summer of 1948, I was an eleven-year-old aspiring journalist in Shell Lake, Wisconsin. My parents owned the local weekly newspaper, the Washburn County Register. I was the sports editor, printer's devil, and errand runner....
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