History Faculty Books

Book cover: Adventure Capitalism
Book cover: Adventure Capitalism PM Press/Spectre

Adventure Capitalism


Adventure Capitalism

Imagine a capitalist paradise. An island utopia governed solely by the rules of the market and inspired by the fictions of Ayn Rand and Robinson Crusoe. Sound far-fetched? It may not be. The past half century is littered with the remains of such experiments in what Raymond Craib calls “libertarian exit.” Often dismissed as little more than the dreams of crazy, rich Caucasians, exit strategies have been tried out from the southwest Pacific to the Caribbean, from the North Sea to the high seas, often with dire consequences for local inhabitants.  Based on research in archives in the US, the UK, and Vanuatu, as well as in FBI files acquired through the Freedom of Information Act, Craib explores in careful detail the ideology and practice of libertarian exit and its place in the histories of contemporary cap­italism, decolonization, empire, and oceans and islands. Adventure Capitalism is a global history that intersects with an array of figures: Fidel Castro and the Koch brothers, American segregationists and Melanesian socialists, Honolulu-based real estate speculators and British Special Branch spies, soldiers of fortune and English lords, Orange County engineers and Tongan navigators, CIA operatives and CBS news executives, and a new breed of techno-utopians and an old guard of Honduran coup leaders. This is not only a history of our time but, given the new iterations of privatized exit—seasteads, free private cities, and space colonization—it is also a history of our future.

The War that made The Roman Empire
The War that made The Roman Empire Simon and Schuster

The War That Made the Roman Empire


The War That Made the Roman Empire

Barry Strauss

Following Caesar’s assassination and Mark Antony’s defeat of the conspirators who killed Caesar, two powerful men remained in Rome—Antony and Caesar’s chosen heir, young Octavian, the future Augustus. When Antony fell in love with the most powerful woman in the world, Egypt’s ruler Cleopatra, and thwarted Octavian’s ambition to rule the empire, another civil war broke out. In 31 BC one of the largest naval battles in the ancient world took place—more than 600 ships, almost 200,000 men, and one woman—the Battle of Actium. Octavian prevailed over Antony and Cleopatra, who subsequently killed themselves.

The Battle of Actium had great consequences for the empire. Had Antony and Cleopatra won, the empire’s capital might have moved from Rome to Alexandria, Cleopatra’s capital, and Latin might have become the empire’s second language after Greek, which was spoken throughout the eastern Mediterranean, including Egypt.

The War that made The Roman Empire
The War that made The Roman Empire Simon and Schuster
Decorative Book Cover: Up From The Depths
Decorative Book Cover: Up From The Depths Princeton University Press

Up From the Depths


Up From the Depths

Aaron Sachs

Up from the Depths tells the interconnected stories of two of the most important writers in American history—the novelist and poet Herman Melville (1819–1891) and one of his earliest biographers, the literary critic and historian Lewis Mumford (1895–1990). Deftly cutting back and forth between the writers, Aaron Sachs reveals the surprising resonances between their lives, work, and troubled times—and their uncanny relevance in our own age of crisis.

The author of Moby-Dick was largely forgotten for several decades after his death, but Mumford helped spearhead Melville’s revival in the aftermath of World War I and the 1918–1919 flu pandemic, when American culture needed a forebear with a suitably dark vision. As Mumford’s career took off and he wrote books responding to the machine age, urban decay, world war, and environmental degradation, it was looking back to Melville’s confrontation with crises such as industrialization, slavery, and the Civil War that helped Mumford to see his own era clearly. Mumford remained obsessed with Melville, ultimately helping to canonize him as America’s greatest tragedian. But largely forgotten today is one of Mumford’s key insights—that Melville’s darkness was balanced by an inspiring determination to endure.

Amid today’s foreboding over global warming, racism, technology, pandemics, and other crises, Melville and Mumford remind us that we’ve been in this struggle for a long time. To rediscover these writers today is to rediscover how history can offer hope in dark times.

Decorative Book Cover: Up From The Depths
Decorative Book Cover: Up From The Depths Princeton University Press
Losing Istanbul, Arab-Ottoman Imperialists and The End of Empire
Losing Istanbul, Arab-Ottoman Imperialists and The End of Empire Stanford University Press

Losing Istanbul


Losing Istanbul

Mostafa Minawi

Losing Istanbul offers an intimate history of empire, following the rise and fall of a generation of Arab-Ottoman imperialists living in Istanbul. Mostafa Minawi shows how these men and women negotiated their loyalties and guarded their privileges through a microhistorical study of the changing social, political, and cultural currents between 1878 and the First World War. He narrates lives lived in these turbulent times—the joys and fears, triumphs and losses, pride and prejudices—while focusing on the complex dynamics of ethnicity and race in an increasingly Turco-centric imperial capital.

Drawing on archival records, newspaper articles, travelogues, personal letters, diaries, photos, and interviews, Minawi shows how the loyalties of these imperialists were questioned and their ethnic identification weaponized. As the once diverse empire comes to an end, they are forced to give up their home in the imperial capital. An alternative history of the last four decades of the Ottoman Empire, Losing Istanbul frames global pivotal events through the experiences of Arab-Ottoman imperial loyalists who called Istanbul home, on the eve of a vanishing imperial world order.

Losing Istanbul, Arab-Ottoman Imperialists and The End of Empire
Losing Istanbul, Arab-Ottoman Imperialists and The End of Empire Stanford University Press
Book cover: State of Disaster
State of Disaster University of North Carolina Press

State of Disaster


State of Disaster

Natural disasters and the dire effects of climate change cause massive population displacements and lead to some of the most intractable political and humanitarian challenges seen today. Yet, as Maria Cristina Garcia observes in this critical history of U.S. policy on migration in the Global South, there is actually no such thing as a "climate refugee" under current U.S. law. Most initiatives intended to assist those who must migrate are flawed and ineffective from inception because they are derived from outmoded policies. In a world of climate change, U.S. refugee policy simply does not work.


Garcia focuses on Central America and the Caribbean, where natural disasters have repeatedly worsened poverty, inequality, and domestic and international political tensions. She explains that the creation of better U.S. policy for those escaping disasters is severely limited by the 1980 Refugee Act, which continues to be applied almost exclusively for reasons of persecution directly related to politics, race, religion, and identity. Garcia contends that the United States must transform its outdated migration policies to address today's realities. Climate change and natural disasters are here to stay, and much of the human devastation left in their wake is essentially a policy choice.

Book cover: State of Disaster
State of Disaster University of North Carolina Press
In Asian Waters
In Asian Waters Princeton University Press

In Asian Waters


In Asian Waters

Eric Tagliacozzo

In the centuries leading up to our own, the volume of traffic across Asian sea routes—an area stretching from East Africa and the Middle East to Japan—grew dramatically, eventually making them the busiest in the world. The result was a massive circulation of people, commodities, religion, culture, technology, and ideas. In this book, Eric Tagliacozzo chronicles how the seas and oceans of Asia have shaped the history of the largest continent for the past half millennium, leaving an indelible mark on the modern world in the process.

Paying special attention to migration, trade, the environment, and cities, In Asian Waters examines the long history of contact between China and East Africa, the spread of Hinduism and Buddhism across the Bay of Bengal, and the intertwined histories of Islam and Christianity in the Philippines. The book illustrates how India became central to the spice trade, how the Indian Ocean became a “British lake” between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, and how lighthouses and sea mapping played important roles in imperialism. The volume ends by asking what may happen if China comes to rule the waves of Asia, as Britain once did.

A novel account showing how Asian history can be seen as a whole when seen from the water, In Asian Waters presents a voyage into a past that is still alive in the present.

In Asian Waters
In Asian Waters Princeton University Press

1774-The Long Year of Revolution

Mary Beth Notron

A groundbreaking book–the first to look at the critical “long year” of 1774 and the revolutionary change that took place from December 1773 to mid-April 1775, from the Boston Tea Party and the First Continental Congress to the Battles of Lexington and Concord.


The Economic Weapon: The Rise of Sanctions as a Tool of Modern War

Economic sanctions dominate the landscape of world politics today. First developed in the early twentieth century as a way of exploiting the flows of globalization to defend liberal internationalism, their appeal is that they function as an alternative to war. This view, however, ignores the dark paradox at their core: designed to prevent war, economic sanctions are modeled on devastating techniques of warfare.
Tracing the use of economic sanctions from the blockades of World War I to the policing of colonial empires and the interwar confrontation with fascism, Nicholas Mulder uses extensive archival research in a political, economic, legal, and military history that reveals how a coercive wartime tool was adopted as an instrument of peacekeeping by the League of Nations. This timely study casts an overdue light on why sanctions are widely considered a form of war, and why their unintended consequences are so tremendous.

The Economic Weapon, The Rise of Sanctions as a Tool of Modern War
Yale University Press

Free Enterprise

Throughout the twentieth century, “free enterprise” has been a contested keyword in American politics, and the cornerstone of a conservative philosophy that seeks to limit government involvement into economic matters. In this book, Lawrence B. Glickman shows how the idea first gained traction in American discourse and was championed by opponents of the New Deal. Those politicians, believing free enterprise to be a fundamental American value, held it up as an antidote to a liberalism that they maintained would lead toward totalitarian statism. Tracing the use of the concept of free enterprise, Glickman shows how it has both constrained and transformed political dialogue. He presents a fascinating look into the complex history, and marketing, of an idea that forms the linchpin of the contemporary opposition to government regulation, taxation, and programs such as Medicare. (Yale University Press, 2019)

Cover of Free Enterprise

Ten Caesars ~ Roman Emperors from Augustus to Constantine

Barry Strauss’s Ten Caesars is the story of the Roman Empire from rise to reinvention, from Augustus, who founded the empire, to Constantine, who made it Christian and moved the capital east to Constantinople. Strauss tells the story of three and a half centuries of the Roman Empire through the lives of ten of the most important emperors.  This book will be available on March 5, 2019.

Cover of Ten Caesars ~ Roman Emperors from Augustus to Constantine

Godless Citizens in a Godly Republic: Atheists in American Public Life

God occupies our nation’s consciousness, even defining to many what it means to be American. Nonbelievers have often had second-class legal status and have had to fight for their rights as citizens.  The authors, Isaac Kramnick and R. Lawrence Moore, demonstrate in their sharp and convincing work, that avowed atheists were derided since the founding of the nation.

Sojourner Truth's America

This fascinating biography tells the story of nineteenth-century America through the life of one of its most charismatic and influential characters: Sojourner Truth. In an in-depth account of this amazing activist, the author unravels Sojourner Truth's world within the broader panorama of African American slavery and the nation's most significant reform era. (University of Illinois Press, 2009)


The Half Has Never Been Told

Americans tend to cast slavery as a pre-modern institution–the nation’s original sin, perhaps, but isolated in time and divorced from America’s later success. But to do so robs the millions who suffered in bondage of their full legacy. As historian Edward E. Baptist reveals in The Half Has Never Been Told, the expansion of slavery in the first eight decades after American independence drove the evolution and modernization of the United States. In the span of a single lifetime, the South grew from a narrow coastal strip of worn-out tobacco plantations to a continental cotton empire, and the United States grew into a modern, industrial, and capitalist economy.

cover of The Half Has Never Been Told

Seeing Justice Done

Partly a history of penal theory, partly an anthropologically-inspired study of the penal ritual, Seeing Justice Done traces the historical roots of modern capital punishment, and sheds light on the fundamental "disconnect" between the theory and practice of punishment which endures to this day, not only in France but in the Western penal tradition more generally.  


Arcadian America

Perhaps America's best environmental idea was not the national park but the garden cemetery, a use of space that quickly gained popularity in the mid-nineteenth century. Such spaces of repose brought key elements of the countryside into rapidly expanding cities, making nature accessible to all and serving to remind visitors of the natural cycles of life. In this unique interdisciplinary blend of historical narrative, cultural criticism, and poignant memoir, Aaron Sachs argues that American cemeteries embody a forgotten landscape tradition that has much to teach us in our current moment of environmental crisis.

Cover of Arcadian America

Founding Mothers and Fathers

In this pioneering study of the ways in which the first settlers defined the power, prerogatives, and responsibilities of the sexes, one of our most incisive historians opens a window onto the world of Colonial America. Drawing on a wealth of contemporary documents, Mary Beth Norton tells the story of the Pinion clan, whose two-generation record of theft, adultery, and infanticide may have made them our first dysfunctional family. She reopens the case of Mistress Ann Hibbens, whose church excommunicated her for arguing that God had told husbands to listen to their wives. And here is the enigma of Thomas, or Thomasine Hall, who lived comfortably as both a man and a woman in 17th century Virginia. Wonderfully erudite and vastly readable, Founding Mothers & Fathers reveals both the philosophical assumptions and intimate domestic arrangements of our colonial ancestors in all their rigor, strangeness, and unruly passion.

Buying Power: A History of Consumer Activism in America

Uncovering previously unknown episodes and analyzing famous events from a fresh perspective, this book illuminates moments when consumer activism intersected with political and civil rights movements. Glickman also sheds new light on activists’ relationship with the consumer movement, which gave rise to lobbies like the National Consumers League and Consumers Union as well as ill-fated legislation to create a federal Consumer Protection Agency.

Ideology and Empire in Eighteenth Century India

My book, Ideology and Empire in Eighteenth Century India, examined the political thought of the first generation of British empire-builders in India. It showed how British officials of the English East India Company tried to legitimize their conquests by appropriating forms and styles of rule from the Mughal empire, the Muslim empire which governed large parts of India before the era of British expansion. 

Haskalah, The Romantic Movement in Judaism

Based on imaginative and historically grounded readings of primary sources, Haskalah, The Romantic Movement in Judaism, presents a compelling case for rethinking the relationship between the Haskalah and the experience of political and social emancipation. Most importantly, it challenges the prevailing view that the Haskalah provided the philosophical mainspring for Jewish liberalism.

In this ambitious interpretation, nineteenth-century Eastern European intellectuals emerge as the authors of a Jewish Romantic revolution. Fueled by contradictory longings both for community and for personal freedom, the poets and scholars associated with the Haskalah questioned the moral costs of civic equality and the achievement of middle-class status. In the nineteenth century, their conservative approach to culture as the cure for the spiritual ills of the modern individual provided a powerful argument for the development of Jewish nationalism. Today, their ideas are equally resonant in contemporary debates about the ramifications of secularization for the future of Judaism.

Scientific Practices in European History, 1200-1800

Peter Dear's Scientific Practices in European History, 1200-1800:  A Book of Texts presents and situates a collection of extracts from both widely know texts, by such figures as Copernicus, Newton, and Lavoisier, and lesser known but significant items, all chosen to...highlight the emerging technical preoccupations of...the early modern period.The selection of extracts highlights the emerging technical preoccupations of this period, while the accompanying introductions and annotations make these occasionally complex works accessible to students and non-specialists. 

Global Africa: Into the Twenty-First Century


 Professor Judi Byfield co-edited a new volume of essays with Dorothy Hodgson: Global Africa:  Into the Twenty-First Century. 

Published by University of California Press, this volume documents the significant global connections, circulations and contributions that African people, ideas, and goods have made throughout the world-from the United States and South Asia to Latin America, Europe, and elsewhere.

The Refugee Challenge in Post-Cold War America

Maria Cristina Garcia has published The Refugee Challenge in Post-Cold War America (Oxford University Press).  Alan M. Kraut, past president of the Organization of American Historians, states that “This volume stands alone as the best history of U.S. refugee policy in post-Cold War America.  Garcia chronicles the struggles of Russian refuseniks, Chinese dissidents, Rwandans fleeing genocide, as well as Haitian and Cuban boat people among those seeking sanctuary from persecution. Her meticulous research and incisive analysis illuminates the confusions and inadequacies of United States refugee policy under Republican and Democratic presidents alike.”  Carl Bon Tempos, author of Americans at the Gate, states that  “This book deftly explains how domestic politics, economic circumstances, and national security concerns have shaped what the United States has done –and not done- in the face of multiple refugee crises in the two decades after the end of the Cold War’. He describes her book as “masterful and elegant”.

Gentlemanly Terrorists: Political Violence and the Colonial State in India, 1919–1947

Durba Ghosh's new book, Gentlemanly Terrorists, focuses on an underground  radical political movement in early and mid-twentieth century India and the ways in which political violence against the British colonial state became an important, but historically underemphasized, form of protest. While Gandhi's nonviolent protest movements are often seen to be the hallmark of anticolonial protest, the book follows how the colonial state invested in security and emergency legislation to contain what they felt was an active terrorist threat. 

Getting Tough: Welfare and Imprisonment in 1970s America

In 1970s America, politicians began "getting tough" on drugs, crime, and welfare. These campaigns helped expand the nation's penal system, discredit welfare programs, and cast blame for the era's social upheaval on racialized deviants that the state was not accountable to serve or represent. Getting Tough sheds light on how this unprecedented growth of the penal system and the evisceration of the nation's welfare programs developed hand in hand. Julilly Kohler-Hausmann shows that these historical events were animated by struggles over how to interpret and respond to the inequality and disorder that crested during this period.

Slave Owners of West Africa: Decision Making in the Age of Abolition

In this groundbreaking book, Sandra E. Greene explores the lives of three prominent West African slave owners during the age of abolition. These first-published biographies reveal personal and political accomplishments and concerns, economic interests, religious beliefs, and responses to colonial rule in an attempt to understand why the subjects reacted to the demise of slavery as they did. Greene emphasizes the notion that the decisions made by these individuals were deeply influenced by their personalities, desires to protect their economic and social status, and their insecurities and sympathies for wives, friends, and other associates. Knowing why these individuals and so many others in West Africa made the decisions they did, Greene contends, is critical to understanding how and why the institution of indigenous slavery continues to influence social relations in West Africa to this day.

For an interview with Professor Greene about her book, listen to this informative Podcast.

Diet and the Disease of Civilization

 Diet and the Disease of Civilization reveals how 20th-century dieting systems have articulated a powerful response to anxieties about the psychic and physical costs of modernity, crafting new stories positioning civilization itself as a disease and diet as the cure.   

An Aqueous Territory

An Aqueous Territory traces the configuration of a geographic space, the transimperial Greater Caribbean between 1760 and 1860. Focusing on the Caribbean coast of New Granada (present-day Colombia), An Aqueous Territory shows that the region's residents did not live their lives bounded by geopolitical borders. 

Bones around My Neck

Prince Prisdang Chumsai (1852–1935) served as Siam's first diplomat to Europe during the most dramatic moment of Siam’s political history, when its independence was threatened by European imperialism. Despite serving with patriotic zeal, he suffered irreparable social and political ruin based on rumors about fiscal corruption, sexual immorality, and political treason. Bones around My Neck pursues the truth behind these rumors, which chased Prisdang out of Siam. The book recounts the personal and political adventures of an unwitting provocateur who caused a commotion in every country he inhabited.

The Ottoman Scramble for Africa: Empire and Diplomacy in the Sahara and the Hijaz

The Ottoman Scramble for Africa: Empire and Diplomacy in the Sahara and the Hijaz focuses on the empire’s efforts to reinvent itself on the international stage through the use of international law, interimperial diplomacy, and interpersonal relations with local chiefs, Sufi order leaders, kings, and sultans in Europe, the Sahara, and the Red Sea Basin. This work gives a new perspective on the study of imperialism by focusing on the inter- and interaimperial relations in the Ottoman context, south-south dimension of colonialism in Africa and the Middle East, and the shift from “old” to “new” imperial models of rule along the empire’s frontiers-cum-borderlands at the turn of the 20th century.

The Hajj Pilgrimage in Islam

The Hajj is the single largest agglomeration of human beings on the planet; every year, some three million Muslims now head from their homes to Mecca and Medina to pray in the great mosques of the Arabian desert.  This book chronicles their story from a global vantage, looking at geographies, institutions, and aspirations across the Muslim world as these all relate to the holy pilgrimage.

We Are an African People

  • An intellectual history of subaltern education, a critical analysis of the fate of Black Power ideologies in the post-segregation era, and a portrait of African-American self-activity at the neighborhood level.

  • Puts forth a groundbreaking explanation of Black Power's preoccupation with forging a new people. Spans the last four decades of the 20th century with a focus on the 1970s.

The Cry of the Renegade: Politics and Poetry in Interwar Chile

On October 1, 1920, the city of Santiago, Chile, came to a halt as tens of thousands stopped work and their daily activities to join the funeral procession of José Domingo Gómez Rojas, a 24-year-old university student and acclaimed poet.






The Odd Man Karakozov Imperial Russia, Modernity, and the Birth of Terrorism

Through a microhistorical investigation of the April 4, 1866, attempted assassination of Tsar Alexander II, The Odd Man Karakozov shows terrorism as a phenomenon inextricably linked to the foundations of the modern world: capitalism, enlightened law and scientific reason, ideology, technology, new media, and above all, people's participation in politics and in the making of history.

Death of Caesar: The Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination

"The book offers the most detailed account of the assassination to date as well as a reassessment of the assassins: who they were, what they wanted and why they failed to build on their successful murder. Critically acclaimed, The Death of Caesar has been translated into six languages.”

Africa and World War II

This volume considers the military, economic, and political significance of Africa during World War II. The essays feature new research and innovative approaches to the historiography of Africa and bring to the fore issues of race, gender, and labor during the war, topics that have not yet received much critical attention.

The Bare-Sarked Warrior: A Brief Cultural History of Battlefield Exposure

On the shores of medieval North America, two civilizations — Norse and Native — clash. The descendants of the Vikings who had terrorized Europe break and run, quaking in the face of the unknown. Then a lone woman steps in, acting in a most unpredictable way to turn the tide. She is Freydís Eiríksdóttir, the first in a series of bare-sarked warriors whom this book explores. In their darkest hours, as societies teeter on the edge, these paradoxical saviors emerge to perform an alchemical swap: they substitute domesticated, gendered trouble for an unspeakable alien menace. Tracing their topos over a millennium or two, four continents, and a dozen or so languages, this book is about these women’s struggles, their triumphs, and the prices they pay.

A Plague of Informers Conspiracy and Political Trust in William III's England

Stories of plots, sham plots, and the citizen-informers who discovered them are at the center of this compelling study of the turbulent decade following the Revolution of 1688. By encouraging informers, imposing loyalty oaths, suspending habeas corpus, and delaying the long-promised reform of treason trial procedure, the Williamite regime protected itself from enemies and cemented its bonds with supporters, but also put its own credibility at risk.

Chinese Medicine and Healing

This volume, with eight chronologically-arranged chapters and two on globalization, follows historical developments in a wide range of health interventions, including propitiation of disease-inflicting spirits, divination, vitality-cultivating disciplines, herbal remedies, and acupuncture. Inserted vignettes bring to life such diverse arenas of health care as childbirth in the Tang period, Yuan state-established medical schools, and the search for sexual potency in the People’s Republic.

Christians and Their Many Identities in Late Antiquity, North Africa, 200–450 CE

Christians and Their Many Identities in Late Antiquity, North Africa, 200–450 CE explores how Christians in North Africa between the age of Tertullian and the age of Augustine were selective in identifying as Christian, giving salience to their religious identity only intermittently. By shifting the focus from groups to individuals, Rebillard more broadly questions the existence of bounded, stable, and homogeneous groups based on Christianness.


West African Narratives of Slavery: Texts from Late Nineteenth-and Early Twentieth-Century Ghana

Slavery in Africa existed for hundreds of years before it was abolished in the late nineteenth century. Yet, we know little about how enslaved individuals, especially those who never left Africa talked about their experiences.  This unprecedented study affords unique insights into how ordinary West African understood and talked about their lives during a time of change and upheaval.

Citizens of A Christian Nation

Citizens of a Christian Nation brings together for the first time African American and Chinese American religious histories through a multitiered local, regional, national, and even transnational analysis of race, nationalism, and evangelical thought and practice.

The Edge of the Woods: Iroquoia, 1534-1701

In The Edge of the Woods: Iroquoia, 1534-1701, Jon Parmenter argues that the extensive spatial mobility engaged in by Haudenosaunee people after their first contact with Europeans represented a geographical expression of Haudenosaunee social, political, and economic priorities. Parmenter drew on archival and published documents in several languages, archaeological data, published Haudenosaunee oral traditions, and GIS technology to reconstruct the Haudenosaunee settlement landscape and the paths of human mobility that built and sustained it.