Journal of American History


The Rise and Fall of Plains Indian Horse Cultures

The Rise and Fall of Plains Indian Horse Cultures

Looking beyond the romantic image of the triumphant mounted Indian, Pekka Hämäläinen shows that the rise of equestrian Indian societies on the Great Plains brought Native Americans both success and disaster. Horses brought some tribes wealth and power, allowing them to defy and occasionally eclipse Euro-American imperial designs, but for most tribes horses were a disruptive element that brought social inequality, ecological instability, economic devastation, and unprecedented violence. Hämäläinen identifies several distinctive horse cultures and shows that only one tribe, the Lakotas, achieved long-term stability. Attention to the Lakotas’ singular success, he argues, has distorted our understanding of Plains Indian history. (pp. 833–62) Read online >

From Municipal Socialism to Public Authorities: Institutional Factors in the Shaping of American Public Enterprise

The United States has a weak government that stays clear of producing goods and services, right? Wrong, argues Gail Radford. Although municipal socialists in the Progressive Era usually failed in their campaigns for direct governmental control of public services, subsequent experiments created a large sphere of quasi-governmental agencies, often called public authorities, engaged in public enterprise. Innovative methods of revenue-based funding overcame practical and legal obstacles to activist government without challenging a political culture deeply suspicious of governmental intrusions into the marketplace. Radford contends that although public authorities are often successful, their organization has masked the presence of the government. As a result, the American style of public enterprise has hindered the development of public planning and democratic governance. (pp. 863–90) Read online >

Reading Race into the Scopes Trial: African American Elites, Science, and Fundamentalism

Reading Race into the Scopes Trial

The 1925 trial of John Scopes for teaching evolution in a Tennessee biology class had echoes far outside the courtroom. Jeffrey P. Moran shows that in the public debate over science and religion sparked by the trial, elite African Americans were active participants. African Americans read their own meanings into the Scopes case, with race at their center. They identified southern efforts to silence threats to religious tradition with southern efforts to subject African Americans to the traditions of Jim Crow. Moran examines how secular African American leaders invoked the progressive power of science to attack white supremacy in the South and to challenge ministerial dominance in their own communities. (pp. 891–911) Read online >

Carey McWilliams and Antifascism, 1934–1943

Carey McWilliams and Antifascism

In exploring the early career of Carey McWilliams, a best-selling writer, activist lawyer, and controversial government official, Daniel Geary suggests the outlines of a history of the American Left as viewed from a West Coast perspective. In contrast to the sharply divided Left described by scholars drawing on East Coast sources, Geary finds a broadly based and amorphous California Left that defined itself by opposition to the perceived threat of an American “fascism.” In articulating an antifascist agenda during the 1930s and World War II, McWilliams and others championed civil liberties, supported labor (especially farm workers), and advanced a vision of ethnoracial democracy that proved a forerunner to contemporary multiculturalism. (pp. 912–34) Read online >

Building a Straight State: Sexuality and Social Citizenship under the 1944 G.I. Bill

In the essay that won the 2003 Louis Pelzer Award, Margot Canaday revises the generally celebratory literature on the G.I. Bill. Her account of the denial of G.I. benefits to World War II–era veterans undesirably discharged for homosexuality explores the connection between sexuality and citizenship in the still-forming welfare state. The Veterans Administration (va) used a strained interpretation of muddled language in the G.I. Bill to strip those who had received such discharges of benefits. Although postwar congressional criticism led to a temporary change in policy, the restrictive interpretation ultimately prevailed. Thus the G.I. Bill, as implemented by the va, established the first federal policy that explicitly excluded sexual minorities from the economic benefits of the welfare state. (pp. 935–57) Read online >

Exhibition Reviews

Exhibition Review: A Portion of the People
  • “Middle Passage Exhibit,” by Elizabeth S. Overman (pp. 958–60) Read online >
  • “Eye of the Storm: Civil War Drawings by Robert K. Sneden,” by Lance J. Herdegen (pp. 961–62) Read online >
  • “Call to Duty: Outagamie County in World War II,” by Stephen E. Kercher (pp. 963–64) Read online >
  • “A Portion of the People: Three Hundred Years of Southern Jewish Life,” by Leonard Rogoff (pp. 965–69) Read online >
  • “Japanese American Experience in Merced County,” by Nancy J. Taniguchi (pp. 970–71) Read online >
  • “Entertaining America: Jews, Movies, and Broadcasting,” by Stephen J. Whitfield (pp. 972–75) Read online >

Book Reviews

Dec. 2003, Vol. 90 No. 3

Alphabetical by the last name of the book's first author or editor.


Movie Reviews

  • Slave Ship, by Daniel C. Littlefield (p. 1120) Read online >
  • Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor, by James Kirby Martin (p. 1121–2) Read online >
  • Gods and Generals, by Steven E. Woodworth (p. 1123) Read online >
  • Gangs of New York, by J. Matthew Gallman (p. 1124–5) Read online >
  • Transcontinental Railroad, by Herbert Hovenkamp (p. 1126) Read online >
  • Frontier House, by Carroll Van West (p. 1127) Read online >
  • Open Range, by Stanley Corkin (p. 1128–9) Read online >
  • Chicago: City of the Century, by Virginia R. Stewart (p. 1130) Read online >
  • Monkey Trial, by Shawn Francis Peters (p. 1131) Read online >
  • Oh Freedom after While, by Andrew E. Kersten (p. 1131) Read online >
  • Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin, by Jo Ann O. Robinson (p. 1132) Read online >
  • Ralph Ellison: An American Journey, by Keith E. Byerman (p. 1133) Read online >
  • The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow, by Charles H. Martin (pp. 1134–35) Read online >
  • The Perilous Fight: America’s World War II in Color, by Blaine T. Browne (p. 1136) Read online >
  • The Murder of Emmett Till, by James R. Ralph Jr. (p. 1137) Read online >
  • Selma: The City and the Symbol, by Robyn Ceanne Spencer (p. 1138) Read online >
  • A Home on the Range: The Jewish Chicken Farmers of Petaluma, by Victoria Saker Woeste (p. 1139) Read online >
  • The Pill, by Carla Bittel (p. 1139) Read online >
  • Jimmy Carter, by Robert A. Strong (pp. 1140–1) Read online >
  • Struggling Unions, by Dorothy Sue Cobble (p. 1142) Read online >
  • The Clinton Years, by Gil Troy (p. 1143) Read online >
  • Bowling for Columbine, by Ron Briley (p. 1144–5) Read online >
  • Let’s Get Married, by Ellen Herman (p. 1146) Read online >

Web site Reviews

Web site reviews are available without a subscription.

  • Bethlehem Digital History Project, by Timothy D. Hall (p. 1148) Read online >
  • Ohio Memory: An Online Scrapbook of Ohio History, by Susan E. Gray (p. 1149) Read online >
  • Mission to Arizona, 1916–1940: Father Augustine Schwarz, O.F.M., by Kevin Mulroy (p. 1150) Read online >
  • The National Security Archive; and Digital National Security Archive, by Chester Pach (p. 1151) Read online >
  • NativeWeb, by Roger L. Nichols (p. 1152) Read online >

Letters to the Editor


Recent Scholarship

“Recent Scholarship” is available online, Read online >

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On the cover:

A Brulé Lakota camp near Wounded Knee (now in South Dakota) photographed in 1891. The Lakotas’ dramatic expansion in the early nineteenth century and their prolonged resistance to the United States late in the century stemmed largely from their exceptionally successful equestrian adaptation to the abundant yet fragile riverine environments of the Plains. Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection, Call number NS-289. See Pekka Hämäläinen, “The Rise and Fall of Plains Indian Horse Cultures,” p. 833.

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