Remembering a Campus Free Speech Fight

On June 10, 2018, Doug Bennet, a historian, political aide, assistant secretary in the State Department, former president of National Public Radio and—most importantly to me—president of Wesleyan University, died at the age of 79. It’s rare that you see someone bring such a rich background to the executive office of a liberal arts college, but after a … More Remembering a Campus Free Speech Fight

William Manchester and the Art of Popular History

This essay is adapted from a talk I was invited to give at the Wesleyan University Library on the occasion of historian William Manchester’s archive becoming officially open to the public. On June 1, 2004, when William Manchester died, I went to a shelf in my home where I keep some books from my late father’s … More William Manchester and the Art of Popular History

From the Electronic Archive: My Second Career at the Same University

This is a (slightly) shorter version of a presentation I gave eight years ago at the 2008 American Historical Association Conference in Washington, D.C. I wrote it at a time when I had come to terms with some professional challenges. Most immediately, my promotion to full professor gone horribly awry, and as I began to … More From the Electronic Archive: My Second Career at the Same University

Free Range Research

One of my talents as a researcher is also one of my flaws. I reach far beyond the main focus of a given project to try to raise new questions and make connections that all allow me to understand it better. This has seemed particularly important in my current project, in which the history of … More Free Range Research