How Race and Neoliberalization Shaped Chicago Politics

Chicago has attracted the gaze of journalists, novelists, essayists, and scholars as much as any city in the nation. And, yet, few historians have attempted big-picture narratives of the city’s transformation over the twentieth century.

Chicago on the Make: Power and Inequality in a Modern City traces the evolution of the city’s politics, culture, and economy as it grew from an unruly tangle of rail yards, slaughterhouses, factories, tenement houses, and fiercely defended ethnic neighborhoods into a truly global urban center.

Reinterpreting the familiar narrative that Chicago’s autocratic machine politics shaped its institutions and public life, acclaimed historian Andrew J. Diamond demonstrates how the grassroots politics of race crippled progressive forces and enabled an alliance of downtown business interests to promote a neoliberal agenda that created the stark inequalities that ravage the city today.

From his introduction, Diamond describes the idea of Chicago vs. its reality:

Chicago has evoked so much that is patently American, and it continues to do so today even after President Trump attempted to make it into an aberration by evoking the “carnage” on its streets. First and foremost, with its 2.7 million residents (nearly 10 million in the entire metropolitan area), it is the clear-cut capital of the Midwest and thus of the fabled American “heartland”—a nebulous place that politicians of every stripe appeal to in order to convince voters that they represent the “real” people. And Chicago strikes this populist chord in ways that other “great” American cities do not. In contrast with the dominant image of the good people residing in the older, educated cities of the eastern seaboard, for example, the stereotypical Chicagoan speaks in a thick accent, pronouncing words like the and these as “da” and “dese.” While notions of class justice (and injustice) now struggle for legitimacy within the realm of mainstream political discourse in the United States, American patriotism nonetheless remains infused with celebrations of average working men and women—which keeps Chicago a working-class town in the American imagination, even if it now ranks among the most economically powerful global cities in the world.

A people’s history, Chicago on the Make sheds new light on how the interplay of race and neoliberalization shaped Chicago’s political culture.

Join Andrew J. Diamond at one of his Chicago speaking engagements:

Tuesday, November 7
Chicago Public Library: Harold Washington Library Center
Free and open to the public
Check the event page for more details

Wednesday, November 8
Newberry Research Library
Free and open to the public
Check the event page for more details

Thursday, November 9
Chicago History Museum
$25, price includes dinner and parking
Check the event page for more details

#CharlottesvilleCurriculum, #CharlottesvilleSyllabus: UC Press Edition

Over the past few days, we received an influx of requests from faculty for books that provide context around the tragic events in Charlottesville. We’ve curated the list of titles below. Our hope is that this list serves as a resource for instructors preparing for fall courses, and that the books offer a foundation of understanding for students and readers.

Relevant Forthcoming Titles

Easily and quickly request exam and desk copies online by visiting any of the books’ pages above. If you need assistance in choosing the right texts for your course, we’d be glad to help, contact us here.

For other relevant resources, follow #CharlottesvilleCurriculum and #CharlottesvilleSyllabus, and read the Charlottesville Curriculum.

Spring Fashions and Parades on Easter Sunday

Do you remember dressing up in your Easter best as a child? The tradition of buying new clothes for the occasion is one that has continued for decades in America, and perhaps centuries in Europe. In fact, Easter spending on outfits is the second largest holiday expense, according to the a survey by the National Retail Federation in 2014, second only to the money spent on groceries or meals out.

In fact, America was also once known for the Easter parade. Bruce David Forbes describes the popularity of the parades and the holiday fashion trend in America’s Favorite Holidays:

“…parishioners from prominent New York City churches strolled Fifth Avenue following Easter morning worship services to show off their elegant fashions, especially ladies’ hats, their “Easter bonnets”… “At its height in the late 1940s, the New York City Easter parade drew crowds estimated at over a million people, inspiring other parades in cities like Atlantic City, Boston, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. By the 1890s, the expectation of new clothes for Easter was being encouraged by explicit marketing appeals from merchants via newspaper and magazine advertisements, store windows, and other promotions.”

“The expectations continued until recent decades, and many adults today, nationwide, remember the special Easter clothes of childhood.”

However, in recent years, this trend seems to have diminished somewhat, even if the Easter parades continue in a slightly different fashion (no pun intended). Forbes continues: “The parades still occur annually, although they are substantially diminished and are now more of a carnival featuring outlandish hats, instead of the fashion show of earlier years.”

So why have we stopped dressing up for Easter? “As Peter Steinfels of the New York Times has written, echoing the impression of almost everyone, “The whole association between Easter and clothes isn’t what it used to be.” He suggests that the new spring fashions remain but are not as focused on Easter. Even more important, I would suggest, is that in today’s American culture clothing is increasingly casual at work and at worship, influencing even Easter Sunday. If new Easter clothes drove sales in previous generations, that spending is greatly diminished now. When is the last time you saw an Easter bonnet?”

Learn more about American traditions and celebrations in America’s Favorite Holidays, available now.


Ana Elizabeth Rosas interviewed on the New Books Network

Ana Elizabeth Rosas, author of Abrazando el Espiritu: Bracero Families Confront the US-Mexico Border, spoke to David-James Gonzoles of New Books in American Studies this weekend. Ana Rosas is Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the departments of History and Chicano-Latino Studies at the University of California, Irvine

Listen to the full interview at the New Books Network’s website, where you can also read David-James Gonzoles’ full review.

Abrazando el Espíritu: Bracero Families Confront the US-Mexico Border
Abrazando el Espíritu: Bracero Families Confront the US-Mexico Border

Abrazando el Espiritu (“embracing the spirit”), a study of the 1942 Bracero Program established between the U.S. and Mexican governments, navigates the deep impact that it had upon transnational Mexican immigrant families. Rosas’ book draws both from official government archives and family histories such as photographs, love letters, popular music, and oral histories in order to provide a closer, more personal understanding of the lives of these Bracero families and the challenges that they faced.

In this lengthy interview, she speaks about how she came to study her field, the link between the lives of Bracero families and those of contemporary migrant workers, the process of acquiring interviews and bringing the personal histories of families into her work, and the important role that love and connection play in understanding the historical moment of her study.

“A truly landmark study,” says Gonzoles, “Abrazando el Espiritu deepens our understanding of the costs of transnational labor migration on families and the efforts undertaken by women, children, men, and the elderly to preserve familial bonds amidst government surveillance and abandonment.”

Join Us At The 2015 Organization of American Historians Meeting!

The University of California Press steamboat is chugging up the Mississippi River to the 2015 Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting. The meeting convenes April 16-19 in St. Louis.

Please visit us at booth 315 in America’s Center to purchase our latest American history publications for the following offers:

  • 30% conference discount and free worldwide shipping
  • Submit exam copy requests for course adoption for your upcoming classes
  • Win $100 worth of books! Join our eNews subscription

While at our booth, explore our new and award winning titles in United States history for your research and courses. We’ll also offer subscription rates for our history journals.

Please see our conference program ad for our latest offerings. Acquisitions and marketing staff will be available for your publishing questions.

Follow #OAH2015 and @The_OAH for current meeting news.

Remembering JFK

November 22nd marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Few American figures are as iconic as JFK, and UC Press joins the millions of Americans today in remembering our admired president.

Shooting KennedyTwo related books have garnered headlines around the anniversary, helping analyze the legacy and controversy around JFK and the Kennedy family.

David Lubin’s Shooting Kennedyexamines the allure of iconic images of the Kennedys, using them to illuminate the entire American cultural landscape. The author has been cited in the past week in the The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, and BagNews.

Lubin is also a contributor to the catalog for Hotel Texas: An Art Exhibition for the President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy, which runs until January 12, 2014.


Deep PoliticsPeter Dale Scott’s Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, is a well researched inquiry into the shadowy world of politics that so characterized the Cold War and, especially, the Kennedy administration. Scott argues that JFK’s death was not just an isolated case, but rather a symptom of hidden processes within the deep politics of early 1960s American international and domestic policies.

Scott’s book was listed as required reading in the recent Salon article titled JFK Assassination: CIA and New York Times are Still Lying to Us.

Other excellent resources to learn more:

JFK exhibit at the Newseum in Washington D.C., on display through January 5, 2014

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, MA

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, TX