The World in Time

Eric Foner

Friday, January 05, 2018

"Underground" routes to Canada.

“History does not tell us what to do,” Civil War scholar Eric Foner says, but it does help us understand how the world got this way, as long as you aren’t stuck playing the Great Men greatest hits in your studies. But that’s what most of us learn: a litany of good or important deeds done by familiar names that turns history into a constellation of memorized details instead of a reckoning. This pockmarked understanding of the past, and the efforts to render history into more than a sunny yet useless bit of impressionism, is the theme of Foner’s Battles for Freedom: The Use and Abuse of American History. The essays within were published in The Nation between 1977 and 2017 and often hit home the stickiness of the past. In a book review about public history and Confederate monuments, he asks, “Why, one wonders, has our understanding of history changed so rapidly, but its public presentation remained so static?”

 

Lewis H. Lapham talks with Eric Foner, author of Battles for Freedom: The Use and Abuse of American History.

 

Thanks to our generous donors. Lead support for this podcast has been provided by Elizabeth “Lisette” Prince. Additional support was provided by James J. “Jimmy” Coleman Jr.

Discussed in this episode

Battles For Freedom: The Use and Abuse of American History

More Podcasts

Ocean Swells, by Arthur B. Davies. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of A. W. Bahr, 1958.

December 22, 2017

The World in Time:

Maya Jasanoff

Lewis H. Lapham talks with Maya Jasanoff, author of The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World. More

The Cantino planisphere, made by an anonymous cartographer in 1502, shows the world as it was understood by Europeans after their great explorations at the end of the fifteenth century.

May 26, 2017

The World in Time:

Ian Mortimer

Lewis Lapham talks with Ian Mortimer about the past millennium of human innovation. More

Midwinter rural scene in far-west Texas. February 15, 2014. Carol M. Highsmith. The Library of Congress.

November 10, 2017

The World in Time:

Roger D. Hodge

Lewis H. Lapham talks with Roger D. Hodge, author of Texas Blood: Seven Generations Among the Outlaws, Ranchers, Indians, Missionaries, Soldiers, and Smugglers of the Borderlands. More

October 04, 2011

The World in Time:

World Enough, and Time

Lewis Lapham speaks with Elizabeth Abbott, author of Mistresses: A History of the Other Woman More

June 29, 2018

The World in Time:

Catherine Nixey

Lewis H. Lapham talks with Catherine Nixey, author of The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World. More

October 26, 2018

The World in Time:

Sarah Churchwell

Lewis H. Lapham talks with Sarah Churchwell, author of Behold, America: The Entangled History of “America First” and “the American Dream”. More