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Philadelphia Inquirer


  • Originally published 08/09/2013

    Nathaniel Popkin looks back at Tom Sugrue's "Origins of the Urban Crisis"

    Nathaniel Popkin is the author of Song of the City: An Intimate History of the American Urban Landscape.Perhaps no book has better clarified the story of 20th century urban decline than the 1996 Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton Press) by Penn historian Tom Sugrue. That book, which won the Bancroft Prize in 1998 and cemented Sugrue’s place among the top urban historians, illuminated the ways in which racism, federal policy, and corporate disinvestment combined to send Detroit—and dozens of other industrial cities—into freefall. Sugrue, who grew up in Detroit and lives in Mount Airy, is a careful observer of both his cities.

  • Originally published 02/14/2013

    Jonathan Zimmerman: Whose Daughters Will Engage in Combat?

    Jonathan Zimmerman is Professor of Education and History and Director of the History of Education Program, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.Now that women can assume combat roles in the military, I've got a question for you: Whose daughters will do the combatting?Not mine. And not yours, either, if they live in a leafy, upper-middle-class suburb like the one where my two girls have grown up.That's because the military draws overwhelmingly from the middle and lower-middle classes of our society. And that's what most of our news coverage has ignored, in the rush to congratulate the Pentagon for removing the ban on women in combat.Let's be clear: the Pentagon should be congratulated. Thousands of female medics, drivers, and other servicewomen have already seen battle overseas. But they have often been blocked from key promotions because they lacked official "combat" designations....

  • Originally published 02/06/2013

    Jim Sleeper: Guns Require a New Politics

    Jim Sleeper, a lecturer in political science at Yale, is the author of "The Closest of Strangers" and "Liberal Racism." E-mail him at james.sleeper@yale.edu. The Senate Judiciary Committee was told often enough last week that the United States' intolerably high levels of murder and maiming by gunfire would drop sharply if we had the gun control of other developed nations. (Only Mexico and Guatemala have constitutional provisions resembling our Second Amendment.)It won't happen, unless we dissolve the deep bond between our libertarian individualism and our glorification of runaway corporate engines that are disrupting public trust more brutally than their own managers ever intended or know how to stop.The challenge is too deep for law or social science alone. A republic can't shape aggressive, impressionable youngsters into citizens unless it can nourish public narratives, myths, or constitutive fictions that give kids direction and hope....

  • Originally published 01/17/2013

    Jonathan Zimmerman: [Video] Blame Games

    Jonathan Zimmerman is a Narberth resident and a professor of history at New York University. He is teaching a course at NYU's Abu Dhabi campus. E-mail: jlzimm@aol.com. ...In Washington, stricter regulation of video games has become a post-Sandy Hook cause du jour. Last week, Vice President Biden convened a high-profile meeting with video-game executives. Some have called for warning labels and other precautions.But we still don't know if playing video games makes users more likely to behave aggressively. Research on the subject is spotty and mixed, and millions of Americans clearly play violent games without becoming violent.For the most part, they also play them in a stationary position. So we shouldn't be surprised that video games are very strongly associated with obesity, especially among the young. In 2011, the World Health Organization named video games the single biggest cause of child obesity.Why would playing video games lead to more weight gain than, say, watching television? Nobody knows, although one recent study suggested an intriguing possibility: Video games make you hungry. Boys who played them were found to consume four times as many calories as they burned off....

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