Leaving Nebraska: Revisiting Willa Cather in the Pandemic

Willa Cather can make you believe that Nebraska is a little more idyllic than your particular piece of America. Prairie flowers bloom near fields of waving wheat. Sturdy immigrant farmers build sturdy farmhouses and some residents install hammocks on the upper porch to sleep out under the stars on summer evenings. Even the fierce winter […]

The Enduring Myth of the Texas Rangers

While the Washington football team and the Cleveland baseball team were both undergoing public struggles about the appropriateness of their nicknames, my own favorite baseball team, the Texas Rangers,was called out by several national columnistsfor a similar soul-searching. Theodore Roosevelt, (yes, THAT Teddy Roosevelt) made the case for both sides back before there was even […]

Who’s Going to Make the Case for America? (I Mean, Along with Jill Lepore)

Late in her brief but thought-provoking new book, historian Jill Lepore gets down to why she would write something titled This America: The Case for the Nation: “In American history, liberals have failed, time and again, to defeat illiberalism except by making appeals to national aims and ends…Writing national history creates plenty of problems. But […]

Stirring, Terrifying, Inspiring, Troubling—Yeah, That’s America

The first thing I note about Jill Lepore’s new one-volume history of the United States is how out of style it is. In an age of disintegrating consensus and competing truths, who would dare to attempt a comprehensive narrative of our national story? Fortunately, Jill Lepore would and the result is a book you’ll surely […]

Why a Story of Fugitive Slaves May Not Just Be History

In light of the current Great Divide, there is no innocent reading of history. We mine every thesis about the Constitutional Convention or the Civil War for evidence of another agenda. History becomes covert commentary on Trump and the Resistance. So when Andrew Delbanco’s wonderful new book on fugitive slaves in antebellum America landed in […]

What If We Can’t ‘Get Past’ Sex? A Review of Entangled

The following review was originally published on The Englewood Review of Books and is republished with permission. The author is Heartlands editor, Alex Joyner. What if questions of human sexuality are not something that the United Methodist Church (UMC), like other mainline Protestant denominations, have to settle and get past, but rather are the foundation on which the […]