Best American History Reads of 2018

A list by Bunk Editor Tony Field.

Bunk
Bunk
Jan 8, 2019 · 7 min read

Each day at Bunk, we comb the internet for the most interesting American history-related articles, essays, videos, podcasts, conversations, maps, and visualizations. We’re particularly fond of content that explores the connections between present and past. On our website, you’ll see some of the ways these stories intersect with each other across theme, space, and time.

Below, you’ll find some of my favorite pieces from 2018. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

-Tony Field (Editor, Bunk)

Local History

Honorable Mentions:
The Little Mayors of the Lower East Side [Laurie Gwen Shapiro, Lapham’s Quarterly]
In the Hate of Dixie [Cynthia Tucker, Bitter Southerner]

Legal History

Honorable Mentions:
Separation of Power [William Hogeland, Lapham’s Quarterly]
No Law Without Politics (No Politics Without Law) [Jedediah Purdy, Law and Political Economy]

Narrative History

Honorable Mention:
The Counterfeit Queen of Soul [Jeff Maysh, Smithsonian Magazine]

Religious History

Honorable Mention:
The Fight to Define Romans 13 [Lincoln Mullen, The Atlantic]

Reported History

Honorable Mentions:
Payback [Natalie Y. Moore, The Marshall Project]
A Cool Dip and a Little Dignity [Erin E. Tocknell, Bitter Southerner]

Labor History

Honorable Mention:
Where Did it All Go Wrong? [Gabriel Winant, The Nation]

Watery History

Honorable Mentions:
The Water Next Time? [Danielle Purifoy, Scalawag]
The First Floridians [Jordan Blumetti, Bitter Southerner]

Historical Reenactment

Honorable Mention:
Revisiting an Explorer’s Northwest Passage ‘Disappointment’ After Nearly 230 Years [Brian Castner, Atlas Obsura]

Museum Review

Honorable Mention:
Our Nukes, Ourselves [Kelsey D. Atherton, The New Inquiry]

Debunk

Honorable Mentions:
The Myth of the Criminal Immigrant [Anna Flagg, The Marshall Project]
We’re Never Going to Have Our “Have You No Sense of Decency, Sir?” Moment [Rebecca Onion, Slate]

Obituary

Honorable Mention:
Larry Eisenberg, 99, Dead; His Limericks Were Very Well Read [Margalit Fox, New York Times]

Reputation Revision

Honorable Mentions:
Why Tamika Mallory Won’t Condemn Louis Farrakhan [Adam Serwer, The Atlantic]
Paul Bremer, Ski Instructor: Learning to Shred With the Bush Administration’s Iraq War Fall Guy [Aaron Gell, Task & Purpose]
My Fellow Prisoners: On John McCain [George Blaustein, n+1]

Origin Story (Culture)

Honorable Mentions:
How Auto-Tune Revolutionized the Sound of Popular Music [Simon Reynolds, Pitchfork]
The Story Behind the Poem on the Statue of Liberty [Walt Hunter, The Atlantic]
My Dad Painted the Iconic Cover for Jethro Tull’s ‘Aqualung,’ and It’s Haunted Him Ever Since [Robert Silverman, The Outline]

Origin Story (Trumpism)

Honorable Mentions:
Trumpism Before Trump [Robert L. Tsai & Calvin Terbeek, Boston Review]
The Religion of Whiteness Becomes a Suicide Cult [Pankaj Mishra, New York Times]
The Roots of Trump’s Immigration Barbarity [Daniel Denvir, Jacobin]

Origin Story (Plastic)

Honorable Mention:
Disposable America [Alexis Madrigal, The Atlantic]

Commentary (Reconstruction’s Legacy)

Honorable Mention:
Citizens: 150 Years of the 14th Amendment [Martha S. Jones, Public Books]

Commentary (Historic Preservation)

Honorable Mention:
The Death and Life of a Great American Building [Jeremiah Moss, New York Review of Books]

Commentary (80s Movies)

Honorable Mention:
Brett Kavanaugh Goes to the Movies [Marsha Gordon, The Conversation]

Commentary (Covert Operations)

Honorable Mention:
The U.S. Needs to Face Up to Its Long History of Election Meddling [Peter Beinart, The Atlantic]

Commentary (Statue of Liberty)

Honorable Mention:
Who Does She Stand For? [Paul A. Kramer, Slate]

Commentary (Futility of War)

Honorable Mention:
Remembrance of War as a Warning [Christopher Preble, War on the Rocks]

Commentary (Country Music)

Honorable Mention:
Agriculture Wars [Nick Murray, Viewpoint]

Periodical Single Issue

Honorable Mention:
The Baffler, “Tramps and Millionaires” [Issue №42]

Recurring Series

Bibliography

For more tips about the Internet’s most interesting American history-related content, visit Bunk, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or sign up for our newsletter.

Published on January 8, 2019.

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