The Problem With the Save Darfur Coalition

In his new book Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror, Mahmood Mamdani "attacks the Save Darfur Coalition as ahistorical and dishonest, and argues that the conflict in Darfur is more about land, power, and the environment than it is directly about race." Guernica magazine interviewed the controversial author about the historical roots of the Darfur conflict, the similarities between Darfur and Iraq, and the proper role of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Sudan and elsewhere.

The Memory Palace

History is full of half-forgotten tales. That time, for instance, when the British thought Ben Franklin was helping the French build a death ray. Or when everyone in the Netherlands accidentally got high for a year on rye bread tainted by a psychedelic mold. Or how a dentist's visit to Carlsbad Cavern inspired a doomsday weapon that could have ended World War II, if the atom bomb hadn't done it first. Nate DiMeo has been collecting these stories, in short, wonderful podcasts, on a site called The Memory Palace.

The Financial Meltdown Now and Then

In the first installment of a three-part series, economic historian Price Fishback showed just how different the basic macroeconomic facts are in the current financial situation versus during the Great Depression.

In the second of three blog posts, Fishback turns to a discussion of the recent financial meltdown compared to the one that accompanied the Great Depression. For everyone still scratching their heads about what happened to the financial sector this fall, Fishback offers one of the clearest descriptions I've seen yet. He then discusses the similarities and differences of the financial collapse that began in 1929.

Julian Zelizer Answers Your Political-History Questions

Julian Zelizer Last week we solicited your questions for political historian Julian Zelizer. In the aftermath of an historic election and in the midst of strange and shocking political events, many of your questions had the zing of the moment about them — including whether any other president has had a shoe thrown at him. […]

Guess Where I Was the Other Day

It is home to this fine monument: And here it is in wider view: Yes, that’s the Parthenon, but no, I was not in Athens, and no, Athens hasn’t rebuilt the thing. I was in “the Athens of the South,” a.k.a. Nashville, Tenn., to give a talk at Vanderbilt University. I have always liked Nashville […]

Price Fishback: What Do the New Deal and World War II Tell Us About the Prospects for a Stimulus Package?

Economic historian Price Fishback, who recently guest blogged about the original Home Owners’ Loan Corporation, is back for an encore. This time, he tackles the issue of whether the New Deal and World War II are good examples of Keynesian stimuli. If you want to see these sorts of issues tackled in greater detail, check […]

Economist Price Fishback: The Real Facts About the Original Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (and What They Mean for a Modern Incarnation)

More and more people are calling for the government to create a Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) modeled after the New Deal version that went by the same name. The first person I heard suggesting this was economist Alan Blinder in a startlingly prescient New York Times Op-Ed piece back in February of this year. […]

Happy Birthday, Dad

When it comes to creativity and storytelling, my sister Linda Jines got all the talent. She, for instance, is the genius who thought up the title “Freakonomics.” In what we hope will be the first in a long line of guest blog posts, today she toasts my father on his 73rd birthday. Levitt’s father in […]

Don’t Let the Facts Stand in the Way of a Good Movie

I recently whined about some of the historical inaccuracies in the HBO mini-series John Adams. If I had seen this list first — the Ten Most Historically Inaccurate Movies — I would have held my tongue. Here, according to Yahoo!’s list, are the ten worst offenders: 10,000 B.C., Gladiator, 300, The Last Samurai, Apocalypto, Memoirs […]

What’s So Special About the Subprime Mess?

The answer, according to the economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, is … “not much.” Here’s what they describe in a new NBER working paper about the causes and consequences of the current subprime crisis: Our examination of the longer historical record finds stunning qualitative and quantitative parallels to 18 earlier post-war banking crises in […]