OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

Michael S. Green

Portrait of Michael S. Green

An associate professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Michael S. Green specializes in nineteenth-century politics and the American West. His works on the Civil War era include Freedom, Union, and Power: Lincoln and His Party during the Civil War (2004); Politics and America in Crisis: The Coming of the Civil War (2010); and Lincoln and the Election of 1860 (2011). His books on Nevada include Las Vegas: A Centennial History (2005), with Eugene Moehring, and Nevada: A History of the Silver State (2015). A recipient of the American Historical Association's Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award, he is also on the board of directors of Las Vegas's nationally known and highly respected Mob Museum. He serves as the executive director of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association and the director of Preserve Nevada, the state's only statewide historic preservation organization.

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

Which president ordered the largest mass execution in American history, and the largest commutation of death sentences? The answer is Abraham Lincoln, and it was for the same event: The Dakota uprising of 1862. This lecture examines what Lincoln thought about Native Americans, what he did, what he did not do, and the events that shaped his attitudes.
In 1931, Nevada became the only state with legal gambling, attracting mostly small-time illegal gambling operators. Soon after World War II, Las Vegas became the center of gambling in the U.S., and the smallest city by far to be visited by Senator Estes Kefauver's committee investigating organized crime--because Las Vegas already was known as mob central. Eventually, a combination of events drove the mob out of power in Las Vegas, and the area morphed into a tourism destination built by corporations. This lecture traces the evolution of Las Vegas as a gambling and tourism city from its maverick beginnings to its mob connections to the MBA's who run it now, along with the story of a sometimes controversial museum that captures that history.
Abraham Lincoln came from the farthest west of any president up to that time, and contemporaries viewed him as a westerner. Lincoln also made policy in connection with the West, including the idea that slavery should not go there, but in other ways that shaped the country to this day. This lecture examines how Lincoln sought to export Republican ideology to the West, and build up the region and thus the country--including at the expense of those who had lived there for generations.
While stars like Sammy Davis, Jr., and Lena Horne performed in Las Vegas showrooms, they usually couldn't even stay at the hotel where they were appearing. Las Vegas became known as "The Mississippi of the West" for its segregation, in the community and on the Strip. This lecture examines how Las Vegas became that way, and began to change during the civil rights movement.
Nevada was the site of about 100 aboveground atomic tests from 1951 to 1963, followed by nearly 30 years of underground tests at the Nevada Test Site. Not only was this a key component of Cold War defense policy, but Nevada also turned the mushroom cloud into a tourist attraction and local symbol, with a variety of effects. This lecture examines how Nevada marketed the atomic bomb, along with how the state fit into the Cold War and McCarthyism, including battles involving its powerful U.S. Senator, Pat McCarran, and a newspaper publisher whose attacks on McCarthy and McCarran predated those of more famous national critics.
Abraham Lincoln was a politician to his toenails. Throughout his adult life, if he wasn't running for office, he was working to build up his political party and find ways to undercut his opposition. This lecture looks at how Lincoln shaped the political world he lived in, and how it shaped him.
Abraham Lincoln had held elected office for 10 years before becoming president, all as a congressman or legislator. His leadership techniques--rooted in his political acumen--are widely praised and criticized. How did his leadership help and hinder the Union? And where did he learn to be a leader? This lecture examines Lincoln the leader, as a person, a lawyer, and a politician.