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What’s in the March Issue of The Journal of American History?

The cover of the March 2018 issue of The Journal of American History.The March 2018 issue of The Journal of American History is now available online for subscribers.

Included are articles by Daniel Platt, Thomas A. Guglielmo, Thomas B. Robertson, and Jonathan Bell. We are also excited to feature textbooks and teaching in this issue with contributions by Scott E. Casper and Laura M. Westhoff, Daniel J. McInerney, Daniel S. Murphree, and Sam Wineburg, Mark Smith, and Joel Breakstone.

This issue also includes a host of book reviews and digital history reviews. The digital history projects reviewed include America’s Public Bible: Biblical Quotations in U.S. Newspapers, Tax History Project, Click! The Ongoing Feminist Revolution, and SNCC Digital Gateway.

Preview of Articles

In the early twentieth century, state-level usury laws became an object of debate among progressive reformers. While few believed that an unregulated financial market would serve the interests of working-class borrowers, many agreed that firm limits on allowable interest rates were failing to curb the avarice of small-sum lenders. Daniel Platt considers how shifting notions of Jewish difference—as a religious affiliation, a commercial orientation, and a racial pedigree—shaped these conversations and underwrote the rise of a more permissive regulatory order in the 1920s, premised on the goal of moving the trade into the hands of virtuous Anglo-Saxon bankers.

Historians have long debated the impact of World War II on the black civil rights movement. Were the war years a precursor to the movement or its first phase? Did the war help generate militancy or squash it? In addressing these crucial questions, however, scholars have failed to appreciate the full scope and sweep of black G.I. activism. Thomas A. Guglielmo argues that African American servicemen and women spearheaded the most dramatic and significant assault on military Jim Crow, part of a broader effort to topple wartime white supremacy. In the process, they built a “martial freedom movement,” a fuller appreciation of which deepens and refines our understanding of modern black freedom struggles.

Adding an environmental angle to the study of international development, this article takes readers to a Kiplingesque jungle of tigers and rhinos in Nepal to show how early Cold War development programs played out on the ground. Thomas B. Robertson tells the story through the perspectives of individual American policy makers and planners—who viewed the landscape through the lens of not just the Cold War but also of New Deal progressive politics and even older ideas of the frontier—as well as through the perspectives of Nepali government officials and villagers of different castes, ages, and genders. It is a story of limited success and of unintended consequences and good intentions gone awry. This essay will interest anyone interested in international affairs, environmental change, malaria, public health, indigenous peoples, and democratic change.

The aids (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) crisis in the United States killed tens of thousands in the 1980s, and it revealed homophobia and political inertia at the heart of American governance at the same time that it spurred a new wave of social activism to tackle the epidemic. Jonathan Bell explores the battles to access the welfare system for people with aids, unveiling how a system designed in the 1930s for women with children and the permanently disabled was adapted to meet the demands of gay men. Just as the federal government opened the welfare and Medicaid systems to them, it refused to diversify its definition of disability to include other hiv-positive populations—especially women—complicating our understanding of the heteronormative state in a period of conservative hegemony.

Looking for older issues of The Journal of American History? See previews of past issues and articles. Looking for other great publications? Explore The American Historian.

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