*Editor's note: This giveaway has ended.
This is one opportunity history buffs won't want to miss! In partnership with Scribner, The Archive is giving away three recently published books about American history to one lucky winner.
In Whose Ruins explores four significant places in the United States in which oppressive rhetoric obscured history's truth. Eleanor in the Village dives into a lesser-known period of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt's life, when she moved to New York’s progressive Greenwich Village. Black Ghost of Empire takes a look at the legal end of slavery in America and the world, and identifies the ways in which oppression takes on a more insidious form in the present day.
All of these vital reads provide gripping analysis of the world we live and operate in today.
Enter your email address for a chance to win three incredible books offering insight into America's complex past.
About the Prizes
In Whose Ruins
In this examination of landscape and memory, four sites of American history are revealed as places where historical truth was written over by oppressive fiction—with profound repercussions for politics past and present.
Popular narratives of American history conceal as much as they reveal. They present a national identity based on harvesting the treasures that lay in wait for European colonization. In Whose Ruins tells another story: winding through the US landscape, from Native American earthworks in West Virginia to the Manhattan Project in New Mexico, this history is a tour of sites that were mined for an empire’s power. Showing the hidden costs of ruthless economic growth, particularly to Indigenous people and ways of understanding, this book illuminates the myth-making intimately tied to place. From the ground up, the project of settlement, expansion, and extraction became entwined with the spiritual values of those who hoped to gain from it. Every nation tells some stories and suppresses others, and In Whose Ruins illustrates the way American myths have been inscribed on the earth itself, overwriting Indigenous histories and binding us into an unsustainable future.
In these pages, historian Alicia Puglionesiilluminates the story of the Grave Creek Stone, “discovered” in an ancient Indigenous burial mound, and used to promote the theory that a lost white race predated Native people in North America—part of a wider effort to justify European conquest with alternative histories. When oil was discovered in the corner of western Pennsylvania soon known as Petrolia, prospectors framed that treasure, too, as a birthright passed to them, through Native guides, from a lost race. Puglionesi traces the fate of ancient petroglyphs that once adorned rock faces on the Susquehanna River, dynamited into pieces to make way for a hydroelectric dam. This act foreshadowed the flooding of Native lands around the country; over the course of the 20th century, almost every major river was dammed for economic purposes. And she explores the effects of the US nuclear program in the Southwest, which contaminated vast regions in the name of eternal wealth and security through atomic power. This promise rang hollow for the surrounding Native, Hispanic, and white communities that were harmed, and even for some scientists. It also inspired nationwide resistance, uniting diverse groups behind a different vision of the future—one not driven by greed and haunted by ruin.
This deeply researched work of narrative history traces the roots of American fantasies and fears in a national tradition of selective forgetting. Connecting the power of myths with the extraction of power from the land itself reveals the truths that have been left out and is an invaluable torch in the search for a way forward.
Eleanor in the Village
A “riveting and enlightening account” (Bookreporter) of a mostly unknown chapter in the life of Eleanor Roosevelt—when she moved to New York’s Greenwich Village, shed her high-born conformity, and became the progressive leader who pushed for change as America’s First Lady.
Hundreds of books have been written about FDR and Eleanor, both together and separately, but yet she remains a compelling and elusive figure. And, not much is known about why in 1920, Eleanor suddenly abandoned her duties as a mother of five and moved to Greenwich Village, then the symbol of all forms of transgressive freedom—communism, homosexuality, interracial relationships, and subversive political activity. Now, in this “immersive…original look at an iconic figure of American politics” (Publishers Weekly), Jan Russell pulls back the curtain on Eleanor’s life to reveal the motivations and desires that drew her to the Village and how her time there changed her political outlook.
A captivating blend of personal history detailing Eleanor’s struggle with issues of marriage, motherhood, financial independence, and femininity, and a vibrant portrait of one of the most famous neighborhoods in the world, this unique work examines the ways that the sensibility, mood, and various inhabitants of the neighborhood influenced the First Lady’s perception of herself and shaped her political views over four decades, up to her death in 1962.
When Eleanor moved there, the Village was a zone of Bohemians, misfits, and artists, but there was also freedom there, a miniature society where personal idiosyncrasy could flourish. Eleanor joined the cohort of what then was called “The New Women” in Greenwich Village. Unlike the flappers in the 1920s, the New Women had a much more serious agenda, organizing for social change—unions for workers, equal pay, protection for child workers—and they insisted on their own sexual freedom. These women often disagreed about politics—some, like Eleanor, were Democrats, others Republicans, Socialists, and Communists. Even after moving into the White House, Eleanor retained connections to the Village, ultimately purchasing an apartment in Washington Square where she lived during World War II and in the aftermath of Roosevelt’s death in 1945.
Including the major historical moments that served as a backdrop for Eleanor’s time in the Village, this remarkable work offers new insights into Eleanor’s transformation—emotionally, politically, and sexually—and provides us with the missing chapter in an extraordinary life.
Black Ghost of Empire
The 1619 Project illuminated the ways in which every aspect of life in the United States was and is shaped by the existence of slavery. Black Ghost of Empire focuses on emancipation and how this opportunity to make right further codified the racial caste system—instead of obliterating it.
To understand why the shadow of slavery still haunts society today, we must not only look at what slavery was, but also the unfinished way it ended. One may think of “emancipation” as a finale, leading to a new age of human rights and universal freedoms. But in reality, emancipations everywhere were incomplete. In Black Ghost of Empire, acclaimed historian and professor Kris Manjapra identifies five types of emancipation—explaining them in chronological order—along with the lasting impact these transitions had on formerly enslaved groups around the Atlantic.
Beginning in 1770s and concluding in 1880s, different kinds of emancipation processes took place across the Atlantic world. These included the Gradual Emancipations of North America, the Revolutionary Emancipation of Haiti, the Compensated Emancipations of European overseas empires, the War Emancipation of the American South, and the Conquest Emancipations that swept across Sub-Saharan Africa. Tragically, despite a century of abolitions and emancipations, systems of social bondage persisted and reconfigured. We still live with these unfinished endings today. In practice, all the slavery emancipations that have ever taken place reenacted racial violence against Black communities, and reaffirmed commitment to white supremacy. The devil lurked in the details of the five emancipation processes, none of which required atonement for wrongs committed, or restorative justice for the people harmed.
Manjapra shows how, amidst this unfinished history, grassroots Black organizers and activists have become custodians of collective recovery and remedy; not only for our present, but also for our relationship with the past.
Timely, lucid, and crucial to our understanding of the ongoing “anti-mattering” of Black people, Black Ghost of Empire shines a light into the deep gap between the idea of slavery’s end and its actual perpetuation in various forms—exposing the shadows that linger to this day.
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Note: The sweepstakes is open to all legal residents of the 50 United States and Washington, DC who are 18 years of age and older by 5/20/22.
Featured image: SJ Objio/Unsplash.