Daily Archives: April 13, 2021

Is Guaranteed Income the Answer to Poverty in America? This Study Says Yes | Amanpour and Company

Amanpour and Company = Mar 9, 2021

Many Americans are trapped in a decades-long cycle of poverty. In 2019, the mayor of Stockton, California launched a trailblazing anti-poverty initiative called the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration [SEED]. The project began by giving 125 individuals a guaranteed basic income of $500 a month for two years. Participants were chosen from neighborhoods with a median income of $46,000 or less. Director Sukhi Samra and researcher Amy Castro Baker speak about the program’s preliminary results with Hari Sreenivasan, as part of our ongoing initiative about poverty, jobs and economic opportunity in America called Chasing the Dream. Originally aired on March 9, 2021.

Should Rich Countries Be Obligated to Share Their Vaccines? | Amanpour and Company

Amanpour and Company – Mar 25, 2021

While the COVID-19 vaccine is readily available in the U.S., the UK and Israel, experts are saying that most of Africa and parts of South America and Asia will wait until 2023 for its inoculations. Health inequality was badly exposed during this pandemic, but Priti Krishtel says it doesn’t have to be this way. She is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the non-profit Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge. She spoke to Hari Sreenivasan about the need to rethink how patents are regulated. Originally aired on March 25, 2021.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack: Pandemic Has Expanded Food Assistance | Amanpour and Company

Amanpour and Company – Apr 12, 2021

Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for eight years, was the Obama Administration’s longest-serving cabinet member. Now Vilsack has returned to head the Department of Agriculture for the Biden administration. He joins Walter Isaacson to discuss the assistance the department has provided to farmers throughout the pandemic, as well as his plans for reform. Originally aired on April 12, 2021.

Saving America’s Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew Urban America in the Suburban Age: Lizabeth Cohen

Winner of the Bancroft Prize

In twenty-first-century America, some cities are flourishing and others are struggling, but they all must contend with deteriorating infrastructure, economic inequality, and unaffordable housing. Cities have limited tools to address these problems, and many must rely on the private market to support the public good.

It wasn’t always this way. For almost three decades after World War II, even as national policies promoted suburban sprawl, the federal government underwrote renewal efforts for cities that had suffered during the Great Depression and the war and were now bleeding residents into the suburbs. In Saving America’s Cities, the prizewinning historian Lizabeth Cohen follows the career of Edward J. Logue, whose shifting approach to the urban crisis tracked the changing balance between government-funded public programs and private interests that would culminate in the neoliberal rush to privatize efforts to solve entrenched social problems. A Yale-trained lawyer, rival of Robert Moses, and sometime critic of Jane Jacobs, Logue saw renewing cities as an extension of the liberal New Deal. He worked to revive a declining New Haven, became the architect of the “New Boston” of the 1960s, and, later, led New York State’s Urban Development Corporation, which built entire new towns, including Roosevelt Island in New York City.

Logue’s era of urban renewal has a complicated legacy: Neighborhoods were demolished and residents dislocated, but there were also genuine successes and progressive goals. Saving America’s Cities is a dramatic story of heartbreak and destruction but also of human idealism and resourcefulness, opening up possibilities for our own time.


“[Cohen] has not only taken the measure of a complicated man, but also provided an incisive treatment of the entire urban-planning world in America in the last half of the 20th century . . . [She] has created a more enlightening book than has appeared on this topic in quite some time.” ―Alan Ehrenhalt, The New York Times

“Kudos to Harvard professor Lizabeth Cohen for exhuming the cantankerous, ambitious and idealistic Logue in her charming and successful biography-cum-urban affairs history . . . Ms. Cohen ennobles [Logue’s] life story, telling it as an impassioned crusade for things that sound old-fashioned now but were and are worth caring about: racial and socioeconomic integration of neighborhoods; respectable public housing for lower-income Americans; and social services and decent schooling for all . . . Engrossing.” ―Alex Beam, The Wall Street Journal

“As cities across the country and around the world struggle to cope with the ongoing pandemic, it is an opportune time to read Saving America’s Cities, Lizabeth Cohen’s excellent study of postwar urban planning . . . With deep archival research and a narrative sweep that fixes her subject in the arc of midcentury US history, Cohen sketches Logue vividly, illuminating his forcefulness, his passion, his masculine confidence. She also provides a painful account of what he and so many liberals of his generation were up against.” ―Kim Phillips-Fein, The Nation

“Lizabeth Cohen offers a complex portrait of Logue . . . Urban renewal makes an easy foil against which designers, planners, and politicians can contrast their proposals . . . It’s worth revisiting a time when a strong government hand was seen as necessary for creating a vibrant city . . . Logue is a more complicated figure who shows how urban renewal was an experiment with successes and failures.” ―Courtney Humphries, The Boston Globe

“Vivid and discerning . . . Saving America’s Cities is

remarkable, unique even, among the many chronicles of urban renewal’s failures. By taking readers into the 1970s, Cohen expands the frame for the much-maligned mid-century policy, and argues that urban renewal’s failures and (rare) successes led to an era of planning with rather than for communities . . . It’s hard not to recognize Logue’s story in the persistent dilemmas of our own times.” ―Samuel Zipp, Public Books

“Sixteen years after her landmark A Consumers’ Republic, distinguished historian Lizabeth Cohen reinterprets mid-century urban renewal through the life of Ed Logue . . . Cohen, through meticulous research, paints an intricate, sympathetic portrait . . . Cohen has given readers a book as substantial and complex as the man and controversial movement it explains.” ―Sam Kling, Booklist (starred review)

“More than a biography . . . Today, when inequality is on the rise, Saving America’s Cities warns against easy solutions while offering hope that people can improve the places where we live―and with that, people’s lives.” ―Ann Forsyth, Harvard Magazine

“One of America’s most controversial policies as seen through the career of one of its most outspoken advocates; an essential read.” Library Journal (starred review)

“In this deeply researched work, Cohen skillfully chronicles Logue’s rise and fall . . . A robust, richly documented biography.” Kirkus

“Is it possible to write not only a good book about urban renewal but also a beautiful one? If you are Lizabeth Cohen, it is. Saving America’s Cities is, at once, a new, wise and more balanced take on past efforts to save America’s cities and a fascinating portrait of Ed Logue, a central figure in urban policy whose personal trajectory parallels the course of our debates over what works, and what doesn’t. If you care about cities, you should read this book. But you should also read it if you simply love a great story full of compelling characters engaged in high-stakes struggles. It’s a wonderful achievement.” ―E. J. Dionne, Jr., author of Our Divided Political Heart, Why the Right Went Wrong and co-author of One Nation After Trump

Saving America’s Cities is a richly documented account of Ed Logue’s remarkable career. Lizabeth Cohen captures the sense of public purpose and possibility as well as the political battles that made this a distinctive era in the history of American city building. An impressive achievement that speaks to all who care about the fortunes of urban America―past, present, and future.“ ―Alice O’Connor, Professor and Director, University of California–Santa Barbara Blum Center on Global Poverty Alleviation and Sustainable Development

“In some ways, Edward Logue was an imperial master builder, a latter-day version of Robert Moses. But in others―particularly in his abiding concern for the welfare of our cities’ poor and powerless―he could not have been more different. Lizabeth Cohen’s penetrating study of the man and his era sees both Logue and the post-war urban America he tried to rebuild clearly, and persuasively. It’s quite a story, very well told.” ―Daniel Okrent, author of The Guarded Gate and Last Call

“This captivating biography of Ed Logue explains how a largely-forgotten liberal power broker made a profound but little-known impact on the urban landscape we still inhabit. One of our most distinguished historians, Lizabeth Cohen illuminates the struggle to make cities both viable and democratic that shaped postwar America. At a time when ordinary people can barely afford to live in America’s biggest cities, Cohen’s book is a necessary book to read.” ―Michael Kazin, Professor of History, Georgetown University, and author of War Against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914-1918

“For a few decades near the end of the twentieth century, the United States embraced the idea that it was the government’s responsibility to rebuild the country’s deteriorating cities. In her vividly told and meticulously researched biography of Edward Logue, the high-flying master rebuilder of East Coast cities, Lizabeth Cohen has brought this vanished era fully back to life, and persuasively demanded a new respect for its achievements.” ―Nicholas Lemann, Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Professor of Journalism, Columbia University, and author of Transaction Man

“Lizabeth Cohen has written a terrific biography of the American city planner Ed Logue―a man of huge talent and equally staggering ego. Her account of Logue’s rise and fall is both personally gripping and illuminates how American cities in the last century have tried, and failed, to balance the claims of cash, class, and race. Her scholarship is impeccable; her writing is a sheer pleasure.” ―Richard Sennett, Centennial Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics, and author of Building and Dwelling

“Lizabeth Cohen’s Saving America’s Cities is an engaging and well-crafted book that brilliantly captures the important legacy of the urban planner Edward J. Logue. I learned a great deal reading her compelling story, which provides a fresh reexamination of postwar urban renewal, and suggests how American cities can be made more dynamic and equitable.” ―William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, Harvard University, and author of The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy

“In this myth-shattering book, Liz Cohen offers an important reassessment of urban renewal in postwar America. Clear-eyed and convincing, Saving America’s Cities not only accounts for the failures of federal policies in this period but also salvages the often-overlooked success stories as well. In the end, Cohen makes great use of the past to suggest new paths for the future.” ―Kevin M. Kruse, Professor of History, Princeton University

“The history of urban renewal in American cities is typically portrayed as a tale of heroes vs. villains, personified in the epic struggle between Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses in 1950s and 1960s New York City. Lizabeth Cohen’s detailed historical research provides a powerful new lens to view this disturbing yet formative time in the history of America’s great cities. Her lens is the evolution of Ed Logue, the so-called “Master Rebuilder,” in dealing with the urban crisis of New Haven, Boston, and New York. She dismantles the oversimplified tale of good and evil, understanding Logue’s evolution in the context of the massive economic, demographic, and social forces acting on our cities, their residents, and their city-builders. She ends up providing a new more usable history of the role of great city-builders like Logue and of government involvement in the complex evolution of our cities. Mayors, urban developers, and city builders, as well as urban historians, all have much to learn from her compelling new narrative.” ―Richard Florida, University Professor, University of Toronto, and author of The Rise of the Creative Class and The New Urban Crisis

About the Author

Lizabeth Cohen is the Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies at Harvard University and the former dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She is the author of Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919–1939, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and winner of the Bancroft Prize, and A Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America.

  • Publisher : Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (October 1, 2019)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 560 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0374254087
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0374254087

Abolition and Empire in Sierra Leone and Liberia (Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies): Bronwell Everill

Bronwen Everill offers a new perspective on African global history, applying a comparative approach to freed slave settlers in Sierra Leone and Liberia to understand their role in the anti-slavery colonization movements of Britain and America.

About the Author

BRONWEN EVERILL is Assistant Professor of Global History at Warwick University, UK. She completed her PhD at King’s College London and held a research fellowship at Oxford University. Her teaching and research focus on the history of imperial humanitarianism in Africa.

  • Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan; 2013th edition (December 15, 2012)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 243 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 113702867X
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1137028679
  • Item Weight : 9.12 pounds
  • Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.63 x 8.5 inches

Revolutions without Borders: The Call to Liberty in the Atlantic World: Janet Polsky

A sweeping exploration of revolutionary ideas that traveled the Atlantic in the late eighteenth century

Nation-based histories cannot do justice to the rowdy, radical interchange of ideas around the Atlantic world during the tumultuous years from 1776 to 1804. National borders were powerless to restrict the flow of enticing new visions of human rights and universal freedom. This expansive history explores how the revolutionary ideas that spurred the American and French revolutions reverberated far and wide, connecting European, North American, African, and Caribbean peoples more closely than ever before.

Historian Janet Polasky focuses on the eighteenth-century travelers who spread new notions of liberty and equality. It was an age of itinerant revolutionaries, she shows, who ignored borders and found allies with whom to imagine a borderless world. As paths crossed, ideas entangled. The author investigates these ideas and how they were disseminated long before the days of instant communications and social media or even an international postal system. Polasky analyzes the paper records—books, broadsides, journals, newspapers, novels, letters, and more—to follow the far-reaching trails of revolutionary zeal. What emerges clearly from rich historic records is that the dream of liberty among America’s founders was part of a much larger picture. It was a dream embraced throughout the far-flung regions of the Atlantic world.

About the Author

Janet Polasky is Presidential Professor of History, University of New Hampshire.

  • Publisher : Yale University Press; Reprint edition (May 24, 2016)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 392 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0300219849
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0300219845
  • Item Weight : 1.14 pounds
  • Dimensions : 9 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches

The Declaration of Independence: A Global History: David Armitage

In a stunningly original look at the American Declaration of Independence, David Armitage reveals the document in a new light: through the eyes of the rest of the world. Not only did the Declaration announce the entry of the United States onto the world stage, it became the model for other countries to follow.

Armitage examines the Declaration as a political, legal, and intellectual document, and is the first to treat it entirely within a broad international framework. He shows how the Declaration arose within a global moment in the late eighteenth century similar to our own. He uses over one hundred declarations of independence written since 1776 to show the influence and role the U.S. Declaration has played in creating a world of states out of a world of empires. He discusses why the framers’ language of natural rights did not resonate in Britain, how the document was interpreted in the rest of the world, whether the Declaration established a new nation or a collection of states, and where and how the Declaration has had an overt influence on independence movements–from Haiti to Vietnam, and from Venezuela to Rhodesia.

Included is the text of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and sample declarations from around the world. An eye-opening list of declarations of independence since 1776 is compiled here for the first time. This unique global perspective demonstrates the singular role of the United States document as a founding statement of our modern world.


“In this brilliant work, Armitage not only illuminates the American founding but offers a provocative perspective on the modern world as a whole. There is nothing on the American Declaration that compares with this extraordinary book.”Peter S. Onuf, author of Jefferson’s Empire

“David Armitage’s fascinating and lucidly written book will establish itself as a key contribution to what is virtually a new field of study: the transnational history of ideas.”Christopher Bayly, co-author of Forgotten Armies and Forgotten Wars

“This concise, readable book makes a powerful contribution to scholarship on the Declaration of Independence. From a global perspective, it seems, the document’s significance lies less in its second paragraph (‘all men are created equal’) than in its conclusion, where it declared independence. Armitage’s argument might provoke some opposition, but his evidence―ignored by previous scholars―needs to be taken very seriously.”Pauline Maier, author of American Scripture

“Armitage’s readable study restores historical context to our own, truly revolutionary Declaration.”Gilbert Taylor, Booklist

“[Armitage’s] core argument is fascinating and significant.”―Publisher’s Weekly

“Armitage presents and analyzes the global influence of the Declaration of Independence, showing the document as a powerful global symbol and a means of generating self-governing nations elsewhere during the 50 years after its creation. In order to understand the declaration’s international impact, Armitage examines the development of like declarations in other nations during the 19th century, presenting samples of them from around the world. He seeks to recover ‘the meaning of independence that the Declaration claimed for the United States,’ and he raises thoughtful questions about the political interdependence among world states. His new perspectives concerning both the domestic and the international context of the declaration demonstrate its importance in the formation of nations as the primary units in global politics.”Steven Puro, Library Journal

“David Armitage’s concise and penetrating book, The Declaration of Independence, exemplifies the potential strengths of a truly transnational approach to the writing of history…By looking beyond the borders of the USA, Armitage alters our perspective on the meaning of the Declaration…David Armitage has shed new light on some of the most important questions about the foundations of the modern world by examining a document that is both time-bound and timeless.”Adam I. P. Smith, Times Literary Supplement

“More so than the Constitution…the Declaration has also become a global document, a piece of intellectual and political common property that has transcended the circumstances of its creation and perhaps even the intentions of its authors. Surprisingly, this afterlife has not received systematic and “global” treatment by historians, and David Armitage is to be congratulated on his concise and well-written study of the Declaration as, to use his own words, ‘an event, a document, and the beginning of a genre.’ He shows that it was first and foremost an “international” document, driven by the need to establish the legitimacy of the united colonies within the state-system and thus their right to conclude alliances against Britain.”Brendan Simms, Wall Street Journal

“A provocative study of a subject about which one might have thought there was nothing new to report.”Michael Kenney, Boston Globe

“The Declaration of Independence has long been regarded as national property. But where US popular lore sees mirrored in its words the image of the nation, David Armitage sees the reflections of a wider world…this is the story of the emergence of a world of states from a world of empires…Without a doubt, this global history testifies to the power of words and ideas.”Glenda Sluga, Harvard International Review

About the Author

David Armitage is Professor of History at Harvard University.

Publisher : Harvard University Press; 8/27/08 edition (December 15, 2008)

  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 320 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 067403032X
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0674030329
  • Item Weight : 8.6 ounces
  • Dimensions : 5.51 x 0.82 x 6.98 inches

The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic: Linebaugh, Peter, Linebaugh, Marcus Rediker

Winner of the International Labor History Award

Long before the American Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man, a motley crew of sailors, slaves, pirates, laborers, market women, and indentured servants had ideas about freedom and equality that would forever change history. The Many Headed-Hydra recounts their stories in a sweeping history of the role of the dispossessed in the making of the modern world.

When an unprecedented expansion of trade and colonization in the early seventeenth century launched the first global economy, a vast, diverse, and landless workforce was born. These workers crossed national, ethnic, and racial boundaries, as they circulated around the Atlantic world on trade ships and slave ships, from England to Virginia, from Africa to Barbados, and from the Americas back to Europe.

Marshaling an impressive range of original research from archives in the Americas and Europe, the authors show how ordinary working people led dozens of rebellions on both sides of the North Atlantic. The rulers of the day called the multiethnic rebels a ‘hydra’ and brutally suppressed their risings, yet some of their ideas fueled the age of revolution. Others, hidden from history and recovered here, have much to teach us about our common humanity.


For most readers the tale told here will be completely new. For those already well acquainted with the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the image of that age which they have been so carefully taught and cultivated will be profoundly challenged. –David Montgomery, author of Citizen Worker

“A landmark in the development of an Atlantic perspective on early American history. Ranging from Europe to Africa to the Caribbean and North America, it makes us think in new ways about the role of working people in the making of the modern world.”–Eric Foner, author of The Story of American Freedom

“What would the world look like had the levelers, the diggers, the ranters, the slaves, the castaways, the Maroons, the Gypsies, the Indians, the Amazons, the Anabaptists, the pirates . . . won? Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker show us what could have been by exhuming the revolutionary dreams and rebellious actions of the first modern proletariat, whose stories~until now~were lost at sea. They have recovered a sunken treasure chest of history and historical possibility and spun these lost gems into a swashbuckling narrative full of labor, love, imagination, and startling beauty.” –Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Yo’ Mama’s Disfunktional!

The Many-Headed Hydra is about connections others have denied, ignored, or underemployed. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Europe, Africa, and the Americas came together to create a new economy and a new class of working people. Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker tell their story with deep sympathy and profound insight. . . . A work of restoration and celebration of a world too long hidden from view.”–Ira Berlin, author of Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America

“More than just a vivid illustration of the gains involved in thinking beyond the boundaries between nation-states. Here, in incendiary form, are essential elements for a people’s history of our dynamic, transcultural present.”–Paul Gilroy, author of The Black Atlantic

“This is a marvelous book. Linebaugh and Rediker have done an extraordinary job of research into buried episodes and forgotten writings to recapture, with eloquence and literary flair, the lost history of resistance to capitalist conquest on both sides of the Atlantic.”–Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States

About the Author

Peter Linebaugh, professor of history at the University of Toledo, is a contributing editor of Albion’s Fatal Tree and author of The London Hanged.

Marcus Rediker, professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh, is author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, winner of the American Studies Association’s John Hope Franklin Prize and the Organization of American Historians’ Merle Curti Social History Award.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

From the Introduction

With Rachel Carson, let us first look from above: “The permanent currents of the ocean are, in a way, the most majestic of her phenomena. Reflecting upon them, our minds are at once taken out from the earth so that we can regard, as from another planet, the spinning of the globe, the winds that deeply trouble its surface or gently encompass it, and the influence of the sun and moon. For all these cosmic forces are closely linked with the great currents of the ocean, earning for them the adjective I like best of all those applied to them—the planetary currents.” The planetary currents of the North Atlantic are circular. Europeans pass by Africa to the Caribbean and then to North America. The Gulf Stream then at three knots moves north to the Labrador and Arctic currents, which move eastward, as the North Atlantic Drift, to temper the climates of northwestern Europe.

At Land’s End, the westward foot of England, break waves whose origins lie off the stormy coast of Newfoundland. Some of these breakers may even be traced to the coast of Florida and the West Indies. For centuries fishermen on the lonely shores of Ireland have been able to interpret these long Atlantic swells. The power of an ocean wave is directly related to the speed and duration of the wind that sets it in motion, and to the “length of its fetch,” or the distance from its point of origin. The longer the fetch, the greater the wave. Nothing can stop these long waves. They become visible only at the end, when they rise and break; for most of their fetch the surface of the ocean is undisturbed. In 1769, Postmaster General Benjamin Franklin noted that packets from Falmouth took about two weeks longer to reach New York than merchant ships took to sail from Rhode Island to London. In talking to Nantucket whalers, he learned about the Gulf Stream: the fishermen and the whales kept out of it, while the English captains stemmed the current, “too wise to be counselled by simple American fishermen.” He drew up some “Maritime Observations” in 1786, and with these the chart of the Gulf Stream was published in America.

The circular transmission of human experience from Europe to Africa to the Americas and back again corresponded to the same cosmic forces that set the Atlantic currents in motion, and in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the merchants, manufacturers, planters, and royal officials of northwestern Europe followed these currents, building trade routes, colonies, and a new transatlantic economy. They organized workers from Europe, Africa, and the Americas to produce and transport bullion, furs, fish, tobacco, sugar, and manufactures. It was a labor of Herculean proportions, as they themselves repeatedly explained.

The classically educated architects of the Atlantic economy found in Hercules—the mythical hero of the ancients who achieved immortality by performing twelve labors—a symbol of power and order. For inspiration they looked to the Greeks, for whom Hercules was a unifier of the centralized territorial state, and to the Romans, for whom he signified vast imperial ambition. The labors of Hercules symbolized economic development: the clearing of land, the draining of swamps, and the development of agriculture, as well as the domestication of livestock, the establishment of commerce, and the introduction of technology. Rulers placed the image of Hercules on money and seals, in pictures, sculptures, and palaces, and on arches of triumph. Among English royalty, William III, George I, and George II’s brother, the “Butcher of Culloden,” all fancied themselves Hercules.1 John Adams, for his part, proposed in 1776 that “The Judgment of Hercules” be the seal for the new United States of America.2 The hero represented progress: Giambattista Vico, the philosopher of Naples, used Hercules to develop the stadial theory of history, while Francis Bacon, philosopher and politician, cited him to advance modern science and to suggest that capitalism was very nearly divine.

These same rulers found in the many-headed hydra an antithetical symbol of disorder and resistance, a powerful threat to the building of state, empire, and capitalism. The second labor of Hercules was the destruction of the venomous hydra of Lerna. The creature, born of Typhon (a tempest or hurricane) and Echidna (half woman, half snake), was one in a brood of monsters that included Cerberus, the three-headed dog, Chimera, the lion-headed goat with a snake’s tail, Geryon, the triple-bodied giant, and Sphinx, the woman with a lion’s body. When Hercules lopped off one of the hydra’s heads, two new ones grew in its place. With the help of his nephew Iolaus, he eventually killed the monster by cutting off a central head and cauterizing the stump with a flaming branch. He then dipped his arrows in the gall of the slain beast, which gave his projectiles fatal power and allowed him to complete his labors.

From the beginning of English colonial expansion in the early seventeenth century through the metropolitan industrialization of the early nineteenth, rulers referred to the Hercules-hydra myth to describe the difficulty of imposing order on increasingly global systems of labor. They variously designated dispossessed commoners, transported felons, indentured servants, religious radicals, pirates, urban laborers, soldiers, sailors, and African slaves as the numerous, ever-changing heads of the monster. But the heads, though originally brought into productive combination by their Herculean rulers, soon developed among themselves new forms of cooperation against those rulers, from mutinies and strikes to riots and insurrections and revolution. Like the commodities they produced, their experience circulated with the planetary currents around the Atlantic, often eastward, from American plantations, Irish commons, and deep-sea vessels back to the metropoles of Europe.

In 1751 J. J. Mauricius, an ex-governor of Suriname, returned to Holland, where he would write poetic memoirs recollecting his defeat at the hands of the Saramaka, a group of former slaves who had escaped the plantations and built maroon communities deep in the interior jungle, and who now defended their freedom against endless military expeditions designed to return them to slavery:

There you must fight blindly an invisible enemy
Who shoots you down like ducks in the swamps.
Even if an army of ten thousand men were gathered, with
The courage and strategy of Caesar and Eugene,
They’d find their work cut out for them, destroying a Hydra’s growth
Which even Alcides [Hercules] would try to avoid.

Writing to and for other Europeans assumed to be sympathetic with the project of conquest, Mauricius cast himself and other colonizers as Hercules, and the fugitive bondspeople who challenged slavery as the hydra.

Andrew Ure, the Oxford philosopher of manufactures, found the myth to be useful as he surveyed the struggles of industrial England in 1835. After a strike among spinners in Stayleybridge, Lancashire, he employed Hercules and his rescue of Prometheus, with his delivery of fire and technology to mankind, to argue for the implementation of the self-acting mule, a new machine “with the thought, feeling, and tact of the experienced workman.” This new “Herculean prodigy” had “strangled the Hydra of misrule”; it was a “creation destined to restore order among the industrious classes, and to confirm to Great Britain the empire of art.” Here again, Ure saw himself and other manufacturers as Hercules, and the industrial workers who challenged their authority as the hydra.

When the Puritan prelate Cotton Mather published his history of Christianity in America in 1702, he entitled his second chapter, on the antinomian controversy of 1638, “Hydra Decapita.” “The church of God had not long been in this wilderness, before the dragon cast forth several floods to devour it,” he wrote. The theological struggle of “works” against “grace” subverted “all peaceable order.” The controversy raised suspicions against religious and political officials, prevented an expedition against the Pequot Indians, confused the drawing of town lots, and made particular appeals to women. For Mather, the Puritan elders were Hercules, while the hydra consisted of the antinomians who questioned the authority of minister and magistrate, the expansion of empire, the definition of private property, and the subordination of women.

It would be a mistake to see the myth of Hercules and the hydra as merely an ornament of state, a classical trope in speeches, a decoration of ceremonial dress, or a mark of classical learning. Francis Bacon, for example, used it to lay the intellectual basis for the biological doctrine of monstrosity and for the justifications of murder, which themselves have a semantics of Latin euphemism—debellation, extirpation, trucidation, extermination, liquidation, annihilation, extinction. To cite the myth was not simply to employ a figure of speech or even a concept of analytic understanding; it was to impose a curse and a death sentence, as we will show.

If the hydra myth expressed the fear and justified the violence of the ruling classes, helping them to build a new order of conquest and expropriation, of gallows and executioners, of plantations, ships, and factories, it suggested something quite different to us as historians—namely, a hypothesis. The hydra became a means of exploring multiplicity, movement, and connection, the long waves and planetary currents of humanity. The multiplicity was indicated, as it were, in silhouette in the multitudes who gathered at the market, in the fields, on the piers and the ships, on the plantations, upon the battlefields. The power of numbers was expanded by movement, as the hydra journeyed and voyaged or was banished or dispersed in diaspora, carried by the winds and the waves beyond the boundaries of the nation-state. Sailors, pilots, felons, lovers, translators, musicians, mobile workers of all kinds made new and unexpected connections, which variously appeared to be accidental, contingent, transient, even miraculous.

Our book looks from below. We have attempted to recover some of the lost history of the multiethnic class that was essential to the rise of capitalism and the modern, global economy. The historic invisibility of many of the book’s subjects owes much to the repression originally visited upon them: the violence of the stake, the chopping block, the gallows, and the shackles of a ship’s dark hold. It also owes much to the violence of abstraction in the writing of history, the severity of history that has long been the captive of the nation-state, which remains in most studies the largely unquestioned framework of analysis. This is a book about connections that have, over the centuries, usually been denied, ignored, or simply not seen, but that nonetheless profoundly shaped the history of the world in which we all of us live and die.

  • ASIN : 0807033170
  • Publisher : Beacon Press; 2nd ed. edition (September 3, 2013)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 448 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 9780807033173
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0807033173
  • Item Weight : 1.45 pounds
  • Dimensions : 5.95 x 1.2 x 8.96 inches

Water: A Natural History: Alice Outwater

An environmental engineer turned ecology writer relates the history of our waterways and her own growing understanding of what needs to be done to save this essential natural resource.

Water: A Natural History takes us back to the diaries of the first Western explorers; it moves from the reservoir to the modern toilet, from the grasslands of the Midwest to the Everglades of Florida, through the guts of a wastewater treatment plant and out to the waterways again. It shows how human-engineered dams, canals and farms replaced nature’s beaver dams, prairie dog tunnels, and buffalo wallows. Step by step, Outwater makes clear what should have always been obvious: while engineering can de-pollute water, only ecologically interacting systems can create healthy waterways.

Important reading for students of environmental studies, the heart of this history is a vision of our land and waterways as they once were, and a plan that can restore them to their former glory: a land of living streams, public lands with hundreds of millions of beaver-built wetlands, prairie dog towns that increase the amount of rainfall that percolates to the groundwater, and forests that feed their fallen trees to the sea.

About the Author

Alice Outwater is an environmental engineer, a consultant in sludge management, and the coauthor, with Larry Gonick, of The Cartoon Guide to Environmental Science.

Alice Outwater has been writing about water and the environment for twenty-five years. She grew up on Lake Champlain, in Vermont, and studied engineering at the University of Vermont. She went to grad school at MIT to learn about water, where she won the prize for Best Thesis in Technology and Policy.
​Outwater managed sludge for the Boston Harbor Clean-Up, and wrote The Reuse of Sludge and Minor Wastewater Residuals. She wrote the much translated Cartoon Guide to the Environment with Larry Gonick. Water: A Natural History was a Library Journal Science Book of the Year and a finalist for the PEN/New England award. She consults in water quality, and has lived on a farm since 1991 in Vermont, Hawaii and finally Colorado.

  • Publisher : Basic Books; Reprint edition (September 27, 1997)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 224 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0465037801
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0465037803
  • Lexile measure : 1360L
  • Item Weight : 8.2 ounces
  • Dimensions : 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches

Waves Across the South: A New History of Revolution and Empire: Sujit Sivasundaram

This is a story of tides and coastlines, winds and waves, islands and beaches. It is also a retelling of indigenous creativity, agency, and resistance in the face of unprecedented globalization and violence. Waves Across the South shifts the narrative of

the Age of Revolutions and the origins of the British Empire; it foregrounds a vast southern zone that ranges from the Arabian Sea and southwest Indian Ocean across to the Bay of Bengal, and onward to the South Pacific and the Tasman Sea.

As the empires of the Dutch, French, and especially the British reached across these regions, they faced a surge of revolutionary sentiment. Long-standing venerable Eurasian empires, established patterns of trade and commerce, and indigenous practice also served as a context for this transformative era.

In addition to bringing long-ignored people and events to the fore, Sujit Sivasundaram opens the door to new and necessary conversations about environmental history, the consequences of historical violence, the legacies of empire, the extraction of resources, and the indigenous futures that Western imperialism cut short. The result is nothing less than a bold new way of understanding our global past, one that also helps us think afresh about our shared future.


Waves Across the South is an eye-opening work of global history. It globalizes the Age of Revolutions by viewing it from the Indian and Pacific Oceans, flipping the traditional narrative that places the Atlantic revolutions at the center of modern world history. With awe inspiring transnational research and interpretive imagination, Sivasundaram shows that the forces of revolution were global, and how the forces of radical change in the watery spaces of the south battled with the counter-revolution of the British Empire. This is a pioneering work that brings together the histories of empire and revolutions in a single frame.”
Gyan Prakash, Princeton University

Waves Across the South turns conventional wisdom upside down, and invites us to follow the making of the modern world from the Pacific. . . . This is Big History. . . If you long for an intellectual journey, then you should go and ride these waves across the south and explore the making of the modern world.”
The Spectator

“Fascinating. . . Waves Across the South is an ambitious attempt to tell world history from the viewpoint of the south. . . . Sivasundaram brings to life the ‘surge of indigenous politics’ that marked this era.”
Financial Times

“Sivasundaram brings these vast expanses alive by seeking out ‘key life stories’ that offer glimpses of forgotten struggles. . . He follows little-known voyages across the southern oceans accomplished by multi-ethnic crews. . . He deftly outlines the singularity of the British Empire, though in a pre-telegraphic era of poor communication its expansion was hardly strategic. . . As Sivasundaram convincingly argues in the global South this revolutionary age was defined by the way indigenous peoples responded to Western invasion.”
Literary Review

Waves Across the South exemplifies the very best of current writing in global history. Sivasundaram confidently surfs a dynamic wave of scholarship that has transformed the histories of the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific by looking from below—through the eyes of Indigenous peoples, the enslaved, the subjected and the global South, instead of those of the colonizer, the enslavers, the dominant or the global North. His aim is nothing less than ‘to turn the story of the dawn of our times inside out,’ by locating the birth of the modern world in the great Indo-Pacific arc from the Persian Gulf to Polynesia. . . . To call this ambitious would be an understatement. . . By recasting empire—especially the British empire—as the countervailing force in this turbulent arena, Sivasundaram brilliantly restores counter-revolution to its proper place in the Age of Revolutions.”