Historian of the Left

August 2011

“Inside Job,” or, Our Financial Institutions and the Immoral People Who Run Them

Charles Ferguson’s documentary film Inside Job (2010) tells the story of the 2007/08 financial collapse, its causes, and its consequences. Through a series of interviews with key players and commentators (including Nouriel Roubini, George Soros, Barney Frank, Christine Lagarde, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Paul Volcker, and Eliot Spitzer) and a careful analysis of publicly available records, Ferguson diagnoses the American and global financial system with chronic greed, corruption, immorality, and even cocaine Read More

Soviet Russia’s “New Generation”

The American Scholar has published an English translation of “The New Generation,” a short story by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn that is part of a new collection of the author’s works, Apricot Jam, and Other Stories (Counterpoint, 2011). Set in the 1920s and early 30s, the story recounts the parallel experiences of Anatoly Pavlovich Vozdvizhensky, an engineer and professor at Rostov State University, and Lyoshka Konoplyov, his working-class student who can’t make Read More

West Berlin Was Nearly Sold Out, 1961/62

Based on recently declassified documents, the German news magazine Der Spiegel reports that West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer secretly suggested to U. S. President John F. Kennedy that they offer to give up West Berlin to East Germany in exchange for territories in Thuringia, Mecklenburg, and Saxony. The French magazine Le Point elaborates on the report, explaining how Adenauer thought that even if the “beneficial exchange” did not go through, Read More

The Moral Economy of the English Crowd, Redux

Yesterday British PM David Cameron characterized the riots that swept across England this past week as a “deep moral failure” and promised to restore a “stronger sense of morality and responsibility — in every town, in every street and in every estate.” He denied that the riots were the result of impoverishment in the face of the current economic recession: “This is not about poverty, this is about culture. . Read More

Rediscovered Photos of the Berlin Wall, 1961

TIME has published photographer Don McCullin’s lost negatives that he shot of the building of the Berlin Wall in August 1961. These images of Berliners in the Western zone peeking through to their friends in the East serve as a striking complement to the more familiar images of reunification and the fall of the wall almost thirty years later. It’s difficult to imagine the cultural and psychological effects of physically Read More