American Purpose's Bookstack

The books and ideas podcast from American Purpose.

About the show

Weekly conversations with authors of new and recent books.

Host Richard Aldous is a historian and professor at Bard College, New York, and the author of several books, including Schlesinger: The Imperial Historian; Reagan and Thatcher: The Difficult Relationship; The Lion and the Unicorn: Gladstone vs. Disraeli.

For more about American Purpose, visit www.americanpurpose.com.

Episodes

  • Episode 67: Jimmy Soni on PayPal's entrepreneurs

    May 20th, 2022  |  29 mins 48 secs
    books, history, politics

    With Elon Musk in the news, it’s a good time to look back at some recent history. Jimmy Soni joins host Richard Aldous to talk about his book The Founders: The Story of PayPal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley.

  • Episode 66: Zubok on the USSR's collapse

    May 16th, 2022  |  35 mins 36 secs
    books, history, politics

    Was the Soviet Union’s demise inevitable, and was Gorbachev the heroic reformer we remember him to have been? Vladislav M. Zubok joins host Richard Aldous to discuss the complicated legacy of the end of the Cold War, as well as his new book Collapse: The Fall of the Soviet Union.

  • Episode 65: Matthew Continetti on American conservatism

    May 6th, 2022  |  31 mins 12 secs
    books, history, politics

    How did the Republican Party end up resembling a nationalist populist movement? Matthew Continetti joins host Richard Aldous to talk through the rise and development of modern conservatism, and to discuss his new book, The Right: The Hundred Year War for American.

  • Episode 64: Christine Emba on sexual ethics

    May 3rd, 2022  |  27 mins 58 secs
    books, history, politics

    Today’s sexual ethics, meant to be liberating, seem to be instead driving a wave of dissatisfaction and unease among young people. Washington Post columnist Christine Emba joins host Richard Aldous to unpack what’s going on, and discuss her new book Rethinking Sex: A Provocation.

  • Episode 63: Garrett Graff's new Watergate history

    April 25th, 2022  |  31 mins 55 secs
    books, history, politics

    Why another book on Watergate? Garrett M. Graff joins host Richard Aldous to tell a wilder, weirder, darker version of the incident than we are accustomed to hearing—as detailed in his new book Watergate: A New History.

  • Episode 62: Lee Siegel on Why Argument Matters

    April 8th, 2022  |  28 mins 26 secs
    books, history, politics

    What is the nature and value of disagreement, especially in today’s social media-infused landscape? Lee Siegel joins host Richard Aldous to talk about all this, and his new book, Why Argument Matters.

  • Episode 61: Guriev and Treisman on the tools of today's tyrants

    April 1st, 2022  |  36 mins 39 secs
    books, history, politics

    How does modern authoritarianism work? Daniel Treisman joins host Richard Aldous to talk Putin, Xi, Lee Kwan Yew, and the tools of modern state control—all discussed in his new book, co-authored with Sergei Guriev, Spin Dictators: The Changing Face of Tyranny in the 21st Century.

  • Episode 60: Christopher Smith on Ukraine’s Westward Evolution

    March 25th, 2022  |  31 mins 29 secs
    books, history, politics

    With the Ukraine War heading into its fifth week, Christopher M. Smith joins host Richard Aldous to talk about the roots of Ukraine’s turn to the West, American policymaking at the State Department, and his new book Ukraine’s Revolt, Russia’s Revenge.

  • Episode 59: Chris Armstrong on our vital oceans

    March 18th, 2022  |  28 mins 49 secs
    books, history, politics

    Chris Armstrong joins our host Richard Aldous to talk about how existing governing institutions are failing to address one of our most important natural resources: the oceans. Listen to the conversation, and read Armstrong’s new book, A Blue New Deal: Why We Need a New Politics for the Oceans.

  • Episode 58: Sebastian Mallaby on the venture capitalists

    March 14th, 2022  |  25 mins 37 secs
    books, history, politics

    Elon Musk once said that the future cannot be predicted, it can only be discovered. This week, Sebastian Mallaby joins host Richard Aldous to talk about innovation, technology, markets, and his new book The Power Law: Venture Capital and the Making of the New Future.

  • Episode 57: Dwight Chapin on the Nixon White House

    March 8th, 2022  |  35 mins 56 secs
    books, history, politics

    What’s it like to be a part of history? With the 50th anniversary of Nixon’s famous trip to China taking place this year, Dwight Chapin joins host Richard Aldous to talk about his new book, The President’s Man: Memoirs of Nixon’s Trusted Aide.

  • Episode 56: A. J. Baime on Walter F. White

    March 1st, 2022  |  24 mins 4 secs
    books, history, politics

    Walter F. White led two lives: one as a leader of the NAACP in the early twentieth century, and the other as a white newspaperman who covered lynching crimes in the Deep South. This week, A. J. Baime joins host Richard Aldous to discuss his new book, White Lies: The Double Life of Walter F. White and America's Darkest Secret.

  • Episode 55: Iain Dale and Alvin Felzenberg on our 45 Presidents

    February 18th, 2022  |  27 mins 48 secs
    books, history, politics

    Happy Presidents’ Day! On the show this week, Iain Dale and Alvin Felzenberg join host Richard Aldous to talk about The Presidents: 250 Years of American Political Leadership, a collection of essays by a range of academics, historians, journalists and serving politicians, on all 45 men who have held the office over the last 250 years.

  • Episode 54: Linda Hirshman on the abolition movement

    February 16th, 2022  |  28 mins 36 secs
    books, history, politics

    How do we best think about the abolition movement—as a tepid first step towards righting a historic injustice or a moral breakthrough despite its flaws? Linda Hirschman joins host Richard Aldous to talk about her new book The Color of Abolition: How a Printer, a Prophet, and a Contessa Moved a Nation.

  • Episode 53: Peter Goodman on the billionaires and power

    February 4th, 2022  |  35 mins 23 secs
    books, history, politics

    What to do about the billionaire class? New York Times’ Global Economics Correspondent Peter S. Goodman joins host Richard Aldous to talk about inequality and wealth centralization in the 21st century, as well as his new book, Davos Man: How the Billionaires Devoured the World.

  • Episode 52: Simms and Laderman on Hitler's American Gamble

    January 28th, 2022  |  32 mins 46 secs
    books, history, politics

    What drove Hitler to declare war on the United States after Pearl Harbor, and what, if anything, can that fateful decision to kick off a truly world war tell us about today’s dangerous moment? Brendan Simms and Charlie Laderman join host Richard Aldous to discuss their new book, Hitler’s American Gamble: Pearl Harbor and Germany’s March to Global War.