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


  • Episode 28: Susan Eisenhower on How Ike Led

    June 4th, 2021  |  29 mins 49 secs
    america, books, history, politics

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower was an exemplary strategic thinker. Author and policy strategist Susan Eisenhower, who happens to be one of Ike’s four grandchildren, joins host Richard Aldous to talk about her new book How Ike Led: The Principles Behind Eisenhower’s Biggest Decisions.

  • Episode 27: Sean McMeekin's New Take on World War II

    May 21st, 2021  |  33 mins 29 secs
    america, books, europe, history, politics, russia, stalin

    Historian Sean McMeekin joins host Richard Aldous to discuss all this, as well as his new book, Stalin’s War.

  • Episode 26: Olivette Otele on the history of African Europeans

    May 16th, 2021  |  30 mins 7 secs
    africa, books, europe, history, politics

    Olivette Otele, Professor of History of Slavery and Memory of enslavement at the University of Bristol, joins host Richard Aldous to talk about her new book, African Europeans: An Untold History.

  • Episode 25: Vernon Bogdanor on Britain's wavering connections to Europe

    May 7th, 2021  |  38 mins 49 secs
    books, britian, eu, europe, history, politics

    Our guest Vernon Bogdanor, professor of government at Kings College, joins host Richard Aldous to talk about his new book, Britain and Europe in a Troubled World.

  • Episode 24: Stephen Walker on the First Journey Into Space

    April 30th, 2021  |  39 mins 22 secs
    books, history, politics, russia, space, ussr

    As the space race heats up once again, author Stephen Walker joins our host Richard Aldous to discuss his remarkable new book Beyond: The Astonishing Story of the First Human to Leave Our Planet and Journey Into Space.

  • Episode 23: Lawrence J. Haas on the Kennedys' Approach to the World

    April 16th, 2021  |  34 mins 8 secs
    america, books, history, politics

    Lawrence J. Haas joins host Richard Aldous to talk about his new book, The Kennedys in the World: How Jack, Bobby, and Ted Remade America’s Empire.

  • Episode 22: Cristina Groeger on Education and Economic Disparity

    April 9th, 2021  |  37 mins 3 secs
    books, boston, education, history, politics

    This week, Cristina Groeger joins Richard Aldous to talk about her new book, The Education Trap: Schools and the Remaking of Inequality in Boston, and discusses how education came to be seen as a panacea even as it paved the way for deepening inequality.

  • Episode 21: Paula Marantz Cohen on Shakespeare and Empathy

    April 2nd, 2021  |  30 mins 5 secs
    books, history, politics

    In a time of division, difference, and cancel culture, what can we learn from Shakespeare (who himself has been caught in the crossfire of today’s culture wars)?

  • Episode 20: Roya Hakakian's Immigrant Guide to America

    March 26th, 2021  |  38 mins 16 secs
    america, books, congress, politics, us

    Roya Hakakian joins host Richard Aldous to talk about her new book A Beginner’s Guide to America.

  • Episode 19: Ritchie Robertson on the Enlightenment, 1680-1790

    March 19th, 2021  |  33 mins 33 secs

    Ritchie Robertson joins host Richard Aldous to discuss his new book, The Enlightenment: The Pursuit of Happiness 1680-1790

  • Episode 18: Richard Thompson Ford on Fashion, Law, and Social Change

    March 5th, 2021  |  27 mins 42 secs
    books, fashion, history, law, politics

    Richard Thompson Ford joins host Richard Aldous to discuss all this, along with his new book, Dress Codes: How the Laws of Fashion Made History.

  • Episode 17: R. James Breiding on Small-Nation Success

    February 26th, 2021  |  36 mins 17 secs
    books, europe, history, politics

    R. James Breiding joins host Richard Aldous to discuss his new book Too Small To Fail: Why Some Small Nations Outperform Larger Ones and How They Are Reshaping the World.

  • Episode 16: Emma Rothschild’s Generational Portrait of France

    February 19th, 2021  |  29 mins 4 secs
    biography, books, history, politics

    "History from below” is usually an effort at social history seen through statistics and figures. Our guest this week, Emma Rothschild, takes a different approach in her new book, An Infinite History: The Story of a Family in France Over Three Centuries, by recounting a vast narrative at times resembling a period novel.

  • Episode 15: Robert D. Kaplan on Humanitarian Bob Gersony

    February 12th, 2021  |  33 mins 10 secs
    biography, books, espionage, history, politics

    Bestselling author Robert D. Kaplan joins Richard Aldous to discuss human rights, activism, realism, and his new book, The Good American: The Epic Life of Bob Gersony, the U.S. Government’s Greatest Humanitarian.

  • Episode 14: Dominique Kirchner Reill on Interwar Fascism in Fiume

    February 5th, 2021  |  31 mins 34 secs
    books, europe, history, politics

    This week, Dominique Kirchner Reill joins host Richard Aldous to discuss fascism, resilience, the indeterminacy of history, and her new book, The Fiume Crisis: Life in the Wake of the Habsburg Empire.

  • Episode 13: Kevin Kosar on Congressional Dysfunction

    January 29th, 2021  |  34 mins 30 secs
    america, books, congress, politics, us

    Congress is in a bad way. Why is this the case, when all the instruments for its revival are literally within its grasp? What can we do to encourage change? And will the Biden era move the needle?