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 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?

  • Episode 12: Larry Diamond on Saving Democracy

    January 22nd, 2021  |  33 mins 50 secs
    america, books, democracy, politics, us

    With the transfer of power to President Joe Biden complete, American Purpose Editorial Board member Larry Diamond joins host Richard Aldous to take the temperature of American democracy. While there was plenty to lose sleep over, is there cause for optimism about American democracy? What kind of reforms are still necessary? And how is the next generation of young Americans thinking about the challenges?

  • Episode 11: Satia on Progress and Colonialism

    January 15th, 2021  |  34 mins 29 secs
    books, history, philosophy, politics

    How does writing history influence the future? How did Enlightenment thinkers help prepare the ground for Empire? And how can we rescue the Enlightenment project to build a better future?

  • Episode 10: Ikenberry on Democracy

    January 8th, 2021  |  34 mins 10 secs
    america, books, diplomacy, foreign policy, politics, us

    Is liberal democracy the foundation of a lasting world order, or should we be constructing a world order to help fragile democracies thrive? And after a rough few years for liberal democracy around the globe, what are the chances that such an order can be built?

  • Episode 9: Teasel Muir-Harmony on the Power of the Moon Landing

    December 18th, 2020  |  30 mins 58 secs
    america, books, diplomacy, foreign policy, history, politics, us

    Project Apollo captured the world’s imagination, and as a feat of “soft power” public diplomacy, it has few peers in the history of mankind, and has not been matched since.

  • Episode 8: Thomas E. Ricks on First Principles: What America’s Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country

    December 11th, 2020  |  28 mins 9 secs
    america, books, history, politics, us

    Is the America we have today, the America that elected Donald Trump and is still struggling to move on from his term in office, the country our Founding Fathers envisioned? And just what is it that this illustrious group really thought they were building?

  • Episode 7: Susan Glasser and Peter Baker on James A. Baker

    December 4th, 2020  |  35 mins 31 secs
    america, biography, books, history, politics, uk, us

    Susan Glasser and Peter Baker join our host Richard Aldous to discuss their new book, The Man Who Ran Washington, a biography of George H. W. Bush's legendary White House chief of staff and Secretary of State, and a rumination about a Washington that perhaps no longer exists.