Thursday, May 19, 2011

Michael Willrich

Michael Willrich is the author of City of Courts, which won the John H. Dunning Prize awarded by the American Historical Association for the best book on any aspect of U.S. history, and the William Nelson Cromwell Prize awarded by the American Society for Legal History. Currently an associate professor of history at Brandeis University, he worked for several years as a journalist in Washington, D.C., writing for The Washington Monthly, City Paper, The New Republic, and other magazines.

His new book is Pox: An American History.

A few weeks ago I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I recently read Michael Klarman's marvelous book, Brown v. Board of Education and the Civil Rights Movement. This is an abridged and very accessibly written version of Klarman's Bancroft Prize-winning "door stopper" of a book on the same subject (From Jim Crow to Civil Rights). Klarman is a Harvard Law professor, but he writes this book with a journalistic flair. In the Brown book, Klarman examines one of the best known chapters in modern U.S. history and manages to tell a story that is not only new but immensely revealing about our society, our political system, and our Constitution. I was most struck by the vivid stories of the powerful political backlash that the Supreme Court's decision to desegregate the public schools caused across the American south. That backlash -- and the images of violence broadcast to the nation from places like Little Rock, Birmingham, and Selma -- helped to create broad public support across the nation for the cause of civil rights, something no Supreme Court decision, by itself, could have ever done. It's a great story, very well told.
Learn more about Pox: An American History at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue