Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Don H. Doyle

Don H. Doyle is the McCausland Professor of History at the University of South Carolina. The author of several books, including Faulkner's County and Nations Divided, he lives in Columbia, South Carolina.

His latest book is The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Doyle's reply:
After working intensively on the Civil War and its international dimensions, one might guess I had enough, but I find myself immersed in some big new books that bear on the subject.

Sven Beckert’s Empire of Cotton: A Global History is a book we have all been waiting for. This is a sweeping history of cotton as a commodity and how it helped give birth to modern capitalism, Beckert’s book is a bracing antidote to the glib celebrations of “creative destruction” we hear so much of these days. I like it also because he reclaims economic history, which is much too important to be left to economists.

Edward Baptist, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, is another gloomy exploration of the entangled histories of capitalism and slavery. It leaves any claims for the benign paternalistic nature of American slavery pretty much in shreds, but it is also an indictment of capitalism, which many people are accustomed to seeing as the opposite of slavery—free labor, free men.

Research for my book plunged me into a lot of French history and left me enthralled by Paris. My Parisian friend, who teaches history at the Sorbonne, introduced me to his parents who were teenagers in Paris when the American GI’s liberated the city, and I wanted to learn more about that remarkable moment. Ronald Rosbottom, When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation, 1940-1944, is a fascinating and very French story of how Parisians endured, accommodated, collaborated, and resisted the Nazi occupation. “Practice elegant indifference,” one French pamphlet advised. “Light their cigarettes for them but do not volunteer directions.”
Visit The Cause of All Nations Facebook page, and learn more about the book at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Cause of All Nations.

--Marshal Zeringue