History Articles

Soviet Junk: Post-Communist Clean Up

May 20, 2016 9:00 am Published by 1 Comment

My recent visit to Azerbaijan inspired this blog. As I was being driven through Baku, my guide, Basran, would occasionally gesture at crumbly old buildings and say, “Soviet junk.” I’ve gained experience roaming through countries spewed by the cement mixer of communism: the Balkans (Romania, Bulgaria), Russia, Mongolia, and now... read more

Social Change: The Role of Women

March 15, 2016 9:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

For March, which is Women’s Month. The topic is social change. Sociolinguist William Labov has observed:  “While most language forms are stable and customary; a few rapidly changing variables may be closely compared to fashion. Change and diffusion of fashions – in clothing, cosmetics – appears to be closer to... read more

why americans love self help books

Self-Help Books: We Americans Love ‘Em

July 13, 2015 8:57 am Published by Leave your thoughts

I just finished Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief (2013). It got me thinking about a peculiarly American phenomenon: self-help books. Ralph Waldo Emerson gets the ball rolling with these famous words from essay “Self-Reliance” in 1841: “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.... read more

historical atmosphere

Historical Atmosphere: How I Create It

January 5, 2015 3:11 pm Published by 1 Comment

Science fiction, fantasy, and historical novels bring to life worlds unknown to the reader. Science fiction and fantasy novels invent ones that never existed or don’t yet exist. Historical novels, on the other hand, invoke ones that once existed. I love to create historical atmosphere. The standard definition of the... read more

puritan attitudes toward romance novels

Puritans and the Romance Novel

August 26, 2014 11:26 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

One of the most famous Puritans was Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658.) He was the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1653 until his death. He was instrumental in closing English inns and theaters, which, according to him, were dens of iniquity, and in having King Charles... read more