Sunday, January 16, 2011

What is James J. Connolly reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: James J. Connolly, author of An Elusive Unity: Urban Democracy and Machine Politics in Industrializing America.

Part of his entry:
Like a lot of academics, I usually have two stacks of reading, one for work and one for fun. For work I’ve been reading about the history of reading. The fun pile generally includes lots of mysteries, spy novels, and a little nonfiction.

* * *
Away from work, I’ve been reading Alan Furst’s spy novels, most recently Spies of the Balkans, Dark Voyage, and The Foreign Correspondent. Furst recreates the tense, churning environment of life in Europe during the early part of World War II. His characters tend to be antifascist outsiders—émigrés, sailors, journalists—navigating through the upheaval of that time. That process provides the reader with a...[read on]
Among the early praise for An Elusive Unity:
"An Elusive Unity is a mix of a synthetic and thematic overview of institutional urban politics at a crucial turning point in U.S. history. James J. Connolly tackles the tricky issue of how democracy functions on the local level in the United States. Specifically, he investigates the problem of how different groups of urban residents in a handful of large, industrial cities— predominantly New York and Chicago—envisioned the meaning of democratic government, contested over that meaning, and then attempted to reform municipal government to suit their specific vision. Drawing together a significant number of the writings on this subject and contributing his own primary research, Connolly explains the development of what came to be called "machine" or "boss" politics over the period from the end of the Civil War up to 1920."
—Maureen A. Flanagan, Michigan State University

"An Elusive Unity is a beautifully written and artfully crafted treatment of a critical issue for American historians and citizens. James J. Connolly takes on a subject that several generations of historians have repeatedly evoked but seldom grappled with so directly: the ideological tensions between Republicanism or the Habermasian public sphere on one side and diversity, pluralism, and pragmatism on the other. Connolly situates these contrasting interpretations in the nineteenth-century city and thereby casts a clarifying light on all of American political development."
—Mary P. Ryan, John Martin Vincent Professor of History, The Johns Hopkins University
James J. Connolly is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Middletown Studies at Ball State University and the author of The Triumph of Ethnic Progressivism: Urban Political Culture in Boston, 1900–1925.

Read more about An Elusive Unity at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: An Elusive Unity.

Writers Read: James J. Connolly.

--Marshal Zeringue