History for the Future

Through interviews with historians and journalists, History for the Future explores the historical roots of contemporary social issues and policies, often revealing the hidden assumptions and political choices defining the present.

By Kevin C. Brown | Education
An interview with Robert Townsend on how the history profession narrowed over time, who became marginalized, and why it is important to value things other than the production of book-length manuscripts on narrowly defined subjects. More
By Kevin C. Brown | NYC, Politics
An interview with the editor of a new collection of essays on John Lindsay’s mayoralty. A very different time in New York City, and a very different vision of governing it. More
By Kevin C. Brown | Energy, Environment
An interview with Kate Brown, the author of "Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters." More
By Kevin C. Brown | Corporations, Politics
Benjamin Waterhouse's new book, “Lobbying America: The Politics of Business from Nixon to NAFTA,” follows the role that business associations — particularly the Business Roundtable, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Manufacturers — played in the conservative drift in American politics since the early 1970s. In this History for the Future interview, Waterhouse discusses how business changed the tenor of political discourse (and fought off Ralph Nader and “consumerists”). He also rejects the notion that the U.S. doesn’t have an “industrial policy” — it’s just an industrial policy that has favored large firms through policies like NAFTA. More
By Kevin C. Brown | Unions
Jake Rosenfeld's "What Unions No Longer Do" brings us face to face with the enormous consequences of the long-term decline of the labor movement. While it's an account that is quite pessimistic, Rosenfeld does see some hope in recent developments. More
By Kevin C. Brown | Role of government, Urban Policy
A discussion with Mason Williams on Fiorello La Guardia’s critical role in implementing the New Deal in the New York City context, his vision of the role of government, and what the city’s current mayor could learn from the predecessor he most admires. More