“Hell or High Water”: Robin Hood in West Texas

By |2019-03-30T10:24:08-05:00March 29th, 2019|Categories: American West, Culture, Dwight Longenecker, Film, Morality|

What interests me about Hell or High Water are the moral dilemmas. In addition to its being a smart heist movie and an up-to-date Western, it is also a Robin Hood story. The main characters might be robbing banks illegally but they’re stealing from the bankers who first robbed their family legally. The 2016 [...]

Andrew Jackson Unconquered

By |2019-03-14T22:48:45-05:00March 14th, 2019|Categories: American West, Character, History, Politics|

Andrew Jackson’s reputation is drifting down, down, down, like a sere autumn leaf. Whereas in 1948, the first year of Arthur Schlesinger Sr.’s poll of historians, Old Hickory ranked sixth among the presidents, in recent surveys by a variety of sponsors he has dropped into the midteens. It seems only a matter of time [...]

Tether to the Past: Willa Cather’s “Song of the Lark”

By |2018-11-15T23:33:46-05:00November 15th, 2018|Categories: American West, Art, Beauty, Books, Christine Norvell, Imagination|

Though land and setting seem rarely featured in Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark, they do comprise an unusual role, one that grows towards the past instead of the future. Cather expresses a sentimentality and longing for the old ways because it somehow grounds her central character Thea Kronborg. For Thea, the desert town [...]

An Alternative to Removal: The Case of the Miami Indians

By |2018-10-02T22:39:54-05:00October 2nd, 2018|Categories: American West, Bradley J. Birzer, Government, History|

Jean Baptiste Richardville In 1818, Indian Commissioner Benjamin Parke attempted to treat with the Miamis, Weas, and Delawares but found only frustration. He should have been wielding significant influence. Only three years earlier the United States had convinced the British, through a combination of warfare and diplomacy, to leave the Old Northwest. For [...]

What Andrew Jackson’s Critics Get Wrong

By |2018-09-24T23:31:52-05:00September 24th, 2018|Categories: American Republic, American West, Bradley J. Birzer, In Defense of Andrew Jackson Series by Bradley Birzer, Presidency|

Like all human beings, Andrew Jackson certainly had his faults—sometimes spectacular, brutal, and violent ones—but is it just to label him, as one recent critic has, simply as "a slaver, ethnic cleanser, and tyrant"? Sometime in the last several years, it has become the cultural norm to see President Andrew Jackson as the sum of [...]

Photographing the Lost World of Rural America

By |2019-02-12T17:57:35-05:00July 4th, 2018|Categories: American West, Civilization, Culture, Economics, Journalism|

Today America is on its third economic upswing, even as the places I visit have continued to fade away… For 23 years I have been driving country roads, photographing the ruins of rural America for a documentary I call “Lost Americana.” As population decline claims town after town, I have been talking to those [...]

Andrew Jackson’s Duel with John Sevier

By |2017-07-18T22:10:46-05:00July 18th, 2017|Categories: American West, Bradley J. Birzer, Culture, History, Senior Contributors|

To the men of Andrew Jackson’s era, the following or breaking of the rules of dueling signified much about one’s own character and what one thought of his opponent’s character. Once the two men agreed to having been satisfied in the duel, a strong friendship might resume… From the very origins of colonial America, [...]

De-Christianizing America

By |2015-06-03T20:35:08-05:00June 3rd, 2015|Categories: American West, Christianity|

“This is a Christian nation,” said the Supreme Court in 1892. “America was born a Christian nation,” echoed Woodrow Wilson. Harry Truman affirmed it: “This is a Christian nation.” But in 2009, Barack Hussein Obama begged to differ: “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation.” Comes now a Pew Research Center survey that [...]

Will the Real America Please Stand Up?

By |2015-01-07T13:51:21-05:00October 30th, 2013|Categories: American West, Bradley J. Birzer|

This past summer, I had the high privilege of traveling into the great American West several times. Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. Frankly, there’s nothing quite like massive, wide-open skies, seemingly endless seas of grass, groves of aspens and firs, and the snow-capped Rocky Mountains to make my soul sing. Since earliest childhood, [...]

American Flags, Ideology and the King’s Curse

By |2013-12-11T10:22:51-05:00October 11th, 2013|Categories: American West, Culture, Immigration, Myth, Stephen Masty|

In Monty Python’s comic diner skit every dish came with Spam, either a little or a lot. Is America the same with ideology? Does Ideological America touch everything and corrupt everything it touches, and can it turn back? Or, in the words of President Obama’s periodic, and oftentimes unpleasant, Chicago preacher, have “the chickens [...]