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Edward Snowden

An Unusable Past?

Although the phrase “a usable past” was coined by Van Wyck Brooks in the 1910s and has been embraced by scholars of a variety of political stripes in the decades since, for the last half century or so, it’s often been closely associated with radical historians of the United States, who have looked to ideas and social movements from the American past as to guide their contemporaries, in various ways, toward a brighter future. So I was quite struck when, in the last couple days, I’ve encountered three scholars on the left who, in quite different ways, have recently suggested Read more