Month: March 2024

Phil Goduti Dissertation Defense, “The Durability of a Kennedy”

On February 7. 2024 Phil Goduti successfully defended his dissertation, “’The Durability of a Kennedy’: How Emotional Communities Contributed to John F. Kennedy’s Core Beliefs, 1930-1963″ which examines how emotions shaped decision-making of U.S. foreign policy.

From the abstract:

“This dissertation examines the evolution of John F. Kennedy’s core beliefs as he inhabited four emotional communities throughout his life and analyzes whether those beliefs played a role in shaping foreign policy when he served in public office. Barbara Rosenwein posits the notion of emotional communities in her examination of the Middle Ages.


Those communities consisted of his family, education (boarding school and Harvard), military service (the Navy in WWII), and time in public office (from Congress to the presidency). The study analyzes the experiences and relationships within those communities and how they contributed to an evolution of his core beliefs such as masculine toughness, loyalty, sacrifice, and duty to one’s nation. The dissertation also considers how pain and suffering may have played a role in shaping John F. Kennedy’s core beliefs through an examination of the many illnesses that he endured throughout his lifetime.

This dissertation consists of three parts that examine three distinct phases in his life and how these emotional communities were present within those each phase. Part One examines his family history and his education at boarding school and Harvard. The two emotional communities examined within this part are the foundation for his core beliefs that followed him through life. However, his time in war, which is examined in Part Two, led to a re-examination of those beliefs and had an impact on him for the rest of his life. In addition, the death of his brother, Joseph Kennedy, Jr., left an indelible mark that never faded. This dissertation contends that these years were the most important in his short life. The study ends with an examination of his experiences and relationships while in public office, the final emotional community. Each of the three chapters in Part Three focus on his time in the House of Representatives, Senate, and the presidency.”


A hearty congratulations to Phil and his family on this remarkable achievement and important historical contribution!

The Rise and Fall of the Second American Republic

Manisha Sinha, Author

Norton, 2024


We are told that the present moment bears a strong resemblance to Reconstruction, the era after the Civil War when the victorious North attempted to create an interracial democracy in the unrepentant South. That effort failed—and that failure serves as a warning today about violent backlash to the mere idea of black equality.

In The Rise and Fall of the Second American Republic, acclaimed historian Manisha Sinha expands our view beyond the accepted temporal and spatial bounds of Reconstruction, which is customarily said to have begun in 1865 with the end of the war, and to have come to a close when the "corrupt bargain" of 1877 put Rutherford B. Hayes in the White House in exchange for the fall of the last southern Reconstruction state governments. Sinha’s startlingly original account opens in 1860 with the election of Abraham Lincoln that triggered the secession of the Deep South states, and take us all the way to 1920 and the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted women the right to vote—and which Sinha calls the "last Reconstruction amendment."

Within this grand frame, Sinha narrates the rise and fall of what she calls the "Second American Republic." The Reconstruction of the South, a process driven by the alliance between the formerly enslaved at the grassroots and Radical Republicans in Congress, is central to her story, but only part of it. As she demonstrates, the US Army’s conquest of Indigenous nations in the West, labor conflict in the North, Chinese exclusion, women’s suffrage, and the establishment of an overseas American empire were all part of the same struggle between the forces of democracy and those of reaction. The main concern of Reconstruction was the plight of the formerly enslaved, but its fall affected other groups as well: women, workers, immigrants, and Native Americans. From the election of black legislators across the South in the late 1860s to the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 to the colonial war in the Philippines in the 1890s, Sinha narrates the major episodes of the era and introduces us to key individuals, famous and otherwise, who helped remake American democracy, or whose actions spelled its doom.

A sweeping narrative that remakes our understanding of perhaps the most consequential period in American history, The Rise and Fall of the Second American Republic shows how the great contest of that age is also the great contest of our age—and serves as a necessary reminder of how young and fragile our democracy truly is.

The Rise and Fall of the Second American Republic book cover