Writing the 21st Century

Writing the 21st Century September 9, 2016

Last time, I discussed the issues involved in trying to write the very recent history, namely the years since 2000. (Do check out that post as the essential background for the present posting).

I won’t detail my planned chapter outline in too much length, but let me just give you the main subheadings to see the general framework I plan, and all within a strict limit of 15,000 words or so. And then you can scream about the things I have done, and the things I have left undone. If I could merge a couple of the topics as I have them here, I would have the classic fifteen-week structure of a college course. Obviously I would add units on film, fiction, popular culture etc.

But see what you think. What am I leaving out?


1.Facing West From California’s Shores

Population trends, the shift to the Sunbelt, ethnic diversification, the move towards a “majority-minority” country.

2.The Global War on Terror

The Bush presidency, 9/11; War on Terror, Afghanistan and Iraq

3.Mounting Protests

Civil liberties issues, growing opposition to the Bush administration, Hurricane Katrina, corruption scandals

4.New Economies and New Cities

Hi tech, mobile devices and social media, social impacts of technology, restructuring the corporate elite, high-tech cities and urban gentrification.

5.The Crisis of the Old Economy

Decline of traditional manufacturing, crisis of the old working class. The Oil Boom: the Shale Gale and fracking.

6.Economic Storm

The roots of the financial crisis, mortgage-based derivatives, the 2007-8 crash

7.The 2008 Election

Hillary and Obama, and the reshaping of Democratic constituencies


Obamacare and early successes; Congressional gridlock and the use of executive privilege: attempted decisions on illegal immigration and carbon emissions

9.Debts And Deficits

Spending debates as main drivers of gridlock and partisanship

10.Against The Current

Populism on the Right and the Tea Party, immigration debates. Left wing populism and Occupy. The rhetoric of the 99 percent. Will the 2010s be regarded as a new 1960s?

11.Still An American Dilemma

Racial grievances and the criminal justice system, police shootings and Black Lives Matter, the attack on the Confederate Flag, and History Wars.

12.America in the World

Obama and the wider world – Iran and Cuba. New global economies: from G7 to G20

13.Terrorism and Jihad

Iraq, ISIS, domestic terrorism, the struggle over definition: Benghazi and Orlando

14.The New Super-Powers

US policies towards a resurgent Russia and an emerging China. The roots of future confrontations?

15.Ending the Culture Wars

The triumph of liberal and radical values in feminism and gay rights issues; the progress of same sex marriage; the effective legalization of hard core pornography; defeat of abortion restriction laws.

16.Conservative Crisis

The lack of effective opposition to sweeping liberalization; the decline of conservative religious politics, and the Catholic abuse crisis; free speech and religious liberty in the new social environment

17.The 2016 Election

The Trump and Sanders movements as insurgent anti-elite campaigns. The crisis of a two party system?

This chapter is still a work in progress! Ask me again in November.


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