Publication Details

Cahill, R. (2014). Anti-radicalism and history from below. Overland, (14 April),

Link to publisher version (URL)

Overland Literary Journal


In 1969, American historian Jesse Lemisch was in his early thirties. His politics and approach to history were shaped by the Cold War, as well as his involvements in the civil rights and anti-war movements and other struggles against the power structures of the day. That year, his paper ‘Present-Mindedness Revisited: Anti-Radicalism as a Goal of American Historical Writing Since World War 11’ was the centrepiece of a controversial session of the American Historical Association in Washington, D.C.

Passionate, strident, scholarly and forensic, the Lemisch paper detailed the ways leading American historians variously claimed political neutrality even as they were deeply engaged as conservatives or as liberals in the politics of post-war USA, with their historical writings part of and reflecting this engagement