Let’s Not Pretend That ‘Hamilton’ Is History

America's Founders Have Never Enjoyed More Sex Appeal, but the Hit Musical Cheats Audiences by Making Democracy Look Easy

Hamilton is the hottest show on Broadway, filled with hip-hop songs, R&B rhythms, and tri-cornered hats. Its multi-racial cast portrays the pantheon of Revolutionary greats, and for many a starry-eyed critic this sing-along with the founders offers “a factually rigorous historical drama.” Those are the words of Jody Rosen in The New York Times, and he is not alone. As an academic who spent years studying Aaron Burr before producing a scholarly biography, I can say emphatically that rules of historical rigor do not apply to Hamilton.

The musical follows …

The Japanese-American Officer Who Helped Take Down and Then Rebuild Japan

Born in Seattle in 1920, Harry Fukuhara Was Fully Bicultural, Bilingual, and Binational

When I first met Harry Fukuhara, in 1994, he was orchestrating a Tokyo press conference for Japanese Foreign Ministry officials, former Jewish refugees from the Holocaust, and veterans of the …

Running for President Takes a Stiff—and Clean-Shaven—Upper Lip

As Thomas Dewey Learned in His Race Against Harry Truman, You Can Lose by a Whisker

In 1948, Emilie Spencer Deer, a solidly Republican woman from Ohio, announced to her family that she would vote for President Truman instead of the Republican candidate Thomas Dewey because …

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders Should Thank Theodore Roosevelt

Outsider Candidates Didn’t Have Much of a Chance Until the Rough Rider Championed Primary Elections

If you’re wondering why Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have a shot at representing their political parties in November’s national presidential election, you can thank Theodore Roosevelt.

One of Roosevelt’s …

Martin Luther King Jr. as Folk Art

Street Portraits Across L.A. Show How Different Neighborhoods Interpret the Civil Rights Leader in Their Own Image

I did not set out to document murals of Martin Luther King Jr. in American cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Detroit. I just happened to find …

The Japanese-American Flower Growers Who Made Phoenix Bloom

Post-WWII Gardens Like My Family’s Found Beauty in Stony Ground

When my high school orchestra teacher found out my family owned a Japanese flower garden in Phoenix, Arizona, he made a confession: He had once snuck into those fields. He …