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The Fires of Philadelphia by Zachary M. Schrag with guest Tyler Anbinder

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Professor Schrag will discuss his book on the xenophobia and nativism of the 1844 Philadelphia fires with Professor Anbinder of GWU!

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Lost City Books is pleased to welcome Professor Zachary M. Schrag to discuss his new book The Fires of Philadelphia: Citizen-Soldiers, Nativists, and the 1844 Riots Over the Soul of a Nation

About The Fires of Philadelphia:

A gripping and masterful account of the moment one of America's founding cities turned on itself, giving the nation a preview of the Civil War to come.

America is in a state of deep unrest, grappling with xenophobia, racial, and ethnic tension a national scale that feels singular to our time. But it also echoes the earliest anti-immigrant sentiments of the country. In 1844, Philadelphia was set aflame by a group of Protestant ideologues—avowed nativists—who were seeking social and political power rallied by charisma and fear of the immigrant menace.

For these men, it was Irish Catholics they claimed would upend morality and murder their neighbors, steal their jobs, and overturn democracy. The nativists burned Catholic churches, chased and beat people through the streets, and exchanged shots with a militia seeking to reinstate order.

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Zachary M. Schrag is an Arlington, Virginia resident born in New York City. A graduate of Harvard and Columbia, he received his PhD in 2002. After receiving his doctorate, Schrag taught at Baruch College and Columbia University. In 2004, he joined the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University. Schrag’s articles have been published in the Journal of Policy History, the Journal of Urban History, Research Ethics, Rethinking History, Technology and Culture, and Washington History, and his essays have appeared in the American Historian, AHA Perspectives, Bioethics Forum, Politico, TR News, the Washington Monthly, and the Washington Post. Schrag has served as the editor of Washington History, a guest editor for the Journal of Policy History, a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Urban History, and a member of the board of the Urban History Association. He has received grants and fellowships from Columbia University, George Mason University, the National Science Foundation, the Gerald Ford Foundation, and the Library of Congress. He has been awarded the Society for American City and Regional Planning History’s John Reps Prize and the Journal of Policy History’s Ellis Hawley Prize.

Tyler Anbinder is a specialist in nineteenth-century American politics and the history of immigration and ethnicity in American life. His most recent book, City of Dreams (2016), is a history of immigrant life in New York City from the early 1600s to the present. Before that, in 2001, he published Five Points, a history of nineteenth-century America's most infamous immigrant slum, focusing in particular on tenement life, inter-ethnic relations, and ethnic politics. His first book, Nativism and Slavery (1992), analyzed the role of the anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic Know Nothing party on the political crisis that led to the Civil War. Professor Anbinder has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and held the Fulbright Thomas Jefferson Chair in American History at the University of Utrecht. He has won awards for his scholarship from the Organization of American Historians, the Columbia University School of Journalism, and the journal Civil War History. He also served as a historical consultant to Martin Scorsese for the making of The Gangs of New York. His is currently writing a book tracing the lives of several thousand Irish Famine immigrants who moved to New York City in the 1840s and '50s. That project's digital history component, created with research assistance from more than two dozen GW students, has already been completed and can be found at http://beyondragstoriches.org.

The Fires of Philadelphia will be available at Lost City Books starting June 1st!


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