American History

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Eight Short Videos to Help Make Some Sense of the Conflict in Ukraine

Includes videos

So much for the “spirit of international brotherhood” that the Olympics was supposed to inspire.

The crisis in Ukraine has reached a boiling point, with tensions between the United States and Russia at a level not seen since the Cold War. But in spite of the sometimes alarmist deluge of round-the-clock media coverage, it’s surprisingly challenging to sift through the noise and get a good grip on what’s actually going on. These seven short videos do a good job getting to the point and explaining specific aspects of the confrontation.

The latest developments (as of March 16)


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The Voting Rights Act: A Cartoon History

Includes cartoon infographic

The U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down a key part of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. In the first of his three-part illustrated series on voting rights in America, comic journalist Andy Warner tells the story of the Voting Rights Act. Scroll through the slideshow or read it as a single image graphic below.

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Cartoon: How the Supreme Court Stripped the Voting Rights Act of its Muscle

Includes cartoon infographic

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June to strike down a key part of the Voting Rights Act significantly weakens the federal government’s authority toi prevent voter discrimination in state and local elections. In the second of his three-part illustrated series on voting rights in America, Andy Warner explains the court’s decision and the immediate implications of the ruling (see part 1 here). View the full graphic below the slideshow.

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Cartoon: New Age of Voter Suppression Tactics in Wake of Supreme Court Ruling

Includes cartoon infographic

Almost immediately after the Supreme Court’s decision last June to strike down a key oversight provision in the Voting Rights Act, a handful of states enacted controversial new voting rules that had previously been barred. In the third part of his illustrated series (see part 1 and part 2), Andy Warner explains some of these changes. View the full graphic below the slideshow.

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Poverty Line Problems: The History of an Outdated Measurement (Infographic)

Includes Cartoon Infographic

Poverty_Line_Problems_Slice6Following up on his last cartoon infographic exploring “the poverty threshold” in the United States, graphic journalist Andy Warner digs into the concept behind “the poverty line,” the origins of that measurement and why it’s considered so outdated today. View it below in full, or in segments as a slideshow. Continue reading

A Brief History of BART (And How We’ve Come To So Depend On It)

Includes video
Some original BART employees, circa early 1970s (courtesy of bart.gov)

No, not the original Star Trek cast: BART employees, circa early 1970s (courtesy of BART.gov)


Bay Area traffic might suck, but Bay Area traffic without BART sucks a whole lot more.

It’s a fact that was made painfully clear in early July to the hundreds of thousands of Bay Area workers who were subjected to cruel and unusual commute conditions created by a strike and system-wide shutdown of the 104-mile regional transit system.

And now, as another BART strike looms, Bay Area commuters are again faced with the prospect of horrendous traffic conditions on the horizon.

Love it or hate it, it’s hard to deny the essential role BART plays in moving the Bay Area.  Continue reading

Infographic: What Does it Mean to Be Poor in America?

Includes cartoon infographic

By Andy Warner

Poverty_Trend_SliceintroEarlier this month — back in the good ole’ days when our government was actually functioning (sort of) — the U.S. Census Bureau released a series of 2012 income data for American households (and no, I can’t provide the link, because the Census site is still closed for business). The figures shows that despite the nation’s supposed economic recovery, average American household incomes didn’t really budge from where they were the year before. Meanwhile, the poverty rate remained at roughly the same level as it was in 2011 as well. The data underscore a growing gap in wealth inequality in America, with the incomes of lower and middle class households stagnating, while those among the wealthiest continue to rise at a rapid clip. In this comic infographic, graphic journalist Andy Warner breaks down these figures and what they mean for the millions of average American families still just scraping by. To view it as a slideshow in individual segments, click the thumbnail below.
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Timeline: A Robust History of Recent U.S. Military Invasions

Includes interactive timeline
Ahmad Mansur/Wikimedia Commons

Ahmad Mansur/Wikimedia Commons

Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. military has had its hands full. Starting in 1990, we’ve fought three official wars, and been involved in no less than seven additional military interventions.

It is still unclear whether the U.S. will engage in a bombing campaign against Syria as punishment for that government’s supposed use of chemical weapons against its people. Until the announcement last week of a tentative deal between the U.S. and Russia (Syria’s most powerful ally) requiring the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to destroy its entire chemical weapons arsenal within a specific time-frame, a U.S. military intervention seemed imminent.

Although far from a guarantee against the a U.S. bombing campaign, the agreement — if adhered to by all parties– has the promise of preventing U.S. military involvement. If, however, the deal is broken, intervention is all but assured, making Syria the 11th large-scale military action the U.S. has taken in less than 25 years.

Scroll through this interactive timeline — produced by Al Jazeera — to learn about the history, causes, and outcomes of each military conflict that the United States has gotten itself involved in. Click here to view the full-size version.

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