In the latest of our recommendations series for undergraduate History degree applicants, we spoke to Dr John Munro, Lecturer in United States History

For me, any request for recommendations should begin with Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead, Cedric Robinson's Black Marxism, and Edward Said's Culture and Imperialism, since these are among the books that have influenced me most.

Book covers for 'Almanac of the Dead', 'Black Marxism' and 'Culture & Imperialism'

In terms of more recent reading, I've gained much from Glen Coulthard's Red Skin, White Masks, Adom Getachew's Worldmaking After Empire, and Priyamvada Gopal's Insurgent Empire


My research interests in histories of imperialism and the cold war have taken a turn lately toward car culture as an expression of intersecting structures of inequality. On this topic I've learned a lot from Genevieve Carpio's Collisions at the Crossroads and got some good laughs out of the @Bob_Gunderson Twitter account. For students wanting to think about this issue at a local level, I recommend this informative and insightful "A Tale of Two Brums" essay, complete with some amazing photos.

 As someone who's lived in the UK for just under a year, I've also been trying to learn more about the current challenges facing British higher education, and came away with a clearer view after reading historian James Vernon's "The Making of the Neoliberal University in Britain". 

And finally, like everyone else, I've been reading about our pandemic predicament. Here, my three top picks here would be Mike Davis' "In a Plague Year", Jedediah Britton-Purdy's "The Only Treatment for Coronavirus Is Solidarity", and Arundhati Roy's "The Pandemic Is a Portal". 

Behold the power of Roy's final lines:

"Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it."

John Munro's research looks at what the history of the United States tells us about racial capitalism, colonialism, social movements, and intellectual production in a transnational frame.

Dr John Munro, Department of History

John teaches on our History and Joint Honours with History degree courses including modules on 'United States Survey', 'The United States and the World', 'Indigenous and Settler Histories', 'North America in Crisis'.