Category Archives: Uncategorized

New in 2021: The Princeton Guide to Historical Research and The Fires of Philadelphia

I have two books scheduled for publication in 2021.

In April, Princeton University Press published my book, The Princeton Guide to Historical Research, a manual for writing history in the twenty-first century. Through August 31, 2021, use the code ZS30 to get a 30 percent discount. The book is also available as an ebook or an audiobook.

In June, Pegasus Books will publish The Fires of Philadelphia: Citizen-Soldiers, Nativists, and the 1844 Riots Over the Soul of a Nation, a narrative history of America’s first great urban riot.

I am grateful to all who helped bring these books into the world.

It Takes Two: Combining English and History to Team Teach Narrative Writing

My Mason colleague Scott W. Berg and I have an essay in this month’s Journal of American History about our experience planning and co-teaching a course on narrative history writing. “By teaching skills and approaches neglected in other courses, we wanted to empower students to tell those important stories in rewarding new ways.”

Oxford University Press graciously allows me to post a free-access link to a personal website. Just click on the title below.

Scott W. Berg and Zachary M. Schrag, “It Takes Two: Combining English and History to Team Teach Narrative Writing,” Journal of American History 107, no. 4 (March 2021): 968–73.

Metro FAQ: Why doesn’t Metro have four-track routes?

Ten years ago, when Metro was still working well enough for people to wish for more, the more frequent question I got was about the lack of a Metro station in Georgetown. Now that the challenge is to keep the current system functioning, the question is why Metro has only two sets of tracks on each route, so that shutting one down for repairs causes slow service.

In my research, I found two documents that explained the decision particularly well.
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How Congress Undercut Its Own City’s Subway System

Published: “How Congress Undercut Its Own City’s Subway System,” POLITICO Magazine, 16 March 2016.

The most recent maintenance issues are just the latest consequences of a longer pattern of uncertain, interrupted federal financing that began while Metro was still just a paper proposal. Metro was born and built in financial jeopardy. Now, like so much of the nation’s infrastructure, it needs reinvestment, and that challenge may prove greater than the effort to build it in the first place.

Journal of Urban History Reviews The Great Society Subway

Carlton Basmajian includes The Great Society Subway in a review essay for the Journal of Urban History, finding it “an insightful exploration of the intellectual ferment at the heart of urban planning in the 1960s.” I am honored to be mentioned in the company of Mark Rose, Bruce Seely, Paul Barrett, and John Stilgoe, all of whom were inspirations as I wrote the book.

Basmajian, Carlton. “Transportation and Power.” Journal of Urban History 38, no. 6 (November 2012): 1114–1120. doi:10.1177/0096144212449147.