Despite Americans’ instinctive openness, decades of deadly overdoses and mass shooting victims remind them that there have to be boundaries. The difficulty of controlling protests in Russia and China reminds them that closing down too hard can destabilize the government’s hold on society and trigger an exodus. The question that remains to be answered is whether these vast societies will push their limits to the extreme such that they lose the things that closure was meant to secure and that openness was meant to allow.
In her 2010 book, The Red Corner: The Rise and Fall of Communism in Northeastern Montana, Verlaine Stoner McDonald resurrects the surprising but largely forgotten episode of agrarian radicalism in Sheridan County, Montana. Over ten years after its publication, McDonald’s stellar work of microhistory continues to provide food for thought to readers interested in both the political promise and limits of agrarianism, localism, and left-wing populism.