Official Website of the Historian
Publicity & Interviews
Matthew Restall's work has been reviewed in journals and newspapers from the New York Times to the American Historical Review. He has also done numerous radio interviews, podcast episodes, newspaper interviews, and consultations.
Recent Praise for BLUE MOVES
Dear Professor Restall ,
I have recently had the great pleasure of reading your book Blue Moves. Thank you for writing it! Such a magnificent contribution to the 33 1/3 series.
For me, your book fulfills the highest aspirations of that series, including providing multiple contexts for understanding an album that WAS a real challenge to understand/appreciate. That you address the cultural, historical, music business, creative collaborations (the supporting musicians as well John/Taupin) and creative trajectories of these artists made your book a deeply enriching read. Thank you!! So much more satisfying and illuminating than just a track-by-track unpacking or analysis, though I thoroughly enjoyed your observations on individual tracks and specific performances. So much fun to read.
When Misters John and Taupin were in the midst of that period of prolific creativity (Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across the Water) I was in high school and a huge fan. Those albums still have great meaning to me. Sadly, I steadily lost my feeling of connection (reverence) for the work of John/Taupin. I kept trying to keep the connection through Captain Fantastic.
The last Elton John album I purchased or listened to was Blue Moves. I distinctly remember the unarticulated but persistent feeling of "What is this?" Some of the songs, particularly the opening instrumental, were awe-inspiring. But life and music moved on and I totally stopped listening to Elton John. It felt like a loss. It still feels like a loss.
Over the decades, the only "reconnection" I experienced was via the great scene in the movie Almost Famous where a bunch of folks on a tour bus are singing Tiny Dancer. Magic.
And now, your book. With your book I now have the answer to my unarticulated but persistent question about Blue Moves: Thanks to you, I have a deeply satisfying and erudite explanation of the uniqueness of that album.
At the age of 64 (and a 1986/PhD PSU alum) I did not know that the question and the answer still would have this much resonance. I feel like you have given me an understanding of the art of John/Taupin that has contributed to my nascent understanding of the meaning of art in general.
Thank you. [Name withheld]
"In this daring revisionist critique, Penn State historian Restall describes a far more complex process in which Indians were central participants on both sides of the struggle...Restall's provocative analysis, wide-ranging scholarship and lucid prose make this a stimulating contribution to the debate on one of history's great watersheds."
Publishers Weekly, Review of Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest, 2003
"In this Very Short Introduction, Restall and Solari explore the themes of Maya identity, city-state political culture, art and architecture, the Maya concept of the cosmos, and the Maya experience of contact with including invasion by outsiders. Despite its brevity, this book is unique for its treatment of all periods of Maya civilization, from its origins to the present."
- Oxford University Press
In August 2020, Restall participated in a remote informational session for teachers, students, and history buffs about navigating the world of online teaching and learning, and using resources like Restall's When Montezuma Met Cortes and Latin America in Colonial Times (co-authored with Kris Lane). The video is available to watch via Cambridge University Press's "Lockdown Lectures: Q&A with History Authors".
Restall was also recently interviewed by Philadelphia Mag about the history of and debate surrounding Philadelphia's Christopher Columbus statue.
"In When Montezuma Met Cortés, the American historian Matthew Restall examines documents concerning the military conflict that set the Aztecs in opposition to the Spanish empire in 1520...Restall argues that the Spaniard’s account would come to distort our understanding of what was in fact a messy and confusing war, one that involved several armies and leaders from several nations, all in alliances with or opposition to one another for a variety of reasons."
"But in 2019 – the 500th anniversary of Cortes’ meeting with Montezuma – ...the Conquest legends and myths Restall deconstructs still live on. Can any modern PR person imagine that in another 500 years one of their campaigns will be seen as equally successful?"
Noel Turnbull, "The Greatest PR Successes in the Past 500 Years."
When Montezuma Met Cortes has also been featured in reviews by Rebecca Dufendach's podcast, El País, and Tulsa Public Radio.
Álvaro Enrigue, The New York Review of Books (also available on Pocket)