December 2009: History Buzz Roundup


The remains of the ancient dwelling will be displayed as part of a new center in Nazareth honoring Mary.The remains of the ancient dwelling will be displayed as part of a new center in Nazareth honoring Mary



  • Bruce Schulman “9/11 to climate change: Historians look back on the decade”: “People are going to think that 9/11 is a significant historical turning point no matter what happens, because it certainly altered the international order,” said Bruce Schulman, who teaches history at Boston University…. “If in 2004 you told me that in the next election we would elect a black president, I would have said, ‘You’re crazy. That’s not happening maybe for my lifetime,'” Schulman said. “Now…could you imagine that ever again, at least ever again at least in the next 16 or 20 years, we would have two tickets that would be all white males? I don’t think we’ll ever see that again.” – AP, 12-7-09
  • Brian Balogh “9/11 to climate change: Historians look back on the decade”: Brian Balogh, a history professor at the University of Virginia, pointed out that 9/11 demonstrated the power of non-state actors and has kept us talking about “homeland security,” a term not widely used before the attacks. Hoffman said 9/11 revealed that the U.S. didn’t have a post-Cold War strategic vision…. Balogh added that the 2000 election contributed to political partisanship because the close race caused each side to use “any weapon in their arsenal.” Nowadays there are fewer political moderates and fewer legislative compromises — a trend exemplified in the current debate over health care reform. Bills emerged from Congress with the support of just one Republican. In the 1960s, Balogh noted, Democrats got more GOP support to pass landmark civil-rights legislation…. “The most dramatic change [of the decade] is, in essence, expecting to have all the information in the world at our fingertips and to be constantly in touch with people whenever we want to be, however we want to be,” said Balogh, who also cohosts a radio show called “BackStory with the American History Guys.” “We’re increasingly connected by what we buy, by what we read, by lifestyles. I think we’re less connected by geography and by our allegiances and attachments to nations.”…. – AP, 12-7-09
  • Julian Zelizer “9/11 to climate change: Historians look back on the decade”: As a result of 9/11, the political polarization was amplified, said Julian Zelizer, a history professor at Princeton University and author of “Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security — From World War II to the War on Terrorism.” Zelizer said he thinks evolving media technology — and the development of the 24/7 news cycle, thanks in part to the rise of Internet blogging and social-networking sites — has helped increase partisan bickering this decade…. – AP, 12-7-09
  • Daryl Michael Scott “9/11 to climate change: Historians look back on the decade”: “Diversity is leading to a different America,” said Daryl Michael Scott, a history professor at Howard University. “African-Americans have been the largest minority in the country since its founding, and I think it takes place within the 2000s, this formal passing of the guard.”… – AP, 12-7-09
  • 100 Notable Books of 2009: The New York Times Book Review selects outstanding works from the last year – NYT, 11-09
  • The 10 Best Books of 2009 By THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW NYT, 12-09
  • The ’00s: Goodbye (at Last) to the Decade From Hell Time, 11-24-09


    On This Day in History….This Week in History….

  • 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor far from forgotten: Harold O’Connor, 88, was a Navy Fireman First Class on the USS Thornton, a destroyer seaplane tender, in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked. “All the torpedo planes were coming right off our fantail,” O’Connor recalls. “I watched the West Virginia go up from two torpedoes that were dropped. All hell was breaking loose. I saw the bombs that hit the Arizona.”… – USA Today, 12-7-09
  • Historian Finds John Brown’s Link To Vermont: To some – 19th century abolitionist John Brown was a folk hero. To others he was a violent terrorist. To this day Brown is considered one of the more controversial figures of the 1800s. December 2, marks the 150th anniversary of Brown’s execution following his failed raid at Harper’s Ferry Virginia…. – Vermont Public Radio (12-1-09)


  • Israeli history lecturers go ‘on the rails’: “I’m not nervous, but I hope I won’t feel nauseous,” joked Professor Isaiah Gafni, as he prepared to deliver his slightly unusual lecture. But once the commuters were settled, he gripped an upholstered seat back with one hand, two weighty tomes in the other, and launched with gusto into his exposition of the documentary evidence of the Maccabean Jewish revolt in the second Century BCE. Few of the passengers on the 0905 train from Modiin to Tel Aviv were expecting this. But most seemed willing to hear out the bespectacled historian, as he re-examined the story, taught in Israeli kindergartens and schools, of the Jewish rebellion which is commemorated in the festival of Hannukah…. – BBC News, 12-23-09
  • House uncovered in Nazareth dating to the time of Jesus: Archaeologists in Israel say they have discovered the remains of a home from the time of Jesus in the heart of Nazareth. The Israeli Antiquities Authority said the find “sheds light on the way of life at the time of Jesus” in the Jewish settlement of Nazareth, where Christians believe Jesus grew up…. – CNN, 12-21-09
  • Stanford technology helps scholars get ‘big picture’ of the Enlightenment – Cynthia L. Haven in the Stanford News (12-17-09)
  • Bill to Increase the NHPRC’s Reauthorization is Derailed in the Senate: What was expected to be a non-controversial committee markup of legislation (S. 2872) to reauthorize the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) resulted instead in the elimination of a proposed significant increase in the Commission’s spending level over the next five years… – Lee White at the website of the National Coalition for History (NCH) (12-18-09)
  • Congress maintaining history budgets – Lee White at the website of the National Coalition for History (NCH) (12-14-09)
  • Historians seek $1.5M for Tecumseh memorial: A group of historians in Thamesville, Ont., say they’ll need $1.5 million to upgrade a memorial for a native American chief who played a key role in the War of 1812…. – CBC News (11-12-09)
  • The John Hope Franklin File: FBI Looked At Esteemed Historian For Communist Ties: The celebrated historian John Hope Franklin was scrutinized by the FBI in the 1960s for supposed links to communists, particularly his opposition to the House Committee on Un-American Activities and his vocal support for W.E.B. Du Bois…. – TPM (Liberal blog) (12-15-09)
  • Stanford history professor questions role of historians as researchers for the defense in such a lawsuit: Four University of Florida graduate students who did research for a tobacco company’s legal defense have been caught in a debate over the role of historians in such cases. The controversy stretches from Gainesville to Palo Alto, Calif., where Stanford University history professor Robert Proctor has publicly identified and criticized historians who work for the tobacco industry. Proctor’s discovery that UF graduate students in history were working for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. attorneys led him to e-mail objections to a UF professor, Betty Smocovitis…. – The Gainesville Sun (12-8-09)
  • A plainer view of our past: Howard Zinn and ‘The People Speak’ TV special – The Philadelphia Inquirer (12-8-09)
  • Maciej Kowalczy: Historian Finds Red Baron’s Death Certificate: A Polish historian says he made a surprising find when poring through World War I archives — the death certificate of Manfred von Richthofen, the German fighter ace known as the “Red Baron.”… – AP (12-7-09)
  • Conservative viewpoint: Doris Kearns Goodwin’s cross into partisan politics – Charlotte Conservative News (12-6-09)
  • There has been a rare and surprising archaeological discovery dug up in Tel Dor, Israel: a gemstone engraved with the portrait of Alexander the Great…. – Netscape News


  • Jeffrey Wasserstrom: 5 China books to look forward to in 2010 – Shanghist, 12-22-09
  • Vikki Bynum vs. John Stauffer: The debate turns ugly: Professor Stauffer is angry at me; I mean really angry. He’s furious that I don’t think more highly of his and Sally Jenkins’s book, State of Jones, but especially that I have the temerity to publicly say so. To get it all off his chest, he just let off more steam on page 2 of the December 10th issue of the Jones County ReView… – Victoria Bynum at the Renegade South blog (12-10-09)
  • Howard Zinn’s show has been “hyped” says Ron Radosh in a highly critical review… – Historian Ron Radosh at his blog (12-12-09)


  • Monica’s back – says Clinton lied: Now the first definitive history of the Clinton scandal is about to arrive — and neither man can be completely happy about his portrayal in its pages… “The Death of American Virtue,” due out in February, asserts that Clinton had yet another extramarital affair, with Susan McDougal of Whitewater fame. Also in the book, Monica Lewinsky tells author Ken Gormley that she believes the president lied under oath when he described their encounters…. – Politico, 12-17-09
  • Alison Weir: Once More, Revisiting Anne Boleyn Yet Again THE LADY IN THE TOWER The Fall of Anne BoleynNYT, 12-17-09
  • Richard Overy: After the War, Before the War THE TWILIGHT YEARS The Paradox of Britain Between the WarsNYT, 12-20-09
  • Amanda Vickery: Bed, Bath and Beyond BEHIND CLOSED DOORS At Home in Georgian EnglandNYT, 12-20-09
  • Stein Tonnesson: Norwegian historian writes about war in Vietnam Vietnam 1946VOV News (12-9-09)
  • WSJ book review of Robert E. Sullivan’s “Macaulay: The Tragedy of Power” WSJ (12-7-09)
  • BEVERLY GAGE on John Milton Cooper Jr. “He Was No Wilsonian” WOODROW WILSON A Biography : When historians rank the American presidents, Woodrow Wilson almost always secures a place in the top 10. This seems to be an honor accorded successful wartime leaders; in the last C-Span Presidents Day poll, the highest three spots belonged to Lincoln, Washington and Franklin Roosevelt, two war presidents and a general. Yet compared with the reputations of other members of that august pantheon, Wilson’s lags far behind. George W. Bush was described as “Wilsonian” after 9/11, but that was hardly meant as a compliment. Barack Obama, like Wilson a scholar, political neophyte and Nobel Peace Prize winner, prefers to be compared to Lincoln and the second Roosevelt, or even to Truman and Reagan — practically any other member of the top ranks. Today, the only major public figure who seems to be interested in Wilson is the Fox News host Glenn Beck, who traces the roots of our current “socialist” predicament back to the dark era of Wilsonian income taxes, war propaganda and obscure monetary symbols…. – NYT, 12-13-09
  • Beth Bailey: Historian’s new book considers America’s all-volunteer Army America’s Army: Making the All-Volunteer ForceTemple University (12-3-09)


  • Word for Word, First Couplets A History of Odes to the Chief: MUSES Lincoln fares best with poets. Hayes, on the other hand, was remembered for his “unrecorded remarks.”…. – NYT, 12-13-09
  • Vietnam historian Stanley Karnow plans his memoir: Stanley Karnow, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and longtime foreign correspondent, is trying to think of a good title for a planned memoir…. – SF Chronicle (12-8-09)
  • Dusan Batakovic: A Historian of the Present: Dusan Batakovic, 52, a Serbian historian and diplomat, has been handed the most demanding role of his life – to lead the Serbian team at the International Court of Justice in the Hague, in an attempt to dispute the legality of Kosovo’s unilateral proclamation of independence on February 17, 2008… – Balkan Insight (12-7-09)


  • ‘The Young Victoria’: Dowdy monarch gets sexy makeover: “It has the potential to go beyond the costume drama,” says film historian Maria Elena de las Carreras, a visiting professor at UCLA who saw the film and liked it. “It’s a 21st-century version of the struggle of the sexes — in costume. Any woman who wants to be autonomous is always a built-in enticement to an audience.”
    But is the film historically accurate? Not precisely, historians say. Albert, for instance, did not attend Victoria’s coronation, let alone step ahead of a higher-ranking royal to dance with her, nor was he injured in an assassination attempt on her. “I forgave the filmmakers because they need to have climaxes in movies,” says Gillian Gill, author of the recent We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals.
    One theme is true: Victoria was not a prudish Victorian — she liked sex with Albert. “It was an arranged marriage that ended up a real, passionate love affair,” says Stanley Weintraub, a retired professor at Penn State and author of Uncrowned King: The Life of Prince Albert. “She had nine children, but when she asked her doctor how to stop having children, he told her all you can do is stop having sex. She was horrified by that idea,” he says. Gill says the gist of the film is correct in that it presents a new way of looking at Victoria and Albert as a kind of modern power couple. “It’s much more like a 21st-century situation where it’s the wife who has the money, power, property, position and status,” Gill says…. – USA Today, 12-15-09
  • David Greenberg “Obama Joins Johnson in Escalating Unpopular War He Inherited”: Even Franklin Roosevelt, elected to a fourth term in 1944, faced opposition to his domestic programs as victory in World War II was becoming more likely. As David Greenberg, a history professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey says, Roosevelt proposed an “economic bill of rights” that promised 60 million jobs, among other items. He won with his lowest Electoral College vote total…. – Bloomberg, 12-2-09


  • Zachery R. Williams ‘In Search of the Talented Tenth’: In the era before desegregation, Howard University was home to a constellation of black intellectual leaders — professors who shaped public discussion about race and who built a vibrant intellectual community, even as they faced bigotry outside the university’s gates. A new book, In Search of the Talented Tenth: Howard University Public Intellectuals and the Dilemmas of Race, 1926-1970, has just been published by the University of Missouri Press. Zachery R. Williams, assistant professor of African American history and associate director of Pan-African studies at the University of Akron, is the author of the book and he recently responded to questions about the work…. – Inside Higher Ed, 12-22-09
  • 20 questions: Historian Thomas Fleming: The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers, historian Thomas Fleming examines the personal lives of six familiar names in history: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Fleming examines how their relationships with their wives and families affected their roles in founding the country. Fleming, an author of numerous books, spoke to The Hill about his latest tome…. – The Hill
  • Barbara Berg: Inequality the new normal, historian says: Women’s rights are under attack, says historian Barbara Berg. Yes, women have made tremendous strides but many of their rights have eroded since feminism’s second wave in the 1970s and 1980s, she writes in her new book, Sexism in America: Alive, Well, and Ruining our Future…. – The Star (12-9-09)


  • History Professor Wins Prestigious Humanities Award Edward Blum is the recipient of the 2009 Gustave O. Arlt Award: The Council of Graduate Schools formally announced that San Diego State University history professor Edward J. Blum, is the winner of its 2009 Gustave O. Arlt Award in the Humanities. Blum was presented the Arlt Award on Dec. 3 in San Francisco for his book Reforging the White Republic: Race, Religion, and American Nationalism, a work described by Rice University historian Michael Emerson as “one of the finest studies of race and religion ever written.”… – SDS Universe, 12-9-09
  • Turkish parliament awards renowned historian: Turkey’s internationally-acclaimed historian Prof. Kemal Karpat has received Turkish parliament’s honorary award…. – World Bulletin (12-9-09)
  • OAH selects new executive director: It is my great pleasure to inform you that the OAH has a new Executive Director. After an extensive process that resulted in 54 applications, Katherine (Kathy) Finley has been selected by the OAH Executive Board at its Fall board meeting…. – Press Release (12-8-09)



  • Royal Society papers provide science, history resources: The 350th anniversary of Britain’s Royal Society (making it the world’s oldest scientific institution) will be marked by the release of a vast library of papers online from the likes of Sir Isacc Newton and Benjamin Franklin. This isn’t just science nerd stuff, though. This is a treasure trove of history that is easily connected to modern scientific thought. The library itself can be found at and is remarkable in its extensiveness… – ZD Net, 11-29-09


  • ‘NOVA’ looks at Japanese midget sub in Pearl Harbor attack: The PBS science series “NOVA” plans to broadcast a documentary presenting evidence that a torpedo fired from a Japanese midget submarine may have struck the USS Oklahoma during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. “Killer Subs in Pearl Harbor” premiers Jan. 5. AP, 12-7-09
  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
  • PBS American Experience: Mondays at 9pm
  • History Channel: Weekly Schedule



  • Anthony Haden-guest: Last Party: Studio 54, Disco, and the Culture of the Night (Paperback), December 8, 2009
  • Len Colodny: The Forty Years War: The Rise and Fall of the Neocons, from Nixon to Obama, December 8, 2009
  • Alice Morse Earle: Child Life in Colonial Times, (Paperback), December 18, 2009
  • C. S. Manegold: Ten Hills Farm: The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North, December 21, 2009
  • A. N. Wilson: Our Times: The Age of Elizabeth II, December 22, 2009
  • Rudy Tomedi: General Matthew Ridgway, December 30, 2009
  • Alison Weir: The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, January 5, 2010


  • Yosef H. Yerushalmi, Scholar of Jewish History, Dies at 77: Yosef Haim Yerushalmi, a groundbreaking and wide-ranging scholar of Jewish history whose meditation on the tension between collective memory of a people and the more prosaic factual record of the past influenced a generation of thinkers, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 77 and lived in Manhattan. NYT (12-10-09)
  • Historian Shearer Davis Bowman dies at the age of 60 – Richmond Times-Dispatch (8-12-09)
  • Resolute academic who looked into Switzerland’s soul: Jean-François Bergier remembered – Financial Times (12-5-09)
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