History Buzz January 11-17, 2010: John Heilemann & Mark Halperin’s “Game Change”


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  • Moynihan Letters to Be Published: Letters, journals and other correspondence written by Daniel Patrick Moynihan over the course of his half-century career in public service will be published in a coming book.
    On Wednesday, PublicAffairs said it would release a book culled from more than 10,000 pages of letters written by Mr. Moynihan, the former senator from New York, during his time on Capitol Hill and in the administrations of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford. NYT, 1-13-10
  • King papers have reach beyond library walls: In the years since the city of Atlanta acquired more than 10,000 of Dr. Martin Luther King’s personal papers, the collection has been pored over by researchers and used in groundbreaking history courses at Morehouse College. Come February, the writings of Dr. King will be fully available to the public at the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center. – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1-15-10
  • Egypt unveils more proof that Jews did not build pyramids: Egypt displayed this week newly discovered tombs more than 4,000 years old and said they belonged to people who worked on the Great Pyramids of Giza, presenting the discovery as more evidence that slaves did not build the ancient monuments. The discovery further erodes the myth that Jewish slaves built the pyramids, officials in Egypt said…. – AP, 1-14-10
  • Same-Sex Marriage Case Arguments at Court: Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the case challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8, unfolded this week in a federal courtroom in San Francisco…. The plaintiffs, represented by Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, sought to prove that opponents of same-sex marriage were motivated by discriminatory animus when they backed the proposition. Defense lawyers sought to blunt efforts to frame this as a civil rights case…. – NYT, 1-15-10
  • Is Google Good for History?: At a discussion of “Is Google Good for History?” here Thursday, there weren’t really any firm “No” answers. Even the harshest critic here of Google’s historic book digitization project confessed to using it for his research and making valuable finds with the tool…. – Inside Higher Ed, 1-8-10


  • Julian E. Zelizer: Sports and political oversight do mix: When baseball slugger Mark McGwire admitted he had used steroids in his record-breaking 1998 season, he recalled refusing to talk about the subject in his 2005 testimony to Congress….
    McGwire’s admission come as the House Judiciary Committee has been investigating the problem of brain injuries to football players, following heated discussions October 28, when the committee aggressively questioned NFL officials to figure out why the league had done so little to curb this well-known problem….
    The government must help guide the industry toward better practices. There is a precedent for investigation. And sports has depended too much on government to now claim to be a free agent. – CNN, 1-16-10
  • AMNON RUBINSTEIN: Guest Columnist: Judt unpicks Israel’s Jewishness: The drawing is as important as the article itself: Tony Judt – an illustrious NYU historian – has written an article entitled “Israel must unpick its ethnic myth” (Financial Times, December 7). Illustrating the article is a drawing depicting an Israeli flag whose Star of David is being removed. Prof. Judt’s argument is simple:Israel must rid itself of its Jewishness…. – Jerusalem Post, 1-14-10
  • Alan Brinkly: Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Franklin Delano Roosevelt may be the most chronicled man of the twentieth century. He led the United States through the worst economic crisis in the life of the nation and through the greatest and most terrible war in human history. His extraordinary legacy, compiled during dark and dangerous years, remains alive in our own, troubled new century as an inspiring and creative model to many, and as a symbol of excessive government power to many others…. – OUP Blog, 1-12-10


  • POLITICS Book review of ‘Game Change’ by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin: GAME CHANGE Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime – WaPo, 1-17-10
  • John Heilemann and Mark Halperin: Election Confidential GAME CHANGE Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a LifetimeNYT, 1-14-10
  • BOOK REVIEW ‘Game Change’ by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin: The political journalists provide juicy insider tidbits about the 2008 presidential candidates, their spouses and other players, but it’s hard to see the enlightenment behind the entertainment…. “Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime”LAT, 1-13-10
  • Cultural Studies Elizabeth Edwards Teeters on Her Pedestal: GAME CHANGE Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a LifetimeNYT, 1-15-10
  • Harold Holzer: Bookshelf, Lincoln, Medicine and the Depression Of Mutual Influence: The City and the 16th President: Lincoln and New YorkNYT, 1-15-10
  • Elizabeth Partridge: Children’s Books Children Who Changed the World MARCHING FOR FREEDOM Walk Together, Children, and Don’t You Grow WearyNYT, 1-15-10
  • Stephen Kotkin with a contribution by Jan T. Gross: Bonfire of the Bureaucrats UNCIVIL SOCIETY 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist EstablishmentNYT, 1-14-10
  • Seth Lipsky, Jack N. Rakove: More Perfect: THE CITIZEN’S CONSTITUTION An Annotated Guide, THE ANNOTATED U.S. CONSTITUTION AND DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE – “The Citizen’s Constitution” is a magpie’s miscellany of curiosities. It is governed by a newspaperman’s sensibility, one more interested in conflict and color than order and synthesis…. Jack N. Rakove takes a more serious and dutiful approach in “The Annotated U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence.” – NYT, 1-8-10
  • Jenny Uglow: Return of the King A GAMBLING MAN Charles II’s Restoration Game Uglow has, it seems, recast Charles’s restoration as a fable for our times. She sets the scene this way: “A young, charismatic man is called to power, greeted in his capital by vast cheering crowds. But what happens when the fireworks fade and the euphoria cools? Can he unite the divided nation, or will he be defeated by vested interests, entrenched institutions and long-held prejudices?” – NYT, 1-8-10
  • Michael D. Gordin: Nuclear Monopolist: RED CLOUD AT DAWN Truman, Stalin, and the End of the Atomic Monopoly Gordin’s “Red Cloud at Dawn” is about the brief period between August 1945 and August 1949, between Hiroshima and Kazakhstan, when the United States held a nuclear monopoly. It’s about how the Soviets caught up and how America learned that that happy hour was ending a lot sooner than expected… – NYT, 1-15-10
  • Jack Rakove on John Yoo: Book review of John Yoo’s ‘Crisis and Command’: CRISIS AND COMMAND A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush Yoo’s account has a deceptively simple theme: At critical moments, the decisive exercise of power by the president has been the driving force in American history, and neither Congress nor the Supreme Court has ever rivaled the presidency in its capacity to direct how the nation responds to unexpected challenges to its essential interests. Efforts to devise new ways to cabin our presidents — the best as well as the mediocre and mendacious, such as Andrew Johnson and Richard Nixon — risk restraining exactly the kind of initiative we want the executive to mount… – WaPo, 1-8-10
  • Gary Gallagher on John Keegan: HISTORY Book review: THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR A Military History Unfortunately, “The American Civil War” fails to provide anything particularly new. The structure is straightforward: The first six chapters address the background of the war, the challenges of raising and provisioning armies, the risks of a soldier’s life and the importance of geography; the next nine present a chronological narrative of campaigns by the major armies; and the final eight return to a topical format that examines, among other things, African American military participation, the naval war, the home fronts, medical care, generalship and the experience of battle. – WaPo, 1-8-10
  • Leslie Holmes, Stephen Lovell, Gil Troy: COMMUNISM: A VERY SHORT INTRODUCTION, THE SOVIET UNION: A VERY SHORT INTRODUCTION, THE REAGAN REVOLUTION: A VERY SHORT INTRODUCTION – …Mr. Troy does a good job showing the part Ronald Reagan’s statesmanship played in hastening communism’s end in the Soviet Union and its satellite states. President Reagan’s religious upbringing and his reading of free-market economists played a role, as did his anti-communist credentials. He knew that communism had gotten human nature dead wrong and that a command economy couldn’t work; thus he knew where the Soviet Union was vulnerable…. – Washington Times, 1-14-10
  • John Yoo: A Brief For Bush: Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush And the idea behind his latest book, Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power From George Washington to George W. Bush, is simple: throughout American history, crisis has inspired constitutional daring, and the race to presidential greatness goes not to the leader who hews most faithfully to the constitutional text but to the one most willing to bend the document to meet the perceived demands of the day. – The American Conservative, 2-1-10


  • Forging The Past: OUP And The ‘Armenian Question’: Donald Bloxham’s The Great Game of Genocide. Imperialism, Nationalism and the Destruction of the Ottoman Armenians.
    The book includes nine photographs printed on glossy paper. Eight of the photographs are credited. One is not. It shows a man in an unbuttoned jacket and tie standing in front of a circle of ragged children and one apparent adult with something in his hand. The caption reads: ‘A Turkish official taunting starving Armenians with bread’. Even a cursory glance is enough to show there is something wrong with this photo….. – History of Truth, 1-15-10
  • Fallou Ngom: The lost script: It’s a writing system called Ajami, it’s a thousand years old, and a Boston University professor thinks it could help unlock the story of a continent… – Boston Globe, 1-10-10
  • Historians, Sons, Daughters: In what appeared to be a pattern on a panel of historian parents and their historian offspring at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, it turns out that the way you rebel against an American historian parent is to become a medievalist…. – Inside Higher Ed, 1-12-10
  • Denis Smyth, Historian claims to have finally identified wartime ‘Man Who Never Was’: A historian claims to have conclusively proved the identity of the “Man Who Never Was”, whose body was used in a spectacular plot to deceive the Germans over the invasion of Sicily in the Second World War…
    Professor Denis Smyth, a historian at Toronto University, whose book Operation Mincemeat: Death, Deception and the Mediterranean D-Day is due to be published later this year, believes he has now finally laid to rest such “conspiracy theories”….. – Telegraph, UK, 1-3-10


  • Donald Ritchie “Depression-era star muckraker shapes Wall Street inquiry”: “Pecora’s revelations enraged the public and stampeded Congress into creating the SEC and separating commercial banks from investment banks. “In many ways it was one of the most productive congressional hearings, because it led to so many laws being passed,” says Senate historian Donald Ritchie. – USA Today, 1-12-10


  • David C. Engerman ‘Know Your Enemy’: There was a time, improbable though it may now seem, when it was not considered inherently dubious for academics to work with or for the government. For several decades in the mid-20th century, Soviet studies — a field born of America’s post-World War II desire to understand its ally-turned-enemy — enjoyed a wealth of government funding and scholarly attention. In a new book, Know Your Enemy: The Rise and Fall of America’s Soviet Experts, David C. Engerman, associate professor of history at Brandeis University explains how Soviet Studies rose so rapidly, and why its decline began well before the fall of the Soviet Union…. – Inside Higher Ed, 1-8-10


  • Annete Gordon-Reed, Beryl Satter: For Faculty Authors At Rutgers University, Newark, 2009 Was A Very Good Year For Awards, Recognition: Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, “Best Books” Lists Among Honors – Rutgers News, 1-5-10


  • Richard Etulain: Professor presents new angle on author’s life and works about the West: Richard Etulain speaks at Columbia Forum about writer Wallace Stegner – Daily Astorian, 1-12-10
  • Freedom singer delivers civil-rights lessons in Seattle: Freedom singer Bernice Johnson Reagon was the featured speaker at a celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Seattle. In a speech at Mount Zion that was part history lesson, part performance and part message about nonviolence, Reagon, a cultural historian and civil-rights activist, spoke about the era when she established herself as a freedom singer…. – Seatle Times, 1-15-10




  • Alison Weir: The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, January 5, 2010
  • Charles Pellegrino: The Last Train from Hiroshima: The Survivors Look Back (Hardcover), January 19, 2010
  • Catherine Clinton: Mrs. Lincoln: A Life (Reprint) (Paperback) January 19, 2010
  • Andrew Young: The Politician: An Insider’s Account of John Edwards’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down (Hardcover) Feb 2, 2010
  • Charles Lachman: The Last Lincolns: The Rise & Fall of a Great American Family (Paperback), February 2, 2010
  • S. M. Plokhy: Yalta: The Price of Peace (Hardcover), February 4, 2010
  • Richard Beeman: Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution (Paperback), February 9, 2010
  • Philip Dray: Capitol Men: The Epic Story of Reconstruction Through the Lives of the First Black Congressmen (Paperback) February 11, 2010
  • Ken Gormley: The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr (Hardcover), February 16, 2010
  • Susan Wise Bauer: The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade, (Hardcover) February 22, 2010
  • Richard J. Evans: The Third Reich at War (Paperback) February 23, 2010
  • Seth G. Jones: In the Graveyard of Empires: America’s War in Afghanistan (Paperback) April 12, 2010


  • Charles Stuart McGehee: Prominent West Virginia historian dies: The founder of one of West Virginia’s most comprehensive archives on the state’s coal history, Charles Stuart McGehee, died earlier this week. McGehee, 55, was the founder of Bluefield’s Eastern Regional Coal Archives, a professor of history at West Virginia State University, and the author of five books on West Virginia. He died Tuesday…. – WV Gazette, 1-14-10
  • Ihor Sevcenko, 87; professor, scholar of Byzantine era: Ihor Sevcenko taught at Harvard University for two decades… – Boston Globe, 1-11-10
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