History Buzz, January 25, 2010: National Book Award Finalists Named


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  • Couple finds Thomas Jefferson letter at Old Town Alexandria’s American LegionWaPo, 1-25-10
  • Historical Society to Open a Children’s Museum: When thinking of ways to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon, studying history is not high on the list for most families. Now, in a bid to make history more vivid, alluring and accessible for the Wii generation, an interactive “museum within a museum,” focusing on the lives of young New Yorkers, will open in November 2011 on the lower level of the New-York Historical Society, museum officials said…. – NYT, 1-22-10
  • Arnved Nedkvitne: NORWAY: Sacked professor sues the state: Earlier this month, five days were spent in an Oslo court to hear testimonies in a case where sacked University of Oslo Professor Arnved Nedkvitne is suing the Norwegian government. Professor Arnved Nedkvitne has demanded he either be reinstated as a full professor in medieval history or paid financial compensation until he reaches pension age…. – University World News, 1-24-10
  • White House welcomes KU professor: President Obama has made a Jayhawk one of the newest members of his administration. Karl Brooks, associate professor in the history and environmental studies departments, will serve as one of 10 regional administrators for the Environmental Protection Agency. Brooks will be the head of Region 7, based in Kansas City, Kan, which covers Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and nine tribal nations…. – University Daily Kansan, 1-25-10


  • HAROLD M. HYMAN: Fight over ‘Negro’ has a sad history: The headline over Chronicle reporter Mike Tolson’s article said, “Sparks fly over use of ‘Negro’ by Census” (Page A1, Jan. 14). “Not so long ago,” the article noted correctly, “the word [Negro] was considered benign, a means of racial identification much preferred to crude colloquial alternatives. For recent generations [however], the word Negro, with the N capitalized, is at best archaic and at worst is seen as racist, a holdover from Jim Crow days.” Tolson’s commendable insight deserves a further dig into relevant history. It’s not a pretty tale…. – Houston Chronicle, 1-23-10


  • Walter Isaacson on Garry Wills, John Yoo: Who Declares War?: CRISIS AND COMMAND The History of Executive Power From George Washington to George W. Bush, BOMB POWER The Modern Presidency and the National Security State In “Crisis and Command,” his sweeping history of presidential prerogatives, John Yoo argues that national security crises inevitably ratchet up the power of the president at the expense of Congress. “War acts on executive power as an accelerant,” he writes, “causing it to burn hotter, brighter and swifter.” In “Bomb Power,” Garry Wills argues much the same thing, adding that the advent of atomic weapons has made this concentration of power in the White House even greater. “The executive power increased decade by decade,” he writes, “reaching a new high in the 21st century — a continuous story of uni­directional increase.” Where the two authors disagree is on whether this trend should be celebrated or denounced. Yoo finds increased executive power appealing and in accord with the Constitution. Wills finds it appalling and a constitutional travesty…. – NYT, 1-22-10
  • Joyce Appleby: Capitalist Chameleon: THE RELENTLESS REVOLUTION A History of Capitalism Appleby, a distinguished historian who has dedicated her career to studying the origins of capitalism in the Anglo-American world, here broadens her scope to take in the global history of capitalism in all its creative — and destructive — glory… – NYT, 1-22-10
  • Alison Weir: Anne Boleyn, Queen for a Day: THE LADY IN THE TOWER The Fall of Anne Boleyn Alison Weir, a respected and popular historian, has already written about Anne in “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” and “Henry VIII: The King and His Court.” Her new book focuses on the last few months of Anne’s life. She has sifted the sources, examining their reliability. Doubts have already been cast on Weir’s assumptions; the historian John Guy has recently suggested that two sources she took to be mutually corroborating are in fact one and the same person…. – NYT, 1-22-10
  • Alison Weir: THE LADY IN THE TOWER The Fall of Anne Boleyn, Excerpt Chapter 1: Occurrences That Presaged Evil – NYT, 1-22-10
  • Mary Elise Sarotte: The Year That Was: 1989 The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe But this order of things was hardly inevitable, as Mary Elise Sarotte, a professor of international relations at the University of Southern California, reminds us in “1989: The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe.” Between the wall’s opening (November 1989) and Germany’s unification (October 1990), history lurched forward with no fixed destination. Sarotte describes a host of competing conceptions of post-cold-war Europe that flourished, mutated and perished in the maelstrom of events that led up to German unity. In the end, the visions of President George H. W. Bush and Chancellor Helmut Kohl prevailed — which may not necessarily have been the best of all possible outcomes, though Sarotte stops short of this conclusion…. – NYT, 1-22-10
  • Donald Kagan: History and its flaws seen in Thucydides: Thucydides The Reinvention of History This is an important book, largely right and largely misguided, by one of the most eminent scholars in the field. Kagan, who is Sterling Professor of Classics and History at Yale University, is a foremost authority on the Peloponnesian wars (431-404 B.C.), that interminable, swampy, wasteful, and tragic attrition-match between Sparta and Athens, which ended in disaster for Athens and the end of its democracy and empire. That means he’s also a scholar of Thucydides (circa 460-395 B.C.), the historian of those wars. Kagan’s utter mastery is on display in this vigorous, elegantly written, provocative book. Thucydides is persuasive about its namesake as a great (if willful and biased) historian, but not in its broader aim: to retell the story of the wars themselves…. – Philadelphia Inquirer, 1-30-10
  • Paul Johnson’s Churchill: According to the British historian Walter Reid, some 1,663 books have been written on Winston Churchill. The latest addition to this extensive list, Paul Johnson’s biography, Churchill, may be one of the shortest — and one of the most enjoyable…. – American Spectator, 1-11-10


  • Charles Joyner: Conservative exterior, colorful exterior: This is certainly not the kind of intro learned folks would expect from a 75-year-old professor popular, in part, for penning a book about slavery in a South Carolina community called “Down by the Riverside.”
    Joyner was recently honored at a meeting of the Southern Historical Association. The group of more than 5,000 historians from around the globe celebrated “Down by the Riverside” as a model for scholarship combining local and universal viewpoints…. – Sun News, 1-24-10
  • Patrick Bellegarde-Smith: UWM professor holds hope for rebuilding Haiti: Patrick Bellegarde-Smith, who was born in Haiti, is a professor of Africology at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee and an expert on Haiti and its Vodou religion. At least nine of his relatives died in the earthquake…. – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1-22-10
  • Barry Goldberg: Professor Mines History to Show How Americans Create Conceptions of the Past: Barry Goldberg, Ph.D., says that while early members of the American labor movement compared their situation to that of slaves, many were explicitly racist…. – Fordham Online, 1-19-10
  • William Styple: Chatham historian compiles forgotten notes about Lincoln into a book: William Styple, a Chatham author and historian recently published his latest book, “Tell Me of Lincoln, Memories of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War and Life in Old New York.” The book is based on notes by James Edward Kelly (1855 to 1933) who was an artist and sculptor of public monuments. Kelly possessed a life long fascination with the Civil War and wanted to create a realistic statue of President Lincoln. To do so, he interviewed more than 50 people who had known the 16th president. Kelly died prior to completing his Lincoln sculpture; however he kept thousands of pages of notes. Styple discovered these notes at the New York Historical Society. Independent Press, 1-22-10


  • Obamas’ carefully crafted image of ordinariness may be working ‘If you were to create the perfect American family in the laboratory, the Obamas would be it,’ says one observer. “Who could possibly dispute or do anything but admire her involvement with military families or planting vegetable gardens?” said Richard Norton Smith, a presidential historian. “Both are safe.”
    “Their appeal,” said Ted Widmer, a professor of history at Brown University and a former advisor to President Clinton, “is that they reach out to so many people.” – LAT, 1-25-10
  • Deborah Lipstadt: Evolution of International Holocaust Day reflects changing times: Deborah Lipstadt, an Emory University historian who has written widely about the phenomenon of Holocaust denial, said she was “gratified as a historian that there is this attention to this event that is now in the past, especially as the survivor generation is passing.” But, she said, “One hopes that there is attention in a deeper way: to examine how this emerged and happened, while the world stood silently by.” – JTA, 1-20-10
  • Stephanie Coontz: Study: Marriage benefits men economically, too: “Just as women are saying they want more from marriage than an economic security blanket, men are more open to marrying women with more education and earnings,” says historian Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage: A History. – USA Today, 1-19-10
  • Rallies, parades honor King’s legacy: “I don’t want to sanitize Martin Luther King Jr.,” Cornel West said. “Even with your foot on the brake, there are too many precious brothers and sisters under the bus,” West said of Obama. “Where is the talk about poverty? We’ve got to protect him and respect him, but we’ve also got to correct him if the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. is going to stay alive.” – San Francisco Chronicle, 1-18-10


  • National Book Critics Circle Finalists Are Announced: The National Book Critics Circle announced the finalists for its 2009 book awards on Saturday night at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in New York. The organization consists of some 600 book reviewers and was founded in 1974. The awards will be given out on Thursday, March 11, at the New School in New York…. – 1-23-10


  • Gordon Wood: Brown professor addresses MV faculty: The Mystic Valley Charter School faculty received a treat in the form of a lecture by one of the world’s top professors of American History, Gordon S. Wood. Dr. Wood spoke to the faculty during their latest professional development meeting…. – Boston Globe, 1-21-10


  • UNM Historian Paul Hutton to Appear on PBS’ American Experience ‘Wyatt Earp’: Wyatt EarpUNM Distinguished Professor of History Paul Hutton will appear on the PBS program American Experience “Wyatt Earp,” on Monday, Jan. 25 from 9-10 p.m. on PBS. “Wyatt Earp” features interviews with Hutton and other biographers and historians of the American West to present a fresh take on an old legend…. – UNM Today, 1-20-10
  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
  • PBS American Experience: Mondays at 9pm
  • History Channel: Weekly Schedule



  • 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


  • My Friend A Teacher Jim Kluger Died: My lifelong friend, Dr. James Kluger, professor of American History died yesterday at 5:40 pm of kidney failure…. – Tucson Citizen, 1-13-10
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