History Buzz: February 2011 Recap: Reagan Centennial — President’s Day — Civil War at 150

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

IN FOCUS: RONALD REAGAN CENTENNIAL

     

  • Ronald Reagan’s legacy at 100, from 3 very different perspectives: Had he lived just a few years longer, Ronald Reagan would have turned 100 this Sunday. In his memory, the nation will honor his mark on history – and debate his legacy. His widow, Nancy Reagan, will lay a wreath at the Reagan library in California, where the 40th president was buried when he died in 2004 at the age of 93. A group of F-18s from the USS Ronald Reagan will salute him from the air.
    In Washington, the city where he made his greatest impact, politicians will salute his tenure. One of them is President Barack Obama, who, though a liberal who yearns to undo much of Reagan’s domestic record, admires the way Reagan changed the course of history….
    Sean Wilentz is a professor of history at Princeton University and the author of the book “The Age of Reagan.” He wrote there that while he was sometimes critical of Reagan’s leadership, after deep study of his record, “my views have ripened over time.” In an interview, Wilentz said Reagan was the most important political figure of the last 30 years. He includes him in august company. “In American political history, there have been a few leading figures … who for better or worse have put their political stamp indelibly on their time,” Wilentz wrote in his book. “They include Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt – and Ronald Reagan.”… – Kansas City Star, 2-3-11

IN FOCUS: AMERICAN CIVIL WAR AT 150

A House Divided

  • A House Divided: News & Views about the 150th anniverary of the American Civil War “A House Divided” is a blog dedicated to news and issues of importance to Civil War enthusiasts across the country and around the world. Blogger Linda Wheeler and a panel of respected Civil War experts will debate and dissect historical issues and explore new concepts. Wheeler will also report on conferences and seminars, find little-known battlefields and sites to explore, keep track of local, national and international stories of interest to readers and provide advice on upcoming events…. – Ongoing Civil War coverageOur Civil War panel of expertsTweeting the War

Tweeting the Civil War: The Washington Post is tweeting the Civil War, in the words of the people who lived it — from journals, letters, official records and newspapers of the day. Follow us.Escape from Ft Sumber

Mary Hadar: Escape from Ft. Sumter: As preparations for war increase, the women and children who have been living at Fort Sumter leave on board the steamer Marion, bound for New York. Their safe passage was negotiated by Maj Anderson, commander of Fort Sumter, with South Carolina’s Gov. Pickens. Follow our tweets of the Civil War day by day in the words of the people who lived it… – WaPo, 2-3-11

  • Gordon Wood: Revolution and its seeds are still defining nations: And it looked as though Virginia would soon join the rush toward abolition. As Gordon S. Wood, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and history professor at Brown University, points out, Virginia had more abolition societies than all of the Northern states combined….
    But Wood, who spoke Friday in Williamsburg, described how a chasm between the North and the South began to widen after the Revolution. Spurning slavery, the North turned into maybe the most commercialized society the world had ever known, one that celebrated labor as none had before.
    At the same time, the South celebrated, well not exactly sloth, but sitting back and letting someone else work for you. It’s true that not everyone in the South owned slaves. Many whites planted and picked their own cotton. But the idea that they might make enough money to buy someone to work for them was almost universal, Wood told me in a phone interview last week.
    “These two societies were going to clash,” he said, “and I think the threat posed by Lincoln’s election was very scary to the Southerners.”… – Hampton Roads, 2-21-11

IN FOCUS: PRESIDENT’S DAY

  • Virtual president’s desk enlivens JFK’s 1800s desk: A new online feature called The President’s Desk is giving people a chance to learn more about John F. Kennedy’s life and administration. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library is introducing its latest project on Monday morning at the library’s museum in Boston…. – AP, 2-22-11

IN FOCUS:

  • Elizabeth VanderVen: The Chinese Zodiac Explained: “The purpose of the New Year is to sweep away all the old and anything unpleasant,” Dr. Elizabeth VanderVen, an assistant history professor at Rutgers … – FOX 4 News, 2-4-11

    HISTORY NEWS:

    • Photos: America’s last WWI vet: He quit school at 16, bluffed his way into the Army, and didn’t gain notoriety until much later in life. These are snapshots from along the way. Frank W. Buckles died early Sunday, sadly yet not unexpectedly at age 110, having achieved a singular feat of longevity that left him proud and a bit bemused…. – WaPo, 2-28-11
    • James N. Gregory: Dust Bowl migration sparks history project: It was once called another name — a negative term of the era. “Olivehurst was known as ‘Little Oklahoma,'” James N. Gregory said. “It was a very poor community of self-built homes.” Gregory, a history professor at the University of Washington and the author of “American Exodus: The Dust Bowl Migration and Okie Culture in California,” spoke about the subject that the Sutter County Historical Society is researching…. – Appeal-Democrat, 2-19-11
    • Sheldon M. Stern: Report Gives a Majority of States Poor Grades on History Standards: A majority of states received failing or near-failing grades on the quality of their standards for teaching history in K-12 schools, according to the latest review Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader from the Washington-based Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
      In “The State of State U.S. History Standards 2011,” the research and advocacy group says the average grade across all states was barely a D. The majority—28 states—received scores of D or lower and only one state, South Carolina, earned a straight-A score.“If students are not going to get the history in K-12, they’re not going to get it at all,” said Sheldon M. Stern, a historian formerly with the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston and one of the study’s co-authors. “The irony in the whole thing is that it’s not very difficult… – Edweek, 2-16-11
    • Archivist of the US Announces NARA Reorganization Plan: Recently, Archivist of the United States David Ferriero marked his first year in office and many of the initiatives he began since taking the helm are starting to bear fruit. Last summer, Ferriero created a staff task force to draft a plan for the “transformation” of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Ferriero recently unveiled Charting the Course, the reorganization plan for “reinventing” the National Archives…. – Lee White, National Coalition for History, 2-14-11
    • Leslie Harris: Emory examines its ties to slavery University organizes conference for colleges to examine racial past: Emory University history professor Leslie Harris leads the Transforming Community Project, which promotes discussions about race. Emory is confronting its past ties to slavery… – AJC, 2-6-11
    • National Archives have Jacqueline Kennedy’s pink suit, but hat is missing: An expanded collection of Kennedy treasures and trivia was unveiled this month at an exhibit as well as online to coincide with the 50th anniversary of JFK’s inauguration; it includes the fabric of his top hat (beaver fur) down to his shoe size (10C). But missing and hardly mentioned are what could be the two most famous remnants of Kennedy’s last day. The pink suit, bloodstained and perfectly preserved in a vault in Maryland, is banned from public display for 100 years. The pillbox hat – removed at Parkland Hospital while Jacqueline Kennedy waited for doctors to confirm what she knew – is lost, last known to be in the hands of her personal secretary, who won’t discuss its whereabouts…. – WaPo, 2-4-11
    • The Google Art Project Makes Masterpieces Accessible to All: Gone are the days of jet-setting to galleries in Manhattan, Florence, London, or Madrid. As of yesterday, all you need to become a museum maven is an Internet connection. Google Art Project, the brainchild of a small group of art-happy Google employees, brings the Street View technology of Google Earth and Google Maps inside 17 museums around the world. The roster includes The Uffizi, the Tate Britain, The Met, MoMA, and the Van Gogh Museum.
      The Google Art Project collection, as a whole, consists of 1,000 works of art by more than 400 artists, and this is only the beginning. Google hopes to add more museums and works of art to its virtual dossier soon…. – The Atlantic, 2-2-11Google Art Project
    • Bay Area antiquities experts fear Egyptian looters took massive toll on treasures: “Damage to or theft of these pieces is not just tragic for Egypt, but for the whole world,” said Renee Dreyfus, curator of antiquities for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which hosted the traveling Tutankhamun exhibit at the M.H. de Young Museum in 2009.
      “These things are part of our world heritage, where much of what we consider the civilized world began,” she said. “They are part of everyone’s history.”… – Oakland Tribune, 2-1-11

    HISTORIANS NEWS:

    • Professors to walk out of classrooms Tuesday: According to the TAA, the march could be a turning point in the protest of Gov. Scott Walker’s bill, showing the city and the nation that some of the UW-Madison faculty wants to protect the collective bargaining rights of public sector workers.
      333 UW-Madison faculty members signed a letter addressed to Walker, state legislators and citizens of Wisconsin, which was released Sunday. It states their support for collective bargaining rights for all workers.
      Associate history professor William Jones signed the letter and said he supports the faculty’s march to the Capitol.
      “There are several aims [of the letter],” Jones said. “One is to register our support for the principal of collective bargaining as a right and as a democratic process that’s been established both in the U.S. and around the world, as a fundamental human right.” … – Daily Cardinal, 2-22-11
    • Dominic Sandbrook accused of “recycling” the work of other historians in latest book: …[H]erein lies the most troubling flaw of [Dominic Sandbrook’s “Mad As Hell: The Crisis of the 1970s and the Rise of the Populist Right” one that won’t be apparent to the casual reader. It’s only by consulting the book’s footnotes that one discovers, by looking inside the books he cites, that Mr. Sandbrook shamelessly and repeatedly cannibalizes the work of others, offering what could be generously called a 400-page mash-up of previous histories of the 1970s.
      Take this passage, where Mr. Sandbrook, in vivid prose, describes the 1976 bicentennial celebration in Boston: “As the orchestra reached the climax of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, the church bells pealed, howitzers thundered, fireworks sent shards of color wheeling through the sky, and red, white, and blue geysers burst from a fireboat behind the Hatch shell.”
      These aren’t Mr. Sandbrook’s words but two sentences grafted together—one from a 1976 Time magazine article (“As the orchestra reached the climax of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, howitzers boomed, church bells pealed”), the other from J. Anthony Lukas’s “Common Ground” (“geysers of red, white, and blue water burst from a fireboat behind the band shell”)—with a bit of strategic re-editing. Both sources are named in the book’s footnotes, but in the text the sentence is passed off as the author’s own…. – WSJ, 2-12-11
    • Thomas DiLorenzo: Loyola professor faces questions about ties to pro-secession group: A Loyola University Maryland economics professor is denying ties to a group that endorses a second Southern secession after he came under fire from a Missouri congressman because of the alleged association. Thomas DiLorenzo, a Loyola professor since 1992, was in Washington on Wednesday to testify at a House subcommittee hearing on the Federal Reserve Bank. But Rep. William Lacy Clay, a Democrat from St. Louis, quickly raised questions about DiLorenzo’s ties to the League of the South, which is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center…. – Baltimore Sun, 2-11-11
    • Jan Gross and Irena Grudzinska Gross: Publisher defends book on Polish plunder of Jews: A Polish publishing house is defending its decision to publish a book that says some Poles actively profited from Jewish suffering during the Holocaust – a claim that challenges a national belief about Polish actions during World War II.
      “Golden Harvest,” by Princeton academics Jan Gross and Irena Grudzinska Gross, argues that rural Poles sometimes sought financial gain from Jewish misfortune in a variety of ways, from plundering Jewish mass graves to ferreting out Jews in hiding for rewards.
      Gross said the starting point of the book is a photograph showing Polish peasants digging up human remains at the Treblinka death camp just after the war in a search for gold or other treasures that Nazi executioners might have overlooked. Scattered in front of the group are skulls and bones…. – WaPo, 2-9-11
    • Scholarly Reportage: Fad or Movement?: Most academics are content to teach their classes and publish their research – usually for a small number of scholars in their subfield. Yet, there have always been academics who want to reach a much larger audience, to have influence beyond their classrooms, scholarly journals and the faculty club. For them, the call to become a public intellectual is strong. But as long as there has been this desire to “cross over,” there has also been a tension between those who do and those who do not.
      Scholars who manage to break beyond the narrow scholarly niche are often derided as mere popularizers, lacking the disciplinary rigor of their more professional colleagues. To some, they are lightweights who jump onto the latest in intellectual fashion and leave no lasting mark on intellectual life or academia. And this is largely because, crossing over, or, as my agent calls it, ‘going trade,’ too often means consciously leaving disciplinary concerns behind, as writing and speaking beyond a narrow academic community requires new skills and a much more interdisciplinary approach…. – Inside Higher Ed, 2-10-11
    • Va. historian denies tampering with Lincoln pardon: An amateur Virginia historian is denying allegations by the National Archives that he changed the date on a presidential pardon issued by President Abraham Lincoln. Seventy-eight-year-old Thomas P. Lowry of Woodbridge, Va., said Monday that he was pressured by federal agents to confess. The Archives says Lowry has confessed to using a fountain pen to change the date on a pardon by Lincoln from 1864 to 1865. The change made it appear that Lowry had discovered a document languishing in the Archives that was likely Lincoln’s final official act before he was assassinated…. – AP, 2-7-11
    • In Arguments on Corporate Speech, the Press Is a Problem: In the year since the Supreme Court handed down its 183-page decision in Citizens United, the liberal objection to it has gradually boiled down to a single sentence: The majority was wrong to grant First Amendment rights to corporations. That critique is incomplete. As Justice John Paul Stevens acknowledged in his dissent, the court had long recognized that “corporations are covered by the First Amendment.” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority, listed more than 20 precedents saying that.
      But an old and established rule can still be wrong, and it may be that the liberal critique is correct. If it is, though, it must confront a very hard question. If corporations have no First Amendment rights, what about newspapers and other news organizations, almost all of which are organized as corporations?…
      Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, has reviewed the historical evidence. The bottom line, he said, is this: “If ordinary business corporations lack First Amendment rights, so do those business corporations that we call media corporations.”… – NYT, 2-7-11

    HISTORY OP-EDs:

    • Scott Casper: Rebranding Mount Vernon: Today, of course, Washington is again at the center of the presidential pantheon. For that he can thank an unlikely group of allies: former slaves who worked at Mount Vernon in the late 19th century and who helped shape our modern beliefs about him — but only by hiding his complicated views on slavery behind the illusion of an Old South plantation. Everything about the restored Mount Vernon was designed to render Washington a noble but approachable figure…. – NYT, 2-21-11
    • Diane Ravitch: Why should teachers have unions?: As I write, thousands of teachers are staging a protest in the state capitol in Wisconsin against proposed legislation by Gov. Scott Walker that would destroy their collective bargaining rights. Others stand with them, including members of the Green Bay Packers and other public sector workers, even those not affected by the legislation, namely, firefighters and police. Gov. Walker demanded that the teachers pay more for their health benefits and their pension benefits, and they have agreed to do so. But that’s not all he wants. He wants to destroy the union…. – WaPo, 2-22-11
    • Julian Zelizer: What’s wrong with presidential rankings: Since the late 1940s, it has been an American custom for pollsters and publications to release a ranking of U.S. presidents.
      Usually based on a survey of historians and journalists or of the public, the ranking informs readers about who the “best” and “worst” presidents are. In an age when we are constantly desperate to craft Top 10 lists for every part of our lives, this approach to political history is appealing.
      But rankings don’t tell us much about presidential history. The rankings are weak mechanisms for evaluating what has taken place in the White House…. – CNN, 2-21-11
    • Ravitch: Public schools are not chain stores: Last week, the New York City Department of Education received permission from the city’s Panel on Educational Policy, or PEP, to close an additional two dozen public schools because their scores are too low. The city has now closed more than 100 schools and opened hundreds of new ones. The consent of the PEP was never in doubt…. – WaPo, 2-9-11

    HISTORY BOOK NEWS:

    • Adam Arenson: The making of America’s most dangerous city: About this blog: St. Louis has earned a dubious distinction again this year – named by U.S. News and World Report as the nation’s most dangerous city. What is it that puts St. Louis in the forefront of American crime? Adam Arenson looks to history for an answer. In his book, “The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and the Cultural Civil War,” recently released by Harvard University Press, Arenson charts the quest of St. Louisans to make their city the cultural and commercial capital. But their efforts ultimately failed and decisions taken as far back as the Civil War have repercussions today, as Arenson, an assistant professor of history at the University of Texas at El Paso, reveals here…. – 2-24-11
    • New Rumsfeld memoir criticizes Rice, other members of Bush administration: But history professor Jack Rakove warns that Rumsfeld’s writings should be viewed with a cautious eye. “Historians are universally suspicious of memoirs,” Rakove said. “The great danger of memoirs is that they’re inherently self-serving, and they can be selective.”… – Standford Daily, 2-24-11
    • Grace Elizabeth Hale: Why are today’s rebels Republicans?: Now, those standing against the status quo have a decidedly different outlook: they are conservatives, fundamentalists, Tea Partiers. How did this shift come about? Why are today’s rebels Republicans? Grace Elizabeth Hale explores the nature of the outsider in American culture in her book “A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America,” recently released by Oxford University Press. Here, Hale, an associate professor of history and American studies at the University of Virginia, delves into the impulses that drive both conservative and liberal rebels…. – WaPo, 2-8-11
    • Exploring the failures of the Andrew Johnson presidency: Gordon-Reed’s latest book, Andrew Johnson: The American Presidents Series / The 17th President, 1865-1869 (Times Books, $23), touches on issues of race as she examines Johnson’s role in putting the nation back together after the Civil War.
      In one sense, Andrew Johnson’s life was a tale of success. He rose from illiterate tailor’s apprentice to become president of the United States. “One of the things that I wanted to come across in this book was that he was a person of tenacity and perseverance,” Gordon-Reed said in a phone interview from her home in New York. “It’s a very American story. It’s hard to imagine that a person of his standing would rise to the highest office in the land, but he did.”
      But his life was also a story of failure. Focusing on Johnson’s presidency, Gordon-Reed aims to show how ill-suited Johnson was both to succeed Abraham Lincoln, one of America’s greatest presidents, and to heal a nation that the Civil War had torn apart. She argues that by attempting to reconcile with Southern whites, Johnson abandoned millions of newly freed slaves and lost the trust of congressional leaders.
      “Johnson is considered one of the worst presidents,” Gordon-Reed said. “The interesting thing is that he was a talented man.”… – Philly Inquirer, 2-8-11
    • Jan Gross: Book on Holocaust stirs controversy: Mr Gross, a history professor at Princeton University, told the Associated Press that he wished to tell the story of the war as it happened…. – Warsaw Business Journal, 2-9-11

    HISTORY REVIEWS:

    • HISTORY REVIEW BY KEVIN BOYLE: Lawrence Goldstone’s “Inherently Unequal”: INHERENTLY UNEQUAL The Betrayal of Equal Rights by the Supreme Court, 1865-1903 “Constitutional law,” Lawrence Goldstone says toward the end of “Inherently Unequal,” is “simply politics made incomprehensible to the common man.” It’s meant to be a sound bite, a clever coda to a cautionary tale of justice corrupted and denied. But it speaks to a cynical strain that runs through this history of the late 19th-century American struggle to define the boundaries of racial justice – and that makes Goldstone’s story darker than it ought to be…. – WaPo, 2-25-11
    • Douglas Waller: Douglas Waller’s “Wild Bill Donovan,” on the OSS spymaster: WILD BILL DONOVAN The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage The episode, recounted by Douglas Waller in this superb, dramatic yet scholarly biography, tells a great deal about the man who built a far-flung intelligence organization from scratch in the midst of World War II. Courageous but reckless, always itching to be in the center of the action, Donovan was smart, tough and seemingly endowed with boundless energy…. – WaPo, 2-25-11
    • Anabasis Alexandrou: Paths of Glory: THE LANDMARK ARRIAN The Campaigns of Alexander It’s an irresistible story. Certainly Plutarch, who included this description in his masterly biography of Alexander in the second century A.D., couldn’t resist it. But he did scruple to note that not all historians accepted this account of inebriate vandalism. One who didn’t even consider it worthy of mention was Lucius Flavius Arrianus, a younger contemporary of Plutarch better known as Arrian. For him, Alexander’s burning of the palace at Persepolis — then and now a shocking act of destruction — was carefully deliberated public policy, a symbolic seal on an official campaign of vengeance: it was his own idea to pay the Persians back in kind for the burning of the Athenian temples in 479 B.C. and, Arrian wrote, “for all the other wrongs they had committed against the Greeks.”… – NYT, 2-25-11
    • RAYMOND ARSENAULT: Shades of White: THE INVISIBLE LINE Three American Families and the ­Secret Journey From Black to White In an illuminating and aptly titled book, “The Invisible Line,” Daniel J. Sharfstein demonstrates that African- Americans of mixed ancestry have been crossing the boundaries of color and racial identity since the early colonial era. An associate professor of law at Vanderbilt University and an author with a literary flair, Sharfstein documents this persistent racial fluidity by painstakingly reconstructing the history of three families. In a dizzying array of alternating chapters, he presents the personal and racial stories of the Gibsons, the Spencers and the Walls. The result is an astonishingly detailed rendering of the variety and complexity of racial experience in an evolving national culture moving from slavery to segregation to civil rights… – NYT, 2-25-11
    • Jeff Greenfield: With a Few Tweaks, Shaking Up History THEN EVERYTHING CHANGED Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics: JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan In his shrewdly written, often riveting new book, “Then Everything Changed,” the veteran political journalist Jeff Greenfield ponders some smaller-scale and more plausible what-ifs: three events, he says, “that came within a whisker of actually happening.” What if an actual attempt on John F. Kennedy’s life, shortly after his election to the White House, had succeeded? What if Sirhan Sirhan had been thwarted in assassinating Robert F. Kennedy in 1968? What if President Gerald R. Ford had corrected a misstep in the 1976 presidential debates and defeated Jimmy Carter?… – NYT, 2-28-11
    • WALTER ISAACSON, Bettany Hughes: Wise Guy: THE HEMLOCK CUP Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life For the most part, Hughes is successful, and even when not, she’s fascinating. What we get in “The Hemlock Cup” is many books interlaced: a biography of Socrates; a gritty description of daily life in Athens; a vivid history of the Peloponnesian War and its aftereffects; and — as an unexpected delight — a guide to museums, archaeological digs and repositories of ancient artifacts, as Hughes takes us by the hand while ferreting out her evidence. At one point we travel with her to the rear of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England, to study a scrap of papyrus — Fragment 4807 — in the Sackler Library. It contains some lines, apparently by Sophocles, casting light on what life may have been like during the Peloponnesian War… – NYT, 2-20-11
    • Jonathan Gill: Yardley reviews Jonathan Gill’s “Harlem”: HARLEM The Four Hundred Year History from Dutch Village to Capital of Black America Gill, a historian who has taught at Columbia and is on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music, has done a stupendous amount of research, some of which might best have been left in his files. Though his “Harlem” certainly is authoritative and exhaustive, in addition to being well-written and perceptive, it also is exhausting and would have gained from being cut by at least 50 pages. Many of the details of Harlem’s political life could have been set aside, and some of the portraits of its most notable and familiar figures – Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin, Marcus Garvey, Father Divine, Langston Hughes, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. et al. – would have lost nothing by being briefer…. – WaPo, 2-17-11
    • Timothy Beal: “The Rise and Fall of the Bible”: Rethinking the Good Book American Christians buy millions of Bibles they seldom read and don’t understand: In his new book, “The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book,” religion professor Timothy Beal describes all the angst and doubt that Bible reading provoked in him during his youth, as well as the frustration many American Christians experience as a result of their own encounters with the book. This doesn’t prevent them from buying truckloads of the things — Beal notes that “the average Christian household owns nine Bibles and purchases at least one new Bible every year” — but actually reading them is another matter. Beal believes that’s because today’s Christians are seeking a certainty in their holy book that simply isn’t there, and shouldn’t be… – Salon, 2-13-11
    • Three books on the gulf oil spill: Just six months after BP stopped the oil that had been flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, a gusher of books about the spill has begun to wash ashore. The first wave includes three very different approaches to the disaster that riveted the nation most of last summer…. – WaPo, 2-11-11
    • Dominic Sandbrook: Carter, Reagan and Freaky Times: MAD AS HELL The Crisis of the 1970s and the Rise of the Populist Right The cultural politics of the 1970s is irresistible to historians, the way the decade’s dance music is irresistible to D.J.’s at weddings. Thus a book like Dominic Sandbrook’s “Mad as Hell: The Crisis of the 1970s and the Rise of the Populist Right” arrives in bookstores every six months or so. Nixon, Ford, Carter: there’s little greatness there, but these presidencies are so familiar that you can hum nostalgically, dismally along…. – NYT, 2-15-11
    • Gwen Ifill reviews Donald Rumsfeld’s memoir, “Known and Unknown”: Donald Rumsfeld has chosen all of the above in “Known and Unknown,” a hefty and heavily annotated accounting and defense of his life in public service. But hand-wring he does, in repeated blasts of Rumsfeldian score-settling that come off as a cross between setting the record straight and doggedly knocking enemies off pedestals. The book is full of little nuggets like that, but at its heart, it is a revenge memoir. Most readers who came to know of Rumsfeld during the last stage of his remarkable career as secretary of defense for George W. Bush will not be surprised at the tone that runs through much of the book. Rumsfeld, according to Rumsfeld, was prescient, clear-headed, loyal and almost always right…. – WaPo, 2-6-11
    • BIOGRAPHY REVIEW BY WIL HAYGOOD Peter Firstbrook’s account of Obama’s roots, “The Obamas”: Even at this halfway point in his presidential term, Barack Obama already belongs to the publishing ages. The sweeping and poignant arc of his life – and his race-defying presidency – guarantees that books upon books will be written about him. We’ve already seen a healthy number. There have been tomes, but mostly the books are Teddy White-like riffs by journalists offering behind-the-scenes accounts of campaign intrigue or life in the White House.
      In “The Obamas,” Peter Firstbrook, a British documentary filmmaker turned writer, all but ignores the American side of the Obama story and plows into the Kenyan landscape, and family genealogy, of the Obama clan. The president’s father, Barack Obama Sr., was Kenyan, a member of the Luo tribe.
      Firstbrook has written a strange and well-meaning hybrid of a book. There are long stretches of oral histories, given by close and distant Obama relatives and buttressed with often numbing historical detail on Kenyan wars and tribal political intrigues. You will learn not only about those intrepid explorers Henry Morton Stanley and David Livingstone, but also far more than you need to about the ritual of lower-tooth extraction for Luo boys…. – WaPo, 2-6-11
    • Two books on military-industrial complex: For example, if a 22nd-century citizen were to puzzle over the phrase “military-industrial complex,” which recurs in virtually all political and military histories of the 20th and early 21st centuries, he would be well-advised to examine one of the largest and most powerful participants in this “complex,” Lockheed Martin, subject of William D. Hartung’s careful, meticulously documented book “Prophets of War.” President Dwight Eisenhower, not one celebrated for memorable phrases, coined this one. It refers, of course, to the production of armaments – missiles, drones, submarines, etc. – regardless of whether they may be needed….
      The phrase “military-industrial complex” has stuck. Eisenhower himself remains indistinct in the public memory, framed at different times in his life by the photographer Richard Avedon as an amiable, distrait old duffer and by biographers who portray him as a clever politician. His campaigns and policies represented a form of Republicanism no longer recognizable to his successors: There was a fierce independent streak in him, as James Ledbetter demonstrates in “Unwarranted Influence.” He had always been something of a stealth thinker, even in the Army, when he kept his own counsel on opinions that his superiors might have regarded as unorthodox. Few commentators on the 34th president’s mind and methods have more rigorously considered the evolution of Eisenhower’s preoccupations than Ledbetter has…. – WaPo, 2-6-11
    • Adam Goodheart Reviews: Daniel Rasmussen: Violence and Retribution: AMERICAN UPRISING The Untold Story of America’s Largest Slave Revolt Early in January 1811, along the same riverbank, a small army of Louisiana slaves had briefly faced a small army of slaveholders. It was, as described in “American Uprising,” Daniel Rasmussen’s chilling and suspenseful account, the culmination of a signal episode in the history of American race relations…. – NYT, 2-6-11Excerpt

    HISTORY FEATURES:

    • James D. Robenalt: Harding’s defender Ohio’s presidents all underrated, Cleveland history buff contends: History is in the eyes of the beholder, whose point of view might conflict with that of another beholder.
      For example, Cleveland lawyer and historian James D. Robenalt says this about Marion’s Warren G. Harding: “He was a damned good president, and he did a number of things that he’s just not getting credit for.”
      Yet that’s not the record Larry J. Sabato beholds.
      Told of Robenalt’s assertion, Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia and one of the nation’s pre-eminent presidential scholars, responded: “Look, I’m sure he’s not really defending Warren Harding. That would be very difficult to make a case for.”
      Yes, Professor Sabato, Robenalt actually is defending Harding…. Columbus Dispath, 2-20-11
    • Top 10 presidents: In 2010, Siena College asked 238 presidential scholars to rank the 43 commanders in chief:
      1. Franklin Roosevelt
      2. Teddy Roosevelt
      3. Abraham Lincoln
      4. George Washington
      5. Thomas Jefferson
      6. James Madison
      7. James Monroe
      8. Woodrow Wilson
      9. Harry Truman
      10. Dwight Eisenhower
    • Pat Nixon portrayed as combative in biography: Pat Nixon was long regarded as the subservient political wife who wanted only to help her husband President Richard Nixon achieve his goals for the nation. But a new biography portrays the first lady as willful and combative in her relationship with her husband and his top advisers. She waged “a battle to retain control over her responsibilities,” writes Mary C. Brennan in “Pat Nixon: Embattled First Lady,” due out next month from the University Press of Kansas. “She found herself engaged in almost constant warfare with her husband and some of his advisors . . . and she refused to give up without a fight.”… WaPo, 2-14-11
    • ‘Raw Deal’: Historian makes waves with scathing look at Franklin D. Roosevelt: For more than half a century, biographers have treated Franklin Delano Roosevelt with Rushmore-like reverence, celebrating the nation’s 32nd president as a colossus who eased the agony of the Great Depression and saved democracy from Nazi Germany. Which never sat right with historian Burton Folsom Jr….
      The result was “New Deal or Raw Deal?,” a scathing 300-page counter-narrative that has made Folsom a conservative hero and placed him squarely in the midst of a roiling debate over America’s past, the nature of history and, some say, its manipulation for political ends…. – LA Times, 2-12-11
    • Clashing versions of Lithuania’s history and how to treat it: Since 1991 scholars from all sides have been unravelling the murderous details, meticulously comparing sources and providing a nuanced account of its interlocking causes, including prejudice, outside incitement, revenge and cowardice. But for some campaigners, mostly from abroad, the historical reckoning has been both too slow and too soft. They detect a sinister pattern of neglect of Jewish sites, foot-dragging over restitution, harassment of Holocaust survivors in an investigation of alleged atrocities by Jewish partisans and an ultranationalist approach to history that belittles the Holocaust.
      This discontent led to a public protest and bitter exchanges at a recent academic conference in London sponsored by the Lithuanian embassy (part of a year of official commemoration of the Holocaust). The campaigners read a letter denouncing both the Lithuanian government and international efforts to put Nazi and Soviet crimes on a similar footing.
      That prompted a spirited rebuttal from historians and other conference participants, and not least from Irena Veisaite, a Holocaust survivor and leading member of Lithuania’s small Jewish community. She found herself in the unusual position of being berated by a campaigner against anti-Semitism, a British-born film-maker and academic called Danny Ben-Moshe.
      Ms Veisaite and her allies deplore the glorification of the LAF. They ascribe more blame to clumsiness than to malice in the Lithuanian authorities’ actions. What worries them is hardening attitudes on both sides. Some Lithuanians feel that over-zealous foreign Jewish critics put too little store by reconciliation. “We are squeezed between two Talibans,” says Sarunas Liekis, a Yiddish-studies professor from Vilnius. The same obstinacy that plagues Lithuania’s relations with Poland, he says, lies behind politicians’ refusal to reverse their mistakes on Jewish issues…. – Economist, 2-20-11
    • Anne Midgette reviews ‘Nixon in China,’ finally on stage at the Metropolitan Opera: IN NEW YORK When John Adams’s opera “Nixon in China” had its world premiere in 1987, it was provocative, edgy, audacious. 24 years later, it’s come to the Metropolitan Opera and, along the way, become a Modern Masterpiece. Wednesday night’s premiere was a big event: The crowd was lively, star-studded, and abuzz. It marked not only the Met’s first performance of this opera, but also the company debuts of Adams, who conducted, and Peter Sellars, who came up with the original concept and directed the original production, and who has, incredibly, moved from enfant terrible to veteran maverick without ever before having directed at this venue…. – WaPo, 2-3-11
    • Men, women flip the script in gender expectation according to survey co-designed by Stephanie Coontz: A new portrait of single Americans, drawn from a major new survey, suggests the attitudes and behaviors of today’s singles are quite unlike their counterparts just a few decades ago…. “Men are now expressing some traditionally female attitudes, while women are adopting some of those long attributed to men,” says biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, who helped develop the survey with social historian Stephanie Coontz and Justin Garcia, a doctoral fellow with the Institute for Evolutionary Studies at Binghamton (N.Y.) University. “For me, as a historian, it’s just amazing confirmation about what has changed in the last 40 years,” says Coontz, professor of history and family studies at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash…. – USA Today (2-2-11)

    HISTORY PROFILES:

    • Faculty Spotlight: Greg Aldrete, professor of history and humanistic studies: Greg Aldrete, professor of history and humanistic studies, stands with his group of UW-Green Bay students who assisted with his Linothorax project, a project replicating the lightweight linen armor of the ancient Greeks to demonstrate the advantages.
      Award-winning UW-Green Bay Professor of history and humanistic studies Greg Aldrete has landed another prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship for the 2012-2013 school year.
      The grant enables Aldrete to spend a year concentrating on research, rather than teaching, and working on his book, “Riots in Ancient Rome.”
      His proposal for the book states that ancient Rome seems to have been a riotous lot. For the 575-year period from 200 B.C. to A.D. 375, there are at least 154 episodes of unruly, collective behavior. The worst of these resulted in pitched battles in the streets, hundreds of deaths, widespread looting, acts of arson and even the lynching of leading magistrates of the state. Due to such incidents, Rome has often been characterized as a lawless and violent place. Its inhabitants, especially the poor, have been portrayed as disorderly and fickle. The reality, according to Aldrete, is considerably more complex…. – Fourth Estate, 2-23-11
    • Richard Gamble: Professor discovers a home, and its personality: Sometimes, the old house groans and the floorboards creak. When it does, Richard Gamble picks up his coffee cup and listens intently. “This house tells me something new about itself everyday,” he said, looking in the direction of the noise. “It is almost as if it is a living personality.”
      In July of 2008, Gamble, an associate professor of history, bought an 1882 Victorian-style house in downtown Hillsdale. Between teaching, traveling and writing he has spent the past two and a half years learning about his new house and working hard to restore and renovate it.
      The project surprised Gamble, who never planned to own an old house like it. Gamble unexpectedly began to look for a home in May of 2008…. – Hillsdale Colegian, 2-17-11
    • Jill Lepore on Writing Current History: Professor Lepore sees herself as a public historian who “has a civic obligation to contribute to the public debate, not just [to] be … entertaining.”… – Harvard Crimson, 2-14-11
    • Niall Ferguson: visionary or crank?: Niall Ferguson is among Britain’s most valuable exports – a feted international academic with seats at Harvard, Stanford, the Harvard Business School and the LSE; he has also had spells at Oxford and Cambridge. His tomes sell in their millions; his TV shows are an engaging mix of self-confidence and charm. It’s a multi-media combination that consistently places him on lists of ‘influential people’ across the globe. Everywhere except for Britain, where he’s seen as a neo-conservative oddity…. – Spectator (UK), 2-22-11

    HISTORY QUOTES:

    • Gary Nash: The President’s House in Philadelphia tells a story of early U.S. presidents The new President’s House and its exhibit, “Freedom and Slavery in Making a New Nation,” on Independence Mall…. The site honors the location and importance of the original mansion, but it also addresses the subject of slavery in early U.S. history. Gary B. Nash, a professor emeritus of history at UCLA, and the lead historian for the exhibit, said, “A whole cloud of historical amnesia is going to be swept away. This story speaks to the themes of the Liberty Bell … [which] connects to liberty and slavery being conjoined at our nation’s birth.”… – LAT, 2-20-11
    • Yoav Di-Capua: Texas expert: Egypt’s fate key to Mideast: Mubarak’s fate could affect variety range of Mideast issues and US interests, says UT historian. Yoav Di-Capua, an associate professor of history at the University of Texas, specializing in modern Arab intellectual history…. – Austin American-Statesman, 2-13-11
    • Presidential bios have resonance in the press — three historians cited in NRO article on presidency: …No man had a greater influence on the presidency than its original occupant. “The office of the presidency was not only forged by George Washington,” says historian Ron Chernow, who recently published a one-volume biography of the first president. “One can make the argument that the office was forged for George Washington.” At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, most delegates assumed he would be the first executive, and they outlined the president’s responsibilities in the Constitution with him in mind — that is to say, rather vaguely. Unlike the lengthy Article I, which enumerates the legislature’s tasks, Article II is short and vague…. Thomas Jefferson, however, gave the office much more of a populist flavor, says historian Gordon Wood. “He saw himself as speaking for the people; I don’t think Washington saw it that way at all,” Wood observes. Unlike Washington, who held weekly levees reminiscent of those held by European courts, “Jefferson really threw all that out and opened himself to the people” — sometimes answering the White House’s door in his slippers…. By saving the American experiment, Lincoln allowed a future president, Theodore Roosevelt, to turn an agrarian republic into a world power. “Roosevelt made the presidency into the office of an international statesman,” says historian Edmund Morris, who recently released the final installment of his three-volume biography of the 26th president. Roosevelt succeeded in this effort largely because of his cosmopolitan personality. He had four grand tours of Europe before serving as president, spoke German and French fluently, and boasted an enormous range of international acquaintances. “The climax of his presidency was the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906, which he got for mediating the end of the Russo–Japanese war,” Morris notes. “To date, he’s the only president who’s ever been asked to mediate a foreign war.”… National Review, 2-19-11
    • Robert Hunter: ISU history prof: U.S. should be flexible with the Middle East: An ISU history professor said the U.S. government should be more flexible with its Middle Eastern policies in the wake of continued unrest in the region.
      “[Our government] is going to have to be more diplomatically nimble and more sophisticated in how we deal with these countries,” said Robert Hunter, who has lived and worked in Egypt. “They’re going to be less willing to do what we want all the time.”… – Indiana Statesman, 2-17-11
    • Douglas Brinkley: Effort to block national monuments may undermine future national parks: “National monuments are usually way stations to national parks, places so popular that they became national parks: They are national treasures and huge economic engines,” said Douglas Brinkley, author of a bestseller on Theodore Roosevelt and a new book, “The Quiet World,” on efforts to control land exploitation in Alaska and stave off species extinction.
      “In an America filled with lobby groups and selfish agendas, you can’t just save a place for one presidency,” Brinkley added…. “Sponsors of efforts to curb Presidential authority under the Antiquties Act are some of the same people in Congress who promote executive power in other realms,” Brinkley notes…. Seattle PI, 2-20-11
    • Simon Schama: cuts will make history preserve of the rich: Schama said he was uneasy that “sciences and subjects, which seem to be on a utilitarian measure useful, have retained their state funding, while the arts and humanities are being stripped of theirs.”…
      In a thinly veiled attack on PM David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg, Schama said: “It behoves those people who were themselves educated at places like Westminster, and Eton – or in my case, Haberdashers’ – to understand the damage that you can do to British culture by making it essentially a wealthy pursuit.”
      He also slammed some fellow academics, adding: “You have to work very hard to make history boring, and there are plenty of people in the institutions who do a brilliant job of making it boring…. – Telegraph (UK), 2-20-11
    • Paula Fass: Ensuring Domestic Tranquillity During Sleepovers: “My impression is that sleepovers are a phenomenon of the suburbs and they started taking off in the ’50s and ’60s,” said Paula Fass, a professor of history…. – NYT, 2-7-11

    HISTORY INTERVIEWS:

    • H.W. Brands on American Presidents: Today is Presidents Day in the U.S. In honour of the occasion, bestselling historian H W Brands introduces five excellent presidential biographies
      You were among the distinguished historians invited to advise President Obama during his first year in office. Do you believe that the stories of past presidencies contain clues to solving the problems of the present? As a historian, I think that being aware of the what’s occurred in the past—what’s worked in the past, what hasn’t worked in the past—does provide some guidance for the present…. – The Browser, 2-21-11
    • David Driskell: Artist, educator, curator to the stars: David Driskell is a painter, printmaker, collagist, professor emeritus, writer, collector, consultant, curator, art historian and nice guy. This polymath, originally from North Carolina, is a specialist in African-American art and also makes quite a bit of it himself. He is a pre-eminent voice in publicizing African-American artists through history, so much that he has a center named after him at the University of Maryland. He took a break from hanging out with friends Bill Cosby and Oprah to talk to WEEKEND about art and life…. – Yale Daily News, 2-17-11
    • John McMillian: High Times for Wikileaks, Bath Salts and Egyptian Democracy: A Review of Smoking Typewriters — the Sixties Underground Press and Rise of Alternative Media in America: The arrests and office ransackings of journalists in Egypt resonates a little bit more deeply with American history professor John McMillian: the same kind of intimidation and outright sabotage of revolutionary dissent occurred just two generations ago in a more familiar country — the United States…. – East Bay Express, 2-11-11
    • John C. McManus: How Revolutions Go Viral: A Historian’s Perspective on Egypt and Tunisia: As revolt in the Middle East has spread from Tunisia to Egypt, with additional unrest in Jordan and Yemen, the uprising echo past political revolutions, says a historian at Missouri University of Science and Technology.
      Dr. John C. McManus, an associate professor of military history at Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T), says the recent uprisings are similar to past revolutions. Just as the American Revolution inspired France to win its own independence and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 spread throughout the former Soviet bloc, revolutions can become viral, McManus says… – Newswise, 2-4-11
    • Laurence Reisman: Q&A with historian, presidential biographer Douglas Brinkley: Historian Brinkley uses research to opine on political questions such as did Reagan have Alzheimer’s while in the White House?
      Perhaps it’s sheer coincidence that presidential author and Rice University professor Douglas Brinkley will pinch-hit for the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan Saturday night as part of The Emerson Center’s Celebrated Speakers Series. But timeliness is everything. Brinkley, author of two books on late President Ronald Reagan, will speak on the eve of the 40th president’s 100th birthday.
      Brinkley’s interests and expertise are varied. He’s written numerous books on presidents, and about all sorts of other Amertican history, from Rosa Parks and Hurricane Katrina to Hunter S. Thompson and Dean Acheson. He’s even taught college history classes by taking students cross-country on buses…. – TC Palm, 2-1-11

    HISTORY AWARDS & APPOINTMENTS:

    • Philip Gleason: Honoring the Historian: Philip Gleason, professor emeritus of history at the University of Notre Dame and the country’s pre-eminent historian of American Catholicism, will receive an honorary degree from the University of Dayton this spring…. – University of Dayton – News Home, 2-22-11
    • Prestigious Lincoln Prize goes to Eric Foner: Prominent historian Eric Foner will receive the 2011 $50,000 Lincoln Prize for his book, “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery” according to an announcement this morning by prize sponsors Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. He will receive the award on May 11 at the Union League Club in New York. Foner, the DeWitt Clinton professor of history at Columbia University, wrote in Fiery Trial about the evolving attitude of Lincoln toward slavery and slaves as the Civil War unfolded. The 16th President, who always said he abhorred slavery, initially sought to eradicate it by promoting colonization of other countries by former slaves. Later he changed that opinion and sought full citizenship for African Americans in this country…. – WaPo, 2-10-11
    • Steve Hindle: Huntington Library names new research director after world-wide search: Steve Hindle, a history professor at England’s Warwick University, was named Monday to succeed Robert “Roy” Ritchie on July 1 as director of research at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens…. – Pasadena Star-News, 2-7-11
    • Dr. Eric Miller receives 2011 Book Award from Christianity Today: Congratulations to Geneva College Associate Professor of History Dr. Eric Miller for receiving Christianity Today’s 2011 Book Award for History/Biography in honor of his latest book, Hope in a Scattering Time: A Life of Christopher Lasch (Eerdmans, 2010).
      Hope in a Scattering Time: A Life of Christopher Lasch is the first published biography of Christopher Lasch, historian, social critic and author of The Culture of Narcissism. The book has received positive reviews from a number of national sources such as the The Weekly Standard and the Commonweal. Alan Wolfe of The New Republic says, “This is anything but a quickly written effort to explore the relationship between a thinker and his times. Miller has not only dug deeply, he has also pondered carefully…. I never met the man, but thanks to this book I now feel that I have. I could not be more grateful to Miller for facilitating the introduction.”… – Geneva College, 2-7-11
    • Historian Allison Blakely Appointed to Humanities Council: The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has announced that historian Allison Blakely has been appointed to the National Council on the Humanities. Blakely was nominated by President Barack Obama on August 5 and confirmed by the Senate December 21. Blakely is a professor of European and Comparative History at Boston University and previously taught at Howard University for 30 years. He is the author of Blacks in the Dutch World: The Evolution of Racial Imagery in a Modern Society; Russia and the Negro: Blacks in Russian History and Thought and numerous scholarly articles on Russian populism and the various European aspects of the Black Diaspora…. – Lee White, National Coalition for History, 2-1-11
    • David L. Preston: Citadel historian wins distinguished book prize: David L. Preston, associate professor of history at The Citadel, won the prestigious Albert B. Corey Prize for 2010 for his recent work, “The Texture of Contact: European and Indian Settler Communities on the Frontiers of Iroquoia, 1667-1783.” The Corey Prize recognizes the best book on Canadian-American relations or on the history of both countries. The prize is awarded every two years by the American Historical Association and the Canadian Historical Association, the two premier professional organizations for historians in the United States and Canada…. – Media Newswire, 2-7-11

    HISTORY ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

    • Bruce Catton papers now indexed online at the University of Wyoming: An inventory of papers and correspondence of Bruce Catton, widely regarded (along with Shelby Foote) as the most popular of America’s Civil War historians, is now accessible online through the University of Wyoming American Heritage Center. There are no access restrictions on the materials for research purposes, and the collection is open to the public…. A description and inventory for this collection [is now] accessible at http://rmoa.unm.edu/docviewer.php?docId=wyu-ah04032.xml/University of Wyoming, 12-20-10
    • Black history catalogued at new U. of C. website: ….On Friday at the University of Chicago’s Joseph Regenstein Library, researchers unveiled a new website intended to make it easy for the public and scholars alike to locate these African-American artifacts as well as a host of others in the city from the same period in history…. The website is the “cutting edge portal into discovering primary source materials to study and know black Chicago’s history from the 1930s to the 1970s,” said Jacqueline Goldsby, a former U. of C. professor who headed up the three-year project…. – Chicago Sun-Times, 12-11-10uncap.lib.uchicago.edu
    • Camelot’s archives, available with the click of a mouse: During a 1962 news conference, a reporter asked President John F. Kennedy if he’d consider locating his presidential library in Washington, D.C., after leaving the White House so scholars and historians would have the broadest possible access to it. No, he replied playfully, “I’m going to put it in Cambridge, Massachusetts.”…
      A four-year, $10 million effort to digitize the JFK Library and Museum’s archives, making hundreds of thousands of documents, photographs, and recordings available online, is nearing completion of its first phase. A formal announcement will come Jan. 13, one week before the 50th anniversary of JFK’s inauguration, at a press conference in the nation’s capitol.
      “Access to a Legacy,” as the project is called, marks the first time a presidential library established in the paper age has fully committed itself to the digital era. The amount of material to be posted online in January is huge — 200,000 pages of text, 1,500 photos, 1,250 files of audio recordings and moving images, and 340 phone conversations totaling 17 1/2 hours — but represents just a small portion of the collection….
      Presidential historian Robert Dallek, who has made liberal use of the Kennedy archives, said the primary payoff is reaching the largest possible international audience. “What this means is, people in Japan or Germany can have access to [JFK’s] office files, and that’s a splendid step forward.” Other presidential libraries will probably follow suit, he added, “because they don’t want to expire, so to speak. Plus, there’s still tremendous interest in subjects like World War II, Vietnam, and the New Deal.”… – Boston Globe (11-28-10)
    • THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY MAKES ITS MOST IMPORTANT COLLECTIONS RELATING TO SLAVERY AVAILABLE ONLINE: Rich trove of material becomes easily accessible at www.nyhistory.org/slaverycollection The New-York Historical Society is proud to announce the launch of a new online portal to nearly 12,000 pages of source materials documenting the history of slavery in the United States, the Atlantic slave trade and the abolitionist movement. Made readily accessible to the general public for the first time at www.nyhistory.org/slaverycollections, these documents from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries represent fourteen of the most important collections in the library’s Manuscript Department….
    • Understanding the Iran-Contra Affairs,” is the only comprehensive website on the famous Reagan-era government scandal, which stemmed from the U.S. government’s policies toward two seemingly unrelated countries, Nicaragua and Iran. Despite stated and repeated denials to Congress and to the public, Reagan Administration officials supported the militant contra rebels in Nicaragua and sold arms to a hostile Iranian government. These events have led to questions about the appropriateness of covert operations, congressional oversight, and even the presidential power to pardon…. – irancontra.org
    • Thousands of Studs Terkel interviews going online: The Library of Congress will digitize the Studs Terkel Oral History Archive, according to the agreement, while the museum will retain ownership of the roughly 5,500 interviews in the archive and the copyrights to the content. Project officials expect digitizing the collection to take more than two years…. – NYT, 5-13-10
    • Digital Southern Historical Collection: The 41,626 scans reproduce diaries, letters, business records, and photographs that provide a window into the lives of Americans in the South from the 18th through mid-20th centuries.

    HISTORIANS SPOTTED:

    • Yvonne Haddad: Georgetown professor speaks on Muslim identity, politics: On Wednesday night, Yvonne Haddad, a professor of the history of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations at Georgetown University, presented a public lecture titled “Islamophobia and the Reconstruction of Muslim American Culture” to a group of approximately 50 students and community members in Robertson Hall.
      “What my talk will be about is how we moved from Islamophobia into a coalition of groups in order to find a space for Muslims in North America,” Haddad said at the start of her talk. “What you have is Muslims now engaged in the political process. They feel very comfortable being American and feel very comfortable criticizing American foreign policy. This would not have been possible 10 years ago.”
      Haddad gave an extensive account of the troubled history of Islam’s relations with Christianity, discussing the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the Protestant Reformation. Daily Princetonian, 2-24-11
    • Michael Rawson: Environmentalist historian Rawson lectures on Boston’s urban growth: Michael Rawson, an assistant professor of history at City University of New York’s Brooklyn College, spoke at Bowdoin on Wednesday night about his recent book, “Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston.” The lecture took place in Main Lounge in Moulton Union. Rawson is an environmental historian who focuses on the urban environment…. – Bowdoin Orient, 2-18-11
    • Samuel Moyn: Columbia Univ professor lectures on human rightsThe Brandeis Hoot, 2-11-11
    • Emory ‘regrets’ slavery ties, holds conference on topic: The founders of Emory University owned slaves. They used slave labor to build the campus. Their pro-slavery views helped drive the North-South schism in the Methodist Episcopal Church leading up to the Civil War. The university’s slave legacy doesn’t end with the antebellum era. In 1902, the college forced a professor to resign for an article he wrote condemning lynching. Fast forward to 2003 when a professor’s use of a racial slur led to campus-wide debates. That incident spurred self-reflection…. – Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2-3-11

    HISTORY ON TV:

    HISTORY BEST SELLERS (NYT):

    UPCOMING HISTORY BOOK RELEASES:

    • Molly Caldwell Crosby: Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic That Remains One of Medicine’s Greatest Mysteries, (Paperback), February 1, 2011
    • Jonathan Gill: Harlem: The Four Hundred Year History from Dutch Village to Capital of Black America, (Hardcover), February 1, 2011
    • Amy Louise Wood: Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940, (Paperback), February 1, 2011
    • David Eisenhower: Going Home to Glory: A Memoir of Life with Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961-1969, (Hardcover), February 2, 2011
    • Frederick Brown: For the Soul of France: Culture Wars in the Age of Dreyfus, (Paperback), February 8, 2011
    • Donald Rumsfeld: Known and Unknown: A Memoir, (Hardcover), February 8, 2011
    • Holger H. Herwig: The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World, (Paperback), February 8, 2011
    • Christopher Corbett: The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West (Reprint), (Paperback), February 8, 2011
    • Justin Fox: The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street, (Paperback), February 8, 2011
    • Julia P. Gelardi: From Splendor to Revolution: The Romanov Women, 1847–1928, (Hardcover), February 15, 2011
    • Lucy Moore: Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties, (Paperback), February 22, 2011
    • Sarah Rose: For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History, (Paperback), February 22, 2011
    • David Strauss: Setting the Table for Julia Child: Gourmet Dining in America, 1934-1961, (Hardcover), February 26, 2011
    • G.J. Meyer: The Tudors: The Complete Story of England’s Most Notorious Dynasty, (Paperback), March 1, 2011
    • Jack Weatherford: The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire, (Paperback), March 1, 2011
    • Bruce S. Thornton: The Wages of Appeasement: Ancient Athens, Munich, and Obama’s America, (Hardcover), March 1, 2011
    • Miranda Carter: George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I, (Paperback), March 8, 2011
    • John D. Plating: The Hump: America’s Strategy for Keeping China in World War II (General), (Hardcover), March 9, 2011
    • David Goldfield: America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation, (Hardcover), March 15, 2011
    • Matt Spruill: Decisions at Gettysburg: The Nineteen Critical Decisions That Defined the Campaign, (Paperback), March 16, 2011
    • Adrienne Mayor: The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy, (Paperback), March 22, 2011
    • Michael O’Brien: Mrs. Adams in Winter: A Journey in the Last Days of Napoleon, (Paperback), March 29, 2011
    • Dominic Lieven: Russia Against Napoleon: The True Story of the Campaigns of War and Peace, (Paperback), March 29, 2011
    • Rudy Tomedi: General Matthew Ridgway, (Hardcover), March 30, 2011
    • Kim Wilson: Tea with Jane Austen (Second Edition), (Hardcover), April 1, 2011
    • Nick Bunker: Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History, (Paperback), April 5, 2011
    • Nell Irvin Painter: The History of White People, (Paperback), April 18, 2011
    • Christopher I. Beckwith: Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present, (Paperback), April 21, 2011
    • Andrew F. Smith: Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine, (Paperback), April 22, 2011
    • Barbara Frale: The Templars: The Secret History Revealed, (Paperback), May 1, 2011
    • Alison Plowden: The Young Victoria (New), (Paperback), May 1, 2011
    • Bill Morgan: The Typewriter Is Holy: The Complete, Uncensored History of the Beat Generation, (Paperback), May 1, 2011
    • Rebecca Skloot: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, (Paperback), May 3, 2011
    • Lynne Olson: Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour, (Paperback), May 3, 2011
    • Jane Ziegelman: 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement, (Paperback), May 31, 2011
    • Jonathan R. Dull: The Age of the Ship of the Line: The British and French Navies, 1650-1815, (Paperback), June 1, 2011
    • Jasper Ridley: The Freemasons: A History of the World’s Most Powerful Secret Society, (Paperback), June 1, 2011
    • David Howard: Lost Rights: The Misadventures of a Stolen American Relic, (Paperback), June 8, 2011
    • Kelly Hart: The Mistresses of Henry VIII, (Paperback), July 1, 2011
    • Christopher Heaney: Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real-Life Indiana Jones, and the Search for Machu Picchu, (Paperback), July 5, 2011
    • Eric Jay Dolin: Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America, (Paperback), July 5, 2011
    • Edward P. Kohn: Hot Time in the Old Town: The Great Heat Wave of 1896 and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt (First Trade Paper Edition), (Paperback), July 12, 2011

    HISTORIANS REMEMBERED:

    • Meiqing Zhang: Prof dies after long illness: Meiqing Zhang, a senior lecturer in East Asian studies who had taught Chinese since 1988, died Saturday after a long illness.
      “It is a huge loss for Brown and especially for East Asian studies,” said Dean of the Faculty Rajiv Vohra P’07. She was a “highly regarded figure in the field of Chinese language pedagogy,” according to a statement on the East Asian studies website…. – Brown Daily Herald, 2-24-11
    • Dame Judith Binney dies: The historian and widely-respected scholar passed away last night. She was Emeritus Professor of History at Auckland University. Dame Judith was a member of the Arts Council and the Historic Places Trust and a pioneer in New Zealand history…. – Newstalk ZB, 2-15-11
    • Michael Harsegor, Israeli medievalist, dies at 87: Tel Aviv University Professor Michael Harsegor, one of Israel’s most-prominent historians, passed away on Thursday at the age of 87. For decades Harsegor taught history at Tel Aviv University and was considered an expert on Late Middle Ages European History. He was most well-known to the Israeli public for hosting the long-running Army Radio program “historical hour”…. – Jerusalem Post, 2-10-11
    • Ernst Presseisen, 82, a Temple professor: Ernst L. Presseisen, 82, of Center City, an emeritus professor of history at Temple University and a Holocaust survivor, died of complications of pneumonia … – Philadelphia Inquirer, 2-9-11
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    History Buzz: January 16, 2011: AHA Recap — Virginia Textbook Controversy — Civil War at 150 — Historians Reflect on Arizona Shootings

    HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

    History Buzz

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

    Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

    HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

    IN FOCUS:

    • American Historical Association’s (AHA) 125th Annual Meeting / Conference: Daily RecapsHistory Musings
    • Producers already pitch Kennedy project elsewhere: After the History channel said it would not air a controversial miniseries on the Kennedy family, producers were already seeking another television home.
      The Showtime pay cable network has been approached to air the eight-part series, a spokesman said on Saturday. Eight years ago, Showtime aired a movie about President Reagan that CBS had made but decided not to broadcast when it faced pressure from some of that former president’s family. Showtime won’t make a decision about the Kennedy miniseries until its executives have a chance to see it, spokesman Richard Licata said….
      A concerted effort was made to quash the series. Liberal filmmaker Robert Greenwald collected 50,000 petitions urging History not to air it, and he produced a short film condemning the project on a website, stopkennedysmears.com. He had been given an early script, which included one scene where President Kennedy tells his brother Robert about his need to have sex with other women. Former Kennedy aide Theodore Sorensen also harshly condemned the film, saying scenes in the script where he was depicted didn’t actually occur. History also likely felt corporate pressure. The network is owned by the A&E Television Networks, which itself is owned jointly by NBC Universal, the Walt Disney Co. and the Hearst Corp…. – AP, 1-8-11
    • History network pulls plug on Kennedy project: The History Channel will not air a controversial miniseries it produced about the Kennedy family, saying the multimillion project that had become the network’s most expensive on record did not fit the “History brand.”
      The eight-part series had already been completed, and starred Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes as President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie. But during its production, critics like former Kennedy administration aide Theodore Sorenson attacked the scripts as inaccurate. The role of producer Joel Surnow, a political conservative, also drew suspicion from fans of the Kennedy family.
      “We have concluded this dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand,” the network said in a statement late Friday. History, in its statement, said the decision was made after viewing the series in its totality. “We recognize historical fiction is an important medium for storytelling and commend all the hard work and passion that has gone into the making of the series, but ultimately deem this as the right programming decision for our network,” History said in a statement…. – AP, 1-8-11
    • ‘Kennedys’ gets pulled: A&E Television Networks will not broadcast the miniseries “The Kennedys’’ on the History Channel this spring. The network has canceled the series starring Greg Kinnear as John F. Kennedy and Katie Holmes as Jackie Kennedy, concluding it was “not a fit’’ for the History Channel, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “Upon completion of the production of ‘The Kennedys,’ History has decided not to air the eight-part miniseries,’’ a rep for A&E told the trade publication. The multimillion dollar project has been the subject of controversy since it was announced in December 2009. Developed by Joel Surnow, the conservative co-creator of “24,’’ the project was criticized by some Democrats and Kennedy historians. The miniseries is still set to air in Canada on March 6, and will still be broadcast internationally. – Boston Globe, 1-8-11
    • History Channel Pulls ‘The Kennedys’; Says Controversial Miniseries ‘Not a Fit’: Ambitious miniseries was set to air this spring; stars Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes, and producer Joel Surnow were told today of cancellation.
      In a surprise move, A&E Television Networks has canceled plans to broadcast The Kennedys, the ambitious and much- anticipated miniseries about the American political family that was set to air this spring on the History channel.
      “Upon completion of the production of The Kennedys, History has decided not to air the 8-part miniseries on the network,” a rep for the network tells The Hollywood Reporter in a statement. “While the film is produced and acted with the highest quality, after viewing the final product in its totality, we have concluded this dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand.”
      The multi-million dollar project—History and Lifetime president and general manager Nancy Dubuc’s first scripted miniseries at the network and its most expensive program ever—has been embroiled in controversy since it was announced in December 2009.
      Developed by Joel Surnow, the conservative co-creator of 24, along with production companies Asylum Entertainment and Muse Entertainment and writer Stephen Kronish, the project drew fire from the political left and some Kennedy historians. Even before cameras rolled, a front-page New York Times story last February included a sharp attack from former John F. Kennedy adviser Theodore Sorenson, who called an early version of the script “vindictive” and “malicious.”
      History and parent A&E said at the time that the script had been revised and that the final version had been vetted by experts. Indeed, the script used in production had passed muster with History historians for accuracy.
      Despite the controversy, History was able to recruit a big-ticket cast to the project, announcing in April that Greg Kinnear (John F. Kennedy), Katie Holmes (Jackie Kennedy), Barry Pepper (Robert F. Kennedy) and Tom Wilkinson (Joe Kennedy) would co-star. The actors and CAA, which reps both Kinnear and Holmes, were told this afternoon of the cancellation. Surnow also was told today.
      No advertisers had registered complaints or concerns with the miniseries, confirms an A&E spokesperson, but the content was not considered historically accurate enough for the network’s rigorous standards. So an air date, which had not been announced but was planned for spring, was scrapped.
      “We recognize historical fiction is an important medium for storytelling and commend all the hard work and passion that has gone into the making of the series, but ultimately deem this as the right programming decision for our network,” a rep tells THR in the statement.
      The miniseries is still scheduled to air in Canada on March 6, and will still be broadcast internationally…. – The Hollywood Reporter, 1-8-11

    HISTORY NEWS:

    • Va. Board Of Ed Wants To Improve Book Review Process: The Virginia Board of Education will review two error-filled textbooks to determine whether they’re fit to be used in the state’s schools.
      At its Thursday meeting, the board directed Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia Wright to come up with a process to help the board decide whether the two books, both published by Connecticut-based Five Ponds Press, should be included on a list of approved books. The board adopted the directives as a motion made by board member David Foster of Arlington.
      The board also asked Wright to ask experts to review all Five Ponds textbooks included on the approved books list and seek potential remedies from the publisher for school divisions that purchased the books. The books are the fourth-grade textbook, “Our Virginia: Past and Present” and the fifth-grade book, “Our America: To 1865.” – WY Daily, 1-15-11
    • Va. withdraws approval of textbooks: The Virginia Board of Education on Thursday withdrew its approval of two elementary school history textbooks, which a panel of historians found to have dozens of errors. On Thursday, the Board of Education also ordered a review by experts of any other approved textbooks published by Five Ponds Press. The company currently has four world history books which are approved for use in the state’s classrooms. Those books passed the state’s textbook review process, in which panels of reviewers, often elementary school teachers, verified that the books cover each of the Standards of Learning themes. Experts in particular subject matters also sometimes review books…. – WaPo, 1-13-11
    • Virginia Textbook Controversy: Publisher Will Replace VA Textbooks For Free — Board of Education Withdraws Approval: The publisher of this textbook will replace it at no cost to school divisions, due to errors found in two books. In response to criticism of errors found in its textbooks, Five Ponds Press announced Tuesday it intends to replace all copies of “Our Virginia” and “Our America: To 1865” for free…. – Williamsburg Yorktown Daily, 1-13-11
    • Business Metaphor Still Ascendant at AHA: it was difficult to escape the conclusion, during the American Historical Association’s annual meeting here over the weekend, that higher education is in the throes of a crisis. Panels used the word “crisis” to describe the state of the job market for historians, the state of public universities, and the state of higher education in general. And the enemy was consistently identified as the ideology and analytical tools of business.
      For example, the scarcity of faculty jobs in history — 569 this year, which marked the smallest number in two decades — was driven by more than simple laws of supply and demand, argued Martin Mulford, a self-described “rogue scholar” and former businessman, during a Saturday session, “The Academic Job Market: Finding Solutions in a Time of Crisis.” The lack of history jobs has been hastened and worsened by a larger trend of hiring adjuncts and contingent faculty instead of full-time faculty in the interest of cost-cutting, he said. This reflects a larger transformation of the role of business in higher education, which he likened to the shift from being a stepchild to the head of a household. “This is a problem of the colonization of the academy by business,” said Mulford…. – Inside Higher Ed (1-11-11)
    • Turns Out, Jobs for Historians Are…History: While Wednesday’s ADP number for December was surprisingly strong, skeptical strategists emphasize that this US labor market remains in a state of disarray.
      How about the well educated among us? How are our PhD-carrying comrades navigating this lousy labor market? Interestingly, it depends on the area in which they specialize. According to a new report by Inside Higher Ed, historians have it rough: During the 2009-10 academic year, the number of positions listed with the American Historical Association dropped by 29.4%. That follows a 23.8% drop the year before. Last year, the association announced that the number of listings it received — 806 — was the smallest in a decade; this year’s total of 569 marks the smallest number in 25 years…. – Minyanville, 1-6-11
    • Historians Continue to Face Tough Job Market: The job market for historians continued to deteriorate last year, although there is reason to hope it may be poised to rebound somewhat, according to a report released on Monday by the American Historical Association. The report, published in the group’s Perspectives on History, a newsletter, in advance of its annual conference this week, said the number of jobs posted with the association fell by more than 29 percent—from 806 to 569—during the 2009-10 academic year. Since two years ago, when the association posted an all-time high of 1,059 job openings, the number of jobs advertised with it has dropped by more than 46 percent, to the lowest level in 25 years.
      The report does contain a glimmer of hope: Looking at the current academic year, it found that the number of job advertisements posted as of December 1 was up by more than 21 percent from the same period a year earlier. The report also offers an important caveat to its findings: Not all of the jobs available in the discipline are listed with the association, and some “are advertised only in The Chronicle of Higher Education or H-Net, for instance.”… – Chronicle of Higher Education, 1-3-11
    • Historians Expose Error-Filled Virginia Textbooks: In the version of history being taught in some Virginia classrooms, New Orleans began the 1800s as a bustling U.S. harbor (instead of as a Spanish colonial one). The Confederacy included 12 states (instead of 11). And the United States entered World War I in 1916 (instead of 1917). These are among the dozens of errors historians have found since Virginia officials ordered a review of textbooks by Five Ponds Press, the publisher responsible for a controversial claim that African-American soldiers fought for the Confederacy in large numbers during the Civil War.
      Our Virginia: Past and Present, the textbook including that claim, has many other inaccuracies, according to historians who reviewed it. Similar problems, historians say, were found in another book by Five Ponds Press, Our America: To 1865. A reviewer has found errors in social studies textbooks by other publishers as well, underscoring the limits of a textbook-approval process once regarded as among the nation’s most stringent…. – AP, 1-3-11
    • Carol Sheriff: Virgina History Textbook Inaccuracies Controversy: It’s a textbook case of getting it wrong. A Virginia elementary school textbook will soon be history after a college professor and parent, caught more than one mistake in it. Turns out the errors she spotted were not the only ones. Some of the glaring errors had to do with African-Americans and the Civil War. These and dozens of other errors can be found in the textbook handed out to thousands of Virginia fourth graders. Problems with the book ‘Our Virginia: Past and Present’, published by Five Ponds Press, first surfaced last October, as reported by the Washington Post, when the mother of one student, a college history professor, spotted several lines on page 122.
      “It was particularly jarring when I got to this one passage that was so at odds with what historians have been saying about who participated in the Civil War,” said William & Mary Professor Carol Sheriff, a parent of one student.
      The book says thousands of southern blacks fought in the confederate ranks, something not supported by mainstream Civil War scholarship. But it’s the next line that’s just plain wrong: “including two black battalions under the command of Stonewall Jackson.” The textbook actually, does note that it wasn’t ’til 1865 that African-Americans could legally serve in the confederate army. It also tells children that Stonewall Jackson died in 1863. The error about blacks serving in the confederate army was outrageous to many in academia… – CNN, 12-30-10

    HISTORIANS NEWS:

    • James McPherson: Battle Over the Battlefields: One hundred and fifty years after the start of the Civil War, we’re still fighting. This time it’s development vs. preservation—and development’s winning. The Battle to Preserve History “There has to be a reasonable balance,” says James McPherson, the foremost living Civil War historian and professor emeritus of history at Princeton. “If you preserved every square foot of battlefield in Virginia, there wouldn’t be much land left. There’s a tendency among preservationists to want to save everything, but realistically there have to be compromises.”
      One place McPherson isn’t willing to compromise, however, is the Virginia Walmart, a 140,000-square-foot supercenter the company wants to build in Orange County on a parcel that’s been zoned for commercial use for 37 years. The bloody May 1864 encounter fought there was the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. In Grant’s first battle since becoming chief of the U.S. Army, he pounded Lee and began driving him south toward Richmond. Historians say his army’s “nerve center,” including his own headquarters, was located on and near the Walmart site, which is also across the street from the entrance to the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park…. – Newsweek, 1-13-11
    • AnneMarie Luijendijk: A flax merchant from Egypt! Owner of 4th century New Testament papyrus identified: A Princeton University researcher has identified the owner of a New Testament papyrus that dates to the time of Constantine the Great…. “It is the first and only ancient instance where we know the owner of a Greek New Testament papyrus,” writes Professor AnneMarie Luijendijk in an article recently published in the Journal of Biblical Literature. “For most early New Testament manuscripts, we do not know where they were found, let alone who had owned them.”… – Unreported Heritage News, 1-2-11
    • After 130 years, will Billy the Kid finally get a governor’s pardon?: Outgoing New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is considering a pardon for celebrated outlaw Billy the Kid. An informal e-mail poll shows support. But time is running out.
      Public perception regarding the Kid is split into two camps, says Paul Hutton, a history professor and Old West expert at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque: “people who see him as this homicidal maniac and [others] who see him as a romantic character fighting for justice against a corrupt New Mexico system.”
      Hutton says most historians agree that Billy the Kid’s life was not as violent as the legend suggests and that he was a product of his unwieldy times of government corruption and vigilante justice. “He certainly felt solving problems with a gun was the way to go, but that was the world in which he lived in,” he says. “The forces of authority in 1877 New Mexico were nothing to brag about.”… – CS Monitor, 12-29-10

    HISTORY OP-EDs:

    • DISUNION: One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, Americans went to war with themselves. Disunion revisits and reconsiders America’s most perilous period — using contemporary accounts, diaries, images and historical assessments to follow the Civil War as it unfolded…. – NYT, Disunion
    • James Loewen’s “5 Myths about why the South seceded” Washington Post’s Most Viewed: James Loewens’ op-ed in the Washington Post “5 Myths about Why the South Seceded,” published last Sunday, has become the most viewed article at their website, garnering more than a half a million views as of Monday, and combined with print views, now more than a million views:
      One hundred fifty years after the Civil War began, we’re still fighting it – or at least fighting over its history. I’ve polled thousands of high school history teachers and spoken about the war to audiences across the country, and there is little agreement even about why the South seceded. Was it over slavery? States’ rights? Tariffs and taxes? As the nation begins to commemorate the anniversaries of the war’s various battles – from Fort Sumter to Appomattox – let’s first dispense with some of the more prevalent myths about why it all began…. – WaPo, 1-9-11
    • Gil Troy: America’s search for civility It’s time to return to the notion of ‘malice toward none’ and ‘charity for all’: The tragic Arizona rampage that critically injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six citizens, including 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who wanted to see “how our government works,” has triggered the predictable recitations about America’s long history of political violence -without any evidence that this was a political crime.
      That vast numbers of shocked observers immediately concluded that the gunman’s lunatic actions were in some way linked to the present fervid red-blue debate in the United States speaks volumes about the overheated rhetoric that has come to characterize much of America’s political discourse in recent years.
      But political civility has an equally long and robust U.S. pedigree. We should appreciate the coalition-builders, not the partisans; the statesmen, not the demagogues; the magnanimous uniters, not the cranky dividers. In matters political, the big broad tent with stakes driven deep into America’s rich soil is more constructive and more lasting than partisan lean-tos tilting left or right…. – Montreal Gazette, 1-13-11
    • Gil Troy: It Was Good to See the Last of 2010: Good riddance to 2010 – not only because the calendar gods decree it, but because so many of us were so fed up with it.
      Fortunately no historic cataclysm occurred that will jump off the page of future textbooks. Instead, it was a year of slogging through, of feeling drained. It featured major leaks, notably the British Petroleum oil leak and the diplomatic tsunami of WikiLeaks. During 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama’s support and standing continued to seep away. And 2010 witnessed trouble brewing in the United States and Europe, as the prolonged recession drained individuals’ morale, family finances, and communal energies…. – Montreal Gazette, 1-4-11
    • Simon Schama: An America Lost in Fantasy Must Recover Its Dream: As it says goodbye and good riddance to 2010, is America also saying so long to depression, both the economic and the psychic varieties? Is double-dip now just another way to get your hot fudge sundae? Riding the Metro North commuter train from Pleasantville to Grand Central Station on the last weekend before Christmas, you’d certainly suppose so. The consumer confidence index had been rising for two straight months now and most of it seemed to be on board, wallets bursting to get in on the action. Heavy-set thirtysomethings on parole from suburbia, fists popping cans of Bud Lite, boomed to all who wanted to hear (Ben Bernanke maybe?) that they were “gonna do some serious shopping DAMAGE dude!” In the month before Christmas Grand Central turns into a retail bazaar, and to the strains of jingle tills vendors selling silk scarves, Thai and Polish jewellery, hammered leather goods and fancy stationery were all doing brisk trade to elbow-working crowds…. – Financial Times (UK), 12-23-10
    • Paul Kengor: Stalin’s dupes, past and present: It’s customary at year’s end to share our favorite news items from the year past – from happy moments to outrages. As a professor and historian, I tend to highlight things I fear are lost to American education. To that end, I’ve become somewhat of a pessimist, especially as I observe what the next generation is not being taught. So, my enduring “news item” of 2010 falls under the category of historical outrage, though it is redeemed somewhat by another item considerably more positive. I’d like to link them here as a teachable moment.
      My outrage of 2010: the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va., erected a statue of Josef Stalin, architect of the Great Purge, Ukrainian famine, gulag, war on religion and upwards of 60 million deaths. We learned about this travesty, thanks to the vigilant work of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, which has the heroic goal of trying to educate Americans about the forgotten holocaust committed by communists. The group created a website (Stalinstatue.com) to call attention to this moral-historical slander. The site featured a petition to remove the statue, with thousands of signatures from all over the world. Addressed to the National D-Day Memorial Foundation and to President Obama‘s secretary of the interior, it demanded that the “true history of World War II must be protected from distortion and misinformation.”… – The Washington Times, 12-28-10

    HISTORY REVIEWS:

    • Peter L. Bergen: Determined to Strike: THE LONGEST WAR The Enduring Conflict Between America and Al-Qaeda For years, I tried to read every new novel about how 9/11 affected our lives. Some were very thoughtful, but I always came away unsatisfied, feeling that the authors had worked hard but had somehow fallen short. As I read the stunning first section of Peter L. Bergen’s new book on the war between the United States and Al Qaeda, I realized I had been looking in the wrong genre. None of the novels were as effective or moving as “The Longest War,” which is a history of our time.
      Bergen, a national security analyst for CNN, impressively covers it all: Al ­Qaeda’s aspirations and its 9/11 attack, the Bush administration’s panicky response, the subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the crucial and continuing unhelpful role of Pakistan, and the terrorist episodes in London and Madrid. Other books, most notably Bob Woodward’s series on the wars as viewed from Washington, have bitten off big chunks of this story, but Bergen’s, to my knowledge, is the first to credibly cover the global sweep of events over the last 10 years, exploring not just American views but also Al Qaeda’s…. – NYT, 1-16-11
    • PSYCHOLOGY REVIEW BY STEVEN F. HAYWARD: Putting George W. Bush on the psychologist’s couch: Dan P. McAdams, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University, offers one of the first comprehensive psychological profiles of Bush in “George W. Bush and the Redemptive Dream.” To his credit, McAdams tries not to pre-judge Bush, and he avoids making moral or political judgments about the president’s major decisions. McAdams will further disappoint Bush-haters in his measured rejection of several pop-psych themes, such as that Bush was in thrall to an Oedipal rivalry (though he does think a desire to avenge his father in Iraq was a factor). But in the end, McAdams’s framework sinks into a mire of professional jargon that tells us more about contemporary theory than about the former president…. – WaPo, 1-14-11
    • Chappaqua’s Kenneth Jackson is the executive editor of the second edition of “The Encyclopedia of New York City,” which boasts some 5,000 entries spanning 1,561 pages: Chappaqua’s Kenneth Jackson was first approached about assembling a New York City encyclopedia in 1982. The late Edward Tripp, a former editor-in-chief for Yale University Press, pitched the idea. “I thought it would be fun, and I was teaching New York City history,” says Jackson, a historian at Columbia University and the book’s executive editor. “It took a little while to get it going.” Officially, it took about 13 years, as the first edition of “The Encyclopedia of New York City” hit bookshelves in 1995. Heaped with critical acclaim, it sold out its first printing before it was published, and seven more printings followed. Some 75,000 copies have been sold to date. But a lot’s happened since then. New stadiums have been built for the Yankees and Mets. AirTrain and E-ZPass have become transportation norms. And the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, changed everything…. – LoHud, 1-16-11
    • Dark Tales Illuminate Haiti, Before and After Quake: “Haiti Noir,” released last week, has taken on new resonance amid the first anniversary of the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake that killed 300,000 people and left over one million homeless. While only 3 of the 18 stories deal with the earthquake directly, Edwidge Danticat, the volume’s editor, said many were filled with reminders of what was lost.
      “I had this fear that the stories would lose their relevance,” said Ms. Danticat, the most widely known contemporary writer to come from Haiti. “But the post-earthquake neighborhoods have a new intrigue. Some of these stories are elegies to lost, broken and destroyed neighborhoods.”… – NYT, 1-10-11
    • NYT 100 Notable Books of 2010NYT, 12-5-10
    • NYT: The 10 Best Books of 2010: Stacy Schiff: CLEOPATRA: A Life: With her signature blend of wit, intelligence and superb prose, Schiff strips away 2,000 years of prejudices and propaganda in her elegant reimagining of the Egyptian queen who, even in her own day, was mythologized and misrepresented.
      Isabel Wilkerson: THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration: Wilkerson, a former national correspondent for The Times, has written a masterly and engrossing account of the Great Migration, in which six million African-Americans abandoned the South between 1915 and 1970. The book centers on the journeys of three black migrants, each representing a different decade and a different destination. – NYT, 12-12-10
    • Glenn W. LaFantasie: The top 12 Civil War books ever written: One great book for each month of 2011, the sesquicentennial of the War Between the States. In any event, here are a dozen books that, for me, tell the story of the Civil War with literary elegance, intellectual gusto and enormous flair….
      12. “The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War” by Bruce Catton
      11. “Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America”: by William E. Gienapp
      10. “Lincoln’s Men: How President Lincoln Became Father to an Army and a Nation”: By William C. Davis
      9. “Grant and Sherman: The Friendship That Won the Civil War”: By Charles Bracelen Flood
      8. “Chancellorsville 1863: The Souls of the Brave”: By Ernest B. (“Pat”) Furgurson
      7. “Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam”: By Stephen W. Sears

    History Buzz December 2010: Christmas, Civil War at 150 & Best of 2010

    HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

    History Buzz

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

    Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

    HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

    IN FOCUS:

    • Will Tuesday Be the Darkest Day in 456 Years?: A painting of a total lunar eclipse viewed from the surface of the moon, as imagined by Lucien Rudax in the 1920s. Break out the flashlights. When a full lunar eclipse takes place on the shortest day of the year, the planet may just get awfully dark. The upcoming Dec. 21 full moon — besides distinguishing itself from the others in 2010 by undergoing a total eclipse — will also take place on the same date as the solstice (the winter solstice if you live north of the equator, and the summer solstice if you live to the south).
      Winter solstice is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and marks the official beginning of winter. The sun is at its lowest in our sky because the North Pole of our tilted planet is pointing away from it…. – Fox News, 12-18-10
    • First Winter Solstice Meeting With Lunar Eclipse In 456 Years: This year’s winter solstice will coincide with a full lunar eclipse for the first time in 456 years. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, and it has not fallen on the same day as a lunar eclipse since 1554, according to NASA.
      This eclipse will be the second on two eclipses in 2010. The first was a partial lunar eclipse that took place on June 26, 2010.
      Some believe that this event holds special significance, such as one ancient culture who saw the winter solstice as a time of renewal.
      The winter solstice played an important role in the Greco-Roman rituals.
      “It’s seen as a time of rebirth or renewal because, astrologically, it’s a time where the light comes back,” Shane Hawkins, a professor of Greek and Roman studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, told the Montreal Gazette. “If (the eclipse) happened on the 21st, they might well have been drunk,” he said. However, skeptics say that it is just an event with not significance…. – Red Orbit, 12-18-10
    • Retraction and Apology Issued to Professor Guenter Lewy: In the summer 2008 issue of its Intelligence Report, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that Guenter Lewy, a professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, was part of a network of persons, financed by the Government of Turkey, who dispute that the tragic events of World War I constituted an Armenian genocide. We now realize that we misunderstood Professor Lewy’s scholarship, were wrong to assert that he was part of a network financed by the Turkish Government, and were wrong to assume that any scholar who challenges the Armenian genocide narrative necessarily has been financially compromised by the Government of Turkey. We hereby retract the assertion that Professor Lewy was or is on the Government of Turkey’s payroll….Professor Lewy adds the following comment: “The SPLC has made important contributions to the rule of law and the struggle against bigotry. Thus I took no pleasure in commencing legal action against it. But the stakes, both for my reputation as a scholar and for the free and unhindered discussion of controversial topics, were compelling. It must be possible to defend views that contradict conventional wisdom without being called the agent of a foreign government.” – PR Newswire, 12-1-10

    HISTORY NEWS:

    • Beneath the Dead Sea, Scientists Are Drilling for Natural History: Five miles out, nearly to the center of the Dead Sea, an international team of scientists has been drilling beneath the seabed to extract a record of climate change and earthquake history stretching back half a million years.
      “We knew the lake went through high levels and lower levels,” said Prof. Zvi Ben-Avraham, a leading Dead Sea expert and the driving force behind the project, “but we did not know it got so low.” Professor Ben-Avraham, a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and chief of the Minerva Dead Sea Research Center at Tel Aviv University, had been pushing for such a drilling operation for 10 years…. – NYT, 12-18-10
    • A protest against tuition hikes becomes a generational phenomenon in Britain: IN LONDON The first sign that something is awry inside the venerable halls of University College London is a fresh red scrawl on the side of the regal entrance that simply reads, “Join the fight.” “A lot of students feel this overwhelming sense of disillusionment,” said Sylvia Ellis, associate professor of history at Northumbria University. “This is the first time that many of them have come face to face with the fact that politicians will let them down.” Now, the student opposition – including building occupations at Cambridge, Manchester University, Birmingham University and scores of others – has generated the seven-month-old coalition’s most serious political challenge. The Liberal Democrats are bitterly split, with one block set to vote against the measure. In an olive branch to students, the government agreed Wednesday to offer more flexible student loan terms…. – WaPo, 12-8-10

    HISTORY OP-EDs:

    • Eric Weinberger: All the [Harvard] President’s Books, Drew Gilpin Faust: I took charge of the president’s books because it was my assigned job to write thank-you letters for them. I would send her the books and the unsigned draft replies on presidential letterhead; for each one, she sent me back the signed letter and, most of the time, the book, meaning she had no further use for it. Some books she would keep, but seldom for very long, which meant those came back to me too, in one of the smaller offices on the third floor of Mass Hall where there was no room to put them. Furthermore they weren’t so easily disposed of. Often they bore inscriptions, to President Drew Faust or to her and her husband from people they knew; and even if the volume was something rather less exalted — a professor from India sending his management tome or a book of Hindi poems addressed, mysteriously, to “Sir” or to the “vice-chancellor of Harvard University” — these books obviously couldn’t end up in a secondhand bookshop or charity bin or anywhere they could cause embarrassment. All were soon moved to an overflow space at the very end of the hall, coincidentally looking out at a donation bin for books at a church across the street…. – Inside Higher Ed, 12-13-10
    • Stephanie Coontz: Is marriage becoming obsolete?: According to a TIME/Pew research poll released last week, 40 percent of Americans believe that marriage is becoming obsolete, up from just 28 percent in 1978. In that same poll, only one in four unmarried Americans say they do not want to get married. And among currently married men and women, 80 percent say their marriage is as close as or closer than their parents’ marriage. These seemingly contradictory responses reflect the public’s recognition of a new and complex reality. On the one hand, marriage as a voluntary relationship based on love and commitment is held in higher regard than ever, with more people saying that love is essential to marriage (Consider that in 1967, two-thirds of college women said they’d consider marrying a man they didn’t love if he met other criteria, such as offering respectability and financial security.)… – CNN, 11-24-10

    HISTORY REVIEWS:

    • NYT 100 Notable Books of 2010 NYT, 12-5-10
    • NYT: The 10 Best Books of 2010: Stacy Schiff: CLEOPATRA: A Life: With her signature blend of wit, intelligence and superb prose, Schiff strips away 2,000 years of prejudices and propaganda in her elegant reimagining of the Egyptian queen who, even in her own day, was mythologized and misrepresented.
      Isabel Wilkerson: THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration: Wilkerson, a former national correspondent for The Times, has written a masterly and engrossing account of the Great Migration, in which six million African-Americans abandoned the South between 1915 and 1970. The book centers on the journeys of three black migrants, each representing a different decade and a different destination. – NYT, 12-12-10
    • Noah Feldman’s book on FDR’s Supreme Court: SCORPIONS The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Supreme Court Justices Now Noah Feldman, himself a Harvard law professor, has written a book similar to Simon’s, although “The Antagonists” have bulked up into “Scorpions” and two more Roosevelt appointees have entered the lists: Justices William O. Douglas and Robert Jackson. Having reviewed “The Antagonists” for The Post, I doubted that Simon’s topic deserved another look. In truth, however, it did. “The Antagonists” remains a very good book, but “Scorpions” is even better. In it, Feldman tells how four ambitious and strong-willed jurists jockeyed for position on a Supreme Court asked to rule on the constitutionality of New Deal programs and to find a balance between governmental objectives and individual rights…. – WaPo, 12-5-10
    • New book chronicles largest slave revolt in U.S. history: On January 8, 1811 a group of determined enslaved Africans set into motion a plan to rise up against slavery and take their destiny into their own hands. Vowing to cast the shackles that bound them to the sugar cane plantations just west of the Crescent City, these ambitious warriors carved out a place in history for themselves that some have sought to bury for two centuries. American Uprising, a new book written by Daniel Rasmussen and slated for an early January 2011 release tells the story of the planning and execution of this uprising and its aftermath.
      Rasmussen, a recent Harvard University grad, says he began researching and writing the book about three years ago after stumbling upon the story of the revolt while working on his senior thesis. “In a lot of history about slavery there were only three sentences about this revolt, the largest slave revolt in America,” he told The Louisiana Weekly. “Very little was known about it. The more I came upon this in different books, I said to myself ‘I’ve got to figure this out.’ I’ve done a fair amount of investigative journalism so the idea of looking into something that other people didn’t know about and I think some people have consciously tried to keep secret was really intriguing to me.
      “The more I learned about it, the more fascinated I became,” he continued. “Number one, my thesis was exactly right, this revolt had been covered up for almost 200 years by very powerful people with very strong interests in keeping this secret. As soon as I found that out, I got even more excited.”… – Louisiana Weekly, 12-27-10
    • Nonfiction Chronicle: Robert Dallek: THE LOST PEACE Leadership in a Time of Horror and Hope, 1945-1953 Dallek has written at least one book about each of six different United States presidents: no wonder his latest offering assumes that Great Men really do influence history. Specifically, it indicts World War II’s victorious leaders for resorting to the traditional politics of great-power rivalry rather than imagining unprecedented global cooperation, a metadecision that saddled us with the dangers of the nuclear age. The errors of these men and their successors, Dallek argues, were “not the result of inevitable forces beyond human control; rather, they were the consequence of bad judgments.” But if Dallek proves anything (and he proves a great deal in this excellent book) it is how little room the “most talented and memorable government chiefs in modern history” had to act differently…. – NYT, 1-2-11
    • Glenn W. LaFantasie: The top 12 Civil War books ever written: One great book for each month of 2011, the sesquicentennial of the War Between the States. In any event, here are a dozen books that, for me, tell the story of the Civil War with literary elegance, intellectual gusto and enormous flair….
      12. “The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War” by Bruce Catton
      11. “Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America”: by William E. Gienapp
      10. “Lincoln’s Men: How President Lincoln Became Father to an Army and a Nation”: By William C. Davis
      9. “Grant and Sherman: The Friendship That Won the Civil War”: By Charles Bracelen Flood
      8. “Chancellorsville 1863: The Souls of the Brave”: By Ernest B. (“Pat”) Furgurson
      7. “Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam”: By Stephen W. Sears
      6. “Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches From the Unfinished Civil War”: By Tony Horwitz
      5. “Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory”: By David W. Blight
      4. “This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War”: By Drew Gilpin Faust
      3. “Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era”: By James M. McPherson
      2. “The Destructive War: William Tecumseh Sherman, Stonewall Jackson, and the Americans”: By Charles Royster
      1. “A Stillness at Appomattox”: By Bruce Catton — Salon, 12-26-10
    • Michael Korda: Arabian Knight: HERO The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia Most treatments of Lawrence’s life can be divided into debunkings and hagiographies. “Hero” by Michael Korda, as the title implies, is closer to the latter category. Yet into this baggy but beguiling biography, Korda, the author of several works of history, has also crammed the darker incarnations of Lawrence, the shy depressive, the tortured ascetic, the “odd gnome, half cad — with a touch of genius,” in the words of one of his companions behind Turkish lines. This book, for all its worship of Lawrence, leaves the impression that his heroism lay in a unique brand of personal eccentricity, a refusal to fit into the expectations of others, an unshakable determination to do things his own way, however peculiar and wrong-headed this seemed…. – NYT, 12-24-10 Excerpt
    • David Wootton: GALILEO Watcher of the Skies; J. L. Heilbron: GALILEO: Starry Messenger Inevitably, the serious biographer also mirrors something of himself in depicting his subject. Readers who make it through the occasional eye-glazing geometrical digression in J. L. Heilbron’s “Galileo” will not be surprised to find that the author’s extensive output includes a fresh explication of Euclid. Likewise, the reader of David Wootton’s “Galileo: Watcher of the Skies,” which includes a revisionist chapter on Galileo’s “(un)belief,” as he puts it, will not be surprised to learn that Wootton has written repeatedly about atheism…. – NYT, 12-24-10
    • Henry Louis Gates Jr.: Scholars Say Chronicler of Black Life Passed for White: Renown came to Jean Toomer with his 1923 book “Cane,” which mingled fiction, drama and poetry in a formally audacious effort to portray the complexity of black lives. But the racially mixed Toomer’s confounding efforts to defy being stuck in conventional racial categories and his disaffiliation with black culture made him perhaps the most enigmatic writer associated with the Harlem Renaissance.
      Now Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Harvard scholar, and Rudolph P. Byrd, a professor at Emory University, say their research for a new edition of “Cane” documents that Toomer was “a Negro who decided to pass for white.” They lob this intellectual grenade in their introduction to the book, which W. W. Norton & Company is to publish next month. Their judgment is based on “an analysis of archival evidence previously overlooked by other scholars,” Mr. Byrd and Mr. Gates write, including Toomer’s draft registrations and his and his family’s census records, which they consider alongside his writings and public statements…. – NYT, 12-26-10
    • Joseph J. Ellis: A Marriage That Defied Separation and War: FIRST FAMILY Abigail and John Adams John and Abigail Adams exchanged some 1,200 letters, providing a window into the marriage of this Revolutionary-era power couple. In his new book, “First Family: Abigail and John Adams,” Joseph J. Ellis draws on those letters to create a portrait of a couple forced to spend long months apart….
      But Mr. Ellis — the author of an astute 1993 portrait of John Adams (“Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams”), as well as of books on Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and other members of the Revolutionary generation — uses his easy familiarity with the era to invest his portrait of the couple with authoritative historical perspective. We may not learn anything appreciably new about the Adams family, per se, but in “First Family” Mr. Ellis employs his narrative gifts to draw a remarkably intimate portrait of John and Abigail’s marriage as it played out against the momentous events that marked the birth of a nation…. – NYT, 12-20-10
    • Book Review – The Women Jefferson Loved – By Virginia Scharff: A historian seeks to understand Thomas Jefferson through his relationships with the women in his life.
      Now Virginia Scharff, a professor of history at the University of New Mexico, has sought to understand Jefferson through his relationships with the women he loved: his mother, Jane Randolph; his wife, Martha; his daughters and granddaughters; and his slave mistress, Sally Hemings…. – NYT, 12-19-10
    • Book Review – Decision Points – By George W. Bush: The 43rd president reviews his choices and finds them for the most part good. – There is something very modern, almost New Agey, and endearingly insecure, about the tone and posture the son adopts in “Decision Points.” Even as he’s bombing Baghdad back to the Stone Age, he’s very much in touch with his feelings. In college, he says, he was appalled to learn how the French Revolution betrayed its ideals…. – NYT, 12-19-10 Excerpt
    • David Horowitz: Reforming Our Universities, Reforming Our Universities: The Campaign for an Academic Bill of Rights: Why doesn’t David Horowitz give up? That question will occur to most readers well before they reach the end of his new book. Reforming Our Universities: The Campaign for an Academic Bill of Rights (Regnery, 2010) is a narrative of frustration, disappointment, resurgent optimism, further defeat, and finally the rescuing of small consolation from the wreckage of high hope. For his trouble, Horowitz endures vilification piled on calumny; gets to see his olive branches to the academic Left treated as though they were curare-tipped arrows; and secures the support of allies that range from faint-hearted Chihuahuas to politically clueless puppies.
      So why doesn’t Horowitz give up? For the publication of this volume is ample proof that he hasn’t. And though Horowitz has much to complain about, Reforming Our Universities seems untouched by self-pity. He has indignation to spare, but the spirit of this narrative of his six-year campaign to persuade American universities to embrace fair-minded intellectual inquiry is the spirit of undaunted determination…. – Front Page Mag, 12-20-10
    • ‘Capital Offense’ and ‘Revival’ – Book Reviews: Deeper Looks at the Crisis of ’08 and the Oval Office: Michael Hirsh: CAPITAL OFFENSE How Washington’s Wise Men Turned America’s Future Over to Wall Street; Richard Wolffe: REVIVAL The Struggle for Survival Inside the Obama White House
      Michael Hirsh, in “Capital Offense,” looks at the financial crisis of 2008, and Richard Wolffe delves into the Obama administration anew with “Revival.”
      In fact, the main reason the financial crisis of 2008 occurred, the journalist Michael Hirsh argues in his provocative new book, “Capital Offense,” is that “the people in charge of our economy, otherwise intelligent and capable men like Greenspan, Rubin and Summers — and later Hank Paulson and Tim Geithner — permitted themselves to believe, in the face of a rising tide of contrary evidence, that markets are for the most part efficient and work well on their own.”
      Richard Wolffe’s new book, “Revival” — which argues in passing that “Obama’s economic team was the most dysfunctional group of the president’s advisers” — uses the administration’s efforts to grapple with the country’s fiscal woes and its handling of health care legislation as prisms by which to look at how this White House operates. – NYT, 12-14-10
    • Book Review – Atlantic – By Simon Winchester: ATLANTIC Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories Simon Winchester tells the story of the Atlantic Ocean.
      In “Atlantic,” Winchester attempts to wrap his arms around a subject so vast that it nearly defeats him at the outset. “I wanted so much to write the story of the ocean,” writes the author, an Englishman whose life has been marked by memorable encounters with the gray Atlantic. “But what and where was the structure? I was, as they say, all at sea.”… – NYT, 12-12-10
    • Book Review – Pirates of Barbary – By Adrian Tinniswood: The Shores of Tripoli PIRATES OF BARBARY Corsairs, Conquests, and Captivity in the Seventeenth-Century Mediterranean In the early 19th century, the United States Navy and Marines played a small but significant part in the demise of the Barbary corsairs, the pirates who terrorized the Mediterranean from their bases in Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli and Morocco. As a result, we Americans have tended to view this history through the lens of our own past. Adrian Tinniswood’s dramatic narrative, “Pirates of Barbary,” reminds us that the corsairs had preyed on Europeans long before the United States arrived on the scene. Indeed, they reached the height of their power in the 17th century, not long after the pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock…. – A history of the Barbary pirates who menaced the Mediterranean for three centuries. NYT, 12-12-10
    • Book Review – Why The West Rules — For Now – By Ian Morris: WHY THE WEST RULES — FOR NOW The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future A Stanford historian views the clash between East and West from a long perspective, and argues that we face an immediate choice — East-West cooperation or catastrophe.
      In his new book, he sets out to discover broad patterns, “the overall ‘shape’ of history,” by sifting through the world’s long development process. Following the oscillating forces from prehistory to the present, he shows how both the East and West managed to catalyze themselves at different times and in different ways to progressively new heights of development. But his ultimate challenge is to make sense of all these cycles of rise and fall, the better to judge whether either side was in possession of any innate superiority. His answer to that question is an emphatic no. East and West, he tells us, are just “geographical labels, not value judgments.”… – NYT, 12-12-10
    • DAVID WALDSTREICHER: Book Review – Tories – By Thomas B. Allen: TORIES Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War A Revolutionary War history emphasizes the strangely neglected topic of the Americans who opposed the Revolutionary War. Thomas B. Allen, the author of several books about American warfare, has a strangely neglected topic in the Americans who opposed the Revolutionary War. There hasn’t been a big book about the loyalists since before the Bicentennial.- NYT, 12-12-10 Excerpt
    • Book Review – George Washington’s America – Barnet Schecter: George Washington’s story told using his collection of maps and atlases, probably one of the largest in 18th-century America.
      In GEORGE WASHINGTON’S AMERICA: A Biography Through His Maps, Barnet Schecter aims “to tell Washington’s entire life story” from these fascinating materials. He concentrates on a collection of 43 maps assembled into an atlas, now owned by Yale University, that depict eastern North America from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Supplemented by other maps from the Mount Vernon library, including some drawn by Washington himself, these images provide an unusually rich visual foundation for Schecter’s narrative…. – NYT, 12-5-10
    • Book Review ‘Fragments’ by Marilyn Monroe and ‘Dear Mrs. Kennedy’: By LIESL SCHILLINGER FRAGMENTS Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters By Marilyn Monroe, Edited by Stanley Buchthal and Bernard Comment; Jay Mulvaney and Paul De Angelis: DEAR MRS. KENNEDY A World Shares Its Grief: Letters, November 1963
      Collections of Marilyn Monroe’s private documents and of letters Jackie Kennedy received after her husband’s assassination.
      Two new books refresh the images of two larger-than-life American contemporaries who continue to compel the global imagination half a century after their deaths: Marilyn Monroe, who died of an overdose of sleeping drugs on Aug. 5, 1962, at the age of 36; and President John F. Kennedy, assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, at the age of 46. Unearthing long-buried letters and private documents, these books — “Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters,” edited by Stanley Buchthal and Bernard Comment, and “Dear Mrs. Kennedy: A World Shares Its Grief,” by Jay Mulvaney and Paul De Angelis — attest to the spell these figures cast, in the past and in the present… – NYT, 12-3-10
    • Book Review – Bloodlands – Europe Between Hitler and Stalin – By Timothy Snyder: By JOSHUA RUBENSTEIN
      How Poland, Ukraine, the Baltics and Belarus were victimized by two mass murderers with competing utopian visions. In “Bloodlands,” Snyder concentrates on the area between Germany and Russia (Poland, Ukraine, the Baltic region and Belarus) that became the site of horrific experiments to create competing utopias based on class or race war. For Stalin, this meant controlling “the largest social group in the Soviet Union, the peasantry.” They needed to be driven off small plots of land into more efficient collective farms; many were forced to move to factory zones to sustain rapid industrialization…. – NYT, 11-26-10
    • GEOFFREY C. WARD on Edmund Morris: A Headlong Life: COLONEL ROOSEVELT On the evidence offered in “Colonel Roosevelt,” the third and concluding volume of Edmund Morris’s monumental life of the 26th president, both of my forebears had a point. Morris is a stylish storyteller with an irresistible subject. The seismic personality that one White House visitor said had to be wrung from one’s clothes when leaving Roosevelt’s presence infuses every one of his trilogy’s nearly 2,500 pages…. – NYT, 11-26-10
    • Book Review – And the Show Went On – Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris – By Alan Riding: AND THE SHOW WENT ON Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris In gripping and painful detail, Alan Riding shows how French writers and artists adapted to the Nazis.
      Thirty years ago, while reporting on Latin America for The New York Times, Alan Riding began wondering how artists and writers responded to brutal dictatorships. He then went to live in Paris and realized that not so long before, the French intellectual and cultural elite had provided an answer, in often unlovely ways. “And the Show Went On” describes this history in gripping and painful detail…. – NYT, 11-26-10
    • Michael Korda’s ‘Hero,’ About T. E. Lawrence – Review: The strength of Michael Korda’s new biography of T. E. Lawrence, “Hero,” lies in its ability to analyze its subject’s accomplishments and to add something to the body of Lawrence lore. – NYT, 11-21-10

    HISTORY FEATURES:

    • Gary C. Anderson: Minnesota Execution 150 Years Ago Spurs Calls for Pardon: On Dec. 26, 1862, thirty-eight doomed Dakota Indians wailed and danced atop the gallows, waiting for the trapdoors to drop beneath them. The square scaffold, built here to accommodate the largest mass execution in United States history, swayed under their weight….
      But one man, historians say, did not belong there. A captured Dakota named We-Chank-Wash-ta-don-pee, often called Chaska, had had his sentence commuted by President Abraham Lincoln days earlier. Yet on the day after Christmas 1862, Chaska died with the others. It was a case of wrongful execution, Gary C. Anderson, a history professor at the University of Oklahoma and Little Crow biographer, said last week in an interview. “These soldiers just grabbed the wrong guy,” he said…. – NYT, 12-13-10
    • Historian David Kiehn traces old Bay Area films: David Kiehn has spent most of his life working in film-related jobs. But it wasn’t until he made a remarkable discovery – and was featured on “60 Minutes” – that anyone outside the film community took notice. For years, Kiehn knew about “A Trip Down Market Street,” a 12-minute silent film, shot in San Francisco from a cable car. The Library of Congress dated the film to 1905, but Kiehn suspected otherwise. Studying weather reports, vehicle registration records and show-biz trade publications, he discovered that “Market Street” was in fact shot four days before the great earthquake of April 18, 1906. Suddenly, the film took on a haunting poignancy: We now look at the San Francisco newsboys, the carriage jockeys and the women in elaborate hats, and know that many will soon be dead…. – San Francisco Chronicle, 12-6-10
    • Dan Cohen and Fred Gibbs-helmed digitization project making headway on Victorian literature: Victorians were enamored of the new science of statistics, so it seems fitting that these pioneering data hounds are now the subject of an unusual experiment in statistical analysis. The titles of every British book published in English in and around the 19th century — 1,681,161, to be exact — are being electronically scoured for key words and phrases that might offer fresh insight into the minds of the Victorians.
      This research, which has only recently become possible, thanks to a new generation of powerful digital tools and databases, represents one of the many ways that technology is transforming the study of literature, philosophy and other humanistic fields that haven’t necessarily embraced large-scale quantitative analysis.
      Dan Cohen and Fred Gibbs, the two historians of science at George Mason University who have created the project, have so far charted how frequently more than two dozen words — among them “God,” “love,” “work,” “science” and “industrial” — appear in British book titles from the French Revolution in 1789 to the beginning of World War I in 1914. To Mr. Cohen, the sharply jagged lines that dance across his graphs can be used to test some of the most deeply entrenched beliefs about the Victorians, like their faith in progress and science: “We can finally and truly test these and other fundamental claims that have been at the heart of Victorian studies for generations.”… – NYT, 12-4-10
    • William Quinn: Wreck is doomed schooner: The dean of Cape shipwreck historians thinks the wooden timbers found on Nauset Beach recently belong to the schooner Montclair, a three-masted cargo vessel that broke apart on the outer bars in March 1927. William Quinn of Orleans, said the method of construction of the timbers he has observed at the Nauset Beach wreck site jibes with what he knows about the Montclair, which was bound for New York from Halifax, Nova Scotia, when fate intervened and five men died in icy, storm-churned waters.
      The timbers that emerged on the beach last week have now been covered again by tide and sand. But Quinn cited the presence of tapered dowels and bronze spikes at the wreck site as evidence that it was the Montclair that surfaced from the sand again. The historian was also on scene when the broken remains of the Montclair made an appearance on Nauset Beach in 1957. “I think it’s one and the same,” Quinn said…. – Boston Herald, 11-26-10
    • Christopher Colombowicz: America’s discoverer Polish not Portuguese, claim historians: He is celebrated as the humble Italian weaver who ended up discovering the Americas. But the conventional wisdom relating to Christopher Columbus is under threat after academics concluded the explorer was actually a Polish immigrant. An international team of distinguished professors have completed 20 years of painstaking research into his beginnings…. ‘Another nutty conspiracy theory! That’s what I first supposed as I started to read… I now believe that Columbus is guilty of huge fraud carried out over two decades against his patrons,’ said US historian Prof. James T. McDonough…. Daily Mail (UK) (11-29-10)
    • Cold War Air Defense Relied on Widespread Dispersal of Nuclear Weapons, Documents Show: Washington, D.C., November 16, 2010 – To counter a Soviet bomber attack, U.S. war plans contemplated widespread use of thousands of air defense weapons during the middle years of the Cold War according to declassified documents posted today at the National Security Archive’s Nuclear Vault and cited by a recently published book, Continental Defense in the Eisenhower Era: Nuclear Antiaircraft Arms and the Cold War (Palgrave Macmillan) by historian Christopher J. Bright. The U.S. government publicly acknowledged the facts of the deployments in the 1950s, yet they garnered surprisingly little public opposition, Bright concludes, in disclosing for the first time that air defense weapons comprised as much as one-fifth of the US nuclear arsenal in 1961. Still, nearly 25 years after the United States retired the last of them in 1986, their exact number remains secret…. – National Security Archive at GWU, 11-16-10

    HISTORY PROFILES:

    • Raul Ramos: Texas history professor immerses himself in dorm life: In retrospect, Raul Ramos says his first eight years at the University of Houston were spent in “blissful ignorance.” “I didn’t know how parking works, how the dining halls work, how financial aid works,” said the associate professor of history. “Now I do.” Ramos, 43, is fully immersed in campus life, living in a dorm for the first time in more than two decades, along with his wife, Elizabeth Chiao, and their sons, Noe and Joaquin Ramos Chiao…. – Houston Chronicle (11-28-10)

    HISTORY QUOTES:

    • Alan Brinkley: 111th Congress most productive “since at least the 60s”: The 111th Congress capped its remarkable term – which historian Alan Brinkley called “probably the most productive session of Congress since at least the ’60s” – with a flurry of legislative activity that President Obama described as “the most productive post-election period we’ve had in decades.”… – WaPo, 12-23-10
    • Joseph Crespino: Barbour wrong on Citizens Council claims: Joseph Crespino, an associate professor of history at Emory University, also noted a particular incident in Yazoo City undermining Barbour’s claims. “One of the things the Citizens Council would do is carry out economic harassment — sometimes physical intimidation — against local blacks,” he said. “There was this well-known incident in Yazoo City in the 1950s where a handful of black parents tried to file a lawsuit against a local public school. They lost their jobs because they filed a lawsuit and they participated in the local civil rights movement. So it’s well- documented that the kind of harassment that blacks faced when they tried to desegregate the schools there in Yazoo City.”… – Huff Post, 12-20-10
    • Of Course the Civil War Was About Slavery: Concrete concerns about saving and expanding slavery, and not the nebulous theology of states’ rights, ignited the U.S. Civil War. Why does that message keep getting lost?
      “Of course, when South Carolina did secede, there was enormous celebration, dancing in the streets and so on,” said James McPherson, a Princeton Civil War historian and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning history Battle Cry of Freedom…. “Probably 90 percent, maybe 95 percent of serious historians of the Civil War would agree on the broad questions of what the war was about and what brought it about and what caused it,” McPherson said, “which was the increasing polarization of the country between the free states and the slave states over issues of slavery, especially the expansion of slavery.”…
      In the post-Reconstruction era of national “reunion,” Yale historian David Blight says the country came back together around the idea of the common valor of soldiers on both sides of the war, around a common economy and around the imperial adventures of America as it began to grow into a world power. “But primarily — and this is complex — but primarily the country reunified ultimately by the 1890s and the turn of the 20th century around white supremacy,” Blight said, “around the Jim Crow system, which took deep hold in the South but also in the North.”
      Some historians call this era the most racist in American history — even more so than the age of slavery. This racism, and the new narrative of an unfortunate war between brothers, took hold in popular fiction, in presidential speeches, in monument building. The story of the emancipation of 4 million slaves — and of the 200,000 blacks who fought for the Union army — “all but vanished from the national story by 1900, 1910,” Blight says…. – Miller-McCune, 12-20-10
    • Bob Sutton: Confederacy: 150th Anniversary, Civil War about slavery: Most historians would disagree, and strongly! “Slavery was the principal cause of the U.S. Civil War, period,” said Bob Sutton, chief historian for the National Park Service. “Yes, politics was important. Yes, economics were important. Yes, social issues and states’ rights were important. But when you get to the core of why all these things were important, it was slavery!”… – Atlanta Examiner, 12-11-10
    • Eric Foner: Lincoln’s party is not today’s GOP: Foner is a history professor at Columbia University and has written many acclaimed books on the Civil War period, including “Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men.”… How different is today’s GOP party from the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln?
      It could not be more different. Lincoln in 1860 did not receive a single vote in most of the southern states. His Republican party was the party of opposition to the expansion of slavery and later of emancipation, and a strong federal government protecting the civil and political rights of black Americans. Today the party’s center of gravity is in the South, it opposes most federal initiatives (except defense) and is the inheritor of Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy” aimed almost exclusively at white voters…. – CNN.com, 12-7-10
    • Small-City Congregations Try to Preserve Rituals of Jewish Life: According to Jonathan D. Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, most Jews in the United States have migrated from small communities to large cities: he estimates that 85 percent of the country’s 5.2 million Jews live in 20 metropolitan areas, primarily on the East and West Coasts and in Sun Belt states….
      The process of dismantling a community, experts say, is fraught with potential tensions involving both purse and heartstrings. Mark A. Raider, a professor of modern Jewish history at the University of Cincinnati, cited disagreements over disposition of material assets…. – NYT, 12-1-10

    HISTORY INTERVIEWS:

    • Todd Moye: Segregationist Citizens Councils Were A ‘Terrorist Organization’: So what was Gov. Haley Barbour doing, exactly, when he defended the reputation of the Citizens Councils, a segregationist movement that was formed to oppose the civil rights movement after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision? Barbour released a statement this afternoon, declaring: “My point was my town rejected the Ku Klux Klan, but nobody should construe that to mean I think the town leadership were saints, either. Their vehicle, called the ‘Citizens Council,’ is totally indefensible, as is segregation.” So let’s take a look at exactly who they were.
      Earlier, I asked Todd Moye, an associate professor of history at the University of North Texas, and also the author of Let the People Decide: Black Freedom and White Resistance Movements in Sunflower County, Mississippi, 1945-1986, for his expertise on the matter. He called the councils a “terrorist organization.”… Talking Points Memo, 12-21-10
    • Times Q& A: El Paso historian: Billy the Kid undeserving of a pardon: Bernie Sargent, director of the El Paso County Historical Commission, has researched the legend of Billy the Kid. He has strong opinions about the case…. – El Paso Times, 12-20-10
    • Robert E. May: Professor’s talk looks at Antebellum Christmases in the South: In the pre-Civil War South, Christmas traditions were a lot different than what they are today. The holiday brought out surprising kindness in slave owners, giving their slaves numerous gifts and lavish banquets, according to Purdue University history professor Robert E. May. Still, often these acts of kindness had a dark side to them. May discussed this segment of American history during the holidays at Tippecanoe County Public Library, during his talk, “Christmas in the Confederacy.”
      Question: What was Christmas like in the South before the Civil War? Answer: Churchgoing, shopping and gift-giving were extremely important to Southern whites before the Civil War, and the holiday became crucial in mitigating the possibility of slave revolts in the region. Many masters were remarkably generous to slaves at Christmas, throwing them sumptuous banquets (including astounding amounts of liquor) and giving them many days off from work and many presents — some under a ritual with psychological nuances called “Christmas Gif.” Slave weddings commonly took place over the holidays, for reasons that I will get into at my talk…. – BoilerStation.com, 12-13-10
    • The Last Utopia with Samuel Moyn: The German critic Walter Benjamin once gave a set of satirical pointers about how to write fat books — for example, by making the same point repeatedly, giving numerous examples of the same thing, and writing a long introduction to outline the project, then reminding the reader of the plan as often as possible. Whether or not they are aware of doing so, many academic authors seem to follow his advice closely. Samuel Moyn’s The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History, published by Harvard University Press, is a remarkable exception. Its survey of the legacy of ideas later claimed as cornerstones of the politics of human rights is both dense and lucid; its challenging reassessment of recent history is made in a little over two hundred pages. It’s almost as if the book were written with the thought that people might want to read it. After writing a review of The Last Utopia, I interviewed the author by e-mail; a transcript follows. Moyn is a professor of history at Columbia University and the editor of Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press…. – Inside Higher Ed (12-8-10)
    • Daniel Pipes: “You can’t fight Islamism with ideas coming out of Europe”: Citizen Times: Mr. Pipes, you head various organizations concerning the Middle East and Islam, and are one of the best known American writers on these subjects. How did this all begin for you?
      Daniel Pipes: I am a historian of Islam with a special interest in the role of Islam in public life. I received my Ph.D. in 1978, just as Ayatollah Khomeini appeared. For the first time in modern history, Islam had a large and obvious role in Western public life. What had been in the 1970s an abstract interest turned very practical. Islamic matters subsequently became very topical. That prompted me to transit from medieval history to current events. While I cover many other topics besides Islam, Islam remains central to my interests. I have a perspective I hope is useful to understand the role of Islam in politics.
      Citizen Times: And what is that perspective?
      Daniel Pipes: That Islam is deeply important to the public lives of Muslims. That Islam is a religion of laws, and those laws are quite permanent and universal. That they are not the same everywhere at all times, but the basics are consistent. That there are times of greater emphasis and times of lesser emphasis but Muslims always come back to these laws. Now, of course, is a time of greater emphasis. Islamic laws have far greater power than they had when I entered this field over forty years ago. How does one understand this change; how do Muslims view it, and how does the West respond to it? – these are some of the questions that I focus on…. – Citizen Times (12-1-10)

    HISTORY AWARDS & APPOINTMENTS:

    • 2 historians are chosen for UR’s Eiseman Award: Two historians, connected by the University of Rochester and their love of climbing, are the winners of the Eiseman Writers Award for their book, “Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes.”
      Stewart Weaver, professor of history and department chair at the University, and Maurice Isserman, who received his doctorate in history from the University in 1979 and is a professor of history at Hamilton College in Clinton, are co-authors of this first comprehensive history of Himalayan mountaineering written by professional historians.
      The Eiseman Writers Award celebrates writers from western New York who have been published during the previous two calendar years and comes with a $1,000 prize.
      Hailed as an “awe-inspiring work of history and storytelling,” “Fallen Giants” (Yale University Press, 2008) chronicles 250 years of the international quest to climb the world’s tallest peaks. “Isserman and Weaver,” wrote Bruce Barcott in the New York Times, “brilliantly present the complete picture — the political context, the changing social dynamics, the emergence of modern climbing technique — without losing sight of the need to entertain. ‘Fallen Giants’ absolutely brims with vivid characters, from the Duke of the Abruzzi to George Mallory … hard men and egotists, saints and scoundrels.”… – The Daily News Online, 12-11-10
    • A Leadership Change at the Adirondack Museum: The Board of Directors of the Adirondack Historical Association announced today that Caroline M. Welsh, the Director of the Adirondack Museum since 2007, has been replaced by Michael Lombardi, the current Director of Finance and Operations. Lombardi is being named Interim Director, and Welsh, who has been with the museum since 1987, will become Senior Art Historian and Director Emerita…. – Adirondack Almanack (12-1-10)
    • Walter Muir Whitehill Prize announced by the Colonial Society: In 1990, members of the Colonial Society established a prize of two thousand five hundred dollars, in memory of Walter Muir Whitehill, for many years Editor of Publications for the Colonial Society and the moving force behind the organization. It is be awarded for an outstanding essay on colonial history, not previously published, with preference being given to New England subjects. A distinguished committee of members of the Colonial Society act as judges: Bernard Bailyn, Adams University Professor and James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History, Emeritus, Harvard University; Robert Middlekauff, Hotchkiss Professor of U.S. History, University of California, Berkeley; and Edmund Sears Morgan, Sterling Professor Emeritus, History, Yale University.By arrangement with the editors of The New England Quarterly, the winning essay is published in an appropriate issue of that journal.
      The deadline for receiving submissions for the 2010 prize is 31 December 2010. The Society expects to announce the winning candidate in the spring of 2011. For further information on this prize, please contact the Whitehill Prize Committee, c/o Linda Smith Rhoads, Meserve Hall, Second Floor, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115. – Press Release (12-1-10)
    • Jon Butler to head Univ. libraries: History professor Jon Butler will become Acting University Librarian Dec. 1, just months after stepping down as dean of the Graduate School. Butler, whose six-year term as dean ended this June, was on leave to write a book, but has agreed to assume leadership of Yale’s libraries after the sudden death of University Librarian Frank Turner GRD ’71 from a pulmonary embolism Nov 11. Until a new librarian is found, Butler said he will work full time in the post and will resume his leave of absence at the end of the spring term.
      “I’m very honored that the President would ask me, and I hope I can help…make sure that the library has a sense of leadership and continuity while the University searches for a permanent librarian,” Butler said in an interview last Monday…. – Yale Daily News (11-29-10)

    HISTORY ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

    • Bruce Catton papers now indexed online at the University of Wyoming: An inventory of papers and correspondence of Bruce Catton, widely regarded (along with Shelby Foote) as the most popular of America’s Civil War historians, is now accessible online through the University of Wyoming American Heritage Center. There are no access restrictions on the materials for research purposes, and the collection is open to the public…. A description and inventory for this collection [is now] accessible at http://rmoa.unm.edu/docviewer.php?docId=wyu-ah04032.xml/ University of Wyoming, 12-20-10
    • Black history catalogued at new U. of C. website: ….On Friday at the University of Chicago’s Joseph Regenstein Library, researchers unveiled a new website intended to make it easy for the public and scholars alike to locate these African-American artifacts as well as a host of others in the city from the same period in history…. The website is the “cutting edge portal into discovering primary source materials to study and know black Chicago’s history from the 1930s to the 1970s,” said Jacqueline Goldsby, a former U. of C. professor who headed up the three-year project…. – Chicago Sun-Times, 12-11-10 uncap.lib.uchicago.edu
    • Camelot’s archives, available with the click of a mouse: During a 1962 news conference, a reporter asked President John F. Kennedy if he’d consider locating his presidential library in Washington, D.C., after leaving the White House so scholars and historians would have the broadest possible access to it. No, he replied playfully, “I’m going to put it in Cambridge, Massachusetts.”…
      A four-year, $10 million effort to digitize the JFK Library and Museum’s archives, making hundreds of thousands of documents, photographs, and recordings available online, is nearing completion of its first phase. A formal announcement will come Jan. 13, one week before the 50th anniversary of JFK’s inauguration, at a press conference in the nation’s capitol.
      “Access to a Legacy,” as the project is called, marks the first time a presidential library established in the paper age has fully committed itself to the digital era. The amount of material to be posted online in January is huge — 200,000 pages of text, 1,500 photos, 1,250 files of audio recordings and moving images, and 340 phone conversations totaling 17 1/2 hours — but represents just a small portion of the collection….
      Presidential historian Robert Dallek, who has made liberal use of the Kennedy archives, said the primary payoff is reaching the largest possible international audience. “What this means is, people in Japan or Germany can have access to [JFK’s] office files, and that’s a splendid step forward.” Other presidential libraries will probably follow suit, he added, “because they don’t want to expire, so to speak. Plus, there’s still tremendous interest in subjects like World War II, Vietnam, and the New Deal.”… – Boston Globe (11-28-10)
    • THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY MAKES ITS MOST IMPORTANT COLLECTIONS RELATING TO SLAVERY AVAILABLE ONLINE: Rich trove of material becomes easily accessible at www.nyhistory.org/slaverycollection The New-York Historical Society is proud to announce the launch of a new online portal to nearly 12,000 pages of source materials documenting the history of slavery in the United States, the Atlantic slave trade and the abolitionist movement. Made readily accessible to the general public for the first time at www.nyhistory.org/slaverycollections, these documents from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries represent fourteen of the most important collections in the library’s Manuscript Department….
    • Understanding the Iran-Contra Affairs,” is the only comprehensive website on the famous Reagan-era government scandal, which stemmed from the U.S. government’s policies toward two seemingly unrelated countries, Nicaragua and Iran. Despite stated and repeated denials to Congress and to the public, Reagan Administration officials supported the militant contra rebels in Nicaragua and sold arms to a hostile Iranian government. These events have led to questions about the appropriateness of covert operations, congressional oversight, and even the presidential power to pardon…. – irancontra.org
    • Thousands of Studs Terkel interviews going online: The Library of Congress will digitize the Studs Terkel Oral History Archive, according to the agreement, while the museum will retain ownership of the roughly 5,500 interviews in the archive and the copyrights to the content. Project officials expect digitizing the collection to take more than two years…. – NYT, 5-13-10
    • Digital Southern Historical Collection: The 41,626 scans reproduce diaries, letters, business records, and photographs that provide a window into the lives of Americans in the South from the 18th through mid-20th centuries.

    HISTORIANS SPOTTED:

    • Doris Kearns Goodwin makes puzzling remark on CBS Social Security special: If there were prizes given for the most one-sided, misleading story about Social Security this year, a segment aired on the CBS Evening News before Thanksgiving would make a great candidate. In a breathless recitation of the horrors befalling the system, CBS painted a grim picture of Social Security, using scare words and phrases like “the system is headed for a crisis,” “the government is confronting a painful reality,” and “there’s no debating that we’re running out of time.” How’s that for opinion journalism on a news show?… CBS presented a puzzling remark from historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who must have been consulted for a sound bite because she knew something about FDR, the father of Social Security; or maybe she was tapped in an effort to give “balance” to the piece without bringing on experts who might have known the ins and outs of the subject.
      Kearns Goodwin said that one reason Social Security was established was to get older workers to retire so younger ones could get jobs; she told viewers that “it’s ironic today that we’re in the opposite direction in wanting older people to work longer, so that we can afford to keep paying them.” Gosh! That makes it sound like the main reason they should work longer is just to get a government handout. Kearns Goodwin doesn’t come to my mind as a Social Security expert, and apparently she doesn’t understand that older workers hang onto their jobs because they must, given the demise of good employer-provided pensions, the inadequacy of 401(k) plans, and the difficulty of moving around the workplace when you’re older…. – Columbia Journalism Review (11-29-10)
    • Presidential historian Edmund Morris curses, calls Americans ‘lazy and obese’: Presidential biographer Edmund Morris delivered one of the more, well, colorful lines on this week’s Sunday morning shows. On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” host Bob Schieffer, anchoring an authors roundtable discussion with the likes of Bob Woodward and Arianna Huffington, kept engaging the panelists in discussion about how America’s Founding Fathers would have felt about today’s political climate. “What would Teddy Roosevelt think of today’s politics, Edmund?” “You keep asking these presentist questions,” said the Kenyan-born, British-accented historian. “As the immortal Marisa Tomei said in ‘My Cousin Vinny,’ ‘That’s a b——t question!'” Morris said, relishing the word as network censors bleeped him out…. – Politico (11-28-10)

    HISTORY ON TV:

    HISTORY BEST SELLERS (NYT):

    UPCOMING HISTORY BOOK RELEASES:

    • Alison Weir: The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, (Paperback), December 28, 2010
    • T. Harry Williams: Lincoln and His Generals, (Paperback), January 11, 2011
    • Robert Wright: Our Man in Tehran: The Truth Behind the Secret Mission to Save Six Americans during the Iran Hostage Crisis and the Ambassador Who Worked with the CIA to Bring Them Home, (Hardcover), January 11, 2011
    • Jay M. Shafritz: Classics of Public Administration, (Paperback), January 14, 2011
    • Petra Pertici: Battle of San Romano: A Day in History, (Paperback), January 16, 2011
    • Alan Bennett: Captain Roy Brown: The Definitive Biography, Including His Encounter with the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen, (Hardcover), January 16, 2011
    • Douglas Brinkley: The Quiet World: Saving Alaska’s Wilderness Kingdom, 1879-1960, (Hardcover), January 18, 2011
    • Lawrence Goldstone: Inherently Unequal: The Betrayal of Equal Rights by the Supreme Court, 1865-1903, (Hardcover), January 18, 2011
    • Michael G. Long: Marshalling Justice: The Early Civil Rights Letters of Thurgood Marshall, (Hardcover), January 18, 2011
    • Edward G. Lengel: Inventing George Washington: America’s Founder, in Myth and Memory, (Hardcover), January 18, 2011
    • Ron Reagan: My Father at 100, January 18, 2011
    • Deborah Blum: The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York, (Paperback), January 25, 2011
    • Peter N. Stearns: World Civilizations: The Global Experience (New Edition), (Hardcover), January 28, 2011
    • Barbara F. Stokes: Myrtle Beach: A History, 1900-1980, (Paperback), January 28, 2011
    • Donald A. Clark: The Notorious “Bull” Nelson: Murdered Civil War General (1st Edition), (Hardcover), January 31, 2011
    • Michael D. Coe: The Maya (Eighth Edition), (Paperback), January 31, 2011
    • Molly Caldwell Crosby: Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic That Remains One of Medicine’s Greatest Mysteries, (Paperback), February 1, 2011
    • Jonathan Gill: Harlem: The Four Hundred Year History from Dutch Village to Capital of Black America, (Hardcover), February 1, 2011
    • Amy Louise Wood: Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940, (Paperback), February 1, 2011
    • David Eisenhower: Going Home to Glory: A Memoir of Life with Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961-1969, (Hardcover), February 2, 2011
    • Frederick Brown: For the Soul of France: Culture Wars in the Age of Dreyfus, (Paperback), February 8, 2011
    • Donald Rumsfeld: Known and Unknown: A Memoir, (Hardcover), February 8, 2011
    • Holger H. Herwig: The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World, (Paperback), February 8, 2011
    • Christopher Corbett: The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West (Reprint), (Paperback), February 8, 2011
    • Justin Fox: The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street, (Paperback), February 8, 2011

    HISTORIANS PASSINGS:

    • Jacqueline de Romilly, Studied Greek Culture, Dies at 97: Jacqueline de Romilly, one of France’s leading scholars of Greek civilization and language and only the second woman to be elected to the Académie Française, died on Saturday in the Paris suburb Boulogne-Billancourt. She was 97…. – NYT, 12-20-10
    • J. M. Hagopian, Who Told of Armenian Genocide, Dies at 97: J. Michael Hagopian, a survivor of the Armenian genocide who came to the United States from Turkey after World War I, studied filmmaking and made a series of documentaries based on interviews with hundreds of other survivors, died on Dec. 10 at his home in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He was 97…. – NYT, 12-20-10
    • Dan Kurzman, Military Historian, Is Dead at 88: Dan Kurzman, who wrote military histories that illuminated little-known incidents in World War II and an exhaustively reported account of the first Arab-Israeli war, died Dec. 12 in Manhattan. He was 88 and lived in North Bergen, N.J…. – NYT, 12-24-10
    • Historian Donald Curl, an original FAU faculty member, dies at 75: Donald Walter Curl, an original faculty member at Florida Atlantic University and a Florida historian considered the expert on Addison Mizner architecture, died Saturday after battling lymphoma for three years. He was 75. Born in East Liberty, Ohio, Curl received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Ohio State University, where he studied American history. He moved to Boca Raton in 1964 to teach history at FAU, where he was one of 60 original faculty members, and remained there until his retirement in 2004…. – Palm Beach Post, 12-6-10
    • Bob DeArmond: Noted Southeast Alaska historian dies: Bob DeArmond, a prolific writer about the history of Alaska and one of the founding fathers of the city of Pelican, died Friday at home in Sitka. He was 99. DeArmond also wrote for several Southeast Alaska publications, including the Empire and the Ketchikan Daily News…. Juneau Empire, 11-29-10
    • Margaret T. Burroughs, Archivist of Black History, Dies at 95: Margaret T. Burroughs, a founder of the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago, one of the first museums devoted to black history and culture in the United States, died on Sunday in Chicago. She was 95. Her death was confirmed by her grandson Eric Toller…. – NYT, 11-27-10
    • Raymond Ward: Founder of Chicago’s DuSable Museum dies: A founder of one of the oldest African-American history museums in the country has died. A spokesman for the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago, Raymond Ward, says Margaret Burroughs died in her sleep at her Chicago home Sunday morning at age 93. President Barack Obama said in a statement that Burroughs was “widely admired for her contributions to American culture as an esteemed artist, historian, educator, and mentor.”… – WaPo, 11-22-10

    History Buzz April 20, 2009: Did Lincoln Have Cancer?

    HISTORY BUZZ:

    POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

    BIGGEST NEWS STORIES:

    • Test of Lincoln DNA sought to prove cancer theory: John Sotos has a theory about why Abraham Lincoln was so tall, why he appeared to have lumps on his lips and even why he had gastrointestinal problems. The 16th president, he contends, had a rare genetic disorder — one that would likely have left him dead of cancer within a year had he not been assassinated. And his bid to prove his theory has posed an ethical and scientific dilemma for a small Philadelphia museum in the year that marks the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. – AP, 4-17-09
    • OAH Roundup: Highlights from the 2009 Annual Meeting of the Organization of American Historians – HNN
    • Remembering the late Prof. John Hope Franklin – Chicago Defender, 4-15-09

    THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

    IN THE NEWS:

    OP-EDs & BLOGS:

    REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

    • Steven P. Miller: God and Politics BILLY GRAHAM AND THE RISE OF THE REPUBLICAN SOUTH NYT, 4-19-09
    • Alexis Dudden: Impact of apologies on world politics focus of historian’s book Troubled Apologies Among Japan, Korea, and the United States UConn Advance, 4-17-09
    • Judith Schafer: Tulane historian delves into world of New Orleans’ 19th-century sex trade Brothels, Depravity, and Abandoned Women: Illegal Sex in Antebellum New Orleans The Times-Picayune – NOLA.com, 4-15-09

    QUOTES:

    • Robert J. Allison “The Media Equation Cable Wars Are Killing Objectivity”: “The original tea party was something of a media event,” said Robert J. Allison, professor and chair of the history department at Suffolk University and author of “The Boston Tea Party.” “The papers at the time were very politicized and did a lot of campaigning during the run-up to the event.” He added: “When you think about it, they could have done worse than a bag of tea in terms of symbols. As a historian, I am charmed and fascinated that something that provoked the original revolution still has such resonance.” – NYT, 4-20-09
    • Alan Brinkley “They Don’t Make Populism in the U.S. Like They Used To”: “Today, populism is a kind of sentiment that bursts into view in times like these, but there is no real movement behind it,” said Columbia University historian Alan Brinkley. “The public just doesn’t mobilize around issues in the way it once did.” – WSJ, 4-19-09
    • Allan Meltzer: Federal Reserve Historian says Ben Bernanke will Bring us 1970s Inflation – Foxhound, 4-15-09
    • Nick Taylor “W.P.A. Projects Left Their Stamp on the Region”: Bethpage State Park and the old Jersey City Medical Center were expanded with labor provided by the Works Progress Administration, one of the vaunted New Deal programs that put millions of people to work around the country during the Great Depression. They make up what the historian Nick Taylor called the “invisible legacy” of Depression-era public works projects in the New York region. “That legacy is all around us,” said Mr. Taylor, author of “American-Made: The Enduring History of the W.P.A.” “We just don’t see it because we take it for granted.” – NYT, 4-19-09
    • Natalie A. Naylor “W.P.A. Projects Left Their Stamp on the Region”: “There’s this stereotype that people who worked for the W.P.A. were all raking leaves,” said Natalie A. Naylor, emeritus professor of history at Hofstra University and former director of the university’s Long Island Studies Institute. “That’s not really accurate at all. You had music programs and art programs in addition to construction projects.” – NYT, 4-19-09
    • Stephen Leishman “Historians: Don’t Forget Founding Fathers”: “We know him as a quiet man, but a powerful advocate of liberty in his writings,” said historian Stephen Leishman. Jefferson was not just a statesman, he was also a scientist, philosopher inventor and musician. “In today’s history, we kind of push back the importance of our founding fathers,” said Leishman. They say Obama could still learn a lot from Jefferson’s presidency, especially when it comes to education. “Because of all of his work for our liberties, and his emphasis on education, we have free education for everybody in the U.S.,” said Leishman. – News 8, 4-13-09

    PROFILES & FEATURES:

    INTERVIEWS:

    HONORS, AWARDED &APPOINTED:

    SPOTTED:

    EVENTS CALENDAR:

    • April 20, 2009: Clifford E. Trafzer, UC Riverside professor of history and Rupert Costo Chair in American Indian Affairs, will discuss his research about the incident on Monday, April 20, at 6 p.m. at the Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, 17 W. Hays St., Banning. – UC Riverside, 4-9-09
    • May 2, 2009 The War of 1812 Revisited at Conference: The Fort La Présentation Association of Ogdensburg, NY is sponsoring a War of 1812 War College Saturday, May 2, 2009 – Press Release, 4-1-09

    ON TV:

    • PBS, Tuesday at 10 p.m: Television: HIGHLIGHT AMERICAN FUTURE: A HISTORY BY SIMON SCHAMA – Globe & Mail, 4-10-09
    • PBS, Monday April 20, at 9pm: Seeing History Through Indians’ Eyes: “We Shall Remain” NYT, 4-12-09 (pbs.org/wgbh/amex/weshallremain)
    • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
    • PBS American Experience: Mondays at 9pm
    • History Channel: Weekly Schedule
    • History Channel: “Life After People: The Bodies Left Behind” – Tuesday, April 21, 2009 and Friday, April 24, 2009 at 10pm ET/PT and Sunday, April 26, 2009 at 9pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Return of the Pirates”, “Shadow Force: Pirate Strike” – Saturday, April 25, 2009 at 8-11pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Decoding The Past: Doomsday 2012: The End of Days” – Sunday, April 26, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: ” Battles BC: Ramses: Raging Chariots ” – Sunday, April 26, 2009 at 10pm ET/PT

    BEST SELLERS (NYT):

    COMING SOON BOOKS:

    • Vincent Bzdek, Kennedy Legacy: Jack, Bobby and Ted and a Family Dream Fulfilled, April 27, 2009
    • Alex Storozynski, Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Revolution, April 28, 2009
    • Thomas Childers: Soldier from the War Returning: The Greatest Generation’s Troubled Homecoming from World War II, May 13, 2009
    • Simon Schama, American Future: A History, May 19, 2009
    • Geoffrey Blainey, Sea of Dangers: Captain Cook and His Rivals in the South Pacific, May 25, 2009
    • Douglas Brinkley, Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, 1858-1919, June 30, 2009

    DEPARTED:

    June 30-September 11, 1862: Confederate Eugenia Phillips is sentenced to Ship Island by “the Beast” General Butler

    Eugenia Levy Phillips in her later years

    Eugenia Levy Phillips in her later years

    On this day in history… June 30, 1862 to September 11, 1862 Eugenia Levy Phillips, an ardent Confederate was arrested and sentenced to time on Ship Island, Mississippi because she laughed during a Union soldier’s funeral procession in New Orleans.

    During the Civil War, women in the South contributed on many levels to the cause through volunteer work, as war supply collectors, sewing circles, and nursing, but the far more committed chose to rebel against the Union officials. Many Southern women took advantage of the new politicizing position the war granted women by demonstrating their loyalty to the South through fiercer methods, often through illegal means including, smuggling, espionage, and belligerency. Phoebe Pember summed up Southern women’s devotion best when she wrote, “women of the South had been openly and violently rebellious from the moment they thought their states’ rights touched. They incited the men to struggle in support of their views, and whether right or wrong, sustained them nobly to the end. They were the first to rebel – and the last to succumb.” (Rosen, 44)

    The South’s small Jewish population adamantly sided with their Southern neighbors and so did their women. The majority of these Jewish women were not recent immigrants, but American born and shared the lifestyle and values of their Christian counterparts. As Hasia Diner and Beryl Lieff Benderly write “Rosana [Osterman], the Levy sisters, and the Natchez M[a]yer daughters were not, of course, recent immigrants but rather the American-born descendants of earlier migrant generations. But they, like Jews throughout the country, both newly arrived and long established, saw themselves as wholehearted Americans and fashioned their lives and identities in response to an American reality quite unlike anything Jews had ever experienced elsewhere.” (Diner and Benderly, 106) These women were Jewish southern belles and lived their lives accordingly.

    These Southern Jewish women were integrated in Southern society, and were attached to lifestyle they had become accustomed to, and as the war demonstrated Southerners and the Confederacy were more tolerant of Jews than the Union army that ravaged the South, Southern Jewish recognized this and devotedly aligned themselves with their beloved South at all costs. As the doyen of American Jewish history Jacob Rader Marcus writes, “The Southern Jewesses were fanatically, almost hysterically, passionate in their sympathies for their new regime. Were they trying to prove that they were more ardent than their neighbors? Why?” (Marcus, 31)

    The Levys were a prominent Southern Jewish family and once the Civil War broke-out; they were loyal to the Confederate cause. Two of the sisters, Eugenia Levy Phillips and her younger sister Phoebe Yates Levy Pember would be remembered in history as ardent Confederates, expressing their devotion at opposite extremes. Phoebe Pember took up nursing the wounded confederates; one of the more common and respectable ways Southern women showed their devotion. She was one of the South’s most remembered female hospital matrons and nurse in the largest military hospital in Confederacy during the Civil War. Pember was the chief matron at Hospital Number Two at Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, from 1862 to 1865. Pember’s older sister Eugenia however, was such an ardent Confederate that her devotion to the cause showed no boundaries, and she is remembered for supposedly being a Confederate spy and for rebelling against the one of the Union’s fiercest generals, Benjamin Butler, who was as known for his hatred of Confederacy as much as his anti-Semitic attitudes.

    Eugenia Levy Phillips was born in Charleston in 1819, and was the daughter of Jacob Clavius Levy, a merchant, and Fanny Yates Levy, an actress. She married U.S. Congressman Philip Phillips of Mobile, Alabama when she was 16, and went on to have nine children. Phillips was a leading figure in Alabama politics from the 1830s to the 1850s when he was elected to the United States Congress in 1852. After one term in Congress, he established a law practice in Washington, D.C. where the Phillips remained in Washington throughout the Southern states secession from the Union. Eugenia and her husband differed greatly in their political beliefs; Phillips was a Unionist, while Eugenia was probably one of the fiercest secessionists in the District of Columbia. Eugenia also socialized with other secessionists and women suspected of spying on the Union for the Confederacy, particularly Rose O’Neal Greenhow, well-known Confederate spy. Eugenia Phillips writing in journal claimed, “American women knew nothing of war, believed less in the cruelties and fearful vindictiveness of the Federal governm[en]t. Thus the Southern women gave free expression to the feelings which habit had made but second nature, and spoke of their hatred and determination to sustain their rights by encouraging in their husbands, sons, and fathers every resistance to tyranny exhibited by the Republicans.” (Journal of Mrs. Eugenia Levy Phillips, 1861-1862)

    Eugenia’s associations and excessive antagonism toward the Union made her a target for government surveillance. On August 24, 1861, Federal officers came into Eugenia and Phillip Phillips home arresting the both of them. Phillip remained under house arrest for a week, but Eugenia and two of their daughters, Fanny and Caroline as well as Eugenia’s sister Martha Levy where taken to Rose Greenhow’s house to be imprisoned. The Union arrested Greenhow the previous day for relaying to Confederate General McDowell plans for the first Manassas Campaign. There all five women remained imprisoned in two rooms in Greenhow’s attic with hardly any amenities. Eugenia Phillips described it in her journal, “The stove (broken) served us for table and washstand, while a punch bowl grew into a washbasin. Two filthy straw mattresses kept us warm, and Yankee soldiers were placed at our bedroom door to prevent our escape.” (Journal of Mrs. Eugenia Levy Phillips, 1861-1862)

    Despite the fact that Union officers had no evidence to charge her and her family they for a crime, they still kept them imprisoned occasionally allowing Phillip Phillips who had since been released to visit and bring food baskets, albeit under strict Union supervision. Eugenia believed her loyalty to her country should not be considered a crime to imprison her for, writing in her memoir she claimed; “Again I ask what is my crime? If an ardent attachment to the land of my birth and expression of deepest sympathy with relatives and friends in the South constitute treason -than I am indeed a traitor. If hostility towards black Republicanism, its sentiment and policy-it is a crime-and I am self-condemned…!”  Rosen, 288

    Southern women were outraged at the North’s treatment of women with no reason, especially the imprisonment of Eugenia’s two daughters. Phillips had to use his influence with Edward Stanton, Senator Reverdy Johnson from Maryland, and Supreme Court Justice James M. Wayne who was the former mayor of Savannah to secure his family’s release. However, the Union exiled the Phillips family from the nation’s capital and forced them to relocate to the Southern states. The whole family was also required to take an oath as a condition of their parole to “not to take illegal actions against the Union”

    It would not very long for Eugenia to again to make a breech of that agreement, after leaving Washington, to they first traveled to Norfolk, Virginia and then on to Richmond through Savannah and eventually settled in New Orleans in the closing weeks of 1861. Although conditions were unfavorable for Phillip to create a law practice, the family settled there because the Phillips believed they were safe from the Union army invasion in the Deep South, and therefore Eugenia would be safe from suspicion. By April however, the Union army was closing in on the Mississippi River, and News Orleans surrendered on April 29, 1862.

    By May 1, 1862, Major General Benjamin F. Butler of Massachusetts took over command of the city. Butler tried to control the city with an iron fist, known as “beast” Butler’s barbaric behavior proceeded him and the historian Bertram Wallace Korn describes Butler as a “conniving careerist and political opportunist of major proportions, who was given the title of “Beast” by the Confederacy for his severity during the early military occupation of New Orleans.” (Korn, 164) While historian Robert Rosen writes, “‘Beast’ Butler was the worst, the Union Army had to offer. He was nicknamed spoons for thiefery of spoons and silverware imputed to him and his soldiers.” (Rosen, 290)

    In addition to this reputation as a beast, Butler was also a known anti-Semite, who throughout the war openly expressed his hatred for Jews, and he let out most this aggression on Southern Jewry. Korn transcribes Butler’s sentiments towards Jews, “They were a tightly-knit and highly-organized nation who set themselves apart and defended themselves against others even when one of their group was wrong. They were all ‘traders, merchants, and bankers.’ He said that the only Jews he ever knew had ‘been principally engaged in the occupations [i.e. smuggling] which caused the capture which has occasioned this correspondence.’ They were supporting the Confederacy with whole heart – ‘two of them certainly are in the Confederate Cabinet.'” (Korn, 164)

    When General Butler occupied New Orleans in May 1862, the Southern population treated the Yankees with such contempt that they refused to comply with Federal orders. Southerners formed mobs to attack Union soldiers; they refused to serve Yankees in their businesses; priests refused to pray for the President of the United States, and one man was even sentenced to be hung for burning the Union flag. Despite the harsh punishments the Yankee soldiers issued to New Orleans’ men, the women of New Orleans believed these rules did not apply to them, that they were exempt from all harsh treatments because of their gender. Many of New Orleans’ women ran amuck being extremely belligerent to Union officials.

    The majority of the women who acted in this manner were upper class. As historian Drew Gilpin Faust writes, Butler “recognized that the perpetrators were generally young, often ‘pretty and interesting,’ and frequently socially prominent, the kind of individuals who would attract both attention and sympathy if harsh measures turned them into martyrs. (Faust, 209) At the same time, however, Butler knew he had to control their actions, for as Butler recalled in his memoir, “a city could hardly be said to be under good government where such things were permitted.” (Butler, 417) On May 15 in retaliation to the women’s disrespectful behavior Butler issued his infamous General Order No. 28, known as the “Women order.” Butler designed the order to force the women of New Orleans to practice restraint and avoid having hostile outbursts towards Yankee soldiers, or they would face dire consequences:

    General Order No. 28. As the officers and soldiers of the United States have been subject to repeated insults from the women (calling themselves ladies) of New Orleans . . . it is ordered that hereafter when any female shall, by word, gesture, or movement, insult or show contempt for any officer or soldier of the United States, she shall be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman of the town plying her avocation. (Butler, 421, 418; Faust, 210).

    The order put Eugenia Phillips in danger of yet again being imprisoned because of her fierce loyalty to the Confederacy, and her utter disregard and respect for the Union. Phillips was vulnerable to Butler’s wrath, because she was Jewish and a member of the city’s Confederate aristocracy, both of which Butler despised. In attempt to avoid Butler’s anger Eugenia and the Phillips family remained for the most part at home. However, Eugenia still managed to fall into Butler’s fury. The Phillips’ house was situated next to the city hall, and the day of Union Officer Lieutenant DeKay’s funeral procession passed by the street, Butler caught Eugenia blurting out in laughter and cheering on the terrace of her home. As Benjamin Butler biographer Hans L. Trefousse writes “High spirited and intensely loyal to the Confederacy, she had been in trouble before when she was apprehended for espionage in Washington. This time, not espionage but merriment was to prove her undoing.” (Trefousse, 118)

    Although Eugenia denied she laughed because or at of the funeral procession. There have been two accounts explaining why she was laughing. First Eugenia’s daughter Caroline claims it was because Eugenia heard of a Confederate victory and was in a celebratory mood, while other accounts including Eugenia’s own excuse, claim she was laughing at the antics of her younger children at a children’s party. At first when Butler called her to the Customs House, as Rosen writes, “Eugenia, active in raising money for the widow of a man executed by Butler for having hauled down the flag from the federal mint, believed she was being prosecuted for her pro-Southern beliefs.” (Rosen, 291) At the Customs House Butler screamed at Eugenia, “You are seen laughing and mocking at the remains of a Federal officer. I do not call you a common woman of the town, but an uncommonly vulgar one, and I sentence you to Ship Island for the War.” Eugenia reply further angered Butler as she wrote “Again my insolence aroused this son of liberty, particularly as in reply to his accusation I had said: ‘I was in good spirits the day of the funeral.'” (Journal of Mrs. Eugenia Levy Phillips, 1861-1862)

    Eugenia’s response and her refusal to plead and beg Butler led to her harsh punishment rather than her original crime. As she explained in her journal, “I noted that he took a mighty long time to write my sentence, and I suspected that he hoped by delay I would throw myself on his mercy, or beg his pardon, or promise never to do so again. Nothing of this kind ever crossed my brain, and, full of holy indignation and determination to meet with silent contempt this outrageous insult, I quietly folded my arms and looked on him while he wrote. Not a word of appeal or explanation broke the ominous silence. My accuser had made the charge and sentenced me without judge or jury.” (Journal of Mrs. Eugenia Levy Phillips, 1861-1862)

    Butler wrote in Special Order No. 150 delineating Eugenia Phillips’ sentence, “…having been once imprisoned for her traitorous proclivities and acts at Washington, and released by the clemency of the Government, and having been found training her children to spit on officers of the United States, for which act of one of those children both her husband and herself apologized and were again forgiven, [she] is now found on the balcony of her house during the passage of the funeral procession of Lieut. DeKay, laughing and mocking at his remains, and upon being inquired of by the Commanding General if this fact were so, contemptuously replies, “I was in good spirits that day.” Korn, 164; Special Order No. 150

    Trefousse believes Eugenia’s punishment was a result of Butler’s anti-Semitism “It is possible that Butler’s severity toward the lady had something to do with the fact that she was Jewish while he was anti-Semitic.” However, Eugenia’s reactions were not only pro-Confederate but she also personally resented Butler, and his disregard and disrespect for Southern white womanhood. Thomas Cooper DeLeon a friend of the Phillips family described Eugenia’s resentment in his memoir, Belles, Beaux, and Brains of the 60’s: “But in truth it was Mrs. Phillips’s contempt of the general and her cool sarcasm that caused her imprisonment. Haled before him, she laughed equally at the charge and at his authority to war on women.”  Rosen, 88

    Butler ordered Eugenia to remain on Ship Island situated off the Mississippi coast and a known yellow fever quarantine station; the island was a mosquito filled placed. In the summer, the heat could be fatal while hygiene and proper food was hard to come by. Eugenia described what her sentence and life imprisoned would be like; “I listened in respectful attention to my banishment to Ship Island, to be fed on soldiers’ rations, to be denied communication with everyone, to be allowed one servant to cook my rations, and a few other humane emanations.” (Journal of Mrs. Eugenia Levy Phillips, 1861-1862) Butler allowed Eugenia to have one servant to accompany and attend to her during her imprisonment, and she took her loyal servant Phebe with her. She was also not allowed to communicate with anyone but Butler and her maid, any letters she wrote her family were reviewed by Union guards, and only after she was freed did her family truly learn about her living conditions on the island.

    On June 30, 1862 Eugenia commenced her imprisonment, first living in a former railroad boxcar and then in an abandoned post office building. Butler allowed Mr. Phillips to send Eugenia some food mostly beans and spoiled beef, and she would not have survived with Phebe’s assistance. The harsh conditions took a heavy toll on Eugenia Phillips; the rotten conditions including the deprivation of food nearly destroyed her health, and Eugenia suffered from brain fever, which was considered nervous exhaustion. Her continued pride and loyalty to the Confederacy was the main reason Butler did not released Eugenia earlier. As she writes in her journal, “The “great” Gen. Butler sent once a week to inquire after my health. He, no doubt, hoped I would at last cringe and beg. Thank God, who gave me strength and patience to keep me from this black stain.” (Journal of Mrs. Eugenia Levy Phillips, 1861-1862)

    September 11, 1862, after nearly three months on Ship Island, Butler finally released Eugenia. When she arrived home when her husband opened the door for her , and believed as Eugenia later wrote, Phillip “thought it was my ghost,” he was not certain she was still alive by that point. (Journal of Mrs. Eugenia Levy Phillips, 1861-1862) Publicly while she was imprisoned her whereabouts were vague, as Eugenia explains, “Butler gave out the idea that I had been “released after a few days’ confinement,” so that everyone, including my family in Georgia, believed that I was safe.” (Journal of Mrs. Eugenia Levy Phillips, 1861-1862)

    Throughout her time there, Eugenia was able to send out a few letters to her family, which described the “gruesome” and inhuman conditions she was forced to live in; these letters according to George Rable “made her imprisonment a cause célèbre.” Eugenia’s imprisonment caused uproar from Southerners, those who knew Eugenia and those who did not. The press throughout the country carried the story. Most people believed the sentence was too harsh for the crime. Korn explains, “The war which Butler waged upon this Jewess and other Southern women made him the Confederacy’s “Public Enemy Number One,” with a price upon his head.” (Korn, 164) The citizens of New Orleans visited the Phillips’ family home as a sign of support.

    The Jewish community and other Southern women abhorred the treatment that Eugenia was receiving at the hands of Butler. Mary Chesnut, a Christian friend of Eugenia Phillips wrote in A Diary from Dixie, “Mrs. Phillips, another beautiful and clever Jewess, has been put in prison again by “Beast” Butler for laughing as a Yankee funeral procession went by.” (Chesnut, 266) There was even talk of Southerners planning to rescue Eugenia. According to Trefousse “It was a sentence as harsh as it was sensational. Southerners talked of rescuing the lady, but they lacked the necessary ships and found it impossible to carry out their chivalrous plan. Butler pardoned her in September, two and a half months after her arrest, but this action did not dispel the popular belief that he was a cruel tyrant.” Trefousse, 118

    Butler regretted that Eugenia’s imprisonment had the opposite affect than he wanted to project. He wanted to make Eugenia’s treasonous behavior towards the Union an example of what happened to women who display such behavior just because they are women and believed they were beyond punishment. Instead, as Rable writes Butler turned “an irksome rebel into a martyr,” which was the main reason he chose to release her from Ship Island. Eugenia Phillips according to Rable “had shown considerable public relations acumen, and her prison journal reveals an ironic sense of humor, especially in her wry proposal to use a steam device to pump moisture into the rock-hard bread. Though not exactly besting Butler, she had played the wily Massachusetts politician to a draw.” (Clinton, 142) Despite the cruel punishment that awaited her, Eugenia remained loyal to the Confederacy. As William Garett noted “her proud Southern spirit never quailed and she remained firm to the last in the opinions she had expressed.” (Rosen, 293)

    Eugenia Levy Phillips’ devotion to the Confederacy appeared “unquestionable,” as Lauren Winner describes, Eugenia’s actions were beyond what was required of any Southern women supporting the war. Although Eugenia was Jewish and a practicing Jew, she saw herself especially during the war as primarily a Southerner who would support her country at all costs, which she did. As a white Southern women fully integrated in Southern society, and acquainted with the Christian elite of Confederate society including Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ wife, she did not believe the imprisonments she endured was too much, because it was all done for her country. Eugenia Phillips as Winner explains, “was so unswerving in her devotion to the Confederate cause that the Union suspected her of being a spy.” (Clinton, 195) Eugenia Phillips and her sister Phoebe Pember have been the Southern Jewish women most remembered by historians, and their devotion has been elevated beyond their religion, which was the hope of most of the Southern Jewish women that volunteered in support of the cause.

    Sources and Further Reading

    Benjamin F. Butler, Autobiography and Personal Reminiscences of Major-General Benjamin F. Butler, (Thayer, 1892).

    Mary Boykin Miller Chestnut, Ben Williams Ames, ed., A Diary from Dixie, (Harvard University Press, 1980).

    Catherine Clinton, Nina Silber, eds., Divided Houses: Gender and the Civil War, (Oxford University Press, 1992).

    Drew Gilpin Faust, Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War, (University of North Carolina Press, 1996).

    Bertram Wallace Korn, American Jewry and the Civil War, (Jewish Publication Society, 1951).

    Jacob R. Marcus, The American Jewish Woman: A Documentary History, (Ktav Pub. House; American Jewish Archives, 1981).

    Eugenia Phillips, Journal of Mrs. Eugenia Levy Phillips, 1861-1862.

    Samuel Proctor, et al., eds., Jews of the South: Selected Essays from the Southern Jewish Historical Society, (Mercer University Press, 1984).

    Robert Rosen, The Jewish Confederates, (University of South Carolina Press, 2000.)

    Special Order No. 150, Headquarters Department of the Gulf, June 30, 1862.

    Hans L. Trefousse, Ben Butler: The South Called Him Beast!, (Twayne Publishers, 1957).

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