Top Young Historians: 117 – Premilla Nadasen, 43

Premilla Nadasen, 43

BASIC FACTS

Teaching Position: Associate Professor, History Department, Queens College, CUNY Graduate Center Doctoral Faculty
Area of Research: African-American history, social movements, poverty and social policy, history of welfare, domestic service work.
Education: Ph.D. in U.S. History, Columbia University, Dissertation: “The Welfare Rights Movement, 1960-1975,” 1999 (nominated for the Bancroft Award)
Major Publications: Nadasen is the author of Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the United States (New York: Routledge, 2005), won the 2005 John Hope Franklin Publication Prize awarded by the American Studies Association for best book in American studies.;
The Welfare Rights Movement: An Introduction
(forthcoming, Routledge 2011);
Welfare in the United States: A History with Documents, co-authored with Jennifer Mittelstadt and Marisa Chappell (Routledge 2009);
Pamilla Nadasen JPG She is curently working on Domestic Workers Unite!: Household Workers’ Organizations in the Post-War U.S. ;
The Real Nanny Diaries: Narratives of Domestic Workers.
Nadasen is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others:

“Expanding the Boundaries of the Women’s Movement: Black Feminism and the Struggle for Welfare Rights,” (Feminist Studies) won the 2002 Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Article Prize; Reprinted in Women, Culture, and Society, ed. Barbara Balliet (Rutgers University Press, 2004, 2007);
and No Permanent Waves: Recasting Histories of U.S. Feminism ed. by Nancy Hewitt (Rutgers University Press, 2010).
“African American Domestic Workers and Politics of Citizenship” (forthcoming Journal of Policy History); Valuing Domestic Work, New Feminist Solutions Pamphlet, with Tiffany Williams, published by the Barnard Center for Research on Women, Fall 2010;
“Tell Dem Slavery Done”: Domestic Workers United and Transnational Feminism, Scholar and Feminist Online (Barnard Center for Research on Women on-line journal) Spring 2010;
“Domestic Workers Take It To The Streets” Ms. Magazine, Fall 2009: 38-40. (Reprinted in Utne Reader, March-April 2010, “Meet the New Nanny”)
“International Feminism and Reproductive Labor” in Workers, the Nation-State and Beyond: Essays in Labor History Across the Americas (Oxford University Press, 2010);
“‘Mothers at Work’: The Welfare Rights Movement and Welfare Reform in the 1960s” in The Legal Tender of Gender: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Welfare Law, State Policies and the Regulation of Women’s Poverty, ed. Shelley Gavigan and Dorothy E. Chunn, (Hart Publishing, 2010);
“Power, Intimacy, and Contestation: Dorothy Bolden and Domestic Worker Organizing in Atlanta in the 1960s” in Intimate Labors, ed. Eileen Boris and Rhacel Parrenas (Stanford University Press, 2010)
“Is it Time to Jump Ship? Historians Rethink the Waves Metaphor” Kathleen Laughlin, Julie Gallagher, Dorothy Sue Cobble, Eileen Boris, Premilla Nadasen, Stephanie Gilmore, and Leandra Zarnow Feminist Formations, (vol 22, no. 1) (Summer 2010): 76-135;
“Sista’ Friends and Other Allies: Domestic Workers United” in New Social Movements in the African Diaspora: Challenging Global Apartheid, ed. Leith Mullings (Palgrave MacMillan 2009); “‘We Do Whatever Becomes Necessary: Johnnie Tillmon, Welfare Rights, and Black Power” in Want to Start a Revolution?: Women in the Black Revolt, ed. Jeanne Theoharis, Dayo Gore, and Komozi Woodard (NYU Press, 2009); “Domestic Workers Organize!” with Eileen Boris in Working USA: The Journal of Labor and Society (December 2008); “‘Welfare’s A Green Problem’: Cross-Race Coalitions in the Welfare Rights Movement” in Feminist Coalitions, ed. Stephanie Gilmore (University of Illinois Press, 2008); “From Widow to ‘Welfare Queen’: Welfare and the Politics of Race” Black Women, Gender, and Families, Vol. 1 (2) (2007).
Awards: Nadasen is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Faculty Fellow, Center for Place, Culture and Politics, CUNY Graduate Center, 2010-2011;
PSC-CUNY Research Award, 2006-2010;
CUNY Diversity Projects Development Grant for “Maids and Madams: A Campus-Community Project on Domestic Service Work and Immigration” at Brooklyn College from the University Affirmative Action Committee, Spring 2007;
American Studies Association’s John Hope Franklin Prize for best book in American studies for Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the United States (Routledge 2005), 2005;
Berkshire Conference of Women’s Historians Award for best article in 2002 for “Expanding the Boundaries of the Women’s Movement” Feminist Studies (Summer 2002), 2002;
Fellowship to participate in Seminar on Human Security at the CUNY Graduate Center, Fall ’01- Spring ’02; CUNY Faculty Fellowship Publications Program, Spring 2002;
Queens College Presidential Research Award, Spring 2001;
PSC-CUNY Research Grants, 2006-2007, 1998-2001;
Aspen Institute Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, Jan. – Oct. 1997;
Charles Gaius Bolin Fellow in History, Williams College, Williamstown, MA, 1995-1996;
Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation Research Grant, April 1995;
Columbia University Presidential Fellowship, 1991 – 1995;
Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project, Summer Fellowship Stanford University, Stanford, CA, Summer 1991;
Hofstadter – Haynes Fellowship, Department of History, Columbia University, 1990 – 1991.
Additional Info:
Formerly Visiting Associate Professor, Endowed Chair in Women’s Studies, Brooklyn College. Nadasden is A longtime community activist and scholar. Nadasen has written for Feminist Studies, Ms. Magazine, the Women’s Review of Books, Race and Reason, and the Progressive Media Project, and has given numerous public talks about African-American women’s history and welfare policy.
Nadasen has been a contributing Writer, for Progressive Media Project, which distributes opinion editorials to McClatchy-Tribune newspapers across the country. Her articles have appeared in several newspapers, including the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, The Pueblo-Chieftan, The Sacramento Bee, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Watertown Daily Times, The Orlando Sentinal, La Prensa San Diego, Arizona Daily Star.

PERSONAL ANECDOTE

My commitment to telling poor black women’s stories came to me through activism. I vividly remember my first protest. I was at the Federal Building in downtown Detroit opposing U.S. foreign policy in South Africa. It was 1985 and I was 17 years old. The demonstration had all the key elements: colorful banners, repetitive chanting, fiery speeches, and passersby who either honked in support or jeered in disgust. My feelings vacillated between anxiety and excitement. I was born in South Africa. Although I came to the U.S. at a young age, when I returned periodically to visit family I experienced first-hand the reality of apartheid laws. As a teenager, the brutality of the apartheid regime that I read and heard about in combination with the burgeoning grass roots movement to dismantle it ignited my commitment to social justice. By participating in that protest I came to see the world in a new way-one that recognized how ordinary people contribute to social change.

When I went to the University of Michigan that fall, I joined the student anti-apartheid organization. As we-a diverse group of young women and men-immersed ourselves in political campaigns we talked and thought more deeply about patterns of racism not just in South Africa, but on the college campus and in our communities. One project we initiated was the Black Women’s Oral History Project where we interviewed long-time residents of Ann Arbor. It was from these rather remarkable women-whose names never appeared in my classroom textbooks-that I first learned about the welfare rights movement. I had taken several history and sociology courses about activism and the civil rights movement and was befuddled by the lack of discussion about these poor women on welfare who struggled for dignity and economic justice. In the 1960s, the women in Ann Arbor had collectively mobilized, along with thousands of women across the country, to protect their rights and fight for a better life for their children. I was deeply impressed by their fortitude and their wisdom. These early encounters fostered in me a commitment to pursue scholarly studies about the activism of poor women of color-a commitment that shapes my work even today as I research and write about domestic worker organizing.

Writing about the welfare rights movement taught me many things about scholarship and history. It taught me that intellectualism and theories of social change originate not only with the philosophers and those who sit in the offices of Ivy League institutions. The poor black women who led the welfare rights movement lived and understood racism and class oppression in a complex way. From these experiences, they theorized about gender and how it is informed by racial stereotypes and the welfare system. And they formulated a distinctive politics of empowerment that spoke to their particular location as poor black women. They have a lot to teach us about how power operates, methods of social change, and the meaning of feminism.

Studying this movement has also taught me that historical memory is deeply contested terrain. What we choose to remember-or not-is a reflection of our own values and beliefs. The marginalization of the welfare rights movement in historical scholarship is perhaps indicative of the way in which poor black women are marginalized in the political discourse today. So, for me, Welfare Warriors aimed to complicate the dominant narrative of the 1960s, but also to resurrect the muted voices of the period.

QUOTES

By Premilla Nadasen

  • Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the United StatesBy the 1960s the welfare system was dominated by myths and stereotypes. Perceptions about black women’s sexuality and notions of the black family and the black work ethic justified cutbacks in assistance and provided  grounds for work requirements. Ideology shaped public policy and, in this case, bolstered popular support for more punitive and repressive policies. Countering some of the stereotypes of AFDC, women in the welfare rights movement demanded that their work as mothers be recognized and insisted that single motherhood was not a social pathology. They sought to increase their monthly benefits through pressure tactics, and to make a moral claim for assistance as mothers. Their analysis demonstrates how gender is mediated by race and class and the way in which race, gender, and class all shape the welfare system. — Premilla Nadasen in “Welfare Warriors”About Premilla NadasenReviews for Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the United States

     

  • Nadasen has written the definitive history of the welfare rights movement that, for a brief moment, turned welfare into a program that helped rather than punished poor women. Carefully researched and fully documented, Welfare Warriors reveals the largely untold story of how poor and working class women came together to fight for a decent life. By exploring the working class black feminism that emerged, Nadasen’s account also broadens and deepens our understanding of feminism. –-Mimi Abramovitz, Professor of Social Policy at Hunter School of Social Work and the City University of New York Graduate Center and author of “Regulating the Lives of Women and Under Attack and Fight”
  • Armed with their own brand of feminism in the 1960s and 70s, Premilla Nadasen’s Welfare Warriors fought militantly and relentlessly against racism, sexism and dehumanizing poverty. They fought their battles in the halls of Congress, the streets of urban communities, and inside the progressive movement itself. Even when they were not victorious, these black women activists were never victims, but rather powerful, complex and committed agents for change. This compelling and compassionate study, meticulously researched and passionately argued, is a must-read for anyone interested in social change politics, feminism or the black freedom movement. –- Barbara Ransby, Professor of African American Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago and author of Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement.

Reviews for Welfare in the United States: A History with DocumentsWelfare in the United States A History with Documents, 1935–1996 JPG

  • “With wide ranging perspectives, nearly century-long coverage, and choice documents, this short but powerful collection shows why welfare remains one of the most contentious issues in public policy. Three cheers for Nadasen, Mittelstadt, and Chappell for this stimulating- and provocative – introduction that highlights the significance of race and gender in women’s lives.” -— Eileen Boris, author of “The New Women’s Labor History”
  • “The story of contemporary welfare policy in the United States is complicated and deeply troubled by poisonous conflicts over race, class and gender. Here, however, we have a telling of the story that is admirably clear and concise, and enlivened by the inclusion of the documents that mark and illuminate the turning points in the story. This will be an excellent teaching resource.” — Frances Fox Piven, author of “Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America”
  • “Dr. Nadasen, is one of the most influencial professors I have ever had the pleasure of being instructed by. Her knowledge of the History, Politics and social constructs are impecable. Her guidance in developing my MA Thesis was immensely useful in defining and enhancing the focus of my research project. She is certainly a mentor…”
    “African American history has become my favorite class this semester. Would recommend taking this class with Prof. Nadasen.”…
    “Outstanding teacher. Materials were relevant to all lectures. Allowed students to explore the subject of Slavery and was totally engaging.”…
    “You should take Prof. Nadasen because she’s so knowledgeable in history that it would absolutely rock your world.” — Anonymous Students

    More Information

  • Premilla Nadasen, First Women’s Studies Endowed Chair at Brooklyn College, To Be Honored on May 16
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History Buzz July 15, 2010: William Stewart Simkins & the UT Dorm Controversy & Niall Ferguson on America’s Decline

HISTORY BUZZ:

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor/Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

IN FOCUS: HNN on Facebook & Twitter

IN FOCUS: July 4th Myths & History

  • T.H. Breen: The Secret Founding Fathers: Enough about Washington, Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers, says historian T.H. Breen, on July 4th we should celebrate the forgotten, ordinary men who took to the streets to fight British tyranny—and are the bedrock of our republican values…. – The Daily Beast, 7-3-10
  • T.H. Breen: ‘American Insurgents’ fired first shots of Revolutionary War: Common men — and some women, too — set the stage and paved the path that led to the Revolutionary War and America’s independence from England.
    Author T.H. Breen tells readers of “American Insurgents, American Patriots: The Revolution of the People” (Hill and Wang, $27) that a bevy of common men — and some women, too — set the stage and paved the path that led to the Revolutionary War. What’s more, they were doing it a few years in advance of the bigwigs who get the credit.
    Famous names, such as Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington owe much to others who struggled for independence in the years leading up to 1776…. – News OK, 7-3-10
  • Obama celebrates July 4th at White House barbecue: Calling the Declaration of Independence more than words on an aging parchment, President Barack Obama marked the Fourth of July on Sunday by urging Americans to live the principles that founded the nation as well as celebrate them.
    “This is the day when we celebrate the very essence of America and the spirit that has defined us as a people and as a nation for more than two centuries,” Obama told guests at a South Lawn barbecue honoring service members and their families. “We celebrate the principles that are timeless, tenets first declared by men of property and wealth but which gave rise to what Lincoln called a new birth of freedom in America — civil rights and voting rights, workers’ rights and women’s rights, and the rights of every American,” he said. “And on this day that is uniquely American we are reminded that our Declaration, our example, made us a beacon to the world.” “Now, of course I’ll admit that the backyard’s a little bigger here, but it’s the same spirit,” Obama said to laughter. “Michelle and I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate America’s birthday than with America’s extraordinary men and women in uniform and their families.” “Today we also celebrate all of you, the men and women of our armed forces, who defend this country we love,” he told the enthusiastic group…. – AP, 7-4-10
  • 4th of July: Facts about the Declaration of Independence:
    On July 2 the Continental Congress voted to declare independence from Great Britain and on 4th of July 1776 the same Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. The Founding Fathers signed the document in August, after it was finished….
    Another fact about this important day in the United States of America’s history is that Thomas Jefferson (3rd U.S President) and John Adams (2nd U.S. President) both died on 4th of July 1826, when the country was celebrating 50th anniversary of the signing.
    Although the capital city of the United States of America is Washington named after the great president, George Washington, the first U.S President, did not sign the Declaration of Independence because he was head of the Continental Army and no longer a member in the Continental Congress.
    The first anniversary resulted in a huge party in Philadelphia in 1777. There were fireworks, cannons, barbecues and toasts. – Providing News, 7-4-10
  • Thomas Jefferson made slip in Declaration: Library of Congress officials say Thomas Jefferson made a Freudian slip while penning a rough draft of the Declaration of Independence. In an early draft of the document Jefferson referred to the American population as “subjects,” replacing that term with the word “citizens,” which he then used frequently throughout the final draft. The document is normally kept under lock and key in one of the Library’s vaults. On Friday morning, the first time officials revealed the wording glitch, it traveled under police escort for a demonstration of the high-tech imaging. It was the first time in 15 years that the document was unveiled outside of its oxygen-free safe…. – A copy of the rough draft of the Declaration can be viewed online at http://www.myLOC.gov….- AP, 7-2-104th of July quotes: Best Independence Day quotes and sayings:
  • The United States is the only country with a known birthday. (James G. Blaine)
  • This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave. (Elmer Davis)
  • Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves. (Abraham Lincoln)
  • We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it. (William Faulkner)
  • It is the love of country that has lighted and that keeps glowing the holy fire of patriotism. (J. Horace McFarland)
  • America is a tune. It must be sung together. (Gerald Stanley Lee)
  • The winds that blow through the wide sky in these mounts, the winds that sweep from Canada to Mexico, from the Pacific to the Atlantic – have always blown on free men. (Franklin D. Roosevelt)
  • Where liberty dwells, there is my country. (Benjamin Franklin)
  • Sometimes people call me an idealist. Well, that is the way I know I am an American. America is the only idealistic nation in the world. (Woodrow Wilson) – Providing News, 7-4-10
  • Local NYer standing up for Horatio Gates: For a 14th straight year, James S. Kaplan spent the Fourth of July walking in the middle of the night among ghosts of the American Revolution…. – NYT (7-5-10)
  • Fifth of July is also a day to celebrate, say historians: The unassuming date could also merit respect for providing a pair of tidy bookends in the United States labor movement. In 1934, police officers in San Francisco opened fire on striking longshoreman in one of the country’s most significant and violent labor clashes. On the same date a year later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the National Labor Relations Act, guaranteeing the rights of employees to organize and to bargain collectively with their employers.
    “That’s a big moment in American labor history, absolutely,” said Joshua B. Freeman, a labor historian at the City University of New York…. NYT (7-5-10)

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

HISTORY NEWS:

  • Amazement at the speed and efficacy of historical scholarship in UT dorm case: Russell’s paper — published on the Social Science Research Network — drew attention to William Stewart Simkins (1842-1929), for whom a dormitory at the University of Texas at Austin was named in the 1950s. Simkins was a longtime law professor at Texas, but before that, he and his brother helped organize the Florida branch of the Ku Klux Klan — an organization he defended throughout his life, including while serving as a law professor. Russell’s paper led to public discussion in Austin of the appropriateness of naming a university building for a Klan leader. On Friday, William Powers Jr., president of the University of Texas at Austin, announced that he will ask the university system’s Board of Regents this month to change the name…. – Inside Higher Ed (7-12-10)
  • Taiwanese historian sentenced to prison for libel: Chen Feng-yang, chairperson of the history department at National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), was found guilty of defamation charges brought by Lu Jian-rong, an ex-adjunct history professor at NTNU, after Chen allegedly attacked Lu’s reputation on NTNU’s website by calling him “a historian rotten from the roots” who is “malicious, sinful, and unforgivable” the court said…. – China Post (Taiwan) (7-9-10)
  • UMN’s graduate programs face ‘right-sizing’ in tough times: Faced with its own money troubles, the University of Minnesota is turning away more graduate students who would get financial help such as teaching positions. Still welcome are those who pay their own way or pursue in-demand studies such as biomedical sciences…. – Minneapolis Star Tribune (7-8-10)
  • Niall Ferguson: Historian warns of sudden collapse of American ’empire’: Harvard professor and prolific author Niall Ferguson opened the 2010 Aspen Ideas Festival Monday with a stark warning about the increasing prospect of the American “empire” suddenly collapsing due to the country’s rising debt level…. – Aspen Daily News (7-6-10)
  • New Ed. Dept. report documents the end of tenure: Some time this fall, the U.S. Education Department will publish a report that documents the death of tenure. Innocuously titled “Employees in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2009,” the report won’t say it’s about the demise of tenure. But that’s what it will show. Over just three decades, the proportion of college instructors who are tenured or on the tenure track plummeted: from 57 percent in 1975 to 31 percent in 2007…. – CHE (7-4-10)
  • Review of Harvard Scholar’s Arrest Cites Failure to Communicate: A new review of the arrest of a prominent scholar in black studies at his own home last July blames the incident on “failed communications” between the police officer and the scholar…. – CHE (6-30-10)
  • University of Colorado Professor Uncovers First Holocaust Liberation Photos, Highlights Overlapping Narratives: David Shneer, associate professor of history and director of the Program in Jewish Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, benefited from that openness. He began researching the issue in 2002, when he visited a photography gallery in Moscow. The exhibition was titled “Women at War,” and Shneer noticed that the photographers’ names sounded Jewish. He asked the curator, who said, “Of course they’re Jewish. All the photographers were Jewish.” Before the war, many of those developing the profession of Soviet photojournalism were Jewish, Shneer noted…. – AScribe.org (7-1-10)

OP-EDs:

  • Sean Wilentz and Julian E. Zelizer: Teaching ‘W’ as History The challenges of the recent past in the classroom: Even before the 2008 election, debate had begun about how President George W. Bush would be remembered in American history. There were many reasons that so many people were so quickly interested in Bush’s historical reputation. Given how intensely polarized voters were about his presidency, it was natural that experts and pundits would scramble to evaluate it. Bush’s spectacular highs and lows—the stratospheric rise in his public approval following the attacks of September 11, 2001… – Chronicle of Higher Ed, 7-11-10
  • Greg Mitchell: Andrew Bacevich, His Lost Son, and Obama’s War in AfghanistanThe Nation (7-8-10)
  • Joe Conason: Sure, listen to Niall Ferguson — but always ignore his bad advice: As a celebrity intellectual, Ferguson much prefers the broad, bold stroke to the careful detail, so it is scarcely surprising that he endorsed Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan’s “wonderful” budget template, confident that his audience in Aspen would know almost nothing about that document…. – Salon (7-7-10)

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Charles Ogletree tackles Henry Louis Gates’ arrest in new book: Harvard law professor and author Charles Ogletree, a longtime friend and colleague of Gates’, who also served as his legal counsel in the case, examines the incident and its legal and social implications in “The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Race, Class and Crime in America.”
    The book is about much more than the arrest of an acclaimed black professor. Ogletree focuses on the long, troubled relationship between police and black men, as well as racial profiling by law enforcement and black Americans’ continuing quest for racial fairness in the criminal justice system and in everyday life. – Philadelphia Inquirer, 7-14-10
  • BARRY STRAUSS: A Failed Rebel’s Long Shadow: Now comes a distinguished contribution to the field by the British journalist and classicist Peter Stothard. “Spartacus Road” is a work of history, telling us of Spartacus’ life and legend, but it is also a travel book, as Mr. Stothard follows Spartacus’ rebellious path through 2,000 miles of Italian countryside…. – WSJ, 7-10-10
  • Niall Ferguson’s “High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg”:
    There’s a saying in publishing that the only brand is the author. Unquestionably Niall Ferguson is a brand, thanks to sweeping, Big Picture, Big Idea books such as “Colossus” and “The Ascent of Money.” With Ferguson, we expect provocative interpretations of epochs, empires and civilizations. Not this time. In “High Financier,” Ferguson follows a solitary capitalist into the weeds and flowers of his financial garden. This is no failing, of course; biography is simply a different enterprise. Rather than overarching, it often must be minute and particular. And Siegmund Warburg was extremely particular…. – WaPo, 7-9-10
  • Jane Brox: Shining a light on the way artificial light has changed our lives: BRILLIANT The Evolution of Artificial Light
    But, Jane Brox asks, at what cost? Though she celebrates human ingenuity and technical advances in “Brilliant,” her history of artificial light, Brox also presents damning evidence that in our millennia-long quest for ever more and brighter light, we’ve despoiled the natural world, abandoned our self-sufficiency and trained ourselves to sleep and dream less while working more. It’s time, Brox urges, to “think rationally about light and what it means to us.” Yes, the history of artificial light has its dark side, for those who aren’t too dazzled to detect it…. – WaPo, 7-9-10
  • Christiane Bird: Book review of “The Sultan’s Shadow,” about a 19th-century Arab princess: THE SULTAN’S SHADOW One Family’s Rule at the Crossroads of East and West
    Christiane Bird’s account of the Al Busaidi sultans in Oman and Zanzibar during the 19th century is, she says, “a tale rich with modern-day themes: Islam vs. Christianity, religion vs. secularism, women’s rights, human rights, multiculturalism, and a nation’s right to construct its own destiny.” In truth those themes are not quite so visible in “The Sultan’s Shadow” as its author would have us believe, for despite her lucid prose and dogged research, the book never comes together into a coherent whole. Instead, it is an oddly arranged miscellany, some parts of which are exceptionally interesting, but she never manages to connect them to each other in a convincing fashion…. – WaPo, 7-9-10
  • Reviews of ‘Romancing Miss Bronte,’ ‘Charlotte and Emily,’ ‘Jane Slayre’ – WaPo, 7-13-10
  • Kim Washburn: New Palin Biography Aimed At 9- To 12-Year-Olds ‘Speaking Up’ Set For September ReleaseWFTV, 7-9-10
  • Jack Rakove on Gary B. Nash: The Ring and the Crack: The Liberty Bell Yale University Press, 242 pp., $24
    It would be easy to assume that the flag and the anthem have always been the central cultural symbols of our nationality. But in fact that has not been the case, writes Gary Nash, in this fast-moving and engaging history of a different and, he argues, superior, symbol: the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. The Pledge of Allegiance to the flag was not composed until 1892, eventually becoming the source of daily school recitals and occasional litigation, from the Jehovah’s Witnesses of the late 1930s and early 1940s to the atheist Michael Newdow’s more recent judicial quest. Then, too, the Stars and Stripes went through a long post-Civil War period as something less than a banner of universal nationality. Perhaps even now, lingering Southern attachment to the rival Stars and Bars may embody more than Confederate re-enactors’ cultural fondness for the Lost Cause. And while the “Star Spangled Banner” was composed back in 1814, only in 1931 did it acquire its official status as national anthem…. – TNR, 7-2-10

FEATURES:

  • Historian calls on new generation: “There’s a lot of what we do not know.” That’s what Dr. Mitch Kachun said about Collins in one of his two speeches at the Juneteenth celebration at Brandon Park on Saturday. Kachun, a professor of history at Western Michigan University, has extensively researched local African-American author and teacher Julia Collins. The professor expressed being gratified he could take part in helping to finally recognize Collins’ work after 140 years. He said his research was done so he could help better understand and appreciate her life…. – Sun Gazette, 6-20-10
  • Brian Black: A Look At The U.S.’s Man-Made Environmental Disasters: …Here are some of the country’s most notable environmental disasters with human influence, both large-scale and small-scale, and how the government has dealt with them…. – National Journal (7-8-10)
  • A walk through history: UTEP effort highlights Hispanics’ significance: As far as historian David Romo is concerned, the streets of South El Paso represent a living textbook that can help students understand the complexities of the Mexican Revolution of 1910.
    “The role of El Paso in the revolution by any criteria should be part of not only the El Paso school curriculum but the national curriculum,” Romo said. “Unfortunately, it’s mostly ignored by the textbooks.”…. – El Paso Times (7-6-10)
  • Census historian weighs in on electronic future of census: As hundreds of thousands of workers knock on doors this summer to collect information for the 2010 Census, momentum is mounting to drag future Censuses into the 21st century….
    “Using the Postal Service was an enormous innovation in 1970” when Census forms were first mailed (previous Censuses were door-to-door surveys), says Margo Anderson, a professor of history and urban studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an expert on Census history. “We’re 40 years later, and the mail isn’t the official way most people get their information or communicate. It’s really outmoded.”… – USA Today (7-6-10)
  • Soccer historian tells of South African soccer’s origins among political prisoners: “These men believed that there would be a free South Africa while they were still alive,” said Chuck Korr, an emeritus professor of history at the University of Missouri at St. Louis and the author of a book about the soccer league called “More Than Just a Game.”… – NYT (7-5-10)

PROFILES:

  • Easton historian worked on Emmy-nominated The Pacific: Donald L. Miller, a Lafayette College history professor, was the only person on the project who personally interviewed Eugene Sledge, one of three Marines who fought in the Pacific on whom the series is based…. – The Morning Call, 7-8-10
  • As a historian in the House, Fred Beuttler puts current events in perspective: Historians do not do breaking news. Historians do not do the latest scandal scoops, election-night projections, or instant updates of Washington’s winners and losers. So it is no surprise that the media’s demand for historians is scant. But every now and then, when the breaking political news from Capitol Hill is in dire need of historical context, journalists and politicians alike go looking for Fred Beuttler… – WaPo (7-6-10)
  • 21st-century technology helps Princeton U historian John Haldon study Byzantine era: Princeton University historian John Haldon, a leading authority on medieval Byzantine history, can’t really remember a time when history didn’t intrigue him…. These days, Haldon is a professor of Byzantine history and Hellenic studies at Princeton…. NJ.com (7-5-10)
  • Kelly Lytle Hernández: UCLA professor chronicles rise of U.S. Border Patrol in new book: However, by the middle of the 20th century, the U.S. Border Patrol had shifted its focus and was concentrating its efforts on policing undocumented Mexican immigrants, a practice that continues to this day, UCLA historian Kelly Lytle Hernández writes in “Migra!: A History of the U.S. Border Patrol” (University of California Press, 2010).
    Drawing on long-neglected archival sources in both the U.S. and Mexico, Lytle Hernández uncovers the little-known history of how Mexican immigrants slowly became the primary focus of U.S. immigration law enforcement and demonstrates how racial profiling of Mexicans developed in the Border Patrol’s enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws…. – UCLA Newsroom, 6-17-10

QUOTES:

  • Richard Norton Smith, David Greenberg: When Adversity Comes Calling, Some Actually Answer the Door: As a self-styled student of American history, Mr. Blagojevich would have a hard time comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy or even Gerald Ford when it comes to dealing with duress… – NYT, 7-11-10
  • Walter Wark: Spy Swaps Not a Cold War Relic: The Soviet Union is now gone, and Berlin is a single city in a reunited Germany. But, as intelligence historian Walter Wark of the University of Toronto says, the latest exchange shows that spy swaps have not gone out of date.
    “We have a tendency to forget that spying goes on as usual, and when spying goes on as usual, sooner or later there will be occasion to do a spy swap,” Wark said. “But it’s gone out of our consciousness, I think is the only thing that’s really remarkable about this. It’s not that it should happen. It’s just that kind of, with all the other dangers that we’re facing in a 21st century world, we’ve forgotten about espionage,” he said…. – VoA News (7-9-10)

INTERVIEWS:

  • Niall Ferguson aims to shake up history curriculum with TV and war games: History should be fun. More TV should be watched in the classroom, and children should learn through playing war games. The Harvard academic Niall Ferguson, who has been invited by the government to revitalise the curriculum, today sets set out a vision of “doing for history what Jamie Oliver has done for school food – make it healthy, and so they actually want to eat it”…. – Guardian (UK) (7-9-10)
  • Russian spy swap: Jeffrey Burds explainsWaPo (7-8-10)
  • Environmental historian Brian Black talks about impacts of oil spillPenn State Live (6-30-10)
  • The end of the Soviet Union was not inevitable, says Norman StoneU.S. News & World Report (7-1-10)

AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

  • Obama Nominates Larry Palmer, former historian, as U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela: U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday nominated Ambassador Larry Leon Palmer — formerly the US Ambassador to Honduras — as the new U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela…. – Latin American Herald Tribune (6-30-10)
  • National Park Service Names New Cultural Resources Head: National Park Service (NPS) Director Jonathan Jarvis recently named Stephanie Smith Toothman, Ph.D., as the Service’s new Associate Director for Cultural Resources… – Lee White at the National Coalition for history (6-28-10)
  • New Director of Education Named at the Smithsonian: Claudine K. Brown has been named director of education for the Smithsonian Institution, effective June 20…. – Lee White at the National Coalition for History (6-28-10)

SPOTTED:

  • James McPherson: Historian makes Gettysburg spring to life: As I prepared last week for a tour of Civil War historic sites with 40 history teachers from northwestern Minnesota, I looked at the itinerary and wondered if I would get anything out of touring battlefields….
    The day climaxed when our group of teachers, lead by General McPherson, replicated Pickett’s Charge, the famous and futile attempt by General Lee to break the Union middle by sending a mile-wide swath of 13,000 men into the teeth of the Federal guns…. – Detroit Lakes Online, 7-2-10

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • July 28, 2010: Evan Thomas, Award-Winning Journalist, Historian to Lecture at Ventfort Hall: Known nationally and internationally as one of the most respected award-winning journalists and historians writing today, Newsweek’s Editor-at-Large Evan Thomas will appear at Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum on Wednesday, July 28, as part of its 2010 Summer Lecture Series. He will discuss the subject of his new book, “The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898.” Thomas will be on hand to autograph copies during the subsequent Victorian Tea…. – Iberkshires, 7-13-10
  • September 17-18, 2010 at Notre Dame University: Conference aims to bring medieval, early modern and Latin American historians together: An interdisciplinary conference to be held at the University of Notre Dame this fall is making a final call for papers to explore the issue surrounding similarities between late-medieval Iberia and its colonies in the New World. “From Iberian Kingdoms to Atlantic Empires: Spain, Portugal, and the New World, 1250-1700” is being hosted by the university’s Nanovic Institute for European Studies and will take place on September 17-18, 2010. Medieval News, 4-29-10
  • Jeff Shesol to give Jackson Lecture at the Chautauqua Institution: Historian, presidential speechwriter and author Jeff Shesol will deliver Chautauqua Institution’s sixth annual Robert H. Jackson Lecture on the Supreme Court of the United States. Jeff Shesol will give the Jackson Lecture on Wednesday, August 18, 2010, at 4:00 p.m. in Chautauqua’s Hall of Philosophy…. – John Q. Barrett at the Jackson List (6-14-10)
  • 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.

ON TV:

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

BOOKS COMING SOON:

  • Jane Brox: Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light, (Hardcover), July 8, 2010.
  • Rudy Tomedi: General Matthew Ridgway, (Hardcover), July 30, 2010.
  • Richard Toye: Churchill’s Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made, (Hardcover), August 3, 2010.
  • Alexander Hamilton: The Federalist Papers, (Hardcover), August 16, 2010 Christopher Tomlins, Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America, 1580-1865 (Paperback and Hardcover), September 1, 2010
  • Holger Hoock: Empires of the Imagination: Politics, War, and the Arts in the British World, 1750-1850, (Hardcover), September 1, 2010
  • Anna Whitelock: Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen, (Hardcover), September 7, 2010
  • James L. Swanson: Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln’s Corpse, (Hardcover), September 28, 2010
  • Timothy Snyder: The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke (First Trade Paper Edition), (Paperback), September 28, 2010
  • Ron Chernow: Washington: A Life, (Hardcover), October 5, 2010
  • George William Van Cleve: A Slaveholders’ Union: Slavery, Politics, and the Constitution in the Early American Republic, (Hardcover), October 1, 2010.
  • John Keegan: The American Civil War: A Military History, (Paperback), October 5, 2010
  • Bill Bryson: At Home: A Short History of Private Life, (Hardcover), October 5, 2010
  • Robert M. Poole: On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery, (Paperback), October 26, 2010
  • Robert Leckie: Challenge for the Pacific: Guadalcanal: The Turning Point of the War, (Paperback), October 26, 2010
  • Manning Marable: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, (Hardcover), November 9, 2010
  • Elizabeth White: The Socialist Alternative to Bolshevik Russia: The Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1917-39, (Hardcover), November 10, 2010
  • Elizabeth White: The Socialist Alternative to Bolshevik Russia: The Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1917-39, (Hardcover), November 10, 2010
  • G. J. Barker-Benfield: Abigail and John Adams: The Americanization of Sensibility, (Hardcover), November 15, 2010
  • Edmund Morris: Colonel Roosevelt, (Hardcover), November 23, 2010
  • Michael Goldfarb: Emancipation: How Liberating Europe’s Jews from the Ghetto Led to Revolution and Renaissance, (Paperback), November 23, 2010

DEPARTED:

  • Stan Katz: Barry D. Karl and the Historical Profession: My friend and long-time historical collaborator Barry Karl died while undergoing emergency open-heart surgery in Chicago early this week. Barry would have celebrated his eighty-third birthday on the 23rd of this month — which will be the date of the first birthday of his only grandchild, Ethan. It is too bad that he could not have lived longer, but he had a long, successful and interesting career…. – Stan Katz in the CHE (7-11-10)
  • Ramon Eduardo Ruiz dies at 88; historian of Mexico and Latin America at UC San Diego: Ramon Eduardo Ruiz, a renowned historian of Mexico and Latin America whose books included in-depth studies of the Mexican and Cuban revolutions, has died. He was 88…. – LA Times (7-10-10)
  • Lawrence Holiday Harris, historian and diplomat, dies at 89: Lawrence Harris, who had careers as an American diplomat, an army officer and a college professor, visited 52 countries and every continent…. – Atlanta Journal-Constitution (7-7-10)
  • Ann Waldron, Biographer of Southern Writers, Is Dead at 85: Ann Waldron, who wrote biographies of Southern writers and books for children and young adults, but then — at 78 — decided that she’d rather concoct tales about gruesome murders on the campus of Princeton University, died Friday at her home in Princeton, N.J. She was 85…. – NYT (7-6-10)
  • Death of historian and art author Carola Hicks, 68: A famous Cambridge art historian has died at the age of 68…. – Cambridge News (UK) (6-28-10)

History Buzz June 7-14, 2010: Robert Remini Retires as House Historian, Reviewing Nathaniel Philbrick

HISTORY BUZZ:

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor/Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

    This Week’s Political Highlights

  • Pelosi Announces Retirement of House Historian, Search Committee: Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced today that Dr. Robert V. Remini, the House Historian, has chosen to retire from the post on August 31. Dr. Remini has served as Historian for the past five years, having reestablished the office in 2005.
    “Dr. Remini has been a tremendous asset to the House of Representatives,” Speaker Pelosi said. “It has been an honor to have so distinguished an historian serving the House for the past five years. He has worked diligently to initiate the House Fellows Program and an oral history program for current and former Members. On behalf of my colleagues, I want to thank Dr. Remini for his service and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”…. – PRNewswire-USNewswire, 6-11-10
  • Barbara Weinstein, Sean Wilentz, David Greenberg, Tony Michels: Historians for KaganNew Yorker, 6-7-10

IN FOCUS:

  • Who Is Crying Wolf? Developing Controversy over New Program: Some prominent liberal academics are soliciting short essays from faculty members and graduate students to document a pattern in American history of major social advances being opposed by conservatives who “cry wolf” about the impact of proposed reforms. The campaign — known as the “Cry Wolf Project” — hasn’t been officially announced. But conservative bloggers obtained some of the solicitations of essays and published them this week, along with considerable criticism.
    A series of posts on Andrew Breitbart’s Big Journalism Web site have called the program “Academia-Gate” and suggested that the effort is inappropriately political. The creators of Cry Wolf, meanwhile, say that what they are doing is awfully similar to the ways that right-leaning scholars have used academic work to advance their causes over the years.
    The goal of Cry Wolf is to build an online database of short essays showing examples of crying wolf by the right. If people today are reminded that conservatives in the past predicted devastating impacts from minimum wage laws, or requiring cars to have seat belts, or Social Security, the theory goes, they may be more skeptical if they hear, say, that the Obama health care plan will result in the creation of death panels. A letter seeking these 2,000 word essays — and offering to pay $1,000 for them — has been circulating among liberal academics (and at least one who sent it off to conservative bloggers)…. – Inside Higher Ed (6-11-10)
  • “Cry Wolf” draws the ire of Breitbart’s Big Hollywood: But if you haven’t thought of the labor movement as a cerebral bunch, think again. Meet Peter Dreier, Donald Cohen, Nelson Lichtenstein, and their syndicate of progressive university professors – the “intellectual infrastructure” of the progressive labor movement… – Andrew Breitbart Presents Big Hollywood, 6-9-10
  • Controversy continues to dog Lincoln scholar Frank J. WilliamsHNN Staff (6-7-10)
  • Flotilla raid could be fatal blow to Turkey-Israel friendship, says Israeli historian: “At the moment, the street and the government seem to be united in their antipathy for Israel,” said Ofra Bengio, a professor of history at Tel Aviv University and author of The Turkish-Israeli Relationship: Changing Ties of Middle Eastern Outsiders…. “It was our misfortune to play into the hands of militants,” Prof. Bengio said. “There’s no doubt that Erdogan is riding high in the eyes of the public,” Prof. Bengio said. “If there’s going to be reconciliation between our countries, it will have to take place behind the scenes. The street is just too volatile.”… Globe and Mail (6-3-10)

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

HISTORY NEWS:

  • Scholar asks if the Crusaders had a Muslim ally in the First Crusade: A new article is examining the relationship between Islamic states and the Crusader army during the First Crusade (1096-99) and suggests that the Fatimid kingdom of Egypt did attempt to ally with the Crusaders. The article, “Fatimids, Crusaders and the Fall of Islamic Jerusalem: Foes or Allies?” was written by Maher Y. Abu-Munshar in the latest issue of Al-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean…. – Medieval News (6-3-10)
  • Leading Polish historian, killed in Katyn crash, now the victim of credit card theft: The Russian Federal Investigation Committee of the prosecutor’s office said four conscripts had been detained for allegedly using the credit card of Andrzej Przewoznik, a leading historian who was killed in the accident…. – Telegraph (UK) (6-8-10)
  • Raza studies author says “occupied” does not mean “to take over” in Arizona embroglio: “Occupied America.” It’s the title of a textbook at the center of a new Arizona law that targets ethnic studies programs in public schools. That textbook is used by TUSD in an ethic studies class. So, what exactly does “occupied” mean? Rudy Acuòa, Ph.D., is the book’s author. He says the word “occupied” means “to have a history” which he says his book teaches. Acuna says “occupied” does not mean “to take over.” Hence, the reason he says he titled his book “Occupied America” and not “Occupied Mexico.”… – KGUN 9 (AZ) (6-5-10)
  • Arizona Immigration Law No Different from the Past, Says Texas Tech Historian: Miguel Levario, an assistant professor of history, says that even since the days of the Gold Rush when Mexican- American residents of California were required to carry ID cards, the Arizona law is just the latest in a series of laws and events targeted specifically at Mexican-Americans…. – Texas Tech Today (6-4-10)
  • Historian tapped as running mate for GOP governor candidate in South Dakota: South Dakota gubernatorial candidate Gordon Howie announced today that he has asked former Sioux Falls mayoral candidate and alderman Kermit Staggers to be his running mate in his bid for governor of South Dakota on the Republican ticket. Staggers has served in the South Dakota legislature as well as the Sioux Falls city council. He has a PhD in American History and is a professor of History and Political Science at the University of Sioux Falls…. – Dakota Voice (6-2-10)
  • Rightwing historian Niall Ferguson given school curriculum role: Niall Ferguson, the British historian most closely associated with a rightwing, Eurocentric vision of western ascendancy, is to work with the Conservatives to overhaul history in schools…. – Guardian (UK) (5-30-10)

OP-EDs:

  • Thomas J. Sugrue: The myth of post-racial America: Was the election of Barack Obama the turning point in America’s racial development? Is the United States now set on a path to realize all its hopes and dreams of the civil rights era and narrow the divisions between the races? Thomas J. Sugrue, a professor of history and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, isn’t so sure. In “Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race,” Sugrue explores the question of race in Obama’s America and finds that much progress is still needed before the nation can truly call itself post-racial…. – WaPo, 6-10-10
  • Laurie Penny: Niall Ferguson and Michael Gove: The Tories want our children to be proud of Britain’s imperial past. When right-wing colonial historian Niall Ferguson told the Hay Festival last weekend that he would like to revise the school history curriculum to include “the rise of western domination of the world” as the “big story” of the last 500 years, Education Secretary Michael Gove leapt to his feet to praise Ferguson’s “exciting” ideas – and offer him the job. Ferguson is a poster-boy for big stories about big empire, his books and broadcasting weaving Boys’ Own-style tales about the British charging into the jungle and jolly well sorting out the natives…. – Laurie Penny at The New Statesman (6-1-10)
  • Jay Driskell: Petitioning the AHA to Use INMEX to Avoid Labor DisputesJay Driskell in an Open Letter (5-31-10)

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Nathaniel Philbrick, S. C. Gwynne: Men on Horseback Nathaniel Philbrick: THE LAST STAND Custer, Sitting Bull and the Battle of the Little Bighorn Excerpt S. C. Gwynne: EMPIRE OF THE SUMMER MOON Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History Exerpt In “The Last Stand,” Nathaniel Philbrick, the author of the popular histories “Mayflower” and “In the Heart of the Sea,” offers an account of the Battle of the Little Bighorn that gives appropriate space to Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Maj. Marcus Reno and others who fought that day. But really, Custer steals the show.
    If Custer illustrates how the spotlight of history sometimes shines on the wrong actor, Quanah Parker exemplifies the more deserving who get left in the shadows. One hopes a better fate awaits “Empire of the Summer Moon,” S. C. Gwynne’s transcendent history of Parker and the Comanche nation he led in the mid- to late 1800s… The deeper, richer story that unfolds in “Empire of the Summer Moon” is nothing short of a revelation. Gwynne, a former editor at Time and Texas Monthly, doesn’t merely retell the story of Parker’s life. He pulls his readers through an American frontier roiling with extreme violence, political intrigue, bravery, anguish, corruption, love, knives, rifles and arrows. Lots and lots of arrows. This book will leave dust and blood on your jeans…. – NYT, 6-13-10
  • DAVID OSHINSKY: The View From Inside Review of Wilbert Rideau IN THE PLACE OF JUSTICE A Story of Punishment and Deliverance Few people know this better than Wilbert Rideau. Convicted of the murder of a white bank teller in 1961, Rideau, who is black, spent 44 years in prison, most of them at Angola, before being released. His painfully candid memoir, “In the Place of Justice,” is indeed, as its subtitle promises, “a story of punishment and deliverance,” told by a high school dropout who escaped Angola’s electric chair to become an award-winning prison journalist. As such, Rideau is the rarest of American commodities — a man who exited a penitentiary in better shape than when he arrived…. – 6-13-10 Excerpt
  • Justin Vaïsse: Leave No War Behind NEOCONSERVATISM The Biography of a Movement This definitional question, and in particular neoconservatism’s extraordinary transformation, is the principal subject of “Neoconservatism: The Biography of a Movement,” by Justin Vaïsse, a French expert on American foreign policy who is currently a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. It is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the contours of our recent political past. Vaïsse is a historian of ideas. “Neoconservatism” demonstrates, among other things, that ideas really do make a difference in our lives…. – NYT, 6-13-10
  • HISTORY: ‘Last Call,’ a history of Prohibition, by Daniel Okrent: LAST CALL The Rise and Fall of Prohibition As Daniel Okrent demonstrates in “Last Call,” his witty and exhaustive new history of Prohibition, the so-called Noble Experiment created nothing like a virtuous teetotaler’s paradise. The 18th Amendment, in fact, didn’t so much end the country’s drinking culture as merely change its ethos, replacing the male-dominated saloon with the sexually integrated speakeasy and turning a public pastime into a surreptitious exercise in cynicism and hypocrisy. “The drys had their law,” as Okrent observes, “and the wets would have their liquor.” And the bootleggers would have their obscene and blood-soaked profits, blissfully free of state and federal taxes…. – WaPo, 6-11-10
  • POLITICS Book review: ‘The Upper House’ by Terence Samuel: THE UPPER HOUSE A Journey Behind the Closed Doors of the U.S. Senate Terence Samuel’s “The Upper House” explores the inner workings of the U.S. Senate through the lives of several current senators, including Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, Tennessee Republican Bob Corker and Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar. He describes the near impossibility senators face in fulfilling all the promises made during a campaign and explains why voters get frustrated when an election does not produce the immediate change for which they worked, voted and hoped. WaPo, 6-11-10
  • BIOGRAPHY Book review: Ronald M. Peters, Jr., and Cindy Simon Rosenthal: ‘Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the New American Politics,’ reviewed by Norm Ornstein: …We can expect a wave of books about Pelosi; the first to emerge since her health reform triumph is not by journalists, either of the tell-all or political-beat variety, but by two political scientists from the University of Oklahoma. Both Ronald Peters and Cindy Rosenthal are experts on congressional leadership and history; their book is thus more than a biography of Pelosi, and more than an account of her tenure so far as speaker. Peters and Rosenthal try also to put Pelosi into the broader context of contemporary American politics and Congress…. – WaPo, 6-11-10
  • The 1970s get a second look by historians: The Shock of the Global: The 1970s in Perspective Above all else, the 1970s marked the moment when world leaders and ordinary citizens alike woke up with a jolt to their common status as inhabitants of an interconnected world — and understood, in the process, that this didn’t necessarily make the planet a more predictable place. “This is the decade when things start to unravel,” says Harvard historian Charles Maier, one of the editors of the new book The Shock of the Global: The 1970s in Perspective. In his essay in the book, historian Daniel Sargent offers a citation from 1975: “Old international patterns are crumbling … The world has become interdependent in economics, in communications, and in human aspirations.” The writer was Henry Kissinger… – Foreign Policy (6-1-10)
  • Dan Epstein: How Green Was Their AstroTurf: BIG HAIR AND PLASTIC GRASS A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging ’70s Incomprehensibly, if you read Dan Epstein’s “Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging ’70s,” that singular event took place almost three years later, at the 1971 All-Star Game. He gets Tiger Stadium right, but nothing else….
    Baseball fans come factory-equipped with high expectations. We set ourselves up to be disappointed. But usually that disappointment is delivered by $200 million cleanup hitters, overweight starters or Billy Beane. Not writers entrusted to feed our baseball-history tapeworm. In a book that could and should have been a valuable compendium of an under­documented decade, the Feliciano gaffe appears on Page 38. When an author pulls that big a rock that early, you start reading differently. We don’t want to be copy editors. We’d rather not keep score…. – NYT, 6-6-10
  • Nathaniel Philbrick breathes new life into the hoary tale of Custer’s Last Stand: THE LAST STAND Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn Nathaniel Philbrick’s new book, “The Last Stand,” is popular history, and it’s not fair to expect him to bring new evidence to light. To be sure, there’s the more or less obligatory reference to a new source — an unpublished account by the daughter of one of Custer’s soldiers, quoting from her father’s private papers — but Philbrick wisely doesn’t try to convince the reader that this is important material; it’s a touch here and there of marginalia. The only fair questions are whether his account is well researched, his judgments reasonable and his writing engaging. The answers are yes, yes and yes. Moreover, the book is a model of organization, with lots of maps and photographs and extensive endnotes properly delineating Philbrick’s sources much more clearly than is usual in this kind of work…. – WaPo, 6-4-10
  • Gary B. Nash’s history of “The Liberty Bell”: It is an unlikely central character for a book: A silent, 250-year-old bell. Yet in “The Liberty Bell,” a biography of our nation’s “nearly sacred totem,” Gary B. Nash provides a stirring historical account of the icon that is America’s “Rosetta Stone or . . . Holy Grail.”…. – WaPo, 6-6-10
  • Jack Rakove: Looking for a ‘New’ Narrative of Founding Fathers: Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America Into this hot fug comes Jack Rakove’s new book, “Revolutionaries,” which bears the subtitle “A New History of the Invention of America.” Mr. Rakove is a professor of history, American studies and political science at Stanford University. He was also the winner, in 1997, of a Pulitzer Prize for his book “Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution.” He sounds like an interesting man, the kind who sometimes gets his boots muddy. He has been an expert witness in Indian land claims litigation…. – NYT, 5-30-10

FEATURES:

  • Ruth Harris: Letters reveal key role played by ‘passionate’ wife in securing justice for Alfred Dreyfus: Fresh light has been thrown on the Dreyfus Affair, the cause célèbre that divided France and shook the world in the late 19th century, by the discovery of thousands of unpublished letters. Following the exile of Captain Alfred Dreyfus after his wrongful conviction for spying for Germany against France, his wife, Lucie, was portrayed as a bourgeois heroine, the epitome of the dutiful Victorian spouse. But, according to her letters, she was a passionate woman whose undying love for her husband rescued him from the brink of suicide… – Guardian (UK) (6-6-10)
  • Conservative class on Founding Fathers’ answers to current woes gains popularity: Earl Taylor has spent 31 years teaching that “the Founding Fathers have answers to nearly every problem we have in America today.” Only in recent months has he found so many eager students. Two years ago, Taylor, who is president of the National Center for Constitutional Studies, made about 35 trips to speak to small church groups and political gatherings. This year, he has received so many requests that he enlisted 15 volunteer instructors, who are on pace to hold more than 180 sessions reaching thousands of people. “We’re trying to flood the nation . . . and it’s happening,” said Taylor, 63, a charter school principal…. – WaPo (6-7-10)
  • Shaping Gotham’s Past with Richard Rabinowitz: Elegantly dressed in a three-piece suit, gray hair framing his square-rimmed glasses, Richard Rabinowitz once met me on a blustery spring afternoon outside the New-York Historical Society, the 206-year-old institution where he has helped shape the way that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers see their city’s past. Best known as curator of Slavery in New York, an acclaimed NYHS exhibit that exposed the ties between enslaved African labor and New York City’s wealth, the 65-year-old has spent more than four decades creating history exhibits for general audiences in the United States and abroad…. – The Atlantic (6-1-10)

QUOTES:

  • American people cynical and uninvolved, says historian: “This spill, it’s another blow to the body politic,” says John Baick, professor of history at Western New England College in Springfield, Mass. It is, he says, another excuse to be cynical and uninvolved — “exactly the opposite of what has always been the American zeitgeist, a sense that we, collectively and through our institutions, can be something greater than ourselves.”… “If people don’t believe, if people don’t give, if people don’t trust, they will pick the politicians who are the loudest rather than the most sincere,” said Baick, the history professor. “They will pick the rabble rouser rather than the technocrat who gets things done.”… – AP (6-7-10)
  • Randolph Roth says that Juárez murder rate like that of civil war: “Whenever you have a real struggle for power — civil wars, revolutions — organized gangs can get very, very bad like you have in Juárez today,” Roth said. “It’s very rare to see the rates like this in a developed country. It’s very sad.” Roth is a professor of history and sociology at Ohio State University who created a historical database examining U.S. homicide rates from different time periods and places. He is author of the book “American Homicide.”… – El Paso Times (6-7-10)
  • Tom Asbridge: Christians and Muslims are distorting crusades, says historian: “This is a manipulation of history, not a reality. I believe there is no division linking the medieval past and the conflict of the crusades with the modern world,” he said. “[It’s a] misunderstanding which goes back to the 19th century and western triumphalism in emerging colonialism, and the tendency of western historians to start to glorify the crusades as a proto-colonial enterprise, an [obsession] with Richard the Lionheart and a burgeoning interest in [Muslim leader] Saladin as almost the noble savage.”… – Guardian (UK) (6-2-10)

INTERVIEWS:

  • 5 Questions for Patrick J. Charles on Gun Control and the Second Amendment: Gun control and the Second Amendment are highly emotional and controversial issues in the United States. As a potentially landmark ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicago is shortly to be announced by the Supreme Court before its current term ends in June, Patrick J. Charles, author of The Second Amendment: The Intent and Its Interpretation by the States and the Supreme Court (McFarland, 2009) and Britannica’s new entries on both subjects, has kindly agreed to answer the following questions posed by Britannica executive editor Michael Levy…. – Britannica Blog (6-1-10)

AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

  • American Historian Wins Norway’s Holberg Prize: The historian Natalie Zemon Davis, probably best known for her work “The Return of Martin Guerre,” which was made into a 1982 film with Gérard Depardieu, won Norway’s 4.5 million kroner ($680,000) Holberg Prize on Wednesday for her narrative approach to history, The Associated Press reported…. – NYT, 6-10-10
  • John van Engen wins Grundler Prize: Western Michigan University has awarded the prestigious Grundler Prize to a University of Notre Dame scholar for his book, Sisters and Brothers of the Common Life: The Devotio Moderna and the World of the Later Middle Ages…. – Medieval News (6-8-10)
  • Historians among 2010 ACLS Fellows: The American Council of Learned Societies recently announced the winners of its 2010 fellowship competition. Over $15 million was awarded to more than 380 scholars, including many historians. ACLS fellowships and grants are awarded to individual scholars for excellence in research in the humanities and related social sciences. The complete list of winners is available on the ACLS web site. Among the winners are the following historians…. – David Darlington at AHA Blog (6-8-10)
  • Kiron K. Skinner International-Relations Professor to Advise on Bush Oral-History Project: Skinner has been chosen to serve on the advisory board for the George W. Bush Oral History Project, to be conducted by the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. The center has done similar projects on each president since Jimmy Carter…. – CHE (5-30-10)

SPOTTED:

  • Historian Spence Delivers 2010 NEH Jefferson Lecture: On May 20, Jonathan Spence, one of the world’s leading experts on Chinese history and culture, delivered the 2010 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities. The annual lecture, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), is the most prestigious honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities. To read the lecture, click here. In the lecture, “When Minds Met: China and the West in the Seventeenth Century,” Spence explored the many ways that one of the first Chinese travelers to reach Europe shared his ideas with the Westerners he met…. – Lee White at the National Coalition for History (6-4-10)

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • September 17-18, 2010 at Notre Dame University: Conference aims to bring medieval, early modern and Latin American historians together: An interdisciplinary conference to be held at the University of Notre Dame this fall is making a final call for papers to explore the issue surrounding similarities between late-medieval Iberia and its colonies in the New World. “From Iberian Kingdoms to Atlantic Empires: Spain, Portugal, and the New World, 1250-1700” is being hosted by the university’s Nanovic Institute for European Studies and will take place on September 17-18, 2010. Medieval News, 4-29-10
  • 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.

ON TV:

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

BOOKS COMING SOON:

  • John Mosier: Deathride: Hitler vs. Stalin – The Eastern Front, 1941-1945, (Hardcover), June 15, 2010
  • Evan D. G. Fraser: Empires of Food: Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations, (Hardcover), June 15, 2010
  • Ruth Harris: Dreyfus: Politics, Emotion, and the Scandal of the Century (REV), (Hardcover), June 22, 2010
  • James Mauro: Twilight at the World of Tomorrow: Genius, Madness, Murder, and the 1939 World’s Fair on the Brink of War, (Hardcover), June 22, 2010.
  • William Marvel: The Great Task Remaining: The Third Year of Lincoln’s War, (Hardcover), June 22, 2010
  • Suzann Ledbetter: Shady Ladies: Nineteen Surprising and Rebellious American Women, (Hardcover), June 28, 2010.
  • Julie Flavell: When London Was Capital of America, (Hardcover), June 29, 2010
  • Donald P. Ryan: Beneath the Sands of Egypt: Adventures of an Unconventional Archaeologist, (Hardcover), June 29, 2010
  • Jane Brox: Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light, (Hardcover), July 8, 2010.
  • Rudy Tomedi: General Matthew Ridgway, (Hardcover), July 30, 2010.
  • Richard Toye: Churchill’s Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made, (Hardcover), August 3, 2010.
  • Alexander Hamilton: The Federalist Papers, (Hardcover), August 16, 2010
  • Holger Hoock: Empires of the Imagination: Politics, War, and the Arts in the British World, 1750-1850, (Hardcover), September 1, 2010
  • Anna Whitelock: Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen, (Hardcover), September 7, 2010
  • James L. Swanson: Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln’s Corpse, (Hardcover), September 28, 2010
  • Timothy Snyder: The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke (First Trade Paper Edition), (Paperback), September 28, 2010
  • Ron Chernow: Washington: A Life, (Hardcover), October 5, 2010
  • George William Van Cleve: A Slaveholders’ Union: Slavery, Politics, and the Constitution in the Early American Republic, (Hardcover), October 1, 2010.
  • John Keegan: The American Civil War: A Military History, (Paperback), October 5, 2010
  • Bill Bryson: At Home: A Short History of Private Life, (Hardcover), October 5, 2010
  • Robert M. Poole: On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery, (Paperback), October 26, 2010
  • Robert Leckie: Challenge for the Pacific: Guadalcanal: The Turning Point of the War, (Paperback), October 26, 2010
  • Manning Marable: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, (Hardcover), November 9, 2010
  • Elizabeth White: The Socialist Alternative to Bolshevik Russia: The Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1917-39, (Hardcover), November 10, 2010
  • Elizabeth White: The Socialist Alternative to Bolshevik Russia: The Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1917-39, (Hardcover), November 10, 2010
  • G. J. Barker-Benfield: Abigail and John Adams: The Americanization of Sensibility, (Hardcover), November 15, 2010
  • Edmund Morris: Colonel Roosevelt, (Hardcover), November 23, 2010
  • Michael Goldfarb: Emancipation: How Liberating Europe’s Jews from the Ghetto Led to Revolution and Renaissance, (Paperback), November 23, 2010

DEPARTED:

  • David Valaik, emeritus professor at Canisius College, dies at 74: David Valaik, PhD, an emeritus professor of history at Canisius College, died on Friday, June 4. He was 74…. – Canisius College (6-8-10)
  • Honored scholar Norman A. Graebner dies at 94: Norman A. Graebner, a former University of Virginia professor who was known for his love of teaching and esteemed for his knowledge on American diplomatic history, died on May 10 at the Colonnades in Charlottesville. He was 94… – Charlottesville Daily Progress (6-7-10)
  • Lila Weinberg, Chicago historian and author, dies: Lila Weinberg, a Chicago historian, author, teacher and editor, has died. Weinberg, who died May 29 at the age of 91 from complications of cancer, collaborated with her late husband, Arthur, on six books on social history, including two on attorney Clarence Darrow. One of the books, “Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned,” spent 19 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list in 1957. Arthur Weinberg died in 1989…. – Jewish Telegraphic Agency (6-1-10)

History Buzz: May 31, 2010: Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Fleming, Michael Bellesiles, & Jonathan Alter on Obama in the News

History Buzz

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor/Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

HISTORY BUZZ:

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

IN FOCUS

  • Michael A. Bellesiles Contraversial New Book “1877: America’s Year of Living Violently”HNN
  • Thomas Fleming “Channelling George Washington” Series – HNN
  • Orlando Figes Contraversay: Who gives a Figes for Orlando? – Sydney Morning Herald, 5-18-10

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

    On This Day in History….

    This Week in History….

  • Malcolm and Martin, closer than we ever thought: As the 85th birthday of Malcolm X is marked on Wednesday, history has freeze-framed him as the angry black separatist who saw whites as blue-eyed devils. Yet near the end of his life, Malcolm X was becoming more like King — and King was becoming more like him. “In the last years of their lives, they were starting to move toward one another,” says David Howard-Pitney, who recounted the Capitol Hill meeting in his book “Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and the Civil Rights Struggle of the 1950s and 1960s.” “While Malcolm is moderating from his earlier position, King is becoming more militant,” Pitney says…. – CNN, 5-19-10

HISTORY NEWS:

  • Controversy over medieval conference location in Arizona: The site of next year’s annual meeting of the Medieval Academy of America is in doubt after scholars raised objections that it is being held in Arizona, the US state which recently passed controversial legislation against illegal immigration. As several scholars have made calls for the conference to be boycotted, officials with the academy have confirmed that they are examining several options, including moving the meeting out-of-state… – Medieval News, 5-24-10
  • Why Arizona targeted ethnic studies: Earlier this month Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law a bill that had been pushed by Tom Horne, Arizona’s longtime secretary of education,who took a disliking to the program several years ago. The bill prohibits any class in the state from promoting either the overthrow of the U.S. government or resentment toward a race or class of people, and that advocates ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals, and — here’s the big one — that are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group. The Tucson program offers specialized courses in African-American, Mexican-American and Native-American studies that focus on history and literature and includes information about the influence of a particular ethnic group… – WaPo, 5-25-10
  • Historian Stuart Macintyre slams Australian school course: Professor Macintyre told The Australian the consultation process set up by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority had become derailed by “capricious” decisions made to change the course without reference to the expert advisory groups or the writers…. – The Australian (5-25-10)
  • Company, Harvard prof work on Web-linked textbook, WWII game: “Today’s students want to be engaged, and those who play strategy games know more about history than those who just read today’s textbooks,” said Ferguson. “The interactive approach to learning history is going to be a game-changer.”… – Boston Herald, 5-24-10
  • More conservative textbook curriculum OK’d: In a landmark move that will shape the future education of millions of Texas schoolchildren, the State Board of Education on Friday approved new curriculum standards for U.S. history and other social studies courses that reflect a more conservative tone than in the past. Split along party lines, the board delivered a pair of 9-5 votes to adopt the new standards, which will dictate what is taught in all Texas schools and provide the basis for future textbooks and student achievement tests over the next decade…. – The Dallas Morning News, 5-22-10
  • Texas State Board of Education Approves Controversial Social Studies Curriculum Changes: On Friday, the members of the Texas State Board of Education voted 9-5 on social studies curriculum standards for Texas Public Schools. Proposed revisions to textbooks will largely eliminate the civil rights movement from the curriculum. Former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige and NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous were among those who spoke before the board earlier in the week. Paige, who served as Education Secretary during President George W. Bush’s first term, implored the board members to take more time to consider the new standards, saying they will diminish the importance of civil rights and slavery…. – Diverse Issues in Higher Education, 5-24-10
  • AHA Calls on the Texas State Board of Education to Reconsider TEKS Social Studies Amendments – AHA Press Release, 5-18-10
  • New Report Shows Little Growth in Salaries for History Faculty: Historians in academia saw little, if any improvement in their wages over the past academic year, as average salaries for regular full-time faculty at most ranks grew by less than 1 percent according to a new study from the College and University Personnel Association for Human Resources (CUPA–HR). This represents the smallest average increase in salaries for historians in 15 years…. – Robert Townsend in Perspectives, 4-22-10
  • Historian helps to save Lake Ontario steamship: An iconic photo taken by historian Mike Filey shows three canoeists paddling out of a partly submerged, abandoned Toronto ferry…. In this case instead of being scrapped, the century-old paddlewheeler was raised and refitted after Filey and his wife, Yarmila, launched a bid to save the vessel after seeing it “literally rotting” in a Toronto island lagoon…. – Toronto Sun, 5-17-10

OP-EDs:

  • Joe Mozingo: An old diary throws him a curve: He could grasp having a black ancestor way back in the 1600s. But in the 1800s? A slave? It had to be a mistake. What would his family think?… – LAT, 5-22-10

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • DAVID OSHINSKY on Daniel Okrent: Temperance to Excess: LAST CALL The Rise and Fall of Prohibition “Last Call,” by Daniel Okrent, provides the sobering answers. Okrent, the author of four previous books and the first public editor of The New York Times, views Prohibition as one skirmish in a larger war waged by small- town white Protestants who felt besieged by the forces of change then sweeping their nation — a theory first proposed by the historian Richard Hofstadter more than five decades ago. Though much has been written about Prohibition since then, Okrent offers a remarkably original account, showing how its proponents combined the nativist fears of many Americans with legitimate concerns about the evils of alcohol to mold a movement powerful enough to amend the United States Constitution…. – NYT, 5-23-10
  • Nick Bunker: Founding Entrepreneurs: MAKING HASTE FROM BABYLON The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History Maybe the most important point that Bunker highlights concerns the interplay between the Pilgrims’ faith and their education, political standing and financial position…. – NYT, 5-23-10Excerpt
  • Hampton Sides: Death of a Dream: HELLHOUND ON HIS TRAIL The Stalking of Martin Luther King Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin There’s still a line between narrative history and entertainment, in other words, and Hampton Sides flirts with it in his new book about James Earl Ray and Martin Luther King, “Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King Jr. and the International Hunt for His ­Assassin.” If that sounds like a graphic novel, well, you’re getting the drift. Sides, whose books include “Ghost Soldiers,” a World War II drama, and “Blood and Thunder,” on the conquest of the American West, is not overly interested in new research, thorough­going analysis or traditional bio­graphy. He wants to deliver a heart-pounding nonfiction thriller. This must be the first book on King that owes less to Taylor Branch than Robert Ludlum…. – NYT, 5-16-10Excerpt
  • Jonathan Alter: Penetrating the Process of Obama’s Decisions: THE PROMISE President Obama, Year One Alter’s book “The Promise” actually does give us a new perspective on the 44th president by providing a detailed look at his decision-making process on issues like health care and the Afghanistan war, and a keen sense of what it’s like to work in his White House, day by day.
    It’s an effective and often revealing approach reminiscent of Mr. Alter’s 2006 book, “The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope” (a book that Mr. Obama reportedly read before taking office), and Richard Reeves’s 1993 book, “President Kennedy: Profile of Power,” though obviously without the kind of retrospective wisdom possible decades after the completion of those presidents’ tenures…. – NYT, 5-13-10
  • Jonathan Alter: Interim Report: THE PROMISE President Obama, Year One One of the earliest off the mark is Jonathan Alter…. “The Promise” offers an excellent opportunity to appraise Obama’s initial efforts. Drawing on interviews with over 200 people, including the president and his top aides, Alter examines everything from the economic bailouts to the military surge in Afghanistan.
    Throughout, he seeks to avoid what he refers to as the “polemics of punditry.” This endows his narrative with a lapidary tone that is mercifully free of the breathless sensationalism of recent campaign books, but it also results, at times, in a somewhat cloistered quality… – NYT, 5-30-10
  • David Farber: The Rise of Conservatism, in Historical Scholarship: Now, among the latest entrants to the growing list of books on the right comes David Farber’s The Rise and Fall of Modern American Conservatism: A Short History, new from Princeton University Press…. – CHE, 5-26-10
  • The birth control pill’s legacy at 50: Talking with Elaine Tyler May: As May writes in her new book, “America + the Pill,” that is perhaps the one expectation that the Pill has actually fulfilled 50 years later. It was not the miracle drug that solved the population explosion and world poverty; nor did it help defeat communism, as many of its advocates hoped. Its primary legacy today is that it gives the women lucky enough to get it the power to control the creation of life in their bodies — and the chance to reach for their dreams. “The Pill was hugely important in allowing women to control their fertility and their lives,” said May, a professor of history and American studies at the University of Minnesota…. – Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 5-24-10
  • David J. Garrow: Book review: ‘Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin,’ by Hampton Sides: Sides, a Memphis native, divides his book into four strands. The first one traces Ray’s activities following his April 1967 escape from a Missouri prison through the assassination a year later and his flight first to Canada and then to Europe. A second strand follows King’s road to Memphis, and a third paints the city’s racial divisions. The final strand tracks the FBI’s intense hostility toward King and covers its dogged investigation, including forensic success in identifying Ray and the pursuit of the assassin as he makes a bumbling effort to reach white-ruled Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)…. – WaPo, 5-14-10
  • Selina Hastings’s ‘The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham,’ reviewed by Michael Dirda: During the second half of his life, William Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) was the most famous writer in the world. Not only did readers love his sardonic tales of sexual passion and dark secrets, of desperation and sudden violence, but so did Hollywood: More of his stories, novels and plays have been filmed than those of any other author. Just one short story, “Rain” — about the prostitute Sadie Thompson and the preacher obsessed with saving her — has provided star turns for Tallulah Bankhead, Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford and Rita Hayworth, among others. As this excellent biography by Selina Hastings makes clear, Somerset Maugham lived a life of quite astonishing richness and variety…. – WaPo, 5-19-10
  • In the beginning with Obama Jonathan Alter’s report just the first chapter of presidential work in progress: Which brings us to where we are. President Obama’s first year in office is done. We are hearing what many think about that. It is not a bad time to wonder what Alter thinks of it. And he obliges us with The Promise (Simon & Schuster, $28). Journalism has been called “literature in a hurry.” Alter’s book is history in a hurry, as he freely admits, but is a good first step for putting events in order and figuring things out…. – Chicago Sun-Times, 5-16-10

FEATURES:

  • Oscar Martinez: University of Arizona historians asks why Mexico is poorer than the U.S.: Martinez, 67, is a regents professor of history at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He’s finishing his latest book, titled “Why Mexico is Poorer than the United States.” It makes the case that there is a logical, empirically measurable set of answers. “It is greatly exaggerated that Mexico is a rich country with regard to raw materials and resources. The reality is that Mexico is one of the poorest countries in terms of land,” he said. “The difference is the United States has the best space on the planet.”… – El Paso Inc., 5-25-10
  • Will Bagley: My brother, the historian by Pat Bagley: This week one of Utah and the West’s most eminent historians turns 60. He has won dozens of awards, been awarded prestigious fellowships and lectured as far afield as Italy. He even appeared with Russell Crowe in the remake of the Western classic, “3:10 to Yuma.” (OK, he’s in the companion DVD, elucidating on the history of Old West outlawry.) Will Bagley also happens to be my brother. For years he wrote a column in this space called “History Matters.” It was a good label. On one level it alludes to sifting evidence for the salient fact; on another it means that history is not bunk. To Will, history is not dead. I have seen him wade into a discussion and passionately defend the honor and reputation of someone he felt was being slighted. That the person in question is dead and long past caring is beside the point. His best-known work to date, Blood of the Prophets , is a gripping narrative of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, the largest white-on-white murder in north America. As it deals with Mormons, Gentiles, a U.S. Army marching on Utah and the LDS Church hierarchy, it wasn’t a task for a shrinking violet…. – The Salt Lake Tribune, 5-21-10
  • From Tory to Turkey: Maverick historian Norman Stone storms back with partisan epic of Cold War world: It isn’t every day that one interviews a figure described on an official British Council website as “notorious”. That badge, which this fearsome foe of drippy-liberal state culture will wear with pride, comes inadvertently via Robert Harris. In his novel Archangel, Harris created the “dissolute historian” (© the British Council and our taxes) Fluke Kelso: an “engaging, wilful, impassioned and irreverent” maverick on the trail of Stalin’s secret papers…. – Independent (UK), 5-14-10

QUOTES:

  • Robert Dallek: The character issue is “always out there”: As a general matter, the character issue never seems to go away. “It’s always out there,” says historian Robert Dallek… – U.S. News & World Report, 5-27-10
  • MN Historian Calls Ft. Snelling ‘Site Of Genocide’: Waziyatawin, of Granite Falls, holds a doctorate in history from Cornell. She says Fort Snelling needs an extreme makeover. She wants it torn down. “It feels like a constant assault on our Dakota humanity,” said Waziyatawin. “I don’t want the Fort sitting on that site of genocide,” she said. “I don’t want the American flag flying high. I don’t want soldiers reenacting marching out to that site and firing cannons every day.”… – WCCO (MN), 5-27-10
  • Stalin projected Moscow University’s Museum of Earth Sciences as church, says historian: “On Stalin’s idea, this hall was built as a kind of chapel, a kind of church, where only elite is allowed,” historian Olga Zinovyeva told TV Center…. – Interfax (RU), 5-19-10
  • Nancy F. Koehn: Harvard Business School historian compares Bono to Abraham Lincoln: Nancy F. Koehn, a historian, at the Harvard Business School, and author, celebrated U2’s Bono’s 50th birthday by celebrating the Irish musician and campaigner for his great skills as a leader. She said “Bono, like Abraham Lincoln 150 years ago, has not let himself become isolated in an elite atmosphere. He has used his touring and travels as classrooms to help him understand the hopes, dreams and tribulations of his fellow citizens, whom he often calls his brothers and sisters. And he has used this knowledge to light his way, his music and his leadership.”… – Irish Central, 5-14-10
  • Mark Mancall on the idea of public space in a democracy: However the idea of public space, professor of history, emeritus, Stanford university, California, Mark Mancall said, has never been fully achieved anywhere, according to historians. “Gender, ethnic differences, class groupings, all participated in defining who could enter public space,” said the professor, who is the director of the royal education council, Thimphu, during the first of a series of discussions on media and democracy that the Bhutan centre for media and democracy organised yesterday. Kuensel Newspaper, 5-14-10
  • USSR planned nuclear attack on China in 1969 , claims Chinese historian: Liu Chenshan, the author of a series of articles that chronicle the five times China has faced a nuclear threat since 1949, wrote that the most serious threat came in 1969 at the height of a bitter border dispute between Moscow and Beijing that left more than one thousand people dead on both sides. He said Soviet diplomats warned Washington of Moscow’s plans “to wipe out the Chinese threat and get rid of this modern adventurer,” with a nuclear strike, asking the US to remain neutral…. – Telegraph (UK), 5-13-10

INTERVIEWS:

  • Jamie Glazov interviews Olga Velikanova: Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Olga Velikanova, an Assistant Professor of Russian History at the University of North Texas. She was among the first scholars to work with declassified Communist Party and secret police archives. Her research about everyday Stalinism, the cult of Lenin and Russian popular opinion has been broadcast by the BBC, Finnish and Russian radio and TV, as well as the History Channel in Canada. She is the author of Making of an Idol: On Uses of Lenin, The Public Perception of the Cult of Lenin Based on the Archival Materials and The Myth of the Besieged Fortress: Soviet Mass Perception in the 1920s-1930s. She is a recipient of many awards from different international research foundations…. – FrontPageMag, 5-24-10

AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

  • The Emerson Prize 2010 Winners: The Emerson Prize is awarded annually to students published in The Concord Review during the previous year who have shown outstanding academic promise in history at the high school level. Since 1995, 74 students have won the Emerson Prize. The five laureates this year were from Ohio, New York, New York, Washington, DC, and Wisconsin. Past laureates have come from Czechoslovakia, Canada, Louisiana, Florida, California, Tennessee, Vermont, Maryland, New Zealand, Texas, Russia, Washington State, Tennessee, Connecticut, Singapore, New Hampshire, Illinois, Japan, and New York.
    2010 Jane Abbottsmith, of Summit Country Day School, in Cincinnati, Ohio (now at Princeton).
    2010 Colin Rhys Hill, of Atlanta International School in Atlanta, Georgia, (now at Christ Church College, Oxford). 2010 Amalia Skilton, of Tempe Preparatory Academy in Tempe, Arizona, (now at Yale).
    2010 Alexander Zou, of Monte Vista High School in Danville, California, (now at Pomona).
    2010 Liang En Wee, of the Hwa Chang Institution in Singapore, (now at the National University of Singapore). – The Concord Review
  • Women behind the rise of the house of Orange-Nassau: WHEN the house of Orange-Nassau finally became monarchs in The Netherlands in 1815, it was the result of hundreds of years of manoeuvring: battles physical and political and, Susan Broomhall contends, a solid effort by generations of the family’s women. “The male line was really weak, they died in battle or were minors for many years,” says Broomhall, a professor of history at the University of Western Australia. “It was the women who kept reminding people of the family through systematically promoting it, so when The Netherlands decided on a monarchy, their family was the obvious choice.” The family still rules, via Queen Beatrix. A $450,000, four-year Australian Research Council grant will help Broomhall and colleague Jacqueline Van Gent tease out the scope of the women’s influence…. – The Australian, 5-26-10
  • Thomas Fleming receives best book award from American Revolution Round Table of New York: The American Revolution Round Table of New York has announced that Thomas Fleming’s The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers has won its 2009 award for best book on the American Revolution. A plaque will be presented to Mr. Fleming at the June 1 meeting of the Round Table at New York City’s Princeton Club. His editor, Elisabeth Kallick Dyssegaard, currently the editor-in-chief of Hyperion Books, will also be recognized at the ceremony. Previous winners include Mary Beth Norton, James Thomas Flexner, and Willard Sterne Randall…. – HNN, 5-19-10

SPOTTED:

  • History, Not Politics, at Jonathan Spence Jefferson Lecture: Jonathan Spence came here to deliver a speech, but don’t let that fool you: his address — the 39th Annual Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, which took place Thursday — in no way resembled the sort typically associated with D.C…. – Inside Higher Ed, 5-21-10
  • Historian probes native perceptions of foreign diseases: Dr. Kevin Terraciano, professor of history and chair of the Latin American Studies Program at University of California, Los Angeles, gave the 2010 Jonas A. “Steine” Jonasson Endowed Lecture to a crowd of more than 60 people on May 12. “Most studies on the spread of disease beginning in 1520 are focused on the types of disease and how they were spread,” Terraciano said. “But I want to explore what the indigenous people of the time thought the cause and spread of disease was.” Linfield News, 5-14-10

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • September 17-18, 2010 at Notre Dame University: Conference aims to bring medieval, early modern and Latin American historians together: An interdisciplinary conference to be held at the University of Notre Dame this fall is making a final call for papers to explore the issue surrounding similarities between late-medieval Iberia and its colonies in the New World. “From Iberian Kingdoms to Atlantic Empires: Spain, Portugal, and the New World, 1250-1700” is being hosted by the university’s Nanovic Institute for European Studies and will take place on September 17-18, 2010. Medieval News, 4-29-10
  • 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.

ON TV:

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

BOOKS COMING SOON:

  • Larry Schweikart: 7 Events that Made America America: And Proved that the Founding Fathers Were Right All Along, (Hardcover) June 1, 2010
  • Spencer Wells: Pandora’s Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization, (Hardcover), June 8, 2010
  • John Mosier: Deathride: Hitler vs. Stalin – The Eastern Front, 1941-1945, (Hardcover), June 15, 2010
  • Evan D. G. Fraser: Empires of Food: Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations, (Hardcover), June 15, 2010
  • Ruth Harris: Dreyfus: Politics, Emotion, and the Scandal of the Century (REV), (Hardcover), June 22, 2010
  • James Mauro: Twilight at the World of Tomorrow: Genius, Madness, Murder, and the 1939 World’s Fair on the Brink of War, (Hardcover), June 22, 2010.
  • William Marvel: The Great Task Remaining: The Third Year of Lincoln’s War, (Hardcover), June 22, 2010
  • Suzann Ledbetter: Shady Ladies: Nineteen Surprising and Rebellious American Women, (Hardcover), June 28, 2010.
  • Julie Flavell: When London Was Capital of America, (Hardcover), June 29, 2010
  • Donald P. Ryan: Beneath the Sands of Egypt: Adventures of an Unconventional Archaeologist, (Hardcover), June 29, 2010
  • Jane Brox: Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light, (Hardcover), July 8, 2010.
  • Rudy Tomedi: General Matthew Ridgway, (Hardcover), July 30, 2010.
  • Richard Toye: Churchill’s Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made, (Hardcover), August 3, 2010.
  • Alexander Hamilton: The Federalist Papers, (Hardcover), August 16, 2010
  • Holger Hoock: Empires of the Imagination: Politics, War, and the Arts in the British World, 1750-1850, (Hardcover), September 1, 2010
  • Anna Whitelock: Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen, (Hardcover), September 7, 2010
  • James L. Swanson: Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln’s Corpse, (Hardcover), September 28, 2010
  • Timothy Snyder: The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke (First Trade Paper Edition), (Paperback), September 28, 2010
  • Ron Chernow: Washington: A Life, (Hardcover), October 5, 2010
  • George William Van Cleve: A Slaveholders’ Union: Slavery, Politics, and the Constitution in the Early American Republic, (Hardcover), October 1, 2010.
  • John Keegan: The American Civil War: A Military History, (Paperback), October 5, 2010
  • Bill Bryson: At Home: A Short History of Private Life, (Hardcover), October 5, 2010
  • Robert M. Poole: On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery , (Paperback), October 26, 2010
  • Robert Leckie: Challenge for the Pacific: Guadalcanal: The Turning Point of the War , (Paperback), October 26, 2010
  • Manning Marable: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, (Hardcover), November 9, 2010
  • Elizabeth White: The Socialist Alternative to Bolshevik Russia: The Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1917-39, (Hardcover), November 10, 2010
  • Elizabeth White: The Socialist Alternative to Bolshevik Russia: The Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1917-39, (Hardcover), November 10, 2010
  • G. J. Barker-Benfield: Abigail and John Adams: The Americanization of Sensibility, (Hardcover), November 15, 2010
  • Edmund Morris: Colonel Roosevelt, (Hardcover), November 23, 2010
  • Michael Goldfarb: Emancipation: How Liberating Europe’s Jews from the Ghetto Led to Revolution and Renaissance, (Paperback), November 23, 2010

DEPARTED:

  • Norman A. Graebner, diplomatic historian, dies at 94: Norman A. Graebner, 94, who shaped the field of diplomatic history with his critiques of American foreign policy, died May 10 at the Colonnades retirement community in Charlottesville after a stroke…. – WaPo, 5-14-10

History Buzz, Apr 26-May 10, 2010: Stephen Ambrose, Diane Ravitch & Niall Ferguson in the News

History Buzz

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor/Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

HISTORY BUZZ:

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

IN FOCUS:

  • Stephen Ambrose’s Work Faces New Scrutiny: The late historian Stephen E. Ambrose rose to fame on the strength of an authorized biography that he claimed included details from “hundreds of hours” of interviews with former President Dwight David Eisenhower. But Richard Rayner, a writer for The New Yorker, reports today that during his research Ambrose apparently had only limited access to Eisenhower, and that archived datebooks and other records conflict with some of the times Ambrose claimed he had sat down with the former five-star general…. AOL News, 4-26-10
  • Thomas Fleming “Channelling George Washington” Series – HNN
  • Orlando Figes Contraversay: Who gives a Figes for Orlando? – Sydney Morning Herald, 5-18-10

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

HISTORY NEWS:

  • Naomi Oreskes finds that out of 928 articles on climate change, 0 challenge consensus: …A study by Naomi Oreskes, professor of history and science studies at the University of California-San Diego, found 928 peer-reviewed articles on climate change; none opposed the unanimous conclusion that human-released greenhouse gases are affecting our climate…. – Kansas City Star, 5-9-10
  • The Twitter Archive at the Library of Congress: When the Library of Congress announced this month that it had recently acquired Twitter’s entire archive of public tweets, the snarkosphere quickly broke out the popular refrain “Nobody cares that you just watched ‘Lost.'” Television tweets are always the shorthand by which naysayers express how idiotic they find Twitter, the microblogging site on which millions of users share their thoughts and activities in 140 characters or fewer.
    The purview of historians has always been the tangible: letters, journals, official documents.
    But on the other hand, says Michael Beschloss, historian and author of “Presidential Courage,” “What historian today wouldn’t give his right arm to have the adult Madison’s contemporaneous Twitters about the secret debates inside the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia?” – WaPo, 5-7-10
  • Europe pressed on slavery reparations by historians: Historians and anti-racism campaigners are to urge the countries that oversaw and profited from the Atlantic slave trade to recognise it as a crime against humanity, opening the way for reparations… – AFP, 5-4-10
  • Va. seeks balance in marking Civil War’s 150th anniversary, tapping Kennedy-era historian: …At last, President John F. Kennedy called on a 31-year-old historian to take over as the centennial’s executive director, refocusing it on sober education. Virginia has turned to the same man — James I. Robertson Jr., a history professor at Virginia Tech and a Civil War expert — to help the state avoid the same kinds of problems as it prepares to mark next year’s 150th anniversary of the start of the war…. – WaPo, 5-3-10
  • Cultural Memory and the Resources of the Past, 400-1000 research project gets funding: A new research collaboration involving historians from Cambridge is to examine how early medieval societies used the past to form ideas about identity which continue to affect our own present. The project will cover six centuries of western European history, from 400 to 1000 AD, and will investigate how earlier cultural traditions, coupled with other sources, such as the Bible, influenced the formation of state identities following the deposition of the last Roman emperor in the West in the fifth century…. – Medieval News, 4-28-10
  • Historians say state should toss proposal: Historians complained of so many problems with the State Board of Education’s proposed social studies curriculum standards that they urged Texas lawmakers Wednesday to ask the board to start over…. – Houston Chronicle, 4-28-10

OP-EDs:

  • Jonathan Jones: Is academic snobbery to blame in the Orlando Figes affair?: I have a horrible feeling that behind this disaster lies a rebirth of insular academic snobbery, the resentment of a popular historian. I find myself thinking of the episode of Peep Show in which an academic urges Mark Corrigan to write an attack on Simon Schama – “and his interesting, accessible books”…. – Guardian (UK), 4-29-10

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • New Obama book by Newsweek senior editor Jonathan Alter airs private flares of temper: President Obama may cultivate an image as the unflappable Mr. Cool, but he can get hot under the collar too, according to a new book.
    In “The Promise: President Obama, Year One,” by Newsweek senior editor Jonathan Alter, the author recounts a series of private blow-ups – including a particularly fiery one involving the nation’s top military brass…. – NY Daily News, 5-8-10
  • HISTORY Book review of “Goodbye Wives and Daughters,” by Susan Kushner Resnick: The coal-mining tragedy depicted in “Goodbye Wifes and Daughters” occurred nearly 70 years ago but is still an eerily familiar storyline in 2010. While mine safety and regulation have vastly improved, recent headlines out of West Virginia make journalist Susan Kushner Resnick’s excavation of the 1943 explosion that killed 75 men in Bearcreek, Mont., seem not so distant from present-day disasters. WaPo, 5-7-10
  • Book reviews: ‘History in Blue’ by Allan T. Duffin, ‘A Few Good Women’ by Evelyn M. Monahan and Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee: HISTORY IN BLUE 160 Years of Women Police, Sheriffs, Detectives, and State Troopers, A FEW GOOD WOMEN America’s Military Women from World War I to the War in Iraq and Afghanistan
    In “Woman in the Nineteenth Century” (1845), Margaret Fuller set out the original feminist proclamation about women’s access to work: “We would have every arbitrary barrier thrown down. We would have every path laid open to woman as freely as to man.”
    Both “History in Blue,” by Allan T. Duffin, and “A Few Good Women,” by Evelyn M. Monahan and Rosemary Neidel- Greenlee, document women’s work history and provide fascinating individual stories…. – WaPo, 5-7-10
  • Diane Ravitch: The Education of Diane Ravitch THE DEATH AND LIFE OF THE GREAT AMERICAN SCHOOL SYSTEM How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education Ravitch’s offer to guide us through this mess comes with a catch: she has changed her mind. Once an advocate of choice and testing, in “The Death and Life of the Great American School System” she throws cold water on both. Along the way she casts a skeptical eye on the results claimed by such often-praised school reformers as New York’s Anthony Alvarado and San Diego’s Alan Bersin, reviews a sheaf of academic studies of school effectiveness and delivers the most damning criticism I have ever read of the role philanthropic institutions sometimes play in our society. “Never before,” she writes of the Gates Foundation, was there an entity “that gave grants to almost every major think tank and advocacy group in the field of education, leaving no one willing to criticize its vast power and unchecked influence.”… – NYT, 5-6-10
  • Woodward book on Obama coming in September: A Bob Woodward book on the Obama administration is coming out in September…. AP, 5-5-10
  • Ruth Marcus reviews Laura Bush’s memoir, ‘Spoken From the Heart’: Laura has always seemed the more interesting Bush. Certainly, the more mysterious. With George W., what you see is what you get. He is not a complicated man. But Laura leaves you wondering about the layers beneath that serene exterior. What is she thinking? What private rebellions are simmering, what resentments submerged? What forged the bond, seemingly as strong as it was unlikely, between the librarian who named her cat Dewey, after the decimal system, and the jock-turned-oilman who was soon to turn, inevitably, to the family business of politics? Laura Bush’s autobiography, “Spoken From the Heart,” begins promisingly enough for anyone hoping to penetrate that surface…. – WaPo, 5-2-10
  • HISTORY Book review of “The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, the Rush to Empire, 1898” by Evan Thomas: More than a century before a recent president, who had never seen combat, led the United States into war with Iraq, a pair of politicians similarly unscarred by war created the playbook that has been used ever since. The prototype conflict was the Spanish-American War of 1898, studied by every school child as America’s thunderous entry onto the world stage and its first foray into colonial rule. So much has been written about this seminal moment that journalist and author Evan Thomas faced a daunting task in undertaking “The War Lovers.” After all, what could be said that hasn’t already been covered in the some 400 or so books? Plenty, it turns out…. – WaPo, 5-2-10
  • Jim Baggott: If You Build It . . .: THE FIRST WAR OF PHYSICS The Secret History of the Atom Bomb, 1939-1949 Jim Baggott, a popular British science writer, sets out in “The First War of Physics” to tell the story of the early stages of the nuclear arms race…. – NYT, 5-9-10
  • LAUREL THATCHER ULRICH on Marla R. Miller: Star-Spangled Story: BETSY ROSS AND THE MAKING OF AMERICA Marla R. Miller, who teaches American history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, believes that Claypoole “planted the seeds of her own mythology in the 1820s and ’30s as she regaled her children and grandchildren with tales from her youth, her work, and of life in Revolutionary Philadelphia.” In an engaging biography, Miller shows that even though the flag story is riddled with improbabilities, the life of the woman who came to be known as Betsy Ross is worth recovering. Piecing together shards of evidence from “newspaper advertisements, household receipts, meeting minutes, treasurer’s reports, shop accounts and ledgers, probate records, tools and artifacts . . . and oral traditions,” Miller connects her heroine with most of the major events in Philadelphia’s early history, from the building of the city in the years when Elizabeth’s great-­grandfather was establishing himself as a master carpenter to the yellow fever epidemic that in 1793 killed her parents.
    Through skillful use of small details, Miller sustains her repeated assertion that the future Betsy Ross was often “only a handshake away” from the men who made the Revolution…. – NYT, 5-9-10

FEATURES:

  • From Tory to Turkey: Maverick historian Norman Stone storms back with partisan epic of Cold War world: It isn’t every day that one interviews a figure described on an official British Council website as “notorious”. That badge, which this fearsome foe of drippy-liberal state culture will wear with pride, comes inadvertently via Robert Harris. In his novel Archangel, Harris created the “dissolute historian” (© the British Council and our taxes) Fluke Kelso: an “engaging, wilful, impassioned and irreverent” maverick on the trail of Stalin’s secret papers…. – Independent (UK), 5-14-10

QUOTES:

  • Yuan Tengfei: Celebrity Chinese historian severely criticizes Mao on state TV: “If you want to see Mao, you can go to his mausoleum at the Tiananmen Square. But don’t forget it’s a Chinese version of the Yasukuni Shrine, which glorifies Mao, under whose hands many people were massacred,” the report quoted Yuan Tengfei, a history teacher at Beijing’s Jinghua School, as saying in a 110-minute special TV lecture at the state television, CCTV. “The only thing Mao did right since he founded the new China in 1949 was his death,” Yuan was quoted as saying…. – Tibetan Review, 5-11-10
  • British political historian explains the role of class in UK elections: Steven Fielding, a professor of political history and the director of the Center for British Politics at the University of Nottingham. Mr. Fielding said that viewers who see politicians performing on television start to regard them, in a sense, as protagonists in fictional dramas. “It’s not that they confuse them with TV characters, but that they see them in the same framework,” he said. “The leaders’ debates exaggerate that by encouraging voters to focus on the minutiae rather than on the policy.”… – NYT, 4-30-10

INTERVIEWS:

  • “In the eyes of the majority, Stalin is a winner,” says Russian historian Nikolai Svanidze: Historian Nikolai Svanidze spoke to SPIEGEL about the reasons for Stalin’s popularity in Russia. He argues that the archives need to be opened in order to reveal the dictator’s crimes and explains why President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have very different approaches to Russian history….. – Spiegel Online, 5-6-10
  • Harvey Klehr sits down with FrontPageMag: Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Harvey Klehr, Andrew Mellon Professor of Politics and History at Emory University. He is the author of the new book, The Communist Experience in America: A Political and Social History…. – Jaime Glazov at FrontPageMag, 5-6-10
  • Q&A with Niall Ferguson: Niall Ferguson’s resumé could put you to sleep. He’s a senior fellow here, a professor of this or that there. But despite hanging out with the elbow-patch crowd, this Scottish intellectual and author smoothly blends history, finance and politics all into one understandable package. At times he is humorous, at others frightful. His relationship with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-Dutch intellectual who has a death threat looming over her head after she was critical of Islam, also lends him an air of controversy. Mr. Ferguson, whose latest bestseller is The Ascent of Money: The Financial History of the World, was in Calgary this past week as the headliner at the Teatro salon speaker series. He touched on everything from why he thinks the International Monetary Fund will soon be bailing out Britain, to why the United States must now tread carefully around the globe or risk the wrath of China. And he shared his thoughts on money and power and who he thinks will win the U.K. election…. – Financial Post, 5-1-10

AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

  • Z Street lobbying group awards Daniel Pipes prize for peace plan: Z STREET awarded Daniel Pipes, the Director of the Middle East Forum and pre-eminent Middle East scholar, its first annual Z STREET Peace Plan Prize for his article, “My Peace Plan: an Israeli Victory.” Z STREET is a staunchly pro-Israel organization… – Press Release, 5-10-10
  • Canadian Military Historian Knighted By the Netherlands: As Canada and its Second World War allies prepare to celebrate the 65th Anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day on May 8, the Netherlands is honouring a Canadian military historian with a knighthood. Dr. Dean Oliver, director of research and exhibitions at the Canadian War Museum, has received the Dutch honour, Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau…. – Epoch Times, 5-5-10
  • Caferro and Gerstel awarded Guggenheim Fellowships: William Caferro, a professor of history at Vanderbilt University, and Sharon E.J. Gerstel, Professor of Byzantine Art and Archaeology at UCLA, have been named 2010 Fellows by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation…. – Medieval News, 4-28-10
  • Ernest Freeberg named winner of the 2010 Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award: Ernest Freeberg will receive the 2010 Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award, presented by the Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) of the American Library Association (ALA). Freeberg was selected for his book,”Democracy’s Prisoner: Eugene V. Debs, the Great War, and the Right to Dissent” (Harvard University Press, 2008)… – Press Release, 4-6-10

SPOTTED:

  • Turkish Scholar Taner Akcam Advocates Change in Policy of Genocide Denial: Dr. Taner Akcam, one of the first Turkish scholars to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, delivered two important lectures in Southern California last week. Based on historical research, he analyzed the underpinnings of Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide and proposed solutions for its official acknowledgment…. – Panorama.am (5-11-10)
  • K.C. Johnson, Steve Gillon to appear in Bank of America ad on “History”NYT (5-5-10)

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • September 17-18, 2010 at Notre Dame University: Conference aims to bring medieval, early modern and Latin American historians together: An interdisciplinary conference to be held at the University of Notre Dame this fall is making a final call for papers to explore the issue surrounding similarities between late-medieval Iberia and its colonies in the New World. “From Iberian Kingdoms to Atlantic Empires: Spain, Portugal, and the New World, 1250-1700” is being hosted by the university’s Nanovic Institute for European Studies and will take place on September 17-18, 2010. Medieval News, 4-29-10
  • 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.
  • Oxford University Press to publish OAH’s Journal of American History and Magazine of History: Oxford University Press (OUP) is honored to have been selected by the Organization of American Historians to be the publisher of the Journal of American History and the Magazine of History…. – OUP Press Release, 5-6-10
  • Pizarro: Pulitzer Prize-winning historian to speak at YWCA event: The YWCA of Silicon Valley will feature Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin at its 20th annual fundraising luncheon this fall. Goodwin’s 2005 book on the Lincoln presidency, “Team of Rivals,” is often cited as a favorite of President Barack Obama’s. And I’d expect she’ll have interesting perspectives on current history, given that the Nov. 16 luncheon comes just two weeks after this year’s midterm elections…. – SJ Mercury News, 5-2-10

ON TV:

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

BOOKS COMING SOON:

  • Kelly Hart: The Mistresses of Henry VIII, (Paperback) May 1, 2010
  • David S. Heidler: Henry Clay: The Essential American, (Hardcover), May 4, 2010
  • Nathaniel Philbrick: The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn, May 4, 2010
  • Mark Puls: Henry Knox: Visionary General of the American Revolution, (Paperback) May 11, 2010
  • T. H. Breen: American Insurgents, American Patriots: The Revolution of the People, (Hardcover), May 11, 2010
  • Alexandra Popoff: Sophia Tolstoy: A Biography, (Hardcover) May 11, 2010
  • John D. Lukacs: Escape From Davao: The Forgotten Story of the Most Daring Prison Break of the Pacific War, (Hardcover), May 11, 2010
  • S. C. Gwynne: Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History, (Hardcover) May 25, 2010
  • Steven E. Woodworth: The Chickamauga Campaign (1st Edition), (Hardcover), May 28, 2010
  • Larry Schweikart: 7 Events that Made America America: And Proved that the Founding Fathers Were Right All Along, (Hardcover) June 1, 2010
  • Spencer Wells: Pandora’s Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization, (Hardcover), June 8, 2010
  • John Mosier: Deathride: Hitler vs. Stalin – The Eastern Front, 1941-1945, (Hardcover), June 15, 2010
  • Evan D. G. Fraser: Empires of Food: Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations, (Hardcover), June 15, 2010
  • Ruth Harris: Dreyfus: Politics, Emotion, and the Scandal of the Century (REV), (Hardcover), June 22, 2010
  • James Mauro: Twilight at the World of Tomorrow: Genius, Madness, Murder, and the 1939 World’s Fair on the Brink of War, (Hardcover), June 22, 2010.
  • William Marvel: The Great Task Remaining: The Third Year of Lincoln’s War, (Hardcover), June 22, 2010
  • Suzann Ledbetter: Shady Ladies: Nineteen Surprising and Rebellious American Women, (Hardcover), June 28, 2010.
  • Julie Flavell: When London Was Capital of America, (Hardcover), June 29, 2010
  • Donald P. Ryan: Beneath the Sands of Egypt: Adventures of an Unconventional Archaeologist, (Hardcover), June 29, 2010
  • Jane Brox: Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light, (Hardcover), July 8, 2010.
  • Rudy Tomedi: General Matthew Ridgway, (Hardcover), July 30, 2010.
  • Richard Toye: Churchill’s Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made, (Hardcover), August 3, 2010.
  • Alexander Hamilton: The Federalist Papers, (Hardcover), August 16, 2010

DEPARTED:

  • Eminent historian of Irish ascendancy ascendancy dies at 79: Mark Bence-Jones, the genealogical researcher who has died at the age of 79, was the most eminent historian of the social mores of the Irish ascendancy in its decline over the last 100 years…. – Irish Times, 5-8-10
  • Angus Maddison, Economic Historian, Dies at 83: Some people try to forecast the future. Angus Maddison devoted his life to forecasting the past. Professor Maddison, a British-born economic historian with a compulsion for quantification, spent many of his 83 years calculating the size of economies over the last three millenniums. In one study he estimated the size of the world economy in A.D. 1 as about one five-hundredth of what it was in 2008…. – NYT, 4-30-10
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