History Buzz: January 16, 2011: AHA Recap — Virginia Textbook Controversy — Civil War at 150 — Historians Reflect on Arizona Shootings

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

IN FOCUS:

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

HISTORY NEWS:

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

HISTORIANS NEWS:

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

HISTORY OP-EDs:

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

HISTORY REVIEWS:

  • Peter L. Bergen: Determined to Strike: THE LONGEST WAR The Enduring Conflict Between America and Al-Qaeda For years, I tried to read every new novel about how 9/11 affected our lives. Some were very thoughtful, but I always came away unsatisfied, feeling that the authors had worked hard but had somehow fallen short. As I read the stunning first section of Peter L. Bergen’s new book on the war between the United States and Al Qaeda, I realized I had been looking in the wrong genre. None of the novels were as effective or moving as “The Longest War,” which is a history of our time.
    Bergen, a national security analyst for CNN, impressively covers it all: Al ­Qaeda’s aspirations and its 9/11 attack, the Bush administration’s panicky response, the subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the crucial and continuing unhelpful role of Pakistan, and the terrorist episodes in London and Madrid. Other books, most notably Bob Woodward’s series on the wars as viewed from Washington, have bitten off big chunks of this story, but Bergen’s, to my knowledge, is the first to credibly cover the global sweep of events over the last 10 years, exploring not just American views but also Al Qaeda’s…. – NYT, 1-16-11
  • PSYCHOLOGY REVIEW BY STEVEN F. HAYWARD: Putting George W. Bush on the psychologist’s couch: Dan P. McAdams, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University, offers one of the first comprehensive psychological profiles of Bush in “George W. Bush and the Redemptive Dream.” To his credit, McAdams tries not to pre-judge Bush, and he avoids making moral or political judgments about the president’s major decisions. McAdams will further disappoint Bush-haters in his measured rejection of several pop-psych themes, such as that Bush was in thrall to an Oedipal rivalry (though he does think a desire to avenge his father in Iraq was a factor). But in the end, McAdams’s framework sinks into a mire of professional jargon that tells us more about contemporary theory than about the former president…. – WaPo, 1-14-11
  • Chappaqua’s Kenneth Jackson is the executive editor of the second edition of “The Encyclopedia of New York City,” which boasts some 5,000 entries spanning 1,561 pages: Chappaqua’s Kenneth Jackson was first approached about assembling a New York City encyclopedia in 1982. The late Edward Tripp, a former editor-in-chief for Yale University Press, pitched the idea. “I thought it would be fun, and I was teaching New York City history,” says Jackson, a historian at Columbia University and the book’s executive editor. “It took a little while to get it going.” Officially, it took about 13 years, as the first edition of “The Encyclopedia of New York City” hit bookshelves in 1995. Heaped with critical acclaim, it sold out its first printing before it was published, and seven more printings followed. Some 75,000 copies have been sold to date. But a lot’s happened since then. New stadiums have been built for the Yankees and Mets. AirTrain and E-ZPass have become transportation norms. And the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, changed everything…. – LoHud, 1-16-11
  • Dark Tales Illuminate Haiti, Before and After Quake: “Haiti Noir,” released last week, has taken on new resonance amid the first anniversary of the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake that killed 300,000 people and left over one million homeless. While only 3 of the 18 stories deal with the earthquake directly, Edwidge Danticat, the volume’s editor, said many were filled with reminders of what was lost.
    “I had this fear that the stories would lose their relevance,” said Ms. Danticat, the most widely known contemporary writer to come from Haiti. “But the post-earthquake neighborhoods have a new intrigue. Some of these stories are elegies to lost, broken and destroyed neighborhoods.”… – NYT, 1-10-11
  • NYT 100 Notable Books of 2010NYT, 12-5-10
  • NYT: The 10 Best Books of 2010: Stacy Schiff: CLEOPATRA: A Life: With her signature blend of wit, intelligence and superb prose, Schiff strips away 2,000 years of prejudices and propaganda in her elegant reimagining of the Egyptian queen who, even in her own day, was mythologized and misrepresented.
    Isabel Wilkerson: THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration: Wilkerson, a former national correspondent for The Times, has written a masterly and engrossing account of the Great Migration, in which six million African-Americans abandoned the South between 1915 and 1970. The book centers on the journeys of three black migrants, each representing a different decade and a different destination. – NYT, 12-12-10
  • Glenn W. LaFantasie: The top 12 Civil War books ever written: One great book for each month of 2011, the sesquicentennial of the War Between the States. In any event, here are a dozen books that, for me, tell the story of the Civil War with literary elegance, intellectual gusto and enormous flair….
    12. “The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War” by Bruce Catton
    11. “Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America”: by William E. Gienapp
    10. “Lincoln’s Men: How President Lincoln Became Father to an Army and a Nation”: By William C. Davis
    9. “Grant and Sherman: The Friendship That Won the Civil War”: By Charles Bracelen Flood
    8. “Chancellorsville 1863: The Souls of the Brave”: By Ernest B. (“Pat”) Furgurson
    7. “Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam”: By Stephen W. Sears
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History Buzz May 25, 2009: Simon Schama & “The American Future A History”

HISTORY BUZZ:

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

BIGGEST NEWS STORIES:

  • Caroline E. Janney: Historian remembers Memorial Day holiday’s beginnings: “Credit really goes to thousands of Southern white women who were honoring Confederate soldiers a year after the Civil War ended,” says Caroline E. Janney, an assistant professor of history. “The women led these celebrations because if Confederate men would have organized memorials in 1866, just after the war ended, their actions would have been considered treason.” “Instead, women planned each event, and the men were figuratively hiding behind the skirts of these women. What many people didn’t realize is that these women, who are often portrayed as politically indifferent, were keeping politics in mind while planning these events.” – KPCnews.com, 5-21-09

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

IN THE NEWS:

  • Antony Beevor: Historian has been accused of trying to get publicity for his new book, D-Day: The Battle for Normandy Allies bombing on D-Day ‘close to war crime’, claims historian The Allied bombing of the French city of Caen on D-Day was “close to a war crime”, according to leading historian Antony Beevor – Telegraph UK, 5-24-09
  • Russian President Dmitry Medvedev: Creates History Commission – WSJ, 5-21-09
  • Professor Marco Maiorino, a Vatican historian of papal diplomacy: Vatican discloses Henry VIII’s annulment appeal “The schism came later,” he said. “They were loyal to the sovereign, but at this point the spiritual supremacy of Rome was not in question.” – Times UK Online, 5-22-09
  • Oklahoma History Center to close two days of week – Source: http://www.newsok.com (5-21-09)
  • National Security Archive Testifies to House Oversight Committee About Challenges Facing National Archives: At a hearing today focusing on the National Archives and Records Administration and the selection of a new Archivist, National Security Archive General Counsel Meredith Fuchs said: “[The new Archivist] should have a vision for an Archives 2.0.”… – Source: Press Release (5-21-09)
  • James Lowen, James McPherson: Scholars Ask Obama Not to Send a Wreath to Confederate Memorial – Source: Press Release by James Loewen (5-19-09)
  • Frederick Clarkson: Will Obama Honor the Confederacy This Year?: Presidents since Woodrow Wilson have annually sent a commemorative wreath to the Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. Up until the presidency of George H.W. Bush, the wreath was sent on or near the birthday of Confederate president, Jefferson Davis. Since then, the wreath has been sent on Memorial Day. One might think that this is a practice birthed in a generosity of spirit and healing of the war that had so deeply divided the nation. Unfortunately the truth is that the monument commemorates not the dead so much as the cause of the confederacy, and stands to this day as a rallying point for white supremacy. This is why scholars Edward Sebestaco-editor of “Neo-Confederacy: A Critical Introduction,” University of Texas Press, and James Loewen, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Vermont, joined by some 65 others (including me) sent a letter to president Obama asking him to end the practice…. – Daily Kos, 5-22-09

OP-EDs & BLOGS:

  • Daniel Pipes: A History of Muslim Terrorism against Jews in the United States: The arrest yesterday of four would-be jihadis before they could attack two synagogues in New York City brings to mind a long list of terrorist assaults in the United States by Muslims on Jews. These began in 1977 and have continued regularly since, as suggested by the following list of major incidents (ignoring lesser ones that did damage only to property, such a series of attacks on Chicago-area synagogues)… – Source: Daniel Pipes website (5-21-09)
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Democrats play defense on security – Source: CNN (5-20-09)
  • John Steele Gordon: Why Government Can’t Run a Business – Source: WSJ (5-20-09)

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Simon Schama: Mirror on America THE AMERICAN FUTURE A HistoryNYT, 5-22-09
  • Simon Schama: THE AMERICAN FUTURE A History, First Chapter – NYT, 5-22-09
  • Simon Schama: Looking to America’s past to find a path for the future THE AMERICAN FUTURE A HistoryBoston Globe, 5-24-09
  • Simon Schama: Schama Looks At History For ‘American Future’ THE AMERICAN FUTURE A HistoryNPR, 5-20-09
  • Benny Morris: No Common Ground ONE STATE, TWO STATES Resolving the Israel/Palestine ConflictNYT, 5-24-09
  • Benny Morris: ONE STATE, TWO STATES Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict, First Chapter – NYT, 5-24-09
  • T.J. Stiles: The Man Who Owned America THE FIRST TYCOON The Epic Life of Cornelius VanderbiltWaPo, 5-24-09
  • T.J. Stiles: THE FIRST TYCOON The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, Excerpt – WaPo, 5-24-09
  • Edith B. Gelles: Abigail & John Portrait of a Marriage: Gelles’ “Abigail & John” does something different, bringing the two strands together in a dual biography that shows how their lives connected, diverged and reconnected over time…. – San Francisco Chronicle, 5-24-09
  • Dr. Richard Hull: Historian Publishes latest book on Jews in African history Jews and Judaism in African HistoryStraus News, 5-22-09
  • Paramour of Kennedy Is Writing a Book – Mimi Beardsley Alford, a retired New York church administrator who had an affair with John F. Kennedy while she was an intern in the White House, is breaking a silence of more than 40 years to tell her story in a memoir to be published by Random House. NYT, 5-22-09
  • Eugene D. Genovese: In a new book, Genovese describes a devoted and intellectually stimulating partnership with his late wife, also a historian of note Miss Betsey: A Memoir of MarriageSource: Chronicle of Higher Ed (5-22-09)
  • Ronald C. White Jr.: BOOKS: A. Lincoln Valdosta Daily Times, 5-18-09
  • Elliott West: ‘As big as the land’ UA professor writes book on Nez Perce war of 1877 The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce StoryNorthwest Arkansas Times, 5-10-09

QUOTES:

  • John Allswang “California voters exercise their power — and that’s the problem Residents relish their role in the lawmaking process, but they share the blame for the state’s severe dysfunction”: Together, voters’ piecemeal decisions since the 1970s have effectively “emasculated the Legislature,” said John Allswang, a retired Cal State L.A. history professor. “They’re looking for cheap answers — throw the guys out of power and put somebody else in, or just blame the politicians and pretend you don’t have to raise taxes when you need money,” he said. “This is what the public wants, and they deceive themselves constantly. They’re not realistic.”… – LAT, 5-22-09

PROFILES & FEATURES:

  • Rodney Davis: In Civil War, Woman Fought Like A Man For Freedom – NPR, 5-23-09
  • Mary Witkowski: In the Region, Connecticut A Crumbling Piece of History: Historians are concerned about the fate of structures on Main Street in Bridgeport that are said to be the only remnants of an antebellum community of free blacks and runaway slaves. – NYT, 5-24-09
  • Max Boot, Paul Collier, Simon Schama: Civil Wars: The Fights That Do Not Want to End – NYT, 5-24-09
  • Annette Gordon-Reed for the US Supreme Court?: Is New York Law School’s Annette Gordon-Reed, the Pulitzer Prize-winning law professor/historian, on President Obama’s Supreme Court “short list”?… Probably not. But they appear on the short lists of more than a dozen constitutional law and Supreme Court scholars asked by The National Law Journal to step into Obama’s shoes to pick a nominee to succeed retiring Justice David Souter…. Source: National Law Journal (5-18-09)

INTERVIEWS:

  • Robert Hinton: The Story Of The Plantation That Moved Away, Midway Plantation – NPR, 5-23-09
  • Interview: Simon Schama celebrates John Donne: The historian Simon Schama talks about why the death of arts programming is a national disaster…. – Telegraph UK, 5-22-09
  • Romila Thapar: Kluge Prizewinner Discusses Perceptions of India’s Past – Source: Pillarisetti Sudhir at the AHA Blog (5-19-09)
  • James M. Banner Jr. and John R. Gillis: New book asks historians how they became historians Becoming Historians Editor responded to questions about the book – Source: Inside Higher Ed (5-18-09)
  • James Cuno: Treaty on antiquities hinders access for museums, says past president of the Association of Art Museum Directors – Source: Science News (3-28-09)

HONORS, AWARDED &APPOINTED:

  • Historian Jack Greene Honored by National Humanities Center: Jack P. Greene, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor Emeritus in the Humanities in the Department of History at Johns Hopkins, has been selected as one of 33 fellows at the National Humanities Center for the 2009-2010 academic year. – The JHU Gazette, 5-18-09

SPOTTED:

  • The Mormon History Association’s annual conference: MHA opening session: A religious backdrop to the Civil War – Mormon Times, 5-22-09
  • Ken Burns tells Boston College grads to revisit history: “History is not a fixed thing, a collection of precise dates, facts, and events that add up to a quantifiable, certain, confidently known truth,” Burns said. “It is an inscrutable and mysterious and malleable thing. Each generation rediscovers and reexamines that part of its past that gives its present – and, most important, its future – new meaning and new possibilities.”… – Source: Boston Globe (5-19-09)

EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • June 11-14, 2009: The ninth annual “Reacting to the Past” Institute at Barnard College (New York), Annual summer history institute at Barnard College – Source: Press Release (4-21-09)
  • August 1, 2009: An Evening with Ken Burns: Kens Burns has been making documentary films for more than 30 years. Since the Academy Award-nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, he has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made. The late historian Stephen Ambrose said of Burns’ films, “More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source.” This evening will afford Chautauqua an opportunity to hear one of the most influential documentary makers of all time. Chautauqua Institutition. For more info 716-357-6200. – Jamestown Post-Journal, 5-21-09

ON TV:

  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
  • PBS American Experience: Mondays at 9pm
  • History Channel: Weekly Schedule
  • History Channel: “MonsterQuest” Marathon – Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 8-11pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “MonsterQuest” Marathon – Monday, May 25, 2009 at 2-8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Decoding The Past: Mayan Doomsday Prophecy” – Monday, May 25, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The Link” – Monday, May 25, 2009 at 9pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Life After People” Marathon – Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 2-7pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Angels & Demons Decoded” – Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Life After People: Bound and Buried” – Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 10pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “MonsterQuest” Marathon – Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 2-7pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Beyond The Da Vinci Code” – Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Angels & Demons Decoded” – Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 4pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Behind The Da Vinci Code” – Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 6pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Battles BC” Marathon – Friday, May 22, 2009 at 2-7pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The Link ” – Friday, May 29, 2009 at 9pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Ice Road Truckers” Marathon – Saturday, May 23, 2009 at 12-11pm ET/PT

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

COMING SOON BOOKS:

  • Geoffrey Blainey, Sea of Dangers: Captain Cook and His Rivals in the South Pacific, May 25, 2009
  • Richard Ben-Veniste: Emperor’s New Clothes: Exposing the Truth from Watergate To 9/11, May 26, 2009
  • Robert Jacobs: Apollo: Through the Eyes of the Astronauts, June 1, 2009
  • Vincent J. Cannato: American Passage: The History of Ellis Island, June 9, 2009
  • Larry Tye: Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend, June 9, 2009
  • Matthew Aid: The Secret Sentry: The Untold History of the National Security Agency, June 9, 2009
  • Douglas Brinkley, Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, 1858-1919, June 30, 2009
  • Caroline Moorehead: Dancing to the Precipice: The Life of Lucie de la Tour du Pin, Eyewitness to an Era, June 30, 2009
  • William A. DeGregorio: The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, Seventh Edition, August 15, 2009
  • Douglas Hunter: Half Moon: Henry Hudson and the Voyage That Redrew the Map of the New World, September 1, 2009

DEPARTED:

  • David Herbert Donald: Famed Lincoln Scholar David Herbert Donald Dies: “He was not only one of the best historians of our era but he was also one of the classiest and most generous scholars I have ever met,” said Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals, a best-selling Lincoln biography. – NPR, 5-19-09
  • David Herbert Donald: Writer on Lincoln, Dies at 88 – NYT, 5-19-09
  • David Herbert Donald in Memoriam, 1920-2009 – HNN

History Buzz May 11, 2009: Professor Runs for President of Sudan & Obama’s History Budget

HISTORY BUZZ:

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

BIGGEST NEWS STORIES:

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

IN THE NEWS:

OP-EDs & BLOGS:

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Jeff Guinn, Paul Schneider: Outlaws in Love GO DOWN TOGETHER The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde, BONNIE AND CLYDE The Lives Behind the Legend NYT, 5-10-09
  • Jeff Guinn: GO DOWN TOGETHER The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde, First Chapter – NYT, 5-10-09
  • MICHAEL KAZIN on T. J. Stiles: Ruthless in Manhattan THE FIRST TYCOON The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt NYT, 5-10-09
  • T. J. Stiles: THE FIRST TYCOON The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, Excerpts – NYT, 4-29-09
  • Susan Jacoby: A Clash of Symbols ALGER HISS AND THE BATTLE FOR HISTORY NYT, 5-10-09
  • Susan Jacoby: ALGER HISS AND THE BATTLE FOR HISTORY, First Chapter – NYT, 5-10-09
  • John Dittmer: Bancroft Prize Recipient Prof. Publishes The Good Doctors DePauw University, 5-9-09
  • Juan Cole: Islamophobia ENGAGING THE MUSLIM WORLD NYT, 5-7-09
  • Peter W. Rodman: The Deciders and How They Decided PRESIDENTIAL COMMAND Power, Leadership, and the Making of Foreign Policy From Richard Nixon to George W. Bush NYT, 5-8-09
  • Peter W. Rodman: PRESIDENTIAL COMMAND Power, Leadership, and the Making of Foreign Policy From Richard Nixon to George W. Bush, First Chapter – NYT
  • Benjamin Carter Hett on Richard J. Evans: HISTORY Brutally Violent and Destined for Defeat THE THIRD REICH AT WAR WaPo, 5-10-09
  • Leslie H. Gelb: A Wonky Witness to History POWER RULES How Common Sense Can Rescue American Foreign Policy WaPo, 5-10-09
  • Diana Butler Bass: RELIGION Christian Conundrums A People’s History of Christianity WaPo, 5-10-09
  • Kathleen Burk: Professor looks at relationship between Britain and USA Swindon Advertiser, 5-6-09
  • Allan M. Winkler: History professor writes book on Pete Seeger To Everything There is a Season: Pete Seeger and the Power of Song Source: Press Release–Miami University (Ohio) (4-30-09)

QUOTES:

  • Alan Sked “Inbreeding May Have Doomed Spain’s Habsburg Dynasty” Enfeebled and sterile, Charles II’s genes made him the last of his line, researchers say: The family faced a challenge because they needed to marry Catholic spouses of equal rank — a rarity — and because dynastic marriages were used to keep territories within the family’s grasp, explained Alan Sked, a historian at the London School of Economics and Political Science. What would have happened if the Habsburgs hadn’t married each other? Sked, the historian, said “there would have been changes in alliances, boundaries and policies. Most of all, the Habsburgs would have produced more capable and intelligent rulers.” – Forbes, 5-8-09
  • William Loren Katz: Historian notes that Reagan wanted torturers put on trial – Source: William Loren Katz in an email circulating on the Internet (5-2-09)

PROFILES & FEATURES:

INTERVIEWS:

HONORS, AWARDED &APPOINTED:

  • Bruce Moran: Named Outstanding Researcher of the Year at the University of Nevada, Reno – UNR NevadaNews, 5-6-09
  • Ken Heineman: Ohio University Lancaster veteran leaving Lancaster to head up history department in Texas – Lancaster Eagle Gazette, 5-3-09
  • Ken Coates, Whitney Lackenbauer, William Morrison: Arctic Front sweeps the Donner Three historians and one political scientist share $35,000 prize for best book on Canadian public policy Arctic Front: Defending Canada in the Far North Globe and Mail, 4-30-09

SPOTTED:

EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • June 11-14, 2009: The ninth annual “Reacting to the Past” Institute at Barnard College (New York), Annual summer history institute at Barnard College – Source: Press Release (4-21-09)

ON TV:

  • PBS, Monday April 20, at 9pm: Seeing History Through Indians’ Eyes: “We Shall Remain” NYT, 4-12-09 (pbs.org/wgbh/amex/weshallremain)
  • Donald Fixico: History professor advises new PBS documentary “We Shall Remain” – ASU Web Devil, 4-21-09
  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
  • PBS American Experience: Mondays at 9pm
  • History Channel: Weekly Schedule
  • History Channel: “Art of War” – Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The Plague” – Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The Lost Pyramid” – Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Patton 360” Marathon – Friday, May 15, 2009 at 2-7pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The Templar Code” – Friday, May 15, 2009 at 10pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Last Stand of The 300” – Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 5pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Angels & Demons Decoded” – Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Beyond The Da Vinci Code” – Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 10pm ET/PT

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

COMING SOON BOOKS:

  • Thomas Childers: Soldier from the War Returning: The Greatest Generation’s Troubled Homecoming from World War II, May 13, 2009
  • Simon Schama, American Future: A History, May 19, 2009
  • Geoffrey Blainey, Sea of Dangers: Captain Cook and His Rivals in the South Pacific, May 25, 2009
  • Richard Ben-Veniste: Emperor’s New Clothes: Exposing the Truth from Watergate To 9/11, May 26, 2009
  • Douglas Brinkley, Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, 1858-1919, June 30, 2009

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

HISTORY BUZZ:

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

BIGGEST NEWS STORIES:

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

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

IN THE NEWS:

OP-EDs & BLOGS:

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

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

QUOTES:

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

PROFILES & FEATURES:

INTERVIEWS:

HONORS, AWARDED &APPOINTED:

SPOTTED:

EVENTS CALENDAR:

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

ON TV:

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

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

COMING SOON BOOKS:

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

DEPARTED:

December 26, 2008: President-Elect Barack Obama Completes his Cabinet

POLITICS & PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION WATCH:

Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

President-elect Barack Obama met with Senator John McCain, his Republican rival, after the election in November.

In Focus:

  • Barack Obama: Yes, He Could Quite A Year, As Illinois Senator Claims Presidency: In the first week of 2008, Barack Obama rocked the political world with a win in the Iowa caucuses. But the question remained: Could this black man with a rich personal history and sparse elective resume make it all the way to the presidency? Yes, he could.
    Obama took us along on a wild ride, smashing political and racial barriers as he was elected the nation’s 44th president in an electoral landslide. His message of hope and change – and the viral YouTube mantra of “Yes, we can” – resonated with millions of voters after eight years of George W. Bush. – CBS News, 12-24-08
  • 2008: The Political Year in Quotes FOXNews.com runs down the most memorable lines of the 2008 political year:
  • John Edwards: “I don’t talk about these tabloids. The tabloid trash is full of lies.”
  • John Mc
  • Barack Obama: “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”
  • Cain: “The fundamentals of our economy are strong.”
  • Tina Fey: “I can see Russia from my house!”
  • Rev. Jesse Jackson: “I want to cut his nuts off.”
  • Bill Clinton: “Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice, in ’84 and ’88, and he ran a good campaign, and so did Obama.”
  • Rev. Jeremiah Wright: “I believe our government is capable of doing anything.”
  • Rod Blagojevich: “There’s nothing but sunshine hanging over me.””Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it has about 18 million cracks in it.”
  • Ted Kennedy: “Together we have known success and seen setbacks, victory and defeat. But we have never lost our belief that we are all called to a better country and a newer world. And I pledge to you that I will be there next January.” – Fox News, 12-24-08
  • Barack Obama just added you as a friend on Facebook: (Humor) Washington: Despite the assumption that President-elect Barack Obama’s Cabinet nominees are told of their selection via phone calls, the Los Angeles Times has learned that the Obama is actually notifying his picks by “friending” them on the social networking site Facebook. Requests to Obama for comment on the following transcript have gone unanswered, though he did “poke” us just as this went to press…. – LAT
  • Name by name, Obama’s Cabinet taking shape 12-11-08

The Headlines…

    President-Elect Barack Obama Transition office: http://change.gov/

  • Obama Should Heed the Advice of George H.W. Bush: There has been much talk about President-elect Barack Obama looking to Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt for inspiration and insight on building his administration and charting his first 100 days in office. But some of the most helpful guidance available could come from an over-looked source — George H.W. Bush. – WaPo, 12-24-08
  • Obama’s Zen State, Well, It’s Hawaiian: NYT, 12-24-08
  • Obama Sets Ambitious Bar in Pledge to Rein In Executive Power: Barack Obama promised during the campaign to “reverse” the expansions of executive power under the Bush administration — but will he follow through? – Fox News, 12-24-08
  • Bush withdraws 1 of 19 pardons he issued Tuesday: President George W. Bush on Wednesday revoked a pardon he had granted only a day before — a step unheard of in recent memory — after learning in news reports of political contributions to Republicans by the man’s father and other information. – AP, 12-24-08
  • Resistance to Kennedy Grows Among Democrats – NYT, 12-24-08
  • Kennedy’s pursuit of Senate snared in NY politics: Caroline Kennedy’s bid to get appointed to the Senate and extend the Camelot dynasty has run into the bare-knuckle world of New York politics, where a backlash appears to be building against her. – AP, 12-24-08
  • Top Bush Aides to Linger on High-Profile Boards: As President Bush settles in for his last Christmas in office, he has been busy handing out presents to some of his top aides. And they are not the kind that require wrapping paper or a bow. – NYT, 12-24-08
  • For Now, Obama Proves to Be Elusive Target for G.O.P.: Almost two months after Barack Obama’s election, Republicans are struggling to figure out how — or even whether — to challenge or criticize him as he prepares to assume the presidency. – NYT, 12-24-08
  • Bush pardons man who helped Israel during wartime: The last words Charles Winters spoke to his son nearly 25 years ago — “Keep the faith” — guided the Miami businessman as he sought a rare presidential pardon for his late father’s crime: aiding Israel in 1948 as it fought to survive. – AP, 12-23-08
  • Blagojevich questioning takes up Obama’s time: President-elect Barack Obama has said all along that neither he nor his team was involved in any eye-popping dealmaking over filling his vacated Senate seat. Obama’s hand-picked investigator agreed. – AP, 12-23-08
  • Obama to release review on Blagojevich contacts: President-elect Barack Obama plans to reveal on Tuesday his staff’s conversations with the Illinois governor accused of trying to sell Obama’s Senate seat, transition officials said Monday. “We have a report,” said Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter. “It’s been ready for release for a week. We’ve held off at the request of the U.S. Attorney’s office and that continues to be the case, though we expect to be able to release the report shortly.” – AP, 12-22-08
  • Ill. impeachment panel awaits word from prosecutor: The legislative committee considering impeachment of Gov. Rod Blagojevich could be at the beginning of its work or nearing the end, depending on the wishes of federal prosecutors. – AP, 12-21-08
  • Senate-for-sale case threatens new chief of staff: But there was always one call Blagojevich regularly took, say his aides, and that was from Rahm Emanuel — his congressman, his one-time campaign adviser and, more recently — and troubling for Emanuel — one of his contacts with President-elect Barack Obama’s transition staff. – AP, 12-21-08
  • Automakers grab loans, look to Obama White House: The long-term fate of the auto industry rests with Barack Obama now that President George W. Bush has given car companies $17.4 billion in emergency rescue loans. – AP, 12-20-08
  • Bush orders emergency bailout of the auto industry: Citing imminent danger to the national economy, President Bush ordered an emergency bailout of the U.S. auto industry Friday, offering $17.4 billion in rescue loans and demanding tough concessions from the deeply troubled carmakers and their workers. – AP, 12-19-08
  • Ill. Gov. Blagojevich pledges to fight, won’t quit: A combative Gov. Rod Blagojevich served notice Friday that he has no intention of quitting over his corruption arrest, declaring: “I will fight. I will fight. I will fight until I take my last breath. I have done nothing wrong.” The forceful three-minute speech marked the first time the former amateur boxer directly addressed the allegations since his arrest 10 days earlier. – AP, 12-19-08
  • Obama fills econ team, says business will revive: Completing his Cabinet a month before taking office, President-elect Barack Obama named officials to oversee transportation, labor, trade and small business policy Friday but warned that economic recovery won’t be nearly as swift. – AP, 12-19-08
  • Mark Felt, Watergate’s ‘Deep Throat,’ dies at 95: W. Mark Felt, the former FBI second-in-command who revealed himself as “Deep Throat” 30 years after he helped The Washington Post unravel the Watergate scandal, has died. He was 95. – AP, 12-19-08
  • Elizabeth Alexander, Yale poet prepares for inauguration: Alexander, professor of African-American studies at Yale University, was chosen by President-elect Barack Obama to compose and read a poem for his inauguration on Jan. 20. – AP, 12-19-08
  • Trade policy unclear in pick of former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, some say: The choice of Ron Kirk as the nation’s top trade negotiator disappointed Barack Obama’s union supporters and left trade experts wondering Thursday how hard the president-elect will push against business interests in future deals. – Dallas Morning News, 12-19-08
  • In Transition Labor Secretary, U.S. Trade Representative: Hilda L. Solis: Current job: Democratic congresswoman from California… – WaPo, 12-19-08
  • Impeachment drive slowed against Illinois governor: Illinois lawmakers could be forced to build their impeachment case against Gov. Rod Blagojevich on a raft of relatively small grievances, rather than the blockbuster Senate-seat-for-sale allegations, for fear of undermining federal prosecutors’ criminal investigation. – AP, 12-18-08
  • Obama team weighs up to $850 billion economic jolt: President-elect Barack Obama is laying the groundwork for a giant economic stimulus package, possibly $850 billion over two years, in his first test of legislative give and take with Congress. – AP, 12-18-08
  • Ill. parties clash over potential special election: Illinois Republicans have launched a political ad campaign demanding a special election to fill the Senate vacancy that Gov. Rod Blagojevich allegedly tried to sell, hoping to pick up a seat they had no shot at before the scandal. – AP, 12-16-08
  • Obama chooses Chicago schools chief Ed. Secretary: President-elect Barack Obama announced Arne Duncan, the head of the Chicago school system, as education secretary Tuesday and declared that failing to improve classroom instruction is “morally unacceptable for our children.” – AP, 12-16-08
  • Obama “Review shows no inappropriate contact”: President-elect Barack Obama said Monday a review by his own lawyer shows he had no direct contact with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich about the appointment of a Senate replacement, and transition aides did nothing inappropriate. – AP, 12-15-08
  • Ill. lawmakers take first step to oust Blagojevich: Illinois lawmakers took the first step Monday toward removing Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office as the disgraced Democrat conferred with a bulldog defense attorney known for taking cases to trial. – AP, 12-15-08
  • Caroline Kennedy Is Seeking Seat Held by Clinton: Caroline Kennedy, the deeply private daughter of America’s most storied political dynasty, will seek the United States Senate seat in New York being vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton. – NYT, 12-15-08
  • Obama to announce environment, energy team: President-elect Barack Obama, who has vowed to adopt an aggressive approach to global warming and the environment, will announce his choices to lead the effort at a news conference on Monday. – Reuters, 12-14-08
  • Iraqi journalist throws shoes at Bush in Baghdad: A man identified as an Iraqi journalist threw shoes at — but missed — President Bush during a news conference Sunday evening in Baghdad, where Bush was making a farewell visit. – CNN, 12-14-08
  • Spousal Ties to Lobbying Test a Vow From Obama: Linda Hall Daschle is one of the most important aviation lobbyists in town. Ms. Daschle is also the wife of Tom Daschle, whom President-elect Barack Obama has chosen to be the next secretary of health and human services. – NYT, 12-14-08
  • Awwww! Joe Biden gets a new puppy The Vice President-elect’s grandchildren will pick out a name – MSNBC, 12-14-08

Political Quotes

  • Obama’s Night-Before-Christmas Address: “This holiday season, their families celebrate with a joy that is muted knowing that a loved one is absent, and sometimes in danger. In towns and cities across America, there is an empty seat at the dinner table; in distant bases and on ships at sea, our servicemen and women can only wonder at the look on their child’s face as they open a gift back home.” – NYT, 12-24-08
  • Condoleezza Rice in an interview with AFP, the chief US diplomat conceded that eight years after President George W. Bush came to power, his administration’s popularity was “not very great” in the Arab world. “I understand that a lot of the history between the US and the Arab world is one that Arabs look to as a time of humiliation and of lack of respect. That did not start with President Bush and it will not merely end with President Bush,” she said. …Rice, whose job ends when Bush hands over the presidency to Barack Obama on January 20, predicted the Arabs will change their view of the Bush administration. “Over time I think that the fact that America has stood for the Arab world and for the Arabs to have the same rights and the same ability to live in freedom as we have, that that will ultimately be respected,” Rice said. History will vindicate Bush, she said, by showing that Iraq, in the wake of the 2003 US-led invasion, will change the face of the Middle East and will be the first multi-ethnic and multi-confessional democracy in the Arab world. …The war on terror has failed to eliminate Al-Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden, but the US-led coalition and Iraq are close to defeating the group’s Iraq branch, she said. – Pam’s House Blend, 12-24-08
  • Cheney says Congress failed struggling automakers on “Fox News Sunday.”: “The president decided specifically that he wanted to try to deal with it and not preside over the collapse of the automobile industry just as he goes out of office.” Lawmakers “had ample opportunity to deal with this issue and they failed. The president had no choice but to step in.”…
    “If you think about what Abraham Lincoln did during the Civil War, what FDR did during World War II. They went far beyond anything we’ve done in a global war on terror.”…
    “I’d want to see what they’re going to spend it on. There usually are fairly significant differences between we Republicans and the Democrats on how you stimulate the economy.”
    On Sarah Palin in 2012: “I don’t think she has any kind of lock on that. She’ll have to go out and earn it just as anybody else would have to.”
    On bin Laden: “He’s been holed up in a way where he’s not even been communicating and there are questions about whether or not he’s even running the operation.”
    “It wasn’t my decision to make,” Cheney said of firing Rumsfeld. “The president doesn’t always take my advice.”
    did not regret using an obscenity beginning with “f” in an exchange with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., on the Senate floor in June 2004. “I thought he merited it at the time,” Cheney said with a chuckle in the interview. “And we’ve since, I think, patched over that wound and we’re civil to one another now.” – AP, 12-21-08
  • Ill. Gov. Blagojevich pledges to fight, won’t quit: “I will fight. I will fight. I will fight until I take my last breath. I have done nothing wrong.”…. “I’m not going to quit a job the people hired me to do because of false accusations and a political lynch mob.”… “I’m here to tell you right off the bat that I am not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing, that I intend to stay on the job, and I will fight this thing every step of the way.”…. “Merry Christmas, happy holidays.” – AP, 12-19-08
  • Harry Reid: Obama team weighs up to $850 billion economic jolt: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Wednesday that Obama has indicated that Congress will get his recovery recommendations by the first of the year.
    “He’s going to get that to us very quickly, and so we would hope within the first 10 days to two weeks that he’s in office, that is after Jan. 20, that we could pass the stimulus plan. We want to do it very quickly.” – AP, 12-18-08
  • Bush says he didn’t compromise soul to be popular: “Look, everybody likes to be popular.” “What do you expect? We’ve got a major economic problem and I’m the president during the major economic problem. I mean, do people approve of the economy? No. I don’t approve of the economy. … I’ve been a wartime president. I’ve dealt with two economic recessions now. I’ve had, hell, a lot of serious challenges. What matters to me is I didn’t compromise my soul to be a popular guy.”
    “I’m a free market guy. But I’m not going to let this economy crater in order to preserve the free market system. So we made a lot of very strong moves and it’s been painful for a lot of people, particularly because, you know, this — the excesses of the past have caused a lot of folks to hurt when it comes to, like, their 401(k)’s or, you know, their jobs.”
    “I think the incoming administration’s going to have to fully analyze the risks and the tools and — come to their own conclusion. But one thing’s for certain. I’m confident that President-elect Obama knows that one of his most solemn duties is to protect the American people.”
    “They’re going to have to sort it through in Illinois. Obviously anytime anybody allegedly betrays the public trust there’s got to be great concern because, you know, democracy really is, you know, really rests on the trust of the people. It’s a system of people and by people and for people. And, therefore, the public trust is important.” – AP, 12-18-08
  • Obama chooses Chicago schools chief Ed. Secretary: “When it comes to school reform, Arne is the most hands-on of hands-on practitioners. He’s not beholden to any one ideology, and he’s worked tirelessly to improve teacher quality.” – AP, 12-16-08
  • Will deft shoe-dodge improve Bush’s image?: “Everybody calm down please,” he said over his attacker’s shouting from the next room, before a small grin returned to his face. “First of all, thank you for apologizing on behalf of the Iraqi people. It doesn’t bother me. If you want the facts, it’s a size 10 shoe.” – National Post, 12-15-08
  • McCain on ABC’s “This Week” I can’t promise to support Palin for president”: I can’t say something like that. We’ve got some great other young governors. I think you’re going to see the governors assume a greater leadership role in our Republican Party…. The greatest appreciation for Gov. Palin and her family, and it was a great joy to know them. She invigorated our campaign….
    Have no doubt of my admiration and respect for her and my view of her viability, but at this stage, again … my corpse is still warm, you know?
    I think that the Obama campaign should and will give all information necessary. You know, in all due respect to the Republican National Committee and anybody — right now, I think we should try to be working constructively together, not only on an issue such as this, but on the economy, stimulus package, reforms that are necessary.
    I don’t know all the details of the relationship between President-elect Obama’s campaign or his people and the governor of Illinois. But I have some confidence that all the information will come out. It always does, it seems to me.
    I think my job is, of course, to be a part of, and hopefully exert some leadership, in the loyal opposition. But I emphasize the word loyal. We haven’t seen economic times like this in my lifetime. We haven’t seen challenges abroad at the level that we are experiencing, certainly since the end of the Cold War, and you could argue in some respects that they’re certainly more complex, many of these challenges. So let’s have our first priority where we can work together… Will there be areas of disagreement? Of course. We are different parties and different philosophy. But the nation wants us to unite and work together.
    That would sound like I am detracting from President-elect Obama’s campaign. I don’t want to do that… Nobody likes a sore loser. Get busy and move on. That’s the best cure for it. I spent a period of time feeling sorry for myself. It’s wonderful. It’s one of the most enjoyable experiences that you can have. But the point is: You’ve got to move on… I’m still a senator from the state of Arizona. I still have the privilege and honor of serving this country, which I’ve done all my life, and it’s a great honor to do so. – CNN, 12-14-08

Historians’ Comments

  • David Greenberg ‘Buff’ Obama Images Cause Stir in U.S. David Greenberg, a professor at Rutgers University who is working on a history of political spin, said no one should be surprised by the latest development. When then-president John F. Kennedy was pictured shirtless, there were media accounts then fretting about the threshold Americns had crossed as a country, he said. “There was John F. Kennedy by the beach, shirt off, this young, glamorous president,” Greenberg said. “So in a way this is 48 years old now that we’re having this.” Since then, Lyndon Johnson lifted his shirt to show reporters his surgery scar and there have been pictures of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton in swim trunks.
    “It was kind of an erosion of what had been boundaries of formality between the president and the public,” Greenberg said. “We’ve had ‘boxers and briefs’ and a real acquaintanceship with a personal side, an uninhibited side, an unclothed side of the president.”…
    But such personal shots – dropping the girls off at school, hitting the gym, practising his golf swing – also serve to humanize the president. Greenberg can see why Obama might allow the beach photos to be taken. “I’m sure if he didn’t do it on purpose, he’s not exactly crying in his coffee about it,” he said. “I don’t see any downside.” – AP, 12-24-08
  • James M. McPherson Historian sees lessons, Lincoln parallels for Obama: …Georges Clemenceau, the French prime minister during World War I, famously said that “War is too important to be left to the generals.” Lincoln certainly would have agreed with that. What Clemenceau meant is that every activity involved with fighting a war has political consequences, has consequences far beyond the battlefield, has an impact on the entire society and therefore can’t really be decided strictly on military criteria. And I think that Lincoln certainly learned that and that’s something Obama will have to keep in mind. I think he probably is well aware of it, that, for example, whatever decisions he makes about withdrawing troops from Iraq or beefing up troops in Afghanistan don’t take place in a social and cultural and political vacuum. They all have consequences far beyond the battlefield itself.
    Lincoln had the ability to communicate ideas and communicate policy to the average person. He could make things clear, even complicated things clear, to the average person, and I think Obama has that gift, too.
    I think I do. … Lincoln occasionally did lose his temper, but he usually managed to maintain his cool. … This kind of temperament — keeping your cool, keeping your temper, trying to base your decisions on rational thought rather than emotions or temporary explosions of temper — I think they’re similar in that respect and that was a really important factor in Lincoln’s leadership qualities.
    Well yes, it’s almost exhilarating to have a president who reads history, knows history and realizes the value of understanding history. “Pleasure” is the right word. – CNN, 12-23-08
  • E.J. Dionne: Obama team may be more left than it seems: Oh, my: Barack Obama is still more than a month away from assuming the presidency and already there are reports about “the left” being dispirited about change they no longer believe in. These fears — in this case expressed by a rather small number of bloggers and writers — are aggravated by praise for Obama’s transition choices from conservatives who seem relieved the president-elect is neither Lenin nor Robespierre…. This means that parts of the political left will have some differences with Obama over the next four years, but it doesn’t mean that most on the left are already disillusioned with him. Take it from Schlesinger. In his 1960 diary entry he ascribed to Kennedy the view that “especially with a liberal Congress, conservative-appearing men can win more support for liberal measures than all-outers.” Schlesinger added: “Of course, there is something to this argument.” – Newsday, 12-24-08
  • A changing Washington: Obama’s new home was slow to integrate McClatchy Newspapers, 12-24-08
  • Julian Zelizer “Obama completes cabinet of ‘rivals’ line-up”: “This was one of the more well-organized and well-prepared transitions that we have seen,” Princeton University historian Julian Zelizer said. “Not only has he appointed some very high-quality picks in terms of intellectual capacity and experience, but on key areas — including economics and defense — he has been able to move to the center without alienating his core supporters,” he said. By common consent, Obama has filled his cabinet quickly but also with much thought to ability as he emulates the “team of rivals” assembled by his political hero, Civil War president Abraham Lincoln. AP, 12-19-08
  • Julian Zelizer “Contrasting views of Cheney”: Historian Julian Zelizer calls Vice President Dick Cheney the most influential vice president in history. – Poitico, 12-22-08
  • Michael Beschloss: Obama Cabinet Picks Create Open Senate Seats, and Controversy: As top Democrats move from the U.S. Senate into jobs in President-elect Barack Obama’s White House, the process of filling those Senate seats without elections has, in some instances, led to charges of nepotism or bribery.
    According to presidential historian Michael Beschloss, the process of selecting senators via state legislators bred corruption. “The reason why the 17th Amendment in 1913 changed all that was that the Senate was brought so many cases where people said, ‘This guy became a senator because of bribery and intimidation,’ they felt you needed direct election,” Beschloss told the NewsHour. – PBS Newhour, 12-16-08
  • Gil Troy: Will deft shoe-dodge improve Bush’s image?: According to Gil Troy, a history professor at McGill University, Mr. Bush handled the potentially embarrassing situation with a grace that could benefit the way people remember him. “One of the things that he has always had as an advantage as part of his skill set has been a very fluid and smooth physicality,” he said. “At his best, when he’s been most effective, he has been able to use a kind of sheer physical presence and fluidity, the grace of an athlete — and he has the grace of a jogger. I think that helped him in this incident.” – National Post, 12-15-08
  • Elena Razlogova: Will deft shoe-dodge improve Bush’s image?: Elena Razlogova, an assistant professor at Concordia University, surmised in an e-mail from Moscow that regardless of how Mr. Bush reacted to the situation, the damage has been done. “However graceful Bush was, he’ll never live this down,” she wrote. “In Russia, the networks reported on this at length and with glee. I think people everywhere are just happy his presidency is over…. True, Bush did seem to dodge shoes better than reporters’ queries, but throwing a shoe seems so much more pithy and symbolic than a question.” – National Post, 12-15-08
  • Fred Greenstein “Obama faces heady challenges, and they’re growing”: “There’s a lot of ground giving under him. It’s a terrific challenge,” said Fred Greenstein, a Princeton University professor emeritus of politics and a presidential historian.
    “From one perspective, it’s as if he’s about to take over the captain’s job on a sinking ship. From the other perspective, he could be on a glide path to Mount Rushmore if he does a combination of morale building and energizing people while dealing with the economic distress by producing some constructive changes in the society and in the economy.”
    “The striking thing is he doesn’t seem scared,” Greenstein added.
    “Part of what he’s doing is paying lip service to the notion that there’s only one president while sucking up all the oxygen,” Greenstein said. – AP, 12-14-08
  • Gary Mormino: “Fla.’s First Ladies Have Rich History Carole Rome to join unusual cast of characters when marrying Gov. Crist”: One of the earliest intersections of matrimony and politics in Florida comes from 1929, according to historian Gary Mormino, an author and professor at the University of South Florida. The Florida Legislature convened in a special session that year to censure the wife of President Herbert Hoover, Lou Henry Hoover, who had offended state lawmakers by inviting the wife of a black congressman for a White House reception. Mormino said the role of first lady has only recently shifted toward the caretaking of pet causes. The wife of Gov. Spessard Holland had dubious timing with her announcement that she would push for cleaner public restrooms. Mary Holland’s statement was released on Dec. 7, 1941, as Pearl Harbor was attacked. The Ledger, 12-14-08
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