History Buzz October 18, 2010: Historians Defend Obama at Midterm

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. Her blog is History Musings

RELATED LINKS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

IN FOCUS:

  • Simon Schama’s appointment as history tsar an insult, says Mary Beard: The appointment of historian and presenter Simon Schama as the Coalition Government’s new history tsar has been condemned as insincere and insulting by a leading academic. Prof Mary Beard, classics professor at Cambridge University, described the announcement as an example of Michael Gove, the education secretary, “playing to the populist gallery”. She described the idea that a celebrity could be “parachuted” in to solve problems as insulting to British teachers and as an insincere stunt to grab attention. “This is celebrity culture at its most meretricious,” she said…. – Telegraph (UK) (10-8-10)

HISTORY NEWS:

  • British schoolchildren ‘forced to drop history at 14’: History in schools is being put under threat as thousands of children are allowed to drop the subject at the age of 14 for “trivial reasons”, according to a leading academic. Dr Sean Lang, senior lecturer in history at Anglia Ruskin University, criticised the “absolutely ludicrous” system in Britain that requires pupils to choose subject options half-way through secondary education. He said many children were pushed into abandoning vital components of the curriculum for spurious reasons rarely linked to the academic discipline…. – Telegraph (UK) (10-14-10)
  • Rogers State University offers degree in military history: The class had already reached the Punic Wars by late September, but the students in Rogers State University’s introduction to military history course have a lot of ground left to cover if they are going to get to the Vietnam War by the end of the semester. It’s only the second time the course has been offered at RSU, and yet it has 20 students…. – Tulsa World (10-11-10)
  • Historians Try to Break the Seal on Nixon’s Grand-Jury Testimony: What did Richard M. Nixon tell members of a federal grand jury when he testified before them in June 1975? Hoping to find out, a leading Watergate historian and four historical associations have filed a petition in federal court to make that testimony public. Grand-jury testimony almost always remains sealed. In this instance, the petitioners said, the historical interest justifies opening it.
    Public Citizen Litigation Group, the legal arm of the watchdog outfit founded by Ralph Nader, filed the petition last month on behalf of Stanley I. Kutler, a historian and emeritus professor of law at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, along with the AHA, the American Society for Legal History, the Organization of American Historians, and the Society of American Archivists. A number of historians contributed declarations of support for the motion. So did one of the few still-living players in the Watergate scandal, John W. Dean III, Nixon’s White House counsel from 1970-73…. – CHE (10-7-10)

OP-EDs:

  • Professor Phyllis Chesler: Anti-Semitism Cannot be Equated with Islamophobia: Even as Chancellor Angela Merkel pronounces the failure of “multiculturalism” in Germany, the English-language German newspaper reporter, Marc Young, writing for the English-language German news at The Local, proclaims that “bigotry towards Muslims is the new anti-Semitism.”
    As the author of a book with the title The New Anti-Semitism (with an edition in German), allow me to remind Mr. Young that one of the things that is “new” about this most ancient of hatreds is that it is pandemic in the Islamic world and in Muslim communities in the West and that the multicultural relativists in the world’s universities, media, and political leadership, are collaborating with it in the name of “political correctness.”
    Thus, what both Young and those who run the state-subsidized Center for Research on Anti-Semitism at the University of Berlin have learned from the Nazi Holocaust is that Europeans should not discriminate against Muslims as they once did against Jews…. – Arutz Sheva, 10-19-10
  • Alan Brinkley: ‘Mad Men,’ A Conversation (Season Four Finale): …I think there are two major themes that have run through this last season, and indeed through the entire run of the show. One is the changing role of women, and the other is the struggling identity of Don Draper.
    The show has not been particularly good in dealing with some of the most important issues of the mid-1960s. For example, there’s been very little about race and only a few references to the counter culture. But it has been excellent in the way it portrays women. It provides examples of women who, as in The Feminist Mystique, have struggled and failed to find a role in the world (Betty, Midge, to some degree Joan) smart, powerful women who feel trapped and unfulfilled; and it provides examples of women who are moving forward into a feminist world and becoming professionally successful, but are doing so at a price (Peggy and Faye most prominently). In some ways, the show is more about women than about men, and it is one of the great strengths of the show…. – WSJ, 10-18-10
  • Greg Schneider: Right to Work = Economic Growth: From 1935 until 1947, it was legal for closed shops to exist. If you wanted a job in a unionized factory, you had to join the union. Congress then passed the Taft-Hartley Act, restricting the power of union political action committees and allowing states to pass right-to-work laws. Taft-Hartley has been the law governing labor relations ever since.
    Labor unions have been trying to repeal Taft-Hartley since 1947, but they have been unable to do so as a coalition of Southern Democrats and Republicans blocked repeal. Sherman’s new legislation can be seen as a continuation of that cat-and-mouse game in Congress…. – Daily Caller (10-13-10)
  • Michael B. Oren: An End to Israel’s Invisibility: NEARLY 63 years after the United Nations recognized the right of the Jewish people to independence in their homeland — and more than 62 years since Israel’s creation — the Palestinians are still denying the Jewish nature of the state. “Israel can name itself whatever it wants,” said the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, while, according to the newspaper Haaretz, his chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said that the Palestinian Authority will never recognize Israel as the Jewish state. Back in 1948, opposition to the legitimacy of a Jewish state ignited a war. Today it threatens peace.
    Mr. Abbas and Mr. Erekat were responding to the call by the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, enabling his government to consider extending the moratorium on West Bank construction….
    The core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been the refusal to recognize Jews as a people, indigenous to the region and endowed with the right to self-government. Criticism of Israeli policies often serves to obscure this fact, and peace continues to elude us. By urging the Palestinians to recognize us as their permanent and legitimate neighbors, Prime Minister Netanyahu is pointing the way out of the current impasse: he is identifying the only path to co-existence…. – NYT (10-14-10)
  • Mark Leccese: Controversy over Doris Kearns Goodwin’s appearance in Ken Burns’s “Tenth Inning”: Two weeks ago, a handful of bloggers wrote scathingly about Ken Burns’ use of former Boston Globe columnist Mike Barnicle and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin — two prominent writers who have faced credible plagiarism and fabrication charges that you can read about here, here and here — as prominent interview subjects in Burns’ most recent documentary about baseball, “The Tenth Inning.”… – Boston Globe (10-12-10)
  • NYT hosts “Room for Debate” roundtable on Woodrow Wilson with historians: The regular NYT feature “Room for Debate” hosted a roundtable of historians on October 13 to discuss why Woodrow Wilson sparks such animosity within conservative circles today…. – NYT (10-11-10)

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Beverly Gage on Jeffrey Owen Jones and Peter Meyer: Under God . . . or Not: THE PLEDGE A History of the Pledge of Allegiance Today’s conservatives often describe themselves as strict constructionists, seeking the “original meaning” of the nation’s founding texts. In the case of the Pledge of Allegiance, a much ­fetishized if not legally binding document, this approach is unlikely to yield the desired political result. As Jeffrey Owen Jones and Peter Meyer note, the original author of the pledge was a former Christian Socialist minister who hoped to redeem the United States from its class and ethnic antagonisms. Interpretations of its meaning have been growing more conservative, not more liberal, ever since…. – NYT, 10-17-10
  • Steven R. Weisman: The Professor Goes to Washington: DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary Like a relic from another era, Moynihan, for much of his public life, wrote long, substantive letters. These were neither gossipy notes nor dishy character sketches. Though a skilled writer, Moynihan didn’t have a literary mind. He was in the Oval Office shortly after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and his description of the scene there was terse and uninformative. Instead, his letters recorded the evolving intellectual adventure of a restless mind. Moynihan explored the grand themes of history and tried to understand the times in the most ambitious of ways: the cultural implications of the shift from the industrial to the post-industrial society, the disaffection of the intellectual class, the foreign policy implications of ethnic tension in a post-Communist world.
    Those letters have now been collected by a team led by Steven R. Weisman, once a colleague at The New York Times before he moved to the Peterson Institute for International Economics. The letters make for absorbing reading because Moynihan’s grand ideas were always driven by his own internal tensions. It was as if he were writing an intensely personal memoir…. – NYT, 10-17-10
  • Between ‘kindred’ enemies: Book provides new interpretation of War of 1812: A prominent U.S. historian is urging a radical rethink of the War of 1812, casting the conflict as less of a battle between nations and more of a civil war that tore families apart along the U.S.-Canada border, exploited the divided loyalties of First Nations and threatened to split the young U.S. republic just decades after it gained independence from Britain.
    Pulitzer Prize-winning history writer Alan Taylor, author of the just-released book titled The Civil War of 1812, argues that upcoming bicentennial commemorations of the battle for North America should highlight the internal tensions created in both Canada and the U.S. by a war often seen as a far-flung sub-plot of Napoleonic-era struggles for global dominance among European empires.
    Taylor, a professor of Canadian and American history at the University of California, begins his narrative with the travails of 19-year-old Ned Myers, a Quebec-born, Halifax-raised emigrant to New York who fully embraced his new American identity and rushed to join the fight against British-Canadian forces when war broke out in 1812…. – Montreal Gazette, 10-18-10
  • Condoleeza Rice: Not a Hint of the Storms in the Offing EXTRAORDINARY, ORDINARY PEOPLE A Memoir of Family Condoleezza Rice’s memoir, “Extraordinary, Ordinary People,” ends where most readers would probably rather it began: with the 2000 election, the recount in Florida and the Supreme Court ruling that put George W. Bush in the White House. There’s nothing about the toxic events on the near horizon — 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the rippling policy misadventures that reverberated from each — events in which the author played crucial and controversial roles. That’s all for later and perhaps more invigorating books. (Ms. Rice is scheduled to deliver a policy memoir in 2012.) “Extraordinary, Ordinary People” is instead an origins story, a minor-key memoir mostly about Ms. Rice’s upbringing in Birmingham, Ala., during the early years of the civil rights movement. Her parents, both teachers, were striving and selfless members of that city’s black bourgeoisie. They sacrificed nearly everything so that their talented only child could become a sleek, heat-seeking, success-driven missile…. – NYT, 10-13-10Excerpt
  • Condoleeza Rice: A Life Between: EXTRAORDINARY, ORDINARY PEOPLE A Memoir of Family As of 2005, the United States had a black, female secretary of state, and yet black America has largely observed this more than celebrated it. There is a tacit sense “out there” that Condoleezza Rice isn’t black in the “real” way, as we might put it. Not with” us, perhaps…. Yet there is more to it than that. Rice’s public self-presentation is distinctly impersonal. Unethnic, for one, but shading into outright ineffability. One grapples for an adjective to describe her personality, even after reading her autobiography, “Extraordinary, Ordinary People.”… – NYT, 10-15-10
  • Three books on British royals: A Royal Passion: The Turbulent Marriage of King Charles I of England and Henrietta Maria of France, by Katie Whitaker
    Elizabeth’s Women: Friends, Rivals, and Foes Who Shaped the Virgin Queen, by Tracy Borman
    Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen, by Anna Whitelock
    Long before the term “glass ceiling” was coined, strong, inspired women were making their mark on history, despite a dizzying array of obstacles. Of course, it helps to have a privileged background like the people presented here, but the formidable determination of these royals serves as a model to women of all stations…. – WaPo, 10-1-10
  • In Bob Woodward’s ‘Obama’s Wars,’ Neil Sheehan sees parallels to Vietnam: In another of his superbly reported insider accounts, “Obama’s Wars,” Bob Woodward recounts how a new president may well have embroiled himself in a war that could poison his presidency — just as his predecessor, George W. Bush, destroyed his with a foolhardy war in Iraq and Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon were ruined by the war in Vietnam…. – WaPo, 9-30-10
  • Stephen Breyer’s “Making Democracy Work,” reviewed by David Fontana: MAKING OUR DEMOCRACY WORK A Judge’s View Supreme Court justices are rarely seen in public, and even more rarely seen in public talking about how the Supreme Court should handle controversial constitutional cases. But since the release of his new book, “Making Our Democracy Work,” Justice Stephen Breyer has been hard to miss doing precisely that, on shows such as “Charlie Rose” and “Larry King Live” and at places such as the National Archives in Washington. Five years ago Breyer wrote a book about the Constitution, but “Making Our Democracy Work” is a more sweeping attempt to articulate a progressive vision of that document to compete with the vision articulated by conservative jurists such as Justice Antonin Scalia. Breyer wants courts to interpret the Constitution by considering many factors, including how to make judicial decisions workable. The complexity of this pragmatic constitutional theory makes it compelling, but that same complexity makes Breyer’s approach difficult for the public and politicians to accept…. – WaPo, 10-1-10
  • Roger Moorhouse’s “Berlin at War,” reviewed by Jonathan Yardley: Moorhouse, a British writer for BBC History magazine as well as the author of “Killing Hitler: The Plots, the Assassins, and the Dictator Who Cheated Death” (2006), tells the story of Berlin’s war thoroughly and fairly. He focuses as much as possible on ordinary citizens rather than Nazi kingpins and apparatchiks, and he leaves little doubt that this was a war few Berliners had wanted and by which all of them suffered. Probably the groundbreaking book on the subject is Antony Beevor’s powerful “The Fall of Berlin: 1945” (2002), but Moorhouse covers a far longer period of time and in that sense is more ambitious, though the few paragraphs he devotes to atrocities committed by Soviet soldiers on German women at the war’s end pale in comparison with Beevor’s passionate and painfully detailed account. Still, there is more than enough pain in “Berlin at War” to satisfy all but the most masochistic readers. It tells the story of a civilized and cultured city gradually sinking into the depths of degradation, almost completely helpless before the onslaught of Allied ground troops and bombers as well as the incompetence and greed of the Nazi leadership…. – WaPo, 10-1-10
  • Steven R. Weisman: Moynihan in His Own Words: DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary Daniel Patrick Moynihan, adviser to three presidents, a four-term United States senator from New York and a prolific author, posthumously reveals his insights into personalities and public policy in thousands of pages of intimate and candid correspondence that has been culled from the Library of Congress to produce “Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary,” which PublicAffairs is to publish next month.
    Excerpts from the book, edited by Steven R. Weisman, a former reporter for The New York Times who is the editorial director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, appear this week in New York magazine…. – NYT, 9-20-10

FEATURES:

  • ‘Culture of Poverty’ Makes a Comeback: For more than 40 years, social scientists investigating the causes of poverty have tended to treat cultural explanations like Lord Voldemort: That Which Must Not Be Named.
    The reticence was a legacy of the ugly battles that erupted after Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then an assistant labor secretary in the Johnson administration, introduced the idea of a “culture of poverty” to the public in a startling 1965 report. Although Moynihan didn’t coin the phrase (that distinction belongs to the anthropologist Oscar Lewis), his description of the urban black family as caught in an inescapable “tangle of pathology” of unmarried mothers and welfare dependency was seen as attributing self-perpetuating moral deficiencies to black people, as if blaming them for their own misfortune.
    Moynihan’s analysis never lost its appeal to conservative thinkers, whose arguments ultimately succeeded when President Bill Clinton signed a bill in 1996 “ending welfare as we know it.” But in the overwhelmingly liberal ranks of academic sociology and anthropology the word “culture” became a live grenade, and the idea that attitudes and behavior patterns kept people poor was shunned. Now, after decades of silence, these scholars are speaking openly about you-know-what, conceding that culture and persistent poverty are enmeshed.
    “We’ve finally reached the stage where people aren’t afraid of being politically incorrect,” said Douglas S. Massey, a sociologist at Princeton who has argued that Moynihan was unfairly maligned…. – NYT, 10-17-10

PROFILES:

  • Garry Wills’ Adventures As An ‘Outsider Looking In’: Journalist and historian Garry Wills is a professor emeritus at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. He says he’s currently reading John Spike’s Young Michelangelo and Garry Trudeau’s 40: A Doonesbury Retrospective. “Most of the good things that have happened in my life happened because of books,” says Pulitzer Prize-winning author, journalist and historian Garry Wills — and that includes meeting his wife. They met on a plane — he was a passenger, she was a flight attendant. She took one look at his book and told him that he was too young to be reading French philosopher Henri Bergson.
    “I was a bookworm from the very beginning and to this day,” Wills tells NPR’s Robert Siegel. “There’s practically no minute of the day that I don’t have a book in hand.” Wills has written many books of his own — about Richard Nixon, Abraham Lincoln, the Declaration of Independence, Christianity and more. His latest work is a memoir called Outside Looking In: Adventures of an Observer…. – NPR, 10-19-10
  • Philip Goff: IUPUI Professor Serves as Historian/Consultant for PBS’ “God in America” Series: Despite this country’s tradition of separating church and state, Americans have historically believed that our country was created for a divine purpose. “The debate has been over just what that divine purpose has been – and that’s where politics has played a role,” says Philip Goff, executive director of the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, part of the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. Goff is one of several religious historians interviewed for “God in America,” the first TV production to explore “the tumultuous 400-year history of the intersection of religion and public life in America,” according to PBS. The six-hour series will air on PBS Oct. 11, 12 and 13, 2010…. – IUPUI News Center (10-11-10)

QUOTES:

  • Further Fed Easing Could Alarm ‘Bond Market Hawks,’ Historian Meltzer Says: Allan Meltzer, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and a historian of the U.S. Federal Reserve, discusses the central bank’s monetary policy. Meltzer speaks with Betty Liu on Bloomberg Television’s “In the Loop.” The Federal Reserve’s efforts to boost the economy by expanding its balance sheet probably won’t succeed while increasing the chances of higher long-term inflation, said Allan Meltzer, a historian of the central bank. “Sooner or later the bond market hawks are going to say, ‘How are they going to get rid of that $2 trillion of excess reserves?’ and the answer is they don’t know,” Meltzer, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said today in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “In the Loop with Betty Liu.”
    “They can’t do much about the near term but they can do a lot about the longer term. But they ignore that,” said Meltzer, author of a history of the Fed…. – Blomberg, 10-12-10
  • Douglas Brinkley makes the case for Obama: For many progressives, the presidency of Barack Obama has been deeply disappointing. To hear some prominent lefties tell it, the New Jesus of the campaign trail has morphed into the New Judas of the Oval Office. “He loves to buckle,” MSNBC host Cenk Uygur declared in a July segment called “Losing the Left.” “Obama’s not going to give us real change — he’s going to give us pocket change and hang a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner.”…
    From the outset, it was inevitable that Obama’s transcendent campaign would give way to an earthbound presidency — one constrained by two wars, an economy in free fall and an opposition party bent on obstruction at any price. “Expectations were so sky-high for him that they were impossible to fulfill,” says presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. “Obama’s partly to blame for this: People were expecting a progressive revolution. What the president has delivered instead is gritty, nuts-and-bolts, political legislative work — and it’s been rough.”… – Rolling Stone (10-28-10)
  • Robert M. Citino wonders why an Ohio congressional candidate dresses up like a Nazi: But Robert M. Citino, a military historian and professor at the University of North Texas, told Mr. Green that the Nazi division’s role in the Second World War was far from heroic:
    The entire German war effort in the East was a racial crusade to rid the world of ‘subhumans,’ Slavs were going to be enslaved in numbers of tens of millions. And of course the multimillion Jewish population of Eastern Europe was going to be exterminated altogether. That’s what all these folks were doing in the East. It sends a shiver up my spine to think that people want to dress up and play SS on the weekend…. – NYT (10-11-10)

INTERVIEWS:

  • Top Historian Views 111th Congress as One of The Most Productive: In this Part One of a two-part ‘ Power Breakfast’… assessing the productivity – and/or lack thereof – of the 111th Congress. The director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University Professor James Thurber, takes the long view. He views the session’s economic stimulus package, health care overhaul and financial regulatory reform legislation to be some of most monumental accomplishments since LBJ or FDR…. – Capitol News Connection, 10-19-10
  • Krugman, Niall Ferguson Renew Debate Over U.S. Stimulus: Nobel Prize-winning economistPaul Krugman and Niall Ferguson, author of “The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World,” clashed anew today over how to revive the U.S. economy. Krugman, 57, a Princeton University professor, is urging the Obama administration to undertake a second round of fiscal stimulus, while Harvard University historian Ferguson, 46, warns such a course may trigger a “debt spiral” in the world’s biggest economy. “The risk is that at some point your fiscal policy loses credibility in the eyes of investors,” Ferguson said at the World Knowledge Forum in Seoul. “Then, very quickly, you will find yourself in a debt spiral of rising rates, widening deficits, crumbling credibility and yet more rising rates.” The debate comes as minutes of the Federal Reserve policy makers’ meeting on Sept. 21 show they were prepared to ease monetary policy “before long” as growth slows and the jobless rate remains near a 26-year high. “We actually never did significant fiscal expansion,” Krugman said at today’s forum, appearing beside Ferguson. “What does a trillion dollars of borrowing do to the U.S. long-run fiscal position? The stimulus right now makes almost no difference.”… – Bloomberg, 10-13-10
  • The Israel-Arab Time Bomb: Interview with Elie RekhessJerusalem Post (10-14-10)
  • Julian Zelizer On Jimmy Carter: Rethinking Jimmy Carter: Most historians believe President Jimmy Carter was doomed to fail because he was a tone deaf moralist who lacked political skills. Princeton historian Julian Zelizer says Carter’s formidable strengths could have made his presidency more successful. We take a closer look at the Carter presidency with Julian Zelizer. – KUOW, 10-12-10 Real Audio Mp3 Lo Mp3 Hi Download
  • NPR: If You’re Just Joining Us, The Republicans Are Dangerously Extremist: Perhaps the people at National Public Radio are worried that a new Republican Congress could threaten the lavishness of its federal subsidies again. Or maybe NPR is just a sandbox for the Left. But on Wednesday, the show Fresh Air spent most of its hour suggesting the Republican Party was dangerously infested with extremists. The guest was Princeton professor Sean Wilentz, who has written that George W. Bush practiced “a radicalized version of Reaganism.” Host Terry Gross was promoting Wilentz’s article in The New Yorker on Glenn Beck and the Tea Party…. – Newsbusters.org, 10- 17-10

AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

  • Library of Virginia awards announced: Novelist Barbara Kingsolver, historian Woody Holton and poet Debra Nystrom are the top winners of the Library of Virginia’s annual Literary Awards. The awards were announced last night at a gala celebration at the library for which novelist Adriana Trigiani served as host…. – Richmond Times-Dispatch, 10-17-10
  • Bangor University (UK) commemorates medieval historian J. E. Lloyd: A historian who changed the face of modern Welsh history is to be commemorated with a biennial Public Lecture in his name at Bangor University. The inaugural J. E. Lloyd Lecture will discuss J.E. Lloyd’s own reinterpretation of Welsh history. The Lecture takes place at 6.15 on Friday 22 October at Bangor University’s Main Arts Lecture Theatre and is open to all Medievalists.net (10-13-10)
  • British historian Peter Hennessy appointed to House of Lords: A LEADING authority on contemporary British history who has taught generations of students at Queen Mary’s Mile End campus has been elevated to the House of Lords…. – East London Advertiser (10-10-10)
  • Finalists announced for 2010 Cundill Prize in History: The finalists for McGill University’s Cundill Prize in History, the largest award for historical non-fiction in the world, were announced on Thursday….
    Giancarlo Casale for The Ottoman Age of Exploration
    Diarmaid Macculloch for A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years
    Marla R. Miller for Betsy Ross and the Making of AmericaNational Post (10-8-10)
  • Retired UCR professor to be honored by Queen Elizabeth II: A retired UC Riverside professor is set to be honored by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. Henry Snyder, UC Riverside professor of history emeritus, will be presented with the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire medal Oct. 16 in Los Angeles, for his 32 years of work on the English Short-Title Catalogue…. – Southwest Riverside News Network (10-9-10)
  • Diane Ravitch named one of Atlantic’s 19 “Brave Thinkers”: When Diane Ravitch decided that reform ideas like robust testing, charter schools, and No Child Left Behind were imperiling rather than saving American education, she managed to break with her former Republican allies and start a fight with Obama Democrats, all at once….
    Teachers unions and some civil-rights groups sounded these alarms before Ravitch did. But her sharp writing and mastery of history (she’s an education professor and historian at New York University) mean that no one makes the case more forcefully…. – The Atlantic (11-1-10)

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • James Loewen to open Filson conference in Louisville He’ll tackle the lies about secession: The Filson Institute Academic Conference:
    When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, with opening address by James Loewen; 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Friday; and 8:30 a.m.-2:15 p.m. Saturday.
    Where: Filson Historical Society, 1310 S. Third St.
    Loewen will give the opening address of the three-day conference, which begins Thursday at the Filson Historical Society. The conference topic, “Secessions: From the American Revolution to the Civil War,” coincides with the 150th anniversary of South Carolina’s secession from the Union and will explore moments in U.S. history when Americans threatened or acted upon a perceived right to secede from state or national authorities.
    Andrew Cayton, distinguished professor of history at Miami University in Ohio; Manisha Sinha, an associate professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst; and historian Jon Kukla are among the conference’s 27 scholars who will present papers and comments about secession issues between 1783 and 1865…. – Louisville Courier-Journal, 10-18-10
  • Prominent University of Chicago historian will deliver annual W. Bruce Lincoln Lecture: Historian Ramón Gutiérrez — an award-winning author and director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago — will visit Northern Illinois University later this month to deliver the seventh annual W. Bruce Lincoln Lecture. The lecture, titled “Thinking About Race in a Post-Racial America: From Plessy v. Ferguson to Barack Obama,” will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, in the Altgeld Hall Auditorium. The event is free and open to all. It is sponsored by the NIU History Department and the W. Bruce Lincoln Endowment…. – NIU, 10-15-10
  • THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY MAKES ITS MOST IMPORTANT COLLECTIONS RELATING TO SLAVERY AVAILABLE ONLINE: Rich trove of material becomes easily accessible at www.nyhistory.org/slaverycollection The New-York Historical Society is proud to announce the launch of a new online portal to nearly 12,000 pages of source materials documenting the history of slavery in the United States, the Atlantic slave trade and the abolitionist movement. Made readily accessible to the general public for the first time at www.nyhistory.org/slaverycollections, these documents from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries represent fourteen of the most important collections in the library’s Manuscript Department….
  • Understanding the Iran-Contra Affairs,” is the only comprehensive website on the famous Reagan-era government scandal, which stemmed from the U.S. government’s policies toward two seemingly unrelated countries, Nicaragua and Iran. Despite stated and repeated denials to Congress and to the public, Reagan Administration officials supported the militant contra rebels in Nicaragua and sold arms to a hostile Iranian government. These events have led to questions about the appropriateness of covert operations, congressional oversight, and even the presidential power to pardon…. – irancontra.org
  • Thousands of Studs Terkel interviews going online: The Library of Congress will digitize the Studs Terkel Oral History Archive, according to the agreement, while the museum will retain ownership of the roughly 5,500 interviews in the archive and the copyrights to the content. Project officials expect digitizing the collection to take more than two years…. – NYT, 5-13-10
  • Digital Southern Historical Collection: The 41,626 scans reproduce diaries, letters, business records, and photographs that provide a window into the lives of Americans in the South from the 18th through mid-20th centuries.

SPOTTED:

  • Professor offers a look into the life of migrant laborers: Professor of Mexican History at North Dakota State University, Dr. Jim Norris, visited UCF on Thursday to offer a peek into a year in the life of migrant laborers in the United States. Before Norris began his lecture, creative writing major Colby Pryor admitted he was there for extra credit, but he expected an interesting lecture. “I hope it is a little entertaining, Pryor said…. – Central Florida Future, 10-

ON TV:

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

BOOKS COMING SOON:

  • 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:

  • Former history professor Rhys Isaac dead at 72: Rhys Isaac, former Distinguished Visiting Professor of Early American History at the College, has died of cancer. He was 72. Isaac, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1983 for his book “The Transformation of Virginia, 1740 -1790,” enjoyed an exemplary career in teaching and research, most especially in his scholarship on Colonial North America. He remains the only Australian historian ever to win a Pulitzer…. – William & Mary News (10-7-10)
Advertisements

History Buzz March 15, 2010: Reagan Fever & Revisiting Richard Hofstader

HISTORY BUZZ:

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

HISTORY NEWS:

  • Conservatives on Texas school board revising curriculum, change history: Dr. McLeroy, addressing the Texas school board (Washington Monthly) The Texas Board of Education has approved a new school curriculum that will put a stamp on history and economics textbooks that will horrify some and be questioned by others…. – Examiner, 3-14-10
  • Larry Schweikart: University of Dayton historian criticizes textbooks for minimizing Reagan: …As for controversy, Professor Larry Schweikart of the University of Dayton, sees plenty in the textbooks he reviews. When vetting a history book, Schweikart first turns to any section discussing President Ronald Reagan. He says what you find there will tell you everything you need to know about whether or not a book is slanted. Schweikart believes that’s how many errors wind up in school textbooks: bias…. – FOX News (3-11-10)
  • Centuries-Old Shipwrecks Found in Baltic Sea: A gas company building an underwater pipeline stumbled upon several wrecks, some dating back 800 years…. A dozen centuries-old shipwrecks dating from medieval times to the world wars have been found. The ships were very well preserved because ship worms that eat wooden wrecks don’t live in the Baltic Sea. Thousands of similar wrecks have previously been found in the Baltic Sea…. – Discovery.com, 3-9-10
  • Jonathan D. Spense: Eminent China Scholar Will Deliver 2010 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities: Jonathan D. Spence, an expert on Chinese history and culture and a professor emeritus at Yale University, will deliver the 2010 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Humanities announced on Monday…. – Chronicle of Higher Education (3-8-10)
  • 45 years after Selma civil rights march, some see ways to go: Robert Powell and Maria Gitin had not seen each other in 45 years until Sunday, more than four decades after they rode a donkey together through rural Wilcox County to register voters. Gitin answered the Rev. Martin Luther King’s call for civil rights workers to come to Alabama after state and local law enforcement officers beat marchers trying to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on March 7, 1965…. – USA Today, 3-7-10
  • Reagan Fever: Ronald Reagan fever has not subsided in the GOP. The most recent flare-up came with the proposal of Congressman Patrick McHenry to replace Ulysses S. Grant with Ronald Reagan on the $50 bill. “President Reagan is indisputably one of the most transformative presidents of the 20th century,” McHenry wrote to his fellow members of Congress. “Like President Roosevelt on the dime and President Kennedy on the half-dollar, President Reagan deserves a place of honor on our nation’s currency.”
    Not exactly. It’s true that Reagan fans have been agitating for some time to memorialize the Gipper in a variety of ways, and, as the renaming of National Airport a few years ago indicates, they’ve been pretty successful. But putting him on the $50 bill doesn’t make much sense. For one thing, it’s unfair to Grant. As UCLA historian Joan Waugh, who has written a history of Grant, observed in the Los Angeles Times, he has gotten a bum historical rap….- National Interest, 3-12-10

OP-EDs:

  • Tevi Troy: Nerd is another word for smart Republicans have long been viewed as those who get gentleman’s “C” in the national classroom. In fact, it is almost a liberal trope to call Republican presidents “dumb.”
    Democrats, in contrast, are usually cited as the smart ones in American politics….
    But this simplistic analysis of smart Democrats contrasted with dumb Republicans does not fit reality. – Politico, 3-12-10

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Ellen Fitzpatrick: Dear Mrs. Kennedy Book recalls grief of a nation, one condolence letter at a time: …But at least one of Jane’s notes ended up among the 200,000 pages that were sent to the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, where they sat largely ignored until historian Ellen Fitzpatrick decided to write “Letters to Jackie: Condolences From a Grieving Nation.”
    The book, released last week by HarperCollins, includes more than 200 never-before published letters divided into three categories: vivid recollections of the day Kennedy was killed; letters that express views on society, politics and the presidency, and personal experiences of grief and loss…. – AP, 3-14-10
  • Professor’s book shows delicate relationship between love, honor, and politics: “The Tyranny of Opinion,” written by Pablo Piccato, associate professor of history at Columbia, recounts an 1894 dispute between two politicians over a woman’s love…. – Columbia Spectator, 3-9-10
  • Ken Gormley: Southern Bound: ‘Death of American Virtue’ brings clarity: Good lord, how time marches on. It’s already been over a decade since the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal and the ensuing struggle to impeach President Bill Clinton riveted the nation. And now, in a project begun before the smoke had even cleared, we have a massive (800 pages, counting notes, bibliography and index) new book about the whole mess. Not interested? Think again, for if you have any curiosity about politics and power, “The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr” (Crown, $35) by Ken Gormley provides some much-needed balance and perspective on one of the most distasteful and divisive episodes in modern American history…. – Mobile Press-Register, 3-14-10
  • Anthony Brandt: The Frozen Unknown: THE MAN WHO ATE HIS BOOTS The Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage But the fabled Northwest Passage has returned to the news pages as a warming climate unlocks its deep channels, allowing access to hydrocarbons below the seabed. Anthony Brandt anchors his robust new history, “The Man Who Ate His Boots,” in that modern context…. – NYT, 3-11-10 Excerpt
  • Jonathan Phillips: Butchers and Saints: HOLY WARRIORS A Modern History of the Crusades It’s tempting to dismiss the crusaders’ piety as sheer hypocrisy. In fact, their faith was as pure as their savagery. As Jonathan Phillips observes in his excellent new history — in case we needed reminding at this late date — “faith lies at the heart of holy war.”…. – NYT, 3-11-10 Excerpt

FEATURES:

  • Letter from America An Old Essay Used to Explain a New Movement: The name Richard Hofstadter has been summoned up a lot lately in liberal opinion columns and the blogosphere as an eloquent and intellectually impeccable explanation for political developments like the Tea Party movement, the stardom of Sarah Palin, and the claim on right-wing talk radio that Barack Obama is a “socialist,” maybe even a “bolshevik” leading America to ruin. Mr. Hofstadter was the highly respected, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian at Columbia University among whose most famous essays was one called “The Paranoid Style of American Politics,” published in Harper’s Magazine in 1964, which is the piece of writing being cited most often these days…. – NYT, 3-11-10

QUOTES:

  • Amy Strebe: US honors pioneering women military pilots: Amy Strebe, a historian and author of “Flying for her Country,” said the tribute came not a moment too soon. “This is the time to do it. In a couple of years they are not going to be with us anymore,” she said. – AFP, 3-10-10

INTERVIEWS:

  • Q+A: Interview with historian Simon Schama Dr Simon Schama interviewed by PAUL HOLMES: PAUL So you are anti federation. Obama – let’s talk about Barack Obama, of whom you are a keen student, he’s been President for what nearly a year, just over a year, and on the matter of Obama he’s called off his trip of Asia and I think Melbourne for I think three days, this is because the White House seems to think Simon that he can possibly get his health reform through very shortly. Is he going to be able to do that do you think, realistically.
    SIMON I think he is actually, we’re in act three of Obama actually Paul, I think act one was the extraordinary campaign he ran, the unrealistic expectations that him as some sort of American messiah, someone who’d bring Americans together at a moment of multiple crises. Act two was Obama being so convinced that he could bring Americans into that great national cuddle and getting on as a policy wonk person with the day to day business of governing that he forgot about politics. Act two between Spring and Christmas last year he absolutely lost the political plot, he lost all the toughness which is there underneath the rather philosophical lofty nice guy. Act three he’s decided to be much more of a fighter, and the business of health care reform is he’s using a process called reconciliation, which is sort of the opposite of what it sounds. It is a way to use the budgetary process to get through pieces of legislation that don’t require a super majority of filibuster proof majority, just a simple majority. It was thought to be so-called nuclear option, something that could blow back in political disadvantage, but George Bush used it to enact taxcuts and that takes away an issue from the Republicans, he’s gonna use that for health care reform, and he’s gonna use it for financial regulation reform, and my bet is even though Republicans think it will polarise the country more, the country will actually be grateful for seeing a tougher more decisive President…. – TV New Zealand, 3-14-10

AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

  • Janet Gezari: Professor´s fellowship fosters Euro-American relations at the American Academy in Berlin: There is no typical day for Professor Janet Gezari at the American Academy in Berlin, where she is spending the semester as the Siemens Fellow. One minute she’ll be dining with a famous opera director or visiting the Federal President’s office, and deeply engaged in her research or exploring the sites of Berlin in the next. “This is a remarkable opportunity for me,” Gezari, the Lucy Marsh Haskell ’19 Professor of English, said. “In addition to ideal conditions for working, I have the opportunity to get to know Berlin and Berliners.”…. – Connecticut College, 3-12-10
  • Joseph Bergin: Manchester historian honoured A University of Manchester historian has received one of the Europe’s oldest and most important history prizes: Professor Joseph Bergin was given the prize this month from the French Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres for his book Church, society and religious change in France 1580-1730. It recognizes the most important works published on the history of France, and is rarely given to non-French language publications. “It is a great honour to receive this award, and recognition that this book is now regarded as most comprehensive account written in any language – French included – of the subject and period,” said Professor Bergin… – Manchester News, 3-11-10

SPOTTED:

  • Bernard Bailyn: Pulitzer Prize-Winner Offers Lesson in History: Bernard Bailyn, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning historian,and professor of early American history at Harvard University, treated an intimate audience gathered in Fulton Hall Tuesday evening to an unconventional lecture on the context and piecemeal construction of the American Constitution. “I am very much interested in the contingencies, accidents, personalities, and timing that play into the outcome of historical events,” Bailyn said in his introduction. Bailyn said that the writing and interpretation of the American Constitution was the “perfect example” of the outcome of such a strange mixture of factors, pointing out what he described as the numerous Constitutional accidents, compromises, and contingencies that undermine the modern-day sense of the document’s inevitability…. – BC’s The Heights, 3-11-10

ON TV:

  • Donald L. Miller: HBO sought Easton professor’s expertise for ‘The Pacific’ war series HBO’s ‘THE PACIFIC’: A simple question from his 6-year-old granddaughter inspired Easton historian Donald L. Miller to start writing about World War II. Miller, a Lafayette College history professor, has since written three books on the history of World War II. That led him to his latest project, as historical consultant and a writer for HBO’s ”The Pacific.” The 10-part miniseries on the U.S. Marine Corps’ World War II campaign in the Pacific begins airing at 9 tonight. Its producers include Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg…. – Morning Call, 3-14-10
  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
  • PBS American Experience: Mondays at 9pm
  • History Channel: Weekly Schedule

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

BOOKS COMING SOON:

  • Nicholas Schou: Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love, and Acid to the World, (Hardcover) March 16, 2010
  • Timothy M. Gay: Satch, Dizzy, and Rapid Robert: The Wild Saga of Interracial Baseball Before Jackie Robinson, (Hardcover) March 16, 2010
  • Miranda Carter: George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I, (Hardcover) March 23, 2010
  • John W. Steinberg: All the Tsar’s Men: Russia’s General Staff and the Fate of the Empire, 1898-1914, (Hardcover) April 1, 2010
  • Simon Dixon: Catherine the Great, (Paperback) April 6, 2010
  • J. Todd Moye: Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, (Hardcover) April 12, 2010
  • Seth G. Jones: In the Graveyard of Empires: America’s War in Afghanistan (Paperback) April 12, 2010
  • Nick Bunker: Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History, (Hardcover) April 13, 2010
  • Dominic Lieven: Russia Against Napoleon: The True Story of the Campaigns of War and Peace, (Hardcover), April 15, 2010
  • Timothy J. Henderson: The Mexican Wars for Independence, (Paperback) April 13, 2010
  • Hampton Sides: Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin, (Hardcover) April 27, 2010
  • Max Hastings: Winston’s War: Churchill, 1940-1945, (Hardcover) April 27, 2010
  • Bradley Gottfried: The Maps of Gettysburg: An Atlas of the Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 – July 13, 1863, (Hardcover) April 19, 2010
  • Kelly Hart: The Mistresses of Henry VIII, (Paperback) May 1, 2010
  • Mark Puls: Henry Knox: Visionary General of the American Revolution, (Paperback) May 11, 2010

DEPARTED:

  • Professor Jack Pole’s reassessment of American ‘exceptionalism’: Professor Jack Pole, the historian who died on January 30 aged 87, was a pioneering figure in the study of American political culture whose challenge to the notion of American “exceptionalism” ignited a debate that has yet to burn out…. – Telegraph (UK), 3-13-10
  • Richard Stites, Historian of Russian Culture, Dies at 78: Richard Stites, who opened up new territory for historians with a landmark work on the Russian women’s movement and in numerous articles and books on Russian and Soviet mass culture, died on Sunday in Helsinki, where he was doing research. He was 78 and lived in Washington. The cause was complications from cancer, his son Andrei said…. – NYT (3-13-10)
  • Thomas Garden Barnes, Berkeley professor and advocate of Canadian history, dies at 80: UC Berkeley history and law professor emeritus Thomas Garden Barnes, who was known as an erudite academe of English, French, American and Canadian law and history, died Tuesday. He was 80…. – The Daily Californian (3-11-10)

History Buzz, June 15, 2009: The Future of Diplomatic History & The Holocaust Museum Shooting

HISTORY BUZZ:

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

BIGGEST NEWS STORIES:

  • Avinoam Patt: University Of Hartford Professor Says Holocaust Museum Shooting Is Evidence Anti-Semitism Still Exists: “The museum is very threatening to deniers. It is not just a memorial but a museum that makes a statement to nearly 2 million visitors a year, educating people about the cancer of genocide,” said Avinoam Patt, who teaches American and European Jewish history…. – Hartford Courant, 6-11-09

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

    On This Day in History….This Week in History…. June 15-21, 2009

  • John Lewis Gaddis “June 1979, the Nine Days of John Paul II”: Thirty years ago, the Bishop of Rome returned to Poland for the first time since his recent election to the papacy. America’s premier Cold War historian, John Lewis Gaddis of Yale, is not ambiguous in his judgment of what happened next: “When John Paul II kissed the ground at the Warsaw airport on June 2, 1979, he began the process by which communism in Poland—and ultimately everywhere—would come to an end.” Professor Gaddis is right: the Nine Days of John Paul II, June 2-10, 1979, were an epic moment on which the history of the 20th century pivoted, and in a more humane direction…. – Catholic Star Herald, 6-11-09

IN THE NEWS:

  • Great Caesar’s Ghost! Are Traditional History Courses Vanishing?: To the pessimists evidence that the field of diplomatic history is on the decline is everywhere. Job openings on the nation’s college campuses are scarce, while bread-and-butter courses like the Origins of War and American Foreign Policy are dropping from history department postings. And now, in what seems an almost gratuitous insult, Diplomatic History, the sole journal devoted to the subject, has proposed changing its title…. – NYT, 6-10-09
  • Australian National University professor David Horner: Professor to write ASIO history: ASIO has commissioned an historian to write an unclassified history of the spy agency as its new headquarters take shape…. – The Age, Australia, 6-12-09
  • John Hope Franklin: Brooklyn College Celebrates Historian and Announces Award and Conference in His Name – Brooklyn College, 6-8-09
  • Randolph-Macon Woman’s College Professor and Historian Margaret Pertzoff: Wintergreen Farm owner leaves $1.4M bequest to Randolph College – Nelson County Times, 6-

OP-EDs & BLOGS:

  • Paul Krugman vs. Neill Ferguson: Letting the Data Speak – NYT, 6-16-09
  • Derek J. Penslar: Contested Space Maps in Teaching About Israel – Shma, 6-12-09

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Michael Kazin on Simon Schama: What So Proudly He Hails THE AMERICAN FUTURE A History WaPo, 6-14-09
  • Simon Schama: THE AMERICAN FUTURE A History, Chapter One – WaPo, 6-14-09
  • Simon Schama: Despite the Crises, Seeing a Star-Spangled Destiny in the Mirror of Time THE AMERICAN FUTURE A History NYT, 6-9-09
  • Simon Schama: The American Future: A History Historian Simon Schama offers a portrait of America with its complexities and contradictions. – CS Monitor, 6-15-09
  • Vincent J. Cannato: American Passage: The History of Ellis Island ‘American Passage’: It’s Ellis Island’s history, and ours, too – USA Today, 6-15-09
  • BEVERLY GAGE on Jackson Lears: American Macho REBIRTH OF A NATION The Making of Modern America, 1877-1920 NYT, 6-14-09
  • Gillian Tett: Rewriting the Rules FOOL’S GOLD How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J. P. Morgan Was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe NYT, 6-14-09
  • Gillian Tett: FOOL’S GOLD How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J. P. Morgan Was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe, First Chapter – NYT, 6-14-09
  • Chris Bray on Doug Stanton: The Stuff of Which Movies Are Made HORSE SOLDIERS The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan WaPo, 6-14-09
  • Robert Fulford on D.D. Guttenplan, John Earl Haynes: Two views on I.F. Stone American Radical: The Life and Times of I.F. Stone, Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America National Post, 6-14-09

QUOTES:

  • Bill Clinton: Historian John Hope Franklin was ‘angry, happy man’: The late historian John Hope Franklin was “an angry, happy man” whose work as the head of a commission on race helped pull the country together, former President Bill Clinton said Thursday. Clinton was one of a dozen speakers at a service at Duke Chapel to honor Franklin and his wife, Aurelia, who would have celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary Thursday….
    “Now, we’re laughing,” Clinton said. “But the man was 80 years old. He was perhaps the most distinguished living American historian. He did write this in a funny way. And he wrote it in a way that you knew he didn’t think it was funny. He was a genius at being a passionate rationalist. An angry, happy man. A happy, angry man.”…
    In 1997, Clinton appointed Franklin to lead his Initiative on Race. Because of that report and Franklin’s work on it, “we are a different country,” Clinton said. “For 10 years, we’ve been working to become a communitarian country. After being known as a country know by our divisions from 1968 to 2008, people know us as a country known by our unity. His life and work in no small measure helped to produce that.” – AP
  • Michal Belknap “Get a Life? Not If You Want to Be One of the Nine The debate building up to the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings suggests that real-world experiences are of suspect value in administering the law. Really?”: Michal Belknap, a historian and law professor at California Western School of Law, is writing a biography of Justice Tom Clark, who was appointed to the court in 1949 after practicing oil and gas law. “As far as I’m aware,” Belknap said, “nobody ever asked him whether his background as an oil and gas lawyer would influence his thinking in oil and gas cases. The reason they gave them to him was that he was the only person who could understand those cases.”… – MillerMcCune.com

PROFILES & FEATURES:

  • Alex Roland: After four decades, is America over the moon?: Four decades after the first lunar landing, a series of new missions revives debate over their value – The Arizona Republic, 6-14-09
  • Christopher Howse “Why Queen Mary wanted to burn: Queen Mary’s abbreviated reign can now be, if not forgiven, at least understood, says Howse…. – Telegraph, UK, 6-12-09
  • Divided We Stand: What would California look like broken in three? Or a Republic of New England? With the federal government reaching for ever more power, redrawing the map is enticing, says Paul Starobin… – WSJ, 6-13-09
  • Jean Libby: John Brown’s legacy hasn’t changed; America has – AP, 6-13-09

INTERVIEWS:

  • For Timothy Garton Ash, Europe Means Shared History: What does it mean to be European, and what is Europe’s future? For answers, RFE/RL correspondent Ahto Lobjakas spoke to the British historian and essayist Timothy Garton Ash in the Estonian capital Tallinn after attending “Rethinking Enemies of Open Society,” a forum organized by the Open Estonia Foundation…. – RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, 6-7-09

HONORS, AWARDED &APPOINTED:

  • Dr. William Anthony Hay: Elected as a Fellow of Britain’s Royal Historical Society after writing about a historical period that had yet to receive much scholarly attention, “The Whig Revival: 1808 – 1830″…. – Starkville Daily News, 6-15-09
  • Historian Stephen B. Oates was honored recently with a lifetime achievement award from the Abraham Lincoln Group of New York: “I was ecstatic,” Oates said. “It wasn’t anything I expected.” Oates who has received numerous awards including the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Book Award said, “This probably tops them all.” – MassLive.com, 6-14-09
  • Peter Bol, Vincent Brown, Ann Harrington: Six faculty named Walter Channing Cabot Fellows Chosen for accomplishments in literature, history, or art – Harvard University Gazette, 6-11-09
  • Susan Cahan: Art historian selected for newly created deanship: Yale College Dean Mary Miller announced Thursday the appointment of Susan Cahan, the associate dean for academic affairs of the College of Fine Arts and Communication at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, the newly created position of associate dean for the arts in Yale College…. – Yale Daily News, 6-11-09
  • The historian and scholar and principal of Aberdeen University, Professor C Duncan Rice, receives a knighthood: Three university vice-chancellors and a head teacher have received knighthoods in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list…. – BBC, 6-12-09

ANNOUNCEMENTS & SPOTTED:

  • Harvey Kaye: UW-Green Bay professor discussed Thomas Paine on PBS program “Bill Moyers’ Journal” – UW-Green Bay, 6-9-09

EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • June 2009: National Archives Continues Year-Long 75th Anniversary Celebration in June with H.W. Brands, Donald Ritchie, Robert Remini – Press Newswire, 5-28-09
  • 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: “Clash of the Cavemen” – Monday, June 15, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The Universe: Beyond the Big Bang” – Monday, June 15, 2009 at 9pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Life After People” – Tuesday, June 16, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Underwater Universe” – Tuesday, June 16, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Life After People: The Road to Nowhere” – Tuesday, June 16, 2009 at 10pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The Real Tomb Hunters: Snakes, Curses, and Booby Traps” – Wednesday, June 17, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Ancient Discoveries: Ancient New York” – Wednesday, June 17, 2009 at 6pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Rome: Engineering an Empire” – Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Hippies ” – Friday, June 19, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Modern Marvels: 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s Tech” Marathon- Friday, June 19, 2009 at 4-8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Expedition Africa: 03 – Hunters Become The Hunted” – Friday, June 19, 2009 at 10pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “UFO Hunters” Marathon – Saturday, June 13, 2009 at 2-5pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Band of Brothers” Marathon – Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 1:30-8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Secret Access: Air Force One ” – Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The Presidents: 1885-1913” – Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 9pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Andrew Jackson” – Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 10pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Expedition Africa: 04 – African Monsoon” – Sunday, June 21, 2009 at 10pm ET/PT

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

COMING SOON BOOKS:

  • 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
  • Michael McMenamin: Becoming Winston Churchill: The Untold Story of Young Winston and His American Mentor, July 1, 2009
  • Elinor Burkett: Golda (Reprint), July 1, 2009
  • Mike Evans (Editor): Woodstock: Three Days That Rocked the World, July 7, 2009
  • Roger S. Bagnall: Oxford Handbook of Papyrology, July 14, 2009
  • David Maraniss: Rome 1960: The Summer Olympics That Stirred the World (Reprint), July 14, 2009
  • Buzz Aldrin: Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon, July 23, 2009
  • Alice Morse Earle: Child Life in Colonial Times (Paperback), July 23, 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
  • Annette Gordon-Reed: The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (Paperback), September 8, 2009
  • Jon Krakauer: Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman, September 15, 2009

DEPARTED:

  • Philip D. Curtin: Longtime Johns Hopkins University professor reshaped the history of the African slave trade – WaPk, 6-14-09
  • Him Mark Lai: Dies at 83; scholar was called dean of Chinese American studies – LAT, 6-14-09
  • PATRICIA MARCIA CRAWFORD, HISTORIAN: Inquisitive woman for the ages – The Age, Australia, 6-12-09
  • Professor Perez Zagorin: Who has died on April 26 aged 88, was an American historian who specialised in the English Civil War but was shunned by the academic establishment in his own country during the McCarthy era… – Telegraph, UK, 6-9-09

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
%d bloggers like this: