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

History Buzz

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

HISTORY BUZZ:

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

IN FOCUS:

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

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

HISTORY NEWS:

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

OP-EDs:

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

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

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

FEATURES:

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

QUOTES:

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

INTERVIEWS:

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

AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

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

SPOTTED:

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

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • September 17-18, 2010 at Notre Dame University: Conference aims to bring medieval, early modern and Latin American historians together: An interdisciplinary conference to be held at the University of Notre Dame this fall is making a final call for papers to explore the issue surrounding similarities between late-medieval Iberia and its colonies in the New World. “From Iberian Kingdoms to Atlantic Empires: Spain, Portugal, and the New World, 1250-1700” is being hosted by the university’s Nanovic Institute for European Studies and will take place on September 17-18, 2010. Medieval News, 4-29-10
  • Digital Southern Historical Collection: The 41,626 scans reproduce diaries, letters, business records, and photographs that provide a window into the lives of Americans in the South from the 18th through mid-20th centuries.
  • Oxford University Press to publish OAH’s Journal of American History and Magazine of History: Oxford University Press (OUP) is honored to have been selected by the Organization of American Historians to be the publisher of the Journal of American History and the Magazine of History…. – OUP Press Release, 5-6-10
  • Pizarro: Pulitzer Prize-winning historian to speak at YWCA event: The YWCA of Silicon Valley will feature Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin at its 20th annual fundraising luncheon this fall. Goodwin’s 2005 book on the Lincoln presidency, “Team of Rivals,” is often cited as a favorite of President Barack Obama’s. And I’d expect she’ll have interesting perspectives on current history, given that the Nov. 16 luncheon comes just two weeks after this year’s midterm elections…. – SJ Mercury News, 5-2-10

ON TV:

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

BOOKS COMING SOON:

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

DEPARTED:

  • Eminent historian of Irish ascendancy ascendancy dies at 79: Mark Bence-Jones, the genealogical researcher who has died at the age of 79, was the most eminent historian of the social mores of the Irish ascendancy in its decline over the last 100 years…. – Irish Times, 5-8-10
  • Angus Maddison, Economic Historian, Dies at 83: Some people try to forecast the future. Angus Maddison devoted his life to forecasting the past. Professor Maddison, a British-born economic historian with a compulsion for quantification, spent many of his 83 years calculating the size of economies over the last three millenniums. In one study he estimated the size of the world economy in A.D. 1 as about one five-hundredth of what it was in 2008…. – NYT, 4-30-10
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History Buzz April 26, 2010: Orlando Figes & Stephen Ambrose Embroiled in Controversy

HISTORY BUZZ:

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

    This Week’s Political Highlights

  • Bush memoir: 43’s ‘most critical and historic decisions’: It’s official: George W. Bush’s entry into the ranks of presidential memoirs will be released Nov. 9.
    Decision Points “will be centered on the 14 most critical and historic decisions in the life and public service of the 43rd president of the United States,” says the release from Crown Publishers.
    Among those topics: The disputed 2000 election, 9/11, the Iraq war, the financial crisis, Hurricane Katrina, Afghanistan and Iran. Bush also discusses his decision to quit drinking, his faith and his celebrated and politically active family…. – USA Today, 4-27-10
  • The Unthinkable: A Democratic Challenge To Obama: OK, OK. Of course it’s not going to happen. No Democrat in his or her right mind would contemplate challenging President Obama in 2012. In fact, when the Democratic National Committee issued a press release this month announcing the date for the party’s national convention, DNC Chairman Tim Kaine emphasized — twice — that the Democrats fully intend to renominate President Obama and Vice President Biden. But despite the obvious long odds, anything is possible in American politics. There are historical examples of tough intraparty challenges to incumbent presidents… – NPR, 4-22-10

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

    On This Day in History….

    This Week in History….

  • First Earth Day in U.S. had feel of ’60s, says historian: It was part protest, part celebration, and an estimated 20 million Americans took part. On the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, millions of people across the U.S. went to large public rallies, listened to political speeches, took part in teach-ins, went to concerts and educational fairs, and helped to clean up their communities. Air and water pollution, nuclear testing and loss of wilderness were major concerns…. – CBC News (4-22-10)

HISTORY NEWS:

  • Martin Barillas: Wikipedia Struggles with Holocaust Disinformation; Ravensfire Deletes Jewish Content: Wikipedia posters continued to struggle with the campaign to delete information about IBM’s involvement in the Holocaust as contributors posted and reposted conflicting theories of what should and should not be allowed to appear in the Internet encyclopedia…. – Cutting Edge News (4-26-10)
  • Orlando Figes: Phoney reviewer Figes has history of litigious quarrels: …The professor of Russian history at Birkbeck, University of London, who has previously been engaged in at least two legal disputes with other historians, has been accused and cleared of plagiarism, and received hate mail while an academic at Cambridge. One colleague who did not want to be named described the most recent episode as “the tip of the iceberg”…. – Independent (UK) (4-25-10)
  • Oliver Kamm: Figes’ Furies – Times Online (UK) (4-25-10)
  • Orlando Figes admits: ‘It was me’: For a week now, an extraordinary row has had Britain’s academe in turmoil with threats of libel writs and the bloodying of distinguished reputations.
    But now, in an astonishing twist to the saga, I can reveal that the offending reviews on Amazon were not, after all, written by Figes’s wife, Stephanie, herself a Cambridge University law lecturer…. The Daily Mail (UK) (4-23-10)
  • Poison pen reviews were mine, confesses historian Orlando FigesGuardian (UK) (4-23-10)
  • Another Blow to the Reputation of Stephen Ambrose: In 2002, Ambrose was accused of lifting passages for The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s over Germany from the work of the historian Thomas Childers. Citing faulty citations, Ambrose apologized, and his publisher promised to put the sentences in question in quotes in future editions. But shortly after, other accusations arose: about passages in books like his Crazy Horse and Custer, Citizen Soldiers, and a volume of his three-volume biography Nixon. Ambrose responded that the relevant material was cited in his footnotes…. – Chronicle of Higher Education (4-23-10)
  • Richard Rayner: Stephen Ambrose exaggerated his relationship with EisenhowerThe New Yorker (4-26-10)
  • Harlem Center’s Director to Retire in Early 2011: Howard Dodson, whose wide-ranging acquisitions and major exhibitions have raised the profile of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and burnished its reputation as the premier institution of its kind, plans to retire as its director in 2011. Howard Dodson turned a research library known mostly to scholars into an institution open to anyone interested in black culture…. – NYT, 4-19-10
  • Historians Call on Texas State Board of Education to Delay Vote: Historians from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas at El Paso have written an Open Letter to the Texas State Board of Education. The letter identifies specific problems with the proposed changes to the state’s social studies standards and recommends that the board delay adoption of the standards in order to solicit additional feedback from “qualified, credentialed content experts from the state’s colleges and universities” and the general public…. – Keith Erekson (4-14-10)

OP-EDs:

  • HENRY LOUIS GATES Jr.: Ending the Slavery Blame-Game: THANKS to an unlikely confluence of history and genetics — the fact that he is African-American and president — Barack Obama has a unique opportunity to reshape the debate over one of the most contentious issues of America’s racial legacy: reparations, the idea that the descendants of American slaves should receive compensation for their ancestors’ unpaid labor and bondage…. – NYT, 4-22-10
  • Jon Wiener: Stephen Ambrose, Another Historian in Trouble: In his first and biggest Ike book, “The Supreme Commander,” published in 1970, Ambrose listed nine interviews with the former president. But according to Richard Rayner of The New Yorker, that’s not true. The deputy director of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas, Tim Rives, told Rayer that Ike saw Ambrose only three times, for a total of less than five hours, and that the two men were never alone together. The Nation (4-20-10)

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Laura Bush Opens Up About Fatal Crash: Spoken From the Heart Laura Bush has finally opened up publicly about the mysterious car accident she had when she was 17, a crash that claimed the life of a high school friend on a dark country road in Midland, Tex. In her new book, “Spoken From the Heart,” Ms. Bush describes in vivid detail the circumstances surrounding the crash, which has haunted her for most of her adult life and which became the subject of questions and speculation when it was revealed during her husband’s first presidential run. A copy of the book, scheduled for release in early May, was obtained by The New York Times at a bookstore… – NYT, 4-28-10
  • Graham Robb: A Pointillist Tour, Revolution to Riots: PARISIANS An Adventure History of Paris “Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris” arrives with an odd subtitle (adventure history?) that makes it sound as if it were written on a skateboard and sponsored by Mountain Dew. Here’s what this book really is: a pointillist and defiantly nonlinear history of Paris from the dawn of the French Revolution through the 2005 riots in Clichy-sous- Bois, told from a variety of unlikely perspectives and focusing on lesser-known but reverberating moments in the city’s history…. – NYT, 4-28-10 Excerpt
  • Assessing Jewish Identity of Author Killed by Nazis: Némirovsky’s personal story contains plenty of drama, including the desperate, heart-rending attempts by her husband, Michel Epstein, to save her. He too died at Auschwitz. But along with the belated publication came charges from a handful of critics that Némirovsky, killed because she was a Jew, was herself an anti-Semite who courted extreme right-wing friends and wrote ugly caricatured portraits of Jews. Next month a new biography, “The Life of Irène Némirovsky: Author of Suite Française,” and a collection of her short stories are being published for the first time in English in the United States, giving Americans another opportunity to assess Némirovsky’s life and work…. NYT, 4-26-10
  • Book review of “Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs and Israelis, 1956-1978” by Kai Bird: “Crossing Mandelbaum Gate” is a fascinating book about a crucial period in the Middle East, but as a memoir it fails on the promise of its subtitle. Bird turns a beacon on the exhilarating places in which he grew up. If only he had shone the same beacon on himself…. – WaPo, 4-25-10
  • Rove and Romney on the Republican Party After Bush: Karl Rove, COURAGE AND CONSEQUENCE My Life as a Conservative in the Fight, Mitt Romney, NO APOLOGY The Case for American GreatnessNYT, 4-22-10
  • Alan Brinkley “A Magazine Master Builder”: THE PUBLISHER Henry Luce and His American Century …Luce’s success story would be sheer romance if it could surmount one basic problem: Luce himself. On the evidence of “The Publisher,” Alan Brinkley’s graceful and judicious biography, Luce began as an arrogant, awkward boy and did not grow any more beguiling as his fortunes rose. He made up in pretension what he lacked in personal charm, and he was “able to attract the respect but not usually the genuine affection of those around him.” … – NYT, 4-19-10
  • Jonathan Yardley reviews ‘The Publisher,’ by Alan Brinkley: THE PUBLISHER Henry Luce and His American Century …Luce was a complicated, difficult man, by no stretch of the imagination a nice guy. Brinkley is very good on his tangled relationships with women — especially his equally famous and equally difficult second wife, Clare Boothe Luce — as well as with the men who worked with, which is to say under, him. My only qualm about this otherwise superb book is that it does not convey much sense of what life was like in his empire… – WaPo, 4-18-10
  • DAVID S. REYNOLDS on Leo Damrosch “Tocqueville: The Life”: TOCQUEVILLE’S DISCOVERY OF AMERICA In “Tocqueville’s Discovery of America,” Leo Damrosch, the Ernest Bernbaum professor of literature at Harvard, reveals the man behind the sage. Damrosch shows us that “Democracy in America” was the outcome of a nine-month tour of the United States that Tocqueville, a temperamental, randy 25-year-old French apprentice magistrate of aristocratic background, took in 1831-32 with his friend Gustave de Beaumont…. – NYT, 4-18-10
  • Book review: Aaron Leitko reviews “The Poker Bride,” by Christopher Corbett: THE POKER BRIDE The First Chinese in the Wild West In his exhaustively researched “The Poker Bride,” Christopher Corbett tells how Bemis — a Chinese woman who probably arrived in the United States as a concubine — wound up living on a remote patch of Idaho wilderness for more than 50 years with a Connecticut-born gambler who had won her in a poker game. By the time she finally descended from the mountains in 1923, she had become a relic of a different era, a kind of modern Rip Van Winkle…. – WaPo, 4-18-10
  • Roger Ekrich makes history more interesting in telling true story of “Kidnapped”: According to my research, every 11-year-old has read Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. What I didn’t know when I was 11—and, in fact, didn’t know until a couple of weeks ago—is that Kidnapped was based on a true story…. That true story is told in a new book, Birthright: The True Story That Inspired Kidnapped, by Roger Ekirch, a history professor at Virginia Tech. Mr. Ekirch spoke about the book yesterday at the Library of Congress…. – Chronicle of Higher Education (4-16-10)
  • Schlesinger Interviews With Jacqueline Kennedy to Be Published: Nearly seven hours of unreleased interviews with Jacqueline Kennedy, recorded just months after the death of President John F. Kennedy and intended for deposit in a future presidential library, will be released as a book, the publisher Hyperion said on Tuesday…. – NYT (4-13-10)
  • GARRY WILLS on David Remnick: “Behind Obama’s Cool”: THE BRIDGE The Life and Rise of Barack Obama David Remnick, in this exhaustively researched life of Obama before he became president, quotes many interviews in which Obama made the same or similar points. Accused of not being black enough, he could show that he has more direct ties to Africa than most ­African-Americans have. Suspected of not being American enough, he appealed to his mother’s Midwest origins and accent. Touring conservative little towns in southern Illinois, he could speak the language of the Kansan grandparents who raised him. He is a bit of a chameleon or shape-shifter, but he does not come across as insincere — that is the importance of his famous “cool.” He does not have the hot eagerness of the con man. Though his own background is out of the ordinary, he has the skill to submerge it in other people’s narratives, even those that seem distant from his own…. – NYT, 4-11-10 Excerpt

FEATURES:

  • TCNJ profs say they’ve solved Civil War mystery: A literary mystery that has lingered since the Civil War has apparently been solved by a pair of professors from The College of New Jersey. Their findings ended up as a new book, “A Secession Crisis Enigma,” by Daniel Crofts, a professor of history who turned to David Holmes, professor of statistics, while looking for an answer to a longstanding question. They wanted to determine who was the author of “The Diary of a Public Man,” which was published anonymously in four installments in the 1879 “North American Review.”… NJ.com (4-24-10)
  • It’s war: Anzac Day dissenters create bitter split between historians: A furore has erupted over Australia’s Anzac Day legacy, with the authors of a new book which questions the day’s origins accused by a rival historian of failing to acknowledge the preeminent scholar in the field. Crikey (AU) (4-19-10)
  • Smithsonian exhibit brings the Apollo Theater to D.C: About 100 items are on view at the National Museum of American History, representing big names from entertainment today and from decades past.
    Michael Jackson’s fedora, Ella Fitzgerald’s yellow dress and Louis Armstrong’s trumpet are together in a Smithsonian exhibit celebrating the famed Apollo Theater that helped these stars to shine. The not-yet-built National Museum of African American History and Culture is bringing New York’s Harlem to the nation’s capital with the first-ever exhibit focused on the Apollo, where many musical careers were launched. It opens Friday at the National Museum of American History. About 100 items are on view, representing big names from entertainment today and from decades past…. – USA Today, 4-25-10

QUOTES:

  • Roots of Islamic fundamentalism lie in Nazi propaganda for Arab world, Jeffrey Herf claims: “Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World” “The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians would have been over long ago were it not for the uncompromising, religiously inspired hatred of the Jews that was articulated and given assistance by Nazi propagandists and continued after the war by Islamists of various sorts,” said Jeffrey Herf, a history professor at the University of Maryland. – Telegraph (UK) (4-21-10)
  • JAMES ROSEN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: An accomplished author himself, President Obama appears irresistible to his fellow literati.
    JAY WINKIK, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: And he captivates the imagination. And I think it’s safe to say that the White House Press Corps has been galvanized by him. And perhaps one could also add to that. There’s a touch of bias where he may reflect the sentiments of many in the White House Press Corps…. – Fox News, 4-10
  • Historians weigh in on the Tea Party in the NYT: “The story they’re telling is that somehow the authentic, real America is being polluted,” said Rick Perlstein, the author of books about the Goldwater and Nixon years…. – NYT (4-16-10)
  • Gary Cross: For some 20-somethings, growing up is hard to do, says Penn State historian: Gary Cross is a professor of history at Penn State University whose most recent book, “Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity,” addresses just that.
    “This trend has been building up over the last 50 years to where today it really is hard to see [role] models, to recognize these models of maturity,” he said. “Men have, in effect, slowly and not always steadily rebelled against the role of being providers and being sacrificers.”
    Now, “Men who are in their mid-20s are more independent for a longer period than before because of the rise in the age of marriage. In 1970, when I was 24, men married at 22. Now they’re married at 28; that’s a big difference,” Dr. Cross said. “Part of it is the way boys have always been indulged more than girls in the typical family,” Dr. Cross said. “One thing that has struck me is, early in the 20th century, how indulgent they were of openly naughty boys. Not so much with the girls.”… – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (4-14-10)

INTERVIEWS:

  • A Primer on China from Jeffrey Wasserstrom: In China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know, just published by Oxford University Press, Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom provides answers to a wide range of commonly asked questions about the world’s most populous country. The excerpt below describes two of the topics the book addresses: nationalism and the web…. – Forbes (4-21-10)
  • Award-wining historian Natalie Zemon Davis talks to American Prospect: Natalie Zemon Davis will be awarded the 2010 Holberg International Memorial Prize on June 9 for the way in which her work “shows how particular events can be narrated and analyzed so as to reveal deeper historical tendencies and underlying patterns of thought and action.” Davis describes her work as anthropological in nature. Rather than tell the political story of a time and place, concentrating on an elite narrative, Davis’ work is often from the point of view of those less likely to keep records of their lives. TAP spoke with Davis, an 81-year-old professor emerita of history at Princeton University and current adjunct professor of history at the University of Toronto, about her innovative approach to history…. – The American Prospect (4-9-10)

AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences Announces 2010 Class of Fellows and Foreign Honorary Members: Ervand Abrahamian, City University of New York
    Robert P. Brenner, University of California, Los Angeles
    Paul H. Freedman, Yale University
    Jan E. Goldstein, University of Chicago
    Greg Grandin, New York University
    Carla Hesse, University of California, Berkeley
    Daniel Walker Howe, University of California, Los Angeles
    Donald W. Meinig, Syracuse University
    Heinrich von Staden, Institute for Advanced Study – AAAS Press Release (4-19-10)
  • University of Glasgow creates first Chair of Gaelic in Scotland: Professor Roibeard Ó Maolalaigh has been named as the first ever established Chair of Gaelic in Scotland by the University of Glasgow. The Chair has been created to recognise the University as a centre of excellence for the study of Celtic and Gaelic…. – Medieval News (4-16-10)
  • Historians on the 2010 List of Guggenheim Fellows: Andrew Apter, Joshua Brown, Antoinette Burton, William Caferro, Hasia R. Diner, Caroline Elkins, Walter Johnson, Pieter M. Judson, Jeffrey C. Kinkley, Thomas Kühne, Ms. Maggie Nelson, Susan Schulten, John Fabian Witt – Tenured Radical (4-15-10)
  • Pulitzer Prize in History awarded to Liaquat Ahamed: HISTORY: “Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World” by Liaquat Ahamed – A Harvard graduate [who] was born in Kenya, Ahamed dreamed of being a writer while he worked as an investment manager. “Lords of Finance” is a compelling account of how the actions of four bankers triggered the Depression and ultimately turned the United States into the world’s financial leader, the Pulitzer board said…. – AP (4-12-10)
  • Ernest Freeberg named winner of the 2010 Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award: Ernest Freeberg will receive the 2010 Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award, presented by the Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) of the American Library Association (ALA). Freeberg was selected for his book,“Democracy’s Prisoner: Eugene V. Debs, the Great War, and the Right to Dissent” (Harvard University Press, 2008). Press Release (4-6-10)

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • History Doctoral Programs Site Updated at AHA Website: The AHA’s History Doctoral Programs web site has now been updated to include current information on students, faculty, and departments as a whole. In addition to department-level fixes, the site has also been updated to include links to a wealth of additional information about universities in the United States… Robert Townsend at AHA Blog (4-6-10)AHA

ON TV:

  • 12-hour ‘America’ series gives ‘an aerial view of history’: History Channel has enjoyed bountiful ratings of late focusing on contemporary topics. But it returns to more traditional roots with its biggest project yet, America The Story of Us. Through dramatic re-creations and computer-generated imagery, the six-night, 12-hour series (premiering Sunday, 9 ET/PT, and continuing through May 30) covers 400 years of U.S. settlement and growth. But an American history series — the first comprehensive TV effort since Alistair Cooke’s America for PBS in 1972 — had been contemplated for about 18 months. The Story of Us crystallized during Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration.
    “Watching that was an historic moment. But so was the economic crisis, the wars the nation was fighting,” says History Channel general manager Nancy Dubuc. “Ideas came up about where are we going in America and how we got there, and how to hit all the touch-points in a way that entertains and inspires.” Obama filmed a 90-second spot to launch the series, which is narrated by actor Liev Schreiber. Observations by historians, politicians, actors and cultural observers are interspersed, including former secretary of State Colin Powell, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, Oscar winner Meryl Streep and Harvard University historian Henry Louis Gates Jr…. – USA Today, 4-22-10
  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
  • PBS American Experience: Mondays at 9pm
  • History Channel: Weekly Schedule

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

BOOKS COMING SOON:

  • 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
  • David S. Heidler: Henry Clay: The Essential American, (Hardcover), May 4, 2010
  • Nathaniel Philbrick: The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn, May 4, 2010
  • Mark Puls: Henry Knox: Visionary General of the American Revolution, (Paperback) May 11, 2010
  • T. H. Breen: American Insurgents, American Patriots: The Revolution of the People, (Hardcover), May 11, 2010
  • Alexandra Popoff: Sophia Tolstoy: A Biography, (Hardcover) May 11, 2010
  • John D. Lukacs: Escape From Davao: The Forgotten Story of the Most Daring Prison Break of the Pacific War, (Hardcover), May 11, 2010
  • S. C. Gwynne: Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History, (Hardcover) May 25, 2010
  • Steven E. Woodworth: The Chickamauga Campaign (1st Edition), (Hardcover), May 28, 2010
  • Larry Schweikart: 7 Events that Made America America: And Proved that the Founding Fathers Were Right All Along, (Hardcover) June 1, 2010

DEPARTED:

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