Cliopatria: A Group Blog
Aaron Bady (∞); Chris Bray (∞); Brett Holman (∞); Jonathan Jarrett (∞); Robert KC Johnson (∞); Rachel Leow (∞); Ralph E. Luker (∞); Scott McLemee (∞); Claire B. Potter (∞); Jonathan T. Reynolds (∞)
Here's a short piece of medievalist news commentary. I learnt a little while back from News for Medievalists that the BBC had something to say about an occasion on 5th March when Winchester Cathedral opened the first new part of its building for 500 years. It is, unexcitingly, basically a toilet block (as up till then the cathedral hadn't had any toilets, apparently!), but they managed to add some excitement by getting it opened by someone they'd just made an Ecumenical Canon, who is no less than Abbot Étienne of the monastery of Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire at Fleury, for which reason the new extension is to be the Fleury Building. 'How very appropriate a choice of canon, if not of facility,' I more or less thought and then found that the BBC thought so also but not for the reason I expected:
The link between Winchester Cathedral and the Abbey of Fleury goes back to 1978, when the then Dean of Winchester, Michael Stancliffe, and the Abbot of Fleury decided that the Anglican cathedral and the Benedictine monastery should be united in prayer.
And that's a bit weird because the connection I'd thought of was that the New Minster at Winchester was reformed by Bishop Æthelwold of that see on his appointment there in 964, and he had been trained... at Fleury.1 This seemed like an obvious thing to mention, but then I wondered if the fact that he'd kicked out the canons, whom he found quite displeasing, and replaced them with monks made it, perhaps, awkward to mention that when making a monk your newest canon. Maybe they wanted those lines to stay blurry, I thought. And that would be interesting from the point of view of the continuing relevance of the medieval past to current institutions, and institutional memory and so on. But in fact the actual press release on Winchester Cathedral's web-pages is happy to acknowledge the older link, just about:
The Cathedral’s origins are as a Benedictine monastery – Benedict being recognised as the father of Western monasticism – and although the Cathedral is no longer run by monks, Benedict’s values are at the heart of its ethos. The strength of the links between Fleury and Winchester are evident as the Cathedral and the Abbey pray for each other every day as part of the more recent rejuvenation of a relationship which stretches back a millennium. There are also regular exchanges between the two communities – including three trips by the Cathedral choir. It is therefore wholly right that the first of these Honorary Canons should be linked to its earliest origins.
They don't say what that original relationship actually was, of course, but given what we are told of this episode by contemporary sources...
The king also sent there with the bishop one of his agents, the well-known Wulfstan of Dalham, who used the royal authority to order the canons to choose one of two courses: either to give place to the monks without delay or to take the habit of the monastic order. Stricken with terror, and detesting the monastic life, they left as soon as the monks entered...2
... you can understand why Winchester would have wanted to let this pass unmentioned on a happy day 1047 years later. This is not, I think it's safe to say, how any of us would want to be fired from what we would presumably have thought of as, well, a permanent job. What about the BBC, though? Did they just miss the word `millennium' in the press release, or what? Well, who knows. But even if they're not counting, you can trust the historians to remember.
(Cross-posted at A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe.)
1. Most of what you might want to know about St Æthelwold can probably be found via Barbara A. E. Yorke (ed.), Bishop Aethelwold: his career and influence (Woodbridge 1998).
2. Wulfstan [not the same one!], Vita Sancti Æthelwoldi, edd. & transl. Michael Lapidge & Michael Winterbottom as Wulfstan of Winchester: the Life of St Æthelwold, Oxford Medieval Texts (Oxford 1991), cap. 18, here cit. from Alexander R. Rumble, "The Laity and the Monastic Reform in the Reign of Edgar" in Donald Scragg (ed.), Edgar, King of the English, 959-975 (Woodbridge 2008), pp. 242-251 at p. 242.
In his biography of George Wallace, Dan Carter argues that most American politicians have avoided noticing Wallace's legacy, dismissing him as a marginal figure whose time has long since come and gone. But Carter suggests one notable exception: Pat Buchanan, a careful student of Wallace's enormously shrewd politics of resentment.
Helpful background to examine a spectacular case of missing the point: in this recent video, Buchanan talks for ten minutes about Barack Obama's charmed life, suggesting over and over that a man of ordinary intellect made it to Columbia University and Harvard Law School because of "affirmative action all the way" and because "palms were greased." In response, Democratic talking head Terry McAuliffe smirks and giggles and says repeatedly that Republicans are dooming themselves to political failure by talking about that stuff, because so many people are desperate for jobs and just want to hear who has the better policy ideas to create them.
But people who are desperate for jobs are exactly the audience for the story that Buchanan is telling. It seems to me that Republicans are telling this story more and more insistently precisely because of widespread economic pain and status anxiety. Democrats are reacting to a story about identity -- the "did he really go to these schools" story -- but that's just the wrapper for the real product: a story about privilege, told to an audience that can't pay its bills. This guy isn't smarter than you, but somebody helped him advance while so many hard-working others were left behind. Here's Donald Trump, telling the same story today: we've got to find out how this mediocrity jumped the line.
The point of the story isn't fear; the point of the story is jealously. It works. It's working. It often does. It's a jealousy that explains, that gives suffering people an interpretive model to understand the world. How do you link this to this? Members of the privileged class take care of one another. The fix is in. This argument has the advantage of having substantial truth behind it -- the details can be fudged.
Paranoid politics come from genuine crisis, and there's no way to exaggerate the social harm of deep and persistent unemployment. Couple long-term middle class crisis with massive bank bailouts and executive bonuses, and anything goes.
Watch McAuliffe smirk and snicker throughout Buchanan's comments -- you're seeing the shape of our next national election. The story that Obama advanced because of privilege is an extraordinarily powerful narrative at this moment, and smug reactions reinforce its power.
Thanks in large part to the efforts of Stephen Colbert, Arizona senator Jon Kyl endured a round of mockery after his claim about 90% of Planned Parenthood funding going for abortions. Kyl’s office explained away the assertion as not “intended to be a factual statement.” Now, Kyl’s words will not appear in the permanent version of debate before Congress, the Congressional Record. (Members of Congress have the authority to make minor edits to their on-floor statements before the permanent Record is published.) According to the official publication of congressional proceedings and debates, Kyl actually said, “If you want an abortion you go to Planned Parenthood and that is what Planned Parenthood does.”
Whether Kyl was better served by replacing an inaccurate statement with a misleading one is unclear. And, of course, thanks to C-SPAN, future scholars will always know exactly what Kyl said. The Kyl affair, in this respect, would seem like a victory for C-SPAN.
Perhaps. But such victories have come at considerable cost. C-SPAN started broadcasting House proceedings in 1979, and the intervening three decades have witnessed a dramatic decline in the quality (and quantity) of congressional debate. With more members playing for the cameras, the purpose of Senate addresses has changed from contributing to debate to offering prepared remarks before a basically empty chamber. And what is said has less to do with public policy than with pure partisanship. This appears to be part of a broader shift in how members of Congress conceive of their jobs: in analyzing 2005-7 press releases, Harvard political scientist Gary King recently concluded that, as the Washington Post summarized, “modern members of Congress spend about 27percent of the time just taunting each other.”
Partisanship—often of a fierce variety—always has formed a central component of American political culture. But the spreading to Congress is quite new. As someone who has spent a lot of time with the Congressional Record in differing periods of the 20th century (1913-35, 1945-89), I can’t think of any period before 1980 or so in which the Record was filled with such high levels of fact-free nonsense or partisan taunts.
So C-SPAN deserves kudos for preserving the accuracy of the historical record regarding Kyl’s comments. But in so doing, we should also acknowledge the network’s contribution to a fundamentally different—and less substantial—congressional culture.
Edward Rothstein, "The Memory of Holocaust, Fortified," NYT, 22 April, reviews the two year-old Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center.
Jessa Crispin, "The War Crimes Beat," Smart Set, 19 April, and Allison Hoffman, "Draft of History," Tablet, 11 April, revisit Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. James Rosen, "History of Eichmann trial holds few new revelations," Washington Post, 22 April, reviews Deborah Lipstadt's The Eichmann Trial. See also: Stefan Reinecke and Christian Semler, "Mass murderers of conviction," soundandsight, 18 April, which interviews German holocaust historian, Ulrich Herbert.
Dawn Turner Trice, "Civil rights leader reflects on 50th anniversary of Freedom Rides," Chicago Tribune, 25 April, includes Diane Nash's memories on the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Freedom Rides. Other Freedom Riders in 1961 included two historians: UC Berkeley's Charles G. Sellers and Wesleyan University's David E. Swift.
Adam Bradley for the Barnes & Noble Review, 8 April, Imani Perry for the San Francisco Chronicle, 24 April, and David Remnick, "This American Life," New Yorker, 25 April, review Manning Marable's Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. Karl Evanzz, "Paper Tiger: Manning Marable's Poison Pen, Truth Continuum, 13 April, is a very hostile review of Marable's biography of Malcolm X. The review was commissioned and, then, rejected by Skip Gates's The Root. Background here & here.
The deadline for the next Military History Carnival is May 24th, one month away. The Carnival itself will go up on May 27th. Submissions here.
The new Common-place is up! David Shields edits a special issue on foodways in early America.
Jill Lepore, "Poor Jane's Almanac," NYT, 24 April, contrasts the experience of Benjamin Franklin and his younger sister, Jane Franklin Mecom.
Willibald Sauerländer, "The Quiet Genius," NYRB, 28 April, reviews "L'Armoire secrète: Eine Leserin im Kontext" [The Secret Cabinet: A Reader in Context], an exhibit at the Oskar Reinhart Collection, Winterthur, Switzerland; and Mariantonia Reinhard-felice, ed., Oskar Reinhart Collection Am Romerholz Winterthur: Complete Catalogue.
Debby Applegate, "A Nation Stirs, the Civil War Begins," NYT, 21 April, reviews Adam Goodheart's 1861: The Civil War Awakening.
Jonathan Barnes, "The Victorian art of murder," TLS, 13 April, reviews Judith Flanders's The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians revelled in death and detection and created modern crime.
Thomas Powers, "Incandescent Memory," LRB, 28 April, reviews Harriet Elinor Smith et al., eds., Autobiography of Mark Twain Vol. I.
David Greenberg, "Democracy" by Henry Adams, Slate, 20 April, offers to explain "why it's the only lasting anonymous Washington novel."
Vivian Gornick, "History and Heartbreak," Nation, 2 May, reviews Georg Adler, Peter Hudis and Annelies Laschitza, eds., The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg.
Alan Wolfe, "The Visitor," The Book, 21 April, reviews Lawrence A. Scaff's Max Weber in America.
Q: What do you do when you discover that your Benedictine confessor is actually a Vatican spy, and you have just confessed your plan to have the King of France invade the Italian Peninsula to topple the papacy?
A: Take advantage of the screen in the confessional and stab him in the eye with a stiletto.
History fans will be pleased to know that the producers of The Tudors have debuted a series on late fifteenth century Italian politics, religion and family governance issues that make your problems look ridiculous. The Borgias stars Jeremy Irons as Rodrigo Borgia, or Pope Alexander VI, father of Cesare (pronounced CHAY-za-ray) and Lucrezia, reputed to have been incestuous lovers. Certainly the series has strongly hinted at incest: how many grown-up brothers stroke and kiss a sister on her wedding night? I ask you.
So far, it is 1492 or so, and we have met Niccolo Machiavelli, who is working for the King of Florence; an anonymous Native American snatched by Christopher Columbus; the serial killer son of the dotty and deaf King of Naples (this happy princeling displays corpses in his own little rotting Last Supper tableau); too many scheming cardinals to name; and Savanarola, a Dominican friar who looks like Uncle Fester. You don't even have to look it up on Wikipedia to know that this latter fellow is heading for a heresy trial and worse. However, if you do click on that link you will find that Savanarola was not only excommunicated and tried, but racked mercilessly and then burned into bits too tiny to be used as relics, which served him right because he may also have been responsible for the first act of institutional homophobia. In true Foucauldian fashion, prior to burning him, "the torturers spar[ed] only Savonarola’s right arm in order that he might be able to sign his confession." Brilliant. I wish I had thought of it myself. They knew how to keep order in the fifteenth century.
The success of such shows is part of an interesting phenomenon: the rise of religion on TV. In a recent post about Friday Night Lights, another one of my favorite shows, Flavia writes about unusual it is to watch a television show about modern life that takes Christianity for granted. "All of the characters appear to be nondenominational Protestants and some of their churches are clearly megachurches," she notes; "but nothing about their religiosity is depicted snidely or ironically or played for laughs. At the same time, the church-goers aren't romanticized or presented as unusually good people. They're just people: flawed, complicated people, trying to live up to their professed pieties. And as realistic as all that sounds, I'm pretty sure I've never seen anything like it on t.v."
That might be right, and may say something about the ways in which subcultural Christian media are going mainstream. Army Wives certainly has its moments where it is clear that God is lurking in the background; and Big Love has introduced a popular audience to the intricacies of the Church of Latter Day Saints. But shows like The Tudors and The Borgias go one step further and teach a lesson about what religion, and the political struggles that revolved around the evolution of Catholicism and Protestant dissent actually have to do with how world history unfolded. A keen watcher of The Tudors, for example, would think about how one lived from day to day in a culture that was framed by the mandatory celebration of key moments in the life of Christ. No sooner was Christmas over than one began prepping for Lent; following Easter, the various days of obligation and days of ascension never stopped until a good Christian was getting ready for Advent and gearing up for Christmas again. As the series progressed, moreover, a non-specialist understood that casting doubt on the deference of Kings to the Pope pretty much put every other fixed principle in play, particularly the "natural order" of gender that would ultimately result in England getting her first Queens and the eventual rule of commoners over both church and crown.
So far the most interesting thing I have learned from The Borgias, other than how to kill people with whatever tools the fifteenth century made available, was that back then the Pope had to be examined after the election to make sure he was actually a man. This had to be one of the worst jobs in Rome: crouching under a cleric's icky business to make sure he had, as the examiner announced,"Dos testiculos" (this was how they put it on Episode One) or "two balls, and they are well-hung," as I have found it described on several web sites. There is some disagreement as to whether this ritual actually happened or not: apparently this had to do with Pope John VIII, a superb intellect elected in 855, who turned out to be Pope Joan. Rumour has it she was discovered after she gave birth in the street during a papal procession and was executed, with her lover, on the spot. (I know: scholars who really know this field are going to ask me why I would go to a website called Papal Trivia: Fun Facts About the Popes for my information.)
Like The Tudors, The Borgias is also about how political structures and organized crime are more or less interchangeable forms of domination. The latter show is particularly striking in this regard, as the actors keep dropping family names that we are actually familiar with from The Sopranos. In other ways, The Borgias is just another juiced up soap opera that makes it clear how difficult it is to run a family when you are responsible for the spiritual and political fate of the known world. This responsibility requires dropping several bodies in every episode. In episode four, we see a garroting ("you use a cheese cutter," the assassin explains to Cesare, who has never seen someone dispatched this way), a stabbing, a snapped neck, and a poisoning gone wrong that has to be finished off with an inexpert smothering. These things must be done, there is no question, lest the Church fall into the grip of folks like, say, the Medecis, who in 1492 were still running a bank in Florence and biding their sweet time.
One of the show's signature moments, used in all the ads, has Rodrigo staring into the camera (this is early in the first episode, right after Cardinal Borgia has given Cesare his marching orders for how to buy the papacy) and murmuring intensely: "I will not forgive failure!" This sums it up: what responsible father of successful children would forgive failure?
Cross posted at Tenured Radical.
- Michael Dirda for the Washington Post, 13 April, and J. E. Lendon, "Nature's Noblemen," Weekly Standard, 18 April review John Armstrong's In Search of Civilization: Remaking a Tarnished Idea.
- Liesl Schillinger, "Simon Schama Talks About Everything," Daily Beast, 16 April, reports on a day with the author of Scribble, Scribble, Scribble: Writing on Politics, Ice Cream, Churchill, and My Mother. Phillip Lopate, "Simon Schama: The Essayist as Star Writer," NYT, 22 April, reviews the book.
- Steve Donoghue for The National, 8 April reviews John Aberth's Plagues in World History. It challenges William McNeill's Plagues and Peoples.
- "Dancing Mania," Frontier Psychiatrist, 17 April, features epidemics of it in medieval and early modern central Europe.
- Matthew Kaminski, "The Spanish Model," The Book, 20 April, reviews Stanley G. Payne's Spain: A Unique History.
- Eric A. Posner, "The Court of Literature," The Book, 14 April, and Garry Wills, "Shakespeare Subpeoned," NYT, 15 April, review Kenji Yoshino's A Thousand Times More Fair: What Shakespeare's Plays Tell Us About Justice.
- Anthony Grafton, "About Time," Tablet, 14 April, reviews Elisheva Carlebach's Palaces of Time: Jewish Calendar and Culture in Early Modern Europe.
The Giant's Shoulders #34: The Existentialist Edition of the history of science carnival, is up at Jai Virdi's From the Hands of Quacks.<p>
An ancient/medieval edition of Carnivalesque will go up at Jost A Mon on 26 April. Send nominations of the best in ancient and medieval history blogging since 20 February to jostamon*@*hotmail*.*com or use the form.<p>
Janny Scott, "Obama's Young Mother Abroad," NYTM, 20 April, is a fine portrait of the President's American mother.<p>
Justin Erik Halldór Smith, "The Blog as Mask and Gravestone," JEHS, 19 April, is his provocative reflections on the odd behavior in which we engage.<p>
Congratulations to the winners of Pulitzer Prizes for 2011: in History, Eric Foner for The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery; in Biography, Ron Chernow for Washington: A Life; and in General Non-Fiction, Siddhartha Mukherjee for The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.<p>
Finally, farewell to my graduate school buddy, Margaret Pitoniak Olson. Through countless cigarettes and cups of coffee in UNC, Chapel Hill's Pine Room, Marge took me to task and clarified my thinking on dozens of important issues.
Jed Perl,"A Room of One's Own," TNR, 13 April, reviews"Rooms With a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century," an exhibit at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Ellen Handler Spitz,"Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," The Book, 13 April, reviews Simon Winchester's The Alice Behind Wonderland.
Rian Malan,"Without a Savior," bookforum, Apr/May, reviews R. W. Johnson's South Africa's Brave New World: The Beloved Country Since the End of Apartheid, Peter Godwin's The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe and Stephen Chan's Southern Africa: Old Treacheries and New Deceits.
Niall Ferguson Update:
Adam Kirsch,"National Treasure," Tablet, 12 April, reviews a critical edition of The Washington Haggadah, a 1478 manuscript in the Library of Congress.
Sarah Dunant reviews Craig A. Monson's Nuns Behaving Badly: Tales of Music, Magic, Art and Arson in the Convents of Italy for History Today, 22 March.
Christopher Hitchens,"When the King Saved God," Vanity Fair, May, reflects on how the King James translation of Hebrew and Greek scriptures gave expression to the English language.
Craig Fehrman,"Civil war lit," Ideas, 10 April, considers the American Civil War's effect on American literature. Ken Burns,"A Conflict's Acoustic Shadows," Opinionator, 11 April, reflects on the Civil War's enduring relevance in the 21st century's post-racial, globalized world.
Maureen Mullarkey,"Modern Martyr," Weekly Standard, 11 April, reviews Meryle Secrest's Modigliani: A Life.
In Jan Fleischhauer,"Rape, Murder and Genocide: Nazi War Crimes as Described by German Soldiers," Der Spiegel, 8 April, veterans of the Wehrmacht discuss German war crimes against civilians. Hendrik Hertzberg,"Prisoners," New Yorker, 18 April, compares American treatment of German prisoners in World War II to the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo.
In Sheila K. Johnson,"The Blowback World of Chalmers Johnson," Mother Jones, 11 April, his widow reflects on the career of Chalmers Johnson. Thanks to Alan Baumler for the tip.
This item: The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism by Joyce Appleby Hardcover $19.77Which reminded me of my favorite email from Amazon, which has sat in my inbox for two years because I enjoy it too much to delete it:
How to Fail as a Therapist: 50+ Ways to Lose or Damage Your Patients (Practical Therapist) by Bernard Schwartz Paperback $16.47
What's the Problem by Paula S. Rothenberg Paperback $28.95
Dear Amazon.com Customer,
We've noticed that customers who have purchased or rated Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism (a John Hope Franklin Center Book) by Noenoe K. Silva have also purchased Beaches and Parks in Southern California (Experience the California Coast) by California Coastal Commission.
The praise is well-deserved: the exhibit is quite extraordinary. It provides the necessary historical context—regarding both Nixon’s previous abuses of power and the historical legacy of why Watergate mattered. It features a variety of documents, tape snippets, and oral histories, with figures ranging from George Schultz to Robert Bork to Leonard Garment.
The result is something that will provide new information for virtually anyone interested in Watergate. Take, for instance, the section on the battle for the tapes’ release, which features nearly 20 oral history excerpts with some TV snippets from the era and a classic Dean-Nixon conversation. Or the opening section, which examines Nixon’s conspiracy thinking, and combines a rich array of documents (like Bob Haldeman’s handwritten notes from a Nixon meeting outlining the rationale for the enemies’ list), tape excerpts, and oral histories. Just as significant, all of this material is available on-line, to an extent unprecedented in anything from any of the presidential libraries. That will help bring a primary-source rich approach to Watergate into high school social studies classes (and to a much lesser extent college, given the diminution of U.S. political history faculty and offerings).
The exhibit's strength becomes all the more apparent in comparison with what it replaced. Before the National Archives administered the Nixon Library, the Library had its own version of Watergate—which amounted to Watergate as Nixon’s family and friends wished things had occurred. (The current exhibit has a link to this imagined reality.) The old exhibit operates under the thesis that it is “irrefutable” that “President Nixon was in no way connected with this attempted ‘third-rate burglary.’” The Foundation's narrative attacks John Dean, introduces Sam Ervin as the man who “just nine years earlier would have denied equal protection under the law with his vote against the landmark Civil Rights Act,” and charges that “Kennedy protégé Archibald Cox” headed a special prosecutor’s office whose objectivity was in “serious doubt.”
The Nixon Foundation greeted the new exhibit with a blog post from Anne Walker, wife of the foundation chairman. Walker faulted the Library for not effectively representing the true victims of the affair—Nixon and his advisors. (She recalled “the days of reading about our pals in the Washington Post every day, seeing them accused and vilified.”) In a bizarre argument, Walker suggested that critical Watergate defendants didn’t commit wrongdoing, since they were merely convicted of perjury. “Anyone,” she reasoned, “would eventually perjure themselves after countless grand jury sessions,” at which people are asked things like “how much you paid for a ham sandwich on a specific lunch hour.”
Walker’s contentions, of course, are ludicrous. But they also starkly illustrate a tension within the Presidential Libraries and Museums system. Presidential libraries have two constituencies—the public on the one hand, and the President’s family and closest friends and supporters (who help fund the libraries’ facilities) on the other.
A best-case scenario would be figures such as Lady Bird Johnson and former LBJ Library director Harry McPherson. Both were committed to preserving Lyndon Johnson’s legacy—but believed that the best way to do so came through honesty with the public and ensuring that scholars had full access to the available documents in the LBJ Library. The Nixon Foundation approach clearly represents the other extreme--Walker's blog post wildly portrays Nixon Library director Tim Naftali as coordinating a conspiracy designed to spread in the media unflattering (but accurate) quotes from Nixon. (It could be said, I suppose, that Nixon's associates have unusual expertise on the issue of conspiracies.)
In the case of the Nixon Library, the National Archives clearly did the right thing, and made sure that historical accuracy trumped the family's concerns. But the affair should be a reminder that scholars need to be constantly vigilant about protecting the integrity of the presidential libraries system.
Fergus M. Bordewich,"A Mixed Blessing," WSJ, 4 April, reviews Nancy Lusignan Schultz's Mrs. Mattingly's Miracle: The Prince, the Widow, and the Cure That Shocked Washington City. Megan Marshall,"American Heiresses on the World Stage," NYT, 8 April, reviews Jehanne Wake's Sisters of Fortune: America's Caton Sisters at Home and Abroad.
Ronald C. White, Jr.,"Two Civil War anthologies," LA Times, 10 April, reviews Harold Holzer, ed., Hearts Touched by Fire: The Best of Battles and Leaders of the Civil War and Brooks D. Simpson, Stephen W. Sears and Aaron Sheehan-Dean, eds., The Civil War: The First Year Told by Those Who Lived It.
George Scialabba for the Barnes & Noble Review, 30 March, Salil Tripathi for the Washington Post, 8 April, and Anita Desai,"A Different Gandhi," NYRB, 28 April, review Joseph Lelyveld's Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India.
Michael Korda,"Eisenhower, Patton and Bradley: Team of Rivals," NYT, 8 April, reviews Jonathan W. Jordan's Brothers, Rivals, Victors: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, and the Partnership That Drove the Allied Conquest in Europe.
Franklin Foer,"Why the Eichmann Trial Really Mattered," NYT, 8 April, reviews Deborah E. Lipstadt's The Eichmann Trial.
Peter Thonemann,"The Messiah codex decoded," TLS, 6 April, weighs the authenticity of lead codices recently found in a Jordanian cave.
Elizabeth Weingarten,"Cxjlrp Zfmebop," Slate, 8 April."Translation: ‘Famous Ciphers.' A photo gallery."
Joseph Bottum,"Being T. E. Lawrence," Policy Review, 1 April, reviews Michael Korda's Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia.
Oleg Gordievsky,"Stingers in the Tale," Literary Review, April, reviews Rodric Braithwaite's Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan, 1979-89.
Jane Jakeman,"Sanitized Afghanistan," TLS, 6 April, reviews"Afghanistan: Crossroads of the Ancient World," an exhibit at the British Museum, Afghanistan: Crossroads of the ancient world, the companion catalogue, and St. John Simpson, The Begram Hoard: Indian ivories from Afghanistan. See also: Peter Beaumont,"The Begram ivories: rescuing Afghanistan's lost history," Guardian, 27 February.
Chris Mullin reviews Francis Beckett's The Prime Ministers Who Never Were: a Collection of Counterfactuals for the New Statesman, 31 March.
Chloe Schama,"After Dark," The Book, 6 April, reviews Deborah Lutz's Pleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism.
Kathryn Hughes reviews Mary S. Lovell's The Churchills: A Family at the Heart of History, from the Duke of Marlborough to Winston Churchill for the Guardian, 2 April.
Adam Hochschild,"Explaining Congo's Endless Civil War," NYT, 1 April, reviews Jason K. Stearns's Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa.
I want to call attention to some blogs you may not have seen yet. World History on Tumblr and Women's History on Tumblr list relatively new blogs that commonly feature striking visuals. Two fairly new digital history blogs are Ben Schmidt's Sapping Attention and an all star cast's With Criminal Intent. In the group blog, Dan Cohen, Bill Turkel and a half dozen other cognoscenti build on the Old Baily Proceedings, Zotero virtual collections, and TAPoR and Voyeur analytics to do state-of-the-art digital history. If you've missed your Rob MacDougall fix since he put Old is the New New to rest, Rob can still be found at Play the Past. Yet a third of our former colleagues, Caleb McDaniel, has returned to blogging at Offprints.
Finally, farewell to Edwin Scott Gaustad, a distinguished scholar of American religious history.
The twelve months from June 1934 to June 1935, according to the American Civil Liberties Union,"recorded a greater variety and number of serious violations of civil liberties than any year since the war." Forty-four states considered sedition and teachers' oath legislation. Charles R. Walgreen, the head of the drugstore chain, withdrew his niece from the University of Chicago where, he said, she was exposed to Communistic propaganda and free love; and the Illinois legislature, egged on by the Hearst Press, sought evidence of Communism in Illinois schools. The Wisconsin legislature did likewise, hinting darkly of sex orgies among faculty members at the University of Wisconsin, denouncing President Glenn Frank, who was being mentioned as a possible Republican presidential candidate, and concluding that the University of Wisconsin was an"ultra liberal institution in which communistic teachings were encouraged and where avowed communists were welcome."--Arthur M. Schlesinger, The Politics of Upheaval, 1935-1936.