Roundup: Talking About HistoryFollow RU: Talking About History on RSS and Twitter
This is where we excerpt articles about history that appear in the media. Among the subjects included on this page are: anniversaries of historical events, legacies of presidents, cutting-edge research, and historical disputes.
Near the start of the last century, US Commander Robert Peary claimed he had mastered a seemingly unreachable feat: after 20 years of trying, he had reached the north pole in 38 days - the fastest time anyone had trekked to the top of the Earth.
But how was this possible? Surely, at 54, he was too old for the way the arctic ravages the body. He had lost all his toes in previous expeditions and was travelling with a wooden sled.
Newspapers and polar historians questioned the authenticity of his claims, and for years the story has been riddled with doubt - in almost 100 years since his attempt, no team has managed to reach the north pole in less than 42 days.
British explorer Tom Avery has always believed Peary reached the north pole that day in April 1909.
The 28-year-old from Ticehurst, East Sussex, was the youngest Briton to reach the South Pole on foot on December 28 2002, and has spent two years preparing for a journey intended to prove Peary was telling the truth.
Having read the historical versions of Peary's journey, Mr Avery says his dream was hatched during long nights in the tent with his fellow arctic travellers on their south pole expedition.
"This is all about trying to solve the greatest mystery in polar exploration, and I feel very passionate about this story now," he said yesterday.
"When I looked at the north pole it seemed this massive controversy surrounded who was the first to get there, and there was a question about Peary, who was reaching the end of his polar career, and had an unorthodox travel technique.
"It seems to me, that until someone tries to recreate this journey, controversy will always remain."
Peary started with 23 men, 133 dogs and 19 sleds, but that support team had dwindled to just five companions when he said he reached his ultimate destination.
However, just as he announced his feat, a rival US explorer, later exposed as a fraud, claimed he had reached the pole first. The US Congress and the National Geographic Society have since found no reason to doubt Peary's claim.
In the eyes of his critics, Emperor Charles I, the last ruler of the Austro-Hungarian empire, was at best an incompetent fool, at worst a war criminal.
But in the Vatican's opinion he was a miracle-worker, and on Sunday Pope John Paul II will hold a ceremony in St Peter's Square at which Charles will be beatified, putting him on the home stretch to sainthood.
Since he became pope in October 1978, John Paul has created 482 saints and beatified another 1,337 people, more than all previous popes combined in the Roman Catholic Church's 2,000-year history.
But few individuals elevated to this status are more controversial than the last Habsburg emperor, who died in exile on the Portuguese island of Madeira in 1922 at the age of 34.
The miracle attributed to Charles concerns Sister Maria Zita Gradowska, a Polish-born Brazilian nun who is said to have recovered the power to walk in 1960 after praying to the late emperor.
Charles, who ruled from 1916 to 1918, also acquired a reputation in Catholic circles as a man of peace - he was supposedly the only European monarch who genuinely wanted to end the carnage of the first world war.
It is this image that many historians contest. Anton Pelinka, professor of political science at Innsbruck University in Austria, calls the beatification"ridiculous".
Under Charles's command, the Habsburg empire was allied with Germany against Britain, France, Italy, Russia and the US.
Charles personally led the empire's 20th army corps on the eastern front, while elsewhere Austrian forces used poison gas against the Italians.
According to the emperor's official beatification website,"no victory could give him satisfaction: the sight of all the destruction and mangled corpses was entirely unbearable for him".
In 843AD, the kingdom of Scotland was created when Kenneth MacAlpine led an army of Scots to victory over the Picts.
There have even been calls for a field near Stirling where the battle is said to have been fought - which attracts scores of tourists from America and elsewhere - to be officially recognised by the Scottish Parliament as the"birthplace of the nation".
But a forthcoming book by St Andrews University historian Alex Woolf will claim that all the evidence suggests MacAlpine was actually a Pict himself and stories about him as a great Scottish war leader were made up in later centuries.
The expert in early Scottish history said contemporary sources referred to MacAlpine as"king of the Picts" and gave the same title to the four kings who succeeded him. He also said both Kenneth and Alpine were Pictish rather than Scottish names.
The first reference to a Scottish Kenneth MacAlpine fighting against the Picts comes about 400 years after he was alive and the supposed battle of 843AD is believed to be a much later invention.
Mr Woolf, whose book From Pictland to Alba: Scotland 789 to 1070 is due out next year, admitted there was little contemporary evidence about MacAlpine, but what there was supported his theory.
"The myth of Kenneth MacAlpine conquering the Picts and killing the King of the Picts - it's about 1210, 1220 that that's first talked about," he said.
"There's actually no hint at all that he was a Scot. Historians who work on this still tend to say that he was a Scot but add lots of caveats.
"The contemporary evidence does not make this at all clear. There's nothing at all that says 'King of the Scots' and there's no reference to a conquest of the Picts by the Scots.
"If you look at contemporary sources people called him King of the Picts and there are four other Pictish kings after him. So he's the fifth last of the Pictish kings rather than the first Scottish king."
The 19th-century historian Charles Roger claimed a standing stone at Airthrey near Stirling marked the site of the 843AD battle, saying it was"believed that it was reared to commemorate the total defeat of the Picts by the Scots, under Kenneth MacAlpine, and which led to the destruction of the Pictish kingdom." He added:"It is beyond doubt that the battle which finally overthrew the Picts was fought in this vicinity."
But Mr Woolf said the battle was" completely made up.""I don't think there's even a late medieval account that puts it there. The one place we know Kenneth MacAlpine is connected to is Forteviot where he died," he said.
Herzl Symposium (Oct. 3rd/4th in New Orleans)
CenterAustria of the University of New Orleans and the Program for Jewish Studies at Tulane University, with the support of the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York, jointly organized a small symposium on Theodor Herzl on the occasion of the anniversary of his death 100 years ago (3 July 1904). The symposium suggested that Herzl as a founding father of Zionism still exerts enormous influence on today's world. When his dream was realized with the formation of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948, he could not have foreseen the nature of the subsequent Israeli - Arab conflict bred by the formation of a Jewish national state.The origins, the nature and the varieties of Zionism as a response to growing wave of rabid anti-Semitism in late 19th century Europe were the focus of the symposium's discussions.
Noted British scholar and Herzl-biographer Steven Beller concentrated on Herzl's conflicted Jewish/Austrian/Central European identity. Beller stressed that Herzl "conversion" to his Jewish identity was not sparked suddenly by the infamous "Dreyfus affair" (1895), which he reported on as the correspondent of the Neue Freie Presse from Paris. It rather was a response to the growing anti-Semitism in Vienna in the 1880s, which he personally experienced on a daily basis.
Anita Shapira, professor of history and authority on Zionism at Tel Aviv University, dwelt on the many ironies of Herzl's mission in life and in the Zionist movement. She stressed that Herzl's political Zionism was predated by a much stronger Russian cultural Zionism by at least twenty years. His death in 1904 was mourned by Russian Jews much more than by Central Europe's (assimilated) Jews. In Russia young David Ben-Gurion lauded him in an obituary as "a wondrous man like that is only born once in thousand years," whereas his old friend Max Nordau derisively spoke of Herzl ten years after his death as "a bluffer" and a man of "make believe." Herzl, the assimilated Viennese Jew, was a very unlikely apostle of Zionism. His transformation to Zionism came in response to the realization that "the more Jews succeed, the more they are resented." His conversion to Zionism meant the end of his hiding of his Jewish identity. His message was above all a message to the Jews of Russia, persecuted by new waves or pogroms and for whom assimilation was no alternative. "Herzl kindled their imagination," said Shapira, "and forced the doors open to a greater world." Here lays the irony of Herzl's great distance from the Russian center of Jewish culture in Europe. Herzl cut the Gordian knot of Jewish identity. The assimilated Herzl envisioning a Jewish paradise for European Jews in Palestine: "he wanted the Jews out of Europe, but not Europe out of the Jews", concluded Shapira. The ultimate irony came as a result of Herzl's naivité that anti-Semites would embrace Zionism, as it would get rid of European Jews in their midst. Herzl thought he would build Israel for the European Jews, but in
reality it was above all the Arab and Middle Eastern Jews who settled there. Herzl's hope that the exodus of Jews from Europe would undermine anti-Semitism, could not anticipate new forms of contemporary anti-Semitism by Arabs and by anti-Israeli Europeans.
Istvan Deak, the noted scholar of Eastern Europe at Columbia University, compared Hungarian and Austrian anti-Semitism in the late 19th century - the social environment that shaped Herzl. Whereas Hungary (particularly the capital Budapest) fully integrated its assimilated Jews into society (once they spoke Hungarian they became Hungarians), the Austrian half of the Habsburg Empire and Vienna did not. After Herzl's family moved from Budapest to Vienna in 1878, they encountered a much sharper anti-semitism than they had experienced in Hungary. Political parties such as von Sch?nerer's German Nationals and Lueger's Christian Socials spouted ever more rabid anti-Semitic attacks, particularly in Parliament. In Austria also Jews had to choose their ethnicity between German and Jewish, society did not bestow quasi "Germanness" on them merely for speaking German. Unlike in Hungary, Jews were treated as a minority and were ever more on the defensive. In this adverse context in which Herzl's scheme of Zionism was bread.
It might be concluded, then, that the climate of ever more pronounced anti-Semitism fuelled by von Sch?nerer's and Lueger's populist politics, led Herzl to hatch his solution of a Zionist homeland for the Jews in Palestine to save them from this mushrooming Central European hatred.
(Günter Bischof, CenterAustria, Unviersity of New Orleans, October 6, 2004)
During his years as national security adviser and secretary of state, Henry Kissinger wooed the Washington press corps with the flowers and chocolate of flattery and access. As Walter Isaacson writes in his 1992 biography, Kissinger, opinion columnists and the reporters who covered the State Department or the White House grew especially captivated by his charms....
All this love Kissinger spent on journalists did not go unreciprocated, as we now learn from the transcripts of his telephone conversations his secretaries and aides made in secret for Kissinger while listening in on another phone. Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request by the National Security Archive, transcripts of 3,568 conversations between Kissinger and President Nixon, U.S. politicians, world leaders, ambassadors, Hollywood stars, and a score of journalists are now available at the State Department Electronic Reading Room.
While many of the reporters captured in Kissinger's amber must be ruing the release of the transcripts, news consumers everywhere should be celebrating this day. By revealing the good, the bad, and the ugly practices of Washington journalists, the transcripts demystify the news-manufacturing process and provide a cautionary tale for reporters who give away their hearts too easily, too quickly, and for too little.
The most devoted members of the Kissinger press cult, based on the phone transcripts, were CBS News Chief Diplomatic Correspondent Marvin Kalb, former New York Times Washington editor and columnist James"Scotty" Reston, and Time magazine's Hugh Sidey. But other figures tossed kisses to Kissinger from afar, including political columnist Stewart Alsop, former Los Angeles Times Publisher Otis Chandler, William Randolph Hearst Jr., and former Washington Star owner—and soon to be ex-Riggs Bank proprietor—Joseph L. Albritton.
Kalb sends an FTD-sized bouquet down the line to Kissinger on the evening of Sept. 22, 1973, the day he became secretary of state.
... I did wish you well from the bottom of my heart, the wisdom and the grace and the tolerance that are going to be so necessary to success because I very much have the feeling in the long sweep of history perhaps that your tenure is going to prove to be larger than simply something that has to do with diplomacy. There's a human and a psychological component here which has to be vindicated in a major way and I feel that very strongly and I wish you towering good luck.
After Gerald Ford loses the election to Jimmy Carter in 1976, Kissinger winds down at State, and Kalb provides a bookend to his 1973 testimonial in this Nov. 8, 1976, transcript:
You were very much in my mind through Tuesday evening of last week and I told you once at the birthday party something that is true and no matter who replaces you, it cannot be the same and you were in this job in a fairly unique position for a reporter. ...
I learned a lot and from that if someone is wise or foolish enough to put me into a government job, what I learned will be put to use.
Kissinger acknowledges Kalb's talent and his potential as a State Department official."I have always believed you and Ted [Koppel] and some of the others ought to spend a year or two in the government to round your perspectives," Kissinger says."If the new [Carter] people ask my opinion and you don't prohibit it, will you permit me to mention you as a possibility?"
Kalb responds,"Yes," adding:
You know my area of interest and passion. The fundamental thing is to carry on a policy that gives Israel the best chance of surviving and maintains a strong, growing, viable American position in the Arab world. It has been your position.
Lobster fisherman Dolphus Arthur spotted the wooden hull 25 years ago, nearly buried in the fine silt between two massive hydras of coral just off the coast of uninhabited East Caicos.
Over the years, he'd occasionally see the shipwreck as he piloted his open boat around the craggy reef or dived for his spiny prey. But he didn't know until archeologists discovered the ruin this month that the ship probably carried his own ancestors from West Africa to the alabaster shores of these islands, then and now under British dominion.
In a disaster that proved a deliverance for the 193 slaves on board, the brigantine Trouvadore, which foundered in 1841, brought its captive cargo to freedom instead of plantation bondage. All of the Spanish ship's captives, who had been en route to Spanish-ruled Cuba, made it ashore to the abolitionist embrace of the British colonial rulers -- except for one woman, who was shot to death on the beach by the crew as she tried to escape.
That fateful turn has only recently come to Caribbean chroniclers' attention, stirring curiosity throughout the region about the little-studied history of the islands' black populations.
"There was always talk among the old people about a shipwreck," 53-year-old Arthur recalls."My grandmother lived to be 106. She was always talking about how we came from Africa but we had always been free. Now I'm sorry I didn't pay more attention. I've been passing around that wreckage for years now, never knowing it had any connection to me."
Inspired by a flurry of clues uncovered in archives, an international cast of archeologists, divers, marine scientists and seekers of cultural touchstones spent two weeks searching the ship-snaring reef off Breezy Point. Despite disruptions from the spate of hurricanes tormenting the Caribbean this season, they found what they believe to be the wreck of the Trouvadore, exactly where the bits and pieces of the emerging story suggested it would be.
The story of the Trouvadore came to light by accident only a decade ago. The late Grethe Seim, a Norwegian immigrant to the islands, came across mention of the ship in records at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. Seim was there looking for artifacts for the Turks & Caicos National Museum, which she founded.
Letters pointed to maritime records, census data and colonial correspondence, each fragment nudging archeologists to scour other archives in London, Jamaica, the Bahamas, the United States and Cuba in search of answers to questions that have long nagged them.
Why is this the only village in the archipelago with an African name? Were the slaves perhaps snatched from Mali or Chad, both of which have towns named Bambarra? How did the local people learn bush medicine, basket weaving and the goatskin drumbeat and rhythm of African music?
Because the islands' soil is poor, few slaves were brought to Turks & Caicos. Black islanders assumed that they were descended from slaves who made their way here from other islands before Britain's 1834 emancipation decree.
But migrations of Africans within the Caribbean were too few and scattered to account for the 7,000 native-born blacks, known as Belongers, who live in the archipelago today. The wreck of the Trouvadore appears to provide an explanation for their presence. Other clues may lie in stories passed down through the generations.
"It's important to get the oral history down now, while there are still people who have memories of storytelling," says David Bowen, culture director for Turks & Caicos, whose mother is from Bambarra."Right now, the story of the Trouvadore is unknown to 99% of the population."
"Never explain: never apologise." The sentiment is attributed to Benjamin Disraeli, and, though it may run counter to the Biblical adage,"a soft answer turneth away wrath", is usually good advice for politicians. At least it was till recently. Now, in the age of Oprah, apologies are thought to be in order. Say"sorry" and all is forgiven. So, in Brighton on Tuesday, Tony Blair seemed for a moment to have apologised for taking us to war against Iraq on a false prospectus. Well, sort of apologised, anyway.
It's worth looking however at the word"apology" itself. It can of course mean simply saying"sorry". As Frankie Laine used to sing,"If I ever done you wrong, dear, I apologise". But"apology" is also brother to"apologetics" - which the dictionary defines as"the defensive argument or method", and"apology" itself has the meanings"a defence, justification, apologia", which last, as in Cardinal Newman's Apologia pro vita sua, means a written defence or vindication.
This was what Blair offered the Labour faithful and faithless alike: an apologia. Though he can do the quivering lip and moist eye stuff as well as anyone since Madelaine Bassett last stared at Bertie Wooster"in a sad sort of way, like the Mona Lisa on one of the mornings when the sorrows of the world had been coming over the plate a bit too fast for her", this wasn't the occasion for that sort of stuff. Sure, the evidence for Saddam's possession of the celebrated WMD had proved to be wrong, and he could apologise for that, or rather for believing it and passing on the information to us, but, beyond that,"nuts to you". He wasn't going to apologise for having helped put Saddam in prison. The world was a better place for him being there, and not in power. As apologies, in the common sense of saying"sorry", go, this stopped a long way short of sackcloth and ashes.
It led instead straight to the apologia, the vindication. There were two views of the world since 11 September: that the attacks were like previous acts of terrorism, and that we were dealing with a"wholly new phenomenon". Our Tony is too much of a New Man to say outright that the former is a girly view, and that take Real Men like George W and himself take the second, sterner, line, but that's what he meant. So"the only path to take is to confront this terrorism, remove it root and branch and at all costs stop them acquiring the weapons to kill on a massive scale, because these terrorists would not hesitate to use them."
Those who had been led to believe by leaks through the usual channels that the Prime Minister was going to say"sorry about the war, chaps" had been well and truly fooled. Mr Blair may regret having lost the trust of a good many in his party, but he hadn't come to Brighton to beg their forgiveness. He wasn't throwing himself on the mercy of the British people. Far from it: in quiet conversational fashion, he was insisting that he was right - even while admitting that he was quite capable, of being"fallible, like any other human being, of being wrong".
Of course, if some of the delegates, and some of the TV audience, thought he had said sorry, that was fine. But he hadn't, not really. He had offered the other sort of apology, an apologia.
In private life an apology is often desirable, the right thing to offer. Erich Segal's"love means never having to say you're sorry" is one of the silliest lines in modern literature."Sorry" is a necessary word in marriage and friendship, unless you happen to be a saint, which is a rare condition."Sorry" is balm to wounds, and breaks cold silences. It's often the prelude to kissing and making up. It may be painful to say"sorry". It means you have to swallow your pride. But such apologies have to be spontaneous to be worth anything. An apology extracted is a humiliation that satisfies only the pride of the recipient. It heals no wounds, may even breed resentment in the person forced to say"sorry".
When we demand apologies from others, what we are really doing is seeking to humiliate them."I beseech ye, in the bowels of Christ," Oliver Cromwell said to the Scots Presbyterian ministers,"think ye that ye may be mistaken." They were unwilling to do so, unwilling to submit to the humiliation of confessing error, and so implicitly at least apologising for it. Cromwell himself was a"never explain: never apologise" man.
After"Black Wednesday" and Britain's ignominious fall out of the ERM, there were many who demanded that John Major and Norman Lamont should apologise for the failure of their policy, and the hardship it had brought and the damage it had caused. Mr Major remained unrepentant, privately and publicly. Mr Lamont said:"je ne regrette rien", and even declared that he had sung in his bath. That was foolish, but would an apology in reality have made matters better? Wouldn't it have been seized on as a sign of weakness? At best, apologies are political gambles.
The most famous apology for a crime or blunder in English history was Henry II's after the murder of Thomas a Becket. He went even further than we would demand of a modern politician, allowing himself to be scourged by the monks of Canterbury. His act of contrition may have saved his immortal soul (as he perhaps himself believed); but his authority never fully recovered.
Politicians do of course quite often apologise. It is, as I say, a modern fashion. But they tend to reserve their apologies for things for which they were not themselves responsible.
Mussolini drove his wife to attempted suicide, considered"abandoning" Hitler and thought that if captured by the Allies he would be put on trial in Madison Square Garden, according to his youngest son.
The revelations emerge from Il Duce, My Father, a memoir by Romano Mussolini, 77, the last of the dictator's five children still living.
Signor Mussolini, a respected jazz musician who rarely speaks publicly about his father, said that he had decided to break his silence to record his memories before it was too late.
Benito Mussolini, who ruled Italy for 20 years, was shot dead in April 1945 with his mistress, Clara Petacci, while trying to flee to Switzerland as the remnants of Fascism crumbled.
Nearly 60 years later there are moves to rehabilitate him in Italy, with historians arguing that he was not as ruthless or totalitarian as other dictators.
Romano Mussolini -whose daughter, Alessandra, is a far-right deputy for Naples - said that the revisionists were right to say that Italian Fascism was unlike Nazism or communism.
The 1938 anti-Semitic race laws were"not in the Italians' nature, nor in my father's," he told Il Giornale."We had many Jewish friends. My elder brother, Vittorio, protested violently." In the book, Signor Mussolini judges his father's record"as both man and politician" to have been"90 per cent positive". He says that the"enthusiasm, almost hysteria" shown by Italians for Il Duce was sincere.
When Il Duce was deposed in July 1943, as the Allies advanced, Signor Mussolini writes, his father could have"pressed a button to have the conspirators murdered, as Hitler or Stalin would certainly have done". Instead, he had avoided a bloodbath by obeying a summons from King Victor Emmanuel III, even though he knew he would be arrested.
Mussolini was freed later by German commandos from the Abruzzo mountaintop hotel where he was imprisoned, and set up his last, short-lived Fascist regime, the Republic of Salo, on Lake Garda, under Nazi control.
Signor Mussolini recalls last seeing his father at the family villa on Lake Garda 11 days before his death, and reveals that it was during the final days at the lake that his mother, Donna Rachele, faced the fact that her husband had a serious relationship with Clara Petacci. She had"tried to ignore the affair", even though she was well aware that Mussolini was a womaniser.
Donna Rachele told her sons that although Il Duce had his"defects", he was a good father and husband who had never spent a night way from home and"always fulfilled his conjugal duties", Signor Mussolini says. He found an anonymous letter revealing that Petacci was visiting his father every afternoon, but he threw it away. The two women had a showdown and his mother locked herself in the bathroom and swallowed bleach. She was saved when a maid broke in and called the doctor.
Signor Mussolini recalls that various"bizarre" plans were later devised for his father's escape as Allied victory approached, including a faked car accident.
Signor Mussolini said that Il Duce had always assumed that the Allies would try him if captured, and had even imagined himself on trial in Madison Square Garden,"with people looking at me as if I was a caged wild beast".
His father had considered"abandoning Hitler to his fate" after the United States entered the war, and regarded the German decision to invade the Soviet Union as a"fatal mistake". But he had felt bound to honour his pact with Nazi Germany.
Little Rock --- When Glenn Nomura was a child, he never felt a part of any community. A Japanese-American, he grew up amid hushed murmurs about an era when his parents and grandparents lived in internment camps in southeastern Arkansas. He never quite grasped the entire story --- until this past weekend.
"I never felt part of the American fabric," said Nomura, now a chemistry professor at Georgia Perimeter College."And I certainly have never been with this many Japanese-Americans before now. This is a rare moment when so many of us are learning a lot about a part of history we never knew."
Nomura was among more than 1,200 Japanese-Americans who gathered in Little Rock for Life Interrupted, a four-day conference about the Arkansas internment camps during World War II. It was one of the largest such conferences ever held in the United States.
"We wanted to bring people together to discuss the Japanese-American internment experience during World War II and to also talk about how such issues play a role in today's world," said Johanna Miller Lewis, chairwoman of the history department at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Life Interrupted project director.
The idea came from Sybil Jordan Hampton, president of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, which gave $4 million to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the Japanese-American National Museum in Los Angeles to fund the project.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, which brought the United States into World War II, the U.S. government placed more than 120,000 Japanese-Americans from the West Coast and Hawaii into 10 relocation camps, surrounded by barbed wire and watchtowers. Most families took few belongings and lost their homes and businesses. Two camps, Jerome and Rowher, were in rural southeastern Arkansas, in the Mississippi Delta --- the only ones in the South. Nearly 17,000 people lived there.
Last weekend, conference attendees went to the Arkansas campsites. The internment camps were dismantled after the war; now only cemeteries and crumbling monuments remain. One is in honor of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a highly decorated military unit that was made up of segregated Japanese-Americans.
Nomura's father, Kenji Nomura of Chicago, and his late mother, Jane, met in the Jerome camp. Six months after he arrived there, the Army drafted Nomura. He stayed in touch with Jane and married her after he was discharged.
Like many interned families, the Nomuras never returned to California. They settled in Ohio and then Chicago. Glenn Nomura moved to Georgia in 1980 to attend graduate school. He is married to Birgit Gerdes Normura, an Atlanta immigration lawyer.
THE towering columns of rock dotted around Scotland's coastline have long fascinated climbers and historians, due to their inaccessibility.
Now a team of archaeologists is using climbing equipment to scale the sea stacks around Lewis and Shetland, some of the hardest to reach areas in Scotland.
The Severe Terrain Archaeological Campaign (Stac) began as a pilot project in June 2003.
Since then Chris Barrowman and his team have discovered remains dating back to the neolithic period, as well as buildings from the Iron Age, Bronze Age and early Christian hermitages.
They include forts, outlaws' hide-outs, and even prisons.
"We knew it was possible to get to these sites," Dr Barrowman said.
"We have looked at pretty well all the stacks around Lewis now and we will be doing some more work on the sites where we have found remains of buildings, concentrating on those that are suffering most from erosion.
"This is not just about recording stuff before it falls into the sea, we also want to research why people would want to live on such inaccessible sites," he said.
"It would have been a very hard life."
One sea stack on which they hope to do more work is Chaisteal a Mhorair.
First surveyed in 2003, it is one of nine looked at by Stac over the past two years.
"It was this little pinnacle of rock with a building set right on the top," said Ian McHardy, an archaeologist.
"We believe it was used as a little prison. It is so small - just five feet by five feet - that no-one would have wanted to live there voluntarily.
"These sites were quite often used to imprison people.
"There is a stack in Shetland which also had a prison on it, and the story is that a father once locked his daughter there to preserve her chastity, which is why it is called the Maiden Stack."
Whatever Election Day holds for her husband, Laura Bush is about to establish her own White House legacy in a bold transformation of the Lincoln Bedroom.
When completed later this fall, the nation's most famous guest room will retain the celebrated rosewood bed bought by Mary Todd Lincoln in 1861 as its centerpiece. Flamboyant rococo revival furniture by renowned cabinetmaker John Henry Belter will remain. And a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, which was signed in the room in 1863, will still be available for late-night perusal, in a glass case on a polished antique desk.
But, in the first sweeping rethink of the Lincoln Bedroom in at least three decades, the timid lemon walls, celery-green curtains and pale floral carpet are being banished in favor of a blast of Victorian bliss.
Heady hues of emerald green, golden yellow and deep purple will carpet the floor, drape the windows and envelop the massive, six-foot-tall carved headboard. Walls will be papered in a restrained palette of cream tones -- a nod to contemporary tastes -- but the pattern has been derived from the Victorian Age. Two elaborate cornices such as might have topped windows in Lincoln's day have been carved and sent to the gilders. An opulent white marble mantel was commissioned to better complement a rococo-style mirror installed last summer.
The pièce de résistance, both decoratively and symbolically, will be a carved bed canopy in the shape of a crown. It too has been sent for gilding. When affixed to the ceiling, the crown will support yards of regal purple satin over white lace, both trailing to the floor.
White House curator William Allman, who detailed the project Thursday at a White House Historical Association symposium on the decorative arts, describes the decor as"back for the future." He offered swatches of wallpaper, carpet design and historical antecedents to museum curators and decorative arts historians.
On an afternoon tour of the mansion, the second floor was off-limits. But dropcloths covered the stairway leading to the private quarters, evidence that the Lincoln Bedroom is still a work-in-progress.
"It will be very Victorian, very appropriate and very grand," Allman assured.
A larger-than-life image of conductor Leonard Bernstein greets visitors to a major new exhibit at the Library of Congress, followed by portraits of 1945 Miss America Bess Myerson, 1930s boxing champion Barney Ross, an unnamed girl protesting child labor in 1909, 19th-century statesman Judah P. Benjamin and 18th-century matriarch Abigail Franks.
Those and other figures dominate the entrance hall to"From Haven to Home: 350 Years of Jewish Life in America," an exhibit that runs through Dec. 18 and features 185 objects of American Judaica, most from the library's vast Hebraic repository but with contributions from other collections.
Some are small but with potent messages, such as a postcard photograph of the 1913 lynching of Leo Frank, falsely accused of killing a girl in Atlanta. Some are large and colorful, including a World War I poster in Yiddish urging Jewish immigrants to help win the war by not wasting food. Others are medium-size and fanciful, like the image of a 1904 boychik (dandy) so taken with American fashion that he has lost all appearance of Jewishness.
And some are national icons: Irving Berlin's"God Bless America" and Emma Lazarus's poetic lines on the Statue of Liberty:"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." Here you see them in the writer's own hand.
Film clips, theater posters, baseball cards, caricatures, sermons, maps, prayer books, illuminated documents, liturgical objects, paintings, advertisements -- all types of media span the categories of religion, the arts, politics, sports, entertainment, the home and social activism.
"What's so stunning about the exhibit is that the Library of Congress has such an extraordinarily rich collection of Judaica Americana," said Pamela S. Nadell, professor of history and director of Jewish studies at American University.
Nadell said she had never known about some of the objects displayed, including a cartoon of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Co. fire in New York, in which 146 immigrant workers -- a majority of them Jewish -- were killed because of locked doors and inadequate escape mechanisms. The cartoon, signed by"Lola" (Leon Israel), shows a demonic figure reaching toward some victims while others' faces glide on smoke streams toward heaven.
After the Allies conquered Germany and Japan at the end of the Second World War they were able to administer and rebuild both countries peacefully, within a few years allowing each to resume independent and stable self-government and economic progress.
The example thus set is rare in history. Almost every other documented precedent, from Roman Britain to today's Central Asia and Iraq, teaches a woefully different lesson: that when strong governmental control -even, in the limit, dictatorial control -is removed, chaos ensues.
In AD410 the Roman emperor Honorarius told the Romano-British aristocracy that he could no longer maintain government in their island, and then withdrew the remainder of his army for service on his empire's crumbling German borders. The result was a collapse in Britain into fragmentation and anarchy, bringing 300 years of violent instability. The cities built by the Romans fell into decay; Londinium, today's City of London, was an abandoned ruin, outside the weed hung walls of which sprang the mud-hut squatter camps of waves of immigrants from recently flooded lands in Saxony and Denmark.
Some historians now try to claim that there was no"Dark Age" after Rome's demise, but the truth is that a typical historical dynamic had occurred: once a strong organising and policing hand had been lifted, familiar forces of human nature reasserted themselves. According to Thomas Hobbes; moral and civil restraints"without the terror of some power to cause them to be observed, are contrary to our natural passions, that carry us to partiality, pride, revenge, and the like . . . if there be no power erected, or not great enough for our security, every man will and may lawfully rely on his own strength and art for caution against all other men."
This view -pessimistic or realistic, according to how you take it -appears to be borne out to the letter by Britain in the 5th century as by Afghanistan, the Caucasus and Iraq today. The collapse of Soviet control over its southern territories has lifted the lid from a mass of frictions and rivalries based on man's usual grounds for strife, namely ethnicity and religion. The removal of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship in Iraq reveals that country for what it is: an artificially constructed entity in which tribal, ethnic and religious differences have explosive potential, at present mainly directed at a temporary larger enemy, the" coalition", but doubtless waiting their time to turn attention inwards.
Why were Germany and Japan different in the late 1940s? Because the defeat and devastation they suffered was total, and included the paralysis of the civilian population along with the obliteration of any capacity for resistance. In Iraq the invading coalition took great care to leave as much of the country intact as was consistent with the defeat of Saddam's military, but this merely aided the latter in its clever ploy of hiding weapons and melting into the civilian population to effect an insurgency once the invaders' guard had dropped. (This is not to say that Saddam's army is the only insurgent force in Iraq, but the liberal supply of guns and explosives directed at coalition forces suggests that it is a major part of it.) Such are the harsh facts that history teaches: anarchy will ensue unless the agency that destroys a government -of whatever kidney -can render further trouble impossible by overwhelming power, and can then swiftly impose a better alternative to what was destroyed.
Berlin - Fritz Kolbe, a German bureaucrat described by the CIA as the most important spy of the Second World War, has won recognition at last from his country Reuters/Peter Kolbe
FEW VISITORS to Berlin's vast concrete and glass foreign ministry building take much notice of the brass plate bearing the name Fritz Kolbe, affixed just three weeks ago to the door of one of its elegant wood-panelled conference rooms. Most Germans have never heard of Fritz Kolbe.
Yet the nameplate and a black and white photograph of a balding, impish- looking man with protruding ears on a wall inside the chamber have been reunited in Germany's attempt, 59 years on, to make amends for one of the shabbiest episodes in its post-war history.
Kolbe was described by the CIA as the most important spy of the Second World War. As a bureaucrat in Adolf Hitler's foreign ministry, he smuggled 2,600 secret Nazi documents to American intelligence in Switzerland from 1943 onwards, continuing his task undetected until the war ended.
No other German damaged the Nazi regime to such an extent. Kolbe supplied the Americans with vital information about where the Germans expected the allies to land in Normandy, crucial facts about the Nazi V1 and V2 rockets and Japanese military plans in south-east Asia. He even exposed a butler working in the British embassy in Istanbul as a German spy.
"My aim was to help shorten the war for my unfortunate countrymen and to help concentration camp inmates avoid further suffering," Kolbe wrote from his home in Switzerland in 1965. He never accepted money for his work as a spy.
Yet after the war, Kolbe was dismissed as a traitor by successive German governments. His attempts to rejoin the foreign ministry were repeatedly rejected and he was forced to end his days working as a salesman for an American chainsaw company, until his death in Switzerland in 1971.
Madrid - One of Spain's greatest modern novelists was an informer for Franco's fascist regime and betrayed fellow intellectuals during the 1960s, according to recently discovered official records.
Camilo Jose Cela, the last Spaniard to win the Nobel prize for literature, continued to inform against other authors and academics even when they thought he had joined an emerging front of dissident writers.
The revelations have come from the well-known historian Pere Ysas, who found papers showing that Cela, who died two years ago, had volunteered advice to Franco's information ministry and suggested some dissident writers could be bribed, tamed and"reconverted" by the generalisimo's regime.
The claims will add to the legend of the controversial and flamboyant Cela, who was accused of stealing ideas, plagiarism and using ghost-writers during his career.
He denied all the allegations, but had a seemingly infinite capacity for provoking controversy and creating enemies.
Mr Ysas's discovery comes at an uncomfortable time for Spain as it considers how to deal with the legacy of the Franco period. It also raises the question of which other intellectuals were informers - or informed upon.
The historian said he found an internal report to Spain's then information minister, Manuel Fraga, who ran the censor's office, based on ideas volunteered to ministry officials by Cela after a Spanish writers' conference in 1963.
"Whiskey," said Peter Cressy,"has played a very important role in our national history." ...
Cressy, president of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, was at Mount Vernon, standing next to a copper whiskey still and two wooden barrels labeled"George Washington Distillery," explaining his historic mission.
"This is about more than the distillery," he said."It's about bringing George Washington to life." ...
Whiskey makers love George Washington. To them, the Father of Our Country wasn't just America's first president, he was also the first ex-president to get into the whiskey-making business in a big way. And the folks at the Distilled Spirits Council think America ought to know a lot more about that.
That's why DISCUS, as the council calls itself, is funding the $1.5 million reconstruction of Washington's 1797 Mount Vernon distillery, to be completed in 2006. It's also why DISCUS summoned the history- and/or whiskey-loving media to Mount Vernon on Tuesday to announce that Washington's distillery will be the crown jewel of the new"American Whiskey Trail," a loose collection of whiskey-related tourist sites in several states.
"What better place to serve as the gateway to the American Whiskey Trail than George Washington's distillery!" Cressy said. ...
Washington's distillery was"one of the largest distilling operations in the country," Dennis Pogue, Mount Vernon's associate director, told the gathering.
When Washington left the presidency and returned to Mount Vernon in 1797, his plantation manager, a Scotsman named James Anderson, suggested that his boss use the farm's excess grain to make whiskey for the local market. Washington agreed reluctantly, Pogue says, but the whiskey sold so well that in October 1797 Washington had his slaves build a 75-by-30-foot distillery.
The distillery's five copper stills churned out about 4,000 gallons of rye whiskey the next year. In 1799, Washington did even better, selling nearly 11,000 gallons and earning about $7,500 -- an enormous sum in those days.
"The cheap stuff sold for about 50 cents a gallon," Pogue says,"and the more expensive stuff went up to about a dollar a gallon."
What is a museum for?
Most art museums remain pristine repositories of beautiful objects, lovingly displayed. Science museums, by contrast, tend to worship at the altar of interactivity, wowing visitors with technology. History museums fall somewhere in the middle, and they are changing rapidly. The latest are neither mere cabinets of curiosities nor showcases for cutting-edge gadgetry. They are institutions in crisis, although interestingly so. The best of them directly confront challenges to their authority and purpose as they struggle to tell a wider range of stories to increasingly demanding and restless audiences.
These challenges are exemplified by two ambitious new museums, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which opened in August in Cincinnati, and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian, which made its debut with much fanfare September 21 on Washington's National Mall. In theory, both institutions could have chosen to illuminate and memorialize the most tragic of American stories, slavery and the longtime oppression of Native Americans. But they have opted instead for triumphalist narratives that stress the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
For both museums, transformation is a key motif. The Freedom Center's expressed goal is to convert visitors into the 21st-century equivalent of Underground Railroad conductors -- that is, activists dedicated to advancing the museum's broad conception of freedom. The Indian Museum doesn't seek to foster activism, but rather to transform stereotypical thinking about Native American cultures past and present.
The NMAI embodies another kind of transformation as well, in the collection that is its nucleus. Most of its artifacts were accumulated by the New York banker George Gustav Heye (1874-1957). Heye was once charged with grave-robbing, and though he was acquitted, the Smithsonian acknowledges that his collection, which included human remains and funerary objects, wouldn't pass ethical muster today. At the new museum, about 8,000 of the 800,000 or so artifacts he amassed, including intricately beaded Lakota shirts and Santa Clara Pueblo pottery, have been reclaimed by Native Americans to tell their own stories.
Indeed, the extent of Native American involvement in mapping this new museum is its most revolutionary aspect. In recent years other museums have sought out American Indian voices, but never on such a massive scale.
The Freedom Center's main innovation is its call to action, rooted in its status as a self-declared "museum of conscience." Also noteworthy is the center's eclecticism, which stems from both vision and necessity. Lacking an extensive collection -- it began with an idea, not a set of objects -- the Cincinnati museum employs a tool kit that includes animation, artwork, multimedia, and facilitators who seek to break down the divide between observer and participant.
The National Museum of the American Indian, the 18th in the Smithsonian's galaxy of museums, is a place based, in part, on a neologism.
The word is "survivance," which the museum credits to Gerald Vizenor (Chippewa) and his 1994 book, Manifest Manners: Postindian Warriors of Survivance. The curators of the exhibition, "Our Lives: Contemporary Life and Identities," contextualize that elusive concept as a move from the passive to the active voice. "We are not just survivors, we are the architects of our survivance," a wall label says. The point, following recent trends in historical scholarship, is to remove the taint of victimization and substitute adaptability, resilience, and victory over historical circumstance.
Fifteen years in the planning, and as Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence M. Small says, "long overdue," the construction of the museum constitutes just such a victory. The museum's founding director, W. Richard West Jr., says it represents "a moment of reconciliation and recognition in American history."...
... [T]he overall narrative thread of Shakespeare's life is frayed in many places, and broken completely in others.
Tying that thread back together is the goal of Stephen Greenblatt's new biography, Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare (W.W. Norton). In the book, Mr. Greenblatt seeks to combine the scholarship that has made him a central figure in the world of literary theory with the demands of a popular audience. To begin with, he says, shaping the scant facts of Shakespeare's life into a cohesive whole posed some problems....
... Mr. Greenblatt, who served a term as president of the Modern Language Association, is best known as the founder of "New Historicism" -- a school of literary criticism that reconnects literary works to the social and historical currents of their time. New Historicists' aim in making such connections is to illuminate larger issues of power and culture embedded in literature and history. In his 1991 University of Chicago Press book, Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World, for instance, Mr. Greenblatt probed the writings of Christopher Columbus and other explorers to unlock how their views of the "marvels" of discovery became harnessed to the cruelties of colonization.
Shakespeare has been a key topic in Mr. Greenblatt's work. Three of his previous books, Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare in 1980 (University of Chicago Press), Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England in 1988 (University of California Press), and Hamlet in Purgatory in 2001 (Princeton University Press) applied his theories to Shakespeare's work.
In Hamlet in Purgatory, for instance, Mr. Greenblatt examines Shakespeare's most famous play in the light of the pitched battle over the existence of purgatory between Protestants and Catholics in the 16th century. Catholics saw purgatory as a spiritual state of suffering where imperfect souls were purified before ascending to heaven (and could be aided by the prayers -- and donations -- of the living), but Protestants saw a scam that was both contrary to Scripture and the occasion of clerical corruption.
Mr. Greenblatt sifts through antipurgatory polemics and ghost stories of Shakespeare's age before turning to Hamlet, a play that famously commences with the appearance of a ghost from purgatory in the form of Hamlet's father. His gambit of linking that ghost to the religious fervor of Shakespeare's time exposes a complicated interplay between theater and spirituality at the heart of the work.
But New Historicism's celebration of the messy historical conflicts literally written into works of art does run somewhat counter to the task of biographers, who impose chronology and narrative on history's unruly muddles.
For his part, Mr. Greenblatt says that writing Will in the World was a chance to revisit ideas that he explored in his doctoral dissertation on the life of another Renaissance figure, Sir Walter Ralegh.
"The model that I had of what it was to have a life in relation to a set of historical events was a little thin," he recalls, "as if people had lives and then there was this thing out there called history that they connected to." Mr. Greenblatt says that moving back toward biography "is, in some sense, just a tiny shift in optic, to return to what has always been my interest."
Some scholars do point to tensions between New Historicism and strict biography. Robert S. Miola, a professor of English at Loyola College in Maryland who is editing a forthcoming volume of early modern Catholic writing for Oxford University Press, says that New Historicism has made Shakespeare scholars "more attuned to the relations between cultures and artistic achievements, [and] so more likely to take closer looks at biography." But he argues that "the hard work must be done by old historicism methods -- work with manuscripts in public record offices, local archives, patient assembling of evidence. The downside of New Historicism has been an impatience with all of that and a reliance on sometimes misleading anecdote and the encouragement of a tendency to generalize without warrant and evidence."
Mr. Wells also points to a significant divergence between the aims of scholars plowing through archives and biographers. "It's not the biographers who tend to produce the evidence," he says. "They are the interpreters, rather than primary investigators."
In Will in the World, Mr. Greenblatt's creative suppositions about Shakespeare's life often win out over certainty. Anecdote and coincidence mix easily into his narrative, which also draws heavily on a close reading of the works for clues about the writer....
With diplomats jetting off for marathon negotiations and editorial writers fulminating about national honor, a recent quarrel between China and South Korea had all the trappings of a modern diplomatic crisis. Except for one thing: The dispute was over a kingdom last heard from in A.D. 668.
Chinese researchers participating in a government-funded project on ancient societies in northern China had concluded that Goguryeo, in its early manifestations at least, was under Chinese dominion. Korean scholars insisted that, from beginning to end, Goguryeo was 100 percent Korean. When the Chinese Foreign Ministry, heeding its own scholars, eliminated the Korean version of history from its official Web site last April, things got serious.
The noisy clash was finally papered over last month in a five-point accord reached in Seoul after protracted discussions between Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Wu Dawei and senior officials in the South Korean Foreign Ministry. Both countries pledged to get along better. But they left the main question unresolved: Was the kingdom, which spanned the current China-North Korea border for about 700 years, Chinese or Korean?
For China, the answer has long been obvious. Their culture, they have been taught, radiated far and wide over the centuries, embracing great historical events ranging from Genghis Khan's empire to the invention of spaghetti and meatballs. According to Chinese history, not only did Goguryeo begin as an ethnic minority in the Chinese fold, but neighboring Japanese civilization got started when 1,000 Chinese boys and girls sailed over in 209 B.C. to colonize the islands in hopes of finding immortality pills.
"Goguryeo was part of the Han Dynasty," said Li Boqian, who runs the Center for the Study of Ancient Civilizations at Beijing University."But the Han Dynasty later declined, and it split off."
Some analysts have seen a design in China's tendency to place itself at the center of history.
Korean commentators, for instance, warned that the real reason for the Goguryeo spat was a desire by Chinese officials to cast doubt on the present border in case North Korea falls apart suddenly and destabilizes the area. Beijing-based analysts suggested that Chinese officials wanted to make ethnic minorities, such as the restive populations of Tibet and Xingjiang, feel more comfortable with Chinese rule by stressing that they have always been part of the nation.
But anyone living in China quickly understands that, whatever officials may be up to, something deeper than government policy has informed the Chinese people's view of their place in the world. In a culture so old and so rich in history and invention, it seems folklore for centuries has tended to operate on the premise that China originated almost everything and foreigners are lucky if they can grab a little piece of the heritage.
Over the last 150 years, as China suffered from foreign occupation, civil war and extremist ideology, modern advances largely passed the country by. Only in recent years has China begun to regain its role in the world. But for most Chinese, the idea of their culture as a source of past greatness and future strength has never faded.
"There are so many great people who did so many great things," said Wang Zhenhui, 22, a public finance student at Beijing University.
The idea of China's centrality started early. Li, who formerly ran Beijing University's archaeology program, said that 3,000 years ago, the Western Chou Dynasty moved its capital to Luo Yang, south of Beijing in the present-day Henan province, and declared it the center of the Earth. A bronze wine vessel was found nearby in the 1970s, he said, with the inscription"Here Lives the Middle Kingdom," the first known use of what has become China's modern name.
That was just the beginning. Just as every American schoolchild learns that George Washington admitted to cutting down the cherry tree, generations of Chinese schoolchildren have learned that their forebears thought up the Four Great Inventions: gunpowder, the compass, paper and movable type.
Times have changed when it comes to the mocking of presidential candidates. During the 1960 election, Art Buchwald found himself on the same podium with then-Vice President Richard Nixon and proceeded to poke fun at the Republican presidential candidate. Later the humor columnist received an irate phone call from his father. "He couldn't believe that I would make fun of the vice president of the United States," Mr. Buchwald recalls with a chuckle.
By contrast, today many voters get much of their political news from the gusher of late night jokes ridiculing President Bush and John Kerry. The change can be traced to the night of June 17, 1972, when five men with links to President Nixon's re-election campaign against George McGovern were caught breaking into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate office complex and bugging the phones. Watergate "was a turning point" for political humor, says Elaina Newport, co-founder of the Capitol Steps comedy troupe. "The gloves came off."
During the Watergate cover-up, comedians were the first to say out loud what many people were thinking: "Heard about the new Watergate watch? Both hands always point at Nixon."
But Watergate was still a touchy subject. In 1973, three New York City TV stations refused to run ads for a Watergate record album by master Nixon impersonator David Frye because the ads contained an offensive word -- "impeachment." On the album, Mr. Frye as Nixon declared: "There's a bright side to Watergate. My administration has taken crime out of the streets and put it in the White House where I can keep an eye on it."
As a sign of changing attitudes, Mr. Frye says today, "I got very little flak," except for the time "a woman came up to me in Bloomingdale's and started yelling at me."
Meanwhile at Washington's Shoreham Hotel crowds flocked to hear comedian Mark Russell joke about the Democratic office bugging: "George McGovern knew something suspicious was going on when he picked up a grapefruit and got a dial tone."
One night, Nixon aides Patrick Buchanan and John McLaughlin dropped by. Mr.
Russell did an audience poll: How many believe that Nixon knew all about Watergate?
(Huge applause) How many think he didn't know? (Sparse applause.) "How
many of you," he asked the latter group, "believe in the Easter bunny?"
When Mr. Buchanan asked if the first question always got such big applause,
Mr. Russell replied: "No. Usually it's more." Mr. Buchanan declined
to be interviewed, saying "There still are a lot of our folks who don't
see the humor of all that back in the 1970s."...