Roundup: Talking About History
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.
Mr. Johnson's 2003 book, Revolution in Texas: How a Forgotten Rebellion and Its Bloody Suppression Turned Mexicans Into Americans (Yale University Press), portrays the Texas Rangers as bad guys who terrorized and murdered hundreds -- and perhaps thousands -- of Mexican-born Texans living along the border nearly a century ago.
The book -- and a 2004 documentary based on an incident in the same period -- has now led a Texas lawmaker to introduce legislation this year honoring the Tejano rebels who died at the hands of the Rangers and vigilante...
[ KAI BIRD and MARTIN J. SHERWIN are coauthors of "American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer," published earlier this year by Knopf.]
... A decade ago, on the 50th anniversary, this narrative [that the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought about the end of WW II] was reinforced in an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution on the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first bomb. The exhibit, which had been the subject of a bruising political battle, presented nearly 4 million Americans with an officially sanctioned view of the atomic bombings that again portrayed them as a necessary act in a just war.
But although patriotically correct, the exhibit and the narrative on which it was based were historically inaccurate. For one thing, the Smithsonian...
[Geoffrey Wheatcroft's most recent book is The Strange Death of Tory England.]
... Some American admirals believed then and ever after that surrender was a matter of time, and not much of it, and a strong suspicion persists of an ulterior motive by Washington, wanting to end the war with Japan quickly before Soviet Russia joined in.
In any case, that argument begs the profoundest questions of ends and means. In the shadow of the mushroom cloud, few people addressed them, or grasped the enormity of what had been done. Two who did were very remarkable men writing from entirely disparate perspectives: Dwight Macdonald, an American radical atheist, and Monsignor Ronald Knox, a conservative English Catholic.
Once an active Trotskyist, Macdonald was evolving from revolutionary socialism to pacifist anarchism, as reflected in Politics, the...
We've known his story forever, it seems. Maybe that's because it's a tale so stark and powerful that it has assumed an air of timelessness, something almost mythical: Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black kid born and raised in Chicago, went down in August 1955 to visit some relatives in the hamlet of Money, Miss. One day, he walked into a country store there, Bryant's Grocery and Meat Market, and, on a dare, said something fresh to the white woman behind the counter -- 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, the owner's wife -- or asked her for a date, or maybe wolf-whistled at her. A few nights later, her husband, Roy Bryant, and his half brother, J.W. Milam, yanked young Till out of bed and off into the dark Delta, where they beat, tortured and, ultimately, shot him in the head and pushed him into the Tallahatchie River. His body, though tied to a heavy...
The 60th anniversary on Saturday, August 6, of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima is likely to gain less attention in the United States than other World War II anniversaries, in part because it does not fit the heroic image that Americans have of themselves, says a Duke University professor who has written a book about World War II and memory.
"Americans tend to remember events that make America look good.
D-Day and the elaborate celebration of it is a prime example," said Marianna Torgovnick, author of "The War Complex: World War II in Our Time."
"In contrast, although Americans are certainly aware that there was an atomic bomb exploded at Hiroshima, they've never been able to face the fact that America dropped a bomb that killed civilians."
Other events or ideas prominent in American cultural memory...
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Jack Cashill, an Emmy-award winning independent writer and producer with a Ph.D. in American Studies from Purdue. He is the author of the new book Hoodwinked: How Intellectual Hucksters Have Hijacked American Culture.
FP: Mr Cashill, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Cashill: Glad to be here.
FP: What inspired you to write this book?
Cashill: I was living in Ireland in 1993. One afternoon I was listening to their national radio, a huge and influential station, and they were interviewing Philip Nobile. Nobile had just written a devastating expose of Alex Haley's Roots for the Village Voice. As Nobile explained, Haley had plagiarized huge chunks of this non-fiction Pulitzer-prize winning work from a white novelist. Worse, when genealogists tried to walk in the...
This weekend marks the 60th anniversary of the August 6, 1945 bombing of Hiroshima. One might think that by now historians would agree on all the fundamental issues. The reality, however, is just the opposite: All the major issues involved in the decision are still very much a matter of dispute among experts. An obvious question is why this should be so after so many years.
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies has had the kind of impact that most scholarly authors can only dream about for their works. First published by W.W. Norton in 1997, the book won a Pulitzer Prize the next year for its author, Jared Diamond, a professor of geography at the University of California at Los Angeles.
Almost immediately, the book sold much better than most serious works (more than 1 million copies) and started to turn up on college reading lists — in courses on world history, anthropology, sociology and other fields. By 1999, the book was one of 12 recommended to freshmen at the University of California at Berkeley (along with some works that had been around a while longer, like Genesis and...
[BARTON J. BERNSTEIN, a professor of history at Stanford University, has written extensively on the history of the A-bomb. He wrote this article for Perspective.]
... During his White House tenure (1945-53), Truman's frequent explanation and general defense of his decision to drop atomic bombs encountered little mainline public criticism. And commentators never pushed him for a forceful, clear dialogue on why the bombs were used, and on whether there was a search for alternatives.
Popular-level enthusiasm in the United States for the 1945 atomic bombings made it easy to avoid such a dialogue. That is no longer possible in 2005, especially in an America now almost equally divided between those who approve and those who disapprove of the 1945 atomic bombings.
Seeking to understand why the bomb was used begins not with...