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.
SOURCE: The Gazette (Montreal) (9-14-05)
Analysts and historians, it seems, beg to differ.
Concordia University historian Graeme Decarie said he was flabbergasted Mulroney would even suggest he was one of the top leaders in Canada.
"This suggests a serious ego problem," Decarie said. "Even if he was a great prime minister, to say that would be too much. I can't imagine a Winston Churchill, who is somewhat more important, standing up and saying I am the most important prime minister Britain ever had."
Decarie said he would hardly call the goods and services tax an accomplishment. The same goes for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which the United States is choosing to ignore, and the failed Meech Lake constitutional accord, he said.
"The man's ego is insufferable and he...
SOURCE: Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Australia) (9-14-05)
The withdrawal of occupation troops does not always equate to a happy ending. It's hard to disagree that the presence of an occupation force in someone else's land is not the natural order of things but often when troops pull up stakes, they leave behind them a legacy of more chaos and disorder.
When the talons of ancient Rome stretched out across Europe, northern Africa and Asia Minor, they maintained a firm hold in the captured territory with garrison troops. Sometimes the troops were drawn from other areas of the empire, on other occasions from local co-operative peoples. Often the soldiers went native, marrying into the local population.
The Romans had invaded Britain in 55BC and had controlled the country on and off for...
SOURCE: Christian Science Monitor (Boston, MA) (9-14-05)
Readers might have blanched at the descriptions of soldiers routinely raping helpless women left in the city at the end of World War II. Perhaps no one wanted to think about German suffering. Or maybe the author's wry personality lacked appeal at the time.
Now, more than five decades later, the reissued version of "A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City," is making waves across the globe, lauded as a journalistic masterpiece and a stunning literary achievement.
The book also has joined an exclusive club: It's one of a handful of war-related works that took decades - even generations - to be appreciated.
For example, "Parade's End," British novelist Ford Madox Ford's epic 1920s fiction series about...
SOURCE: LA Times (9-15-05)
Flooded New Orleans has conservationists and collectors in despair about what history might have washed away or been irreparably damaged in museums and in homes.
New Orleans was a treasure trove of regionally specific culture where surreal Mardi Gras memorabilia coexisted with sober Victorian furniture, where stately mansions and shotgun shacks shared a history defined by jazz, Cajun cooking, slavery and even voodoo.
The largest and best collections of regional significance are, of course, stored and collected by the region's museums, colleges, antiques dealers and...
SOURCE: LA Times (9-15-05)
The old soldier stands high on a bluff here looking out to sea, binoculars slung around his neck and an officer's cap perched jauntily on his head. In a cordon in front of him are several burly riot policemen, their shields raised in defensive posture. At least a dozen other officers, some in plainclothes with wires dangling in their ears, are fanned out around the flowerbeds, on the lookout for trouble.
For nearly half a century, a 16-foot bronze likeness of the late war hero has dominated a park near the shores where thousands of U.S. troops under his command landed Sept. 15, 1950, to expel North Korean forces. It is considered one of the decisive battles of the Korean War, one that many here credit for the eventual success of the prosperous, free-market nation that is South Korea.
But not all. A movement to tear down the statue has been gaining momentum recently among...
SOURCE: The Independent (London) (9-15-05)
Yesterday, in that same pigeon-infested venue, it was a hero of a different kind, the artist Alison Lapper " born without arms and with shortened legs " who took centre-stage. A 15ft statue of her was erected on the empty plinth in the north-west corner of the square which has usually stood empty for the past 150 years.
Yet it was fitting that these two disparate events should occupy the same space. For Trafalgar Square is not just a convenient open space in the middle of London. It is not simply the place from which all distances to...
SOURCE: Salon (9-10-05)
On Thursday Sept. 8, Shelly Henley Kelly, the immediate past president of the Society of Southwest Archivists composed a letter to the editors of major newspapers.
"Imagine that Washington D.C. is struck by a CAT 5 hurricane and the National Archives has been damaged and/or flooded," Kelly, an archivist at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, wrote. "Archivists and conservators are trained to have a disaster response/disaster recovery plan. They will get in and begin the massive effort to reclaim the damaged documents... But what happens when the archivist is prevented from returning to the repository? How long can the many important documents, photographs, sound recordings documenting our nation's history and culture sit alone, un-airconditioned, possibly wet, before they rot beyond any hope for recovery?"
This, Kelly argued in her letter, is precisely what has been...
SOURCE: South China Morning Post (9-13-05)
Michael Abney-Hastings, 63, was stunned when he learned last year that a kink in the line of royal succession during the 15th century meant he should be sitting on the throne rather than Queen Elizabeth.
The discovery was made by a team of British historians backed by a television series presented by Tony Robinson, the actor best known as Baldrick in the Blackadder comedy series.
The historians said Queen Elizabeth's claim to the throne was false because her distant ancestor, Edward IV, was illegitimate.
Edward IV's father was not Richard, Duke of York, but a lowly archer with whom his mother was having an affair, according to the historians. They concluded the crown should have instead passed down the Plantagenet line, ending at Mr...
SOURCE: Newsday (9-13-05)
"Many people are surprised when you talk about slavery's existence in New York," said Carter, a Freeport resident and retired middle-school teacher in the Rockville Centre school district. "They're surprised because it's taught as something that happened in the South."
So when the education department at Hofstra University began working on a curriculum to help school children understand how the enslavement of Africans helped build New York's wealth and power, she joined the team.
That curriculum has been named this year's "exemplary social studies program" by the nation's largest association of social studies teachers.
The curriculum - a 268- page guide for teachers that includes links to Web sites, primary documents and suggested lesson plans - will...
SOURCE: The Toronto Star (9-11-05)
He was referring to the fact that the Emirates Tower was a showpiece of the Emirates royal family members, who, along with the Saudi royals, were quintessential sinners in the eyes of Bin Laden and his death-cult followers (four of the 19 hijackers held Emirates passports). In their radical Islamic vernacular, the two most despicable entities in their hierarchy of venality are infidels (non-believers) and hypocrites (believers who've fallen to the...
SOURCE: Sunday Tasmanian (Australia) (9-11-05)
It was a fateful year of momentous events which included the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the birth of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the mysterious death of the legendary racehorse Phar Lap, the dismissal of the New South Wales Premier Jack Lang by Governor Philip Game, and the start of Test cricket's infamous Bodyline series.
All these nation-defining events, crises and scandals have been the subject of various books, television series and documentaries, but it took American-born journalist Gerald Stone to recognise that all this stuff of national legend happened within a single year and roll the stories together into one book called simply 1932 - a Hell of a Year.
Joe Lyons does not figure in all the events -- the Bodyline series and Phar Lap's death, for instance, happened without...
SOURCE: Scotland On Sunday (9-11-05)
Regarded by historians and scholars as one of the finest in the world, the collection is presently housed in a series of warehouses on the outskirts of Edinburgh. It contains more than three million objects and specimens from across the globe which, because of a lack of space, cannot be displayed in the museum.
These range from a Formula One car which belonged to Jackie Stewart, to a collection of more than 2,000 tribal spears, the national camera collection, and a shell collection from Lord Byron's expedition on HMS Blond.
Dr Gordon Rintoul, director of the National Museum of Scotland, says that following a GBP 4.6m two-year upgrade, the public will be able to visit the collection five days a week.
Rintoul said: "Presently only 10,000 items can be displayed in our museums. While there are more than...
SOURCE: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (9-11-05)
The history of Sept. 11, 2001, was explained, for instance, on Dec. 29, 1913 when William A. Dunning stood before the annual meeting of the American Historical Association and caught hold of a luminous ray of truth.
"If the lesson of the past is sought as a guide to any policy," Dunning said, "the lesson that is learned and acted upon is derived from the error that passes as history at the time, not from the truth that becomes known long after." In short: "The deeds of men have been affected more by the beliefs in what was false than by the knowledge of what was true."
Romans went to battle convinced that two boys, suckled by wolves, founded their city. Medieval kings justified their tyranny from biblical accounts written centuries after the fact. Otto von Bismarck, the Prussian...
SOURCE: New Straits Times (Malaysia) (9-11-05)
This view gained renewed currency with the controversies over the departures of University of Malaya's Dr Edmund Terrence Gomez and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's Prof Dr P. Ramasamy.
A classic example is Dr Syed Husin Ali, the former UM sociology and anthropology professor who was arrested under the Internal Security Act in 1974 after taking part in demonstrations on the plight of landless
farmers in Baling.
Five years after his release, Syed Husin left academia for politics, where he rose to become Parti Rakyat Malaysia president. He is now Parti Keadilan Nasional deputy president.
"There is a historical basis to why some people think that the Government does not enjoy a good relationship with a certain segment of university staff," says historian Prof Datuk Dr Khoo...
SOURCE: Los Angeles Times (9-11-05)
Of course that's not literally, chronologically true. But just as the great British historian Eric Hobsbawm wrote a history of the 19th century, which, he decided, started in 1789 and ended in 1914, so we can look back on the 1990s and see that they too were not an exact match with the dates on the calendar.
That was not obvious at the time. But now it's possible to speak of the 1990s as an era of sharp definition, the way we recall the greedy '80s or the swinging '60s (which you might say began with the Kennedy assassination in 1963 and ended along with the Vietnam War in the mid-'70s). They were the no-worry '90s.
Viewed from here, the 1990s were a kind of vacation, a pause between two eras of anxiety and conflict. They began on Dec. 8, 1991, with the fall...
SOURCE: Los Angeles Times (9-11-05)
It's not a battle that the military could say it won back on Aug. 16, 1956.
The Navy summoned two fighter jets to shoot down the pilotless drone, a Grumman F6F-5K Hellcat, minutes after it went out of control after being launched from Point Mugu Naval Air Station.
As the wayward Hellcat headed toward Los Angeles, twin Scorpion interceptors fired more than 200 missiles at it, missing their target each time. Instead the missiles -- each pod containing 52 Mighty Mouse 2.75-inch rockets -- damaged property and set off a string of brush fires across northern Los Angeles County. The Hellcat drone finally crash-landed harmlessly in the Mojave Desert.
Angry and frightened residents complained. Los...
SOURCE: Boston Globe (9-11-05)
The village was established in 1792 by the followers of Mother Ann Lee, who fled England in 1774 to escape religious persecution. By the mid-1850s, Canterbury comprised 3,000 acres and more than 100 buildings overseen by 300 sisters and brothers of the United Society of Believers, a celibate sect also known as the Shaking Quakers, or Shakers, because of their use of dance in worship rites. At the time, the Shaker movement was at its peak. Historians differ on how many Believers there were across the country, but between 4,000 and 6,000 brothers and sisters are estimated to have lived in about 18 communities from Maine to Kentucky. Today, only a...
SOURCE: The Baltimore Sun (9-11-05)
They will also learn more about the design chosen last week for a permanent National Park Service memorial on the 2,200-acre site. The memorial, anchored by a "Tower of Voices" filled with 40 wind chimes, is expected to cost $30 million and be completed in four years.
The new memorial will replace the grassroots shrine that has drawn more than 130,000 pilgrims from around the world in the four years since 9/11. But the Tower of Voices, and the carefully researched, official account of Flight 93 that visitors will hear there, might never replace the story that has evolved at this remote reclaimed strip mine.
Fueled as much by emotion as facts, the story of Flight 93 has become a consummately American myth of faith, liberty and selfless...
SOURCE: The Baltimore Sun (9-11-05)
Inside the Franklin Street entrance, gleaming black floor tiles and a modern light oak staircase make a seamless match with the tall right wall from the exterior of the 1890s brick building. All this sets the stage for a maritime mural of the City Dock circa 1870, the post-emancipation period, right in the middle of the story the museum is there to tell.
"You see the old [church] facade and at the same time view the new gallery space, showing you where we were and where we are now," said Jeffrey H. Greene, the facilities manager overseeing the project for the state.
With the mission of illuminating African-American history and culture in Maryland, the state's official repository of related archival material is in the final...
SOURCE: Ottawa Citizen (9-12--05)
Jennifer Pettit and Kori Street have been researching the murders of the Black Donnellys, an Irish-Canadian family that lived in Biddulph Township, Ont., in the 1800s.
Their research will become part of Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History, a series of instructional websites designed to encourage students to increase their knowledge of history and promote archival research in the hope of shedding light on unsolved historical crimes.
The series, accessed through www.canadianmysteries.ca, now features websites about three violent crimes from the past, but will eventually have 13, said Ms. Street, including Heaven and Hell on Earth: The Murder of the Black Donnellys, which Ms. Pettit and Ms. Street say will be posted next spring.
Backed by a grant...