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: Australian (3-8-06)
Marta Petreu's An Infamous Past: E.M. Cioran and the Rise of Fascism in Romania (Ivan R. Dee, 2005), inevitably hurtles humanists of a certain age back to other names and scandals -- Paul de Man, Martin Heidegger, Mircea Eliade -- with its expose of the expatriate Romanian anointed by Susan Sontag in her 1968 introduction to The Temptation to Exist as ''the most distinguished figure'' then writing in the lyrical, aphoristic, antisystematic tradition of Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche and Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Cioran, a lapidary ironist born in Romania in 1911, fled to Paris on a scholarship in 1937. (Petreu reports that Cioran...
SOURCE: Australian (3-9-06)
SOURCE: Column: Israel Policy Forum (3-3-06)
There must be a word for it, although I don't know what it is. I'm trying to describe the phenomenon when people appear trapped in a different historical period than the present and react to events in an outdated context. The phrase "time warp" comes to mind.
The thought struck me after reading an article about a campaign by, what the Associated Press called, "pro-Israel activists" to prevent the Palestinian film, "Paradise Now" from winning an Oscar for best foreign language film when the Academy Awards are presented this Sunday.
"Paradise Now" is a film about two young Palestinians, recruited by an...
SOURCE: San Antonio Express-News (3-6-06)
Strolling the grounds of the Alamo, where background noise is provided by hucksters across the street trying to lure tourists to their gaudy attractions, it's easy to forget that the area is sacred ground, where 170 years ago today, hundreds of men died.
Even the landmark's own gift shop can feature less-than-tasteful souvenirs (nothing says Remember the Alamo quite like an ashtray made in China, retail price $5.25), and last spring it offered temporary tattoos in the name of fundraising.
Between the commercial distractions and a population that seems permanently tethered to cell phones, keeping the sacredness of the Alamo intact has become a growing challenge for those who operate the Shrine of Texas Liberty.
"There are things we have no control over, so we control what we can," said Bruce Winders, curator and historian of the Alamo.
No doubt the solemnity of today will be evident...
SOURCE: WSJ (3-7-06)
What did you learn about business in the history courses you took in your college or university? Not much, I suspect. Not if you're thinking about the kind of business you do every day, the company you work for, and the people with whom you work. You may have learned a bit about the Robber Barons of the late 19th century. Or the antitrust cases of the 20th century, the business frauds uncovered by the Great Depression of the 1930s, or, if you were really lucky, the insider trading of the 1980s.
What you wouldn't have learned is how the U.S. became the world's leading industrial power in the late 19th century, and why the nation has been able, through the following decades, to keep its position as the world's most successful economy. Ever!...
SOURCE: New Republic (3-7-06)
CSA: Confederate States of America is an entry in the "what if" school of fiction. (A recent instance: Philip Roth entered that school with The Plot Against America, in which he postulated that Charles Lindbergh had been elected president in 1940.) A new director named Kevin Willmott has made a pseudo-documentary about what would have happened if the Confederacy had won the Civil War and this entire country had become the Confederate States of America.
Willmott, who teaches film studies at the University of Kansas, says that he got his idea from watching Ken Burns's Civil War series on PBS, and his own film has some structural resemblance to the Burns series--sequences of the past, real and enacted, are joined by interviews with modern experts. Most of the "history" is about what happened in the CSA to slaves and slavery. A key moment is the postwar plan of Jefferson Davis, president now of all the...
SOURCE: Chicago Sun Times (3-5-06)
SOURCE: Australian (3-3-06)
When Australia Day came around this year, headmaster Howard decided it was time for an instructive pronouncement concerning communal mismanagement of the nation's history. How can we have any notion of what Australia is, who Australians are, and what we might like to become if we are incapable of a responsible and coherent approach towards our history? The history taught in schools barely merits the name, apparently, and has been...
Three days from now, the annual ritual of the Academy Awards will be performed. Steven Spielberg's movie Munich, which depicts the exploits of a team of Israeli assassins sent to avenge the murder of eleven athletes by Black September at the 1972 Munich Olympics, has been nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. CNN hailed Munich as "a masterpiece," while Fox News declared it "the best movie of 2005." It also received high praise from Time, Newsweek, and People.
But Munich has met with significant criticism as well. Writing in the New Republic, Leon Wieseltier castigated Spielberg for his "evenhandedness," for confusing counter-terrorism with terrorism, for being "desperate not to be charged with a point of view." Others were harsher: New York Times columnist David Brooks complained that Spielberg "will...
SOURCE: WSJ (3-2-06)
It's time for Europeans to decriminalize Holocaust denial. And it's time for them to act against threats, increasingly murderous, of a new genocide against the Jews.
David Irving, the British pseudo-historian who was sentenced last week to three years in prison by an Austrian court for being a Holocaust denier, is as despicably foolish as his ideas. But being despicable and foolish doesn't make Mr. Irving or his ideas so dangerous that they justify the curtailment of speech.
Some European countries that have passed those laws, such as Germany and Austria, may have wanted to expiate their guilt for having carried out the Holocaust. Others may have wanted to mollify their bad consciences for having stood by as it happened. Still...
SOURCE: American Heritage (2-1-06)
Abraham Lincoln signed it. A lot of scholars say he didn’t write it. Now, newly discovered evidence helps solve an enduring mystery.
In a records box in a back office in a house in the hills of Vermont, six letters about Abraham Lincoln’s famous “letter to the Widow Bixby” lay unknown and undisturbed. For how long is uncertain, although this author’s fingerprints made last March were the only ones visible in the thick chalky dust of years. The letters, received and written by Robert Todd Lincoln within a span of eight weeks in late 1925, point to a son’s knowledge—and a friend’s knowledge—about who really wrote the Bixby letter.
Considering that this is one of the most enduring and indefatigable mysteries in all Lincoln lore, how is this new discovery possible? The answer lies in the simple truth that scholars have long overlooked Robert Todd Lincoln, believing him a minor character in the...
SOURCE: Frontpagemag.com (3-1-06)
Mr. Villemarest has been a professional journalist since the fifties. Between 1962 and 2006 he has published about 30 works. He is the author of the new book: Untouchable, Who Protected Bormann and 'Gestapo' Muller after 1945.
1943 in the Vercors region in France present
FP: Pierre de Villemarest, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Villemarest: Hello and thank you for granting me this interview. I’m deeply honoured....
SOURCE: Reason.com (2-24-06)
Last weekend, Johns Hopkins political scientist Francis Fukuyama declared his apostasy from the conservative philosophy he helped to create in a much-discussed New York Times Magazine essay, "After Neoconservatism."
In a concise genealogy of neoconservatism, Fukuyama describes two of the movement's philosophical strains that were in tension from the outset: a deep skepticism about ambitious social engineering and a deep faith in the ability of American power—including military power—to transform the world for the better by accelerating the spread of democracy and human rights. Other strains, notably the ideas of political philosopher Leo Strauss, were added over the course of the 1990s, and neoconservative optimism about the prospects for global social engineering seemed to have triumphed over any doubts that arose from that domestic skepticism.
SOURCE: Slate (2-15-06)
The Kennedy Memorial in Dallas marks a particular place where an event took place—as opposed to the British...