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.
Henry Kissinger never wanted the 20,000 pages of his telephone transcripts made public—not while he was alive, at any rate. And for good reason. It was Kissinger's practice while he served as Richard M. Nixon's national-security adviser and, later, as his secretary of state to have assistants listen in on dead-key extensions and make verbatim transcripts. The result is a record of conversations and decision-making rivaled only by the Nixon tapes—and a real-time rendering of events often at variance with official portrayals. It is ironic: Nixon and Kissinger presided over an administration that was unsurpassed (until the current one) in its secrecy, and yet produced the richest trove of presidential records in history,...
SOURCE: http://www.spiked-online.com (3-28-07)
Recent reports suggest that some of the staff at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, England, are feeling increasingly uncomfortable with the museum’s famous ‘shrunken heads’ exhibit. They’re planning a review of the exhibit with an eye for making it more ‘respectful’, and there are even rumours of the heads being repatriated to South America. How true is this? And who do the shrunken heads really belong to? I visited the Museum to find out.
The Pitt Rivers Museum, located in the east of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, was founded in 1884, when General Augustus Pitt Rivers donated a collection of more than 18,000 archaeological and ethnographic objects from all around the world. The present-day collection is made up of more than half a million artefacts, including the remains of around 2,000 humans.
SOURCE: http://www.ynetnews.com (4-2-07)
The story, written by journalist Ariella Ringel-Hoffman, also restored the reputation of one of Israel’s most renowned military heroes.
Ringel-Hoffman’s story, ‘The Unfinished Battle,’ included a statement from 15 former members of Sayeret Matkal, the IDF’s elite commando unit, who took part in the rescue of over 100 Israelis and Diaspora Jews being held by terrorists at Entebbe Airport on July 4, 1976.
The unit members issued the statement and agreed to be interviewed by Ringel-Hoffman because they were fed up with attacks on the credibility and conduct of their late commander, Jonathan “Yoni” Netanyahu, who was the only Israeli...
SOURCE: MSNBC (4-2-07)
The blog I posted last week "Holocaust survivors always 'survivors'" provoked so many interesting -- and contradictory -- comments that I’d like to respond.
Many readers shared memories, others sympathy, but a surprising number either denied the Holocaust ever happened or basically took the line: You weren’t the only ones, and stop whining already!
Now there’s nothing new about that. Martin Gilbert, the historian and Churchill’s official biographer, noted that in 1942 a British Member of Parliament stood in the House of Commons, and in response to growing rumors of the slaughter of Jews in Nazi concentration camps, complained about "those whining Jews."
Clearly genocide has not only targeted Jews, yet some readers raise the question, why do the Jews uniquely make such a meal out of it? Why can’t they get over it?
Personally I think it’s a stupid...
SOURCE: WaPo (4-1-07)
The Smithsonian has just awakened from a leadership nightmare. On this groggy morning after, it finds itself soiled by commercialism, Disneyfication and politicization, and sorely in need of a meticulous scrubbing.
Supporters of now-departed secretary Lawrence M. Small have characterized the former banking executive's tenure at the Smithsonian's helm as a "clash of cultures," positing crisp, data-based corporate values on Small's side and airy, ivory-tower academic values on the other. Nothing is further from the truth. The Smithsonian is blessed with competent, high-performing staff who have been misled and disrespected by a dysfunctional bureaucracy and misguided decision-making. All of this was orchestrated by Small and his administration after he became the Smithsonian's...
SOURCE: NYT (3-31-07)
THIS May the nation celebrates the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown as the first permanent English settlement in America. It was a consequential event in 1607, to be sure, but we shouldn’t confuse it with the beginning of the American experience.
For thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived, there were people on this continent who represented highly developed civilizations and who were proficient in art, architecture, agriculture and astronomy. These were the first Americans, and their story is also part of our common heritage.
The most significant evidence of this legacy is here at Chaco Canyon, in the remote desert of northwestern New Mexico, where Native Americans a thousand years ago built a huge complex of great houses, pueblos of exquisite stonework whose rooms sometimes numbered in the hundreds. They built roads that were as wide as 30...
SOURCE: New Yorker abstract of the article published in the magazine (4-2-07)
Born in Lincolnshire in 1850, Smith fought the Spanish in France. Sailing from Marseilles to Italy, he was thrown overboard and rescued by pirates. In 1601, he joined the Austrian army to fight the Turks in Hungary. He was captured and sold into slavery in Istanbul. He escaped and made his way across Europe back to England. In 1606, he sailed to Virginia.
[The article] Discusses a number of books about Jamestown, including Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler’s “Captain John Smith: Jamestown and the Birth of the American...
SOURCE: Boston Globe (3-25-07)
Dr. Samuel Johnson, himself an accomplished biographer (and the subject of probably the most famous biography in the English language, Boswell's "Life of Johnson"), wrote that "no species of writing seems more worthy of cultivation than biography." No other form, he declared, can "more certainly enchain the heart by irresistible interest, or more widely diffuse instruction to every diversity of condition."
That was written in 1750. Since then biography has gone through an extraordinary evolution. Today it is pursued across all media, not just writing. It has become, in fact, the most popular area of nonfiction...
SOURCE: Time Magazine (3-30-07)
“How the Right Went Wrong,” by Karen Tumulty, explains that the “principles that propelled the [conservative] movement have either run their course, or run aground, or been abandoned by Reagan's legatees,” and suggested the “scandals and the corruption” of the Bush years, as well as the GOP's failure to respect “law and order,” were a contrast to the...
SOURCE: Mother Jones (3-30-07)
On February 6, 2003, lobbyist Jack Abramoff sent an email to his former executive assistant Susan Ralston, who had since gone on to work for Karl Rove, requesting that she pass along an important message to her boss. A Louisiana Indian tribe, the Jena band of Choctaws, was seeking to acquire land for a casino, a project at odds with the interests of Abramoff's tribal clients who feared it would siphon business from their own gaming establishments. Abramoff wanted Rove to intercede and "to get some quiet message from the WH [White House] that this is absurd." After Ralston agreed to pass along word, Abramoff replied to thank her. But he slipped up.
Instead of responding to an email account administered by the Republican National Committee email@example.com) as he had intended, he sent the message to Ralston's White House address....