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: Frontpagemag.com and Jewishpress.com (3-30-09)
Much has been written in recent weeks of the Obama administration's possible tilt toward a more evenhanded U.S. Middle East policy. Contrary to popular perception, however, if such a change were indeed implemented, it would constitute not so much a new and revolutionary approach as it would an old and reactionary one.
It would, in fact, be several giant steps backward to the approach pursued by the U.S. for the first decade and a half of Israel's existence, never more faithfully than during the eight-year tenure of Dwight Eisenhower, who died 40 years ago on March 28 at the age of 78.
Everyone, as the popular slogan went, liked Ike - everyone, that is, but the majority of American Jews, who in the presidential elections of 1952 and 1956 overwhelmingly preferred his Democratic opponent,...
SOURCE: History Today (4-1-09)
Yet much of what we think we know about Henry VIII is just that – fable. We think of him in stereotypes. In 2007, in her column in The Observer, Victoria Coren wrote with heavy sarcasm: ‘If you type “wife-killing” into Google, the first listing is a reference to Henry VIII, of wife-killing notoriety. Oh, that Henry VIII.’ Popular perceptions of Henry VIII, according to focus groups consulted by the market research agency BDRC for Historic Royal Palaces, are that he was a fat guy who had six...
SOURCE: TheDailyBeast.com (3-30-09)
Nothing better illustrates the tenacity of the political right in America than the attention it has won for its claims that Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal made the Great Depression of the 1930s worse. Despite heavy political losses, the right soldiers on, maintaining if not building support for bigger battles it expects to come.
The Wall Street Journal editorial page has provided the principal venue for the claims FDR’s programs failed. But today, the Council on Foreign Relations has put together an all-day conference in New York asking its audience to take a “second...
SOURCE: NYT blog (3-29-09)
The soldier’s body was found near the center of Gettysburg with no identification — no regimental numbers on his cap, no corps badge on his jacket, no letters, no diary. Nothing save for an ambrotype (an early type of photograph popular in the late 1850’s and 1860’s) of three small children clutched in his hand. Within a few days the ambrotype came into the possession of Benjamin Schriver, a tavern keeper in the small town of Graeffenburg, about 13 miles west of Gettysburg. The details of how Schriver came into possession of the ambrotype have been lost to history. But the rest of the story survives, a story in which this photograph of three small children was used for both good and wicked purposes. First, the good.
Four men on their way to Gettysburg were forced to stop at Schriver’...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (3-29-09)
The more you read about David Starkey and his latest subject, Henry VIII, the more you start to wonder: are they related? Is there some kind of morphic resonance between biographer and subject? Could reincarnation be at work here? Because in so many ways, David Starkey could actually be Henry VIII.
Consider the similarities. While researching his new book and Channel 4 TV series on the Tudor king – all neatly timed to coincide with next month's 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's accession to the English throne aged just 17 – Starkey uncovered documents showing the so-called "virtuous prince" had effectively been raised by women.
"It's the most important thing I learned," he explains. "He wasn't like a typical royal prince at all, not masculinised, not sent away. He was close to his mother, physically brought up with his sisters in a household dominated by women until he's well into...
SOURCE: WaPo (3-26-09)
A longtime Los Angeles Times reporter, Mann left the paper in 2001 to write books full time. First up was "Rise of the Vulcans," a historical portrait of President George W. Bush's foreign policy team. Mann spent a couple of years asking Washington notables what they knew about Cheney, Rumsfeld and his other subjects.
"One guy said, 'Oh, well, I took part in these exercises with this guy,' " Mann recalls. "It took a while to find out what the exercises were."
It turned out, as Mann revealed in "Vulcans," that Cheney and Rumsfeld were part of a highly classified program "nowhere authorized in the U.S. Constitution or federal law." It was designed "to keep the federal government running...
SOURCE: Daniel Pipes website/Jerusalem Post (3-26-09)
But no: polling research finds that a substantial minority of Palestinians, about 20 percent, is ready to live side-by-side with a sovereign Jewish state. Although this minority has never been in charge and its voice has always been buried under rejectionist bluster, Hillel Cohen of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has uncovered its surprisingly crucial role in history.
He explores this subject in the pre-state period in Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917–1948 (translated by Haim Watzman, University of...
SOURCE: WSJ (3-26-09)
Thirty years ago today, Anwar Sadat, Menachem Begin and Jimmy Carter signed the Camp David Peace Accords. It was a culmination of a journey Anwar Sadat, my husband, began in October 1970 following the sudden death of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Within hours of Nasser's funeral, my husband asked the U.S. ambassador to tell President Richard Nixon that Egypt was ready for peace.
There was no response, since at the time Egypt was a defeated nation having lost the Sinai Desert to Israel in the 1967 war. But Egypt's victory in the October War of 1973 put Sadat in a position to restart his mission for peace.
On Nov. 9, 1977, in an address to the Egyptian Parliament, my husband announced his intention to make peace...
SOURCE: American Spectator (3-24-09)
It was a historic tidal wave of rejection. Symbolized by, of all things, housewives boycotting supermarkets. And the active participation of seven future presidents of the United States.
The 1966 "off year" or congressional elections should also serve as a political warning to the Obama White House as it pursues its strategy of pumping trillions of taxpayer dollars into the economy.
Only two years earlier, Lyndon Johnson had swept to a landslide victory promising a "Great Society" and a "war on poverty" funded by a massive infusion of taxpayer dollars. Intoxicated Democrats looked to an unlimited future of high tax, big spending, big government. Billions (then a big sum) were gushing out of Washington for everything from poverty programs to education, health care, the environment, transportation, consumer protection, and the arts and...
SOURCE: AHA Blog (3-23-09)
Compiled below is a list of a good number of web sites that highlight some of history’s most extraordinary women and give insight to their fight for gender equality.
Women’s History Month, a collaborative site by the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, can be used as a directory to other major sites spotlighting Women’s History Month. For instance, learn about the First Women’s Rights Convention in 1848 at the...
SOURCE: Time Magazine (3-20-09)
Let's chat first about the reopening of the Iraqi museum recently...
SOURCE: http://www.culturekiosque.com (3-23-09)
At a moment in history when both Wall Street and the newspaper industry are undergoing upheavals that threaten their very survival, Richard Tofel’s new biography of pioneering financial journalist Barney Kilgore could hardly have been better timed. Restless Genius (St. Martin's Press, 288 pages) tells the story of how Kilgore transformed The Wall Street Journal from a lackluster, near bankrupt trade publication into one of the most powerful and prosperous newspapers in America. Along the way, he introduced a number of innovations, on both the editorial and business sides of The Journal , that have had a...
SOURCE: Weekly Standard (3-16-09)
Mario Cuomo has written one book (Why Lincoln Matters) and edited another (Lincoln on Democracy) dedicated to the proposition that Abraham Lincoln is a lot like Mario Cuomo. But he recently revised his view. Lincoln is actually a lot like Barack Obama. Cuomo listed the similarities in an op-ed that appeared in Newsday on Inauguration Day.
"Obama, like Lincoln, rejects rigid ideology in policymaking," Cuomo wrote. Both presidents declared their preference for "common sense" and "pragmatism," in stark contrast to those presidents who have declared their opposition to common sense and pragmatism. Accordingly, Cuomo went on, "Obama . . . like Lincoln, will not hesitate to call for substantial governmental assistance in the effort to right the Ship of State."
SOURCE: LAT (3-22-09)
Fifty-eight years ago today, Alger Hiss -- the defendant in an emblematic Cold War prosecution once called "the trial of the century" -- began serving a federal prison sentence for perjury. Until his death in 1996, Hiss maintained that he had never been a Communist or a spy and had been framed by the U.S. government.
When I told my 86-year-old mother that I was writing about the long intellectual controversy over the Hiss case, her response was, "You'll have to explain why anyone under 80 would still care about that." ...
It is impossible, in a short article, to evaluate all of the doorstop-weight books that have been written about Hiss and Chambers over the last 50 years, but after reading most of them, I have concluded that Hiss was guilty of perjury and am 95% certain that he did pass on government documents.
SOURCE: http://www.middle-east-online.com (3-21-09)
Neve Gordon’s [new book] Israel’s Occupation is therefore a welcome contribution to the field. First of all it is immensely readable, providing a clear, comprehensible theoretical framework as well as tracing the development of the Occupation from its beginnings as an ostensibly temporary ‘benign and enlightened’ military-...
SOURCE: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (3-11-09)
As UNESCO reviews Bikini Atoll's application, it must consider what these small coconut-tree-laden coral and sand islands have given to humanity. The allure of Bikini, part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, is not just a function of the atoll's rich nuclear history and dazzling physical beauty. Despite 23 nuclear and thermonuclear explosions that have rocked Bikini's shores, 60-years without human...
SOURCE: Newsweek (3-19-09)
For years, some Hindus have argued that the 16th century mosque called the Babri Masjid (after the Mughal emperor Babur) was built over a temple commemorating the birthplace of Rama (an avatar of the god Vishnu) in Ayodhya (the city where, according to the ancient poem called the Ramayana, Rama was born), though there is no evidence whatsoever that there has been ever a temple on that spot or that Rama was born there.
On December 6, 1992, as the police stood by and watched, leaders of the right-wing Hindu party called the BJP whipped a crowd of 200,000 into a frenzy. Shouting "Death to the Muslims!" the mob attacked Babur's mosque with sledgehammers. In the riots that followed, over a thousand people lost their lives, and many...
SOURCE: City Journal (winter issue; accessed 3-19-09) (3-19-09)
The other Founders were Americans of a century’s standing, who fought the Revolution to defend liberties their families had claimed for generations. Washington and Jefferson, landed grandees, descended from seventeenth-century...
SOURCE: WSJ (3-19-09)
The Obama administration's opening policy sprint -- massive deficits and bailouts, with sweeping health-care and education reform, plus cap and trade to come -- has been likened by the president himself to Franklin D. Roosevelt's famous first 100 days.
But FDR did not launch his New Deal with a program that roiled financial markets. On the contrary, his first step was to stem the banking panic with a national bank holiday (many states had already imposed their own). He closed troubled institutions, injected capital into the healthy ones, and reassured Americans that their deposits would be safe.
His approach met with quick success. The New York Stock Exchange, closed during the bank holiday, opened up 15% on March 15. By July 3, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 93% above its close on March 3, the day...
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (3-19-09)
Anniversaries are mingled festivals and wakes. In family life, we enjoy celebrating children's birthdays, and learn progressively to dislike our own.
As for national history, nowadays we make little of events that once echoed proudly through every schoolroom and church in the land.
There was October 21, Trafalgar Day in 1805, and June 18, the day of Waterloo in 1815. Today, such dates command blank looks from almost every teenager.
Shakespeare was quite wrong when he made Henry V tell his army on the morning of Agincourt: 'Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by/ From this day to the ending of the world/ But we in it shall be remembered.'
How many people today know October 25 is St Crispin's Day?
But there is another St Crispin's Day - or rather, another victory in which British arms played a great and noble part, much...