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: BBC History Magazine (9-2-09)
I think it’s fair to say that, with the probable exceptions of Hastings and Culloden, Bosworth is the best-known battle to have taken place on British soil. While it wasn’t actually the last battle of the Wars of the Roses – that took place two years later near Newark - its effects were significant and long lasting. For Bosworth saw the defeat by a rebel army of a royal force nearly twice its size, leaving Richard III dead on the field and establishing Henry Tudor as king and founder of a new dynasty.
It’s also a particularly controversial affair. Was Richard, the loser, a murderous tyrant and certainly not the sort of man you’d want for an uncle, or has his reputation been unfairly besmirched by the likes of Shakespeare? Was the battle won by treachery or was...
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (9-3-09)
Seventy years ago today Neville Chamberlain gave his famous broadcast telling the nation that we were at war, before Parliament met in emergency session that Sunday morning. Among those who spoke was the newly-appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, in one of the shortest and finest speeches of his life, one of the least known – and most relevant today.
For 10 years Winston Churchill had been out of office – through his own choice – well before he became the most prominent critic of appeasement and of the Munich agreement in September 1938. Within months of Munich, that policy was seen to have failed, as the rump of Czechoslovakia fell apart and Hitler arrived insolently in Prague. There was much clamour in the press for Churchill to be brought back into government, but Chamberlain waited until his return to the...
SOURCE: Time (9-2-09)
It's all part of an effort to drive consumers toward a better bulb: Compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) that burn as much as 10 times longer while consuming less than a third of the electricity as incandescents.
At as much as $10 each, CFL bulbs are more expensive, but experts say they pay for themselves in energy savings in just a few months. The European Union is even touting the switch as an economic stimulus, as
experts estimate the swap to CFL will save customers 5 billion Euros annually. Bucks-for-bulbs, anyone?
Though Thomas Edison is usually cited as the father of the light bulb, it's more accurate to give Edison credit as the creator of the first commercially viable light bulb. As early as 1820, inventors were honing in on the...
SOURCE: Salon (9-2-09)
In all previous depressions, the Federal government had pursued a laissez faire attitude, keeping hands off and letting market forces bring about recovery quickly; and the recovery always came, no matter how steep the depression at the start. But Hoover had long determined that he was not going to pursue such a"reactionary, Neanderthal" course....
...In pushing through his program, Herbert Hoover created virtually all the lineaments of the New Deal; the New Deal was in fact Herbert Hoover's creation, and historians, now removed from the...
SOURCE: Tenured Radical (blog) (8-31-09)
Readers of this blog will recall that the release of the Johnny Depp flick Public Enemies brought up bad memories of having had my book mined for research and argument by another author, repackaged and sold as a work of mass-market nonfiction, and then sold again as a film. Injury turned to insult when a person associated with the Depp film called me for some free consulting about Depression-era costume design. Shortly after I wrote the post about getting bushwhacked, I received a phone call from an old college friend, M.G. Lord who had just had the strange experience of seeing passages of a book she had written pop up in a book she had been sent for...
SOURCE: Daily Star (Lebanon) (9-2-09)
If there is a moment, a place, a person, and a legacy that come together to bring sadness to all Arabs, they are upon us this week in the 40th anniversary of the September 1, 1969 revolution that brought Moammar Gadhafi to power. There is nothing to celebrate today in Libya, other than a colossal waste of that country’s human and natural resources over four decades.
This is also a day of calamity for the modern Arab world, not only because of what Libya has suffered and squandered, but also because Libya is only a severe example of the self-inflicted distortions, waste and misfortunes that have defined much of the Arab region since independence. This is also a moment that should spur some quiet reflection by all those in the West who deal with the Arab world with shameless self-interest.
Gadhafi’s Libya is everything we always dreaded we would become, as independent states, societies,...
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (9-2-09)
World leaders and war veterans gathered in the Polish city of Gdansk yesterday to mark 70 years since the outbreak of the Second World War.
But while European leaders were mourning the destruction of Poland following the invasion of both Nazi and Soviet armies, Russia used the occasion to deny any responsibility for starting the war and to accuse Poland of harbouring secret plans in the 1930s to destroy the Soviet Union.
"Westerplatte is a symbol, a symbol of the heroic fight of the weaker against the stronger," the Polish President, Lech Kaczynski, said. "It is proof of patriotism and an unbreakable spirit. Glory to the heroes of those days, glory to the heroes of Westerplatte, glory to all the soldiers who fought in World War Two against German Nazism, and Bolshevik totalitarianism."
It was here, on a small peninsula north of Gdansk, that the first shots of...
SOURCE: Spiegel (9-2-09)
A few days after returning from Vienna, Hitler, beaming with joy, told Goebbels "Czechoslovakia is next." Goebbels noted in his diary: "The Führer is wonderful. A true genius."
To Goebbels and Hitler, European dominance seemed within their grasp. Eighteen months later, they would take the final step into World War II.
Hitler met with Konrad Henlein, leader of the Sudeten German Party. In 1919, the Allied victors had incorporated Sudetenland, which had formerly been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, into Czechoslovakia. However most Sudeten Germans rejected the newly formed nation, which discriminated against them. Particularly hard-hit by the Great Depression, many Sudeten Germans became increasingly enthusiastic about the chancellor in neighboring Germany.
In March 1938 Henlein, referring to the government in Prague, told Hitler: "We must always demand so much...
SOURCE: telegraph.co.uk (8-29-09)
In the following minutes, seven SS officers posing as Polish partisans, would carry out a simple act that would leave one man dead on the station steps – and provide Adolf Hitler with the excuse to invade Poland, plunging the world into six dark years of conflict.
The events that took place in the fading light of August 31, 1939 around Gliwice radio station – some four miles inside Germany, on the border with Poland – have largely been overlooked by historians. Even relatives of the dead man have only spoken of the incident in hushed, private family gatherings, preferring not to ask questions of authorities on either side.
And on Tuesday, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets the prime ministers of Russia and Poland...
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (9-1-09)
These years would see the virtual extermination of European Jewry in concentration camps, the names of which have passed into history as places of almost unimaginable suffering. Indeed, the scale of Jewish martyrdom in the war has no equal, for almost 80 per cent of the 7 million Jews living in Europe had perished by 1945.
But of the actual states caught in the war, none suffered as terribly as Poland – its territory was overrun and partitioned, its people enslaved and its capital reduced to rubble. A bitter anniversary for Poland, therefore. And an uncomfortable one for one of the leaders of the former Allied powers descending on Gdansk for the anniversary, because, of course, Poland was attacked from the east as well as the west; Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia agreed to divide the...
SOURCE: Truthout (8-30-09)
On August 28, 1963, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and delivered one of the most famous speeches in world history, "I Have A Dream." What has troubled me over the years is how Dr. King, the visionary, prophet, and revolutionary's vision, action, and ultimate sacrifice have been hijacked, compromised, and relegated to being those of just a dreamer.
Dreamers are safe. People are comfortable with dreamers. Why? To be a dreamer you must be in a restful state, usually asleep. Dreamers are comfortable in...
SOURCE: telegraph.co.uk (8-30-09)
At 04.45am on Friday 1 September, German forces activated Plan White, which had been formulated that June by the German Army High Command, the Oberkommando des Heeres. On either side of a relatively weak and stationary centre, two powerful wings of the Wehrmacht would envelop Poland, crush its armed forces and capture Warsaw. Army Group North, under Colonel-General Fedor von Bock, would smash through the Polish Corridor, take Danzig (modern-day Gdansk), unite with the German 3rd Army in East Prussia, and move swiftly to attack the Polish capital from the north. Meanwhile, an even stronger Army Group South, under Colonel-General Gerd von Rundstedt, would...
SOURCE: Mother Jones (8-28-09)
There was nothing natural about the disaster that befell New Orleans in Katrina’s aftermath.
Confronted with images of corpses floating in the blackened floodwaters or baking in the sun on abandoned highways, there aren’t too many people left who see what happened following Hurricane Katrina as a purely “natural” disaster. The dominant narratives that have emerged, in the four years since the storm, are of a gross human tragedy, compounded by social inequities and government ineptitude—a crisis subsequently exploited in every way possible for political and financial gain.
But there’s an even harsher truth, one some New Orleans residents learned in the very first days but which is only beginning to become clear to the rest of us: What took place in this devastated American city was no less than a war, in which victims whose only crimes were poverty and blackness were treated as enemies...