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: Telegraph (UK) (11-2-09)
I am thinking champagne. And cake. And fireworks, of course, not just any old fireworks but some of those truly shell-shocking bits of Chinese ordnance called Harmonious Geese or Whispering Swans.
Far more important than the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot, far more benign in its consequences for world peace and prosperity, we celebrate next week the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – the ultimate triumph of simple human instincts over an evil and degenerate system. Without the Fall of the Wall, millions of people in eastern Europe would still be living in terror of the Stasi or the Securitate.
Without the end of Soviet communism, China would never have launched the turbo-charged entrepreneurial drive that has helped fuel two decades of global consumption and growth, and spread undreamt-of material benefits around the world. Without the end of one oppressive regime in Moscow, another one – in South...
SOURCE: Foreign Policy (10-29-09)
Another October 23rd has come and gone, another anniversary of the 1983 U.S. Marine barracks bombing in Beirut -- and more inane articles written by people drawing the wrong lessons. As usual, the authors perceive the United States as some innocent Little Red Riding Hood attacked unjustly and without provocation by evil wolves. Last year, former Reagan-era National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane penned an especially ill-informed piece titled "From Beirut to 9/11." McFarlane blamed Hezbollah, though the Shiite resistance group did not yet really exist and nobody knows who actually committed the attack.
A short history lesson is in order: The 1983 bombing, in which suicide bombers driving explosives-laden trucks killed 241 U...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (11-2-09)
Diplomacy rivals prostitution as the oldest profession. Like street-walking, it has never enjoyed a wholly favourable reputation. Often confused with its clandestine cousin, espionage, it has for centuries been associated with deviousness and duplicity. Added to this is the outdated but stubbornly enduring image of the aristocratic diplomat, clad in pinstripes, quaffing champagne, leading the good life in a magnificent embassy.
Despite such stereotypes, other countries have traditionally held the British Foreign Office in high esteem for its pragmatism and expertise. Sadly, this reputation is now under threat. Like much of Whitehall, the Foreign Office today cannot make up its mind whether it is a service or a business. Blitzed by...
SOURCE: The New Nixon (10-31-09)
In June I wrote here of the death of Bernard L. Barker, one of the five men whose arrest at the Watergate complex on the evening of June 17, 1972, resulted in the unfolding of the scandal that claimed the Presidency of Richard Nixon. At that time I noted that of the five, only Eugenio Rolando Martinez, of the four Cuban-Americans arrested, and James W. McCord, who led the group into the offices of the Democratic National Committee, were still living.
Today, as a result of an English-language...
SOURCE: Gay City News (10-29-09)
Two signal events that would have important and dark consequences for same-sexers occurred within a couple of years of each other early in what is known as the Age of Reform in Queen Victoria’s England.
One was the establishment of London’s Metropolitan Police Force in 1829. The other was the “infamous crime” section of the 1827 revision in the sodomy law. Sodomy had long been a capital crime — and would remain so until 1861 — but the new statute codified attempted sodomy in such a broad way that not only were a new spectrum of acts criminalized, but so too was the language that could suggest such acts.
The new law’s “Section X” chillingly declared that...
SOURCE: Huffington Post (10-31-09)
Fukuyama to famously declare"the end of history" in an essay in the National Interest and later in a book titled The End of History and the Last Man.
Twenty years on, what does Fukuyama think about where history has gone since? I asked him for the Global Viewpoint Network. Here is the interview as a week of commemoration opens
Nathan Gardels: In 1989, you wrote an essay, later developed into a book, that stated your famous"end of history" thesis. You said then:
What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal...
SOURCE: NPR (10-22-09)
If you want to understand how to fix today's health insurance system, you'd be smart to look first at how it was born. How did Americans end up with a system in which employers pay for our health insurance? After all, they don't pay for our groceries or our gas.
It turns out there never was any central logic at work. The evolution of the American health care system began in the 1920s, when choices boiled down to which crazy cure you preferred...
... In that era, most medical care in the U.S. was basically medieval — a bunch of potions that did nothing. Luckily, though, they were cheap potions. Health care was a trivial part of the average...