Fifty years have passed since the publication of Theodore H. White’s “The Making of the President 1960,” a behind-the-scenes campaign narrative that redefined American political journalism. White’s story set the dramatic race that culminated in John F. Kennedy’s slim victory over Richard M. Nixon firmly alongside the country’s culture, values and history to give America an understanding...
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: Newsweek (7-25-11)
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (7-25-11)
David Anderson is professor of African politics at the University of Oxford and a fellow of St Cross College, Oxford. He is also the author of Histories of the Hanged: Britain's Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire. .
History teaches us that empire can bring out the worst in people. In Britain we applaud the "civilising mission" of our imperial past, but are less happy to acknowledge the violence and brutality that so often girded our imperial endeavour. It is time we were more honest.
As a nation Brits nurture memories of empire that are deceptively cosy, swathed in a warm, sepia-tinted glow of paternalistic benevolence. The British...
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (7-25-11)
James Wizeye is first secretary at the Rwanda high commission, London.. .
Despite their claims not to be deniers and revisionists, Edward Herman and David Peterson's assertions on the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis of Rwanda depict a deliberate effort to rewrite and revise the history of the slaughter (Response: We're not genocide deniers. We just want to uncover the truth, 19 July).
"Our work reallocates the primary responsibility for...
SOURCE: openDemocracy (7-25-11)
Stephen Ellis is Desmond Tutu professor in the social sciences at the Free University Amsterdam, and a senior researcher at the African Studies Centre, University of Leiden. He is the author of Season of Rains: Africa in the World (C Hurst, 2011).
A recently discovered document shows that Nelson Mandela was a member of the South African Communist Party (SACP) in the early 1960s, when he became the first commander of the guerrilla...
SOURCE: Jewish Daily Forward (7-21-11)
On October 26, 1960, just days before Election Day, the two candidates for president issued statements commemorating the 170th anniversary of George Washington’s letter on religious pluralism to the Jews of Newport, R.I. The Republican, Vice President Richard Nixon, delivered his remarks in person, quoting from the letter’s definition of “toleration” and noting with pride that “after 170 years this letter still inspires us.” The Democrat, John F. Kennedy, could not attend and sent Eleanor Roosevelt to represent him. She referenced a different excerpt of the letter, its most famous, extolling the fact that America “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”
The 221st anniversary will be celebrated this August in Newport with a public reading of the letter; the governor of Rhode Island is scheduled to attend. But the honored guests won’t read from the original letter, because no one can read from the original letter. As the Forward has reported, it is locked...
SOURCE: The New Republic (7-13-11)
Aaron Friedberg is a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University. His latest book, A Contest for Supremacy: China, America, and the Struggle for Mastery in Asia, has just been published by W.W. Norton.
By Henry Kissinger
(Penguin, 586 pp., $36)
Henry Kissinger may be the most influential figure in the making of American foreign policy since the end of World War II, and he is certainly the most prolific. Since stepping down as secretary of state in 1977, Kissinger has written eight books, totaling more than seven thousand pages and several million words. And this is to say nothing of the five books he wrote before attaining high office, and the innumerable articles, essays, and speeches he has produced since. Like the man himself, these works are ambitious, prolix, self-serving, and at times brilliant.
Now there are these six hundred pages on China. Kissinger remains a...
SOURCE: NYT (7-20-11)
SOURCE: Jerusalem Post (7-20-11)
The writer directs the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and is the author of the forthcoming book Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s ‘Party of God.’
Seventeen years ago this week, Hezbollah operatives working closely with Iranian intelligence blew up the Israeli-Argentine Mutual Association (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people and wounding 300 more. Now, after years of obstructing investigation into the attack, Iran claims it is ready to “engage in constructive dialogue” with Argentina about the case, but insists that talk of an Iranian link is nothing more than “...
SOURCE: Slate (7-19-11)
Paul Collins teaches creative writing at Portland State University, and his latest book is The Book of William: How Shakespeare's First Folio Conquered the World. Follow him on Twitter.
It was 1 a.m. on a hot July night when detectives marched into the offices of the New York World. "Where's the head?"they demanded.
In the summer of 1897, that question meant just one thing in Manhattan newsrooms, and it wasn't a request to meet the managing editor. The head everyone sought was of William Guldensuppe, a masseur who had disappeared in late June from his Hell's Kitchen apartment. He'd reappeared scattered in pieces along the Lower East Side, the Bronx, and Brooklyn. What was still missing, though, was his head—which, rumor had it, a jealous lover had hidden inside a block of plaster.
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (7-19-11)
Edward Herman and David Peterson are the co-authors of The Politics of Genocide.
In his column, George Monbiot attacked our work on Bosnia and Rwanda as "genocide denial" and "revisionism" (Left and libertarian right cohabit in the weird world of the genocide belittlers, 14 June). According to Monbiot, "DNA screening" has "identified the corpses of 6,595" Bosnian Muslims from Srebrenica. But DNA does not establish mode or time of death, and the commission investigating these deaths performs its work behind a veil of confidentiality.
In his examination of...
SOURCE: Foreign Policy (7-18-11)
Armin Thurnher is editor-in-chief of the Falter magazine in Vienna and the author of several books on modern Austria.
VIENNA — On Saturday, July 16, central Vienna assumed the bearing of a costume drama, as Austria's democratically elected leaders, members of the European aristocracy, church representatives and military regiments in historic dress assembled in St. Stephen's Cathedral to pay their respects to the House of Habsburg -- or, more specifically, to Otto Habsburg -- Lothringen, son of Austria's last emperor, who died two weeks ago at 98. He was born in Vienna on the cusp of World War I -- the conflict which put an end to his family's long-lived empire.
But the nation still focused its undivided attention on his funeral: indeed, the public broadcaster ORF covered the funeral for nine straight hours. The viewers at home, and the 1,000 guests invited to St. Stephens -- including the Austrian President Heinz Fischer, Chancellor...
SOURCE: National Review (7-18-11)
Carl T. Bogus is a professor of law at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. His latest book is Buckley: William F. Buckley Jr. and the Rise of American Conservatism, forthcoming in November from Bloomsbury Press.
Do you have a liberal friend who is reasonably intelligent and open-minded? Have you ever fantasized about giving your friend a reading list full of the iconic conservative works? Would he enjoy reading them, learn anything from them, be affected by them? Consider me a surrogate for your friend. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, and, in the course of researching a biography about William F. Buckley Jr. and the rise of the...
SOURCE: The Atlantic (7-18-11)
John Campbell, a former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, is a senior fellow for Africa policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as political counselor at the U.S. embassy in Pretoria during the end of apartheid. He blogs at Africa in Transition.
Today is Nelson Mandela's 93rd birthday, and South Africa is throwing him a big party. Among other things, 12.5 million South African children will sing him "happy birthday" at exactly the same moment at 8:05 a.m.Mandela's birthday is a fitting occasion to celebrate, but also reflect both on his personal achievements and on the future of the country of which he is truly the father: a democratic and "nonracial" South Africa. Of course, he alone did not...
SOURCE: Foreign Policy (7-15-11)
Tom Ricks was born in Massachusetts and is the grandson and great-grandson of Democratic politicians there.
As I studied the Vietnam war over the last 14 months, I began to think that John F. Kennedy probably was the worst American president of the previous century.
In retrospect, he spent his 35 months in the White House stumbling from crisis to fiasco. He came into office and okayed the Bay of Pigs invasion. Then he went to a Vienna summit conference and got his clock cleaned by Khrushchev. That led to, among other things, the Cuban missile crisis and a whiff of nuclear apocalypse.
Looming over it all is the American descent into Vietnam.... I don't buy the theory promulgated by Robert McNamara and others that Kennedy would have kept U.S. troops...
SOURCE: NYT (7-16-11)
I GOT a real thrill in December 1999 in the Reading Room of the Morgan Library in New York when the librarian, Sylvie Merian, brought me, after I had completed an application with a letter of reference and a photo ID, the first, oldest notebook of Isaac Newton. First I was required to study a microfilm version. There followed a certain amount of appropriate pomp. The notebook was lifted from a blue cloth drop-spine box and laid on a special padded stand. I was struck by how impossibly tiny it was — 58 leaves bound in vellum, just 2 3/4 inches wide, half the size I would have guessed from the enlarged microfilm images. There was his name,...
SOURCE: Foreign Policy (7-15-11)
Stephen M. Walt, the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international affairs at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a contributing editor at Foreign Policy, is the author of Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy and, with co-author John J. Mearsheimer, ...
SOURCE: WaPo (7-13-11)
Joyce Hoffmann, who teaches journalism at Old Dominion University, is the author of “Theodore H. White and Journalism as Illusion.”
SOURCE: NYT (7-10-11)
Guy Gugliotta, former national reporter for The Washington Post, is the author of “Freedom’s Cap: The United States Capitol and the Coming of the Civil War,” to be published by Farrar Straus and Giroux in March, 2012.
When Thomas U. Walter returned to Washington at the beginning of July 1861, he found an appalling mess. For 10 years he had served as the architect in charge of building the new Senate and House wings of the United States Capitol and the cast iron dome that would crown the rotunda. When war broke out, Congress was not in session and the building was empty. The Union Army took it over.
What followed had not been pretty. Virtually overnight the Capitol became a barracks. Before long, the troops were baking bread in the basement, dumping greasy sides of bacon in the committee rooms, busting up furniture and turning the dark hallways into...
SOURCE: Columbia Tribune (7-13-11)
Walter Williams is an economics professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
A recent Superman comic book has the hero saying, “I am renouncing my U.S. citizenship” because “truth, justice, and the American way — it’s not enough anymore.”
Though not addressing Superman’s statement, Stanford University Professor and Hoover Institution senior fellow William Damon explains how such a vision could emerge today but not yesteryear. The explanation is found in his article “American Amnesia,” in Defining Ideas, based upon his most recent book, “Failing Liberty 101: How We Are Leaving Young Americans Unprepared for Citizenship in a Free Society.”
The National Assessment of Educational Progress reports only one in...
SOURCE: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (7-14-11)
Warren Rosenblum is associate professor of history at Webster University. In 2010-2011, he was a visiting scholar at Harvard University's Center for European Studies.
We had the classic American Fourth of July this year. Grilled ribs, potato salad, and then, after dinner, we trashed the French. The ostensible topic was Dominique Strauss-Kahn — the French political leader and recently accused rapist whom many Americans apparently see as the reincarnation of Pepe Le Pew (with a dose of the Tasmanian Devil thrown in) — but the post-dinner anti-French sentiment wafted into other areas as well.
I felt bad, though I kept my mouth shut. The food was superb, the company was wonderful, and no one wants to hear a historian start waxing pedantically about everything Lafayette did to help America win its freedom. A good way to make sure we do not get invited back...