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: Salon (5-31-12)
Russ Baker, an award-winning investigative journalist, is founder and editor-in-chief of WhoWhatWhy.com.
Next year will be a half-century since the death of JFK. And the Obama Administration thinks we need to keep secret the records on the matter … a little longer yet.Believe it or not, more than 50,000 pages of JFK assassination–related documents are being withheld in full. And an untold number of documents have been partially withheld or released with everything interesting blacked out. But why?
Since the government and the big media keep telling us there was no conspiracy and that it was all Lee Harvey Oswald acting on his own, why continue to keep the wraps on?
We don’t have an answer, but in understanding this and any number of other mysteries, we can begin looking for patterns in the way the administration handles information policy....
SOURCE: American Spectator (5-31-12)
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author.
SOURCE: The New Yorker (5-28-12)
David Grann has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2003. He is the author of “The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon,” and his stories have appeared in several anthologies, including “What We Saw: The Events of September 11, 2001”; “The Best American Crime Writing,” of 2004, 2005, and 2009; and “The Best American Sports Writing,” of 2003 and 2006. A 2005 finalist for the Michael Kelly Award for the “fearless pursuit and expression of truth,” Grann has also written for the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and the Wall Street Journal.
For a moment, he was obscured by the Havana night. It was as if he were invisible, as he had been before coming to Cuba, in the midst of revolution. Then...
SOURCE: Constitution Daily (5-30-12)
Abigail Perkiss is an assistant professor of history at Kean University in Union, New Jersey, and a fellow at the Kean University Center for History, Politics and Policy.
Two weeks ago, we commemorated the 58th anniversary of one of the most foundational legal decisions in contemporary American history.
This week marks another milestone in the civil-rights movement: the Supreme Court decision known as Brown II.
On April 17, 1954, in Brown v. Board of Education, the nation’s highest court declared segregation in public schools to be unconstitutional.
Chief Justice Earl Warren, writing for a unanimous bench in Brown I, held that “in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”
The first Brown verdict was no doubt momentous. But it was also largely symbolic. It would take more than a year for the...
SOURCE: National Review (5-31-12)
George Weigel is distinguished senior fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.
On January 22, 1899, Pope Leo XIII addressed an encyclical letter to Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore and, through him, to the entire Catholic hierarchy of the United States. Entitled Testem Benevolentiae (A Witness of Good Will), the letter raised cautions about attitudes and theories that some churchmen feared were corrupting the integrity of Catholic faith and weakening Catholic witness in the United States. The fretting churchmen in question were largely Europeans who bundled their concerns under the rubric “Americanism.”
Leo’s warnings came amidst a period of squabbling within the American...
SOURCE: National Review (5-30-12)
Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist.
After several cries of pain from my 16-year-old son, I finally got around to reading his AP World History textbook. Not a way to spend a placid weekend.
Paging through World Civilizations: The Global Experience by Peter N. Stearns et al. is flabbergasting. The authors lean so far backward to be neutral about various cultures and nations that the text fails utterly as reliable history.
In the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union — with all of the copious records that have been exhumed from the Soviet archives and other sources — one might have thought that the sheer human catastrophe caused by Communism ought no longer to be in question among serious people, far less eminent historians. (Actually...
SOURCE: The China Beat (Blog) (5-23-12)
At the March annual meeting of the Association of Asian Studies, held in Toronto, the association recognized Charlotte Furth with the AAS Award for Distinguished Contributions to Asian Studies. Furth is Professor Emerita of history at the University of Southern California and has written and edited five books, including A Flourishing Yin: Gender in China’s Medical History, 960-1665 (UC Press, 1999). Below is an expanded version of remarks that Furth gave at the AAS award ceremony, in which she reflects on the changes to Asian Studies that have taken place since she entered the field in 1959, particularly regarding the presence of women in the academy.
SOURCE: Inside (AU) (4-19-12)
David Hayes is Deputy Editor of openDemocracy. He writes each month for Inside Story.
“LUCK is a synonym for ruthless adaptation.” When the Polish philosopher Stanislaw Brzozowski (1878–1911) wrote these words, Europe’s clutter of imperial houses commanded the fate of peoples not only across the continent but also in much of the world beyond. Most would fall in the cataclysms of war and revolution to come, though a handful of small-state northern variants (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium) survived by remaining on the right side of their compatriots through the century’s traumas.
Britain’s monarchy alone appears to have performed another trick in the face of recurrent social and political convulsion: finding in it material from which to carve new roles and rationales (including even a name), while continuing to live and breathe in the grand manner of old – and retaining along the way, even through...
SOURCE: Newsweek (5-28-12)
Simon Schama is a professor of history and art history at Columbia University. He has been an essayist and critic for The New Yorker since 1994, his art criticism winning the National Magazine Award in 1996.
Sixty years and three months ago, on Feb. 5, 1952, the heir presumptive to the British throne spent her last night as a princess up a giant fig tree.
Treetops Hotel was perched in the game park of Sagana, where a hunting lodge had been given by the "Kenyan people" to Elizabeth and her husband, Philip, as a wedding present five years before. They had stopped in what was still an African colony on their way to Australia to show the flag for Britain and its monarchy, now that Elizabeth’s chronically ill father, King George VI, was unable to take trips around what was left of the empire.
A violent, bloody Kikuyu insurrection was about to break out in Kenya, but the good looks and easy grace of the princess and her tall, impossibly...
SOURCE: LA Times (5-27-12)
Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy are editors at Time magazine and the authors of The Presidents Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity.
SOURCE: WaPo (5-25-12)
John Nagl, a retired Army officer, is the Minerva professor at the U.S. Naval Academy and a veteran of both wars in Iraq. He is the author of "Learning to Eat Soup With a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons From Malaya and Vietnam."
In every presidential election since 1992, the candidate with the less distinguished military résumé has triumphed.
Bill Clinton defeated war heroes George H.W. Bush and...
SOURCE: History Today (5-25-12)
Tim Stanley is associate fellow of the Rothermere American Institute, Oxford University.
There is a war of words being waged between historian Richard Evans and writer A.N. Wilson. Evans, Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge, dislikes Wilson’s latest book,Hitler: A Short Biography. He complains that Wilson relies exclusively on English language sources and that the book brings nothing new to the subject except purple prose and trite psychology. Evans opines that, while he accepts non-academic writers have brought fresh insight into the dictator’s life, he can find ‘no evidence of that here, neither in the stale, unoriginal material, nor in the banal and cliché-ridden historical judgements, nor in the lame, tired narrative style; just evidence of the repellent arrogance of a man who thinks that because he is a celebrated novelist, he can write a book...
SOURCE: openDemocracy (UK) (5-24-12)
Paul Rogers is professor in the department of peace studies at Bradford University.
SOURCE: Foreign Policy (5-23-12)
David Makovsky is the Ziegler distinguished fellow and director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Olivia Holt-Ivry is a research assistant at the Washington Institute.
SOURCE: Foreign Policy (5-23-12)
Clare Morgana Gillis covered the Libyan revolution for The Atlantic.
SOURCE: Jewish Ideas Daily (5-22-12)
Alex Joffe is an archeologist and an historian.
Important literature can't be kept under wraps forever. A case in point is Mein Kampf. The German state of Bavaria, which holds the German copyright, has blocked the book's publication within Hitler's homeland; as recently as 2010, the state went to court to prevent an unauthorized academic edition. But in 2015, 70 years after the author's death, Bavaria's copyright will expire. So, the state has announced plans to fund two new editions, the first in German since 1945, including critical commentary. The aim, say Bavarian authorities, is to "demystify" Mein Kampf and make other editions "commercially unattractive."
The recent announcement was welcomed by, among others, representatives of Germany's Jews, who would prefer to see Mein Kampf remain under careful state control.
Like most classics, Mein Kampf is often cited but rarely read, especially by those who...
SOURCE: Salon (5-20-12)
Warren Throckmorton, PhD is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Grove City College (Pa.). He blogs regularly about religious and mental health issues at www.wthrockmorton.com.
Earlier this month, the evangelical writer David Barton’s new book, “The Jefferson Lies,” hit the New York Times bestseller list for hardcover nonfiction. Barton isn’t popular, however, only with the ordinary American reader. On May 8, John Boehner authorized the use of Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol for a religious service to commemorate the first inauguration of George Washington. Among the speakers was Barton, who is revered by social conservatives because he argues that the nation was founded primarily by evangelical Christians on explicitly Christian teachings.
Barton — “one of the most important men alive,” according to Glenn Beck — is frequently criticized as a pseudo-...
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (5-17-12)
Katherine Stewart is a journalist and author. She has written for the New York Times, Reuters and Marie Claire, and her new book is The Good News Club: The Christian Right's Stealth Assault on America's Children (2012).
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (5-17-12)
Eamon Gilmore is the Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) of Ireland.
SOURCE: The Daily Beast (5-13-12)
Colin L. Powell served as the Secretary of State under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005.
Chaos in Baghdad
On the evening of Aug. 5, 2002, President Bush and I met in his residence at the White House to discuss the pros and cons of the Iraq crisis. Momentum within the administration was building toward military action, and the president was increasingly inclined in that direction.
I had no doubt that our military would easily crush a smaller Iraqi army, much weakened by Desert Storm and the sanctions and other actions that came afterward. But I was concerned about the unpredictable consequences of war. According to plans being confidently put forward, Iraq was expected to somehow transform itself into a stable country with democratic leaders 90 days after we took...