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: Chronicle of Higher Ed (8-13-12)
Curtis O. Lynum, the special agent in charge of the FBI's San Francisco field office, rang the bell by the front door of the governor's mansion in Sacramento. By his side stood Glenn A. Harter, his top domestic-security agent. They had been summoned by the new governor, Ronald Reagan.
Waiting on the portico of the century-old grand Victorian that gray Monday morning in January 1967, Lynum felt some trepidation. He admired Reagan, but secrecy was crucial. He was carrying confidential information about the student protests that were disrupting the University of California's Berkeley campus and making headlines across the country. He had intelligence about Mario...
SOURCE: openDemocracy (UK) (8-15-12)
Julie Wark is the author of Manifiesto de derechos humanos (The Human Rights Manifesto – Ediciones Barataria, 2011) and is an advisory board member of the international political review Sin Permiso.
In a recent interview at the London School of Economics, Pankaj Mishra describes the basic aim of his new book, From the Ruins of Empire, in the following terms: "The least this book can do is to impart a sense of how some of Asia’s most educated people responded to Western encroachment on their lands, how intelligent and sophisticated their response was to that encroachment, and how that...
SOURCE: The Atlantic (8-13-12)
Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey are co-authors of The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America.
When Mitt Romney named Paul Ryan as his running mate this weekend, he not only underscored his commitment to Ryan's financial ideals -- he also sharpened the divide between his political outlook and that of his father. George Romney, the former governor of Michigan, was well known for supporting Civil Rights, not just through words but through financial policies. During his gubernatorial term, he expanded state social programs, including for programs for the poor and unemployed, and created an income tax levy.
In short, George Romney's programs resembled those of his son Mitt when he was governor of Massachusetts, but diverge nearly entirely from those advocated by his son, and his new running mate, during the current presidential campaign. A closer look at the arc leading from father to son...
SOURCE: Jewish Ideas Daily (8-13-12)
Dr. Michael Pinto-Duschinsky is a British political scientist who was appointed in 2011 by Prime Minister David Cameron to the UK Commission on a Bill of Rights. A Holocaust survivor, he was honorary academic advisor to the London-based Claims for Jewish Slave Labor Compensation.
On July 10th, dignitaries from the U.S., German, and Israeli governments attended a curious ceremony at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The gathering marked the 60th anniversary of the first agreement by the West German government with the Israeli government and the Jewish "Claims Conference" to grant modest financial compensation for the Holocaust. Some of the Jews in the room had spent the years since the agreement in seemingly interminable haggling.
The event had the character of a celebration and an exercise in self-congratulation. Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, a prominent Jewish corporate lawyer who currently holds the offices of Special Advisor...
SOURCE: The Australian (8-14-12)
John Lee is the Michael Hintze fellow and adjunct associate professor at the Centre for International Security Studies at the University of Sydney and a non-resident senior scholar at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC.
For the past week, prominent voices in Australia have urged Washington to get used to the reality of China imminently reclaiming its long-held status as the most powerful Asian country in the region ahead of the US.
Many strategists such as Hugh White and former prime minister Paul Keating, who launched White's The China Choice, are asking whether established regional powers can sensibly adjust to the...
SOURCE: Eurasia Review (8-12-12)
Michael Averko is a New York based independent foreign policy analyst and media critic.
The July 12, 2012 Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) photo gallery of some past Olympians emphasizes an exclusive non-Russian categorizing of selected Soviet athletes – something noteworthy, given the high degree of Russian athletic participation and success in Soviet era sports. The RFE/RL photo gallery serves as evidence that the Soviet legacy was not just about Russia and Russians.
In this exhibit, Russian Sergei Belov is referred to as a “Soviet basketball great” and “Moscow resident”, unlike the other featured Soviet athletes, who are identified by the origin of their given non-Russian republic. Along with “Soviet”, the category of “Moscow resident”...
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (8-12-12)
Geoffrey Wheatcroft is the author of The Controversy of Zion, The Strange Death of Tory England, and Yo, Blair!
We saw David Cameron all too often, at one point playing uneasy host to Vladimir Putin. We saw Boris Johnson entertaining Rupert Murdoch, a sight to terrify any sensitive soul. We saw a smirking Tony Blair. But the most reticent visitor to the Olympics was the man who might be thought the begetter of the gold rush: Sir John Major.
After the unknown soldier, they were burying "the unknown prime minister",...
SOURCE: LA Times (8-8-12)
Erin Aubry Kaplan is a contributing writer to The Times' Opinion pages and the author of Black Talk, Blue Thoughts, and Walking the Color Line.
There's a new twist in the ongoing story line of our post-historical racial age allegedly represented by Barack Obama.
Last week, genealogists at Ancestry.com announced the strong likelihood that Obama is a descendant — the 11th great-grandson, to be exact — of John Punch, who in 1640 became the first black person to be legally defined as a slave. This lineage comes not through Obama's African father but through his white mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, who is apparently descended from children Punch had with a white woman.
The researcher's conclusions are not ironclad. But even if Obama turns out not to be related to Punch — which is highly unlikely — researchers have established beyond doubt that Dunham's family has black ancestry that almost certainly can be traced back to American slaves....
SOURCE: LA Times (8-8-12)
Julie Cart writes for the Los Angeles Times.
...Growing up, we never knew exactly what my father did when he left for work. All we knew was that he worked long hours and was sometimes gone for days, leaving my mother with the cryptic salutation: I can't tell you where I'm going, what I will be doing, who I'll be with or when I'll be back. Love you.
A half-century later, a phone call flung open a door to the past. Here at last was a way to find answers to years of questions that a curious little girl had thrown at her father — and kept wondering about to this day.
I started researching Corona. It turned out that quite a bit of information was available. My father and men like him had a hand in creating the world's first photo reconnaissance satellite during the Cold War and, without the use of sophisticated computers, ginned up a remarkable orbiting tool to gather intelligence on Communist countries, especially China and the...
SOURCE: Frog in a Well (8-8-12)
Jonathan Dresner is a professor of history at Pittsburg State University and assistant editor at the History News Network.
There’s almost no new historical content here, aside from some biographical ruminations. Stanley Kutler’s, reprinted at HNN, is the most historically interesting, highlighting the “all or nothing” fallacy in many debates about the use of the bombs versus other tactical options.
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (8-8-12)
Mary Kenny is the author of Crown and Shamrock - Love and Hate between Ireland and the British Monarchy.
In the historic sense, Ireland's long love affair with the Catholic church was, as Ella Fitzgerald once sang, "too hot not to cool down". Catholicism was once so all-pervading in Irish life that it seemed a definition of Irishness: but now, according to a survey by the pollsters Red C, the Irish are losing their faith quicker than most: seven years ago, 69% of Irish people described themselves as "religious": this has now fallen more than 20 points to 47%.
Something had to give, and even before the...
Cynthia C. Kelly is President of the Atomic Heritage Foundation. This article is drawn from a series on the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, "Perspectives on Hiroshima," published by the Federation of American Scientists. Read the full series here.
On September 17, 1942, General Leslie R. Groves took command of the Manhattan Engineer District for the Army Corps of Engineers, assuming direct responsibility for all aspects of the atomic bomb project. As Robert S. Norris documents, Groves proved himself “the Manhattan Project’s indispensable man.”
Groves was a force of nature, extremely driven and ambitious...
Kazuko Hamada is Senior Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Planning and Coordination Office Integrated Support Center for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Nuclear Security, Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA). This article is drawn from a series on the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, "Perspectives on Hiroshima," published by the Federation of American Scientists. Read the full series here.
Nuclear energy is a double-edged sword with military applications on one side and nonmilitary ones on the other side. Enrico Fermi expressed this double-edged nature of nuclear energy as “an energy source that produces this much radioactivity and that can be subject to diversion of material for bombs.” Lamentably, Japan has undergone tragedies from both sides:...
Dr. Francis J. Gavin is Tom Slick Professor of International Affairs and Director of the Robert S. Strauss Centerfor International Security and Law at the University of Texas. This article is drawn from a series on the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, "Perspectives on Hiroshima," published by the Federation of American Scientists. Read the full series here.
Sixty-seven years ago, an American B-29, the Enola Gay, dropped a gun-fission weapon made with U-235 on the city of Hiroshima, Japan, killing upwards of 100,000 people. Three days later, a plutonium device was dropped on the city of Nagasaki that may have killed as many as 80,000 people. That these two detonations transformed the world of politics and international affairs forever is universally accepted. The...
SOURCE: Common-place (8-7-12)
SOURCE: Smith Publicity (8-7-12)
Peter Hetherington is the author of "Unvanquished: Joseph Pilsudski, Resurrected Poland and the Struggle for Eastern Europe," winner of the 2012 Independent Book Publishers Association’s Ben Franklin Award in history.
Many believe republics are the best form of government. Successful long-lived examples include Rome, Venice, and the United States. Yet two of these republics failed, as did those in France, Germany, Spain, and Italy in the early part of the twentieth century. Why did these countries lose their system of government and, in some cases, their sovereignty?
For centuries, Poland was a successful, powerful, and progressive republic with advanced democratic institutions. When looking at a seventeenth-century map, one might be surprised to learn that Poland was once the largest country in Europe. At their zenith, Polish lands included all or part of present-day Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Romania, Russia, Latvia, Estonia, and Ukraine. Yet examining a map...
SOURCE: openDemocracy (UK) (8-6-12)
John Agnew is a Distinguished Professor of Geography at UCLA and co-editor of The Marshall Plan Today: Model and Metaphor.
Metaphors can be hard to avoid. Much thinking involves comparing something new and unfamiliar to something old and familiar that we believe we understand. Some philosophers have tried to think without metaphors, purporting to engage in "pure" description, but that has turned out to be rather fruitless. We are pretty much captive to our metaphors. What we can do, however, is bring them to the surface of our consciousness in order to assess their relative appropriateness in any specific case.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in stories about contemporary international events. As we search to understand them we have recourse to prior historical events, historical figures, literary analogies, and organizational models that...
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (8-5-12)
On 6 August 1945 – 67 years ago today – a control operator at the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation noticed that there was no signal from Radio Hiroshima. It had, seemingly, gone off air. Telephone calls couldn't reach the city centre either. There was a simple reason for this – the city centre wasn't there any more.
SOURCE: Jerusalem Post (8-6-12)
The writer is a former editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post.
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (8-2-12)
Jonathan Jones writes on art for the Guardian and was on the jury for the 2009 Turner prize.
The 2012 Olympics began with a vision of British history. Danny Boyle's romantic panorama started in a pastoral land of shepherds, then showed it torn apart by the rising chimney stacks of the industrial revolution. But out of this pandemonium rose the suffragettes, marching for the vote, and the wonder that is the National Health Service.
Five days into the Games, and Bradley Wiggins was pictured here on a golden throne in front of Hampton Court Palace. Wiggins sprawls on his throne for photographers after winning his gold medal in the cycling time trial. He paid...