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: Bloomberg News (9-14-12)
Lesley Jacobs Solmonson is the author of “Gin: A Global History” and the co-founder of 12bottlebar.com, a website devoted to classic cocktails. The opinions expressed are her own.
Gin has always been big business in England. In the 18th century, as London’s infamous “Gin Craze” unfolded, the spirit was at the center of a debate that helped define the country’s politics and economics -- and created a commercial demand that persists to this day.
The privileged of the 1700s sipped genever, the “original gin” imported from Holland. Desperate to keep up with their betters, the lower classes demanded a gin of their own. As a result, from 1720 to 1751, a storm of unrest swirled around the production, distribution and sale of rotgut booze.
The story of the Gin Craze properly begins with the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which brought William III of Orange to the British throne. He brought with him a...
SOURCE: The Wilson Quarterly (9-20-12)
Wilfred McClay, a Wilson Center senior scholar, is SunTrust Chair of Excellence in Humanities at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, and author of The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America (1994).
SOURCE: Frog in a Well (9-23-12)
Jonathan Dresner is a professor of history at Pittsburg State University and assistant editor at the History News Network.
“Marco Polo’s reports of China, now judged mostly hearsay….” Perry Anderson, LRB
I got an email from a student who found my blog post in which I make a highly critical case regarding the historicity of Marco Polo’s adventures. They wanted to confirm (since some data was lost in the latest HNN transition) that it was mine for citation purposes. I’ve been considering revisiting it for a while now, (1) and this seems like a good time, because my views on the subject have evolved a bit since...
SOURCE: American Spectator (9-25-12)
Joseph A. Harriss is The American Spectator's Paris correspondent. His latest book, An American Spectator in Paris, will be released this fall.
WHEN I DISEMBARKED from an Air Algerie flight at Algiers’ Dar el Beida airport long ago as a young newsmagazine correspondent, Algeria was newly independent after 130 years as a French colony. I expected that the recently formed Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria—“neither democratic, nor a republic, and certainly not popular,” the foreign press snickered—would be an Arab country full of fierce-eyed turbaned men, mysterious veiled ladies, soaring minarets with chanting muezzins calling the faithful to prayer, and, hopefully, exotic belly dancers undulating to throbbing drums in the Casbah. I did find some of that, though the revolutionary puritans trying to impose “Arab Socialism” frowned on belly dancing.
But I soon learned that this part...
SOURCE: Daily Beast (9-24-12)
Douglas E. Schoen is a political strategist and coauthor of the book Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System. Schoen has worked on numerous campaigns, including those of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, Evan Bayh, Tony Blair, and Ed Koch.
Who was or is the best president of the United States since 1900? Newsweek recently polled 10 eminent historians and 600 randomly selected Americans about our country’s presidents. And the differences in their responses were striking.
The top two finishers among the public were Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, while the top two finishers among the historians were Franklin Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt. Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush both made the top 10—9th and 10th,...
SOURCE: The Diplomat (9-24-12)
Dr. William C. Martel is an Associate Professor of International Security Studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He is the recent author of Victory in War: Foundations of Modern Strategy.
When we consider the array of problems in our world, no one can say that we don’t live in interesting times.
Asia worries about China’s ascent, Russia is dismantling its democracy, and Iran everyday gets closer to possessing a nuclear weapons capability.
Recently, the Middle East was wracked by violent protests against American embassies in Egypt and Libya – ...
SOURCE: Council on Foreign Relations (9-21-12)
James M. Lindsay is Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair at the Council on Foreign Relations.
As a teaser for next month’s presidential debates, CNN.com’s Global Public Square asked a group of “historians and commentators” to offer their judgments on which presidents enjoyed the most success on foreign policy and which enjoyed the least. I was lucky enough to be invited to weigh in. GPS posted the picks for most successful foreign policy president yesterday, and it posted the picks for least successful foreign policy presidents today.
I opted for a bipartisan theme with my picks in both...
SOURCE: CNN.com (9-22-12)
Brent Huffman is a documentary filmmaker and assistant professor at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He started making a film about the Mes Aynak site in the summer of 2011 thinking he would be documenting the site before it was demolished and recording the process of rescue archeology. Now he hopes he can use his film to raise awareness to actually save Mes Aynak.
(CNN) -- Please bear with me as I ask you to briefly use your imagination. Close your eyes. Imagine Machu Picchu at dawn cloaked in fog. Now imagine the fog slowly lifting to reveal an enormous ancient city perched on the edge of a mountain.
Picture a sense of mystery being immersed in thousands of years of history as you walk between antiquated hewn stone structures. There is tranquility in the wind-blown stillness of the primeval site. You...
SOURCE: Financial Times (UK) (9-21-12)
Richard Vinen teaches history at King’s College London and is the author of Thatcher’s Britain.
SOURCE: WSJ (9-21-12)
Mr. Guelzo, professor of history and director of the Civil War Era Studies Program at Gettysburg College, is the author of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America (Simon & Schuster, 2004).
SOURCE: NYT (9-19-12)
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (9-17-12)
Eric Foner is DeWitt Clinton professor of history at Columbia University, New York. He is the author of many books, including, most recently, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery (2010), which has been awarded the 2011 Pulitzer prize for history.
SOURCE: National Review (9-17-12)
John Fund is national-affairs columnist for NRO.
SOURCE: Social Justice Journal (9-17-12)
Tony Platt is Visiting Professor of Justice Studies at San Jose State University.
The blogs are full of charges and countercharges about journalist Seth Rosenfeld's claim (in his recent book, Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power and published articles) that Black Panther Party cadre Richard Aoki was a "paid FBI informer."
Here are a few thoughts about the debate:
Rosenfeld's claim that Aoki was an FBI informant takes up only a few pages in his 734-page book and is not central to his argument. Rosenfeld, however, chose to publish an article about Aoki on the release date of his book, thus making the topic appear central to his book.
Rosenfeld's piece about Aoki, published in the San Francisco Chronicle on August 20th, summarizes what appears in Subversives, namely that Aoki was "an undercover FBI informer." His evidence is based on an interview with Aoki's FBI handler, internal FBI...
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Ed (9-17-12)
Edward J. Blum is an associate professor of history at San Diego State University, and Paul Harvey is a professor of history at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. They are the authors of The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America, just published by the University of North Carolina Press.
In a world filled with images of Jesus, this one made headlines. He stood in a stained-glass window wearing a simple white robe and a dark tunic. When sunlight struck the glass just so, kindness radiated from his white face and warmth from his brown eyes. This was a comforting Jesus, and for decades he had been with this black congregation in Birmingham, Ala. But on Sunday morning, September 15, 1963, less than three weeks after Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed his dream of racial equality, dynamite set by white supremacists exploded outside the 16th Street Baptist Church, and four little girls who had gone...
SOURCE: The Atlantic (9-19-12)
Evan Thomas is the author of eight books, including The War Lovers and Sea of Thunder. Editor-at-large of Newsweek until 2010, he was the author of more than 100 cover stories there and won numerous journalism awards, including a National Magazine Award. He teaches writing at Princeton.
Dwight Eisenhower is a president whose reputation has improved over time. When he left office, he was regarded as a genial, grandfatherly figure but also as a caretaker who was a little out of it. At the time, in January 1961, his Farewell Address presciently warning against the "military-industrial complex" was little noticed; far more attention was paid to JFK's soaring (and, in hindsight, overreaching) inaugural speech, promising to "bear any burden."
We know now that Ike was quietly powerful, that he operated with a "hidden hand," as Princeton professor Fred Greenstein once put it. In my...
SOURCE: Yale Global (9-14-12)
Jeff M. Smith is the Kraemer Strategy Fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council and author of a forthcoming book on Sino-Indian relations.
SOURCE: Slate (9-17-12)
Akhil Reed Amar is the Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale and the author of America's Constitution: A Biography.
...The most powerful portents of the future are to be found in America’s existing state constitutions, the proverbial laboratories of American democracy. These 50 documents have converged to form a distinctly American model of governance—call it “American exceptionalism,” if you like. For example, unlike the regimes in various democratic countries around the world—England, Germany, France, Israel, India, Australia—almost all 50 states follow the same basic formula, featuring (1) ratified written constitutions, (2) bicameral legislatures, (3) chief executives who look remarkably like mini-presidents, and (4) robust bills of rights enforceable in ordinary...
SOURCE: The American Scholar (10-1-12)
Louis P. Masur is the author of Lincoln's Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union. He is a professor of American studies and history at Rutgers University.
William Lloyd Garrison, the fiery abolitionist editor of the Liberator, had struggled for decades to see slavery abolished, but when Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, the long-awaited action came as a disappointment. Garrison was furious. Lincoln’s decree would free the slaves in rebel-controlled areas in the seceded states on January 1, 1863, a hundred days away. The delay was intended to give the Confederate states a chance to return to the Union and thus prevent the proclamation from applying to them. Lincoln also believed that the public needed time to digest this unprecedented development. “The President can do nothing for freedom in a direct manner, but only by circumlocution...
SOURCE: WaPo (9-12-12)
Michael Collins, a retired Air Force major general, was the command module pilot of Apollo 11. He remained in lunar orbit while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed in the Sea of Tranquility in July 1969.
Before manned space flights began, officials pondered what background they should seek in the crew for this bizarre new venture: Danger lover? Bullfighter? Mountain climber? Should they search for people who were self-aware and calm in extreme conditions? A deep-sea diver, perhaps? Finally, they settled on — and President Dwight Eisenhower supported — experimental test pilots, people who had already guided complex new flying machines. Thus the original seven astronauts were selected in 1959.
In 1962 I was a budding test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in California — our Mecca — and much interested in joining NASA’s...