This page includes, in addition to news about historians, news about political scientists, economists, law professors, and others who write about history. For a comprehensive list of historians' obituaries, go here.
SOURCE: Boston Globe (10-20-05)
The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association has been striking Northwest since August, without apparent result. The Minneapolis-based airline is operating more or less normally with replacement workers, and keeps offering AMFA members fewer and fewer incentives to return to work. It seems worth mentioning that AMFA is no darling of the labor movement. The Wall Street Journal has called it an "outlier" union disliked for its "reluctance to work with other unions and its practice of organizing workers who already belong to other unions."
Three weeks ago AMFA hired Ray Rogers's Corporate Campaign to conduct what I would call a guerilla marketing campaign aimed at publicizing the strike and embarrassing Northwest executives. Rogers, a veteran labor agitator he is the subject of an appreciative if not admiring Harvard Business School case study is the son of a lathe operator who worked at the General Electric plant in Lynn. The greatest feather in his cap was the successful unionization of textile manufacturer J.P. Stevens in 1980, glossified in the movie "Norma Rae."
Rogers's m.o. is to attack his corporate opponents indirectly. Against Stevens, for instance, he jawboned organized labor into pressuring the company's bank and insurance company to influence Stevens. "We personalize the campaign," Rogers says. "When we saw that Goodwin was going out on a national book tour" she begins promoting "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" next week "we decided to move immediately on her. Eventually we will target every Northwest board member and top executive."
Rogers says he has printed 100,000 copies of a leaflet titled "The Great Emancipator Meets a Great Prevaricator," which revisits embarrassing episodes of alleged copying that bedeviled Goodwin in 2002. Keith Anderson, the head of AMFA's Boston-based Local 2, says the union's 80 local members will hand out leaflets in Concord, where Goodwin lives, at the airport, and at Goodwin's promotional events. In a letter, AMFA national director O.V. Delle-Femine has informed Goodwin that "we intend to notify a great many interested parties . . . that you are unfit to serve on the Northwest board and should resign immediately."
Goodwin did not return my phone call. In a prepared statement, Northwest said that in her board work, Goodwin "has been instrumental in ensuring that employees receive accurate, consistent communication about Northwest strategy and its impact on them." In a second prepared statement, two directors, a retired pilot and a former executive of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, condemned the AMFA attack as "totally misguided."
Goodwin landed her $25,000 a year gig on the Northwest board in 1997 as a friend of the airline's former cochairman, Somerville's own Al Checchi. In 1998, when Checchi was running for governor of California, Goodwin appeared in a controversial TV commercial for the campaign, saying in part: "Having written about Democratic leaders who lived in the past, it is a pleasure to speak on behalf of a new Democratic leader who shares their values." At the time, Goodwin was a commentator for public television's "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer." Lehrer told viewers that her partisan appearance was "inappropriate," and the ad was quickly pulled.
SOURCE: Boston Globe (10-18-05)
Josephy, the founding chairman for the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, wrote books including "The Patriot Chiefs" and "Now That the Buffalo's Gone." He also edited the historical anthology "Red Power" a noted account of the campaign for Indian rights.
SOURCE: Ottawa Citizen (10-15-05)
Ottawa author Christopher McCreery, a historian who specializes in the study of Canada's constitutional monarchy, secured the royal nod of approval earlier this year and, yesterday in London, presented Buckingham Palace with the first copy of the freshly printed work.
Her Majesty's prefatory message makes note of the role that her father, King George VI, played in the origins of a Canadian honours system when he established the Canada Medal in 1943.
The Order of Canada was first presented in 1967 to celebrate the centennial of Confederation.
"For nearly 40 years, the Order has stood at the centre of the Canadian Honours system, giving due recognition to those who have excelled on the local, national and international stages. The stylized snowflake has come to be widely recognized as a mark of particular distinction and merit," the Queen writes in The Order of Canada: Its Origins, History and Development, published by University of Toronto Press.
Ms. Kornhauser is Lecturer in History at Princeton University.
He has been president of the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians. He has won the Bancroft Prize and been a finalist for the National Book Award. He has received a Guggenheim and an NEH fellowship. He has been named Scholar of the Year, and has collected a Great Teacher Award from Columbia University alumni, among many, many other accolades. So what is left for Eric Foner to achieve? How about a conference (and related book) in his honor. Consider it done.
Ahead of a festschrift that dare not speak its name, several of Foner’s former graduate students put together a splendid two-day “conference in honor of Eric Foner,” which was held at Columbia over this past weekend and which featured 13 papers delivered by a flock of former Foner students. The conference, “Contested Democracy: Freedom, Race and Power in American History,” was sponsored by Columbia’s Herbert H. Lehman Center for American History and organized by Manisha Sinha (U-Mass Amherst) and Penny Von Eschen (Michigan) who are also editing the forthcoming collection of essays dedicated to Foner (Columbia University Press). Several weeks ago when he and I (another of his former students of more recent vintage) first talked about the impending event, he expressed concern that people would think he was about to retire. By the end of the affair, he seemed nothing but pleased. “Who wouldn’t be?” asked David Blight, one of several of Foner’s friends who participated in the conference.
I had to agree. Throughout the conference, Foner witnessed not only first-rate scholarship by a generation of graduate students who had begun work under him in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but also heartfelt gratitude from so many beneficiaries of his keen intellect and his peerless devotion to mentoring. If the themes of the papers ranged from the struggles of the excluded, to the limits of American democracy, to, as Columbia Professor Elizabeth Blackmar put it, “300 years of contestation” over the meaning of freedom, a theme of the more personal side of the conference heralded Foner’s uncanny ability to spot historical talent, even when it was expressed in less conventional ways. A number of Foner’s students of this earlier generation had prior careers, hailed from foreign countries where they had had little exposure to American history, or simply were uncertain as to whether they could succeed in academia. But, noted speaker after speaker, Foner has a knack for finding and then nurturing people who possess that special combination of sharp intellect, an abiding passion for history, and a sense that historians can make a difference in the world. Foner, in other words, has a knack for finding people not unlike him! (Though nobody, of course, can ever be quite like him.)
In his keynote address on Friday following the conference’s first two panels, Foner, in turn, paid homage to his late father, Jack, an accomplished historian in his own right, and to his teachers at Columbia, Richard Hofstadter, the unusually insightful scholar, and James Shenton, the unusually talented pedagogue. Foner’s talk, “The Story of American Freedom: Before 9/11 and After,” exemplified his ability to discuss the present without being presentist, and to make history matter without succumbing to the temptation of using the past as a guide to the future. The history of the United States offers us cautionary tales, Foner seemed to be telling us—for example, about repression during wartime, about Americans’ sense of superiority in the world, about the misleading uses of the concept of “freedom”—without prescribing what we ought to do in our own time, by definition a different time. Yet, the message seemed to be, knowledge of history gives us the courage to believe that we are not stuck in our present condition. And with that it was on to the reception.
The next day, Yale’s David Blight gave the conference’s closing remarks, which once again highlighted the hallmarks of Foner’s work: rigorous historical method combined with a deep caring for the less powerful, then and now. Blight quoted Foner on Foner that his book Reconstruction though ‘born in the archives’ was ‘written from the heart.’ Foner, Blight noted, stood for the proposition that the “past, present, and future” are “always everywhere entwined.” Just how they are entwined—that is the rub.
SOURCE: Boston Globe (10-18-05)
Mr. Bromsen amassed the "finest collection of manuscript and iconographic items" in the United States related to Bolivar, a leader in the struggle for South American independence, said Norman Fiering, director and librarian at the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University. Mr. Bromsen donated his Bolivar collection to the library in 2000.
At the time, Mr. Bromsen told the Globe the collection was valued at "several million dollars" and included not only paintings of Bolivar but an 1825 document signed by him.
In the Globe interview, Mr. Bromsen revealed that Bolivar had been his hero since he was 13. He was drawn to Bolivar, he said, because, "I wanted a titanic, challenging subject, and the greatest figure of Latin America was Bolivar."
Mr. Bromsen was not just a seller of rare books, he was also a great lover and reader of them. And, he could read them in several languages. He was fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and conversant in French and German.
"Maury was a true scholar, the most brilliant man I ever met," said Jonathan Joseph of Los Angeles, a friend for more than 40 years. "He never forgot a thing. Everything he learned, he retained. You could almost hear the computer clicking in his mind. He read voraciously, but never fiction. 'Fact was more interesting,' he said."
Mr. Bromsen's knowledge of early printing in Spanish America, "especially in Peru, Chili, Venezuela, and Cuba, was encyclopedic and unsurpassed in the United States in the 20th Century," Fiering said. "Even more, he knew intimately the work of the great bibliographers of early Spanish American painting Medina, Garcia Icazbalceta, Rene-Moreno, Vargas Ugarte, Furlong, and others regarding these men as neglected heroes in the annals of scholarship whose labors are the precondition of all serious historical writing."
During Mr. Bromsen's more than 50 years as a dealer, some extremely valuable items passed through his hands. One of them was an excerpt from President Kennedy's 1961 inaugural speech written in longhand on a plain piece of paper and signed by the president. The lines are: "And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." Mr. Bromsen bought the sheet at auction in 1971 for $11,000, the Globe reported.
A memorial program will be held at 2 p.m. Nov. 20 in the Abbey Room of the McKim Building at Boston Public Library.
SOURCE: Guardian (10-18-05)
It was a terrible, tortured decision for me whether to read English or history. I should have gone to Harvard or somewhere you could do history and literature. A lot of my writing since has been an attempt to do a kind of history which has (possibly pathetically deluded) ambitions to be a kind of non-fiction literature.
We're all wired to have curiosity about our ancestry. I'm not even sure I believe in the finished identity, but wilfully to perpetrate collective memory loss seems to me to get you into trouble.
After I was hired at Oxford, I discovered all the historians in the college had voted against me. I once got up at a faculty meeting and proposed a course on family history and it was as though I'd farted. It was pretty much impossible to teach your enthusiasms.
You impoverish your understanding of what a human being is if you don't examine your past. Would one have known about brutality, cruelty, courage, virtue, self-sacrifice, cynicism without history? Yes, but observing it in one's contemporaries is a less reliable, ultimately more shallow source than observing over centuries.
I believed the intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. And unlike John Kerry or Tony Blair, if asked whether I'd have supported the war knowing what we know now, I would instantaneously say, 'Of course not.' I thought we were acting pragmatically and prudentially to stop those weapons being used, ever. There is horror in being disabused of that belief.
Novelist friends sometimes say to me, 'Just stop it, write the novel.' But I'm very conscious of the clown who wanted to play Hamlet. I had really good advice from a novelist friend who said, 'Absolutely do it, but don't tell anyone, don't take an advance. Then if it's crap no one need ever know.' So if I ever do it, that's what I'll do.
In America, much of foreign policy seems contrived to be an exercise in political theory with no attention to history whatsoever. Yet there's great reverence for history - though it's history as thumb-sucking, security-blanket-nibbling self-congratulation.
If you have any time at all, always bother to make your own chicken stock.
SOURCE: The Independent (London) (10-17-05)
Until the 1960s, quaking holidaymakers had had to smuggle across the Channel such books as Lady Chatterley's Lover, Terry Southern's Candy, Nabokov's Lolita and most of Henry Miller. These were now gradually made more freely available, thanks to sympathetic juries (quite often urged on by the persuasive tones of John Mortimer), and earlier erotic texts were also dusted off and reprinted.
John Cleland's Fanny Hill, The Perfumed Garden, The Kama Sutra, A Night in a Moorish [sometimes Turkish] Harem all began to find their way, as brightly covered, perfect-bound paperbacks, into mainstream bookshops. At the same time classics of out-and-out pornography " My Secret Life by 'Walter', The Way of a Man with a Maid, Lady Pokingham, or They All Do It, volumes of The Pearl, now usefully issued with (largely spurious) scholarly introductions " emerged from behind the curtained recesses of Soho used-magazine stores in such quantities that Scotland Yard's Obscene Publications Squad hardly bothered to seize them.
Fascinated by the more outre aspects of the Victorian pornographic book trade, with its buccaneering publishers and booksellers such as Leonard Smithers and 'Charles Carrington' (i.e. Paul Fernando), as well as collectors such as Henry Spencer Ashbee, Pearsall began to study the subject in depth. He discovered that the British Museum Library had a special 'Private Case' that contained hundreds of rare specimens of 18th- and 19th- century pornography, principally from the vast collection of Ashbee, a rich Victorian businessman who had his own 'secret life' and, as 'Pisanus Fraxi', had compiled an extraordinarily detailed bibliography of the genus.
The fruits of Pearsall's researches were packed into The Worm in the Bud: the world of Victorian sexuality, which was published in 1969 to some critical acclaim, as well as a good many scandalised reviews thanks to his policy of quoting extensively, and without recourse to asterisks, from the gamier examples of the breed.
Pearsall was not the first to investigate the largely underground activities of Victorian smut merchants. In America Gershon Legman's The Horn Book: studies in erotic folklore and bibliography (1964) and Steven Marcus's The Other Victorians (1966) were both ground-breaking works, and in the UK the indefatigable H. Montgomery Hyde (who really could turn his typewriter to just about any topic under the sun) had gone into the Victorians in some detail as part of a wider review of the subject in A History of Pornography (1964).
But Pearsall's study was reader-friendly, entertaining and (though on occasion bewildered) largely non- judgemental. He recognised, for instance, the often hideous ramifications behind the Victorians' generalised obsession with children, and their ugly hypocrisy " what the Victorians themselves dubbed the 'whited sepulchre' effect, where rotten corruption exists behind a serene and often noble fascia " but at the same time could not entirely condemn the publishing high jinks of the piratical pornographers themselves.
SOURCE: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (10-12-05)
Her children's card was useless if she was going to read in-depth accounts of Scottish history and the dynamics of clan-based society.
Even at that age, she was telling everyone that she was destined to be a Scottish historian. And after years of rigorous schooling in Calgary and Scotland, Dr. Fitch would accomplish her goal and teach history at California University of Pennsylvania.
But her life was cut short Saturday when she died of labor complications while giving birth. She was 43.
"She knew she wanted to be a historian," said Kathy Fitch, her sister. "She was just one of those dynamic people who knew what they wanted to do."
Dr. Fitch spent years in libraries in several countries researching and reading obscure histories of 15th-century Scottish laity and tracing Scottish Presbyterian behavior.
Her grandmother and great aunt were a source of much of the academic curiosity. Both women were pioneers from Scotland who immigrated to Canada.
"Beth had an intensity for her subject and a passion that did not waver," said Dr. Sean Madden, acting dean of the College of Liberal Arts at California University.
It was Dr. Fitch's background in a wide array of disciplines that allowed her to float with grace in the classroom as if directing a play, Dr. Madden said. She would use techniques from drama classes to incite student reaction.
Dr. Fitch pioneered or played a leading role in many of the history department's efforts to reshape curriculum and attract students.
Recently, Dr. Fitch was organizing a women's studies conference that would feature the granddaughter of former South African president Nelson Mandela. The conference will go on, carrying Dr. Fitch's name.
Donations can be sent to the Audrey-Beth Fitch Scholarship Fund, California University of Pennsylvania, California Foundation, California, PA 15419.
SOURCE: Richard Byrne in the Chronicle of Higher Education (10-13-05)
Mr. Judt, a professor of European studies at New York University and director of its Remarque Institute, had just returned from observing Czechoslovakia's "velvet revolution." In his taxi, Austrian radio reported the start of Romania's violent revolution. "A political earthquake," he writes, "was shattering the frozen topography of post-World War II Europe."
But 1989's upheavals did more than end the cold war. When the Iron Curtain dissolved, two separate ideas of Europe and its history were shoved together in a sudden and uneasy embrace after 45 years. Mr. Judt says a central question as he wrote Postwar was: "How do you relate the two parts together, since they are neither separate nor the same?"
First he tried to weave the two Europes together into one narrative. But that approach "drowns out the very real differences, particularly as experienced in the East," he says. "It became clear to me that I would have to treat them as different and treat them as separate, while at the same time showing how there are not similarities, but points of contact, particularly at the starting point in 1945."
Key points of contact occurred in two tumultuous years: 1956 and 1968. In 1956 the Soviet Union violently suppressed an uprising in Hungary, while France, Britain, and Israel launched a failed attack on Egypt to prevent the nationalization of the Suez Canal. In 1968 the Soviet Union sent tanks into Czechoslovakia to halt a wave of political reform, and massive student protests rocked Paris and other European capitals.
"What I tried to do," Mr. Judt says, "was to look at the major moments of international crisis — particularly in 1956 and in 1968 — when the two halves of Europe experienced crisis but in very different ways. By highlighting that, I would be able to show both that they have a history in common, but that it is a very different history on each side."...
SOURCE: ABC Australia (10-11-05)
The Convincing Ground, near Portland, has long been regarded as the site of a massacre of Aboriginal people at the hands of white whalers, in the late 1830s - the very first in the history of European settlement of Victoria. The site is now at the centre of a Federal Court native title case and a Victorian Civil Administration Tribunal hearing.
Australian historian Keith Windschuttle has described the heritage claim by local Aboriginies as doubtful and a myth. He has based his claims on research by Tasmanian historian, Michael O'Connor in his yet to be published book, The Invention of Terra Nullius.
Dr Clark's book, Scars In the Landscape (of which the relevant extract is linked to at the end of this article) details the earliest written recorded reference to the site. Dr Clark says he rejects Windschuttle and O'Connors' comments regarding his research, saying, "[My] knowledge is derived from the primary sources. They are not something that [I've] made up. It's grounded in the earliest records of the 1840s."
SOURCE: Manuwatu Standard (New Zealand) (10-11-05)
IgNobels are awarded in fields such as physics, medicine, public health, economics and peace.
Dr Watson's history research, The significance of Mr Richard Buckley's exploding trousers, is a reflection on aspects of technological and social changes in dairy farming between the world wars.
The following Hawera Star newspaper story from August 1931 ignited Dr Watson's scientific imagination.
"While Mr. Richard Buckley's trousers were drying before the fire recently, they exploded with a loud report.
"Although partially stunned by the force of the explosion, he had sufficient presence of mind to seize the garments and hurl them from the house, where they smouldered on the lawn with a series of minor detonations."
Mr Buckley was lucky he was not in his trousers when they blew up. Others were not so lucky, Dr Watson says, and some deaths occurred.
SOURCE: Timothy Noah in Slate (10-12-05)
... I have misrepresented Ms. Goodwin's actions, and I owe her an apology.
In my earlier columns, I portrayed Ms. Goodwin as somewhat craven for correcting her faulty text only when bad publicity required it. What I should have written was that Ms. Goodwin was really, really craven for saying she was going to correct her faulty text and then, once the braying media pack scampered away, not doing it!
In an Oct. 6 Boston Globe column, Alex Beam revealed that just one week ago he managed to purchase a St. Martin's paperback copy of The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, and despite Goodwin's promise the edition was not corrected. What gives?
"We did exactly what we said we were going to do," says Simon & Schuster's Hayes. ''We did pull all our copies as promised. We weren't aware that other copy [from St. Martin's Press] was out there."
We weren't aware that other copy was out there? Simon & Schuster and Doris Goodwin were collectively unaware that one or both of them had sold reprint rights to St. Martin's Press? And that a paperback St. Martin's edition had been published in 1991? And could still be purchased, in all its plagiaristic glory, with the mere click of a computer mouse? Um, that isn't possible.
Hayes told Beam that Simon & Schuster did indeed pull its own copies off the shelves. But that new, corrected Simon & Schuster edition of The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, promised for the spring of 2002, turns out to have been 100 percent bluff. Four springs have come and gone since Goodwin promised the corrected paperback edition. None has appeared. According to Beam, Hayes says it may be published after Goodwin's book tour for her latest book, Team of Rivals. That would appear to suggest that the corrected volume also may not appear. Meanwhile, Goodwin has refused to acknowledge the plagiarisms in another book, No Ordinary Time, even though these were well-documented in August 2002 by the Los Angeles Times.
Look, I wish the woman well. Thomas Mallon (in a strange puffer of a magazine profile in the Atlantic) pronounced Team of Rivals, about Lincoln's Cabinet, to be a wonderful piece of work, and Mallon's a discerning literary critic. Mallon also happens to be kind of a hanging judge on the subject of plagiarism; he wrote a very smart book about it. But in his Atlantic profile of Goodwin he declares himself at the outset to be bored with the topic of plagiarism, and he dismisses it pretty quickly. Mallon's behavior reminds me of the huntsman's in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Remember the huntsman? He's dispatched by the Evil Queen to cut out the heart of Snow White. But he can't do it because Snow White is so lovely and defenseless and kind (or is she just media-savvy?), so he lets her go and he brings the Evil Queen a stag's heart instead. I sincerely doubt Goodwin would let anything like her previous plagiarisms mar her new book. But she hasn't delivered on her promise to correct the plagiarisms in The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, and I don't feel I can ignore that.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall. Who's the slickest of them all?
SOURCE: Email Notice by Jeffrey B. Perry (10-11-05)
Theodore Allen was an ardent opponent of white supremacy who spent his last fifty years researching and analyzing the historical development and essence of racial oppression and the “white race.” His writings include the influential The Invention of the White Race (Verso: 2 vols., 1994 and 1997) and the ground-breaking Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race (1975), both of which developed his main thesis that the “white race” was invented as a ruling class social control formation in response to labor unrest manifested in the latter (civil war) stages of Bacon’s Rebellion. In these and other writings Allen also describes the systematic extension of privileges to European American laboring people (not promoted out of the working class), how European Americans came to participate in a new multi-class “white” formation (which, he argues, was the necessary pre-condition for the development of the system of racial slavery -- the particular form of racial oppression that developed in the continental plantation colonies), and how the “white race” social control formation became the principal retardant to working class consciousness in the United States.
Ed and Karen Peeples and Cecily and Luis Rodriguez of Richmond organized the afternoon events and hosted a commemorative dinner in the evening. A second highlight of the afternoon activities was the performance of a short play on Bacon’s Rebellion written for the event by the labor activist Gene Bruskin. Despite a severe rainstorm upwards of fifty people participated in the commemorative events including Sean Ahern, Donna Bain, Christopher Brooks, Gene Bruskin, Tony Cosby, Jim Hershman, Njeri Jackson, Charles Johnson, Isidro Martinez, Carolyn and Jerry Mosseller, Eileen O’Brien, Camille Thi Peeples, Eva Pellegrini, Jeff Perry, John Ramsey, Alberto Rodriguez, Marcia Rosenthal, Jonathan Scott, David Slavin, Laverne Byrd Smith, and Linda Vidinha.
SOURCE: The Gazette (Montreal) (10-11-05)
Michael Ignatieff is well known today for two things. He is not (yet) seeking Paul Martin's job. That would be "presumptuous," he told an audience at McGill University this month. He is also counted among the top 100 world-class intellectuals in a poll run by two world-class intellectual magazines, Prospect from Britain and Foreign Policy from the United States. The compilers note that the list "doesn't bear thinking about too closely" because inclusion is not a matter of "intrinsic achievement." Indeed, most people listed are well known because they are famous.
Ignatieff was not always an intellectual. Earlier in life, he was a historian and a scholar. He wrote solid books on penitentiaries in the 18th century and on the Scottish enlightenment. He was an "18th-century man."
Then he undertook some reflections on the grounds for human obligations as argued, for example, by St, Augustine as well as by 18th-century thinkers. However, with the exception of his 1998 biography of Isaiah Berlin, the scholarly phase of his life ended about 25 ago.
Scholars are not the same as intellectuals. Scholars write about things that they care about and that they think are important even if (or especially if) no one else does. They grow obsessed with the intricacies of the legal theories of Bartolus of Sassoferato or the source of pigment in oranges. Often they are playful and ironic and serious about but one thing: They think highly of thinking. They admire their own vocation as thinkers, even if they do not think highly of themselves or of their accomplishments.
Scholars are often surprised rather than grateful or even gracious when people who are not scholars notice them or, worse, praise them. And by and large they have no time for intellectuals.
This is why Doug Owram, a scholar at the University of Alberta, dismissed the inclusion of Ignatieff (and of Naomi Klein, who apparently waxes indignant about shopping) on the list of 100 as a "pop contest" and so, "ridiculous." For scholars, intellectuals are sophists or jesters and clowns, unworthy of more attention than Madonna or Peter Mansbridge.
After his days as a scholar, Ignatieff became a media personality on the BBC. His TV shows provided him with the opportunity to travel to unpleasant parts of the world and write adventure-travel books about his experiences. Intellectuals hailed them as important. Thus, when another intellectual introduced him at the Liberals' policy convention last spring, he was "a man who needs no introduction." He had arrived. Unfortunately, scholars considered his books superficial and "journalistic," which is a term of abuse when issued from a mouth turned down in scholarly disdain.
The world lost a scholar when Ignatieff became an intellectual. This misfortune will be compounded if he follows the logic of intellectual influence and seeks power as well.
SOURCE: M.G. Piety in Counterpunch (10-8-05)
Kirmmse, a history professor at Connecticut College, should have caught the mistake. He is a purported expert in 19th Danish history. Not only that, he had already translated Bukdahl's correct characterization of the rumors that circulated about Lindberg. It's possible, of course, that he had simply forgotten what Bukdahl had written. What is harder to understand is that, as an historian, he would have forgotten the facts surrounding the Lindberg case. There is, as I pointed out in my earlier article, a big difference between being exiled and being executed. Could it be that Kirmmse did recognize the mistake, but failed to correct it out of a fear that the corrected text would be more easily identifiable as having been lifted from Bukdahl?
SOURCE: Wa Po (10-9-05)
Of course, part of the unfairness of the world is that there's no Nobel for people who study art, no matter what insights they've had.
Over the past few decades, Alpers has published a series of books that have revolutionized talk about Vermeer and Rembrandt and other Dutch masters. The standard way of getting at these artists had been to pick apart what their pictures mean -- their hidden symbolism, their political messages, their abstruse theology. Alpers took a different tack. She argued that Dutch culture of the time had a novel outlook on the world that favored sight and optics and all kinds of scientific observation, and that this outlook is echoed in the way its paintings look -- the way someone might argue that watching television has changed both how we view the world and what we like in art.
For Alpers, you don't look through a picture to find meaning lurking underneath. You take in what it looks like and try to see how that jibes with what's happening in the world around the artist.
A brand-new Alpers book called "The Vexations of Art" takes that approach and applies it even more widely. It covers figures as diverse as Rembrandt, Rubens, Velazquez and Manet. It's already getting raves, including from lay people such as British author A.S. Byatt, who recently reviewed it for the Guardian in London.
As Byatt puts it, Alpers "uses history to make things strange."...
SOURCE: The Irish Times (10-10-05)
As expected, neither achieved an absolute majority, meaning Poles will vote again in two weeks' time. That may be a much tighter race, as many voters from candidates eliminated last night are expected to transfer their support to Mr Kaczynski, the mayor of Warsaw.
The extended presidential election campaign between the two men will overshadow ongoing coalition talks between their parties, two weeks after the general election.
The Law and Justice Party (PiS), headed by Mr Jaroslaw Kaczynski - twin brother of presidential hopeful Lech - topped the poll but needs the parliamentary support of Mr Tusk's Civic Platform (PO). Turnout for yesterday's first round was 50 per cent, 10 points higher than the general election.
Educated, urban-dwelling voters cast their votes for Mr Tusk, a 48-year-old historian from the northern port city of Gdansk, while Mr Kaczynski (56), performed well in rural areas and among highly conservative, religious voters. Neither lead candidate was surprised by yesterday's result - both talked openly of a second round as they voted yesterday.
"I don't think I can win in the first round," said Mr Kaczynski. Later after initial results were revealed, both candidates were sounding hopeful for the next round of voting.
"This victory gave hope to milions of Poles before the second round," Mr Tusk told a cheering crowd at his campaign headquarters.
SOURCE: Campus Watch (10-6-05)
Cole is a professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of Michigan and has become a well-known blogger and commentator on the Middle East. In November will become president of the Middle East Studies Association. His words therefore carry particular weight. In an interview on September 23, 2005 he stated:
Campus Watch works in “consultation with Israeli officials.” He further claimed that while Campus Watch “wasn’t done by a government, you would probably find that he did have some kind of consultation with Israeli officials at some point about all this, I couldn’t prove that but I wouldn’t be surprised at it.”
Campus Watch “encouraged people in Ann Arbor to spy on me and to send them spy reports on my activities, presumably colleges, students, people that I know in the city.”
Campus Watch wishes to state on the record that these both are false claims. It challenges Cole to prove them or retract and apologize for them. Campus Watch does not “consult” with any government, nor does it encourage spying on anyone. (It does encourage students suffering from politicized classrooms to make known their problems.)
Campus Watch, founded in 2002 by the Middle East Forum, is designed to critique Middle East Studies at North American colleges and universities with an eye toward improving them. For more information on Campus Watch, please visit www.CampusWatch.org.
Media contact: Alex Joffe
SOURCE: Daniel H Jacobs, MD in the Stanford Review (10-8-05)
Beinin has taken on, in the last few years, President Lawrence Summers of Harvard, Dr. Daniel Pipes, and Paul Wolfowitz. He has defended Sami Al-Arian, the alleged al Jihad terrorist operating out of the University of South Florida. He has been photographed by the Stanford Daily carrying placards on “Nakba Day” (the “catastrophe”) a day that is known elsewhere as Israel’s Independence Day. Thus, any complaints he has about criticisms needs to be considered with the idea that he can give as well as get.
Beinin teaches an online course sponsored by Stanford, Oxford and Yale entitled “Palestine, Zionism and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.” Beinin prepared a syllabus and a videotape that was mailed to students that introduced the material for each of the ten weekly classes. The rest of the class consisted of readings, a weekly online chat, and an open bulletin board, that was monitored by a young Ph. D.
The bulletin board allowed students the opportunity to correct countless mischaracterizations by the teacher. A few examples are mentioned below. In the video narrative by Beinin for the first week, Beinin stated that, following the destruction of the Jewish Second Temple by the Romans in the year 70, C.E., Jews had next come to Palestine in the sixteenth century, at the invitation of the Moslem Turks, “to study religious books and to be buried there.”
A poster noted that, in fact, the past two millennia in Palestine that Beinin had implied had little Jewish history were actually chock-full of events. These included Jewish revolts, for over five centuries; the writing and the publication of the Jerusalem Talmud and later, the Shulhan Aruch; and the establishment of a synagogue in Jerusalem by Nachmanides after 1270, a city in which Jews have lived since. Only during the First Crusades, when the Jewish community was burned alive, was there a brief period in which Jerusalem did not have a Jewish community.
Beinin lectured that the “only” remnant of the Herodian Jewish Temple was the “Wailing” Wall (an archaic term) and that the Haram, or the Moslem holy site, was located above. A post reminded the class that, actually, the whole Western and Southern Walls were remnants of the Herodian temple, and that the area above had been the Jewish Temple seven centuries before Mohammed was born. A link was presented to pictures of excavations with Hebrew inscriptions such as the Trumpeter’s stone covering an area about ten times larger than the one Beinin incorrectly described....
SOURCE: LA Times (10-7-05)
Better begin at the beginning.
"Columbus' first thought was of acquisition," Mohawk explains, and she leans in to listen: Columbus and a string of celebrated white men to follow were responsible for murder and oppression, and these are the long-distant relatives of the imperialist right-wingers now encamped in our White House. "It's worth reading 'A People's History of the United States,' " says Mohawk, as lights dim. "Those are the voices the media doesn't cover. But mostly, it's a heartbreaking story."
And here comes the book's author; at the sight of Zinn, attendees at the sold-out program at the George and Sakaye Aratani / Japan America Theatre erupt in raucous applause, everybody on their feet.
The 83-year-old historian, his brown khakis reaching a little short of his brown loafers, puts on his glasses and then takes them off, shifts his weight from one leg to the other.
"Thank you," he says, then stops as the cheering begins anew. "My name is Howard Zinn."
Kindhearted guffaws translate as: You need no introduction. By the end of the night, booksellers outside will have sold nearly 200 copies of Zinn and Anthony Arnove's new compilation, "Voices of a People's History of the United States," the just-published companion to the original 1980 bestseller and the script for the evening's reading.
This is a book tour event only in the most superficial sense. More important, says Zinn, it's an opportunity to engage publicly with voices of dissent against the established order.
"Our heroes are not Theodore Roosevelt, but Mark Twain," he tells the audience. "Not Woodrow Wilson, but Helen Keller."
SOURCE: Boston Globe (10-6-05)
In the midst of her troubles in 2002, Goodwin announced to The New York Times that she had asked Simon & Schuster to pulp all paperback copies of the tainted ''Fitzgeralds" book so that she could publish ''a thoroughly corrected edition this spring." But on Monday I bought a new paperback copy of ''Fitzgeralds" that had no sign of any corrections. ''We did exactly what we said we were going to do," says Simon & Schuster's Hayes. ''We did pull all our copies as promised. We weren't aware that other copy [from St. Martin's Press] was out there." The promised corrected edition of ''Fitzgeralds" may be forthcoming after Goodwin finishes her current book tour, Hayes says.
SOURCE: Columnist Alex Beam in the Boston Globe (10-6-05)
The success of her new book, "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln," is assured. Goodwin's canned author profile for her speaking engagements, available at washingtonspeakers.com and linked from doriskearns goodwin.com, already hails "Rivals" as "her best selling book," even though it doesn't go on sale for 2 1/2 weeks.
Goodwin's reintroduction into polite society "We don't think she ever left polite society," her Simon & Schuster spokeswoman, Elizabeth Hayes, says officially begins with her Oct. 25 appearance on NBC's "The Today Show." (Goodwin is an NBC news analyst.) That will be followed by appearances on NPR's "Fresh Air," Tim Russert's "Meet the Press," and so on.
Every successful rehabilitation needs a rambling, empathetic, exculpatory-but-not-apologetic interview. The classics in the genre are Prince Charles's "opening up" to Jonathan Dimbleby, Princess Diana's and Michael Jackson's televised emoting with Martin Bashir, and the Richard Nixon-David Frost jawfests of yesteryear. Although officially not doing interviews until her book comes out, Goodwin did spend considerable time speaking with writer Thomas Mallon for a lengthy feature in the November issue of The Atlantic Monthly. From Goodwin's point of view, it was time well spent.
Mallon is the author of what he calls a "Draconian" book on plagiarism, "Stolen Words." But if he asked Goodwin any Draconian questions about her own problems, they are hardly in evidence in his article. Instead he focuses primarily, dreamily, on the redemptive power of Lincoln scholarship. Proclaiming himself "long since sick of the subject of plagiarism," Mallon speculates that Lincoln may protect Goodwin during her book tour "with his capacity for seeing transgression in proportion to something better."
The whole sorry history of Goodwin's transgressions can be reviewed at the History News Network website, hnn.us. (Search for "Historians on the Hot Seat.") Although many fair-minded people see Goodwin as an inadvertent copier at best, I see a different pattern: an understandable reluctance to talk about the settlement paid to author Lynne McTaggart for "borrowing" from her work. A lack of contrition. The assertion that, of her work, only "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys" had attribution problems. Then when the Los Angeles Times demonstrated similar problems with Goodwin's Franklin Roosevelt book, "No Ordinary Time," her lawyer angrily accused the paper of practicing "junk journalism." A group of historians headed by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. conceded she made mistakes but that they "resulted from inadvertence, not intent."
SOURCE: Carmel Egan in the Australian (9-30-05)
Mr Windschuttle, whose criticisms of the "black armband" view of Australia's past sparked the "history wars" in 2002, describes the Aboriginal heritage claim on Convincing Ground as doubtful.
The Convincing Ground dispute began on January 17 when local Koori Culture heritage officer Denise Lovett stopped earthworks at the site 7km east of Portland on Victoria's west coast.
The local Glenelg Shire Council and three freehold property owners are now fighting a legal battle for the right to proceed with residential subdivision and commercial development.
They have been taken to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal by the Victorian Department of Planning and local Aborigines, who claim oral history and colonial records indicate Convincing Ground was the site where whalers massacred the Kilcarer Gundidj clan in a dispute over a beached whale in 1834.
But Mr Windschuttle has joined fellow conservative historian Michael Connor in labelling Convincing Ground as another Hindmarsh Island affair.
The Hindmarsh Island affair was a dispute about Aboriginal secret women's business which halted the construction of a $6million South Australian bridge project.
"In the Convincing Ground case, we are obviously dealing with myth-making," Mr Windschuttle said. "It is very dubious."
SOURCE: Times--UK (10-1-05)
We’re talking about Simon Schama — überhistorian, “better than average cook”, Bob Dylan fanatic and wearer, for this interview, of startling red shoes. He’s also sporting a late summer tan which he insists is not of the Blair variety but acquired while tapping away at his computer outside his office at Columbia University on the Upper West Side.
But enough of that. We are talking about his latest book, which seems likely to bring down on him a serious storm of abuse when published in the US next year. This is because now is not a good time for a 400-page skewering of the most cherished notion that America has about herself unless you want to set off an almighty media slugfest — and Schama has written that skewering. He has dared to mock America’s claim to have been founded on the idea of freedom.
It all started over lunch, shortly after 9/11, when the price and history of freedom was even more of a preoccupation than now.
Schama sat down with the British Consul-General in New York, and the Duke of York. “Bright, actually,” he says of the Duke. “I mean, very interested in history, and knowledgeable.” And who would satisfy the royal thirst for history? Not Schama, oddly, but Sir Thomas Harris, then the Consul-General, who volunteered some New York titbits to please the guest of honour. These included the fact that former slaves in the city were first allowed to marry under the British, not the Americans, and that hundreds fled their masters to fight for the King in the Revolutionary War.
Prince Andrew was fascinated. So was the professor. Sensing a breakthrough in a project that he’d been mulling over for some time and for which he had signed one of the biggest publishing deals in the history of history, he scurried to the library and started digging.
The bibliographic trail meandered back to the journal of a singularly earnest and idealistic lieutenant of the Royal Navy, John Clarkson who, in 1791, was seconded to the command of extraordinary mission to provide free passage from Nova Scotia to Sierra Leone for every black, freeborn or otherwise, who wanted it. Clarkson traipsed across much of the freezing Canadian province advertising the offer, and in the process encountered an ex-slave who had changed his name to British Freedom.
“I though, OK,” says Schama, who will return to the story in The Times Lecture at Cheltenham next week. “That gives me a wonderful opener: Who owns freedom? Nobody owns British Freedom.”
The book that grew from that opener, Rough Crossings, was intended as one of four stories of “post-divorce custodial battles” between Britain and America, comprising the first volume delivered under Schama’s reported £3 million deal with the BBC. But as Schama dug, the story of the slaves’ mass defection away from the colonies that were supposedly fighting for liberty and towards the supposedly tyrannical British Crown became “so rich and so moving and so complicated, and the nuances were so interesting, that I thought ‘Oh Christ . . . This is going to be a monstrous, elephantine book even by Schama standards, three quarters of a million words.”...
SOURCE: Dennis M. Mahoney,writing in the Columbus Dispatch (Ohio) (9-30-05)
Today's growing evangelical/ fundamentalist churches are finding that out, sometimes at the expense of traditional U.S. Christian denominations, whose numbers have steadily declined.
"The growing churches know they won't be there tomorrow unless they get out and win their kids, their neighbors and everybody else," Marty said in an interview.
As for denominations like his own Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, "You have to say that because you coasted, you never developed a style of knowing you have to win others," he said.
Marty, author, lecturer and professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, spoke yesterday at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Bexley.
He said another reason evangelical/fundamentalist churches are sprouting is the shift toward "rigorous fundamentalism" in religion worldwide.
"The world is firing point- blank at you and it's coming from all directions . . . and you build shields against it," Marty said. "You see moral change, you see social change, you feel a loss of control."
SOURCE: Village Voice (8-26-05)
The ideal place to be writing about imperial Rome, from an imaginative point of view, is right here in New York.
In fact, every time I wake up in my cramped East Village apartment, all I have to do is squint and I might as well be back in the Subura, Rome's feistiest neighborhood in the days of the Caesars. The Subura (nobody knows where the name comes from) was the original gritty downtown: Located conveniently close to the Forum, it was jammed full of tenement houses, each six stories high, called insulae or "islands," and broken into rental apartments that were touchingly familiar—notorious, one historian says, for "the fragility of their construction, the scantiness of their furniture, insufficient light and heat, and the absence of sanitation." In those days, harassed Roman tenants would climb 200 steps to their top-floor garrets, whose walls were so thin they could overhear the most intimate sounds of their neighbors (and this before stereos). They battled rapacious landlords, who ignored the most basic building repairs: "The agents propped up a tottering wall," notes one historian, "or painted a huge (ceiling) rift over, and assured the occupants that they could sleep at their ease, all the time that their home was crumbling over their heads." Adding insult to injury, they paid extortionate prices for the privilege:
"Ever-rising rent was a subject of eternal lamentation in Roman literature," notes the French historian Jérome Carcopino of the brutal real estate market.
We know all this because back in the first and second centuries AD the Subura was full of impoverished Roman writers like Juvenal and Martial, bitching about their tiny apartments and the indignities of their impecunious lives—and surprise, surprise, it doesn't take a huge historical leap to get inside their heads. ...