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: Telegraph (UK) (12-31-05)
Before September 11, 2001, Hanson launched charges against his fellow classicists for their failure "to explain the importance of Greek thought and values in an age of electronic information, mass entertainment and crass materialism''. After September 11, he emerged as one of the most readable columnists in the American media, robustly - indeed militantly - in favour of the war in Iraq. So effectively did his talk of Greek civic virtues contribute to the political weather that he was even summoned to the White House to sup with President Bush. Having insisted to his colleagues in classics departments that the ancient world could be made relevant to those far beyond the universities, even his enemies - who are legion - can hardly deny that Hanson has triumphantly proved his case.
All of which will make his new book, A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War, of great interest to those concerned with modern America as well as with ancient Greece. Its subject is the Peloponnesian War, the savage three decade-long struggle between Athens and Sparta that ended with the ruin of Athenian imperial greatness, and which did indeed appear, to those who lived through it, a calamity without parallel. Yet there is simultaneously a knowing irony about the title, for in warfare, as in so much else, the Greeks set the pattern for the West's future - a notion that Hanson has explored with great brilliance throughout his work. As he points out, it was the stated goal of Thucydides, the great historian of the conflict, to make his theme "serve as a lesson for what can happen to any people in any war in any age''. So it was, during the last century, that Thucydides's narrative of universal war, of newspeak and class hatred, of terrorism, revolution and genocide, appeared all too bleakly contemporary. So it is too, in a new century, and amid the raging of a new war, that Thucydides still haunts the corridors of power in America.
As well he might. There is no doubt in Hanson's mind with which city in the Peloponnesian War his own country should be identified - and it is not the winner. "We, like the Athenians,'' he writes, "are all-powerful, but insecure, professedly pacifist yet nearly always in some sort of conflict, often more desirous of being liked than being respected, and proud of our arts and letters even as we are more adept at war.''
This equation of Athenian civilisation with American is not one that Hanson harps upon, but it is a shadow that lies across his whole book, and it gives to his prose a vivid and unsettling immediacy.
SOURCE: NYT (12-30-05)
The death was announced by his family.
Professor Howells, emeritus professor of anthropology at Harvard, made perhaps his most important contribution to the field through his statistical analyses of the physical variations among today's humans. His conclusion, based on skull measurements, was that modern humans are of one species, with little to tell them apart.
He made a lasting contribution to anthropology in the mid-1960's when discord and controversy clouded the debate of racial issues. With his wife, Muriel, as his assistant, Professor Howells undertook a pioneering study of measurements taken from thousands of skulls at dozens of sites in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific.
His data came from specimens representing local populations of unusual homogeneity, and his analysis of the measurements he collected indicated to him that the variations within these groups far exceeded the variations distinguishing group from group. The evidence from his research bolstered the proposition that all modern humans are of one homogeneous species, whereas earlier humans, even very recent relatives like the Neanderthals, differed from them as distinctly alien species.
Later methods, like analysis of DNA, further buttressed that finding. In fact, anthropologists still use the raw data of his skull measurements, along with other techniques, in studying relationships among various ethnic groupings.
SOURCE: William Grimes in the NYT (12-30-05)
''The success of the West, including the rise of science, rested entirely on religious foundations, and the people who brought it about were devout Christians,'' he argues in this provocative, exasperating and occasionally baffling exercise in revisionism. Capitalism, and the scientific revolution that powered it, did not emerge in spite of religion but because of it.
If this sounds paradoxical, it shouldn't, Mr. Stark argues. Despite the prejudiced arguments of anticlerical Enlightenment thinkers, free inquiry and faith in human reason were intrinsic to Christian thought. Christianity, alone among the world's religions, conceived of God as a supremely rational being who created a coherent world whose inner workings could be discovered through the application of reason and logic. Consequently, it was only in the West, rather than in Asia or the Middle East, that alchemy evolved into chemistry, astrology into astronomy.
Mr. Stark gets down to cases quickly. He rapidly administers a few bracing slaps to Max Weber's theory that the Protestant ethic of self-denial and reinvestment propelled capitalism, pointing out that capitalism was in full flower in Italy centuries before the Reformation. As Mr. Stark himself concedes, historians have long since dismantled Weber's elegant and highly influential thesis, but he beats this dead horse one more time.
The most persuasive chapters in ''The Victory of Reason'' describe the early stirrings of free-market enterprise and scientific experimentation on the monastic estates that spread throughout Western Europe after the ninth century. It was during the so-called Dark Ages that Christian monks, throwing off ''the stultifying grip of Roman repression and mistaken Greek idealism,'' developed innovations like the water wheel, horseshoes, fish farming, the three-field system of agriculture, eyeglasses and clocks. ''All of these remarkable developments can be traced to the unique Christian conviction that progress was a God-given obligation, entailed in the gift of reason,'' writes Mr. Stark, who has described himself in interviews, surprisingly, as not religious in any conventional sense....
SOURCE: New Orleans Times-Picayune (12-28-05)
"It creates the expectation that any future disasters are going to receive the same kind of treatment, and creates a dangerous precedent," he said. "It's going to cost more not just in the short run, but in the long run as well, and it's sending the wrong signal to localities."
Bischof and Brinkley, seasoned New Orleans scholars, also are worried about sending the wrong signals -- as they make the case in favor of a Marshall Plan-scale effort.
Both men are angry about what they see as a tepid federal response to Katrina. They want bold strokes, and were barely assuaged by moves in recent weeks by the Bush administration and Congress to dedicate billions of dollars to specific levee protection or relief measures. The money is not a new appropriation, but simply a redirection of unspent money from the $62 billion Congress allocated, mostly to FEMA, weeks after Katrina struck.
Brinkley said that Bush, trying to avoid distraction from the war in Iraq, seems attuned to lessons of the Vietnam War, when President Johnson struggled to muster support for the war and an anti-poverty agenda at home. But Bush is missing the lessons of World War II, when a "we're all in this together" spirit prevailed about tough challenges, the historian said.
"A point of history is to remind us that our times are not uniquely oppressive," Brinkley said. "Great countries rebuild."
The Marshall Plan directed U.S. help to a wide range of economic recovery programs across western Europe, providing, for example, more than $24 billion to France, $22 billion to Great Britain, $10 billion to western Germany and $7 billion to Austria in today's dollars, according to Bischof.
Meanwhile, in a parallel relief program, the United States provided more than $16 billion in today's dollars to Japan, not including aid after World War II in the form of import credits and spending on American military installations.
Bischof, an Austrian native who has written about how the Marshall Plan brought economic revival to that nation, sees parallels between the postwar episode and the post-Katrina struggle. The New Orleans region has seen destruction comparable with that during war, he says. Initial requests for American aid from suffering European countries were seen as recklessly high and were reined in -- not unlike what happened to Louisiana's early pitch for more than $200 billion in federal money. And he noted that ultimate agreement in Congress on details of the Marshall Plan followed a long and stormy debate.
Bischof also said fragmented lobbying is hurting the cause of Louisiana and Mississippi, just as it did European nations that needed help in the late 1940s.
"It really hurts the Gulf Coast that every state is making its own case," Bischof said. "Come up with a regional approach to responding to this -- and I really think that region should be from Florida to Texas. Then they're going to have much more political clout; then it's not going to be an issue of whether Louisiana is more or less responsible with federal aid."
Bischof said the United States also should pursue "a Marshall Plan in reverse," inviting European nations to send resources to the storm region....
SOURCE: Deutsche Welle (12-27-05)
In her first public appearance since she was freed by her Iraqi kidnappers on Dec. 18, German archaeologist Susanne Osthoff said her kidnappers were not criminals. A picture has emerged of Osthoff in the German press as a dedicated humanitarian and historian who was well aware of the risks of life in Iraq but remained because of her close ties to people there. Speaking to Doha-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera on Monday, Osthoff, 43, said her captors told her not to be afraid as her kidnapping was "politically motivated."
Yet Osthoff's proclaimed intention to return to Iraq to continue her humanitarian and professional work has drawn the wrath of the German government.
"It is regretful that Ms. Osthoff is not following the appeal of the German government not to return to Irak," said Ruprecht Polenz, president of the German parliamentary committee on foreign affairs.
"She is precisely the one who should clearly see the risk of such a decision," said Polenz.
German officials seem particularly irked by Osthoff's decision in view of the government effort that went into organizing her release. Only eight days after gaining her release, politicians are calling for levying a financial penalty as a consequence if Osthoff should ignore their warnings and return to Iraq.
German Foreign Minister Steinmeier is also urging Osthoff to stay away from IraqBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: German Foreign Minister Steinmeier is also urging Osthoff to stay away from Iraq
"After the intensive efforts of all parties involved over a period of three weeks in the end led to her being released, I would have little understanding if Ms. Osthoff found herself again in a dangerous situation," said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier
"I am appealing to Ms. Osthoff to distance herself from the plans of going back to Iraq," Steinmeier said. And SPD parliamentarian Lothar Mark said Osthoff should realize "the German tax payer would not finance another release effort should she once again be taken hostage."
Osthoff herself has not responded to the German government's criticism of her plans, but Claudia Roth, the head of the Green Party, has said she can understand that someone as dedicated as Osthoff to helping the people of Iraq would want to return.
"In our democracy, it is good and right that people can make free decisions. ... Ms. Osthoff should decide for herself what she wants to do," Roth said in the Wednesday edition of the daily Handelsblatt.
SOURCE: Star Tribune (12-27-05)
The St. Paul resident was 79.
"How extraordinary it was for her to carve out a career as a private scholar. She didn't have an academic appointment. She created her own intellectual agenda," said Ted Farmer, a professor of history at the University of Minnesota and the acting director of the Center for Early Modern History.
Simler was instrumental in raising the funds to build the center and for enlarging it since its inception 20 years ago, Farmer said. She also served as the center's associate director until the late 1990s.
Simler, whose historical research centered on the colonial market economies of southeastern Pennsylvannia counties near Philadelphia, wrote or co-wrote three books and numerous scholarly articles.
Simler questioned the underpinnings of America's early industrialization.
SOURCE: Montreal Gazette (12-27-05)
The cause was complications from Alzheimer's disease, said Leslie Steinau, her lawyer and a longtime friend.
Cohen waged a tireless campaign against scholars who maintained dance was inherently frivolous. Instead, she believed it had a rich history that could be fruitfully analyzed from many philosophical viewpoints. Her efforts led her to become America's leading figure in dance scholarship.
Her most ambitious achievement was her editing of the International Encyclopedia of Dance for Oxford University Press. Published in 1998 after two decades of planning, and encompassing all forms of dance, the six-volume work, modelled on the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, remains the most comprehensive guide of its kind.
Eclectic scholarly interests had prompted Cohen, A.J. Pischl and Sheppard Black in 1959 to found Dance Perspectives, a journal dedicated to monographs on various aspects of world dance. Cohen became its sole editor in 1966. After it ceased publication in 1976, the Dance Perspectives Foundation, which she had established, continued to award an annual prize for the best dance book of the year.
Cohen was born in Chicago, attended elementary and high school at the University of Chicago Laboratory School and went on to the university itself, receiving a PhD in English in 1946.
When a childhood friend started taking ballet lessons from Edna McRae, a respected Chicago teacher, Cohen went along. Cohen soon realized she had no dancing talent. But she had great curiosity, and McRae had a dance library, which Cohen devoured.
SOURCE: NYT (12-24-05)
Mr. Cummings died at a Newark hospital after heart surgery, said James Osbourn, the principal librarian of the Newark Public Library and a longtime colleague. He leaves no immediate survivors.
Associated with the library since 1963, Mr. Cummings at his death was the assistant director for special collections. He also supervised the library's New Jersey Information Center, a position that required him to be a walking mine of information on the entire state.
The center receives about 500 inquiries each month from scholars, government agencies and ordinary people around the world, seeking information on New Jersey subjects large and small, from the state's part in the Revolutionary War to the best way to get to the Short Hills Mall.
After his appointment as Newark's historian in 1988, Mr. Cummings also led walking tours of the city and wrote a weekly column on its history for The Star-Ledger. So great was his devotion to Newark that he even had its name inscribed in abbreviated form - NWK NJ - on the license plates of his car.
Despite the advent of the microchip three decades ago, Mr. Cummings, a tweedy, rumpled man originally trained as a historian, stored almost three and a-half centuries of New Jersey minutiae largely in his head. ...
SOURCE: NYT (12-24-05)
The cause was prostate cancer, according to Jackie Finlay, his personal assistant.
Dr. Patterson, an expert in the Hebrew literature of Europe, envisioned the center shortly after joining Oxford's faculty in 1956. Part of his motivation was to create a setting where scholars could take advantage of Oxford's rich collection of Hebrew books and manuscripts. Another and more important reason was to fill a void left by the Holocaust.
"By the end of the Second World War in 1945, Jewish studies in Europe had ceased to exist," he wrote in a history of the center. "The great chain of Jewish and traditional learning, as well as the flowering of modern Jewish studies in the 19th and early 20th centuries, had utterly vanished."
The center, he believed, could serve as a modest substitute for the network of Jewish schools, libraries, theaters, museums and synagogues that had been destroyed, and could help preserve historic Hebrew books and materials that had survived.
Dr. Patterson established the center in 1972, without financial assistance from the university. It remains self-supporting and today offers a graduate degree program, houses a collection of manuscripts, holds conferences, brings scholars to Oxford and has a writer-in-residence program whose participants have included the Israeli writers Aharon Appelfeld, Amos Oz and A. B. Yehoshua. It has also inspired similar centers at the universities of Cambridge, Leeds and Manchester.
SOURCE: Independent (London) (12-23-05)
His career was spent at some of the world's leading academic institutions: Princeton, where he taught for 20 years, Oxford (at Balliol College as a Rhodes Scholar in the late 1930s), Yale and, most notably, Stanford University, where in 1961 he became the first J.E. Wallace Sterling Professor of Humanities.
Craig was born in Glasgow in 1913, moving to Toronto and then the United States as a child. He first enrolled as an undergraduate student at Princeton, fully intending to study law. But after taking a history course taught by a dynamic teacher, his interest changed and he never looked back. Intrigued by international history and politics, he travelled to Germany as a student in the 1930s, and became appalled by the Nazi abuses of culture and human rights, terrified about the prospect of another world war, and deeply impressed with the impact of history upon political events. He returned to the US, determined to share his experiences and passionate interests with others.
He took up his first academic post in 1939, at Yale, before moving to Princeton in 1941, also serving as a political analyst for the Office of Strategic Services and as a captain in the Marine Corps during the Second World War.
Craig became a dynamic teacher, winning the coveted Dinkelspiel Award for distinguished teaching at Stanford. His students admired him for his obvious passion for his subject, his quick wit, his powerful speaking style that made history come alive, his superbly organised lectures that made history both comprehensible to beginners and still fascinating for the more advanced, and the fact that he took them and their education very seriously. Some also initially feared taking a class from him due to his high standards and expectations around the seminar table, but eventually found comfort from the fact that he never asked more of them than he did of himself.
Writers reach many others beyond those who can attend university classes, and here Craig's reach was at its greatest. As a scholar, he was extraordinarily prolific, writing for many different audiences and feeling as comfortable with the details of diplomatic negotiation or the impact of military technology on strategic doctrine as with opera, ballet or poetry. He had a most unusual ability to select a particular phrase, quotation, document, painting, musical score, or incident, and then capture its essence and use it as an instructive vehicle to explore larger and enduring issues.
His keen and analytical mind first focused upon diplomacy and international relations. In this regard, he collaborated with others to publish The Diplomats, 1919-1939 (1953), The Diplomats, 1939-1979 (1994), and The Makers of Modern Strategy: military thought from Machiavelli to Hitler (1943), each of which focuses upon the critical role played by individuals in history.
These books were accompanied by From Bismarck to Adenauer: aspects of German statecraft (1958), Military Policy and National Security (1956), and War, Politics, and Diplomacy (1966). Always believing that he could learn from others, he revealed his deep interest in interdisciplinary work by writing the highly successful Force and Statecraft: diplomatic problems of our time (1983) with the distinguished political scientist Alexander George, a book that soon will appear in a new edition.
Given the enormous impact of Germany on so many of these subjects dealing with diplomacy, international relations, strategy, and modern history in general, it is hardly surprising that Craig would spend more and more time thinking and writing about German history. In fact, through time, he became one of the greatest historians of Germany in the world. His observations and advice about this fascinating country and the character of its people were sought by political leaders and the news media, especially at the time of German unification in 1990....
SOURCE: David Carr in the NYT (12-23-05)
"It was like the parting of the seas," said David McCullough, the historian and familiar narrator of television epics, as we looked out on Brooklyn below and Manhattan in the distance.
He was recalling the retreat of Washington's army across the East River on Aug. 29, 1776, a daring escape from advancing British forces. The harbor was filled with a huge force of British ships, but a strong wind kept them anchored, unable to sail upstream to engage the Americans. The Americans gathered small boats for the river crossing, and a fog allowed this makeshift armada to leave Long Island safely. "It was a miracle," Mr. McCullough said. "If the wind had been blowing in a different direction that day, we'd all be sipping tea and singing 'God Save the Queen.' "
The characteristic twist at the end, rendered with an unforced twinkle, is part of what makes Mr. McCullough, 72, the people's historian - an irresistible combination of rigorous researcher, patriot and storyteller. His current bestseller, "1776," a history of what he calls "the most important year in the most important war in American history," takes as one of its chief preoccupations the City of New York and the critical battles - mostly lost, but all part of the path to ultimate victory - in places where New Yorkers now hail cabs and place Lotto bets.
New York is a relatively ancient place in the context of the New World, as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority found out recently when it ran smack dab into a wall dating from 1760 or earlier while digging a subway tunnel under Battery Park. But as a culture, New York is far more concerned with making history than preserving it. Most of its legacy as a nexus of critical events has been paved over. But Mr. McCullough, the abettor of American history, with two Pulitzers and two National Book Awards, has no trouble seeing it on this hill in Brooklyn, woodlands in 1776 and a cemetery since 1838. "It is all still happening for me," he said, gesturing out toward the Manhattan skyline. "A lot of what is here vanishes in my eye and I can put myself in that place and that time."
Many readers have seen great swaths of American history through those eyes, eyes that have been drawn to New York time and again. The Brooklyn Bridge, which lay below us, was the subject of the book that brought David McCullough into the public consciousness to stay. He has rendered John Adams and Theodore Roosevelt, men with large footprints in New York, into well-received biographies. Now as he annotated the city landscape for my benefit, storytelling his way through New York's critical role in the American Revolution, I was in his, and its, thrall. I started to see it, too.
When he is not pushing history through his Underwood typewriter in the office behind his house on Martha's Vineyard, Mr. McCullough has often given voice to the past as a narrator of Ken Burns's documentaries and host of "The American Experience" on PBS. He has a well-earned reputation as a nice man, and there is no bottom to his enthusiasm and curiosity.
At the cemetery, he led me to the statue of Minerva commemorating the Battle of Brooklyn, a horrific and demoralizing loss for the Americans, who had followed the British down to New York after brilliantly maneuvering them out of Boston. "Here and along the slopes of Greenwoods hills," the inscription below Minerva reads, "our patriots for the first time faced their foe in open field; and we stood the test."
Mr. McCullough is driven from book to book, he explained, closing his collar against the chill, by basic questions: "Who the hell are we? Where did we come from and how did we get to where we are today?"...
In some ways, David McCullough is an odd celebrity author. He admits to actually enjoying book tours, appears on television programs but declines to watch much television, and seems more excited to talk about his career as a Sunday painter of landscapes than his next book project. "I'm taking a bit of breather right now," he said. After nearly 40 years and eight books, none of which have ever gone out of print, he has laurels worth resting on. ...
SOURCE: Guardian (12-22-05)
Born on the northern fringes of Birmingham, he attended Bishop Vesey's grammar school, Sutton Coldfield, and Jesus College, Cambridge, gaining a first in history in 1941. He encountered the idea that history could be seen "on the ground" from John Saltmarsh, a lecturer who took students to look at fields in Cambridgeshire villages. Beresford was inspired by maps, and through them the historic landscape.
An early piece of research into Sutton Coldfield revealed unusual field patterns in the 16th and 17th centuries, and he went on to demonstrate - by comparing aerial photographs with early maps - that the narrow strips cultivated in the open fields throughout the Midlands were still visible as ridge and furrow. He combined the evidence of documents, maps and physical remains to find the sites of former villages in Warwickshire, then pursued the research over the whole of England.
Hundreds of villages which had flourished in the Middle Ages had ceased to exist by the 16th century. Beresford's book, The Lost Villages of England (1954), argued that they were depopulated because of the expansion of sheep farming, the enclosure of fields, and the eviction of villagers by acquisitive landlords. In 1948, he had been appointed to a lectureship in economic history at Leeds University, and while working on Lost Villages he visited Wharram Percy, a spectacular deserted village near Malton, on the Yorkshire Wolds. He dug some holes there in 1950 and 1951, mainly to show that the "bumps in fields" really marked the foundations of abandoned houses.
This attracted the attention of the young John Hurst, soon to be an inspector with the Ministry of Works (later English Heritage), and destined to become a key medieval archaeologist. Beresford and Hurst ran a summer season of excavations at Wharram for the next 40 years, and together wrote Wharram Percy (1990) about the site. They also coordinated research through the Deserted Medieval Village Research Group (founded in 1952), culminating in a book, Deserted Medieval Villages (1971). The sites continue to provide a route to understanding the material life of peasant England and exploring the origin and development of villages.
SOURCE: Australian (12-23-05)
Ferguson took issue with that and, expectedly, made a bravura argument against it. ''Nobody pretends that the US came through the Cold War with clean hands,'' he wrote.
''But to pretend that its crimes were equivalent to those of its communist opponents -- and that they have been wilfully hushed up -- is fatally to blur the distinction between truth and falsehood. That may be permissible on stage. I am afraid it is quite routine in diplomacy. But it is unacceptable in serious historical discussion.''
And here is the rub.
''So stick to plays, Harold, and stop torturing history,'' Ferguson continued. ''Even if there was a Nobel Prize for it, you wouldn't stand a chance.
''Because in my profession, unlike yours -- and unlike Condi's, too -- there really are hard distinctions between what is true and what is false.''...
SOURCE: Donald Ritchie, in a email to HNN (12-22-05)
SOURCE: Baltimore Sun (12-21-05)
At the time of his death, Dr. Hutchison was Charles Warren research professor of American religious history at Harvard Divinity School.
Dr. Hutchison was `'the dean of American religious historians," David Hollinger, chairman of the history department at the University of California, Berkeley, said yesterday.
He was the author of several books, including The Transcendentalist Ministers: Church Reform in the New England Renaissance, The Modernist Impulse in American Protestantism , and Religious Pluralism in America: The Contentious History of a Founding Ideal.
[Editor: Mr. Hutchison labored in recent months over an article for HNN. We published it just two weeks ago.]
The following notice appeared in the Boston Globe on 12-20-05:
William Hutchison: Of Cambridge, MA, died of cancer on December 16. Born in San Francisco, CA on May 21, 1930. Hutchison was a professor at Harvard Divinity School for 32 years and authored numerous important works on American religious history. He leaves his beloved wife Virginia (Quay); four children: Joseph of Ridgefield CT, Catherine Winnie, of Rochester NY, Margaret of Berkeley CA, and Elizabeth of Albuquerque NM; 10 grandchildren; and a sister, Mary Fletcher of FL. Memorial services will be held at Cambridge Friends Meeting, 5 Longfellow Park, on January 21 at 2 PM and at Memorial Church, Harvard University, on April 28. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the William R. Hutchison Fund, which supports doctoral students in religion at Harvard University. (Checks should be made out to Harvard University, and mailed to the William R. Hutchison Fund, Office of Development and External Relations, Harvard Divinity School, 45 Francis Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138.) Arrangements handled by the Rogers Funeral Home, CAMBRIDGE.
SOURCE: Lawrence Journal-World (12-20-05)
Grant Goodman on Monday showed the Journal-World a recent letter he had received from a friend in the Philippines; it apparently had been opened, then re-closed with green tape bearing the seal of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and a message that it had been opened “by Border Protection.”
“Very uneasy. And very surprised,” Goodman, 81, a KU professor emeritus of history, said of his reaction to the federal snooping. “I never expected to see that.”
Goodman’s revelation came the same day that President Bush defended his decision to authorize — without permission from Congress or the courts — a secret program to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism.
Goodman said the news about warrantless wiretaps prompted him to go public about his opened mail. He said he had last seen such intrusions during World War II, when as an Army lieutenant he was required to censor the mail of men under his command.
“I don’t know why they would censor this kind of mail,” he said. “It’s amazing.”
The U.S. government has been concerned about the Muslim insurgency in the Philippines, but Goodman said his correspondent — a devoutly Catholic Filipino history professor in her 80s — was an unlikely suspect to be connected to such causes. Goodman declined to reveal her name, saying he feared stirring up trouble for her.
SOURCE: Wa Po (12-18-05)
Moreover, as a historian, Morris knows how to set a scene, tell a story, reconstruct a world. At 240 pages, his Beethoven is succinct but sufficient -- a deft, deeply satisfying mid-length compromise between the brilliant popular profile in Harold C. Schonberg's The Lives of the Great Composers and the exhaustive scholarly biography by Maynard Solomon.
Morris has chosen an apt subtitle, for Beethoven is indeed as close to a "universal composer" as our culture has yet produced -- a man who has occupied the central position in Western classical music for more than 150 years. There is hardly an orchestra on the planet that fails to include at least one of his nine symphonies in its annual schedule; the leading ensembles run through a complete cycle every few years. Conservatory applicants are generally permitted to choose their own audition programs nowadays, but all aspiring piano students are still expected to have at least one of Beethoven's 32 sonatas ready for performance. And then there are the concertos, the cello and violin sonatas, the 15 string quartets, masses, oratorios, songs and a single opera, "Fidelio."
Like most composers, Beethoven was writing music before he formally knew how. He was born on or about Dec. 16, 1770, in Bonn, Germany, into what would now be considered a frightfully dysfunctional family. Father Johann was autocratic and abusive, and it is likely that his son's lifelong hostility toward authority of any kind dates from this initial filial rebellion.
Unlike such predecessors as Bach, Handel, Haydn and Mozart, all of whom managed to make some temperamental accommodation with their enormous gifts, Beethoven found his genius difficult to bear. As Morris puts it, "Ludwig's eruptive talent could be a curse as well as a blessing. Music was like magma inside him." He grew up to be prideful, ill-mannered and intemperate, and he not only burned but incinerated bridges with many who would gladly have helped him.
SOURCE: NYT (12-18-05)
Mrs. Littauer's scholarly career did not begin until her mid-50's, when her husband's health would no longer permit him to maintain his standards of horsemanship. The standards were high indeed: Vladimir S. Littauer was the author of eight books on riding and training horses, and his instructional techniques are still used.
Not wanting to ride alone, Mrs. Littauer was restless. Her husband suggested she write a book about horses.
She had had no college education, but decided to start at the beginning. By bringing her keen intelligence and considerable horse sense to archaeological discoveries, she would write about when and how horses and men got together. Her first article, "The Function of the Yoke Saddle in Ancient Harnessing," appeared in the British journal Antiquity in 1968.
The same year, Mrs. Littauer was introduced to Joost Crouwel, who had just earned a degree in classical archaeology from the University of Amsterdam and was beginning his doctoral thesis on Mycenaean chariots. A collaboration of three decades began.
Dr. Crouwel became professor of Aegean archaeology at the University of Amsterdam. Mrs. Littauer gained fame as the Grande Dame of the study of horses.
The two wrote about 65 articles for academic journals, usually with each other though sometimes with other scholars and sometimes individually. A typical title: "The Earliest Evidence for Metal Bridle Parts."
They wrote two books, "Wheeled Vehicles and Ridden Animals in the Ancient Near East" (1970) and "Chariots and Related Equipment from the Tomb of Tutankhamen" (1985). Both became standard reference works.
"They have set international standards that will last for many years," said Peter Raulvig, an archaeologist and linguist who also studied chariots.
SOURCE: New York Statesman (12-18-05)
However, as police approached his makeshift campsite near the University of Memphis, Braunstein plunged a 3-inch knife into his neck and stabbed himself several times, police sources told the New York Daily News.
I am the man the world is looking for, Braunstein told police. My name is Peter Braunstein.
Braunstein allegedly bought a firefighter's uniform online and used it to gain access to a woman's apartment -- where he allegedly sexually assaulted her for 13 hours.
A university employee reported Braunstein after seeing a story about the attack on the TV show America's Most Wanted.
The fugitive had been spotted in Columbus and Cleveland, where he told people he was an executive for a cable TV show, researching a new series about a stripper who stalks her old high school classmates.
Police said Braunstein is expected to survive the stabbing.
SOURCE: Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO) (12-16-05)
The one-man play by historian Howard Zinn brings Karl Marx back from the dead, wandering into an audience and taking the opportunity to clear his name. Directed by Bob Buckley and starring Christopher Kendall, it's a rigorous, exciting evening more likely to radicalize liberals than to liberalize conservatives.
Kendall has so thoroughly immersed himself in the role that you'd think he'd been playing it for years. With a wavy mane and beard of gray, he takes the stage with a sophisticated, motley continental accent and a wry Jewish humor (Marx's father converted to Christianity to save his job).
Zinn artfully avoids the "and-then- this-happened" biography trap. Rather, his play in this production feels like Marx's stream-of-conscious thoughts on his life and his work.
It also captures the absurdity a human must feel when his name becomes an adjective. "I am not a Marxist," Marx declares, and with the hindsight of a man reflecting on the 20th century, he chafes at those who abused his name and ideas. "Bullies" and "dogmatists" took over his revolution, he says.
Many of his reflections carry from the past to the present day, even though both Marx and Zinn wrote the words before the millennium.
Marx (through Zinn) points to democracy as a palliative that doesn't actually serve the needs of the working class and suffers under an "opposition confining itself to pips and squeaks." Buckley updates it slightly with a reference to the abandonment of the poor in Hurricane Katrina, but rather than feeling like ham-fisted agitprop, it fits smoothly into the extemporaneous feel of the play.
SOURCE: Boston Globe (12-16-05)
Prize-winning author Nathaniel Philbrick, who struck bestseller gold with his account of a 19th-century whaling expedition, is working on an account of the early phase of the Plymouth Colony, from the voyage of the Mayflower in 1620 to the disastrous King Philip's War in 1675, due to be published in May.
As a result, Philbrick's scheduled talk before the Forefathers Day Dinner next week is causing a buzz in the community.
The tradition of a celebratory dinner on Forefathers Day -- Dec. 21, the date of the Pilgrims' landing in Plymouth -- goes back to 1769, according to Stephen O'Neill, associate director of the Pilgrim Hall Museum. And a young nation's veneration of the Pilgrims -- New England heroes whose stock rose even higher after the American Revolution gave birth to an independent nation -- led directly to the founding of the Pilgrim Society in 1820.
The Forefathers Day Dinner, to be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Radisson Hotel Plymouth Harbor, follows the annual meeting of the Pilgrim Society's 700 members, at 4:30 p.m., and a 5:30 p.m. reception ''with succotash & cash bar," according to the Pilgrim Hall Museum.
In recent years the event has drawn especially strong speakers. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer addressed last year's gathering, and prior years saw noted historian David McCullough and the Rev. Peter J. Gomes, a Harvard professor, minister of its Memorial Church, and a Plymouth native who has served as president of the Pilgrim Society.
Members this year are excited not only about the appearance of Philbrick, but also by the insights that his new book might provide, according to Pilgrim Society director Peggy Baker.
The historian's new book ''promises to be a fresh and very welcome look at Plymouth Colony," O'Neil said.
New trends in the study of Plymouth history, as exemplified by organizations like the Pilgrim Society and Plimoth Plantation (the living museum based on the early Pilgrim village), have emphasized Native American culture and the interactions between the two peoples.
Largely ignored by textbooks, King Philip's War rolled back English settlements almost to the walls of Boston before resulting in the destruction of many southern New England Indian groups and hastening the end of their independent way of life in the region.
Philbrick's research on the Pilgrims brought him to Plymouth, where Baker invited him to be this year's speaker. His Forefathers Day talk, titled ''Discovering the Pilgrims," will focus on how his previous books on Nantucket and New England's seagoing way of life led him to study the Pilgrims and Plymouth Colony, and how his research for his book drove him in some unexpected directions, particularly when it came to the Pilgrims' children and grandchildren.
Philbrick, 49, a Midwest native drawn to Cape Cod, wrote books about sailing and Nantucket history before his book about a whaling expedition gone wrong. ''In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex," spent 40 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and won the 2000 National Book Award for nonfiction. It is an account of a ship sunk by a sperm whale that it had been hunting. Two parties of survivors suffered different fates -- one group depending on cannibalism to survive months in the ocean. A New York Times reviewer called it ''an eerie thriller from a centuries old tale [that] would have earned [Herman] Melville's admiration."
Philbrick's most recent book, ''Sea of Glory: America's Voyage of Discovery," won the 2003 Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Naval History Prize and was praised by reviewers for blending history and ''gut-gripping" storytelling. The book is an account of the young nation's underappreciated 1838 expedition to the South Polar Sea, which resulted in a major expansion of scientific knowledge about the Antarctic region. The four-year expedition's artifacts and reports constituted the initial collection of the Smithsonian Institution, but it also resulted in backbiting political shenanigans in Washington and a court martial for its leader.
SOURCE: Daily Telegraph (London) (12-16-05)
Marías was a familiar figure in America, holding a large number of professorships there until the 1970s, but was best-known in Spanish-speaking countries for his monumental History of Philosophy, published in 1941. It subsequently went through dozens of editions and was regarded by some as the best introduction to Western philosophy written in the 20th century (no small claim, given that the competitors included Bertrand Russell).
Julián Marías Aguilera was born at the Castilian town of Valladolid on June 17 1914; when he was five years old, the family moved to Madrid, where he was educated at the Instituto Cardenal Cisneros, before proceeding to the University, from which he graduated in Philosophy in 1936, the year that civil war broke out.
As an undergraduate, Marías had come under the influence not only of Ortega y Gasset, who wrote The Revolt of the Masses and introduced the work of Joyce and Proust to Spain, but also of figures such as Zubiri, Gaos and Morente.
On the outbreak of hostilities, Marías joined the Republicans, though most of his activities were confined to broadcasting, with his friend, the Socialist Julián Besteiro. Through the 1940s, he taught at the Aula Nueva in Madrid, before founding, with Ortega y Gasset, the Instituto de Humanidades. Soon afterwards, he was invited to America to lecture at Wellesley.
It was the beginning of an enthusiasm for the USA (a marked change from his previous Leftist prejudices), and led to Los Estados Unidos en escorzo (1956), and a series of appointments at leading American colleges, including stints at Harvard, Yale, UCLA, Indiana and Oklahoma.
SOURCE: Raw Story website (12-15-05)
Boston University Professor Emeritus of Political Science Howard Zinn: [Laughs] It's sort of ridiculous the juxtaposition of an election that took place in the United States after we had gotten rid of an occupying power, England, an election which represented our independence, with an election that is taking place now, which is in the midst of an occupation. It's like saying when the British were still maintaining troops throughout the 13 colonies, while still maintaining control, had pronounced that now democracy was being brought to the 13 colonies. We were holding an election after ousting the occupying power.
Raw Story: Do you think the Iraq situation is "better" than Vietnam because they are having elections?
Zinn: Well, elections are a very, very superficial way of judging whether there is democracy in the country. There were elections taking place in Vietnam in 1967, and they said this is a good sign. It meant nothing, because we were still bombarding the country... the Vietnamese people were not liking us anymore.... the elections are held amidst the military occupation of the country.
Raw Story: So basically democracy under the gun is not democracy.
Zinn: Yeah, exactly.
Raw Story: If you were a Democratic member of Congress and involved in shaping the party's plan and statements with regard to the Iraq conflict, what would you tell your colleagues? What would you tell the country?
Zinn: If I were Nancy Pelosi I would certainly say to my fellow Democrats, "If we want to win the next election we better get with the American people, they're way ahead of us. The American people are forthrightly against the war and we're forthrightly about [nothing]." The American people are much more bold and forthright. If I were any Democratic leader, if I were Howard Dean - who unfortunately has been the kind of silent head of the Democratic National Committee - I would say to my fellow Democrats, wake up. If you don't give the American people what the American people want, then you are going to go down in history as a party that loses and loses and loses.
Raw Story: How do the Democratic positions compare now to their positions during Vietnam?
Zinn: Certainly when the elections were taking place in 1967, the Democratic Party still had not taken a position against the war. Only by 1968 when the election was coming up did we have an anti-war candidate. Johnson was out of the race because in fact he recognized that he somehow was missing history. Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy understood by 1968 that the war was wrong and furthermore that the American people knew the war was wrong. And so they at least provided some leadership to the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, neither of them made it and the Democratic Party devolved into the hands of Hubert Humphrey who had been a supporter of the war, and Humphrey lost narrowly to Nixon... similar to the 2004 election because Humphrey did not give a clear support for what the American people wanted, which was to get out of Vietnam.
Raw Story: Rumsfeld was recently seen dining with Henry Kissinger, one of the architects of the Vietnam War and Secretary of State to Presidents Nixon and Ford. What tips do you suppose Kissinger could offer Rumsfeld, given his experience in that war?
Zinn: The two belong together. They're birds of feather and I would say vultures of a feather. If Kissinger really understood what we did in Vietnam then he would have been telling Rumsfeld to get out of the Iraq war as fast as possible, and tell him that people will forget that we cut and run. They'll only be grateful that we stopped the killing. I think he would be telling him - if he were really giving him good advice - that no amount of American troops put in there will help; sending more troops to Vietnam didn't help the situation at all. We had 500,000 troops in Vietnam. Basically, if the people don't want us to be there, then no amount of troops is going to make our position satisfying. In fact, the more troops we send the more unsatisfying our presence will be....
SOURCE: Slate (12-14-05)
Siegel raises an interesting historical point. The Whig Party, he argues, was"the center of opposition to both slavery and the Mexican War," while the Jacksonians were a party"of strong slaveholding interests." But this is simplified and misleading. Until the 1850s, the Whigs included most of the wealthiest southern slaveholders and some of the nation's most outspoken pro-slavery ideologues (many of whom also opposed the Mexican War, as did the fractious John C. Calhoun, for pro-slavery reasons). Pro-war but anti-slavery northern Democrats led the fight to keep slavery out of all territories acquired from Mexico. Thereafter, the bulk of the support for the antislavery Free Soil Party in 1848 came from alienated Democrats.
My book argues, in some detail, that the national mainstream of both parties were dedicated to keeping the slavery issue out of national politics. This proved impossible in the 1850s, leading to the Whigs' demise and, by 1860, to the Democrats' division into two sectional political parties. Easier versions of history, pitting Whig"good guys" against Jacksonian"bad guys" on slavery, caricature the historical evidence.
SOURCE: Deutscher Prize website ()
Revolution and Counterrevolution, Class Struggle in a Moscow Metal Factory by Kevin Murphy (published by Berghahn Books).
Every year, this prize is awarded for a book which exemplifies the best and most innovative new writing in or about the Marxist tradition. The closing date for nominations is May 1st.
There is a modest prize of £250, the winning title is announced in the press, and the author is invited to deliver the following year’s Deutscher Memorial Lecture which generally takes place towards the end of November, and which has often been subsequently published in the New Left Review or Historical Materialism.
Current members of the Deutscher Jury include Chris Arthur, Alex Callinicos, Simon Clarke, Marj Mayo, Sandy Nicoll, Alfredo Saad-Filho, Elizabeth Wilson.
SOURCE: Seattle Times (12-15-05)
His latest book, "Mirror to America," came out just last month. Part autobiography and part history, it tells the story of his remarkable family and of the 20th-century civil-rights movement. The book is full of victories and momentous change for the better, but it is also a picture of the persistence of ills to be struggled against.
Franklin, in the end, is worried that we Americans have turned from serious contemplation of the issues facing us.
I met him last month in Nashville. He was sitting in a hotel lobby with another man one morning. He looked familiar, but I couldn't think who he was. As I walked by, I smiled and nodded and so did he, then a woman said, "Oh my," and rushed over, pulling a young girl by the arm.
"This is the famous historian, Dr. John Hope Franklin," she told the little girl.
He seemed way too young to be Dr. Franklin. I sat down and struck up a conversation. He was headed to Fisk for a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of his graduation from the university, and I was headed there to hear him speak to a group of journalists before the commemoration.
We rode over together and walked across the campus with him pointing out buildings he remembered. The man with him, he said, was Walter Brown, one of his early students and the retired dean of education at North Carolina State University. Now they're best friends and neighbors.
Franklin is thin and tall and regal in bearing. His résumé is laden with awards and book credits, but he is down to earth, still a young fellow from Oklahoma.
His ancestors came to Oklahoma from the South on the Trail of Tears along with their Chickasaw owners. His mother was a schoolteacher. His father, Buck Franklin, became a lawyer through a correspondence course, but since there was not much work for a black lawyer, he did many other kinds of work as well.
Buck Franklin's office and everything in it was destroyed in the 1921 Tulsa race riot, in which white folks took to the streets and destroyed the black section of town after black residents tried to prevent a lynching.