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: New York Magazine (12-19-05)
SOURCE: Peter Ryan in the Australian (12-15-05)
I suppose very few viewers -- or newspaper readers, or radio listeners -- made the connection: if a week is a long time in politics, two decades is almost an ice age in the public memory span of history. Yet warned we were, and little heed we paid.
In mid-1984 Blainey, who then held the Ernest Scott chair of history at Melbourne University and was dean of the arts faculty, gave an address to the Rotary Club of Warrnambool, Victoria. This was hardly a commanding forum; there was no TV or radio coverage. Blainey's themes, quietly and soberly presented, were simply these: Australia each year was taking in migrants at a rate faster than the national fabric could absorb; many migrants were coming from backgrounds so starkly different from Australian norms that prospects of a social fit into our community might lie a long way off.
He went on to say that should a time come when ordinary Australians began to feel crowded or pressured by new arrivals, resentment might soon end the ready acceptance upon which migrants hitherto knew they could rely. Blainey's position was reasonable almost to the point of being obvious and appealed to the commonsense of anybody with worldly experience, and with some acquaintance with wider human nature, of whatever colour or culture.
For those who held a different view, the way was surely open to civilised debate with this most urbane and good natured of scholars.
No such thing!
Almost as if he had set a match to dry grass in summer, Blainey's few sensible words from quiet, coastal Warrnambool ignited an Australia-wide bushfire of howling criticism. The arsonists fanning the flames were his colleagues at the University of Melbourne's history department
On June 19, 1984, 23 academics published in Melbourne's The Age a letter that two decades later still holds some sad record for unctuous academic bilge, expressed with unprickable pomposity.
Drawing in their skirts and elevating their fastidious nostrils, they disowned their own professor, saying in effect that Australia's immigration program was a subject too delicate for him to be allowed to discuss, though clearly it was OK for them.
By inescapable inference, Blainey was a racist.
The issue soon surged beyond animated controversy to become a full-scale witch-hunt. There were disorders on campus, and threatened disorders if this vile man should be allowed to go on teaching. Students organised boycotts of his lectures. His colleagues hung him out to dry, at least some of them slyly conniving in the wider campus hoo-ha. Acting to perfection the part of Pontius Pilate, the university gave the mob its head.
In this impossible situation, Blainey eventually resigned from his chair and Melbourne University lost one of its most distinguished, original and publicly accessible scholars. (A few years later it conferred on him the nowadays rather perfunctory distinction of emeritus)....
SOURCE: Atlantic Monthly (11-29-05)
No, it definitely emerged as I went along. At first I really had no idea how to approach Lincoln other than knowing that I was going to live with him and learn about the Civil War and understand him. It was just kind of a leap of faith I took at the beginning that as I got into it I might be able to find my own angle into the story. And it took a while, because at the beginning I tried and realized it wouldn't work to tell the story of Abe and Mary as I had of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Was there just not enough about her?
Well, what I would like to believe worked about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt was that it wasn't simply the private story of their relationship but their public story as well, and Eleanor was such a major figure on the home front during World War Two that she could carry the narrative along with Franklin. If I'd been writing about the battles it would have been hard to keep Eleanor as an equal partner, but on the home front her role had an importance that allowed her to really carry one side of the story. She did so much in terms of civil rights and in terms of women working in the factories. But as I looked into Mary and Abe it was clear that by the time of the Civil War their relationship had evolved so that I would be telling essentially a private story about Mary along with a public story about Lincoln—and it wouldn't match correctly. In reading about Mary and about Lincoln's daily life during the war it soon became apparent that he was spending most of his time with these other characters—Seward and Stanton and Bates and Chase—and Mary was jealous of this. He would sit with them when they were waiting for news from the battlefront; they would accompany him on trips to see the soldiers after a battlefield loss; and he took carriage rides with Seward in the afternoon and relaxed with him late at night. I came to realize that in terms of emotion shared he was much more married to them than to her—and more importantly that they were fabulous characters. I'd known about them but I had never gotten into their lives before, and as I got more and more involved with reading about them—reading their letters and diaries— I felt that I began to know Seward and his wife and his daughter, and Chase and Stanton and their families. There was a sense of just feeling their presence. And then, when it turned out, of course, that they were not only in his cabinet but had been his rivals I realized that this was the story I'd like to tell.
Of those cabinet members—those rivals and Stanton as well—was there one whom you most enjoyed writing about?
Oh, absolutely Seward. I think part of it was that early in the project I went up to Seward's home in Auburn, New York, which has never been out of family members' hands and is now a private museum. Unlike many museums that are reconstructed after the fact, everything is as it was when the Sewards were there—the books he liked to read are in the study, the pictures on the walls are the family pictures, the china on the table is the family china, the garden where he sat to wait for the news from the Chicago convention has been kept the same. They even put the family clothes on mannequins. I felt somehow that I really got to know his family—his wife, Frances, so far ahead of her time, who suffered the typical nineteenth-century frailties that women seemed to get when they couldn't exercise their talents; and his daughter, Fanny, who wanted to be a writer and wrote that wonderful diary, but died at the age of twenty. And I think the fact that Seward reminded me in a lot of ways of Churchill—they both, in a certain sense, lived every man's dream that you can drink and smoke and live until you're ninety and have those huge appetites. More important, I suppose, was the enormous ability he had after the almost irrecoverable disappointment of not getting that nomination to somehow adjust himself to becoming Lincoln's ally and great friend. That surprising friendship moved me a lot.
Chase seemed to me an obvious candidate for least appealing. I was wondering if his story provided any special challenges when you were writing the book.
I think that the challenge was that on the one hand you knew that early on he had had such an honorable career and still did. His defense of the runaway slaves and his being willing to put himself beyond public opinion in the 1850s on curbing racial discrimination made you admire him for what he stood for. But temperamentally I think it would have been very difficult to warm up to him. Somebody said to me the other day that Seward might have been somewhat Clintonian and Chase was somewhat Nixonian in the sense that it didn't come naturally to him to like politics, even though he was very smart and became successful. It used to be said that Nixon would go home at night and practice conversations that he was going to have. Chase would go home at night and practice jokes that he could never deliver. I've often wondered whether his life would have been different if his first wife—who I think was the one he really loved passionately—had not died in childbirth. There was a real warmth in his attitude toward her and a love for her that seemed to have opened him up from the earlier much colder person that he had been. So it was hard to attach oneself to him, but on the other hand you had to say you understood where he was coming from.
You seem to give Lincoln more credit for his presidential victory than historians traditionally have, and I wondered if you could talk about what separated him from Seward and Chase and Bates and made him the Republican nominee.
Reading some of the accounts by people at the time and then by historians somewhat later, it seemed as if people assumed Lincoln won simply because he was in the center of the party and because the convention was held in Chicago. But when I looked into it, it seemed that he had already made possible the idea that he would be the second choice if any of the top people faltered. Lincoln somehow understood that his chance would come, as he said, "If people are willing to give up their first love." He wanted to be there as the second love, and because he, unlike his rivals, had not made enemies along the way and because he had actually been working harder than any of them in those months prior to the convention, his plan worked.
Lincoln spent his campaign going from one state to another giving wonderful speeches, making his name known, and writing letters to other people in the campaign to try and stake out a middle position, not just because he knew that's where the victory would be but because he naturally came to that. And then he successfully strategized to get the convention in Chicago. At the national committee meeting held to decide where the convention would be, the Seward people wanted it in New York, Chase in Ohio, Bates in Missouri, and they said, Why not Illinois? There's nobody really there. But Lincoln understood ahead of time, Let's get it in Illinois. Then he could pack the hall with all of his people and get them to yell louder for him than for Seward. It was a lifetime's work, in a way, that prepared him for that. He was really ready when the circumstances opened the opportunity for someone other than the top guys to get the nomination. ...
SOURCE: Providence Journal (12-13-05)
The document, a letter written in the 1950s by the director of the association's health and safety department, was one of a half-dozen documents presented by the state against NL Industries, Atlantic Richfield and Millennium Holdings. ...
In the state's trial against companies that made lead-based pigments for paint, Gerald Markowitz, a historian who coauthored a book about the lead industry with David Rosner, testified that the "ineducable" parents the letter referred to were identified as black and Puerto Rican in other documents he researched.
Markowitz testified Thursday that the association was formed partly to "combat the substitution of other materials for lead, as well as to combat adverse publicity due to lead poisoning."
Yesterday, state lawyer Jack McConnell presented minutes from association meetings in which the issue of bad publicity from lead poisonings was discussed....
[The state's lawyer Jack] McConnell asked Markowitz if he thought each of the defendants knew about the dangers of lead poisoning during the time they made and sold lead for pigments.
"Did they continue to produce and sell lead after they knew it could poison children?
"Did they continue to sell lead after they knew children were dying of lead poisoning?"
For each defendant, for each question, Markowitz answered, "Yes."
SOURCE: Guardian (12-14-05)
The Banks thesis focused to great effect on the fall in fertility among the Victorian middle classes, who were among the leaders of this domestic revolution in Britain between broadly 1870 and 1914. Instead of relying on abstract statistical and demographic analysis, Banks was the first to read widely and judiciously in the diverse literary, pamphlet and newspaper sources of the Victorian era to produce a trilogy of studies of the motives and choices of middle-class individuals in their historical contexts.
The first of the trilogy, Prosperity and Parenthood (1954), remains the place for all serious students to start when addressing this subject, and is one of very few 50-year-old history books still in use. Through a brilliantly innovative analysis of such sources as the changing guidance on etiquette, as set out in the seven editions of Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management between 1861 and 1906, Banks showed how the middle classes were prey to escalating consumption aspirations - "the paraphernalia of gentility". He found that the rising costs of secondary education for children became a crucial element in this, leading to greatly delayed marriage and ultimately the resort to birth control within marriage.
In his 1964 sequel, Feminism and Family Planning (written with his wife, Olive Banks), he argued that Victorian feminism was not responsible for the turn to family planning, finding that the movement was wary of becoming associated with the morally tainted subject of contraception. Finally, in 1981, in Victorian Values, Secularism and the Size of Families, he explored the difficult issue of how respectable upper and middle-class Victorians squared continuing adherence to conventional religious norms with preparedness to engage in family limitation.
SOURCE: Haaretz (12-13-05)
Irving was arrested in the southern province of Styria last month under a warrant issued in 1989 and has since been remanded in custody and charged with denying the Holocaust, a crime in Austria which carries a sentence of one to 10 years in prison.
"Irving's trial will take place on Feb. 20 and 21 from 9 A.M. to 4 P.M. (0800-1500 GMT)," said a spokesman for the Vienna regional court. "I can't say any more on that now," he added.
Irving's Web site said he had been invited by students to address a university association in Austria. In a message dated Nov. 11, it said he was on a one-day visit to the Austrian capital.
When driving to the meeting in Vienna, students noticed plainclothes detectives waiting for him, Irving told Austrian weekly magazine News last month. He changed plans and drove to Graz in the southern province of Styria to visit one of his publishers. Police stopped him on the motorway and detained him.
SOURCE: Fred Siegel in Slate (12-12-05)
But in the 1960s, under the pressure of a divisive war abroad, the feminist critique of the family, and racial riots at home, both the Democratic Party and the writing of American history splintered. The monolithic virtue of the masses came under scrutiny. The racism, sexism, and militarism of "the people" emerged as a problem in the eyes of their former champions. The "solution" instituted in the wake of the disastrous 1968 Democratic Convention was the quota-driven politics of the Dutton/McGovern reforms. Designed to remake the Democratic Party, the Dutton/McGovern rules pushed working-class Catholics away in favor of a party organized around quotas for racial, gender, "peace," and so-called youth interests. At the same time, the focus of American political history shifted to emphasize the study of race, class, and gender. The aim in both cases was to redress the injustices of the past, but the fragmented parts were never able to produce a cohesive whole.
Sean Wilentz's impressive new book The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln ambitiously tries to mend these breaches by presenting a history in which the fragments of identity politics are once again fastened together.
... Most historians would be content to let the implications of their arguments for contemporary politics speak for themselves. But Wilentz, a contributing editor at the New Republic, is by no means a typical historian. In a recent article, "Reconsidering Bush's Ancestors," published in the New York Times Magazine, Wilentz makes explicit the implicit politics of his historical interpretation. Reading history backward, he defines today's Republicans as the direct descendants of the now long-forgotten Whig Party of the 1830s and 1840s. The alternative to the Democrats in the years before the Civil War and the creation of the Republican Party, the Whigs—like today's GOP—clashed sharply with the Democrats on both the size of government and the shape of American foreign policy. For Wilentz, "the blend of businessmen's aversion to government regulation, down-home cultural populism and Christian moralism that sustains today's" Bush Republicans is but a continuation of the political formulas first laid out by the Whigs.
Wilentz is updating the arguments Arthur Schlesinger Jr. made famous for an earlier generation of liberals. For both men, the Jacksonian Democrats were the good guys, the horny-handed men of hammer and plow who were both the true tribunes of the people and the friends of the oppressed. "Jacksonians," Wilentz argues, "unlike conservatives then and now, also battled against the country's financial and mercantile elites and sought to reduce the power of what Jackson called 'associated wealth' over the nation's economy and politics." In essence, Wilentz aims to present Jacksonianism, along with abolitionism, as two facets of a common drive for democracy.
But Wilentz's tidy lineage skews the reality of Jacksonianism and misconstrues the Whig position as well. Jackson was a slaveholder, and some of his strongest supporters were small Southern and Western farmers who wanted Indian land that many of them hoped to farm with slave labor. The Democrats were a party with strong slaveholding interests, which drove the Indians of Georgia on to the "trail of tears" and then looked to westward expansion through a war with Mexico to advance their interests.
It was the Whig Party, which Wilentz accuses of hiding its elitist aims in the faux democratic symbolism of "the log cabin," that was the center of opposition to both slavery and the Mexican War. Moreover, when it comes to foreign policy, what Wilentz misses is that today's Northeastern Democrats are the heirs of the Whigs' dovishness, and today's Republicans, with their Southern base, are the heirs of Jacksonian hawkishness.
SOURCE: Sun-Sentinel (12-11-05)
But for Doris Kearns Goodwin, among others, the Great Hall is a landmark graced by history: Abraham Lincoln was here. He stood on that stage and spoke in early 1860, an address that established him as a national candidate, not just an Illinois lawyer and orator, and helped get him elected.
"You can't imagine what it's like for somebody who has tried to bring him to life to know he was actually here alive, and at such an important moment of his career," she says, looking toward the back of the room, where a portrait of Lincoln hangs.
For the past decade, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian has dwelled with the spirit of Lincoln, the most scrutinized of all American presidents. It was a needed break for Goodwin from a time when she herself was scrutinized. She's now on a tour to promote her new book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.
Three years ago, well into the Lincoln book, Goodwin acknowledged a Weekly Standard report that her 1987 release, The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, contained sections of text taken without attribution from another author, Lynne McTaggart.
Goodwin, 62, has said the copying was accidental, the result of a longhand note-taking system that didn't distinguish between her own observations and passages from other texts. Both she and McTaggart said they had reached a settlement years earlier that included an undisclosed payment and revisions to Goodwin's book.
But the controversy grew. After discovering additional passages that closely paralleled the original sources, Goodwin ordered the book removed from stores and promised a new edition, which has yet to be written.
"I just got right back to [the Lincoln book], which was more important," says Goodwin, who has no plans to revise her work until after her tour, which comes to Miami on Tuesday....
Whatever damage she caused herself, it has not lowered expectations for her new book, which contains more than 100 pages of source notes. Simon & Schuster announced a first printing of 400,000 copies and Team of Rivals quickly entered the Top 10 on Amazon.com; it's No. 3 on The New York Times best-sellers list this week. Steven Spielberg has acquired film rights.
Many welcome her return. Book sellers have liked her all along, as an individual and as a historian; just two months after the scandal broke, she was received warmly at the industry's national convention, BookExpo America, where she was a featured speaker.
She also remains highly respected among her peers, with Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Sean Wilentz and Robert Dallek among those who defended her. Some top Lincoln scholars, including Harold Holzer, Michael Burlingame and Goodwin's friend, David Herbert Donald, have praised her new book.
"You don't want to keep a person with her talent in perennial handcuffs," says Holzer, author of 23 books on Lincoln and the Civil War. "To have someone with her dazzling writing ability turn to Lincoln is a great boon to the Lincoln field."
SOURCE: Neil Cameron in the Gazette (Montreal) (12-10-05)
Winston Churchill's pro-digious life found a prodigious biographer in Sir Martin Gilbert. Gilbert has published 75 books, and while many have been on other topics, he has made Churchill his lifelong preoccupation. His huge six-volume life was not only the largest work on any single political figure of the 20th century, but effectively a history of British and world politics centred on the life of the century's most remarkable man.
Since completing that heroic task, Gilbert has continued to write about Churchill, in books of less daunting proportions. Churchill and America, his most recent one, deals with a large and important story.
Churchill's "special relationship" with the United States was immensely important throughout his career, and in 1940-45, the skill with which he turned his personal attachment into a close wartime alliance shaped the whole character of the Second World War and its aftermath.
Churchill's mother was a beautiful American heiress, so that, as he put it, "American blood flowed in my veins." This mattered more because he chose to play on that blood connection in his wartime addresses to the U.S. Congress and public than as a real influence on his early years. His relationship with his mother was adoring but remote, and his upbringing was entirely English. He never really knew much about the United States as it was experienced by its ordinary citizens.
Gilbert shows that even as a child, what caught Churchill's imagination was the concept of a common Anglo-American civilization, sharing values of law, liberty, democracy and military valour. His adult encounters with the United States and Americans really began in the First World War, including one with Franklin Roosevelt, then Undersecretary of the Navy....
SOURCE: Australian (12-7-05)
SOURCE: Australian (12-8-05)
SOURCE: Seth Sandronsky Interview with David Roediger at politicalaffairs.net (12-7-05)
Seth: Your area of interest is critical whiteness studies. Please explain the term for those unfamiliar with it.
David: The areas in which I teach are working-class history and African-American Studies and at its best the critical study of whiteness often grows out of those areas. The critical examination of whiteness, academic and not, simply involves the effort to break through the illusion that whiteness is natural, biological, normal, and not crying out for explanation. Instead of accepting what James Baldwin called the "lie of whiteness," many people in lots of different fields and movement activities have tried to productively make it into a problem. When did (some) people come to define themselves as white? In what conditions? How does the lie of whiteness get reproduced? What are its costs politically, morally and culturally? Not surprisingly, thinkers from groups for whom whiteness was and is a problem have taken the lead in studying whiteness in this way. Such study began with slave folktales and American Indian stories of contact with whites. The work of such writers as Baldwin, Cheryl Harris, Ida B. Wells, Américo Paredes, W.E. B. Du Bois, Leslie Silko, and Toni Morrison has deepened such traditions. For radical white writers wishing to forge interracial movements of poor and working people, whiteness has also long been a problem, with Alexander Saxton and Ted Allen making especially full efforts to understand whiteness in order to disillusion whites unable to see past the value of their own skins.
Seth: What black author and scholar W.E.B. Du Bois called nearly a century ago "the color line" between whites and non-whites remains a force to reckon with in U.S. society. Where does the concept and practice of whiteness fit into this social process?
David: At about the same time of the famous "color line" quotation, Du Bois added that what he wonderfully called the idea of "personal whiteness" (Cheryl Harris would similarly refer to "whiteness as property") was not timeless or permanent or even very old. He argued that it had held sway less than 250 years of all human history. That would make it no more than 350 years old now and would place its origins, as Marx did, alongside the primitive accumulation of capital and especially the slave trade and the taking of Indian land. On this view whiteness is both materially rooted and a powerful ideology propping up the order which created it.
Seth: Some consider the New Deal era as a kind of golden age for liberalism in the U.S. How did New Deal policies affect the nation's skin color divide?
David: As I wrote Working toward Whiteness, I came to see one historic task on the New Deal -- and one in which it succeeded -- as the fostering of fuller U.S. citizenship among immigrants from southern and eastern Europe and their kids. But this very achievement separated poorer and often despised immigrant workers from Europe and workers of color in unprecedented ways. The New Deal never rethought the draconian racist immigration restriction policies of the 20s, of course, but its electoral base rested significantly on "ethnic" voters, whose activism was both hemmed in and rewarded by the Democrats. Southern and Eastern Europeans were included as secondary leaders of the new industrial unions, and as entitled citizens qualified for social security, unemployment compensation, and fair labor standards protections, even as workers of color were largely left out of key areas of the welfare state. This was critically true in the case of massive federal subsidies to (white) homeowners through the Home Owners Loan Corporations and the Federal Housing Authority.
SOURCE: Newsweek (12-12-05)
But what happened next shocked everyone. Gordon England, the Pentagon No. 2 recently installed as Paul Wolfowitz's successor, enthusiastically endorsed Zelikow's views. The critical question from England's perspective was: are we better or worse off using these methods? Worse, he concluded. "He was utterly pragmatic," recalls one senior official who declined to be named because the deliberations were private.
SOURCE: Boston Globe (12-9-05)
SOURCE: Reuters (12-8-05)
The FBI assembled about 300 pages of files on the singer-turned-activist in 1971 and 1972 as part of President Richard Nixon's effort to deport and silence Lennon as a critic of the Vietnam War, according to historian Jon Wiener, who has led the court battle to release the files.
"After years of litigation, the FBI has released all the pages except for 10, which it is withholding using a national security claim," said Wiener, a history professor at the University of California-Irvine.
"At a time when we are confronted by life and death issues of terrorism, the FBI is trivializing national security in the name of political expediency," he said.
Wiener and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California first filed the Freedom of Information lawsuit in 1983 to gain access to the secret files on Lennon.
The case went all the way to the Supreme Court before the FBI settled in 1997, agreeing to release the files except for the last 10 pages.
In September 2004, a U.S. District Court judge in California ordered the FBI to release the last 10 pages, but in the latest twist, the FBI on October 20 of this year filed a notice of appeal of that ruling with the court.
Under the Freedom of Information rules, if information is received from a foreign country, that information would be exempted from release to the public," said FBI spokesman Bill Carter on Wednesday.
Lennon was assassinated by a deranged fan on December 8, 1980, as he walked into his Manhattan apartment house.
Wiener, who wrote "Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files," a book that recounts his struggle to the get the Lennon files released, said none of the released documents have anything to do with criminal violations.
"They all document Lennon's political activities as a war opponent," he said.
As for the contents of the withheld pages, Wiener said the public was not even allowed to know the name of the country that provided the pages. He speculates that it is likely Britain since a former employee of Britain's MI5 intelligence agency, David Shayler, has said he saw Lennon file at MI5.
SOURCE: WSJ (12-5-05)
But the German publisher, C. H. Beck, refused to publish it, returned the rights to the author, and offered "gladly" to make the translation available. In Italy, the Corriere Della Sera printed Mr. Canfora's angry charges of "censorship" -- a cry quickly taken up elsewhere. In an interview on the subject, Mr. Le Goff told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: "It's not that I want to defend Canfora, I just think that a contract should be kept." Noting that the series on democracy was planned four years ago and "Canfora's political and academic positions were widely known," he went on to say that should publication be "banned" in Germany, "it would look very like censorship." But that comment has not stopped the detection and exposure of the flaws in such an argument.
Joachim Güntner, writing in the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung, agrees with the accusations by C.H. Beck's chief editor Detlef Felken (that Mr. Canfora is "palliating communism"), noting that "the word 'gulag' does not make a single appearance in the German translation. But the USA is violently attacked for its support of 'fascist regimes worldwide' . . ." Asking "Is the author blind in his left eye?" Mr. Güntner takes Mr. Canfora to task for not breaking "with the communist idea of historical 'necessity', according to which Stalin was not simply blood-thirsty and power-crazed but someone who did what he had to do for the Soviet Union."
Some Italian voices are heard in some sort of defense of this book, a sad paradox when one remembers that the Italian left -- and even Italian communists -- were among the earliest exposers of Stalinism in the 1960s. One defense has been that a publisher is obliged to honor his contract. Yes, but does he not have a previous obligation to examine the material covered by the contract? Publishers cannot be expected to produce every manuscript they receive. Some are bound to be rejected. And those who work in publishing, especially among those at lower levels, may lack judgment, or taste. We must, of course, put up with this. But it cannot be presented as a reason to evade later criticism. It was the unanimous conclusion of five independent consultants that C. H. Beck would be well advised not to publish the book. Even the well-known left-wing historian Hans Ulrich Wehler criticized it, noting that "In its dogmatic stupidity he [Canfora] exceeds the products of the GDR in the sixties and seventies."
So, contrary to all civilized expectation, the lessons of the past three generations are rejected. Those of us who thought they had been learnt must, once again, face the non-facts. Thus we learn, from Mr. Canfora, of the negative role of Poland in failing to support Stalin. Katyn (like Gulag) does not figure in the index. We are treated to a Hungarian Revolution of 1956 in which the West is the main villain. And "hysterically anti-Soviet" opinion (particularly in Poland) is berated. (A useful guide to Stalinophilia is the use of "hysterical," "frenzied" and "rabid" to describe non-communists.)
To be called "distinguished" is not an adequate reply to the objections emerging from all sides of the political spectrum. Mr. Canfora's expertise as a classicist is in itself no qualification, or not one adequate to refute the facts of 20th-century Stalinism. But we get not merely a favorable, but an intellectually indefensibly favorable view of Gulag-denial in the form of Gulag-avoidance -- a lesson to all the David Irvings....
SOURCE: Press Release -- Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) (11-21-05)
MESA made the award on Sunday evening, November 20, at an awards ceremony during its 40th annual meeting, held in Washington, D.C. The group cited the work of Professors Fatma Muge Gocek, Ronald Suny, and other workshop members
“The enterprise of the Workshop of Armenian-Turkish Scholarship is an elegant example of academic freedom in operation,” said MESA president Ali Banuazizi, professor of sociology at Boston University, “These scholars reached out to one another, using the tools of history and the language of collegial discourse, to begin a process of reconciliation that will have positive repercussions within society and among political elites.”
Five years ago, in 2000, the members of the workshop initiated a series of conferences involving Armenian, Armenian-American, Turkish, and Turkish-American historians and other academics who had separately addressed issues raised by the massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War One. In September 2005, after some Turkish political leaders had sabotaged earlier efforts, Istanbul’s Bilgi University hosted workshop members at a conference on these issues, also organized by Bogazici and Sabanci universities, despite continued opposition from some Turkish political leaders.
MESA also gave an academic freedom award this year to Akbar Ganji, the courageous Iranian writer who remains in prison for his courageous critical writing about abusive policies and practices of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
SOURCE: ft.com (12-7-05)
Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, said it was "another progressive move by SIS", which came in from the cold in only 1994 when the government acknowledged its existence.
But any expectations that Prof Jeffrey, whose appointment was agreed by John Scarlett, "C" or the chief of SIS, and who as chairman of the joint intelligence committee was at the centre of allegations about the misuse of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war, will disclose any uncomfortable secrets are likely to be dashed. The history will cover only from 1909 to 1949 "to protect information still considered to be especially sensitive".
The official history of MI5, the Security Service, is being written by Christopher Andrew, a professor at Cambridge University and expert on the intelligence services.
SOURCE: Christian Science Monitor (12-7-05)
Recent proof of this universal truth is reflected in the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to British playwright Harold Pinter. The master of menacing drama is revealed to be a fan of normalcy, of a most charming kind.
And therein lies a profound contradiction.
First, the work. Domination and submission are Mr. Pinter's themes. As The New York Times puts it, by depicting "the violence - emotional, physical, sexual or psychological - that human beings visit upon one another," Pinter portrays "the contagion of abuse in human experience." The Nobel announcement cites Pinter as an artist who "uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms."
While other artists address these themes, what makes Pinter singular is how he illuminates that precipice under the prattle - with signature pauses and silences - and uses language to convey the futility of communication. Making miscommunication even more chilling, and making what director Peter Hall calls "brisk, hostile repartee" more hostile, are the seemingly normal settings of his plays: living rooms and kitchens. Pinter himself says he writes about "the weasel under the cocktail cabinet." If you've attended a Pinter play, you've felt the weasel.
And yet, and yet: Writing for the Guardian the day he received news of the Nobel, Pinter sounded positively tickled with the "invasion" of friends "communicating" their congratulations "all day long." What a surprise: In all his oeuvre, true friends, if not altogether absent, would be fodder for domination.
Even more surprising, given the misogyny in his work, Pinter waxed lyrical about his wife, historian Lady Antonia Fraser. Describing their breakfast tableau, he writes, with a dramatist's specificity: "Antonia's act of passing the cranberry juice to me is an act of married love." Referring presumably to the cancer he's fighting, he ends: "I should say that, without her, I couldn't have coped over the last few years. I'm a very lucky man in every respect."
Indeed. What a paean to normalcy! Who knew that under the prattle lay not a precipice (nor a weasel), but love, gentleness, communion, and seemingly perfect communication. Who knew another kind of Pinter drama - "Harold (pause) Adores Antonia" - existed?...
SOURCE: AP (12-6-05)
Lawton's 1960 book "Willie Boy: A Desert Manhunt" chronicled the hunt for a 28-year-old Paiute-Chemehuevi Indian who had shot and killed his girlfriend's father because he had forbidden the distant cousins from marrying.
Willie Boy and the 16-year-old girl, Carlota Boniface, eluded a posse for 12 days, traversing 600 miles of Southern California desert in 100-degree heat. Carlota ultimately was shot and killed and Willie Boy killed himself.
Lawton's work, which included interviews with surviving posse members, won the James D. Phelan Award in Literature for best nonfiction and the Southwest Literature award for a historical work. It was turned into a 1969 movie that starred Robert Redford as the deputy sheriff in charge of the posse, Robert Blake as Willie Boy and Katharine Ross as Carlota. Lawton served as a consultant on the film.
SOURCE: Australian (12-6-05)
'I MUST tell you, I was a bit of a loner and I still am." Garry Trompf says this matter of factly, as he reflects on an unusual academic career.
He chased grand ideas down the halls of European history.
In Melanesia, he went from village to village, charting tradition. This month he retires as Australia's only -- perhaps its last? -- professor in the history of ideas.
"Australian intellectual life, for the generation in which I grew up, was strongly secular with preoccupations that were different from mine," he says.
His chair sits within the religious studies department at the University of Sydney, although Trompf has never seen religion as something to be confined or relegated.
"When I work on religion and politics, I find that Australian intellectuals have been caught napping," he says.
By the irruption of political Islam? Yes, Trompf replies, but not simply by Islamism.
Many in the 20th century were lulled into thinking that politics and economics were the engines of event and conflict; religion was a cog discarded by history. Or so it was supposed.
Trompf: "There are forms of fundamentalism across the globe which show the resurgence of intense religious positions -- and these positions are becoming politicised.
"[In world affairs now] we're not just dealing with politics, we're dealing with politics and religion.
"I'm one of the few people training students to do these two together but I feel very lonely," he says, laughing a little ruefully.
It's not that the religious impulse went unfelt during those long years of intellectual disdain.
"There's something in us that can't remain secular," Trompf says. "And the trouble with Australia is that we're totally out of true with the rest of the world -- so much of the rest of the world is massively religious."
His own religious world began in Melbourne, where he "grew up between Anglicanism and Methodism". "It was about 1952 when I went to [a Catholic] mass for the first time -- I would have been 12, and I take that year to be the melting of the ice," he recalls. "I couldn't stand religious divisions."...
SOURCE: Medford News (12-6-05)
The Adams Prize is the top prize that the association bestows in European history. Healy is the first member of the OSU History Department faculty ever to have received this award, which is given annually for a distinguished first book by a young scholar in the field of European history.
In "Vienna and the Fall of the Habsburg Empire," published by Cambridge University Press, Healy examines the collapse of the empire from the perspective of everyday life in the capital. She argues that a striking effect of "total war" on the home front was the spread of a war mentality to the sites of daily life such as streets, shops, schools, entertainment venues, and apartment houses.
While great armies clashed on distant battlefields, Healy points out, the multi-ethnic civilian population of Vienna waged a protracted, socially devastating war against each other as they grappled with severe material shortages and eventually with near-famine. Vienna fell into civilian mutiny before the state collapsed in 1918, and Healy uses the results of meticulous archival research to show how ordinary men, women, and children conceived of Austria during the empire's death throes.
The Adams Prize was established in 1905 in memory of the first secretary of the American Historical Association, Herbert Baxter Adams of Johns Hopkins University, who also co-founded the organization.
SOURCE: scoop.co.nz (12-6-05)
Another Canadian, David Frum, made it all the way to the White House with his custom-tailored scribbling. So too such a genuinely dangerous American as Pat Buchanan. How does a man like Thomas Friedman pick up prizes writing advertising copy for the Pentagon? As I said, loyalty is handsomely rewarded.
David Frum and Pat Buchanan both fell from grace, but there is little danger of Ignatieff's doing so. He almost perceptibly pants and gasps when he applies words to the imperial splendor of which he stands in awe.
Ignatieff, while running what is essentially a marketing program for America at the forty-billion dollar endowment called Harvard, has kept in touch with Canada. Every once in a while he is interviewed by someone at the CBC or the Toronto Star. The interviewer's tone typically is toe-scrunchingly along the lines of, "Here is one of the age's great intellectuals, and he's from Canada!" Certain Canadians do have an embarrassing tendency that way.
So I am familiar with Ignatieff's quietly arrogant tone. Oddly, it is almost the tone of a minister of the Gospel, educated and polished to be sure, one of those New England clerics safely ensconced in a sinecure at some dignified pile of stones where he only has to address a small, blue-haired congregation once a week to earn his keep, but a preacher none the less. Ignatieff doesn't give speeches or write essays, he gives sermons, rather dull sermons with just a hint of suppressed rage under the surface. The rage, perhaps regarded as appealing or even sexy by some, if you listen carefully, is directed at people who do not embrace his views.
Yet I have only now discovered the immensity of Ignatieff's arrogance. You see, he's been dropped into a federal riding (for American readers, the equivalent of a congressional district) to run for Canada's Parliament. He is being dropped by national leaders of the Liberal Party in search of "star" candidates for an approaching election which is expected to be close, but he has been dropped into a riding where a substantial number of Liberal faithful disagree with his alien views. Moreover, he has written in one of his books, as we shall see, words insulting to many residents of the riding. ...
SOURCE: Philadelphia Inquirer (12-6-05)
Leave it to a historian to suggest a brighter future without implosion.
Howard Gillette Jr. didn't intend to depress, he insists as we chat about his bleak book at City Coffee downtown.
The Rutgers University-Camden professor mostly wanted to learn how Camden had come to be the eyesore that suburbanites scowl at as they ride PATCO each day.
Gillette was one of them, once.
"You see it from above," he says, "but you don't want to come down. It's the smallest city with the most big-city problems in the country."
The mess, he learned, wasn't made overnight. It won't easily be cleaned.
But Gillette can't help remembering something he heard Ed Rendell, of all people, say in the 1990s.
Camden's future, Rendell predicted, will depend on empty-nesters.
Gillette was stunned.
But wouldn't you know it? One of his own scholarly colleagues recently upped and moved from idyllic Moorestown to the swanky Victor building on the Camden waterfront.
"That was unimaginable back then," Gillette says, "so the things that are unimaginable now could happen."
Going, going, gone
So what caused Camden's fall?
Some blame the 1926 opening of the Ben Franklin Bridge for dividing, and conquering, the city.
Gillette thinks the riots of 1971 did far more lasting damage.
Not that the intervening years were particularly pleasant.
His chart on Page 42 says it all.
1950 population: 124,555 - 97,900 white, 17,434 African American.
1950 jobs: 59,489.
1980 population: 84,9100 - 26,003 whites, 45,009 African American.
1980 jobs: 27,926.
During the 1960s, Gillette writes, 12,000 well-paying, skilled, industrial jobs skipped town.
In that same decade, 28,000 white residents hightailed it to the suburbs.
I don't generally pity politicians, but it's hard not to feel sorry for those who've tried to right this ship.
"It looked like the Vietcong bombed us to get even," Mayor Angelo Errichetti remarked in 1973.
In the 1960s, Mayor Al Pierce began the shameful trend of pimping out the city's assets to pay for ever-mounting bills and budget shortfalls.
Twenty years later, Mayor Randy Primas sold off the North Camden waterfront for a state prison.
It meant money and jobs. It meant Camden was drowning and willing to grab at any life preserver floating by.
Prisons, sewage plants, trash incinerators - if the state or suburbs needed a dumping ground for its waste and distaste, they had it in Camden....
So could Camden wind up looking like Hoboken or Jersey City? Could it one day compete with Collingswood?
Could it become a racially and economically integrated success story?
"It's not inconceivable," Gillette says, then adds a cautionary coda.
"Historians," he points out, "are really bad at looking to the future."
SOURCE: Tech Central Station (12-1-05)
Can you tell us how you got interested in looking into this subject and what, broadly speaking, you discovered?
Robert Fogel: Well a group of other people in demography economics and the biomedical sciences and I began collaborating back in the mid-'70's to first measure the decline in mortality in the United States. Prior to that work there was very little that was known about what happened to mortality, before the middle to late 19th century in the U.S. And so we found sources of data that permitted us to recreate time series on that, and we discovered that the pattern of increase in life expectancy was puzzling. And in the effort to explain these puzzles we produced many new lines of research, some of which are summarized in the book, The Escape From Hunger.
Nick Schulz: And what exactly was puzzling about this pattern of increase?
Robert Fogel: Well, life expectancy appears to have increased pretty steadily from the early 18th century until maybe around 1820. And then it started cycling. We had actual decreases in life expectancy. Before we returned back to a path of increase in life expectancy, beginning in the late 19th century, and from then on it was a pretty steady pattern of increase. In both good times and bad times, we have a substantial increase in life expectancy.
For example, during the Great Depression of the 1930's, which in some ways was not new but in some ways it was surprising, you would think that in such hard times with such a large percentage of the people unemployed, many for a long time, it would've had a negative health effect. But, whatever negative effect there might have been was swamped by more positive factors that led to an increase of more than six years in life expectancy, in a decade.
Nick Schulz: You mentioned that, after years of increase starting in the early 18th century there was a decrease. What prompted the decrease, if anything? Were you able to tease out the answer?
Robert Fogel: It was a combination of things. One was large-scale immigration. Many of the immigrants brought with them diseases. The most spectacular cases were the cholera epidemic of '49, 1849-1852, which became endemic to about 1857.
Two boats from Germany -- one landed in New York and when people got off of that boat, cholera broke out in New York City, and the other went down to New Orleans, and people boarded the riverboats going upstream and every place that the boat docked to leave people off, cholera broke out, all the way up to St. Louis. And then, up the Ohio River to Pittsburgh. So, you had a pretty graphic example about how sick immigrants could introduce serious diseases.
The other, and more quantitatively more important, was the rise of urbanization. If you look in third-world countries today, cities are healthier than the countryside. But, in the 19th century it was the opposite -- there was a mortality gap with the cities having higher morbidity and mortality rates than the countryside down to World War II. It's only in the 1940's and 1950's that the cities become healthier than the countryside, which is still the case.
Nick Schulz: And yet, people still came to cities, despite the fact that living conditions were so bad and that it could be hazardous to your health?
Robert Fogel: Right. Well in the United States, most of the people who came to the big cities were foreign migrants. In Europe, they were the poorest of the countryside being pushed out of the countryside and into the cities. The city of London had a mortality rate that was higher than the fertility rate; and the city population only grew because of net in migration during the 19th century....
SOURCE: Baltimore Sun (12-5-05)
He moved to Lincoln in 1964 and taught at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He was an authority on the Civil War, Reconstruction and the history of race relations. The Organization of American Historians created the Rawley Prize for accomplished historians in the area of race relations.
His books include The Transatlantic Slave Trade: A History and Turning Points of the Civil War.