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: Chronicle of Higher Education (12-5-05)
The ministry's screening of textbooks aroused anti-Japanese rioting in China earlier this year after Japanese education officials released a list of approved textbooks that the Chinese viewed as whitewashing Japanese war crimes and injustices before and during World War II (The Chronicle, May 27).
In last week's case, the professor, Nobuyoshi Takashima, contended that the education ministry had trampled on his freedom of speech in ordering changes to chapters in a high-school textbook on modern Japanese society in which he suggested that Japan should have paid more attention to the feelings of its Asian neighbors. A district court agreed in 1998 that some of the changes were illegal and awarded him a monetary settlement. The Tokyo High Court overturned that ruling on appeal. The Supreme Court upheld the Tokyo court's decision.
"I have fought 13 years and the ruling is as unacceptable as it is superficial," Mr. Takashima said after hearing the verdict. He had asked the court for $10,000 for the mental anguish he suffered as a result of giving up his project to publish the original book.
Kazushige Yamashita, director of the division in charge of textbook screenings at the education ministry, said that the ruling was reasonable because it confirmed the legitimacy and need for the screenings.
SOURCE: NYT (12-5-05)
The cause was complications of surgery, the university said.
Over four decades, Dr. Gotlieb gathered papers and artifacts from more than 2,000 American and European individuals; they occupy seven miles of shelves at what in 2003 was named the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center.
His own exuberant public personality was matched by the blithe eclecticism of his finds, which included Groucho Marx's jokes, George Bernard Shaw's scribbled instructions and John Barrymore on how to play Hamlet.
The Library Journal in 2003 said, "Since Gotlieb began his work, most college and university special collections have followed his lead."
Other major archives of popular culture include the University of Texas; the University of California, Los Angeles; and Stanford. But these collections, while perhaps larger, are not so famously the product of a single archivist's ingenuity, perseverance and idiosyncrasy.
Dr. Gottlieb stopped at virtually nothing to capture his prey. He wrote letters of protest to critics of writers or performers whom he was pursuing. He sent flowers and other gifts to potential donors, including a bed for James Mason. He told prospective donors that he was certain they would win a Nobel Prize.
SOURCE: Greg James Robinson at Cliopatria blog (12-2-05)
At the risk of attracting scorn and brickbats, I would like to suggest that Vidal is one of our nation’s most significant historians, and that his historical writing deserves more intensive study by students of history.
In addition to Vidal's acerbic historical essays and book reviews, on subjects ranging from George Washington to the Amistad Mutiny to Richard Nixon, I would recommend study of his novels. Although I blush to confess how long it is since I read them, their impact remains strong on me. Vidal’s LINCOLN, for example, provides a well-researched and rounded picture of the character of Abraham Lincoln, his use of power, and his great political skill, and the ways in which he contributed to centralizing national power in Washington. His BURR is a wonderful portrait of Jacksonian America and the imperishability of American political trickery through journalistic scandal-mongering. In quite another way, JULIAN, a portrait of the late Roman Emperor Julian, is both witty and poignant in the ways it takes apart the Christian self-image of historical innocence amid Roman depravity, and shows how Christians pulled strings and not too gently maintained themselves in seats of power. I might mention in passing Vidal’s 1967 novel WASHINGTON, D.C. Although it is not such a rigorous historical study, it has a particular importance for me as the first mass-market work I ever saw to criticize the wartime removal and confinement of Japanese Americans.
I do not wish to leave people with the impression that I agree with all of Vidal’s historical judgments. The intense isolationism that he inherited from his Populist grandfather and hero, Oklahoma Senator T.P. Gore, and that continues to mark his view of the 20th century (Vidal has said that the first and only political organization of which he was ever a member was the America First Organization) tends to scant his view of reality. It is silly, in my view, to claim that Charles Lindbergh was a great national hero done in by the machinations of British propaganda. Still, even where I disagree, I find his ideas illuminate debate.
SOURCE: National Coalition for History (12-1-05)
Dichtl, who holds a doctorate in history from Indiana University, will also teach courses in the Department of History at Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), which hosts a highly regarded public history program.
SOURCE: NYT Book Review (11-27-05)
"Mirror to America" is a riveting and bitterly candid memoir. Born in an all-black Oklahoma town in 1915, Franklin can remember his mother, a teacher, riding a horse to work "with a pistol in her saddlebag to protect herself from wolves or some vagabond who might attempt to molest her." In 1921 his father, an attorney, moved to Tulsa to open a law practice and buy a home for the family. A few months later, the black section of that city was demolished in one of the bloodiest race riots in American history. His father lost everything, postponing the family move for four years. In Tulsa, Franklin encountered a seething racism that kept the black community in a state of perpetual unease. There "was never a moment in any contact I had with white people," he writes about this time, "that I was not reminded that society as a whole had sentenced me to abject humiliation for the sole reason that I was not white."
A superb student, Franklin won a scholarship to Fisk, a distinguished black university in Nashville, where he intended to study law. There he met the two most influential people in his adult life: Theodore S. Currier, a young, white faculty member who would fuel Franklin's interest in "Negro history," and Aurelia Whittington, the woman who would become Franklin's wife and inseparable companion for the next 60 years. At Fisk, he recalls, "I became known as the person who had disciplined himself to the point of letting nothing interfere with his studies." When Currier learned that his favorite student had been admitted to graduate school in history but lacked the funds to attend, he borrowed $500 and placed it in Franklin's hand. "Money," he declared, "will not keep you out of Harvard!"
Having never lived among whites, Franklin navigated the Harvard campus of the 1930's like an anthropologist on an exotic field trip. On a given day, he might attend Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr.'s seminar in American intellectual history and then walk to the law school to hear Felix Frankfurter lecture about the Constitution. But he can still recall the "darky" jokes that were told in his history classes. And he could hardly believe the shabby treatment endured by the handful of Jewish students in the program (including his friend Oscar Handlin). Prejudice, he discovered, came in many forms....
SOURCE: NYT (12-2-05)
The material, posted on the Internet overnight Wednesday, included one of the largest collections of secret intercepted communications ever made available. The most provocative document is a 2001 article in which an agency historian argued that the agency's intelligence officers "deliberately skewed" the evidence passed on to policy makers and the public to falsely suggest that North Vietnamese ships had attacked American destroyers on Aug. 4, 1964.
Based on the assertion that such an attack had occurred, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered airstrikes on North Vietnam and Congress passed a broad resolution authorizing military action.
The historian, Robert J. Hanyok, wrote the article in an internal publication and it was classified top secret despite the fact that it dealt with events in 1964. Word of Mr. Hanyok's findings leaked to historians outside the agency, who requested the article under the Freedom of Information Act in 2003.
Some intelligence officials said they believed the article's release was delayed because the agency was wary of comparisons between the roles of flawed intelligence in the Vietnam War and in the war in Iraq. Mr. Hanyok declined to comment on Wednesday. But Don Weber, an agency spokesman, denied that any political consideration was involved.
"There was never a decision not to release the history" written by Mr. Hanyok, Mr. Weber said. On the contrary, he said, the release was delayed because the agency wanted to make public the raw material Mr. Hanyok used for his research.
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (12-2-05)
In 1878 Anderson published a fictionalized memoir titled An American Girl, and Her Four Years in a Boys' College. The book has been cited by a social historian or two, but it was essentially forgotten. A few years ago, however, two scholars at Saint Louis University came across it and were charmed by its spirit. They persuaded the University of Michigan Press to publish an extensively annotated new edition, which will appear in December.
The novel is not a great work of art, but it is "an extremely engaging fictional illustration of an emerging type of American woman in the 1870s," says Elisabeth Israels Perry, a professor of history at Saint Louis, who edited the new edition with Jennifer Ann Price, a Ph.D. candidate in American studies there.
An American Girl tells the story of Wilhelmine Elliot, a student at "the University of Ortonville" known on the campus as Will. Will makes friends and loves her scholarly work. But she also suffers condescension and obnoxious advances from male tutors and students, one of whom she rebuffs by pulling a "little pearl-handled revolver" from her pocket: "I'll give you until I count three to get from here to the corner!"
She also resists her peers' efforts to drag her to church. When a roommate suggests that Will's sister's terminal illness is part of God's plan "to draw you nearer to the Saviour," she explodes: "If that is the way your God treats those he loves, I don't want to know him. Pretty way to fill up heaven, by making earth so lonely and cold and wretched that we don't want to stay!"
SOURCE: Asia Times (11-23-05)
It was a fine night in Pyongyang in mid-October
as I walked a deserted street under the unusually bright stars of the North Korean sky (no industry means no pollution), accompanied by a knowledgeable expert on North Korea.
"Well, I do not understand what the hell they are doing," said the expert, a former student of mine. "You should not be here, frankly. And those South Koreans, they are even more dangerous. The commander-in-chief is making a mistake, but it will take months before they realize how destructive the impact of the Arirang Festival is for their regime."
The North Korean capital from August to late October hosted the Arirang Mass Games, a pompous and kitschy Stalinist festival for which 50,000 participants (largely students) were trained for months. The festival was attended by an unprecedented number of foreigners and South Koreans.
Pyongyang's international hotels, usually half-empty, were completely booked, and five or six flights left the city's international airport every day. This might not appear a particularly large number, but in more ordinary times the airport, by far the least busy capital airport in East Asia, serves merely four to five flights a week. ...
For me, on my first visit to Pyongyang in 20 years, it was quite clear that life in North Korea has changed, even if on the surface everything appeared almost the same as in 1985.
My first impression was that Pyongyang was frozen in time, remaining unchanged from the mid-1980s. Very few new buildings, all very moderate in size and design, have appeared over those two decades. Pyongyang still reminds me of a relatively poor Soviet provincial city of the 1970s and presents a striking contrast with booming Beijing, let alone Seoul.
Even the street crowd has not changed that much. Many people are still dressed in Mao jackets or worn military outfits, and there seems to be even less traffic than in 1985. The veteran expats say nowadays there are far more vehicles than in the late 1990s when the famine reached its height, but for me the reference point is 1985, not 1999. All visible changes were minor, such as the introduction of bikes, which until the 1990s were banned from the "revolutionary capital".
The much-discussed private business was nowhere to be seen, since municipal authorities "cleaned" the city on the eve of the festival, driving away all private vendors along with their stalls and canteens. This was a part of the new political line of re-imposing state controls and cracking down on the non-official economy, but it also destroyed what might be the only serious visual difference between Pyongyang of 1985 and today. Markets continued their activity, but behind high walls and strictly off limits to foreign visitors (but not for expats).
At the same time, Pyongyang does not look destitute. It is a poor city, but not more so than many towns in the less-successful Chinese provinces. This confirms what defectors from North Korea often say. However, the defectors see this "moderate poverty" in an altogether different light, as "great prosperity". As one recently said, "Pyongyang people are rich, this city lives very well, almost as good as some cities in [Chinese] Manchuria."
The gap between privileged Pyongyang and countryside is wide. This was clear from a short countryside trip even though our destination was the city of Kaesong, a semi-privileged location. We traveled about a 100 kilometers on a relatively good highway that connects the two major cities, but encountered no more than two dozen vehicles. A couple of decades ago one could see mechanization in the fields, but now all work is done manually.
However, the impression that Pyongyang is "unchanged and unchangeable" is completely wrong. The material environment has not changed much, but the spirit is very different from what it was in 1985.
The most remarkable aspect was the relative freedom with which North Koreans talked to foreigners, particularly about their great interest in everything that happens outside the state borders. This does not necessarily mean that my North Korean interlocutors rushed to say something critical about the authorities - on the contrary, from time to time most of them murmured the ritual phrases about superhuman wisdom and omniscience of the commander-in-chief.
However, back in the 1980s no North Korean dared talk to a foreigner for more than a few minutes, and under no circumstances could the topics stray from the weather and, sometimes, the greatness of the leader. My impression of North Korea in 1984-85 when I lived there was that of a country where not everybody supported the government, but where everyone was scared to death to say otherwise. It would be an overstatement to say that nowadays the fear has gone, but it has certainly waned.
It was important that my interlocutors were ready to ask thorny questions about life in other countries and in particular about South Korea. They asked about salaries in Seoul, about changes in the former Soviet Union after the collapse of communism ("Are people better off or not?"), about the fate of East German bureaucrats after the German unification ("They went to prison, did they?"), and about the reasons for Chinese success.
Sometimes it seemed some of my interlocutors suspected that the South was well ahead of the North in terms of living standards. This suspicion is dangerous to the regime whose claims of legitimacy are based on its alleged ability to deliver better standards of living. The actual gap between the two Koreas is huge. Still, North Koreans are told they are lucky to live in the North, in the prosperous state of juche (self-reliance), and not in the South, which is a destitute colony of the US imperialists.
Since the 1980s, an increasing number of better-informed North Koreans are uncertain about these official claims. However, in the past it would have been unthinkable to ask a stranger such dangerous questions after just a few minutes of conversation. It was also risky to demonstrate interest in the outside world, but this seems not to be the case any more.
One of the most unexpected and important encounters occurred when I was visiting the Chinese embassy. A small crowd attracted my attention. People were carefully studying something inside a large window on the wall; some finished and went away, only to be replaced by others. Of course, I went closer, only to discover that the people's attention was attracted by pictures hanging in the embassy's "information window". The pictures were large and colorful, but otherwise absolutely unremarkable. The photos and captions were no different from the stuff cultural attaches across the globe put on the walls of their embassies - the usual boring fare about growth of shrimp production, new computer classes and state-of-the-art chicken farms. However, in North Korea of 2005 such mundane matters attract a crowd. Those pictures gave a glimpse of outside life.
This small episode was a sign of what now is in the air in North Korea: people are eager to learn more about the outside world. They are less afraid to show their interest in what once was forbidden knowledge, and they are increasingly uncertain about the future. ...
SOURCE: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ()
"I thought there must be such a thing as architecture," he said in a 2002 interview, recalling that he later noticed the colonnaded entrance to the Oakland Carnegie Library.
"At that point I knew that there was such a thing as architecture, and I really liked it."
It was the beginning of a lifelong passion for Mr. Kidney, the architectural historian at Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, who died yesterday of kidney failure at UPMC Presbyterian, just a few blocks from the long-vanished summer home he knew as a child. He was 73.
His legacy includes nine books about Pittsburgh buildings, rivers and bridges, written over more than 20 years. In recent months he had been working on a memoir and a series of essays about eclectic buildings in Pittsburgh.
With the death of his sometime collaborator at Landmarks, James Denholm Van Trump, in 1995, Mr. Kidney inherited the mantle of dean of Pittsburgh architectural historians. The two couldn't have been more different in demeanor, especially in their later years. Mr. Van Trump -- Jamie, as almost everyone knew him from his television appearances -- was flamboyant and outspoken, with muttonchops and long, wild white hair. Mr. Kidney, who kept his hair closely cropped, spoke in quiet, measured tones and nurtured a droll sense of humor.
Mr. Kidney's life was the life of the mind. He cared little for appearances but collected about 3,500 architecture and design books over the decades, most of which he donated to Landmarks' James D. Van Trump Library after leaving his Mount Washington home for a Grandview Avenue apartment in 2001.
His many important contributions to Pittsburgh scholarship, almost all published by Landmarks, include books on Allegheny Cemetery, the work of architect Henry Hornbostel and a popular, 715-page survey book of Allegheny County's historic buildings.
"In architecture we have not been a particularly creative, or even tasteful, city," he wrote in the survey book, "Pittsburgh's Landmark Architecture." "Of our buildings, generally, the greatest praise we can give is that they do not quarrel with our landscape when seen from afar ... The real glory of the region, in fact, is its wonderful spaces, the vivid contours of the land and the sense of distance they create."
SOURCE: The Guardian (London) ()
When the second world war began, with the German attack on Poland on September 1 1939, the 25-year-old Garlinski had just fallen in love with Eileen Short, a Dublin nurse on an exchange visit to Warsaw; his colonel gave him an hour's leave to get married before the regiment left for the front, where their horses were of little use against the German tanks.
Garlinski survived the first blitzkrieg, and at once joined the Warsaw underground, in which he held several important posts, including chief bodyguard to the commander. He was arrested by accident in 1943 - the German police searched his street for a wireless operator using the cover name of Tadeus Garlinski, and seized the first Garlinski they found. He was sent to Auschwitz, which he entered full of the disdain for Jews then common in Poland.
In the ghastly rigours of that camp, Garlinski became aware that there was a small, but efficient, underground at work, run by Jews whom he could not help admiring - though they refused to recruit him because he was a stranger. Against the odds, he survived and was sent to Neuengamme, a less notorious camp, where he remained until the end of the war.
His wife, Eileen, meanwhile, had used her nursing skills during the second Warsaw uprising of 1944. As it ended, and she stumbled up the cellar steps of her hospital to surrender, her Red Cross armband fell off; she stuffed it in her pocket. Everyone wearing uniform or an armband was shot; she survived.
In retirement, Garlinski enrolled at the London School of Economics, and completed a doctoral thesis on the concentration camp resistance movement that had cured him of anti-semitism. He turned his thesis into a book, Fighting Auschwitz (1975), and established himself as a historian. He wrote Hitler's Last Weapons (1978) about the underground struggle against the V1 and the V2, Intercept (1979) on the ultra secret intelligence tangle, and The Swiss Corridor (1981) about espionage in wartime Switzerland.
He wrote a more general history, Poland in the Second World War (1985), bringing out for American and English readers a point no Pole could forget -that to replace Hitler's regime by Stalin's was not much of a liberation. All these were accurate, sober histories, though he let his private feelings show rather more in The Triumph of Love (1991), a wartime autobiography.
SOURCE: The Guardian (London) (12-2-05)
A delighted Irving asked warders if he could sign his own works. They agreed. Irving then wrote the following dedica tion: "Hi - I'm the unknown prisoner. I send my greetings to all the other unknown prisoners in this house."
Yesterday Josef Adam, the head of Graz prison, told the Guardian he had no idea how the works of a leading Nazi apologist had ended up on his shelves. "It's incredible. I've looked at the index cards. His books have only been taken out four or five times over the past 20 years. Most of our prisoners prefer reading thrillers or encyclopedias. They like the pictures." The library had withdrawn the books from circulation, Mr Adam said.
SOURCE: National Coalition for History (12-1-05)
This presentation is specifically targeted to meeting the policy information needs of Members, their staff, and other policy makers as they collectively grapple with the NCLB re-authorization bill slated to be addressed by Congress in coming weeks and months. The Congressional Seminar Series, that evolved out of a National Coalition for History special initiative, is rooted in the belief that historical context can inform and meaningfully assist in the development of legislation and national policy.
Professor Vinovskis is the Bentley Professor of History, Research Professor at the Institute of Social Research, and Professor of Public Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. He served as deputy staff director to the U.S. House Select Committee on Population in 1978 and worked in the 1990s in the U.S. Department of Education on questions of educational policy and research, in both Republican and Democratic administrations. He is currently a member of the congressionally-mandated Independent Review Panel on “No Child Left Behind.” From 1981 to 1985, he worked as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on the issues of family planning and adolescent pregnancy. He has published nine books, edited seven, and has written over 100 scholarly articles.
SOURCE: Democratic Voice of Burma (11-30-05)
He was more than 82 years old when he died, having just celebrated the 90th birthday of his close friend Ludhu Daw Amar at Taunglaylone (Four Mountains) Monastery of Reverend U Pannya, situated on Taungthaman Lake near Mandalay on the previous day.
Colleagues, friends and pupils paid tribute to the man who stood firm against the oppressions, intimidations and draconian censorships of successive military rules of Burma by remaining faithful to the ethics of a true and unbiased historian and by not toeing the official line when it comes to the true history of Burma, to the day of his death.
A friend of his and the famous Burmese writer Ludhu Sein Win, said that Dr. Than Tun was the one and only true professional in Burma.
A student leader told DVB that at the birthday celebration of Daw Amar when he last spoke to Dr. Than Tun, the late professor urged him and the people of Burma to finish off the struggle for freedom and democracy.
Than Tun often criticised military rulers for attempting to rewrite the history of Burma according to the requirements of their propagandas, and his well-researched books on Burma, had often been banned by the authorities or sidelined by publishers for fear of punishments from the generals who don’t want the people to find out the true history of Burma.