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: Editors of the NYT Bk Rev: "Up Front" (7-16-06)
Gates learned of the Revolutionary War veteran in his lineage while filming his PBS documentary, "African American Lives," a program which used innovations in DNA research and old-fashioned genealogical sleuthing to trace the ancestry of eight notable African Americans, including entertainers Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones, Chris Tucker, Whoopi Goldberg, astronaut Mae Jemison, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, educator Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, and Bishop T.D. Jakes.
"You could have knocked me over with a feather," Gates said of the revelation of the identity of his fifth great-grandfather. "It was my hope that African Americans, and children in particular, would be inspired by this series to embrace both science and history as paths to their learning about both their African roots and their American roots."
Gates is also undertaking a joint project with the SAR to identify other descendants of the approximately 5,000 African Americans who served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.
"The African American contribution to the American struggle for independence has long been underestimated and under-appreciated," Gates said in announcing the partnership between the Du Bois Institute and the SAR. He added, "This project stands to correct and even transform the historical record, as we are only now beginning to discover just how many blacks were defenders of liberty and great American patriots during the Revolutionary War."
The effort is being funded by a grant from Joseph W. Dooley, the head of the lineage society's membership committee, and by the Du Bois Institute. Jane Ailes of Research Consultants, a genealogical consulting firm in Virginia, will undertake a survey of the 80,000 pension applications of Revolutionary War veterans and compare these names to Federal Census records from 1790 to 1850, to ascertain the race of each applicant. Once the research is complete, the Du Bois Institute and the SAR will advertise for descendants of these individuals and invite them to apply for membership in the SAR or the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).
About the partnership between the SAR and the Du Bois Institute, and the end goal of increasing African American membership in the two lineage societies, Dooley said, "Black men who love their country and their family seek to honor both by joining the SAR, just as their white fellow Americans have been doing for more than a century."
The collaboration of the Du Bois Institute and the SAR has the potential to alter, perhaps dramatically, the composition of the SAR, an organization which currently counts under 30 African Americans under its 26,000 members. Historians commonly estimate the number of African Americans and other non-whites who served in the Revolutionary War as 5,000, but the actual number is unknown. In recent years both the SAR and the DAR have begun to open their rolls to African Americans who meet the strict membership guidelines, under which the military service of the ancestor has to be documented, as does the genealogical relationship of the applicant to that individual.
A PBS film crew also recorded Gates's address at the SAR induction ceremony for the upcoming sequel of "African American Lives." Several members of his family are also applying to or awaiting approval from the SAR and the DAR. During filming of “African American Lives,” is when Gates first discovered that his mother's line descended from John Redman, a free Mulatto who enlisted in a Virginia regiment in 1778. Coincidentally, Gates's paternal grandmother was a Redman as well.
The W. E. B. Du Bois Institute is the nation's oldest research center dedicated to the study of the history, culture, and social institutions of Africans and African Americans.
From its inception, the Institute has supported the development of over 250 scholars, including such leading figures as Kathleen Cleaver, Cathy J. Cohen, Thomas Cripps, St. Clair Drake, George Frederickson, Nellie McKay, Nell Painter, Arnold Rampersad, Cornel West, Wole Soyinka, and Dorothy Porter Wesley. Today, the Institute awards up to twenty fellowships annually to scholars at various stages in their careers in the fields of African and African American studies, broadly defined to cover the expanse of the African Diaspora. In addition, the Institute is actively involved with the community at large through its Martin Luther King, Jr. After-School Program and its W. E. B. Du Bois Society - both programs are focused on the academic development of African American youth.
SOURCE: Sean Wilentz in the New Republic (7-10-06)
Hofstadter, in character, acted more the dry wit than the rabble-rouser. At one point, the bus carrying the scholars to the march swerved badly, leaving the professors momentarily shaken and frightened. Hofstadter broke the tension. "If your driving leads to an accident that kills us all," he pleaded with the bus driver, "you will set back the liberal interpretation of American history for a century!"
His tone was, as ever, ironic and humorous, but it was also charged with energy and pride. "I had the feeling that he felt liberated," one of his colleagues recalled, "that he was somehow getting in touch with the past." Hofstadter would have been even prouder had he known that one of the leaders of the original march, John Lewis of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, had been carrying a small knapsack when a state trooper cracked open his skull, and that inside the knapsack was a paperback copy of The American Political Tradition, Hofstadter's most widely read book, published seventeen years earlier.
s David S. Brown claims in this illuminating biography, Hofstadter retains an enormous mystique today, thirty-six years after his death from leukemia at the age of fifty-four. Phrases and concepts that Hofstadter invented to describe and to analyze American politics--"status anxiety," "the paranoid style"-- remain in currency among high-end journalists and pundits. His best books, The American Political Tradition and The Age of Reform, remain on graduate reading lists decades after their publication, models of dazzling prose and interpretive acuity. All but one of his half-dozen other major works remain in print.
In some respects, indeed, Hofstadter's standing has risen since 1970. His fascination with the history of what he called "political culture," the quirks in American politics beyond official platforms and speeches, is now very much in vogue. And no historian of the United States with the same combination of intellectual heterodoxy, literary brilliance, and scholarly sweep has replaced him. Amid the current dizzy political scene--with its snake-oil preachers, and anti-Darwinian Social Darwinists, and Indian casino ripoff artists, and a president whose friends say he thinks he is ordained by God--Hofstadter's sharpness about the darker follies of American democracy seems more urgently needed than ever.
Brown's labors would have been worthwhile had he simply told the man's life story and assessed his work. (The only previous book on Hofstadter confines itself to his leftist youth in the 1930s, including a brief and uneasy membership in the Communist Party.) But Brown goes further, describing Hofstadter's paradoxical mixture of iconoclasm and caution, a personality that managed to submerge melancholy in ambition and a sense of the absurd. Brown's book freshens the worn-out chronicle of the postwar Upper West Side intelligentsia by re-telling it from Hofstadter's playful, eternally skeptical, oddly uninflammatory point of view. Although he was essentially a private intellectual and writer--"I'm not a teacher," he once told his student Eric Foner, "I'm a writer"--Hofstadter emerges here as more engaged in the politics of the 1950s and 1960s than is often remembered. If Brown at times makes his subject seem too reactive, his thinking a product of the larger academic and political world, he captures Hofstadter's evolving thoughts without pigeonholing them; and he attends to how fortune--good, bad, and heartbreaking--altered the course of Hofstadter's achievements.
Above all, Brown helps readers assess Hofstadter as a member of a generation of American historians every bit as important as (and in some respects more so than) the well-known Progressive generation of Charles Beard, Frederick Jackson Turner, and Vernon Parrington, the trio to whom Hofstadter devoted his last full-scale book. Like those earlier scholars, Hofstadter's generation, which included Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and C. Vann Woodward, imagined history as a continuing dialogue between the past and the present. Although many came to the academy as outsiders (Schlesinger being an obvious exception), all were highly respectful of the spirit--if not always the institutions and the rituals--of the scholarly life. ...
SOURCE: California Aggie (7-10-06)
As one of the only scholars to have studied in Iraq both before and after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, Watenpaugh brings a unique perspective to the class.
As one of the only scholars to have studied in Iraq both before and after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, Watenpaugh brings a unique perspective to the class.
"I'm hoping the course will shed light on the larger picture of the ethical and political dimensions of the conflict in Iraq," he said. "It's an old society with a complex culture and we need to examine its past to understand the current conflict."
Before the 2003 invasion, Watenpaugh participated in a group-study tour of the country with other American scholars at a time when it was illegal for American academics to enter Iraq. After the invasion, he led a group of Ottoman scholars in conducting an assessment of Iraq's universities, libraries and research centers, many of which had been plagued with looting and fires.
"No matter how bad you imagine things in Iraq to be, the truth is usually worse," he said. "We predicted bad things would happen, but many problems we saw have gotten worse."
It is important for students to begin to understand the complexity of Iraqi culture and the ethical concerns the United States has and will continue to encounter in the future, Watenpaugh said.
"Whether we like it or not, America and Iraq are inextricably connected and will be for years to come," he said. "And there are also some very painful questions we need to ask. Most fundamentally, 'Is Iraq better off now than it was before the 2003 invasion?' That we can even ask that question speaks volumes about the complex nature of the conflict and that there are just no simple answers any longer."
Watenpaugh's course is limited to 18 students, but will be offered again during spring quarter. The course was made possible through a U.S. Department of Education grant that allowed the establishment of the Middle East/South Asia studies program at UC Davis. The department has heretofore only offered a Middle East/South Asia studies minor, but will begin offering a major program during the 2006-2007 academic school year. ...
SOURCE: NYT (7-12-06)
As editions pass, the names on the spine of a book may have only a distant or dated relation to the words between the covers, diluted with each successive edition, people in the industry, and even authors, say.
In the case of the two [Prentice Hall] history texts [which feature similar passages about 9/11], the authors appeared mortified by the similarities and said they had had nothing to do with the changes.
“They were not my words,” said Allan Winkler, a historian at Miami University of Ohio, who wrote the “Pathways” book with Andrew Cayton, Elisabeth I. Perry and Linda Reed. “It’s embarrassing. It’s inexcusable.” ...
The similarities in the Prentice Hall books were discovered by James W. Loewen, who is updating his 1995 best seller, “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.” ...
Professor Winkler, one of the authors of “America: Pathways to the Present,” said he and his co-authors had written “every word” of the first edition, aiming to teach American history from a sociological perspective, from the grass roots up. But, he said, in updated editions, the authors reviewed passages written by freelancers or in-house writers or editors.
He said the authors collaborated on their last major revision before Sept. 11, 2001, working with editorial staff members in Boston. But he said that after the attacks, he was not asked to write updates and was not shown revisions.
“There was no reason in the world to think that we would not see material that was stuck in there at some point in the future,” Professor Winkler said. “Given the fact that similar material was used in another book, we are really profoundly upset and outraged.”
SOURCE: NYT (7-12-06)
Professor Boyer, emeritus professor of history at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, acknowledged that the original authors had supplied the structure of the book that carries his name. But he said that as he revises the text, he adds new scholarship, themes and interpretations. He defended the disappearance of the original authors’ names from the book, saying it would be more misleading to carry their names when they had no say in current editions.
“Textbooks are hardly the same as the Iliad or Beowulf,” he added.
SOURCE: George Weigel in Tidings Online (7-7-06)
Professor Burleigh proposes that Christianity gave the West cosmopolitanism and egalitarianism, for it recognized "neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free" as relevant social categories - and thus blazed a path beyond tribalism and toward the end of slavery, that ubiquitous human institution. Modern feminism notwithstanding, Christianity also gave the world ... feminism, for St. Paul completed his instruction on Christian egalitarianism by reminding the Galatians that, in Christ Jesus, neither "male nor female" had a superior dignity - which, in that context and in much of the world today, means that Christianity is the great liberator of women.
Christianity, as Pope Benedict reminded us recently, gave the West the idea of charity as a personal and social obligation; think of the world of cruelty graphically captured in the film "Gladiator" and you'll see the point. Christianity also gave the world a politically viable concept of peace, the peace that St. Augustine first defined in the fifth century as the "tranquility of order."
Christianity taught that rulers were responsible, not to themselves alone (as so many rulers liked to think, then and now), but to transcendent moral norms. Would the concepts of the rule of law, and of rulers responsible to the law, have evolved in the West if, as Professor Burleigh reminds us, "the redoubtable Ambrose, archbishop of Milan ... [had not] tamed the Emperor Theodosius?" Or, to cite the more familiar example, if Gregory VII had not confronted Henry II and forced him to recognize the freedom of the Church - a freedom that implies limits on state power? It seems unlikely, not least because these ideas didn't gain currency in the rest of the world until they were brought to the rest of the world by Christians....
Burleigh, the Oxford don, argues that Christianity's contributions to the civilization of the West have been ignored or caricatured as "divisive, fraudulent, or oppressive" by "people with little or no historical knowledge" of the subject. (Dan Brown, call your office.) Worse, this caricature of a vibrant public Christianity as inherently dangerous for democracy is a caricature in service to the idea that secularism is the only possible "neutral" ground on which a democratic political community can conduct its life. But when, Burleigh asks, did those arguing this case "last visit the Vendee, Auschwitz, or Vorkuta to see secular rationality in all its glory"? ...
SOURCE: Australian (7-6-06)
Emeritus Professor Ken Inglis, who wrote a history of the ABC, said yesterday he was concerned that the ABC's decision not to publish the book by long-standing Four Corners journalist Chris Masters could be used to stop the broadcast of controversial programs.
Jonestown was commissioned by ABC Enterprises, which raises money to support the national broadcaster, after Masters profiled the Sydney talk-back radio host for Four Corners in 2002.
On Tuesday, ABC acting managing director Murray Green said the decision not to publish the book stemmed from fears that it would incur hundreds of thousand of dollars in legal costs.
Professor Inglis, whose updated history of the ABC will be released this month, said if concerns about legal costs were given top priority, programs such as Masters' 1987 expose of corruption in Queensland and his 1983 investigation of NSW rugby could have been stopped.
"This is a serious concern that needs to be cleared up," Professor Inglis said. "I can't recall anything like this happening over a publication at the ABC."
SOURCE: "History Matters" in the Guardian (7-9-06)
History Matters - pass it on is a campaign to raise public awareness of the huge contribution that history, heritage and the built environment make to our quality of life. It unites the whole heritage sector, led by the National Trust, English Heritage, the Historic Houses Association and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and events will be held over the next six months at hundreds of historic locations across England and Wales. Supporters include David Starkey, Tristram Hunt, Simon Thurley, Stephen Fry, Bill Bryson, Shami Chakrabarti, Tony Benn and Boris Johnson.]
At the launch of a new campaign last week to promote the study of history, Stephen Fry made a passionate appeal that we use the gripping narratives of the past to make sense of the world today. Here we publish the remarkable speech that dazzled an audience of writers and historians
Sunday July 9, 2006
Why does history matter? A better man might be able to answer with far more questions than answers. Whenever the importance of history is discussed, epigrams and homilies come tripping easily off our tongues: How can we understand our present or glimpse our future if we cannot understand our past? How can we know who we are if we don't know who we were? While history may be condemned to repeat itself, historians are condemned to repeat themselves. History is bunk or possibly bunkum. History is a comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel. History is written by the victor. Historians are prophets looking backwards. Or we could paraphrase EM Forster on the novel. 'Does history tell a story? Oh, dear me yes, history tells a story.'
Historians, more than any other class, spend a great deal of time justifying their trade, defining it and aphorising it, seeming to lavish more attention on historiography than history. After all, is there such a thing as history or are there only histories? For all the oddities of some arcane scientific research, we all know that science eventually leads to making light bulbs work, car engines run and failed hearts pump again. Can we test the value of history in the same way? Can we prove that a politician, a financier or a spot-welder is better, happier or more fulfilled for possessing a feel for history?
But ... isn't history now just point of view, tribal assertion, cultural propaganda? After all, the days of Burke, Macaulay, Gibbon, Trevelyan and Froude are over. Historians are no longer grandees at the centre of a fixed civilisation; they are simply journalists writing about celebrities who haven't got the grace to be alive any more. Certainly, some people sense in our world, even if they can't prove it, a new and bewildering contempt for the past. In the high street of life, as it were, no one seems to look above the shop-line. Today's plastic signage at street level is the focus; yesterday's pilasters, corbels and pediments above are neither noticed nor considered, save by what some would call cranks and conservationists.
There are those who wonder if the whole of history is now valuable only as a politically correct lesson in the stupidity and cruelty of monarchs, aristocrats, industrialists and generals. Stern, loveless voices tell us that history as we know it is an irrelevance, with its obsession with dead white men, or with Judaeo-Christianity, or classical antiquity, or the West, or enlightenment, or wars, dynasties and treaties. Marxists, Althusserians, formalists, revisionists, historians of Empire or against Empire - forget them all. You don't even have to dignify it with ideological abstractions any more; history is really the story of a series of subjugations, oppressions, exploitations and abuses.
Or history is heritage studies: cotton mills, marshalling yards and collieries smartened up as 'resources' for school trips; take the kids into the kitchens and servants' quarters of the stately home and ignore the saloons and great rooms above stairs for fear of giving offence. British culture, besieged on all sides by guilt: guilt at empire, guilt at English domination of the United Kingdom, guilt at slavery, at industrial wage-slavery, at Boer Wars, Afghan Wars, mutinies, massacres and maladministrations.
History, then, as one long, grovelling apology or act of self-abasement and self-laceration. A history in which historians have to stand on one side of an argument or another, for, in between, they are nothing but dry-as-dust statisticians. Or we see historians as creepy hindsight critics who can, in the safety of their studies, point out to Alexander the Great and Napoleon where they went wrong and how they would have done it better.
And yet, against this, we measure the exponential growth in the public appetite for history. Has it ever been a better time to be a historian? In publishing and in broadcasting, history is a phenomenon that continues to exceed expectations. Enthusiasts bounding about from battlefield to palace and castle and back again, filling more air time then ever before. From Melvyn Bragg's matchless colloquies on Radio 4 to documentary series bearing the proud epithets 'landmark', 'flagship', 'prestige' 'must-see', 'event TV' and 'water-cooler moments'. Just recently, we've had themed evenings on BBC 4 on the 18th century as well as documentaries and big news items on the Somme. Certainly, history is popular in grand traditional forms, but new subgenres of history have, for the last 20 years, exploded in popularity, too. The history of science, philosophy and thought: sidelights are more popular than floodlights - small histories of the cod, tulips, salt, sugar or the pepper gardens of India, little books with names like 'Darwin's Walking Stick', Newton's Trousers' or 'Brahi's Nose'; whole genres on voyages of discovery, at least 10 books on Joseph Banks of the Endeavour and Captain Fitzroy of the Beagle, books on the transit of Venus and longitude and Sumerian counting systems all seem to be flying off the shelves....
SOURCE: Daniel Pipes's blog (7-13-06)
In an echo of the Mearsheimer-Walt critique of strong U.S. ties with Israel, Michael Massing has a lengthy article in the New York Review of Books,"The Storm over the Israel Lobby." In it, he devotes three paragraphs to the Middle East Forum, Campus Watch, and myself. I wrote a letter to the editor pointing out a mistake and asked Massing a question. The Review published my letter and Massing's attempt at a rebuttal under the title"Campus Watch" in its issue dated today.
To the Editors:
Michael Massing ["The Storm over the Israel Lobby," NYR, June 8] makes a factual error in his reference to Campus Watch when he writes that Campus Watch
encouraged students to take notes on lectures by professors critical of Israel, with the goal of"exposing" them on the MEF Web site, but this feature was dropped after it was widely condemned as a form of McCarthyism.
Had Massing done even a modicum of research, he would have seen that inviting students to submit information about abusive professors (so as to keep professors honest in the classroom) was never dropped and remains very much in place at the Campus Watch Web site at"Keep Us Informed," www.campus-watch.org/incident.php.
I can't but comment on the odd phrase that Campus Watch"encouraged students to take notes on lectures by professors critical of Israel." Imagine that. If students take notes in class, they might even go on to do the required course reading. Then, where would we be?
I also wish to ask two questions of Massing about the gist of his several paragraphs about me. A representative excerpt reads thus:
Pipes is also an adjunct scholar at the Washington Institute as well as a columnist for The Jerusalem Post, whose editorial page editor, Saul Singer, is a neoconservative and is married to Wendy Singer Senor, who runs AIPAC's Jerusalem office.... Pipes is also a regular contributor to The New York Sun, which is co-owned by Bruce Kovner.
I wonder what he is getting at by drawing such conspiratorial-sounding connections. Is it not universal that those who agree in outlook work together? Similar bonds connect those on the left; when can we expect to read Massing on its networks?
Director, Middle East Forum
Michael Massing replies:
Campus Watch is run by Mr. Pipes's Middle East Forum. In September 2002, Campus Watch posted on its Web site"dossiers" on eight professors detailing their views on Palestinian rights and political Islam. The listing set off a storm of protest, and nearly a hundred professors, in an act of solidarity, asked to be listed along with them."This is about McCarthyism, freedom of expression," Columbia professor Hamid Dabashi, one of the eight, told The New York Times. As the Times reported, Dabashi and others named on the site had been
deluged with negative e-mails. Many academics see Campus Watch as an effort to chill free speech about the Middle East, and are particularly perturbed by the"Keep Us Informed" section, inviting the submission of"reports on Middle East–related scholarship, lectures, classes, demonstrations, and other activities"—in other words, they say, inviting students to turn in their professors.
Three days after the Times article appeared, the Middle East Forum announced that it had"altered the format" of Campus Watch, eliminating the dossiers and folding the analyses of instructors into its"survey of institutions." While Campus Watch still provides a link by which students can report on activities on their campuses, it no longer uses that information to produce dossiers exposing professors. The site is still strongly criticized by professors across the country who believe its main goals are to intimidate and to inhibit free discussion.
In pointing out the interlocking connections of Daniel Pipes and other like-minded activists and commentators, my article, while specifically rejecting any idea of a" conspiracy," attempted to show the existence of a network of powerful institutions and persons who, committed to shielding Israel from pressure from the United States, have had a very strong impact on US policy in the Middle East. I know of no other network of people and institutions concerned with the Middle East that has comparable cohesion or power. Indeed, one reason that US policy on Israeli–Palestinian issues has been so unbalanced, and that the debate on that policy has been so one-sided, is the absence of any such countervailing network.
SOURCE: Press Release -- Allan Lichtman Campaign (7-7-06)
Support for Cong. Ben Cardin has cratered since the last independent poll taken about two months ago, as Allan Lichtman's demonstration of the flaws in his record has struck home with voters. Cardin's percentage among registered Democrats has plummeted by 14 points, as nearly 40 percent of his support has melted away. His support is down to 25 percent - an astonishingly low percentage after nearly forty years of office-holding in Maryland and expenditures of more than a million dollars.
Support for Kweisi Mfume has stagnated, remaining constant at just over 30 percent. But with Cardin's numbers in free-fall, he now holds a six point lead over Cardin among registered voters and a seven point lead among likely voters. Yet Mfume is only tied with prospective Republican nominee Michael Steele in an overwhelmingly Democratic state and with the GOP yet to launch their anticipated $10 million attack on his record and character.
Josh Rales, who has also spent about a million dollars, has zero support among likely voters.
Allan Lichtman has moved up to 4 percent among likely Democratic voters and has conserved nearly all his resources for major initiatives during the last two months of the campaign to win over the undecided vote and the soft support for Cardin and Mfume.
Cardin, whose strategy has always depended on appearing as the inevitable winner, may well be finished and the voters will be looking for a stronger candidate than Mfume to beat Steele in November.
With your support, Allan Lichtman can still win this election.
SOURCE: Guardian (7-4-06)
After all, it was Skidelsky who produced not one but three highly acclaimed volumes on the life of John Maynard Keynes and followed them up with a single, abridged version in 2004. Was the pruning a painful process? "No," he says. "It made me realise how wordy the originals were." For a while it must have seemed that Keynes was taking over his life. In 1986, some time between volumes one and two, he and his wife, Augusta, moved into the celebrated economist's former farmhouse in Sussex. "We would not have bought it had it not been a particularly nice place to live," he says. "And I keep a flat in London."
At least he has no further need of his residence on Warwick University's campus in Coventry. He has just retired after 28 years at Warwick, first as professor of international studies and then as professor of political economy. But there's plenty to keep him busy. More books and book reviews. More trips to the US, where he is on the board of two companies, and to Russia, where he is a director of the Moscow School of Political Studies. Not to mention chairing governors' meetings at his old school, Brighton college, and attending debates in the Lords. He sits as a crossbencher, having been in the Labour and Conservative parties as well as helping to found the SDP with his friend David, now Lord, Owen. "Fellow peers used to stop me in the corridor and ask: 'Which party are you in today, Robert?'"
One exception has been the former Tory education secretary John Patten. "He hasn't spoken to me at all since I resigned from the history panel of the National Curriculum Council," says Skidelsky, a critic of Patten's confrontational style and a staunch believer that the teaching of history in schools has become too fragmented, lacking any narrative thread. "I'm an ideas historian," he says. "But those ideas have to be based on facts. You need some structure."
One of his current projects is A Short History of Britain in the 20th Century, to be published in September. He's also writing a book on globalisation and international relations with VR [Vijay] Joshi, a fellow of Merton College. With so many commitments, the wonder is that Skidelsky ever found time to go to Coventry to teach and administer a department.
Warwick's founding vice-chancellor, the late Lord Butterworth, characteristically took a gamble when he appointed him back in 1978. The fallout from his controversial book on Oswald Mosley was still reverberating through academia, three years after its publication. Crucially, he had written that the time had come "for one to be able to view his [Mosley's] life and the causes he espoused with both detachment and sympathy"....
SOURCE: Common-Place.org (7-1-06)
Common-place: One of the striking revelations in Imperfect God is just how intertwined Washington's life was with the institution of slavery. Everyone knows he owned slaves, but few recognize just how pervasive a part of his day-to-day existence slaves and slavery were. Was this a revelation to you as well? If so, how did it come about?
Henry Wiencek: Because Washington is chiefly known and studied as a political figure, historians have looked at Washington's encounter with slavery through a political lens. Finding that Washington made no official statements about slavery during his presidency and that the issue did not arise in any dramatically significant way during his term, the political historians have relegated slavery to a footnote in studies of Washington. The story is almost the same for Washington as a military leader. General biographers of Washington have by and large been uninterested in slavery (Flexner is somewhat of an exception), except as a narrative device for making Washington look good; so they have tended to cherry pick anecdotes and statements that put Washington in a positive light, and they have tended to compartmentalize the discussion in a single, brief section or chapter. Reading these books would make one think that slavery was present in Washington's life only as a kind of social/environmental wallpaper—African American figures hovering silently in the background in dining rooms and in fields—and that slavery never ruffled his Olympian conscience at all.
Because I came at Washington from the perspective of someone who studies plantation families, I knew before I had even begun that I would find slavery a pervasive presence in Washington's life. How could it be otherwise? Before he was anything else he was a planter/farmer (two different things), and if you asked him while he was in office what his occupation was, he would have said"farmer." He inherited slaves when he was still a child; he bought, sold, and rented slaves; he personally managed slaves, depended on slaves for his income for his entire life, negotiated with individual slaves, personally chose certain slaves for his household and for public appearances, and entered contracts regarding slaves; he married a woman whose wealth consisted very largely of slaves and who controlled more slaves than he did; he directly felt the effects of local and federal laws regarding slaves, etc., etc. Having slaves around all the time was part of his psychology—it was comforting; it validated his status as a person of substance and authority. There was no doubt at all that slavery pervaded his life, but the question was: ubiquitous or not, did slaves and slavery stand far in the background of his consciousness (as wallpaper), or did he have some direct, pressing awareness of moral and ethical issues regarding slavery? We look back and say slavery was evil by our standards; maybe he didn't feel that way at all. I was acutely aware of the problem of"presentism"—judging a figure of the distant past by our standards. I wanted to discover what Washington's own standards were, and my starting point was his last will and testament, in which he freed his slaves. In parsing the language of his will I found that, by the last year of his life, slavery had become a huge moral issue for him. Did this represent a change in his thinking? If so, what brought about that change? When? The will also suggested that Washington sharply disagreed with his wife and the rest of his extended family on the slavery issue....
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (7-7-06)
Mr. Beck, who will publish his analysis of the small painting in a new book in September, is no stranger to art-historical controversy. In the early 1990s he focused a withering attack on the Italian authorities who oversaw the cleaning of Michelangelo’s landmark frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, a project that removed nearly 500 years of accumulated grime and showed the paintings to be remarkably more colorful than had ever been imagined. Mr. Beck said the curators had overcleaned the frescoes, and had in fact removed some of Michelangelo’s own pigments (The Chronicle, March 4, 1992). In a later book, he said the Sistine cleaning and other similar projects had resulted in a “massive recasting of Western civilization’s sacred texts” (The Chronicle, March 16, 1994).
SOURCE: Dr. History (blog) (6-29-06)
I didn't find very many of the stories I examined that compelling, but what did interest me was that close to 30% of those listed on the site as being guilty of indoctrination were history professors. I found this pretty startling given that your average student probably takes one college level history course in four years. Therefore, if one was making predictions on how many history teachers would be listed on such a site based strictly on the numbers it should be around 2.5%.
So of course, I've been wondering what the heck is it about history or history professors that makes them over-represented among those perceived to be indoctrinating their students? My best guess would that that history is one of the most political subjects taught on college campuses. Moreover, any interpretation given on how good a president was Lincoln, or how effective was the New Deal, or what was the treatment of Native Americans can be related to some current political or ideological debate. If you take a side on whether or not Martin Luther King, Jr. was essential to the Civil Rights Movement, someone in class could argue you are liberal or conservative, even if you later interpreted another event in a contradictory way.
I am sure there are some out there who would argue that it is the professor's job to present all the various interpretations to students and let them decide which is correct. And I think that in upper level classes this is more attainable. But in survey courses, students need some direction - some analysis of events, if history is going to make sense. It is the professor's responsibility in survey classes to sift through the various interpretations using the analytical skills they acquired at graduate school and working with the accepted paradigms of the profession to present to students the best understanding of events currently available.
While there is nothing wrong with providing survey students with a glimpse into some of the debates surround historical issues (especially ones that are not clear cut), at the same time it is not indoctrination to present a standard interpretation of history even if it might support or undermine a current political issue
SOURCE: David Garrow in Newsday (7-5-06)
What will be the fate of the rest of King's Atlanta papers? What kind of access will be provided to the papers already sold? And what precedent does this sale set for other historical collections, which traditionally have been donated for the public good rather than sold for private profit?
Topping the list of problems is what's missing from the collection the Atlantans acquired. The set of papers offered for sale was "cherry-picked," with an emphasis on "holographic" papers - those that carry King's handwriting or the handwriting of other notable people and thus have the highest market value to King's heirs. They were drawn from an archive at the nonprofit King Center in Atlanta and from materials the late Coretta Scott King kept at her home.
King Center archivists, working under federal grants obtained by Coretta Scott King in the 1970s and '80s, organized the center's documents and sequestered the valuable holographic items in a secure vault.
According to the terms of those grants, the widow's private materials were supposed to join the other papers as part of a widely accessible, permanent scholarly archive. Instead, the King heirs decided to partner with Sotheby's and auction the most valuable papers to the highest bidder.
What's most important is the fate of the hundreds of boxes of civil-rights papers that remain at the King Center. They may not contain valuable autographs, but that does not make them any less historically significant. The richest single collection left behind comprises the papers of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, one of the 1960s' major protest groups. King's office files and those of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which he led, also are still at the center, which is understaffed and in poor repair. It is imperative that Mayor Franklin use her influence to reunite these documents with the ones purchased through Sotheby's.
Equally troublesome is that the terms of the King sale prohibit quoting any of King's published or unpublished works without permission from the family. The $32-million price tag - a premium, given that Sotheby's auction estimate was $15million to $30million - did not include literary rights.
Franklin and others insist that "fair use" rules will apply to the materials. That would allow some unfettered quotation. But Franklin and company also have refused to make public the exact terms of the publication rights. Because "fair use" is a notoriously gray area, historians, biographers, journalists and researchers likely will have to beseech King's heirs, and meet whatever price they set, to make extensive use of what is in the papers....
SOURCE: Taylor Branch op ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (7-5-06)
All Atlantans can rightly celebrate Mayor Shirley Franklin and the donors who have pledged to keep 7,000 historical treasures together in the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s home city. But these leaders have assumed a responsibility that goes far beyond money and civic pride. A noble work teeters precariously, less than half-done, and the whole world has a stake in the outcome.
Hidden conditions imposed by the King family helped frustrate two previous sales that would have preserved the great civil rights collection — to the Library of Congress in 1999 and the University of Texas in 2003. Now, again, the fine print needs attention. The Atlantans who made this purchase possible — the donors — still have an urgent decision to make. And what they do will have a lasting impact on those who value King's movement and democracy itself, plus our descendants. Will the legacy of freedom be secure with the pending transfer to Morehouse College?
Please don't begrudge the four offspring of King their private fortunes from the reported $32 million sale. He wanted very much to provide for his family in life and would surely be pleased that he has been able to do so now. Still, it's important that the King heirs accept a few easy steps to safeguard the larger public interest.
In recent days, sponsors have tried to deflect scattered warnings that the King heirs will restrict access to the papers even after they are sold."Scholars need not worry," announced Phillip Jones, a key adviser to the King estate. But his defense merely exposes flaws on six key points:
•First, the terms of sale remain secret.
•Second, the words of intended assurance make clear that the King heirs expect to regulate who gets to see the papers, what they get to see and how they quote from the collection on a case-by-case basis.
•Third, the stated exceptions confirm an alarming rule, as Franklin herself has been told that no visitor or student will be allowed to copy even the"I Have a Dream" speech, which is readily available in published sources.
•Fourth, the appeal for trust rings hollow from heirs whose arbitrary practices have tarnished the King Center's reputation for the past decade or more — screening researchers and their topics, shutting down whole collections, charging selective fees.
•Fifth, the sale provides only for selected items of the greatest souvenir value, leaving behind the bulk of King's papers along with all the Southern Christian Leadership Conference records and the original Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee papers, plus the King Center's invaluable oral histories and scores of vital collections entrusted by civil rights pioneers from Hosea Williams to Connie Curry. These resources languish unmentioned at the King Center, where the roof leaks and the doors most often are locked.
•Sixth, skewed priorities for the sale distort history. The focus on celebrity icons conveys a false image of King as royalty, ignoring his humble stance that a great citizens' movement raised him up more than vice-versa. Sponsors justify hopes for revenues after the $32 million windfall by asserting that King copyrighted his speeches to bolster his estate.
This is almost exactly backward. King stopped bootleggers from selling the"I Have a Dream" speech for one explicit purpose: to safeguard proceeds for the movement. He died a relatively poor man because he devoted to the cause nearly all lifetime earnings above a modest preacher's salary, including his entire purse from the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
To follow King's own prescription, the heirs should consult the written bequest that same year of all current and future papers to his alma mater at Boston University. (This is not to say that the Atlanta collections must join the early files delivered to Boston. What matters is the guiding principle.) King donated his papers without charge. He chose an institution strong enough to keep them perpetually safe and available for public debate. Librarians there openly welcome students and professional writers alike, from all countries, without censorship or delay....
SOURCE: Press Release (7-5-06)
"During his tenure as a C.V. Starr Fellow, Adam proved himself indispensable to the Center, helping to establish learning and research opportunities for our undergraduates, outreach and programs for the broader public, and an intense focus on the rich history of Chestertown and our region," said Baird Tipson, President of Washington College. "I am confident that as director Adam will continue to find new opportunities for the Center that enhance our student experience and break new ground in the study of American history."
"I'm honored to be asked to serve an institution I love, Washington College, in this new capacity," Goodheart said. "The Starr Center has accomplished some great things in its few short years of existence, but I think the best is yet to come. Right now more than ever, it is clear that a deeper understanding of our shared history is essential to the success of America's continuing democratic experiment. I hope that the Center-and Washington College as a whole-can play an ever-greater role in that urgent national conversation."
A historian, critic, and prolific essayist, Goodheart appears frequently in many national publications, including the New York Times, National Geographic, Smithsonian, The Atlantic, and The American Scholar, writing on American history, culture, and politics. Throughout his career, his work has focused on drawing connections between the past and the present.
Goodheart was a founder, senior editor, and columnist at Civilization, the magazine of the Library of Congress, which won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence in its first year of publication. He was appointed one of the youngest editorial board members in the history of The American Scholar, the Phi Beta Kappa Society's distinguished quarterly, where he continues to serve as a contributing editor. He is a contributing editor at Preservation, the magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and at Travel & Leisure, as well as a member of the Board of Incorporators at Harvard Magazine and the Board of Contributors at USA Today. He served as Deputy Editor of the New York Times Op-Ed page and remains a frequent contributor to various sections of the paper. He has appeared on National Public Radio, PBS Television, CNN, C-SPAN, and many other broadcast outlets.
Among the prizes Goodheart's work has received are the Lowell Thomas Award of the Society of American Travel Writers (2004) and the Henry Lawson Award for Travel Writing (2005); his essays have appeared in numerous anthologies-including the prestigious Norton Reader-and received numerous citations in the Best American Essays series. He is currently writing a book on slavery in early America, under contract with Alfred A. Knopf.
Since 2002, Goodheart has been a visiting fellow and lecturer at Washington College, where he has taught courses in American studies, English, and history. Through his affiliation with the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, he has created and implemented a wide range of successful programs, including the Senatorial Colloquy on American History and Politics (with former U.S. Senator Birch Bayh), the Frederick Douglass Fellowships, and the Chestertown History Weekend.
Goodheart is a 1992 graduate in American history and literature, magna cum laude, of Harvard College, where he won the Thomas T. Hoopes Prize and the Henry Russell Shaw Fellowship, among other honors. A native of Philadelphia, he now lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
Established in 2000 with a grant from the New York-based Starr Foundation, the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience draws on the special historical strengths of Washington College and colonial Chestertown to explore the early republic, the rise of democracy, and the manifold ways in which the founding era continues to shape American culture through innovative educational programs, scholarship, and public outreach. In cooperation with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Mount Vernon Ladies' Society, the Center administers the George Washington Book Prize, a $50,000 annual prize recognizing outstanding published works that contribute to a greater understanding of the life and career of George Washington and/or the founding era.
SOURCE: LAT (7-2-06)
His future wife's mother had abandoned her family to live in a committed relationship with another woman — a scandalous event for Salt Lake City in the mid-1940s.
Bullough, then a teenager, was "more or less goggle-eyed" when he met them, but quickly quit gawking and began educating himself. He plied the two women with questions about homosexuality, soaked up what few books he could find on the subject and got to know their lesbian and gay friends.
Bullough, 77, who died of cancer June 21 at his Westlake Village home, eventually channeled his curiosity into a career as one of the most prolific scholars of sex, who wrote, co-wrote or edited nearly 50 books on topics ranging from prostitution to transgenderism.
"We have lost the most important historian of our field," said Eli Coleman, a past president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, who directs the human sexuality program at the University of Minnesota medical school.
"It would be very hard to find somebody that had so extensively studied so many areas within sexuality," Coleman added. "Vern was all over the field — not in a superficial way but in a very deep way."
He literally had an encyclopedic knowledge of sexual history. With his late wife, Bonnie, a noted nursing educator and sociologist, he wrote "American Sexuality: An Encyclopedia" (1994), a standard reference work in the field.
His other major books include "Sexual Variance in Society and History" (1976), "Homosexuality: A History" (1979), and "Cross-Dressing, Sex and Gender" (1993), which is used as a textbook in gender-studies programs. His writings on homosexuality have been credited with helping to launch and sustain gay and lesbian history as a legitimate field of study.
Bullough also was a pioneering advocate of civil rights. In the early 1960s, he persuaded the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California to defend gays and lesbians — making it the first ACLU chapter in the country to do so.
"He was the one who made the entire ACLU focus on discrimination against gays and lesbians. He was far ahead of everyone," Ramona Ripston, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California, said of Bullough.
Quiet, scholarly and conservative in appearance, Bullough served on the board of the ACLU for many years and was its chairman when the organization was at the forefront of high-profile battles, including the fight to desegregate Los Angeles city schools....
SOURCE: Scotsman (6-28-06)
David Tweedie, a lawyer and amateur historian, singled out several Scottish historians who he claimed "helped in the writing of this book".
But last night several of those listed in the acknowledgements section of David Rizzio and Mary, Queen of Scots: Murder at Holyrood demanded that their names be removed from the book and said their inclusion damaged their reputation.
In academic publishing, which is governed by a strict etiquette, the thanking of contributors and helpful colleagues is common. But in this case, many of those cited said they had no idea who the writer was.
The book, which Mr Tweedie spent seven years researching, explores the assassination of Rizzio, one of Mary's advisers. Mr Tweedie contends that Rizzio so enraged the Scottish lords that they plotted his murder, and with his death died the possibility of religious counter-reformation in Scotland.
Mr Tweedie also revives the contentious - and long dismissed - claim that Rizzio was Mary's lover and the father of King James VI and I.
Several of those listed have contacted the book's publisher, Sutton Publishing, to insist their names be removed. Those academics contacted by The Scotsman insist they knew nothing of the book and said they did not "help" the author to reach the conclusions he details.
A former Oxford historian, Dr Jenny Wormald, now an honorary fellow at Edinburgh University and editor of Scotland: A History, is one of many who have felt affronted by their inclusion in the acknowledgements list.
She said: "This is outrageous and has never happened to me before. I had never heard of this man, or his book. I regard his association of my name with this book - implying my knowledge and approval - as damaging to my professional reputation.
"I am aware that my works are cited in the bibliography, but bibliographies are there to show what authors have read; a matter which is entirely different to being thanked for help."
The Scottish historian Professor Michael Lynch, of Edinburgh University, said: "I find the misuse of acknowledgements very distasteful. I'm surprised and distinctly irritated to be mentioned. I know nothing about David Tweedie. I have never met him and, so far as I know, have never been contacted by him."
Other academics were also baffled by their inclusion on Mr Tweedie's list. Dr Geoffrey Webber, the director of music at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, said: "I don't know who this man is and I don't know why he would use my name."
The respected English church history scholar, Dr Richard Rex, of Queens' College Cambridge, said: "The appearance of my name in this book is not in any way an endorsement of what lies between the covers."
Professor David Wright, an Honorary Fellow of Edinburgh University, was also surprised to see himself credited in the list, and Dr Julian Goodare, also at Edinburgh University, said he neither knew the author, nor had he been contacted by him about the text.
SOURCE: Detroit Free Press (7-2-06)
George Weigel, a leading American theologian, frets about "a Europe in which the muezzin summons the faithful to prayer from the central loggia of St. Peter's in Rome, while Notre Dame has been transformed into Hagia Sophia on the Seine -- a great Christian church" will "become an Islamic museum."
Lewis and Weigel represent a trend among American thinkers who say they fear Europe's doom if it does not re-Christianize, and soon. Most European experts believe those fears are exaggerated.
France, with Europe's largest Muslim population, surely will be a test case.
A church in crisis
Little argument exists about the severity of the crisis facing the Catholic Church in France. In contrast with the vigorous (and masculine) face that French Muslims present to the world, a typical Sunday mass almost anywhere in France will feature an elderly priest preaching to a dwindling congregation of mostly elderly women.
"Mass is boring," said Odon Vallet, a religion professor at the Sorbonne. "The ceremony isn't very beautiful; the music is bad; the sermon is uninteresting. Mass is for people who have nothing else to do on a Sunday -- no sports, no hobbies, no shopping, no entertainment."
Islam is France's fastest-growing religion. But this is mainly a result of immigration patterns, not conversions. Most of the 4.5 million Muslims who make up about 7% of the French population are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants from former French colonies in north Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
SOURCE: Boston Globe (6-30-06)
The fact that we can't charge a low-level Taliban or al Qaeda member with a crime, he argues, doesn't mean we have to keep him locked up. Why not let him go but keep track of him?
Naftali's model is a co-ordinated, decades-long operation carried out by American, British, and French counterespionage forces after World War II to monitor Nazis who they thought might resort to terrorism.
The Allies "got together and established a central registry of all of these people that they had been following, so that they could share this information when these people traveled and communicated."
Today, Naftali believes, the registry could be more comprehensive, with various biometric measurements like iris scans, fingerprints, and voice imprints entered into a central database.
He admits that how exactly this would work -- where information would be stored, and how it would be co-ordinated -- presents a challenge, but he envisions a combination of high-tech gadgetry and old-fashioned spying.
Whatever the form, he believes that it would allow most of the detainees at Guantanamo to be released to their home countries. There might even be intelligence benefits if former detainees who are actually al Qaeda operatives tried to connect with old comrades.
Naftali concedes that such a plan is risky. It is easy in many parts of the world for someone to vanish, and there have been documented cases already of released Guantanamo detainees rejoining the Taliban to fight US forces.
But some detainee advocates also embrace the idea of a tracking system. They see it as a way to mitigate the risk that, once sent back to home countries like Saudi Arabia and Yemen -- not known for their attention to civil liberties -- their clients will simply disappear into prison.
SOURCE: Mark Yost in the Philadelphia Inquirer (7-2-06)
How and why are detailed well in his new book, America's Victories: Why the U.S. Wins Wars and Will Win the War on Terror. With the U.S. Marines of Haditha already convicted in the court of public opinion, this book couldn't come at a better time.
Schweikart reviews 200 years of American military history and notes that U.S. troops - often underfunded, ill-prepared and overmatched - "have whipped the British Empire (twice), beaten a Mexican army (against all European expectations), fought a fratricidal civil war that resulted in higher casualties than all previous wars put together (due to the fact that officers and soldiers on both sides were deadly effective), and rushed the Plains Indians with a minimal number of troops. American forces then dispatched the Spanish in less than a year (when again, most Europeans thought Spain would win), helped the Allies evict the Germans from France, and dominated an international alliance that simultaneously beat the Nazis, Japanese warlords, and Italian fascists."
How did we do it? The American soldier has been the most decisive factor in warfare, evolving from a ragtag militia to a draftee army to today's all-volunteer force, which is fighting, and winning, in some of the toughest conditions ever seen. As the soldier has evolved, so has U.S. military doctrine.
"It is a distinctly American military character replete with individual initiative and unprecedented autonomy for soldiers and officers, all supported by free-market production concepts... . America's victories have been undergirded by the principles establishing the sanctity of life that permeate our founding documents, and that temper our treatment of enemies and inspire us to save fallen or captured warriors like no other society and history has done."
This last point is important, for it provides context and perspective to the often-myopic analyses of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and Haditha. In the chapter titled "Gitmo, Gulags, and Great Raids," Schweikart recounts how the Japanese treated their prisoners following the World War II Battle of Bataan:
Immediately the Japanese engaged in brutality, massacring the 400 men of the Filipino 91st Division, who, hands tied behind their backs, were lined up along a narrow ravine, and shot. Imperial soldiers marched into the two main field hospitals, defecating and urinating next to the wounded.
During the Death March of Bataan, captured U.S. soldiers crawled on their hands and knees, "aware that if they stopped, they could expect a bayonet or a slow death by starvation or thirst." In 1944, when American Liberator bombers flew over the Puerto Princesa prison camp in the Philippines, the Japanese herded their prisoners into an air raid shelter, not for protection, but to douse them with aviation fuel and burn them alive rather than let them go free.
Compare this to the conditions at Guantanamo Bay, where al-Qaeda prisoners are forced to listen to Christina Aguilera, and the cries of protest from the antiwar left truly ring hollow. That's because even at their worst, American soldiers still hold the moral high ground when it comes to fighting wars and winning the peace. And they're doing it again....