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: Albany Times Union (1-31-07)
She believes Niskayuna Supervisor Luke Smith decided not to reappoint her during the Jan. 2 reorganization meeting because of her opposition to a developer's plan to convert the Ingersoll Home property into a shopping area.
Not so, says Smith, noting he hopes to work with Schenectady County as the municipality gears up for bicentennial activities in 2009.
"I'm going to develop a relationship with the county historical society or look at other options." he said. He wouldn't elaborate on what those other options might entail.
The supervisor also says he was told by some people in the community that Champagne has been bad-mouthing him, a claim Champagne denied.
"The feedback that I'm being told is that she told people that I'm shameful and not a good leader, so why would I reappoint her?" he recently said when asked about the issue. "They don't have to agree with me all the time, but I want people who are going to work with me."
Champagne received a $500 annually stipend for being town historian.
She defends her stance on the Ingersoll Home.
"I'm being punished for doing what the state law says I should do, which is being a historian who protects historical resources like Ingersoll," he said. "This was my job to relentlessly trying to protect the place."
SOURCE: Samuel Freedman in the NYT (1-31-07)
In the digital era, this self-taught amateur has emerged as a figure somewhat akin to Will Durant in books or Jacob Bronowski on public television, an effective and engaging popularizer. Mr. Brownworth’s podcast competes favorably with far more conventional and credentialed online fare — university courses in beginning French or Psychology 101, test-prep drills for the SAT. Even the other highly rated personal podcasts, like “Word Nerds” and “Grammar Girl,” appeal to dependably large audiences for etymology and grammar.
“It’s a slightly frightening idea to think there are so many people,” Mr. Brownworth said. “But without question it’s the most exciting part of my professional life. We’re in the middle of a revolution, and I feel incredibly blessed to be part of it.”
While listeners address him in their e-mail messages with the respectful honorific “Professor,” Mr. Brownworth, in fact, holds only a bachelor’s degree in history, from Houghton College in upstate New York. He started teaching at Stony Brook, an independent school, only in 1999, and his initial assignment was in the science department. To the extent that he had any specialty as an undergraduate, it was the Battle of Hastings, a long way from Constantinople....
SOURCE: NYT (1-31-07)
An essay the committee features on its Web site, ajc.org, titled “ ‘Progressive’ Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism,” says a number of Jews, through their speaking and writing, are feeding a rise in virulent anti-Semitism by questioning whether Israel should even exist.
In an introduction to the essay, David A. Harris, the executive director of the committee, writes, “Perhaps the most surprising — and distressing — feature of this new trend is the very public participation of some Jews in the verbal onslaught against Zionism and the Jewish State.” Those who oppose Israel’s basic right to exist, he continues, “whether Jew or gentile, must be confronted.”...
The essay, written by Alvin H. Rosenfeld, an English professor and the director of the Institute for Jewish Culture and the Arts at Indiana University in Bloomington, castigates a number of people by name, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner, the historian Tony Judt, the poet Adrienne Rich and the Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, in addition to a number of academics.
Mr. Judt, whose views on Israel and the American Jewish lobby have frequently drawn fire, is chastised for what Mr. Rosenfeld calls “a series of increasingly bitter articles” that have “called Israel everything from arrogant, aggressive, anachronistic, and infantile to dysfunctional, immoral, and a primary cause of present-day anti-Semitism.”
A historian at New York University, Mr. Judt said in a telephone interview that he believed the real purpose of outspoken denunciations of him and others was to stifle harsh criticism of Israel. “The link between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is newly created,” he said, adding that he fears “the two will have become so conflated in the minds of the world” that references to anti-Semitism and the Holocaust will come to be seen as “just a political defense of Israeli policy.”
SOURCE: Matthew Richman in the Monthly Review (1-28-07)
The American Historical Association (AHA) is the most prominent professional organization for American historians. Its annual meeting, held recently in Atlanta, featured abstruse panels and presentations with titles such as "Disciplined Bodies and the Production of Space, Place, and Race: Atlanta's Latino Day Laborers at the Cusp of the Twenty-First Century" and "The Desire for Modernity: Masculinity, Mexican Migration, and the Dynamics of U.S. National Belonging." If academic work like this bears no relationship to concrete political realities, a group called Historians Against the War (HAW) injected some activism into the conference. Formed several months after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, HAW opposes "the expansion of United States empire and the doctrine of pre-emptive war that have led to the occupation of Iraq." HAW proposed a resolution against the Iraq war, which passed after an hour of debate. The resolution enumerated the measures taken by the administration which are inimical to historians or historically-minded people, such as "condemning as 'revisionism' the search for truth about pre-war intelligence" and "re-classifying previously unclassified government documents." With the passage of the statement, the AHA effectively endorsed its conclusions: that members of the AHA should ". . . take a public stand as citizens on behalf of the values necessary to the practice of our profession; and . . . do whatever they can to bring the Iraq war to a speedy conclusion." The success of the resolution means that the AHA is, for the first time in its 123 year history, taking an anti-war stance. In 1969, a previous resolution, supported by some of the same historians as the 2007 one, was defeated.
Why should activists care about the internal proceedings of the AHA, the professional association of a discipline increasingly removed from the public sphere and relevant political engagement -- as demonstrated by the paper titles reproduced above? The HAW resolution is useful to examine because it begs several important questions. What is the relationship between politics and academia? Is the rosy perspective for the possibilities of political organization within the academy, recently detailed by Chris Dixon and Alexis Shotwell in "Leveraging the Academy: Suggestions for Radical Grad Students and Radicals Considering Grad School," justified? How should activists conceptualize expedient action to build truly mass movements, such as the anti-war movement? What will it take to fight and win a world without war and oppression, and what is the relationship of students and academics to this struggle?
The HAW resolution politicized the generally anodyne business meeting at the AHA. In what was reportedly a packed room, debate proceeded for an hour on the question.1 In keeping with public opinion in the country, not one historian who spoke -- even against the resolution -- did so from a pro-war perspective. The objections to the resolution, based on reporting from the meeting, came from two places: those who felt the wording vague and potentially misleading -- that historians should "do whatever they can to bring the Iraq war to a speedy conclusion" could be misinterpreted as support for escalation; and those who argued that historians should only "use our political influence in those areas that directly have to do with scholarship, with our lives as professional historians," as Stanford professor James Sheehan stated from the floor. To my mind the first objection is unfounded. As 70% of the country knows, according to a recent poll, Bush's escalation of the war with a troop surge will be far from "a speedy conclusion" to the Iraq war.
The second objection, which draws lines between professional and political, is the more interesting question for consideration. As the rantings and ravings of David Horowitz on this subject suggest, the intersection of academia and politics is a contentious one. A rough typology of the many minds on this issue include 1) those who think academia and politics should never mix, 2) those who see academic work as a political avenue in itself, and 3) the minority who acknowledge that, while intellectual production in the academic sphere can yield useful information for activists, fundamental social change will not, ultimately, come from academics....
To return to my initial point, the Historians Against the War resolution at the American Historical Association represents the tensions within academia and the larger struggle for social change. While denigrated by academics of the first and second categories outlined above -- those who think academics should never engage politically and those who consider academic work itself to have discrete political value which should be uncorrupted by activism (such as Genovese, who resisted radical historians' attempts to introduce political resolutions into the AHA in the 1960s and '70s) -- forming groups such as HAW within the historical profession and introducing anti-war resolutions in the AHA is progressive. But academics must recognize the limitations of such a strategy, and what it will actually take to end the war in Iraq. In this instance, a comparison with the Vietnam war is useful. The US was forced to withdrawal from Vietnam for three key reasons: the military defeat suffered by the US at the hands of the NLF, the massive revolt of soldiers -- "workers in uniform" -- in Vietnam, and an increasingly militant anti-war movement at home which raised the political cost to the US ruling class to unacceptably high levels. Today, our task is the third: to build a grassroots anti-war movement of workers and students, independent of the Democratic party, capable of providing support to soldiers' resistance and demanding "troops out now." Graduate students and academics can play a role in building this movement, and, as intellectuals, can use their time and training to write applicable history and theory. But we must maintain no illusions that our classrooms and campuses, and journals and academic presses are somehow themselves political means and ends. If we are to build a better world after capitalism -- one without poverty and wars -- intellectuals and students can play an important part, but the roots of this struggle ultimately lie with forces outside elite academic institutions.
SOURCE: Steven F. Hayward at Claremont Institute website (1-26-07)
Wood says that the American Revolution was a "republican" revolution. By that he means that it had intellectual roots ranging from ancient Greece and Rome to the English Commonwealth, and that it was more communal than capitalistic. "Ideally," he writes, "republicanism obliterated the individual." He explains that
"republicanism was essentially anti-capitalistic, a final attempt to come to terms with the emergent individualistic society that threatened to destroy once and for all the communion and benevolence that civilized men had always considered to be the ideal of human behavior."
Given that belief, we should not be surprised that America's liberals look to Wood to find an image of America that suits them. In his interpretation of the American Revolution, they find support for their belief that what is good about the American past is a certain communitarianism, which they wish to marry to the modern state. As Mark Seidenfeld wrote in the Harvard Law Review: "I view the civic republican conception as providing an essential justification for the modern bureaucratic state.... Moreover, given the current ethic that approves of the private pursuit of self-interest as a means of making social policy, reliance on a more politically isolated administrative state may be necessary to implement something approaching the civic republican ideal."
Wood's work has been particularly important to liberal legal theorists. They have embraced key aspects of his argument in Creation of the American Republic as the foundation of a renewed attack on the Constitution's few remaining restraints on government power. Law reviews are packed with articles touting the "revival of civic republicanism" as the new theoretical justification for welfare-statism, and as a substantive alternative to the historical dead-end of modern individualism. Mindful of the defects of Marxism, legal positivism, and Progressive era-style economic regulation, and facing the need to overcome the formidable arguments of constitutional originalism, civic republicanism enables the Left to turn the tables and claim an original intent argument of its own. The Left's enthusiasm for Wood's ideas took off, not coincidentally, in the late 1980s in the aftermath of Attorney General Edwin Meese's elevation of the controversy over original intent. ...
SOURCE: Ralph Luker at HNN blog, Cliopatria (1-30-07)
If bloggers were eligible for Pulitzer Prizes for journalism ..., I would nominate Brooklyn Professor KC Johnson, who blogs at Cliopatria and Durham-in-Wonderland, for his coverage of the Duke case. No self-respecting journalist would think of writing anything long and evaluative on the Duke case without first checking the"blog of record," Durham-in-Wonderland.
Those of us who have been following Johnson's staggeringly insightful analyses of developments in the case can't wait for his book on the hoax, which I heard will be co-authored with the brilliant Stuart Taylor.
Lindgren isn't the first to suggest the Pulitzer Prize-worthiness of KC's work. See: Michael Gaynor at Renew America, 14 September. But Lindgren heard correctly. For a brief foretaste of the book, see: Stuart Taylor, Jr., and KC Johnson,"A Dirty Game: The Duke ‘rape' case unravels," Opinion Journal, 27 December.
SOURCE: http://www.libraryjournal.com (1-15-07)
Please describe the terrible conditions that led to the 65-day strike.
Forty percent of these men who worked full-time jobs made so little that their families qualified for welfare. They suffered broken backs and broken spirits, wasted lives and destroyed families; low wages, long hours, unsafe work conditions, and dehumanizing treatment by white supervisors, who treated them much like whites used to treat blacks on the plantations. The strike was a cry for human dignity and an end to labor exploitation and racism.
The book must have been a labor of love for you. What does it mean to you, and what do you wish it to mean to readers?
The 1955 Montgomery bus boycott is one bookend on Martin Luther King's life; the Memphis sanitation strike is the other. In 1968, the Civil Rights Movement had not yet changed the miserable conditions for black poor people and workers. It took 65 days of the strike, a boycott of white stores and media, mass rallies and marches, and King's death to finally get a union contract.
The intersection of the workers' movement and King's campaign in 1968 should be seen as the high point of the black freedom movements of the 1960s, yet until now, the story has been neglected. Most people know King died in Memphis, but they don't know why. Going Down Jericho Road connects King's struggle against racism, war, and militarism to the workers' struggle for economic and racial justice.
A number of recent books on the Civil Rights Movement downplay King's role and emphasize the work of lesser-known participants. You strike a balance in your book.
We often see King as “the leader” and organizer of the movement. In fact, he served as a moral leader and spokesperson who came in and out of local struggles as he tried to weave a broader national and international campaign for human rights. At the local level, workers, union organizers, students, the clergy, and poor people ignited the upheaval in Memphis; grass-roots movements and King intersected in marvelous ways. The Memphis movement called in King because of his ability to reach people through the media and his phenomenal moral appeal. The workers and King both played their respective roles as agents for change brilliantly....
SOURCE: AP (1-24-07)
Irving, whose comments during an interview with Italy's Sky TG24 News were immediately picked up by Italian news agencies, said there was no doubt the Nazis killed millions of Jews, but said the killings did not take place at Auschwitz.
"At Auschwitz they did not have gas chambers, or at least there is no proof that I am satisfied with," Irving told the news channel's program, "Controcorrente." Irving spoke in English, but his comments were translated by a voiceover.
Irving was sentenced in February 2006 to three years under a 1992 Austrian law that applies to "whoever denies, grossly plays down, approves or tries to excuse" the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity in a print publication, broadcast or other media.
The saga of a handful of Algerian maquis (rebels), poorly armed but using the weapon of terror brilliantly, who defeated the French military which was at the time one of the strongest in NATO, remains the prototype of a war for national liberation, insisted the author, after receiving Le Monde in his house in Turville, a small village located close to Oxford. While refusing to imprison himself in paradigms of the past, in the forward to the 2006 edition, this specialist of French contemporary history highlights four commonalities between the Algerian War and the current situation in Iraq.
First of all, in regard to French military superiority, the NLF (National Liberation Front) concentrated its attacks on local police forces, government administrators and senior officials. This resulted in a drop in morale and an increase in defections, which forced the French Army to protect them rather than chase down the rebels.
Secondly, the porousness of the Moroccan and Tunisian borders facilitated the transfer of weapons to the NLF. Today in Iraq, Syria and Iran play this role.
Third, the use of gegene (French military slang meaning electrical torture) badly shook national unity. According to Alistair Horne, the torturous acts committed at the Abu Ghraib prison and which were revealed in 2004, had the same negative impact.
Lastly, in his eye, the problem of troop withdrawal from Iraq arises in similar fashion.
At the Pentagon on April 19 2005, Sir Alistair was carrying out research on Henry Kissinger. He was to have lunch with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who canceled at the last minute. The author left him a copy of his book, in which he highlighted the important passages. The reply of Mr. Rumsfeld was immediate: As you know, the United States doesn't practice torture in Iraq. The historian responded with another letter, in which he insisted on the immoral, counter-productive and catastrophic aspect of such abuses as far as the media is concerned. The American Secretary's reply, which was just as immediate, was sibylline [prophetic]: "You and I are of the same opinion."
What surprised me was the rapidity with which he replied, considering his job and how busy he must be. Evidently, I struck a nerve, indicates the historian, who says he's unaware of any lessons Bush could draw from his book.
SOURCE: zenit.org (1-30-07)
Sir Martin Gilbert's "I Giusti, gli eroi sconosciuti dell’Olocausto" (The Righteous, Unknown Heroes of the Holocaust) was published by Città Nuova and presented in Rome last Wednesday.
Gilbert, 70, is a professor of the history of the Holocaust at University College, London, and the author of 72 books. Known as the official biographer of Winston Churchill, he was knighted in 1995 for his service to British history and international relations.
The presentation ceremony enabled top Holy See representatives, historians and Jewish representatives to hear the conclusions of the Jewish author.
This book says that the "'righteous' … are those non-Jewish men and women throughout Europe who broke the chains of indifference, egoism and individualism and saved a great number of Jews from Nazi extermination, risking their own lives and that of their relatives."
SOURCE: Seth Gitell in the New York Sun (1-30-07)
"In the offensive in 1975, the North Vietnamese are moving around huge conventional forces that would have been pulverized by our air power," Mr. Moyar told The New York Sun this week. From his study of the official North Vietnamese history of the war, he learned that the conquering forces were well aware of the effect of the congressional actions. "In 1974 fire support by tactical aircraft and artillery decreased 75 percent in comparison with 1972," he cited the history as saying.
Moreover, Mr. Moyar said the North Vietnamese only attempted their 1975 attack when convinced that America would not counter this violation of the Paris Agreement. He supplies the North Vietnamese Official History. The conquest of Phuoc Long in January 1975 served as "a kind of ‘strategic reconnaissance' for us. … The victory exposed the limited ability of the United States to react after the forced withdrawal of their expeditionary army from South Vietnam."
Mr. Kissinger had become aware of the North Vietnamese close-reading of American politics when he obtained an enemy document containing North Vietnamese instructions to their Viet Cong cadres in May of 1973. According to Mr. Kissinger's book, the document stated that Nixon's "weakened authority over the U.S. government is now generating a favorable influence in South Vietnam for the struggle of the NLF, and will result in a new U.S. policy in Indochina. Even if President Nixon remains in office … he will not dare to apply strong measures as air strikes or bombing attacks in either North or South Vietnam, because the U.S. Congress and the American people will violently object."...
SOURCE: Thomas Ryan at FrontpageMag.com (1-30-07)
Barbara Weinstein is the newly elected president of the American Historical Association. A professor of History at New York University specializing in 20th Century Latin America, Weinstein has “emphasized her desire to pursue an agenda that includes ensuring that scholars in ‘underrepresented’ fields (such as Africa, Asia, and…Latin America) both feel welcome, and that they have a stake in the continuing vitality of the AHA as an organization.” In her first month in office, Weinstein made clear that supporting scholars in “underrepresented fields” means becoming an advocate for academics barred from entering the U.S. by the Department of Homeland Security.
In her inaugural column for the professional journal of the Historical Asssociation, Weinstein condemned the State Department’s decision to refuse a visa to professor Waskar Ari (Chachaki), a Bolivian activist who has been offered a position at the University of Nebraska. This is one of several cases since 9/11 in which professionals in academia have been barred from entering the United States because of security issues. According to a State Department spokesman, Ari was declared ineligible for a visa on the basis of intelligence data. Without knowing the facts in the case, Weinstein defended Ari, and took the opportunity to express sympathy for other suspected terrorists, whom she regards as victims of injustice and governmental prejudice. “Who among us,” Weinstein asks, “has not written or lectured with some sympathy about historical actors whose actions might be classified as ‘terrorist activity’ by the current personnel in charge of homeland security?” Quite a comment on her academic colleagues.
Although the Government has not made public its specific reasons for denying Ari a visa, some have speculated that the ban on the professor may stem from his connections to Evo Morales, the current Bolivian president. Morales is the leader of the Movement for Socialism, and has political ties to the leftist dictatorship in Cuba and the anti-U.S. regime in Venezuela. Morales has referred to himself as “a nightmare for the United States,” and has opposed the U.S. war on drugs. He is currently head of the “cocalero movement” – an alliance of coca leaf farmers who oppose U.S. efforts to eradicate coca cultivation in Southern Bolivia, a global center of cocaine production. Professor Ari is himself a founder of the Kechuaymara Foundation, which also supports production of coca.
In her presidential column, Weinstein draws comparisons between Ari and Tariq Ramadan, who was hired as a professor by the Joan Kroc Institute for Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, but was denied a visa by the State Department because of his links to terrorism. “The barring of Waskar Ari and Tariq Ramadan,” writes Professor Weinstein, “is occurring at a moment when the historical profession is becoming more international in its structure and more transnational in its thinking.” Apparently thinking transnationally includes turning a blind eye to the terrorist threat.
Weinstein fails to acknowledge Ramadan’s numerous connections to the Islamic jihad against the West. For example, according to Spanish judge Balatasar Garzón, Ramadan had regular contact with Ahmed Brahim, an Algerian man believed to be both the financial chief of al-Qaeda and the financier of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya. And according to the French daily newspaper Le Monde, Ramadan is believed to have organized a 1991 meeting between al-Qaeda second-in-charge, Ayman al Zawahiri, and Omar Abdel Rahman, who was convicted in the 1993 bombing of the first World Trade Center.
Weinstein has also lionized other leftwing terrorists, such as Castro’s executioner, Che Guevara. “Some call him a murderer because he was involved in violent struggle, but do we call George Washington a murderer? They are ‘murderers’ in the same exact way,” Weinstein said in a 2004 article on the Cuban Marxist. In other words, the American founders were the terrorists of their time. At the same time, Weinstein expressed no sympathy for Cuban academics, imprisoned in Castro's gulag without freedom to conduct research, without academic freedom to teach free of censorship by government agents, and without liberty to travel abroad unless explicitly permitted to do so by the Communist dictatorship.
Professor Weinstein is also a member of Historians Against the War, which defines itself as a group of “radical scholars and intellectuals…deeply concerned about growing repression [by the U.S. government] and, in particular, its impact on critical thought and expression.” HAW has condemned what it calls “the current empire-building and war-making activities of the United States government at home and abroad.” In 2003, the organization issued the “Historians Against the War Statement on the U.S. Occupation of Iraq,” which read: “… we oppose the expansion of United States empire and the doctrine of pre-emptive war that have led to the occupation of Iraq.” In the first meeting of 2007, the AHA sought to enact its own anti-war resolution. The statement, titled “Resolution on United States Government Practices Inimical to the Values of the Historical Profession,” requests that members “take a public stand as citizens on behalf of the values necessary to the practice of our profession, and to do whatever they can to bring the Iraq war to a speedy conclusion.”
Weinstein received her B.A. from Princeton University and her Ph.D. from Yale in 1980. She is currently a Professor of History at New York University, and she had a recent post at the University of Maryland, where her courses included “U.S. Latin American Relations” and “Slavery and Emancipation in the Americas.” She is author of the books The Amazon Rubber Boom, 1850-1920 (Stanford U. Press, 1983), and For Social Peace in Brazil: Industrialists and the Remaking of the Working Class in Sao Paulo, 1920-1964 (UNC PRESS 1996); co-editor of the Hispanic American Historical Review; an editor of the Radical Perspectives series for Duke University Press; and an editor of Duke University’s Radical History Review.
The AHA claims to define “ethical and professional standards” within the profession of historical studies. Defending academics that pose potential security concerns to U.S interests and taking on the role of an anti-war activist organization is neither ethical nor professional.
SOURCE: Letter to the Editor of the New York Times (1-30-07)
In Maureen Dowd’s Jan. 17 column, I feel that the statement that Henry A. Kissinger “is working on an official biography of himself with Mr. Horne” is liable to misinterpretation.
To avoid any ambiguity, I would like to set the record right.
What has actually been accepted between Dr. Kissinger, my publishers, Simon and Schuster, and me concerning the book that I have been commissioned to write about Dr. Kissinger in the year 1973 is as follows:
“Dr. Kissinger has agreed to give Alistair Horne complete access and cooperation for his book, but has no editorial control over it.”
That is the full extent of his involvement.
Turville, England, Jan. 29, 2007
SOURCE: http://www.bl.uk (1-29-07)
In 2005, with the damage to the library collections greater than had first been thought, Dr Eskander requested some specific assistance from us for rebuilding his collections. With monetary assistance from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, we were able to help by providing microfilm copies of rare books and also microfiche copies of India Office records relating to the administration of Iraq 1914-1921. Later in the same year, Chief Executive Lynne Brindley hosted a dinner Dr Eskander, attended by a number of prominent librarians from the public library and university library sector. A consignment of publications is currently on its way to Baghdad as a further contribution to the rebuilding of the National Library and Archive.
Dr Eskander's journal, which appears with his kind permission, starts in November 2006 and describes the perilous and tragic situation that the Iraq National Library and Archive is operating under and which led to the institution's temporary closure at the end of that month.
In early December, after consulting the heads of his departments, Dr Eskander re-opened the National Library and Archive even though the security situation remained as bad as before.
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (1-29-07)
David Rattray, the pre-eminent historian of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, was shot dead on Friday in his Zululand home in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, apparently by assailants drawn from the people he loved so dearly. [The Telegraph reported: "South African police were searching the home of David Rattray yesterday after the leading historian of the Anglo-Zulu war fell victim to what friends suspect was a grudge killing. Nothing was stolen when Mr Rattray, 48, was shot dead inside his homestead...The intruders did not harm his wife, Nicky, 44, nor any of the domestic staff who were on the premises at the time."]
A gentle man on a personal level, Rattray was an extraordinary raconteur and orator. His dramatic accounts of the Anglo-Zulu War and especially the battles of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift, the sites of which are just kilometres from his travel lodge, Fugitives' Drift, drew more than 60,000 visitors, including the Prince of Wales (who became a close friend) and - at last count - 94 British generals and four field-marshals.
Rattray was a regular guest at the Royal Geographical Society in London where his annual lectures, held over three days, were always sold out. His mesmerising accounts, which would leave even the most august and stiff-upper-lipped audience moist-eyed, drew on a deep passion for South Africa and for the Zulu people among whom he had grown up and whose language he spoke impeccably. He was a Fellow of the society and in 1999 received its Ness Award for broadening understanding of Zulu culture...
SOURCE: http://www.azertag.com (1-29-07)
Armenia simply has to improve its relations with Turkey otherwise it has no future.
Appearing at the conference, professor of Edinburgh University, the Azerbaijan scientist Gulamrza Sabri Tebrizi addressed Turkey to render greater assistance to the fraternal Azerbaijan in the cause of liberation of the lands occupied by Armenians.
SOURCE: investors.com editorial (1-26-07)
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden, D-Del., who seems to want to see America lose this war as fast as possible, is griping about pledging $1.2 billion for economic reconstruction efforts in Iraq.
At a committee hearing last week, he demanded "some concrete details on why these funds will achieve better results than we've been able to achieve before."
The panel's ranking Republican, Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, who makes no secret about his skepticism of the president's troop surge, seemed as peeved as Biden. Lugar is insisting that the military regularly report the details of the use of reconstruction funds to Congress.
According to Frederick Kagan, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who served as a military history professor at West Point, it reeks of hypocrisy.
"It is so bizarre to have members of Congress repeatedly stating their concerns about saving lives in Iraq, then refusing to support measures that would do just that," Kagan told IBD last week.
Victory in Iraq is not possible without successful reconstruction. Kagan shows why in "Choosing Victory: a Path for Success in Iraq," an AEI report published this month.
"Soldiers, whether American or Iraqi, moving through a neighborhood to clear it inevitably do damage," Kagan noted. "Past experience shows that many neighborhoods are willing to accept this price in the hope of having security and peace thereafter, but it is important to provide them with a more immediate and tangible compensation for the violence as well."
Therefore, according to Kagan, "every clear-and-hold operation must be accompanied by an immediate reconstruction program."
He added, "As military commanders move into neighborhoods to establish security, they should also reach out to local leaders to find out what essential services must be restored quickly to permit a basic level of normal life to resume."
Failure to do this leads to high levels of unemployment, which in turn provide the terrorists with a bottomless pool of potential recruits.
What's more, militia groups in Iraq such as the Badr Corps and the Mahdi army are copying Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, providing minimal pseudo-governmental services to establish legitimacy among the populace.
It's crucial for local governments in Iraq to replace terrorists in that role....
SOURCE: Telegraph (1-28-07)
David Rattray, 48, a friend of Prince Charles and a world authority on the Zulu War, was shot dead after a six-strong gang burst into his home at Rorke's Drift, in KwaZulu-Natal province.
David Rattray was gunned down at his lodge. His widow has condemned the lawlessness engulfing South Africa
His grieving widow, Nicky, said that his murder highlighted the lawlessness engulfing South Africa, where 20,000 people are murdered every year.
"This famous son of South Africa now joins the unacceptable list of citizens who have lost their lives to senseless banditry," she said....
According to a KwaZulu-Natal police spokesman, the robbers entered the lodge office and held-up the receptionist, asking for Mr Rattray by name. They proceeded to the main lodge, where one of the robbers fired a single shot. After the gang's leader ordered him to return, the gunman re-entered and then fired a further two rounds. Mr Rattray's body was found in a bathroom, with gunshot wounds to his chest, shoulder and hand. An unnamed friend of the Rattrays told a local newspaper that Mr Rattray pushed his wife to the ground shortly before the first shot.
Although the gang appear to have been looking for money, police said they departed empty-handed. That has prompted speculation locally that they may have targeted Mr Rattray for some other reason, a theory given added credence because of the care they took to ensure he was killed. The police have not yet commented.
SOURCE: Chicago Tribune (1-27-07)
SOURCE: NYT (1-26-07)
“Russian Thinkers,” a 1978 collection of essays on 19th-century Russian intellectuals by the philosopher Isaiah Berlin, has virtually disappeared from bookstores across the city, including Barnes & Noble, Labyrinth Books and Shakespeare & Company. The Internet is not much help either: the book is sold out on bn.com, and though it can be ordered from Amazon, the order won’t be shipped for two or three weeks.
The culprit behind this Berlin craze turns out to be none other than Tom Stoppard and his epic three-part play, “The Coast of Utopia,” which opened at Lincoln Center on Nov. 27. Tucked deep inside the show’s playbill is a list titled “For Audience Members Interested in Further Reading,” with “Russian Thinkers” at the top.
“If you were intrigued and wanted to know more, this would be a good place to start,” said Anne Cattaneo, the play’s dramaturge, who compiled the seven-book list. “I tried to keep it to a little George Sand, a little Turgenev.”
As a result, Mr. Berlin’s book is not only all but impossible to find in New York, it is also completely out of stock with its publisher, Penguin, which earlier this month quickly ordered two reprintings totaling 3,500 copies, the first time in 12 years the book has been printed, to satisfy more than 2,000 suddenly unfilled orders.
Before “Coast of Utopia” opened, “Russian Thinkers” sold about 36 copies a month in the whole country, placing it solidly in backlist territory. But late in November, customers began rushing to bookstores in search of the book, “Utopia” playbill in hand (or a Nov. 24 clipping from The New York Times about suggested reading for the play). “There was definitely a run on them,” said Annie Shapiro, a manager at Labyrinth Books on the Upper West Side. “We sold out of what we had immediately.”...
SOURCE: Jamie Glazov interviews Niall Ferguson at frontpagemag.com (1-26-07)
FP: Niall Ferguson, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Ferguson: Thank you.
FP: What inspired you to write this book?
Ferguson: After The Pity of War, which is all about the First World War, I thought for a long time about writing a sequel about the Second World War. About ten years ago, I started accumulating material, focusing in particular on the ethnic conflict in Central and Eastern Europe that seemed to lie at the war's heart. But the more I thought about it, the harder it became to write a book essentially focused on Europe 1939 to 1945. I realized that there was a much larger, global conflict that I needed to write about that started long before 1939 and continued long after 1945. The War of the World is the result.
FP: So can you summarize for us briefly your thesis in regards to your re-evaluation of the Second World War?
Ferguson: That there was no such thing. There were multiple conflicts that we choose to lump together, following the example of Churchill. In reality, the war in Asia began in 1937 and was primarily a war for the future of China. There was also a war for empire in Africa, which began even earlier, when Mussolini invaded Abyssinia in 1935. The European war should have begun in 1938, but the British government foolishly gave Hitler another year before confronting him. The really big wars - between Germany and the Soviet Union and between Japan and the United States - didn't begin until 1941. I also point out that some parts of “the Second World War” were much more violent than others. A tiny proportion of Americans were killed in the war (0.2%). The figure for Poland was nearly two orders of magnitude higher (19 per cent). The book's central question is: Why were some places and some years in the twentieth century so much more violent than others. And I offer a three-part explanation. Violence was worst where three things coincided: ethnic disintegration, economic volatility and empires in decline.
FP: What empires in your view are declining and which ones are on the rise?
Ferguson: The United States is in pretty good shape as a nation state, but its overseas empire is clearly on the wane - not just in the Middle East but also in Central America and East Asia. Note that this empire is informal rather than formal in character. It’s a loose edifice, made up of military bases, multinational offices, cultural franchises and missionaries.
On the rise - or rather the rebound - are Russia and Iran, the energy empires. And rising even faster, of course, is China, the export empire. Note that all three have long imperial histories. I don't count the European Union as an empire; it’s just a loose confederacy-cum-customs union.
FP: What stage are we at in terms of the War of the World?
Ferguson: I would like to think that it ended some time ago, fading into the very different pattern of violence we associate with the Cold War (what I call the Third World's War). But I fear that it has the potential to resume in the Middle East. All the fatal ingredients are currently in place there: ethnic disintegration (see Baghdad), economic volatility (just track the oil price) and an empire in decline (the United States).
FP: How would you define the terror war? How would the U.S. and the West be most effective in combating it?
Ferguson: The war was supposed to be against the perpetrators of 9/11 and their associates. But after Afghanistan, that was rather lost from view. Otherwise, much more pressure would have been directed against the Al Qaeda network's main bases: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan and Western Europe (especially Germany). Extending the war to Iraq confused the issue, since Saddam's links to Al Qaeda were close to non-existent.
The most effective way of winning this war is not with soldiers in Humvees, much less air strikes. It's all about human intelligence - infiltrating and disrupting the network to prevent further 9/11s.
FP: Who is our enemy in this terror war? Why are they enemies of the West?
Ferguson: The enemy are radical Islamists committed to using terrorist tactics like suicide bombing against the United States and its allies. Though some people use terms like “Islamo-fascists” to describe these people, in fact they are more like the Bolsheviks and anarchists of 100 years ago. Their objectives are revolutionary. Their network is international and in large measure invisible. Their tactics are to use atrocities like blowing up civilians to publicize their cause and attract new recruits. The leaders of radical Islamist organizations like Al-Qaeda are enemies of the West because demonizing the United States and Israel is a way of mobilizing young Muslims and persuading them to put aside sectarian and other divisions within the Islamic world. Their real enemies, however, are moderate or secular regimes in the Greater Middle East.
FP: Is radical Islam’s threat, in your view, greater or lesser than Nazism’s and communism’s was? Are you optimistic or pessimistic that the West will prevail in its conflict with radical Islam?
Ferguson: Much less of a threat (think of the sheer destructive might of the German and Soviet armies in World War Two) ... so long as the Islamists don't have the Bomb. But there is reason to fear a nuclear Iran or, worse, a nuclear Al Qaeda. Can the West prevail? Militarily, yes, though the cost may prove to be much higher than we realize today. Culturally and demographically I am not so confident. I am not even sure we can still speak of “the West,” so successfully have the Islamists and their allies exploited divisions between the United States and Europe.
FP: What are, for you, some of the greatest lessons of history?
Ferguson: The obvious one is that politicians who think they are learning from history usually get the history wrong and make bad decisions. How many mistakes have been made by Western politicians, determined that they should not repeat the mistakes of the 1930s, identifying a foreign leader as the new Hitler? Still, I can think of three lessons that emerge from my book The War of the World:
1. That high levels of economic volatility are highly destabilizing to most societies, but especially multi-ethnic ones;
2. that processes of ethnic integration can rapidly and violently reverse themselves; and
3. that it is when imperial orders decline and fall that violence tends to peak on the imperial periphery. There are worse things than a stable empire.
FP: Is there any explanation for human evil?
Ferguson: I would point to evolutionary biology. Nature and our pre-history did not design men to be altruistic towards other men with different genes. To put it bluntly, we are genetically programmed to kill strangers, since they were once our rivals for nutrition and reproductive resources (women). Civilization is a project to prevent men from reverting to the law of the jungle. Unfortunately, civilization quite easily breaks down.
FP: So in terms of your emphasis of evolutionary biology in your explanation for human evil, tell us a few of your thoughts on the socialist dream of building a new man. Throughout the 20th century every time the Left attempted to build a heaven on earth it created a hell. What are your thoughts on the leftist urge for earthly redemption and the monstrous earthly incarnations of that urge?
Ferguson: It wasn't just the Left who dreamt of building utopia on earth. As Michael Burleigh's work shows, there were political religions on the Right as well - what else was Nazism but a dream of the perfect (Aryan) man? And let's not forget the liberal utopias of the pacifists and libertarians. Unfortunately, man has already been perfected by evolution, to be the most biologically successful species on earth. And many of the traits we picked up along our prehistoric way - particularly the talent of the male of the species for organized violence - guarantee that the utopian visions of liberals are doomed. By contrast, utopias based on class or race have been built. They just were very horrible.
FP: In terms of the greatest evil, which human being do you think embodied the greatest evil of the 20th century? Stalin? Hitler? Mao? Pol Pot? What would you say? Or can one say?
Ferguson: In War of the World Hitler was chosen in this context because he was able to seduce and lead to destruction a much better educated populace than Stalin, Mao or Pol Pot. Germans in 1933 had near total literacy and the best universities in the world. They had experience of democracy dating back to the 1870s. Their economy was among the world's most advanced. Persuading millions of them to risk violent death in pursuit of mad goals like the “ethnic community” and “living space” took truly diabolical evil.
FP: So overall, is there anything humans can do to make things go right and stay right with modernity? Or are we hardwired to cause disaster once we achieve some kind of relative harmony and prosperity?
Ferguson: We are certainly hardwired for violence, but only under certain circumstances. But if we avoid economic volatility and excessive political fragmentation, it seems we are much less inclined to kill one another. Remember, even in the worst decade of all, the 1940s, only a minority of deaths were caused by violence.
FP: Niall Ferguson, it was a privilege and honor to speak with you.
Ferguson: I enjoyed the questions very much. Luckily, we are also hardwired to think and converse.
SOURCE: NPR Interview (1-26-07)
Emory University history professor Kenneth W. Stein, a former adviser to Carter, says he resigned his fellowship at the Center in Atlanta because he considers the book to be unbalanced. Stein has published a rebuttal to Carter's book in the current issue of the The Middle East Quarterly.
"He does what no non-fiction author should ever do," Stein writes. "He allows ideology or opinion to get in the way of facts."
Carter defends the accuracy of his book, save for one passage he now calls "terribly worded," that seemed to justify terrorism by Palestinians on Israeli citizens.
Stein spoke with Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep:
Q: You wrote an earlier book with Carter about the Middle East?
A: We wrote the book The Blood of Abraham in 1984. We ping-ponged chapters back and forth. We had frank discussions, even disagreements. At one time, when I insisted that what he was writing was not something that was appropriate, he looked at me, smiling, and said, "Ken, only one of us was president of the United States."
Q: Stein says Carter's new book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid is slanted against Israel. He resigned his fellowship at the Carter Center over the book.
A: The difficulty comes between me, the historian, and Jimmy Carter, the mediator. He tends to want to be more agile in the use of the facts. I'm a little bit more rigid and historically consistent. And my disagreement with him comes from that.
Q: Carter met with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad in 1990. He wrote about that meeting in his latest book. You said that he presented Assad a little more sympathetically, and the Israelis less sympathetically, than was actually the case. What are the signs of that in President Carter's book?
A: President Carter, in his book, he says, "I recollect the meeting," and he said that Assad was willing to withdraw further from the line than would the Israelis.
Q: This is all about the Golan Heights, a disputed piece of territory between the two countries.
A: That's correct. Now there are two pieces of evidence that suggest what Carter is saying is not accurate. First are my own notes, at that meeting. And more importantly, I think, if you don't want to believe my notes, is the press conference that Jimmy Carter attended immediately following, in which he articulated the following, he said, "Now this is my personal opinion, I think the Syrians would be willing make a compromise and move further back from the Heights." What he now says in 2006 is, he makes it into fact, and you can't do that.
Q: Carter says you did not attend all of the meetings he was in on that trip. Is it possible that Carter had meetings during that trip [to Syria] that you just weren't there for?
A: It's possible he had meetings, he had communications with all sorts of people that I never saw. That's all possible. But in my conversations with President Carter, both before and after that trip, never once did he intimate to me that Hafez al-Assad was going to be more flexible about sovereignty in the Golan Heights than were the Israelis. It would also be inconsistent with Hafez al-Assad's status of wanting to be the leader of the Arab world and not wanting to compromise with the Golan Heights....
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (1-26-07)
While plenty of professors have complained about the lack of accuracy or completeness of entries, and some have discouraged or tried to bar students from using it, the history department at Middlebury College is trying to take a stronger, collective stand. It voted this month to bar students from citing the Web site as a source in papers or other academic work. All faculty members will be telling students about the policy and explaining why material on Wikipedia — while convenient — may not be trustworthy.
“As educators, we are in the business of reducing the dissemination of misinformation,” said Don Wyatt, chair of the department. “Even though Wikipedia may have some value, particularly from the value of leading students to citable sources, it is not itself an appropriate source for citation,” he said.
The department made what Wyatt termed a consensus decision on the issue after discussing problems professors were seeing as students cited incorrect information from Wikipedia in papers and on tests. In one instance, Wyatt said, a professor noticed several students offering the same incorrect information, from Wikipedia.
There was some discussion in the department of trying to ban students from using Wikipedia, but Wyatt said that didn’t seem appropriate. Many Wikipedia entries have good bibliographies, Wyatt said. And any absolute ban would just be ignored. “There’s the issue of freedom of access,” he said. “And I’m not in the business of promulgating unenforceable edicts.”...
Experts on digital media said that the Middlebury history professors’ reaction was understandable and reflects growing concern among faculty members about the accuracy of what students find online. But some worry that bans on citing Wikipedia may not deal with the underlying issues.
Roy Rosenzweig, director of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, did an analysis of the accuracy of Wikipedia for The Journal of American History, and he found that in many entries, Wikipedia was as accurate or more accurate than more traditional encyclopedias. He said that the quality of material was inconsistent, and that biographical entries were generally well done, while more thematic entries were much less so. Like Ordonez, he said the real problem is one of college students using encyclopedias when they should be using more advanced sources.
“College students shouldn’t be citing encyclopedias in their papers,” he said. “That’s not what college is about. They either should be using primary sources or serious secondary sources.”...
SOURCE: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (1-18-07)
In London, the Evening Standard newspaper plastered news of the arrest of Felipe Fernandez-Armesto — accompanied by a photo of the handcuffed professor surrounded by several police officers — on its front page. The Mirror chided Atlanta police for their recent success in jailing "Public Enemy No. 1."
"The story of his arrest is, alas, likely to confirm an impression that Brits have of rough policing in the United States," said A.C. Grayling, a philosophy professor at the University of London. "It reminds people of the videos from California of a black suspect being beaten by police."
"Atlanta's reputation as a conference center might take a bruising," said Kathleen Burk, a specialist in Anglo-American relations at University College London.
An Atlanta police spokesman said the London media coverage has been one-sided. The department offered the police report of the incident to British reporters but they didn't print information from it, said Atlanta police spokesman Officer Joe Cobb.
"We don't feel that the officer's side of the story has ever been presented outside of Atlanta," Cobb said. "I'm not saying that the officer acted appropriately, but there are two sides to this story, and only one side is being told."
Mayor Shirley Franklin said she's concerned about the effect the overseas coverage could have on Atlanta's reputation as a "friendly" city with a rich civil rights history.
"Any incident that calls that into question is of concern to me, but I'm not in a position to address that" until the police investigation into the incident is complete, she said.
Fernandez-Armesto, a British historian now teaching at Tufts University near Boston, was attending a conference of the American Historians Association on Jan. 4 when he crossed Courtland Street in the middle of the block....
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (1-26-07)
The medium changed the message. Just as the tribes' own movements were now conscribed, artists were forced to find ways to render large movements onto a smaller surface, and developed a shorthand — four horseheads, for example, to show four stolen horses. And while hide art and early ledger art depicted battles, later drawings in ledgers, which could be shown more privately than buffalo skins, usually depicted domestic scenes: ceremonies, courtship, and rituals.
Two of a series of sketches said to have been drawn by Black Hawk, chief medicine man of the Sioux, depicting a dream. In one, a group of men and women watch a sun dance. In the other, a war horse and his rider are transformed into dream figures by "spirit energy," represented by the red and blue lines.
Courtesy of the Thaw Collection, Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, N.Y.
More than 200 such ledgers exist, according to Ross Frank, an associate professor of ethnic studies at the University of California at San Diego. But they have been scattered among various collections or even taken apart by dealers eager to cash in on the market for American Indian art. Mr. Frank is working to preserve the books and keep them intact. His Plains Indian Ledger Art Project creates digital reproductions of entire ledger books that scholars and the public can browse on a Web site....
SOURCE: Press Release -- Thomas B. Fordham Foundation (1-22-07)
"Each year we strive, with the help of a distinguished independent prize selection committee, to make these awards to candidates who embody and exemplify the spirit of excellence in education, in ways consistent with the values and ideals of the Foundation, and this year is no exception," said Foundation President Chester E. Finn, Jr. "We are privileged to honor four remarkable individuals whose tireless, intrepid and imaginative efforts have forever altered the landscape of American education. The ‘achievement gap' is now part of our common vocabulary; ‘culture' is now understood to be a key determinant of student achievement that schools can actually shape; and charter and contract schools now proliferate around the nation as part of a larger reinvention of public education. These and many other momentous developments owe much to the courage, insight, and tenacity of this year's Fordham prize winners."
The Fordham Prize for Distinguished Scholarship is conferred on "scholars who made major contributions to education reform via research, analysis, and successful engagement in the war of ideas." In 2007, it is awarded jointly to:...
Abigail Thernstrom, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute; Vice-Chair of the U.S Commission on Civil Rights and Stephan Thernstrom, Winthrop Professor of History at Harvard University; Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute.
As individuals, the Thernstroms each have led distinguished scholarly careers. As a couple, they've been a dynamic duo, especially on contentious issues of education and race. Despite jabs from those who value "political-correctness" over scholarly research, their first joint book, America in Black and White, One Nation Indivisible (1997), bucked the conventional wisdom, showing that the U.S. has made great strides toward racial equality in the past 50 years. No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning (2003) tackled the thorny issue of racial "culture," contending such elements largely explain why some groups trail and others excel. But theirs is no counsel of despair or determinism; they also illustrate the malleability and improvability of current performance by identifying and illuminating a host of schools that shape and reshape culture and thus help all of their students reach high levels of achievement.
"If you care about the fate of black kids, and you better care if you are concerned about racial equality, you don't pretend when you see a distinctive problem," says Abigail. "You confront it head on and try to find solutions, or at least try to walk in the right direction."...