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: Fredericksburg (Va.) Free Lance-Star (3-24-07)
For there, in the University of Mary Washington's George Washington Hall, Daniel P. Jordan delivered the world's fastest crash course in Jefferson.
Jordan, a historian who has been the executive director of Monticello since 1985, knows his subject well enough to poke a little fun at the founding father.
He recalled the visitor to Jefferson's mountaintop home near Charlottesville who remarked to a friend, "Yes, Thomas Jefferson was a truly great man, but don't ever forget, Elvis is still The King."
Monticello, Jordan made clear, may be the world's premier resource for Jefferson studies, but it isn't "the Thomas Jefferson Chamber of Commerce."
He devoted his hour's talk, part of UMW's popular "Great Lives" series, to trying to put Jefferson in perspective.
Moving swiftly through the decades since Jefferson's birth in 1743, Jordan tore him down, noting his detractors' main criticisms and ticking off his flaws. Then, convincingly, he made the case that Jefferson nonetheless belongs in the topmost tier of figures in American history.
The Virginian's reputation has been in decline since the 1990s, Jordan said, when 250 million people around the world watched President Clinton kick off his predecessor's 250th birthday commemoration.
The slump since then has four causes, he said:
The recent wave of great biographies about Jefferson's adversaries, most notably David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize-winning book on John Adams.
The ascendance of historians educated in the 1960s and '70s who tend to be anti-hero and cynical about the "great white fathers" of the nation's founding era.
The rediscovery that Jefferson enslaved African-Americans, and new scientific findings that he likely had at least one child by Sally Hemings, one of those slaves....
SOURCE: AP (3-23-07)
In the Sky TG24 documentary program "Controcorrente" (Countercurrent), Irving is filmed walking down the remains of railroad tracks in the former death camp in southern Poland as he insists that engineering techniques back his claims that mass gassings by the Nazis during World War II didn't occur there...
Earlier this year, Irving told Sky in an interview that there was no doubt the Nazis killed millions of Jews, but said the killings did not take place at Auschwitz.
Some points for the record:
1) Just this week, alone, Klein has referred to me as: "obsessed," "still-obsessed," "futile and pathetic," and "still pathetic," "still after [him]," "a suck-up" and "intellectually dishonest," "not reliable," and full of "non-stop crap." I have not called Klein a single name this week, or to my knowledge, ever. I have simply discussed his work as an influential and respected pundit, which after all, is my job, and provided my sources and evidence. I'm still waiting for Klein to back up a single one of his epithets with a (sourced) example from my work.
2) Klein says, "Several readers have wondered why I'm wasting my time with Eric Alterman." Read the comments on his blog, here. That's not what I'm seeing.
3) Klein speaks repeatedly of my "obsession," with him, etc. Well, he's written about me three times (so far) this week, always in a personally vituperative fashion (see above). The first two were inspired merely by a) listing of the various members of Time columnists last week, and b) a single quote of Klein's I posted without comment. He says I've been writing "non-stop crap" about him for twenty years. Well, I've been a media critic for 20 years. The topic of Joe Klein has accounted for an infinitesimal number of the millions of words I imagine I have written. I could easily, off the top of my head, name at least 50 writers to whom I've devoted massively more attention. I'd begin, to move from the ridiculous to the sublime, with John Dewey and Walter Lippmann, whom I'm guessing would come in at numbers one and two.
4) Klein recounts a comment I allegedly made to him 20 years ago at a party. I have no recollection of ever speaking to Klein in a social setting. I actually make it a point to avoid it -- even though we are occasionally in the same room -- because I've alwaysexpected it would be unpleasant. It's possible that this conversation took place and I've forgotten it, of course, but I doubt it. I did once ask Klein a question from the audience at a Barnes & Noble reading he did for the paperback of his novel. He insisted to the room that no one had suffered for his lies about Primary Colors. I responded from the audience that he had sought to slander the reputation of the linguist who initially unmasked him in New York magazine in order to continue his lie. Klein responded that well, this man had "really pissed him off." No wonder. I mention this because Klein had no idea who I was at the time and asked me afterward. So if we spoke so memorably previously, I would find this incident inconsistent with the above. What's more, Klein invented a previous incident recently. He said he was "certain" I attacked him in the past for his position on the teachers union. But for the first 22 or so years of my career, I never wrote a word about the teachers union, much less Klein's position on it, which is of absolutely no interest to me at all. Klein has admitted lying in the past to his editors, his friends, and to the public. Does it tax my imagination that he would lie, now, about me? It does not.
5) I still like Michael Kinsley, in spite of this....
But in the beginning was Madness – a book introduced to the anglophone world by a figure who then had an iconic status of his own, the renegade Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing. It was Laing, fascinated by existentialism and other things French, who recommended the project to the Tavistock Press, pronouncing it “an exceptional book . . . brilliantly written, intellectually rigorous, and with a thesis that thoroughly shakes the assumptions of traditional psychiatry”. In those days, his imprimatur counted for much....
Madness and Civilization was not just short: it was unhampered by any of the apparatus of modern scholarship. What appeared in 1965 was a truncated text, stripped of several chapters, but also of the thousand and more footnotes that decorated the first French edition. Foucault himself had abbreviated the lengthy volume that constituted his doctoral thesis to produce a small French pocket edition, and it was this version (which contented itself with a small handful of references and a few extra pages from the original text) that appeared in translation. This could be read in a few hours, and if extraordinarily large claims rested on a shaky empirical foundation, this was perhaps not immediately evident. The pleasures of a radical reinterpretation of the place of psychiatry in the modern world (and, by implication, of the whole Enlightenment project to glorify reason) could be absorbed in very little time. Any doubts that might surface about the book’s claims could always be dismissed by gestures towards a French edition far weightier and more solemn – a massive tome that monoglot English readers were highly unlikely, indeed unable, to consult for themselves, even supposing that they could have laid their hands on a copy.
None of this seems to have rendered the book’s claims implausible, at least to a complaisant audience. Here, indeed, is a world turned upside down. Foucault rejects psychiatry’s vaunted connections with progress; he rejects the received wisdom about madness and the modern world. Generation after generation had sung paeans to the twin movement that took mad people from our midst and consigned them to the new world of the asylum, capturing madness itself for the science of medical men; Foucault advanced the reverse interpretation. The “liberation” of the insane from the shackles of superstition and neglect was, he proclaimed, something quite other – “a gigantic moral imprisonment”. The phrase still echoes. If the highly sceptical, not to say hostile, stance it encapsulates came to dominate four decades of revisionist historiography of psychiatry, there is a natural temptation to attribute the changed intellectual climate, whatever one thinks of it, to the influence of the charismatic Frenchman. But is it so? There were, after all, myriad indigenous sources of scepticism in the 1960s, all quite separately weakening the vision of psychiatry as an unambiguously liberating scientific enterprise....
But what even a weak translation does not disguise is the kind of evidence upon which Foucault erected his theory. Those thousand and more untranslated footnotes now stand revealed, and the evidence appears for what it is. It is not, for the most part, a pretty sight.
Foucault’s research for Madness was largely completed while he was in intellectual exile in Sweden, at Uppsala. Perhaps that explains the superficiality and the dated quality of much of his information. He had access to a wide range of medical texts from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries – English, Dutch, French and German – as well as the writings of major philosophers like Descartes and Spinoza. A number of the chapters that now appear for the first time in English make use of these primary sources to analyse older ideas about madness. One may object to or accept Foucault’s reconstructions, but these portions of his argument at least rest on readings of relevant source material. By contrast, much of his account of the internal workings and logic of the institutions of confinement, an account on which he lavishes attention, is drawn from their printed rules and regulations. But it would be deeply naive to assume that such documents bear close relationship to the realities of life in these places, or provide a reliable guide to their quotidian logic. There are, admittedly, references to a handful of archival sources, all of them French, which might have provided some check on these published documents, but such material is never systematically or even sensibly employed so as to examine possible differences between the ideal and the real. Nor are we given any sense of why these particular archives were chosen for examination, what criteria were employed to mine them for facts, how representative the examples Foucault provides might be. Of course, by the very ambitions they have set for themselves, comparative historians are often forced to rely to a substantial extent on the work of others, so perhaps this use of highly selective French material to represent the entire Western world should not be judged too harshly. But the secondary sources on which Foucault repeatedly relies for the most well-known portions of his text are so self-evidently dated and inadequate to the task, and his own reading of them so often singularly careless and inventive, that he must be taken to task.
SOURCE: http://www.pm.gov.uk (3-22-07)
He and the PM enjoyed a fascinating discussion about history, a subject Mr Blair says he wishes he had studied at university, rather than law.
This year sees several notable anniversaries - 300 years since the Act of Union between England and Scotland, 200 years since the abolition of slavery, 50 years since the signing of the Treaty of Rome, and 25 years since the Falklands conflict.
Asked by Simon Schama what he would have done had he been PM in 1982, the PM says he has no doubt that the British military operation to re-take the Falklands was the right thing to do - not just for reasons of sovereignty but because there was a principle at stake which needed defending.
The pair reflect on the links between past and current affairs as Mr Blair reveals his own interests in history, and his taste in historical reading - including Roy Jenkins' biographies and the writings of Macauley.
Reflecting on the issues surrounding the anniversary of the Act of Union, Mr Blair also draws parallels between the strength of the United Kingdom and debates about the future of Europe, when he says:
"If you split apart in the Union, or you split Britain apart from Europe, you just weaken your collective strength, or the strength you get from being part of that bigger collective."
EXCERPT FROM INTERVIEW
Hello, I am Simon Schama and I am lucky enough to be sitting in the White Room of 10 Downing Street talking to the Prime Minister about, guess what, history, why it matters now, past, present, how they are mixed up and how they shape the way we think of ourselves as being British.
So I did just want to start with a slightly general question about, you know, how history might be seen by kids as boring old stuff and by a lot of other people as a luxury, rather than a necessity. And I have spent a lot of my life persuading people that if you want to understand about now, say being British, you need to understand about then, and I wonder what you thought about that?
Yes, I totally agree and history was always, along with English, my favourite subject at school so I always really enjoyed it, yes, and always wished I had read history rather than law at university. And I think it is fascinating, provided you can teach history in the right way though, I think sometimes when, I mean you obviously have to know when all the Kings and Queens came, and I can't remember now.
No, not at all. I think you can drop the occasional Egbert actually ... some of them ...
But you know you had to learn that, and I did. But actually what is far more interesting is to look at the economic and social and political trends over time, and also then to study particularly, I mean I didn't actually study this history at school, but I am particularly interested in 20th century history, late 19th century history, the build-up to the First World War, between the wars, afterwards.
Have you been to Gladstone's house?
I haven't, I have been past it on many occasions.
You have got to go, of all the places that breathe the soul.
You know because he, like you, talked a lot about ethics and religion and how you could do that. It is utterly wonderful. But ask for, I think they will give it to you, ten minutes alone in the library. The books are still arranged on the shelves the way he arranged them and they tell a story. It is quite wonderful.
I mean he used to sit down when he was Prime Minister, they tell me, in Downing Street, and, I mean, my authority for this I think is probably Roy Jenkins biography, but would spend a couple of hours reading a book on theology or something.
Yes. You look amazed ... does this never happen to you, Prime Minister?
I think... yeah ...
SOURCE: Salt Lake Tribune (3-21-07)
Parry, 87, suffered from Parkinsons disease for several years, and her family had been preparing for her death, said a niece, Patty Timbimboo-Madsen.
Nonetheless, her passing leaves the family without its matron and the Northwest Band of the Shoshone without one of its clearest voices for historical accuracy.
At least 250 Shoshone men, women and children were slaughtered by the U.S. cavalry on Jan. 19, 1863. Still, for a century historians called it a "battle."
Parry insisted it be called a massacre, and spent decades telling her own people, historians and even bureaucrats in Washington the facts: that the tribe was cut down in a surprise dawn attack.
She told The Salt Lake Tribune in 2003 that her great-grandfather believed he was spared that day in order to tell the story to the generations.
SOURCE: Correspondence published on the website of the New Republic (3-23-07)
I am obliged to object Ronald Radosh's March 12 piece, "Bohemian Rhapsody." Radosh inaccurately represents the background of a conference, "Alger Hiss and History," that is being held at New York University on April 5. He charges that the conference is biased because scholars who believe Hiss was a Soviet agent are not represented--and uses that assertion to indict an NYU institute.
When I was invited to participate in this conference, I was told that other invitees included the very people--Allen Weinstein and Sam Tanenhaus--whose ideas Radosh accuses the organizers of avoiding. I was also told that Harvey Klehr, who holds similar views, had been invited. I'm sure they had their reasons for declining the invitation, but to use their absence as a sign of bias is hardly accurate. (Why would they have been invited in the first place if the organizers didn't want those views heard?) Should NYU have canceled the conference? Should we ever have conferences that don't present Radosh's point of view vigorously enough?
Radosh further engages in guilt-by-association in my own case, putting me at the head of a list of "a whole slew of like-minded pro-Hiss individuals." The fact is that I have never written on the Hiss case and have expressed no opinion one way or the other about it--neither in print nor in public.
Ronald Radosh responds:
My main point--that the entire NYU series of conferences is biased--holds up. The call to the program and the original announcement of the new center makes its political agenda crystal clear. I regret the error about Prados's writing. But if Prados has "never written" on the Hiss case, what is he doing on any panel?
Since I wrote my piece, the conference website has provided a complete list of all the sessions. The panelists speaking on "Repression, Espionage and the Red Scare," for example, all are of the same point of view--that, as the conference announcement says, Hiss "set the stage for the rise of Joe McCarthy." Ellen Schrecker, Corey Robin, Marilyn Young, and Amy Knight are indistinguishable in their view of cold war "repression." Jeffrey Kisseloff runs a fanatical pro-Hiss website. Landon Storrs is a left-wing historian who has written an article called "Red Scare Politics and the Suppression of Popular Front Feminism."
When Harvey Klehr turned down his invitation, he asked the organizers to call his co-author (on Early Cold War Spies: The Espionage Trials that Shaped American Politics), John Earl Haynes, whose presence would have indicated that the NYU center welcomed an honest debate. They did not call him. Is there any question about why?
Martinsburg, West Virginia
Ronald Radosh is professor emeritus of history at CUNY, and an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute. He is currently working with Allis Radosh on a book about Harry S. Truman, the creation of Israel, and U.S. foreign policy. John Prados is a senior fellow with the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C. and the author of Safe for Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA.
SOURCE: Website of the National Endowment for the Humanities (3-22-07)
"With a distinguished career of thoughtful-and thought-provoking-discourse on political theory and higher education, Harvey Mansfield has captivated his readers and students with the strength of his convictions and the depth of his courage," said NEH Chairman Bruce Cole. "This prolific author and engaging teacher offers a truly distinctive perspective on political thought and practice."
Mansfield, the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Government at Harvard, will present the 36th Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities on Tuesday, May 8, at 7:30 p.m. at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C., on "How to Understand Politics: What the Humanities Can Say to Science." The lectureship carries a $10,000 honorarium.
Mansfield's many books include Manliness (2006); A Student's Guide to Political Philosophy (2001); translator, with Delba Winthrop, of Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville (2000); translator, with Nathan Tarcov, of Discourses on Livy by Niccolò Machiavelli (1996); Machiavelli's Virtue (1996); America's Constitutional Soul (1991); Taming the Prince: The Ambivalence of Modern Executive Power (1989); translator, with Laura F. Banfield, of Florentine Histories by Niccolò Machiavelli (1988); translator of The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli (1985 and second edition in 1998); editor of Selected Letters of Edmund Burke (1984); editor of Thomas Jefferson: Selected Writings (1979); Machiavelli's New Modes and Orders: A Study of the Discourses on Livy (1979, reprinted in 2001); The Spirit of Liberalism (1978); and Statesmanship and Party Government: A Study of Burke and Bolingbroke (1965). His articles with political analysis have appeared in The Weekly Standard, The Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, The New Republic, the Claremont Review of Books, The American Enterprise, The Chronicle of Higher Education, National Review, the Times Literary Supplement, and numerous academic journals.
Mansfield has received numerous awards and honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship (1970-71), an NEH Fellowship (1974-75), the Joseph R. Levenson Teaching Award (1993), the Sidney Hook Memorial Award (2002), and the National Humanities Medal (2004). Throughout his career, he also has served as a member of the Council of the American Political Science Association (1980-82, 2004), a fellow of the National Humanities Center (1982), a member of the USIA's Board of Foreign Scholarships (1987-89), a member of the National Council on the Humanities (1991-94), and president of the New England Historical Association (1993-94). He was educated at Harvard (A.B., 1953, and Ph.D., 1961). He lives in Cambridge, Mass.
Attendance at the lecture is by invitation and free. Those interested in receiving an invitation should call (202) 606-8400 or send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and a list of previous Jefferson Lecturers is available on the Internet at www.neh.gov <http://www.neh.gov/index.html> . The National Endowment for the Humanities gratefully acknowledges the McCormick Tribune Foundation for major support of this year's Jefferson Lecture.
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities. NEH grants enrich classroom learning, create and preserve knowledge, and bring ideas to life through public television, radio, new technologies, museum exhibitions, and programs in libraries and other community places.
SOURCE: Daily Show (3-19-07)
SOURCE: Newsday (3-21-07)
James Bruns, who has run the Atlanta museum for four years after serving as the Smithsonian Institution's development director and founding director of its National Postal Museum in Washington, will begin work full time with the TRA July 1 but will be involved in association business part time immediately.
Bruns said he was excited about the position because TR "changed America in such a dramatic way. He made the modern presidency."
The hiring of Bruns follows recent bumps in the road for the 88-year-old association that promotes interest in and scholarship on Roosevelt. The previous choice for president declined the job at the last minute and some historians have said the group lacks a purpose and should dissolve.
Instead the TRA board hired Bruns to expand programming, visibility and membership, with a tentative plan to have a museum in operation in about six years.
"He has an impressive record of successfully building historical organizations," said Barbara Berryman Brandt, chairwoman of the 2,000-member Muttontown-based association. "He's a proven fundraiser. He raised $43 million in four years for the Atlanta History Center."...
Edmund Morris, an influential TR biographer who serves on the TRA Advisory Board and had recommended earlier in the year that the group disband because its work is done, criticized the idea of building a museum and hiring Bruns, whose main interest would be to build it.
Morris said creating a Roosevelt center would undermine the group financially while the TR document collection at Harvard donated by the TRA remains underfunded.
SOURCE: Reuters (3-21-07)
Adam Hochschild, whose 2005 work "Bury the Chains" charts the anti-slavery movement that led Britain to abolish the trade 200 years ago this Sunday, said more global campaigns were needed to end many forms of injustice persisting in the world.
In an e-mail interview with Reuters, Hochschild said apologies by nations which had participated in the slave trade were "fine", but were no substitute for action against abuses.
"The current global trading system, for instance, is really arranged for the benefit of multinational corporations and the wealthy countries, not the poor nations," he said.
"If North America and Europe dropped the tariffs and subsidies that prevent African farmers from competing fairly on the world market this would probably do more for Africa than any imaginable form of reparations," he said.
Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, from where by 1867 at least 10 million people had been shipped as slaves by European traders to the New World to work in sugar and tobacco plantations, say U.S. and European agricultural subsidies are keeping their farmers poor and robbing their countries of millions of dollars....
SOURCE: NY Sun Editorial (3-22-07)
The programs begin tomorrow with a meeting coinciding with the recent announcement that the Communist Party of the United States has given the Tamiment Institute its archives. That was reported in the New York Times earlier this week. Rather than a scholarly assessment of American communism and its history, the meeting tomorrow appears to be more similar to a communist caucus in the 1930s. It includes only one neutral figure.
The program includes a panel discussion on American communism with current members of the American Communist Party, well-known fellow travelers, and a few left-wing trade unionists and also includes a singing tribute to a deceased East Harlem communist leader. Called a "Symposium on the History of the CPUSA and Progressive Politics Today: Relating the Past to the Present," the panel's purpose is not to examine the nature of American communism, but to show how it can be viewed as a role model for today's activists.
The most prominent program is, scheduled for April 5 and is called "Alger Hiss and History." That day's panels are noteworthy for the absence of major writers who have painstakingly proven Hiss' guilt and activity as a Soviet spy. The keynote address is by the former editor and publisher of the Nation, Victor Navasky, a man long known for his credulous belief in Hiss's innocence. Sessions include participation by both Hiss' son Tony and Hiss' adopted son Timothy Hobson.
One panel, called "Repression, Espionage and the Red Scare," is particularly glaring. It includes historian Ellen Schrecker, who has written in her well-known book on McCarthyism that American communists "did not subscribe to traditional forms of patriotism," because they were "internationalists whose political allegiances transcended national boundaries." In other words, their spying was either necessary or excusable. Was their espionage, she actually asked, really "so awful"?
Ms. Schrecker's fellow panelists include like-minded academics, all of whom view Hiss exclusively from the perspective of a victim of the Red Scare. This center of learning does not have the participation of John Haynes, who with Harvey Klehr has written three major books on Soviet espionage and American communism. It certainly appears that their perspective was meant to be excluded. The organizers of the event seem to want only those who, as their announcement states, see the case as one that "reinforced Cold War ideology and accelerated America's late 1940s turn to the right."
If the Cold War center's new panels are not enough, the Museum of the City of New York is joining NYU in opening an exhibit celebrating the so-called Abraham Lincoln Brigade and its role in supposedly forging anti-fascist unity in New York of the 1930s. Accompanying the exhibit are their own panels and events. These include celebrations of the old communists. Historian Peter N. Carroll, the man who edited the catalog and has written a hagiographical book on the Lincoln Battalion, leads one panel....
SOURCE: NYT (3-21-07)
Those sessions, nearly 80 in all, are the fodder for a new book by Mr. Branch, tentatively titled “Wrestling History: The Bill Clinton Tapes,” that Simon & Schuster plans to publish in late 2008, the publisher said today.
Mr. Branch, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “America in the King Years, 1954-1968,” a trilogy on the life and times of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said he intended to write about what he called an extraordinary and unprecedented series of sessions that began as an oral history project when Mr. Clinton was still the president-elect.
They are also the product of a friendship between Mr. Clinton and Mr. Branch that dates back nearly 40 years, to when the men met at antiwar meetings in the thick of the Vietnam War and collaborated on Senator George S. McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign in Texas.
Mr. Branch, 60, is currently winnowing 2,600 pages of raw material into a book that he plans to begin writing within a few weeks, he said....
SOURCE: Harriet Washington, letter to the editor of the NYT Book Review (3-18-07)
Emanuel’s own troubling research agenda, elements of which I criticize in “Medical Apartheid,” may be pertinent. He champions such dubious policies as offering undue inducement to poor people and offering research subjects in developing countries inferior medications and standards of protection.
I have been allotted 650 words, insufficient for a point-by-point refutation, so I’ll address a smattering of his many mischaracterizations and errors.
Emanuel ignores how consistently “Medical Apartheid” quantifies my statements about the disproportionate use of blacks in abusive medical research. For example, researchers’ own statements reveal that the experimental development of gynecologic surgeries like Caesarian section, vesicovaginal fistula repair and ovariotomy were perfected almost exclusively using enslaved black women. The disproportionate theft of black cadavers was validated by records and events like the 1989 discovery of 9,800 bones, 75 percent from blacks, in the basement of the Medical College of Georgia’s former anatomical laboratory. Dr. Eugene Saenger’s fatal radiation experiments in 1950s Cincinnati were performed on a subject pool that was 75 percent black. The subjects of many other radiation experiments were all black, like the patients at Dooley and St. Phillip hospitals in Virginia who were intentionally given third-degree radiation burns by scientists “for investigational purposes.” By 1983, 43 percent of women sterilized by federally funded eugenic programs were black. Approximately 80 percent of the boys in the 1970s Baltimore XYY studies were black, as were nearly all of the children in that city’s KKI lead study. Every boy in a 1990s New York City fenfluramine experiment was black.
Medical treatment and public-health initiatives can also constitute medical research. Emanuel disingenuously writes as if an initiative must be either one or the other in order to accuse me of conflation. Despite Emanuel’s bewildering claim to the contrary, the “Black Stork” chapter does focus heavily upon medical research, including racialized studies that fueled involuntary sterilizations, Norplant and Depo-Provera investigations, research distortions that created the myth of the “crack baby,” and nonconsensual research with pregnant black South Carolina women.
Far from castigating directly observed therapy for tuberculosis, I lament that it is too often eschewed in favor of imprisonment. Thalidomide is indeed being given to black women subjects in Africa, and researchers fear that its presence in semen may make its use in men hazardous. Despite Emanuel’s assertion, the book is supported by a plethora of notes filling 50 pages.
Emanuel’s tenuous grasp of history is typified by his non-exculpatory focus on tangential, oft-told events and by the errors crammed into the single sentence with which he attempts to reconstruct the U.S.P.H.S. Study of Syphilis in the Untreated Negro Male. The men first were denied Salvarsan, not only penicillin; a significant minority obtained treatment; the study’s goals included not only observation but also a validation of a racially dimorphic progression of syphilis and diagnostic refinements. Researchers’ goals could not be accomplished without autopsy, and so were not achieved before death.
He falsely claims that “for Washington, the answer comes down to one thing: skin color.” Actually, I describe a terrible confluence of factors that changed over time, including a precise variant, scientific racism. My discussion of factors that tempered or trumped racism includes economics, politics, utilitarianism, communitarianism, black complicity, white beneficence, forbidden knowledge, deontological frameworks and social-justice issues. Emanuel’s failure to acknowledge these sophisticated arguments is a startling omission. Perhaps he is interested only in silencing them.
[To read the book critic's response click on the SOURCE link above.]
SOURCE: David Kahn on the op ed page of the NYT (3-19-07)
It’s different with an archive, where unpublished memorandums, reports, notes and letters are organized not by topic but by the agency that created them. You have to know which agency did the work you are interested in, and whether more than one was involved. The complexity of government means first-time archive users need help.
Alone among the world’s great archives, the National Archives of the United States has offered such assistance to visitors. At Britain’s Public Record Office, for instance, a courteous official points to rows of volumes listing the contents of files for the Admiralty, the Foreign Office, Scotland Yard. After that, you’re on your own. It is much the same at France’s Archives Nationales and Germany’s Bundesarchiv. Only at the big modern Archives II building in College Park, Md., will an archivist sit down and guide a user through the maze.
But that precious advantage is being lost — and it’s all started to change in the last few months. More than a million cubic feet of documents, nearly enough to fill the Washington Monument, need to be organized, described and filed. This “document surplus” — a term the archivist of the United States, Allen Weinstein, prefers to “backlog” — was caused in part by the wait for a new archives building and by a new emphasis on electronic records. But mainly, with no increase in its budget in years, it comes down to a lack of money....
Why does this matter? Because the National Archives does more than display the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. From its astonishing riches emerge not only the records of one’s immigrant grandparents but the documents and images that produce books and telecasts about this country. Without the services of the archives, the nation risks amnesia and loses direction. The president should ask for the few millions the archives needs to do its job right, and Congress should appropriate it. America must not forget itself.
SOURCE: Scott Jaschik at the website of Inside Higher Ed (3-19-07)
The second announcement followed an investigation into her publication record and the university’s conclusion that she claimed to have co-written a book in which her publicly noted contribution consists of only five paragraphs.
When Foote, a Harvard University Ph.D., applied to the university, she had two books on her publication record: Black and White Manhattan: The History of Racial Formation in Colonial New York City (Oxford University Press) and (with Tina Andrews) Sally Hemings: An American Scandal: The Struggle to Tell the Controversial True Story (Malibu Press). It was the second book that was problematic.
Norman Goda, chair of history at Ohio, had been asked to review Foote’s qualifications for appointment as full professor. He had not been a member of the search committee that selected Foote, and was reviewing background materials, but couldn’t find anything to back Foote’s claim that she had written the Sally Hemings book. Goda then notified Ben Ogles, dean of arts and sciences, of his concern.
Ogles, after finding that the book in question wasn’t in the university’s collection (not shocking as Malibu does not appear to be a scholarly press), bought the book. He could find credit only for Foote contributing five paragraphs. The work is credited entirely to Andrews, a television actress whose credits include appearances on “Falcon Crest” and “Days of Our Lives” and who produced a television movie version of the Hemings book.
When Ogles wrote to Foote, she wrote back that her contributions had been “ex-nominated” (meaning not acknowledged, she explained) and that this was a common television industry practice, but that she regretted the way she described her contribution to the book. Ogles then tried to verify Foote’s contributions with Andrews, but did not hear back....
SOURCE: Speech at Tokyo University (3-11-07)
My life was changed, in a way ? definitely my professional life, but after that also my private and public life ? when I decided to leave Israel and do my doctoral dissertation outside the country. Because when you go out, you see things that you would find very difficult to see from within. And I chose as a subject for my doctoral thesis the year of 1948, because even without knowing much the past, I understood that this is a formative year. I knew enough to understand that this is a departure point for history, because for one side, the Israelis, 1948 is a miracle, the best year in Jewish history. After two thousand years of exile the Jews finally establish a state, and get independence. And for the Palestinians it was exactly the opposite, the worst year in their history, as they call it the Catastrophe, the Nakba, almost the Holocaust, the worst kind of year that a nation can wish to have. And that intrigued me, the fact that the same year, the same events, are seen so differently, on both sides.
Being outside the country enabled me to have more respect and understanding, I think, to the fact that maybe there is another way of looking at history than what I lived ? not only my own world, my own people's way, my own nation's way. But this was not enough, of course. This was not enough to revisit history, this attitude, this fact that one day you wake up and you say: wait a minute, there's someone else here, maybe they see history differently ? and if you are a genuine intellectual, you should strive to have respect for someone else's point-of-view, not only yours.
I was lucky that the year I decided to study the other side was the year when, according to the Israeli law of classification of documents ? every 30 years the Israeli archives declassify secret material, 30 years for political matters, and 50 years for military matters. When I started in Oxford, in England, in the early 1980s, quite a lot of new material about 1948 was opened. And I started looking at the archives in Israel, in the United Kingdom, in France, in the United States, and also the United Nations opened its archives when I started working on this. They had interesting archives in Geneva, and in New York.
And suddenly I began to see a picture of 1948 that I was not familiar with....
... Around 100 to 120 scholars were involved in this in the 1990s. The Israeli public, at first, of course, did not accept these new findings, and was very angry with these scholars, but I think it was the beginning of a good chance of starting to influence Israeli public opinion to the point of even changing some of the textbooks in the educational system.
Then came the second Intifada, and a lot of people felt that Israel is again at war, and when you are at war, you cannot criticize your own side. This is where we are now, and so many of these critical scholars lowered down their criticism, and in fact people like myself ? I can only testify from my own experience ? in one night, changed from heroes to enemies. It is not an easy experience. In the 1990s, my university was very proud that I was a part of it. So the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a lot of people to show how pluralistic is this university, they have this guy who is a New Historian, and he can show you how critical he is and that Israel is an open society, the only democracy in the Middle East.
After 2000, I became the enemy of the university. Not only did the foreign office stop sending people to see me, the university was looking for ways of sending me abroad, not bringing people to visit me, and almost succeeded in 2002. There was about to be a big trial ? the trial didn't take place, thank God ? where I was to be accused of all kinds of things that you would think that a democracy doesn't have, accusing lecturers of treason and being not loyal to their country, and so on. I was saying the same things in the 1990s as I was in 2002 ? I didn't change my views, what changed was the political atmosphere in Israel....
SOURCE: www.depauw.edu/news (3-18-07)
McCullough spent much of his more than hour-long talk focusing on Adams and the other founding fathers of America, and [DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "The Miracle" 601KB]"the fact that they all rose to the occasion and did what they did, accomplished what they did against the most horrendous odds is the real miracle. And the more I know about that period, the more I read about it, and the more I come to understand it, the more convinced I am that it's a miracle that the United States ever happened." (BONUS CLIP: [DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "We're the Beneficiaries" 529KB])
McCullough says one of the first principles of the signers of the Constitution was clearly bravery, as they literally risked their life to take a stand for independence.
"If the people of Philadelphia, the founders, had been the kind of politicians who are poll-driven, they would have scrapped the whole thing, because only about a third of the country was for it-- at most a third of the country was for it; at least a third, or more, were adamently against it; while the remaining third, in the good old human way, were waiting to see who came out on top."
McCullough says America's founders also embraced education, reading about and learning from the past. [DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "Powerful Motivation" 703KB]"They were steeped in, soaked in, marinated in, the classics: Greek and Roman history, Greek and Roman ideas, Greek and Roman ideals. It was their model, their example. And they saw themselves very much like the Greeks and the Romans, as actors on a great stage in one of the great historic dramas of all time, and that they, individually and as a group, had better live up to these heroic parts in which history had cast them. That's a powerful motivation," the author asserted.
A two-time winner of both the National Book Award and the prestigious Francis Parkman Prize, McCullough worries that some shortchange early America as a time when people were primitive.
"I'm always distressed by some of the hubris of some historians and biographers, who kind of look down on people of the past for not knowing as much as we do. There were quite as intelligent, maybe more so than we are, and very much more articulate than we are. And a lot that we think is the upward road of progress hasn't been at all. Do you know the literacy rate in Massachusetts in 1776, or 1780 or '90, was higher than it is in Massachusetts today. And we think we've come a long way," McCullough said.
SOURCE: Barbara Yost in the Arizona Republic (3-19-07)
Correspondence is by e-mail; hit delete and it's wiped out. Thousands of photographs are taken; few are printed. Official records are increasingly digital.
With our fingers poised over the delete button, what will be left of our culture for historians?
Scientists say we have to take steps now to preserve our footprint, so that future generations will know how we evolved.
"Are we losing history? Every day," says Rob Spindler, university archivist and head of Archives and Special Collections at Arizona State University Libraries. "The loss of history is a matter of neglect."
The problem is twofold: scarcity and abundance.
Drowning in data
We're taking more photographs than ever and piling up e-mails by the thousands. The National Archives is wrestling with how to store 40 million e-mails from the Clinton administration alone.
On the other hand, we're getting rid of information indiscriminately. New technology makes old technology obsolete. Files are lost if they are not transferred to the next generation of a product.
"There's just a lot being missed," says Dan Cohen, assistant professor of history at George Mason University and co-author of "Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web" (University of Pennsylvania, 2005, $28.95). "We live in an instantaneous age, a throwaway age."
"What of ours will be preserved in the future? Our landfills are overflowing," says Arleyn Simon, director of ASU's Archaeological Research Institute.
They all agree we need to come up with solutions.
Price of technology
One of the treasures of the 18th century is correspondence between John and Abigail Adams, letters that not only chronicle a love story but also document the founding of America. What love letters written today will be around in 300 years?
Since the invention of the computer — and even the typewriter — less and less is being handwritten. Historians always have used letters, documents and literary manuscripts to interpret the story of a civilization.
Look at the opening page of James Joyce's "Ulysses" (1922), for instance, covered in cross-outs and notations showing his extensive revisions. Even T.S. Eliot's typewritten "The Waste Land" (1919), has words crossed out and penciled in across his lines of poetry.
Today, authors bang away on their computers and make digital revisions, with only the final draft surviving.
"It's a great loss," says Christopher R. Coover, senior vice president and senior specialist of books and manuscripts at Christie's auction house and a frequent appraiser on television's "Antiques Roadshow." "There's no evolution of the work. It makes it impossible to look at the thought process of what goes into these great works."...
SOURCE: Jerome Weeks at ArtsJournal (3-15-07)
Mr. Jaspin's book examines the wave of mass extraditions, forced evictions of entire black communities by whites, with these events running from the Reconstruction era through the 1920s. These he terms "racial cleansing" -- and to fit his definition, the evictions must include a public demand for blacks to leave (not simply a real estate policy of exclusion), a demand often backed by threats of violence and by acts of very real violence against African-Americans.
It is certainly true that the horrible, widespread nature of these events are not fully understood by the average white American -- and if informed of them, he would probably refuse to believe their extent at first. I certainly did. One e-mailer to the show this morning insisted that Mr. Jaspin was simply wrong about Corbin, Kentucky -- if he wasn't just outright lying. Nothing like this ever happened there. For such denials, the paper record of the Freedmen's Bureau, census bureau, police records and newspaper reports will never be enough counter-evidence.
But given the explosion of national publicity in the early '90s accorded the all-but-forgotten 1921 Tulsa race riot and given the 1997 Hollywood film, Rosewood about a similar act of mass racial terrorism in Florida, the interview's overall air of surprise and fresh discovery seemed a bit odd.
What made it odder still is James Loewen's eye-opening study, Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism from two years ago. Admittedly, Mr. Jaspin and Professor Loewen discuss two different things: the violent expulsion of blacks vs. the continued exclusion of African-Americans from entire communities (in the case of the infamous "sundown towns," these were communities that actually had signs threatening blacks to get out after dark, although the sign wasn't necessary for Prof. Loewen to label a town a sundown community. What's required is the continued lack of any black population more than 1 percent) .
But sundown towns are essentially cases of racial cleansing made more or less permanent. Prof. Loewen began his study thinking he would find perhaps a few dozen such towns around the country. He has since found 432 confirmed sundown towns -- just in Illinois. This means thousands across the United States and, in many, many cases, towns whose racial segregation status is unknown to many recent residents because it has simply "always been the case."
Professor Loewen and Mr. Jaspin make very similar arguments, use similar evidence -- that the "Great Migration" of African-Americans northward after the Civil War, for example, was followed by what Professor Loewen terms the "Great Retreat," the removal of blacks from hundreds, even thousands of communities, north and south. Or that this was hardly just a "Southern" thing. According to the US Census Bureau, the most racially segregated big-city in America is Milwaukee. Or -- what was particularly telling to me -- Mr. Jaspin's recounting of how young blacks, when they learned to drive, were often taught two things by their elders: how to act when stopped by the police and areas of town to avoid. This directly echoed Professor Loewen's material about old, printed guidebooks for cross-country black travelers, advising them on which towns to drive around or not stop in when riding a train.
There is a good reason, though, that Prof. Loewen's book isn't better known, didn't stir up more controversy. I wrote a sizable feature on Sundown Towns as did the Washington Post. But The New York Times didn't even review it -- although it would certainly fit book editor Sam Tanenhaus' argument for non-fiction books getting pre-eminent coverage these days (they offer us "news about the culture") But if the NYTimes doesn't deem something important, other media outlets follow suit, especially when it concerns books or socio-political issues.
I'll be curious to see whether Mr. Jaspin's book gets covered by the Times -- because it "happened to a journalist" and because his story involves the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's refusal to print his original series of stories about racial cleansing.
An opportunity for the NYTimes to look better than other print media certainly can't hurt a book's cause.
SOURCE: AP (3-16-07)
While that has been a frustration, the Florida State University history professor said it is also what gives happiness its power and allure.
His book, "Happiness: A History," was recently named by The New York Times as one of the 100 notable books of 2006.
It traces what the great thinkers of Western philosophy have thought about happiness. They include Aristotle, Socrates, Locke, Rousseau, Darwin, Marx, Freud and Thomas Jefferson, who famously counted "the pursuit of Happiness" as an "unalienable right" in the Declaration of Independence.
"The book is more about the pursuit than the attainment, because in some ways you never get there," McMahon said in an interview. "Happiness, as I try to argue in the book, tends to slip away from you when you think about it too much."
He got the idea for the book while teaching at Columbia University in New York during the 1990s. The Berlin Wall had fallen and the world appeared headed for democracy. The stock market was booming and most people seemed to be prospering.
"Happiness was in the air," McMahon recalled. "Clinique, the cosmetics company, came out with a perfume called Happy; you could still remember the Bobby McFerrin song 'Don't Worry, Be Happy.' "
Happiness also dovetailed nicely with McMahon's academic focus on the 17th and 18th centuries, the period of Enlightenment, when Jefferson and others put a new spin on the subject.
Until then, most people did not think of it as a right, unalienable or otherwise. It was more a matter of luck or virtue.
SOURCE: Hankyoreh (South Korea) (3-17-07)
"Abe said that there were no violent abductions of women, but in fact there were. The 1994 report released by the Netherlands found such actions took place in at least eight separate locations."
An authority on the issue of the comfort women, the over 200,000 foreign women made to serve as sexual slaves for the Japanese military during World War II, Japanese professor Yoshimi Yoshiaki of Chuo University methodically criticized Prime Minister Abe’s recent comments and historical consciousness. In reference to the 1993 apology made by Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono Yohei, Yoshimi said "it was unclear who exactly was taking responsibility," and that on the next opportunity, legal responsibility must be clearly assigned and an unambiguous apology must follow.
Professor Yoshimi unearthed official documents from March 1938 sent to the Japanese military stationed in China detailing regulations regarding "comfort stations" and the "recruitment" of women for them. His discovery was carried in the news daily Asahi Shimbun in 1992, and the Japanese government admitted to some degree the reality of the forced abductions the following year via Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono Yohei’s statement....
SOURCE: http://www.isi.org/books (3-17-07)
MG: Why did you choose to begin your history of American conservatism in 1945?
GN: My book was originally a doctoral dissertation in History at Harvard University. While searching for a dissertation topic I had become interested in the role of intellectuals in American politics in the twentieth century. For a short time I worked on a dissertation about the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), which was founded in 1947. I soon abandoned that topic and, with the encouragement of my adviser, decided to examine what was happening on the"right" side of the intellectual/political spectrum in that same period: the years immediately after World War II.
It soon became apparent that the year 1945 was an appropriate point of departure for my investigation. There was no organized conservative intellectual presence in the United States at the end of World War II. Conservative voices here and there -- yes, but not what historians would consider a movement. I now had a story to research and tell: the story of the emergence of this movement or community from weakness and obscurity to power and influence in the new era known as the Cold War.
MG: Your book traces the development of three camps, three strands of thought, that coalesced into the post-war conservative movement: libertarians, traditionalists, and anti-communists. At first glance, these groups seem to have little in common. Can you say a bit about what brought them together?
GN: You are quite right: in the beginning (the 1940s) there was not one right- wing renaissance in America but three, each reacting in diverse ways to a perceived challenge from the Left. No rigid barriers separated these groups, but they tended to act independently of one another. What gradually brought the three emerging components of the conservative revival together was a shared antipathy to twentieth century liberalism as well as a deepening sense of being under siege from the forces of leftism and liberal modernity.
As these three independent wings of the conservative revolt against the Left became more self-conscious in the 1950s, many among them felt the need for greater intellectual coherence and for what we might call better networking. Here an event of enormous importance was the founding of National Review in 1955 by William F. Buckley, Jr. Apart from his extraordinary talents as a writer and polemicist, Buckley personified each impulse in the nascent coalition. He was at once a defender of the free market, a traditional Roman Catholic, and a staunch anticommunist (a source of his ecumenical appeal to conservatives). His magazine provided an indispensable forum for the multiplying voices of protest from the Right against liberal orthodoxy. Here was a place where conservatives of many stripes could seek and often common ground. ...
SOURCE: NYT (3-18-07)
But he seems to be gamely forging ahead: “Bill Clinton: Mastering the Presidency” is slated for publication this summer. In the meantime Hamilton has written “Biography: A Short History,” which might be thought of as a kind of palate cleanser (no doubt Hamilton wants to wash away the bad taste of those reviews). Naturally, one wonders to what degree the main thrust of this book — an apologia for the art of biography — is really an apologia for the art of biography as practiced by Nigel Hamilton. But in any case, he has produced a rich and provocative meditation on the history of biography, albeit one marred by an overblown central argument....
SOURCE: Lee White in the newsletter of the National Coalition for History (3-16-07)
On March 15, 2007, Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein testified on the fiscal year (FY) 2008 budget for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) before the House Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government.
In his prepared testimony, Dr. Weinstein said that under the President’s FY 2008 request, NARA would receive $312.8 million for operating expenses, an increase of $33.5 million over FY 2007. The Electronic Records Archive (ERA), an initiative to preserve and make accessible electronic records, would be funded at a level of $58 million, or an increase of $12.7 million from the current year.
Dr. Weinstein noted that the administration had requested no funding for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
He stated that the operating expenses budget also includes $5.5 million in funding for the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, which will become part of NARA’s presidential library system this year. The proposed budget also includes $5.8 million in funding to continue preparations for the George W. Bush Presidential Library.
Dr. Weinstein informed the subcommittee that in order to meet budgetary levels for FY 2007, NARA enacted a hiring freeze that resulted in a loss of seven percent of the agency’s staff. Budget restrictions also forced NARA to curtail research room and public visitation hours. He warned that without the requested additional $21 million in funding for NARA’s base programs that, “we will be forced to expand upon the cost cutting measures already implemented.”
Subcommittee Chairman Jose Serrano (D-NY) began the question-and-answer period by asking if NARA could restore the reductions it had made to the hours of operations of the research rooms if the Archives were to receive the budget it had requested. Dr. Weinstein stated that he had to give a “yes, but” reply. He regretted that NARA been forced to cut down on the hours, but that it would probably take significant multi-year funding increases to allow the Archives to restore the previous hours of operation. He stated that he would supply the subcommittee with a cost estimate of what it would cost to restore the hours.
Both Chairman Serrano and Representative James Moran (D-VA) questioned the Archivist about the elimination of funding for the NHPRC. When asked if he agreed with the zeroing out of NHPRC funding, Dr. Weinstein said that he opposed it. Representative Moran asked how much money should be put back into the program, Dr. Weinstein stated that ideally it would be the fully authorized amount of $10 million, or at least the $7.5 million that the program had received in FY 2007.
A number of subcommittee members raised concerns about last year’s controversy that arose when intelligence agencies within the government sought to reclassify documents that had already been declassified. Dr. Weinstein noted that he had acted swiftly to stop the practice once he had become aware of it. He noted his own personal commitment to making NARA, “an access agency.”
At the end of the hearing, Chairman Serrano expressed concerns that Bush Executive Order 13233 was slowing access for historians to presidential records. The chairman asked the Archivist what NARA’s position was on H.R. 1255, the “Presidential Records Reform Act.” Dr. Weinstein stated that he had given advice, and made his own views on the executive order clear to the Administration. However, he stated he was hesitant to comment publicly on what he had told administration officials in confidence.