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: Newsweek (3-12-07)
The scene is classic Schlesinger: there he is, at once a historian of the past and a player in the politics of the moment, savoring a good dinner with good company, surveying the table with an astute eye—by turns generous, pitiless and politically incisive. Schlesinger, who died last week in New York City at 89, knew everyone and seemed to know everything. He loved parties, martinis, politics, the movies, bow ties (which he favored because FDR and Churchill did) and bourbon whisky; he could effortlessly move from debating Franklin Roosevelt's prewar policy of aid to Great Britain to parsing the relative merits of Kentucky's Knob Creek versus Tennessee's Jack Daniel's.
Born in 1917, the son of Arthur Meier Schlesinger, the eminent Harvard historian, young Arthur loved his childhood in Cambridge; he immersed himself in the works of G. A. Henty, Mark Twain, H. G. Wells, Alexandre Dumas, Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir Walter Scott. His early reading, followed by Exeter and Harvard, nurtured a vibrant literary and historical imagination.
In his books and essays Schlesinger chronicled the intellectual, the popular and the political with a sure hand, recapturing, in Winston Churchill's phrase, "the passions of former days" with such force that a reader can virtually smell the smoke of Roosevelt's cigarette or feel the cold of JFK's Inaugural noontime. He was a master of narrative, of the well-turned phrase and the cinematic scene, but prided himself on breaking new analytical ground. "History is indeed an argument without end," he wrote. "That is why it is so much fun."...
Now at the end of our term as editors, we return to thinking about the teaching of American history surveys, intentionally plural here, for this time we begin not with the emphasis on unum but on e pluribus. What happens when we make a group other than straight, white, Euro-Americans the primary focus of a survey? What is the result when we move the distinctive histories of African Americans, Latinos/as, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Lesbian/Gay people from margin to center? How does such teaching change our perspective on the relationship of previously underrepresented groups to our national narratives? . . .
SOURCE: Tony Judt in the NYT Book Review (3-11-07)
Others might argue that Pius’s silences greatly facilitated the work of extermination in those countries where the Roman Catholic Church exercised social and moral authority and where its own representatives actively collaborated in mass murder. Burleigh anticipates this objection with a characteristic sneer: “Only people with no understanding of how the Catholic Church operates can hold the Vatican responsible for fanatic elements in its own lower clergy.” Perhaps. But Burleigh himself invokes the hierarchical, centralized authority of Catholicism and the Vatican when explaining why so many German Catholics, unlike Protestants, were immune to the charms of Hitler. He wants it both ways.
After the war, according to Burleigh, the ambiguities disappear. In Poland, for example, “the process of distancing churches from anti-Judaism ... which had commenced in the interwar period, became absolute after the Nazis’ charnel houses were fully exposed.” That is utter nonsense. In the wake of the July 1946 Kielce pogrom, Cardinal Augustus Hlond, Primate of Poland, declared, as Burleigh acknowledges, that “the Jews occupying leading positions in Poland in state life are to a large extent responsible for the deterioration of these good relations” between Jews and Catholics. His colleague Bishop Bieniek of Upper Silesia stated that Jews really had taken blood from a Christian child, the ostensible reason for the massacre. In the wake of these events, Victor Cavendish-Bentinck, the British ambassador to Poland, cabled to London: “I fear that the Polish clergy are fundamentally anti-Semitic.” Burleigh, briefly alluding to Hlond’s views, calls them “infelicities.”
My source for these citations is the work of Jan Gross, whose studies are absent from Burleigh’s bibliography but very well known in Poland and beyond. Lech Walesa (one of Burleigh’s heroes) dismissed “Neighbors,” Gross’s influential study, published in 2001, of a wartime massacre of Jews by their Polish neighbors: “Gross,” Walesa told a radio audience in Poland, “is a mediocre writer ... a Jew who tries to make money.” That a founder of Solidarity might harbor such prejudices is the sort of complexity that finds no place in this book. In Burleigh’s universe, everything is either black or white (or, as it were, red). Historians with whom he disagrees — from Saul Friedländer to “people like Deak” (Istvan Deak, the Central European historian) — are guilty of “inadequacies,” are “tendentious” or “fashionable”; their arguments “Soviet-inspired” or worse. Overwhelmingly they are “tenured radicals” indulging in “academic left-liberal nostalgia” for past illusions.
Animosity toward his professional colleagues saturates Michael Burleigh’s book and does it a crippling disservice. He sacrifices coherence and credibility for the pleasure of settling scores with others whose visibility he palpably begrudges. Like a relentless rhetorical Muzak, Burleigh’s ressentiment intrudes upon the text and renders the book inaudible. The author is perfectly entitled to his cultural irritations: Europe since the death of Pius XII (1958), for Burleigh, has become “a post-Christian desert”; “Sneering at the ambivalences of authority has become habitual since the 1960s”; European “public culture is dominated by sneering secularists,” etc. As it happens I share his distaste for the meretricious values of Tony Blair and friends. But Burleigh’s frustrations grow tedious: he has no self-control. In his world, tenured radicals of the baby-boom generation aren’t just “zealously tending various sacrosanct liberal pieties”; they also apparently display “vampiric interest in female students,” their moral compass permanently adrift thanks — in Burleigh’s overheated imagination — to the “sexually voracious young women” who roamed the ’60s. Magari....
SOURCE: Scott Wilson in the WaPo (3-11-07)
The two disagree not on the facts about Israel's founding that they helped uncover but on what lessons they hold nearly six decades later. Morris maintains the rise of radical Islam is largely responsible for the region's strife; Pappe is virtually alone among Jewish Israelis in blaming the Zionist project to create a Jewish state in the Arab Middle East for the lack of peace.
"Zionism is far more dangerous to the safety of the Middle East than Islam," Pappe says.
The 52-year-old historian is a senior lecturer at the University of Haifa, which overlooks the thriving port where Pappe's parents arrived from Germany seven decades ago. Many of the relatives who stayed behind perished in the Holocaust. Pappe's family was apolitical. He served in the Golan Heights during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War.
What Pappe calls his "journey to the margins and beyond" began at Oxford University, where under the guidance of the renowned Arab historian Albert Hourani he wrote a doctoral thesis that became his first book, "Britain and the Arab-Israeli Conflict." He mixed with Palestinian intellectuals when the Palestine Liberation Organization was outlawed in Israel.
"My research debunked all of the lessons about Israel's creation that I had been raised on," Pappe says.
In his view, Israeli professors were not criticizing Israel's occupation of Palestinian land with the same stridency in academic conferences abroad as they did in the op-ed pages back home. He increasingly believed that land included all of Israel, not just the territories Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East War.
In 1996, Pappe joined Hadash, the mostly Arab anti-Zionist communist party and ran unsuccessfully for parliament. His work two years later organizing campus events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of "the catastrophe," as Palestinians call the 1948-49 war, placed him at odds with the university's politically powerful Land of Israel Studies department.
The university president began calling for his resignation.
"The debate that year prepared the way for the big battle -- the second intifada," Pappe says. "I looked around and I was alone."...
He has accepted a post at the University of Exeter in England and will move there later this year....
SOURCE: HNN Staff (3-8-07)
Nominations were announced in January. The other nominees for history books were: Ann Fessler for "The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade" (Penguin Press); and Michael Pollan for "The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals" (Penguin Press).
The winner of the biography award is Julie Phillips for "James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon" (St. Martin's Press).
The other nominees in the biography category were: Debby Applegate for "The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher"
(Doubleday); Taylor Branch for "At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68" (Simon & Schuster); Frederick Brown for "Flaubert: A Biography" (Little, Brown and Company); and Jason Roberts for "A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler" (HarperCollins).
Daniel Mendelsohn won the award for best memoir for "The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million" (HarperCollins).
SOURCE: University of Connecticut Advance (3-12-07)
“Since the beginning of the 20th century and especially in the years during and immediately following the Mexican Revolution, U.S. immigration policy has been characterized by deep ambivalence and fragmentation,” says Overmyer-Velázquez, an assistant professor of history and associate director of the Center for Oral History.
At the core of that ambivalence are the conflicting themes of U.S. demand for labor and attitudes toward race.
“On the one hand, the rapid economic development in the United States has required Mexican labor in order to continue and thrive,” he says.
“On the other, the increased number of Mexican nationals north of the border throughout the 20th century and into the present century has driven many officials to fear for the potential contamination of the perceived race-based social and cultural purity of U.S. citizenship.”
Overmyer-Velázquez is currently writing a book, provisionally titled “Bleeding Mexico White: Race, Nation, and the History of Mexico – U.S. Migration.”
The book will provide a broad historical perspective assessing the development and impact of migratory trends and practices in Mexico and the United States from the early 20th century to the present.
Overmyer-Velázquez, who has family in Mexico, the U.S., and Canada, earned a Ph.D. in Latin American history at Yale University.
While teaching Chicano studies at Pomona College in California, he noticed a dearth of information about Mexican migration.
“It struck me there was a real absence of scholarship [about migrants] until they came into the U.S.,” he says.
He says up to 10 percent of the population of Mexico has lived in the U.S., yet their migration story has been largely neglected, and requires long-range studies using Mexican archives.
Overmyer-Velázquez says his new book will examine the reasons for Mexican migration to the U.S., including Mexican state agrarian reforms, land tenure changes in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz, and the Mexican Revolution.
A backlash occurred during the 1930s, when, he says, a “xenophobic response” in the U.S. caused problems for about half a million Mexicans and Mexican Americans, who were put on trains and buses and “racially displaced” (sent back to Mexico) against their will. The deportation/repatriation stems in large part, he adds, from the Depression, which began in 1929.
Also emblematic of the era was an announcement in 1936 by the city registrar of El Paso, Texas, that Mexicans would henceforth be registered as “colored” in birth and death records, a radical shift from their previous designation as “white.”
Conditions improved after World War II, when Mexican and U.S. policies encouraged temporary labor migration with bilateral bracero (guest worker) agreements, leading to a Golden Age of migration between 1942 and 1964.
“The modern period starts here, because people ended up staying without legal documentation,” says Overmyer-Velázquez....
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (3-9-07)
Mr. Zelizer points specifically to Congressional efforts to end the Vietnam War. During that conflict, he says, lawmakers "forced discussion of difficult questions about the mission, publicly challenged the administration's core arguments, and used budgetary mechanisms to create pressure on the Pentagon to bring the war to a halt."
As an example of such efforts, he cites the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's 1966 hearings on the war. The televised hearings, led by Sen. J. William Fulbright, Democrat of Arkansas, "stung" President Lyndon B. Johnson, Mr. Zelizer writes, because it was the first time Americans were able to watch top administration officials testify about the war. Senator Fulbright used the hearings, the author says, to insist "that there was no need to escalate operations in Vietnam because the conflict did not involve the vital interests of America and could easily be a 'trigger for world war.'" The hearings, he adds, "helped give antiwar protest a certain degree of legitimacy" and "also ensured that the mainstream media covered criticism about the war."
Congress was able to exert further control over the war, he writes, by using "the power of the purse." On three occasions, he notes, President Richard M. Nixon was forced to accept legislation that essentially stipulated how war dollars could be spent. ...
SOURCE: Sarah Carr in the Chronicle of Higher Education (3-9-07)
Jingbei Hu winces now when he reads that, recognizing how that "socialist revolution" led to the murder of countless scholars and the shuttering of many schools. Still, he is determined to share the words he wrote in his diary with anyone willing to read them. Now an economics professor at Tongji University here, his goal is to show how the Communist government bent his will during the Cultural Revolution, more than 35 years ago.
"If we don't work on this problem, on understanding how this brainwashing occurred, we will have another Cultural Revolution," Mr. Hu says while eating dinner in a student restaurant at Tongji. He is a wiry man who finishes every scrap of the oversized portions then eats the leftover pizza on others' plates.
Through a fellowship, Mr. Hu spent January and February at Stanford University's Hoover Institution doing research for a Chinese-language book that will examine the impact of Communist ideology on Chinese children. In the long term, he hopes, his research will help pave the way for greater tolerance and freedom in China.
But in the meantime, Mr. Hu has put online the diaries he kept as a teenager during the Cultural Revolution — diaries that he now compares to those kept by Hitler Youth members in Nazi Germany. And he is on a personal mission to understand how, as a young man of 18, he was so absolutely convinced that Mao Zedong was a hero worth putting all his faith into....
SOURCE: Lee White in the newsletter of the National Coalition for History (3-8-07)
The National Coalition for History is asking everyone in the historical and archival community to contact their House member as soon as possible and ask that they support H.R. 1255. A summary of the bill is available below.
Here is a link to the NCH's CapWiz legislative grassroots site. This site allows you to either send a pre-written electronic letter to your Member of Congress or to edit the letter we have prepared to express your own personal views.
It is important that you act TODAY, since the bill may come up as early as next week!
Overturning the Bush Executive Order. Under the Presidential Records Act, presidential records are supposed to be released to historians and the public 12 years after the end of a presidential administration. In November 2001, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13233 which overturned an executive order issued by President Reagan and gave current and former presidents and vice presidents broad authority to withhold presidential records or delay their release indefinitely. The Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007 would nullify the Bush executive order and establish procedures to ensure the timely release of presidential records.
Establishing a Deadline for Review of Records. Under the Bush executive order, the Archivist must wait for both the current and former president to approve the release of presidential records, a review process that can continue indefinitely. Under the bill, the current and former president would have a set time period of no longer than 40 business days to raise objections to the release of these records by the Archivist.
Limiting the Authority of Former Presidents to Withhold Presidential Records. Under the Reagan executive order, a former president could request that the incumbent president assert a claim of executive privilege and thereby stop the release of the records. If the incumbent president decided not to assert executive privilege, however, the records would be released unless the former president could persuade a court to uphold the former president's assertion of the privilege. The Bush executive order reversed this process and required the incumbent president to sustain the executive privilege claim of the former president unless a person seeking access could persuade a court to reject the claim. In effect, the Bush order gave former presidents virtually unlimited authority to withhold presidential records through assertions of executive privilege. The legislation would restore the Reagan approach, giving the incumbent president the discretion to reject ill-founded assertions of executive privilege by former presidents.
Requiring the President to Make Privilege Claims Personally. Under the Bush executive order, designees of the former president could assert privilege claims after the death of the president, in effect making the right to assert executive privilege an asset of the former president's estate. The bill would make clear that the right to claim executive privilege is personal to current and former presidents and cannot be bequeathed to assistants, relatives, or descendants.
Eliminating Executive Privilege Claims for Vice Presidents. In an unprecedented step, the Bush executive order authorized former vice presidents to assert executive privilege claims over vice presidential records. The bill restores the long-standing understanding that the right to assert executive privilege over presidential records is a right held only by presidents.
SOURCE: PRNewswire (3-8-07)
Professor David M. Henkin, Department of History at the University of California-Berkeley and Jesse Vogler, College of Architecture, Texas Tech University in Lubbock will receive the first Rita Lloyd Moroney Awards from U.S. Postal Service representatives in recognition of their important undertakings. The Rita Lloyd Moroney Awards are designed to encourage scholarship on the history of the United States postal system and to raise awareness about the significance of the postal system in American life. They include the Senior Prize ($2,000) for work published by faculty members, independent scholars, public historians, and other non-degree candidates and the Junior Prize ($1,000) for work written or published by undergraduates or graduate students.
Professor Henkin's book, The Postal Age: The Emergence of Modern Communications in Nineteenth-Century America merited the Senior Prize, while Vogler's paper,"Correct and Perfect": Post Office Design Guidelines and the Standardization of the National Postal Landscape, secured the Junior Prize for its author.
The awards are intended for scholarship on any topic on the history of the United States postal system from the colonial era to the present -- including the history of the colonial postal system that preceded the establishment of the United States postal system in 1775. Though submissions must be historical in character, they can draw on the methods of disciplines other than history, for example, geography, cultural studies, literature, communications or economics. Comparative or international historical studies are eligible if the United States postal system is central to the discussion.
SOURCE: Slate (3-8-07)
Historical research to this day remains unorganized, and the historian is expected to make his own instruments or do without them; and so with wooden ploughs we continue to draw lonely furrows, most successfully when we strike sand. -Lewis Namier, Crossroads of Power
During what he called the Nazi era, and in its thoughtful aftermath, Lewis Namier (1888-1960) was a figure of immense prestige in British academic and intellectual life, to the point that many of his fellow historians were able to call their country civilized simply because it had given him refuge: They -didn't have to like him. Born Lewis Bernstein in Poland, of Russian heritage, he was a Jewish refugee in search of a homeland. To his adopted country, Britain, he devoted microscopic attention. The mark of his historical method was to study the written records of Britain's representative institutions right down to the level of the names on the electoral lists, an approach which yielded a body of meticulous factual material that tended to overwhelm the conclusions he drew from it, thus making his major books hard to enjoy now. His journalism, on the other hand, was, and remains, a model for acerbic style and pointed argument.
Namier's knighthood makes him sound like an establishment figure, but his professorship at Manchester between 1931 and 1953 tells the truth about how the Oxbridge mandarinate preferred to keep him at a distance. (In their own defense, they could say that his frustrations stimulated his productivity: a classic argument of the genteel -anti--Semite. A better defense was that another Jewish academic, Isaiah Berlin, scaled the heights of polite society.) Namier simply lacked charm. But he could write English prose with an austere beauty. The influx of talented Jewish refugees was one of Europe's most precious gifts to Britain in the 20th century, but Namier's career, which dramatized the story in almost all its aspects, reminds us not to be sentimental about it. A gain for the liberal democracies was a dead loss for the countries left behind.
Coming to English as a second language, many 20th-century political refugees wrote it with mastery. But the exiled European writer who really got the measure of his adopted tongue, with the least show and the most impact, was Namier. Early to the field, he arrived in England in 1906 as a refugee from the pogroms in Poland. His stylistic achievement has never been much remarked because he was not thought of as a writer. He was thought of as a historian-which, of course, he was, and a renowned one. He would have been a less renowned historian, however, if he had not written so well: As with all truly accomplished prose styles, his was a vehicle for emotion and experience as well as for a sense of rhythm and proportion-the grief and -hard--won knowledge of a lifetime are dissolved into his acerbic cadences, and his neatness of metaphor epitomizes the gaze long grown weary that misses nothing. You can see his alertness in the single sentence quoted above, a poetic climax that drives a prose argument deep into the memory. The line of thought is a trek into pessimism: He is really saying that the historian's research tools work only when the work they do is not worth doing. But by the distinction of his style, he exempts himself from the stricture, and by implication he exempts anyone else who can see the problem. So there is a game being played here, for high stakes. Hence the drama....
SOURCE: PBS NewsHour Interview (3-8-07)
We first took a look at this effort last year. The librarian of Congress, James Billington, is back with us to tell us more about the latest additions to the National Registry of Recordings.
JAMES BILLINGTON, Librarian of Congress: Thank you.
JEFFREY BROWN: We always hear this is a throw-away society. Remind us what the effort is here. What are you trying to preserve?
JAMES BILLINGTON: We're trying to preserve the creativity of the American people, in all its richness and variety, all formats, all of which really, since about the mid-19th century, have been on relatively fragile, perishable material, often hard to find, often impossible to play back or to read, even, because of brittle paper and so forth.
So we're trying to record this, and we're trying to save it for future generations, as a big part of the American story. Congress has preserved the creativity of our private sector more than fully than really any other government agency, let alone legislature, has done by putting Copyright Office and the Copyright Deposit in the library and gathering in this immense amount, but it has to be preserved.
And because it's on perishable materials and materials that are hard to replay in the audio-visual world as time goes on and technologies evolve, this is a test that has to kind of be done nationally, although there are a number of institutions that collaborate with us in this effort.
JEFFREY BROWN: The list in the registry is generated partly by experts, partly by the public, as well.
JAMES BILLINGTON: Partly by the public. We have an open, online receptivity to popular nominations by people from all over the country, all kinds of recorded sound, not just music, but the spoken word and so forth.
So since recorded sound began in the late-19th century and the radio picked up in the 20th century, there's all kinds of formats, but we have the popular nomination. And then we have an expert board, representing all different forms of recorded sound and all different kinds of expertise.
But in the last analysis, it's my responsibility to pick the list from the recommendations.
SOURCE: Spectrum (University of Buffalo) (3-9-07)
The talk featured Graves, a member of the department of romance languages and literatures, and her recent research on the subject.
"My project seeks to capture the spirit of a history that sticks close to public tastes and circles of politico-religious activism during the French Wars of Religion (1562-1598). To support their cause, Calvinists published collections of documents that they called mémoires," Graves said. "What they were, in fact, was nothing more than recently published pamphlets and political tracts that compilers recycled, placed in chronological order, and annotated with extensive commentary on current events."
Graves studied two collections of mémoires — one published in the mid-1570s and the other in the 1590s. Supposed unbiased accounts of the violence of the French Wars, both were written with the purpose of furthering the cause of the Huguenots in their struggle for legitimacy.
Huguenots, who during the French Renaissance and Wars defied the Catholic Church, struggled in the 16th century to gain independence and escape persecution.
"Mémoires promised to tell the story of the present day contemporaries and to serve as a resource for posterity and future historians. They are contemporary history, but they are also propaganda," Graves said. "What my research will make clear is that the tension between contemporary history and journalism, as well as the problem of bias and engagement that still plagues them both."
Graves' paper is the first to examine the relevance of historical documentation of the mid-to-late 16th Century France to the current issue of bias in reporting events. ...
SOURCE: San Antonio Express-News (3-8-07)
But history isn't about stereotypes, and the first Texas state historian is a Cuban-born professor who was reared in New Jersey.
Jesús Francisco de la Teja has a long name, but goes by Frank, and calls himself a Yankee.
"I tell people, it's OK, because there was a guy from New Jersey (defender Robert E. Cochran) at the Alamo," he said.
De la Teja, history department chairman at Texas State University in San Marcos and author of numerous books and essays, has a 19-page curriculum vitae. Yet it's one thing, an infatuation with Texas history, that led to his appointment by Gov. Rick Perry as the first state historian.
His love of the Lone Star State began in 1981. He went to the University of Texas in Austin to study Latin American history for his doctorate. He came to Texas expecting a semi-arid desert, but found a state with a rich diversity of land and people.
Working as a research assistant for author James Michener brought his passion to life. In Michener, he saw a burning curiosity to learn and a skill at bringing history down to earth.
Now, as one of at least 700 members of the Texas State Historical Association in San Antonio for its annual three-day meeting, he'll be installed as president of the 110-year-old nonprofit organization.
Larry McNeill, the outgoing president, lobbied the Legislature to create a state historian's position as an unpaid advocate and consultant. ...
Despite all the talk about decentering history, and the undeniable signs of change in the historical profession with regard to "other" fields, there are ways in which historians of less represented areas still feel, and still are, less central to the discipline. At the risk of crossing the thin, wavy line between justified complaint and unwarranted whining, I can testify that, even now, historians of Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East often feel like outliers in their own profession.
To understand why this might be the case, we need to take a look at the current composition of the historical profession. I suspect that most historians, if asked about trends in the field with regard to area of concentration, would answer that European history is in sharp decline, U.S. history is holding its own, and that the "other" fields are booming. But for some questions nothing beats numbers, and the statistical evidence reveals a far different pattern. In his article in the January 2007 issue of Perspectives, Robert B. Townsend explored changes over three decades both in topical specialization (cultural, diplomatic, social, and so on) and in area of concentration (United States, Europe, Africa, and so on). Whereas topical shifts were, in some cases, quite dramatic, "among the geographic field specializations the most notable trend seems to be continuity," according to Townsend. To the extent that there has been any change at all, the pace has been positively glacial. Indeed, there has been a decline in the percentage (not the total number) of historians who work on Europe, but even that decline—from 39 to 33.7 percent—has been relatively modest, and may reflect the smaller number of adjuncts employed in European history compared to other fields. U.S. history, after a dip in the mid-1980s, has seen a slight increase in its percentage of the field over the last 20 years. World history, statistically insignificant until about 15 years ago, has seen a sharp rise in the last 5 years, though it is still only 3.6 percent of the total. But what really caught my attention in these statistics are the very small changes that have occurred in fields most academics would likely describe as booming. Latin America, far from expanding its share, has actually declined since 1975 (though, again, only in relative, not absolute, numbers), going from 7.6 percent (in 1975) to 6.4 percent (in 2005)—the sharpest proportional decline of any field. And the numbers would have been even grimmer (5.8 percent in 1990) if it were not for the slight upward trend in the last 15 years. Asian history and Middle Eastern history are flatliners—their respective percentages are virtually unchanged over a thirty-year period. The one piece of good news for the "other" areas is African history, which has increased from 3.3 percent to 4.1 percent of listed faculty, proportionally a big leap, but one that also reflects the field's very small share at the outset of the period under discussion....
SOURCE: Perspectives, the newsmagazine of the AHA (3-8-07)
SOURCE: AHA Perspectives (3-8-07)
SOURCE: Ralph Luker at Cliopatria (HNN Blog) (7-8-07)
But Cox's flagship newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, published none of Jaspin's reportage. In the runup to Monday's publication date for Jaspin's book, Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America, charges flew thick and fast. See: Richard Prince,"Atlanta Paper Accused," Journal-isms, 21 February;"‘AJC' Whitewashed My Series on Racial Expulsions," Editor & Publisher, 23 February; Doug Monroe,"The AJC's Racial Cleansing Firestorm," Atlanta Magazine Online, 27 February; and John F. Sugg,"White Washed! Elliot Jaspin's book is the last thing the AJC's editors want you to read," Creative Loafing, 7 March.
The controversy is undoubtedly good for Jaspin's book sales and there's more to come. In January, the Sundance Film Festival showcased"Banished," a documentary featuring the return of descendants of African Americans driven out of three counties Jaspin identified to those counties. The film has its own website and its producers are planning"a major public education campaign to maximize the impact of ‘Banished'."
SOURCE: Nation (3-26-06)
In his 1949 book The Vital Center, Schlesinger had described The Nation (along with The New Republic) as "a fellow traveler of the fellow traveler." As America's premier self-proclaimed liberal anti-Communist, although he continued to write book reviews for the magazine through 1950, he wanted nothing to do with the front half of The Nation, which he saw as an anti-anti-Communist magazine.
And for many years, although both the magazine and the professor were on the liberal side of the divide in American politics, the ill will was mutual.
In 1951 in a weekly column he wrote for the New York Post, Schlesinger attacked The Nation's Carey McWilliams, along with two other non-Communist left-liberals (Tom Emerson and Stringfellow Barr) who had signed a letter proposing a national conference on civil liberties, as follows: "None of these gentlemen is a Communist, but none objects very much to Communism. They are the Typhoid Marys of the left, bearing the germs of infection even if not suffering obviously from the disease."
Which prompted McWilliams to respond in The New Statesman that Schlesinger "spoke the language of McCarthyism with a Harvard accent."
A year or two later, when Nation editor and publisher Freda Kirchwey declined to publish an article by the magazine's former art critic Clement Greenberg accusing its foreign editor, Álvarez del Vayo, of being a Stalinist, she also declined to publish a letter from Schlesinger, in support of Greenberg, that castigated The Nation for "betraying its finest traditions...when it prints week after week these wretched apologies for Soviet despotism." In other words, no love was lost.
Then in 1990, Professor Archie Singham, a member of the Nation editorial board, longtime Caribbeanist and activist-scholar, called. Cheddi Jagan, three-time popularly elected Prime Minister of British Guiana and by then leader of Guyana's largest party, was in town, and would we like to invite him for a luncheon seminar in our offices?
In the late 1950s and early '60s, Jagan, the first elected Marxist leader in the Western Hemisphere, had declined to take sides in the cold war. For that reason, among others, after the Bay of Pigs fiasco the CIA, encouraged by the Kennedy White House, covertly worked to destabilize the Jagan administration, with the result that in 1963 he was voted out of office. Now he was thinking of making a comeback, and Singham had an idea: Why not invite Schlesinger? In A Thousand Days, his memoir of the Kennedy years, Schlesinger seemed to have had second thoughts about Jagan and his own role at the time.
Once again, we invited Professor Schlesinger, but this time he said that although he had a class later in the afternoon and might have to leave early, he would be pleased to join us. Lunch began promptly at 1, Jagan held forth on his plans for a possible new presidential run and soon it was approaching 2:30. Professor Schlesinger interrupted: He had to leave, but before he did he had something he wanted to say. And he proceeded to apologize to Jagan for what he called "a great injustice" he and his Kennedy colleagues had helped to perpetrate.
Then in February 2002 The Nation Institute was putting together a panel at the Society for Ethical Culture on "Civil Liberties After September 11." Phil Donahue had agreed to moderate, Molly Ivins was coming up from Texas, and it seemed a natural to invite Schlesinger, whose thoughtful op-ed pieces on why it was a mistake to sacrifice civil liberties in the name of national security more and more seemed to overlap with Nation values. He agreed to come, appeared on the panel and was at his most elegant and eloquent.
In the years since, we continued to have our differences--especially over matters multicultural, not to mention his reviews of books covering the cold war years by Nation contributors. These past differences were over nontrivial matters, but more and more our thoughts about the present and future seemed to converge. It is probably presumptuous to say that we learned from each other, but the public sphere will be the poorer without Schlesinger's voice and activist historian's perspective informing the debate.
Reprinted with permission from the Nation. For subscription information call 1-800-333-8536. Portions of each week's Nation magazine can be accessed at http://www.thenation.com.
SOURCE: Nation (3-26-06)
Nothing about Arthur Schlesinger Jr. was fashionable (including, especially, those goofy bow ties). When he first came to prominence as a historian, he challenged the emerging power of the "consensus school" historians by refashioning the previous era's "progressive" interpretation of American history, which focused almost exclusively on class and economic division, to allow for the importance of ideas and ideology in shaping a nation's political life. Although his work was unapologetically "presentist" in orientation--the historian "wrote the way he voted" went the quip--almost all of it remains standing today, which is an astounding accomplishment, given how much history has since been uncovered. Schlesinger's excavations of the ages of Jackson and Roosevelt remain required reading. And for all his emotional commitments and personal connections to Camelot, his magisterial studies of the careers of President Kennedy and Robert Kennedy hold up almost as well. (I don't think anyone has improved on his epigram, "John Kennedy was a realist brilliantly disguised as a romantic, Robert Kennedy, a romantic stubbornly disguised as a realist.")
Writing on the website of the History News Network, presidential historian Alonzo Hamby expresses the common regret that Arthur "became so enmeshed with the Kennedys, if only because the entanglement diverted him from his historical vocation and left him open to attack as a court historian." But who wants to live life so as to avoid attack? Schlesinger's sideline as America's "quintessential 'engaged' intellectual," as historian Kevin Mattson has called him, was clearly one he relished, but he never insisted it was for everyone. Indeed, he admired his friend Richard Hofstadter, a historian who purposely retained his critical distance from politics and, while working in the Kennedy White House, praised Murray Kempton for his tough tack toward power, thereby offering an "antidote to the danger that those with influence might take themselves too seriously."
Schlesinger never changed his stripes as a liberal anti-Communist and New Deal Democrat, and his most controversial arguments feel awfully prescient today. While The New Republic and The Nation were still strangely schizoid about Stalin--though more supportive than not--Schlesinger issued warning after warning to the American left about the dangers posed by the US Communist Party. Three years before publishing The Vital Center (1949), writing in Life magazine, he compared Communists to Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses, who carry "their infection of intrigue and deceit wherever they go." With their systematic mendacity and duplicity, "Communists are engaged in a massive attack on the moral fabric of the American left." Even so, Schlesinger was able to make crucial distinctions. He rejected the notion that US Communists posed a threat to the Republic. "The Communist party is no menace to the right in the U.S. It is a great help to the right because of its success in dividing and neutralizing the left. It is to the American left that Communism presents the most serious danger."
But of course liberal anti-Communists did not exactly cover themselves in glory when it came to defending free expression in the face of McCarthyist blacklists. The last time I had lunch with Arthur--at a fancy East Side bistro he favored--I asked him if he felt anti-Communist liberals had allowed their hatred of Stalin and Soviet totalitarianism to overshadow their commitment to civil liberties at home. But like Edith Piaf, Arthur regretted rien. "We had a Two Joe policy of opposition back then," he insisted. "We were against Stalin and against McCarthy." True, I tried to argue, but was the balance the best one? After all, while Stalin was one of history's worst mass murderers, he turns out to have presented no genuine military threat to the United States or even, as it turns out, Western Europe. Joe McCarthy untrammeled, on the other hand, did more damage than anyone to America's democratic institutions until George W. Bush. Arthur shrugged and ordered another martini.
Schlesinger's more recent intraleft controversy arose when he made another prescient argument about a danger on the left: this was his short 1991 book on Afrocentrism and multiculturalism, The Disuniting of America. Although it was one of his slighter efforts, intellectually, Arthur recognized then, as few did, that by making a fetish of racial and ethnic divisions, the left was playing into the same divide-and-conquer politics that the corporate elite has always used against America's working classes.
In his final years, Schlesinger was revitalized by his anger at what the right was doing to America. He warned of "ominous preparations for and dark rumors of a preventive war against Iran" and complained of leaders who "do not know enough history, and they duplicated the stupidity of the Vietnam War" in Iraq. He dissociated himself from the liberal hawks and criticized those who sought to replace Communism with "terrorism" as America's all-purpose enemy. He was too good a historian to allow the neocons' hysterics to undermine the lessons he had spent so much of the past century learning and teaching. "History is the best antidote to illusions of omnipotence and omniscience," he wrote in one of his final published articles. "It should forever remind us of the limitations of our passing perspectives. It should strengthen us to resist the pressure to convert momentary interests into moral absolutes."
Reprinted with permission from the Nation. For subscription information call 1-800-333-8536. Portions of each week's Nation magazine can be accessed at http://www.thenation.com.
The 1978 Presidential Records Act, part of the post-Watergate reforms, clearly gave the American public ownership of presidential papers, said the historian Robert Dallek, whose latest book, “Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power,” is being published next month. But Mr. Bush’s executive order, he said, has had the effect of returning ownership to presidents and their heirs.
Having written highly regarded histories of Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Ronald Reagan, Mr. Dallek said “my experience has been, particularly with this new book, that there is a very different story to be told than a president and his representatives would like you to hear when you get to get inside and read the records.”
He mined archives to put together his new book, which reveals that Henry A. Kissinger and Richard M. Nixon discussed early on the impossibility of winning the Vietnam War, as well as such unguarded moments as Mr. Kissinger referring to the South Vietnamese as “little yellow friends.”
Presidents and the guardians of their legacies would prefer that such embarrassing details don’t come out, Mr. Dallek said in a telephone interview. But archival evidence provides a “much more candid, honest picture of what they were thinking and what they were saying and the acts of deception they practiced,” he said. “It is important for the country to hear and know.”...
The cause was amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, said his wife, Cora.
At his death, Dr. Jordan was emeritus professor of history and African-American studies at the University of Mississippi, where he taught from 1982 until his retirement in 2004.
Dr. Jordan’s most famous book was “White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812” (University of North Carolina, 1968). “White Over Black” was considered one of the first significant works of scholarship to trace the deep roots of 20th-century racial inequality, devoting particular attention to its basis in the collective psyche of the early European settlers of North America.
Reviewing the book in The New York Times Book Review, the historian C. Vann Woodward wrote, “In seeking out the origins, meaning and explanation of Negro debasement in America, Mr. Jordan has tackled one of the most abstruse, subtle, tangled, controversial and certainly one of the most important problems of American history.”
“The result,” he added, “is a massive and learned work that stands as the most informed and impressive pronouncement on the subject yet made.”...
Winthrop Donaldson Jordan was born on Nov. 11, 1931, in Worcester, Mass., the son of Henry Donaldson Jordan, a professor of history at Clark University, and Lucretia Mott Churchill, a great-great-granddaughter of the abolitionists James and Lucretia Mott. Disinclined at first to follow in his father’s field, Winthrop Jordan earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard in 1953; his major — a gentle act of rebellion — was not history but social relations.
“My undergraduate background meant that my approach to history was strongly influenced by the social sciences of the early 1950s,” Dr. Jordan wrote in a recent autobiographical essay posted on the Web site History News Network (www.hnn.us). “More particularly, I aimed to understand the large component of emotion and indeed irrationality that characterized the attitudes of the white majority toward ‘Negroes’ in this country.”...
SOURCE: Times (UK) (3-8-07)
David was just 48. He left a young widow, Nicky, and three teenage sons. He was not only an exceptional man but a storyteller of the most gifted kind. He brought to his stories his love of history and his profound admiration for the Zulu people as well as his empathy for every man, from the youngest little Welsh drummer boy to the hordes of Zulu impis who had been caught up in the great and tragic events of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. He told these stories through the eyes and voices of those on both sides of the battle on that “Day of the Dead Moon” (at the height of the battle it is said that the sun went dark), January 22, 1879.
He’d read the soldiers’ journals, he lived among the descendants of the Zulu warriors who had fought that day, he knew the cave where the last soldier had held out and the valley which as far as the eye could see had been filled with 20,000 Zulu impis sitting in utter silence row upon row, their shields glinting in the sun, waiting for the battle to begin. His tales were of a British defeat, one of the worst in its imperial history, and of a great Zulu victory. He helped the Zulu nation to reclaim its history and gave it voice and power. And in the telling of these stories those who were privileged to listen to him came to understand why history matters, why every human life is meaningful and to believe that nobility and courage, honesty and loyalty are constants in the human spirit that are there, ready to be awakened if only the cause is fine enough.
It was this gift, combined with the energies and talents of his wife, that turned a small lodge on family-owned land in a remote corner of Zululand, close to Rorke’s Drift and Isandlwana, into one of the most sought-after destinations in South Africa for tourists. It became a place that brought kings and our own Prince of Wales, foreign diplomats, historians and ordinary people who had heard of his magic to visit the historic sites and listen to him talk.
But while David’s voice has been silenced, the stories themselves will not die. At Fugitives’ Drift itself Rob Caskie and Joseph Ndima will continue to tell the stories the way that David taught them. But into the mix there are now lectures offering new perspectives on the history of their land. The lodge will continue to function just the way it always has, still offering a magical insight into the infinite complexities of South Africa and KwaZulu-Natal in particular, into its history and cultures, sharing the secrets of that region that the Zulus called “The Land of Heaven”. As Nicky Rattray puts it: “David’s life would really have been in vain if his life’s work folded.” Nicky herself says she feels as safe at Fugitives’ Lodge as ever she did. David’s death, she is convinced, was a random act of violence which has not diminished in any way her love and trust in the Zulu people. ...
SOURCE: http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/ (3-7-07)
What occurred during the intervening 95 years has a lot to do with the South's collective amnesia over its racial sins. And, according to a new book by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, the AJC has contributed over the years to the memory loss.
The book – Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America, written by Elliot Jaspin – argues that AJC editors eviscerated an earlier newspaper series he wrote on racial cleansing in 14 American counties, including Forsyth. He wrote the articles for Cox Newspapers, which owns the AJC.
Jaspin claims the series – penned after five years of research – was spiked locally because the articles would have embarrassed the AJC by reporting previous whitewashes by the newspaper of racial cleansing in Forsyth County.
Failing that, Jaspin says, the AJC prevailed upon the Cox brass to soften the mentions of the newspaper's accounts, or as he puts it, "bowdlerize" his groundbreaking reporting.
Although the AJC didn't run the series, "Leave or Die," other Cox papers did, as well as other non-Cox publications. That created the odd circumstance in which the chain's largest newspaper didn't run high-profile articles by its own Washington bureau, stories that highlighted events in the AJC's own backyard. The series was co-sponsored by the Washington bureau and by the Cox-owned American-Statesman in Austin, Texas. The print version ran 16 full pages.
AJC editors "are afraid of angering white people," Cox Washington Bureau Chief Andy Alexander is quoted as saying by Jaspin in his book, which will be released March 12 and expands on the series' reporting. Alexander, who is Jaspin's supervisor, in a statement last month to a journalism blog concedes he uttered the quote but attributes it to the "heat of the editing process."...
The Russian transcript of that momentous summit was published in Moscow in 1993. Fourteen years later American historians are still waiting for their own government to release a transcript.
Now lawmakers and scholars are hoping to pry open the gateway to such archival documents by lifting what they say has been a major obstacle to historical research: a directive issued by the current Bush White House in 2001 that has severely slowed or prevented the release of important presidential papers.
“I visited the Bush library in 1999, expecting to be able to look at” the Malta transcript, said Thomas S. Blanton, executive director of an independent research institute called the National Security Archive at George Washington University. He filed a Freedom of Information Act request but said, “I still don’t have it, and there’s no telling when I will.”
President George W. Bush’s 2001 executive order restricted the release of presidential records by giving sitting presidents the power to delay the release of papers indefinitely, while extending the control of former presidents, vice presidents and their families. It also changed the system from one that automatically released documents 30 days after a current or former president is notified to one that withholds papers until a president specifically permits their release.
Today the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is scheduled to discuss a new bill that would overturn Mr. Bush’s order, said a committee spokeswoman, Karen Lightfoot. The sponsors, who include the committee chairman, Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, hope to bring the bill to the floor of the House next week.
SOURCE: WSJ (3-7-07)
Thus wrote that lion of American liberalism, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., in 1955, long before the Reagan and Gingrich revolutions. Here was a historian whose understanding of the past afforded him remarkable perspective on the future.
Schlesinger's death last week at 89 raises the question of whether the liberalism to which he was devoted -- "I remain to this day a New Dealer, unreconstructed and unrepentant," he wrote in a memoir published in 2000 -- will be buried with him.
The short answer that arises from the body of Schlesinger's brilliant work is that reports of liberalism's death are always premature. Liberalism will rise again and again because renewing the public sphere and reviving concern for the less privileged and less powerful are what free citizens demand at the end of a conservative era.
Consider these words from Schlesinger in 1960: "At periodic moments in our history, our country has paused on the threshold of a new epoch in our national life, unable for a moment to open the door, but aware that it must advance if it is to preserve its national vitality and identity. One feels that we are approaching such a moment now -- that the mood which has dominated the nation for a decade is beginning to seem thin and irrelevant; that it no longer interprets our desires and needs as a people; that new forces, new energies, new values are straining for expression and for release."
Like John Kenneth Galbraith, his friend and fellow worker in liberalism's vineyards, Schlesinger worried about "the classical condition of private opulence and public squalor." He said of the 1950s: "We have chosen in this decade to invest not in people but in things. We have chosen to allocate our resources to undertakings which bring short-run profits to individuals rather than to those which bring long-run profits to the nation."...