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The coverage that came my way typified the European fascination with wild and wacky California. But by then I was convinced there was more to these matters than sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. Not that sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll didn't matter. They were the most forceful expression of the statement. But could that statement be given a more accessible philosophical translation? That was the task I set myself, giving my attention mainly to a group of influential thinkers (among them Herbert Marcuse, C. Wright Mills, Norman Brown, Paul Goodman, and Alan Watts) who were raising significant questions about the dominant reality principle of the modern world.
Remember, this was the era when, on both sides of the cold war, science and technology had signed on with the military-industrial complex, leaving the world to wonder how soon the missiles would fly and the sky catch fire; "mad rationality," as Lewis Mumford so aptly put it.
What I sensed beneath the surface of youthful dissent was the spontaneous emergence of a subterranean tradition that reached back to the early days of industrial revolution, a "cry of the heart" first voiced by romantic poets and artists against the "dark, Satanic mills" that were desiccating the human spirit and the natural world. A counter culture. That's what I saw in the ebullience of Haight-Ashbury for that one brief interval in 1967. It didn't last long, but it didn't have to. The lines had been drawn and the issue joined.
William Seraile, professor of African-American history, Herbert H. Lehman College, City University of New York: I went to Vietnam in 1967, not as a soldier but as a volunteer English teacher with International Voluntary Service, an organization similar to the Peace Corps. I couldn't teach because my school was converted into a refugee center. I volunteered as a scrubber in the operating ward of the local hospital, where wounded civilian victims of the war received surgery — everything from brain surgery to amputations.
I also did volunteer work at an orphanage, where I discovered that children who looked like me (African-American) would never amount to anything more than a prostitute (for girls) or pimp or street hustler (for boys). My distaste for the war and for the lies that I witnessed while the American military predicted victory disillusioned me. I left Vietnam after only seven months' service because my personal safety was at stake and a friend had been kidnapped. (He would spend five years in North Vietnam.)
I returned to New York but did not participate in any antiwar marches because the protesters were concerned about the loss of American lives — no one seemed to care about the loss of Vietnamese lives or the destruction of their culture. I protested in my own way by sending Sen. Eugene McCarthy, a peace candidate for the presidency, antiwar poetry written by Vietnamese dissenters and by sharing my views in a radio interview.
There was no love for me to celebrate during the Summer of Love. I remember the amputations, the gangrened limbs, and the anguished cries of so-called stoic Vietnamese who gazed upon the lifeless eyes of children, dead before they had entered school. My experience in Vietnam taught me never to trust the U.S. government's spin on events. Government lies are as common and persistent as raindrops.
Michael Kazin, professor of history, Georgetown University: Having completed my first year in college, I imagined I was living in the springtime of the revolution. So naturally I spent the summer of 67 trying to nurture its buds. I attended my first convention of Students for a Democratic Society, in Ann Arbor, where network TV filmed our debates about how to stop the draft — and the national leaders all dropped LSD. Then I took a job in the SDS regional office in New York City, soaking up what passed for wisdom from people like Mark Rudd and Dave Gilbert, who, two years later, would be founders of Weatherman. We sponsored a talk by the SNCC firebrand H. Rap Brown and a conference of student radicals from Europe. Everyone I knew seemed to be reading Regis Debray's Revolution in the Revolution?, which proclaimed guerilla war as the salvation of the third world.
But politics didn't take up all that many evenings. I went to smoke-ins in Tompkins Square Park, heard the Fugs play at a tiny theater nearby where my girlfriend sold tickets. Sometime in August, she and I spent a long, tense day at Jones Beach, quarreled that evening, and broke up the next morning. But I was just 19, healthy, and headed back to Harvard. Everything mattered, which was fine by me.
SOURCE: WaPo (6-30-07)
In 1964, Mr. Taylor, a native Washingtonian, helped launch what has become the institution's third-most popular museum. About 3 million people passed through the doors annually until it closed for renovations in September, attendance surpassed only by the Air and Space and Natural History museums.
Mr. Taylor, described in a press account as "a genial book of knowledge," was responsible for modernizing exhibits throughout the Smithsonian. He also established a program of research and scholarly publication for the old National Museum of History and Technology, the predecessor of the National Museum of American History, and began the planning for a major storage and conservation center in Suitland. He also opened a terrace patio, offering refreshments and music, adjacent to the museum, to impress on visitors how civilized Washington is.
"He was a gentleman to the core," said John Jameson, a Smithsonian administrator who worked with him.
Mr. Taylor was born at the family home on Capitol Hill. His father, Augustus Taylor, a pharmacist, owned the drugstore at Second Street and Maryland Avenue NE. His grandfather, Edward Kübel, a noted scientific instrument maker from Bavaria, lived nearby.
His boyhood memories included the excavation for the railroad tunnel to Union Station, the 1918 flu epidemic and a two-day bicycle trip to Ocean City. He graduated from what was then called McKinley Manual Training School in 1921 and received an engineering degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1928. In 1934, he received a law degree from Georgetown University....
SOURCE: Patrick T. Reardon in the Chicago Tribune (7-1-07)
But it's not that simple.
Academics routinely complain that popular historians oversimplify the story of history to make it more palatable for a general audience. Do the life stories of a handful of well-to-do, middle-age men really explain the American Revolution? The retort is that university scholars have gotten so focused on the minutiae of past days -- the baptismal records in rural British hamlets, for instance -- that they've lost the ability to tell the story of what happened and to explain the broader meaning.
In recent years, though, a new sort of book has begun appearing on bookstore shelves, one that works knee-deep in the nitty-gritty facts of history but also fits those facts into a tale that makes clear their importance.
Consider "Facing East From Indian Country: A Native History of Early America" by Daniel K. Richter (Harvard University Press, 336 pages, $17.50), originally published in 2001. It's a history of colonial America and the American Revolution -- but it's told from the vantage point of the people who were here when Europeans began arriving.
Early on, Richter, a University of Pennsylvania historian, describes his method as trying "to peer eastward over the shoulder of a Wampanoag woman hoeing her corn." It's a difficult task, he admits, because of the scarcity of documentation. So, he brings to bear his imagination -- never fictionalizing, but, like a detective, looking at the context (details on the religion, eating habits, housing and other aspects of Indian culture) and teasing out an understanding of how the European incursion would have changed and ultimately shattered the Native American way of life.
Often, books of this growing genre are interdisciplinary in approach. Some may not even seem, at first blush, to be about history at all, such as the delightfully odd "Rembrandt's Nose: Of Flesh & Spirit in the Master's Portraits" by Michael Taylor, just now arriving in bookstores (D.A.P., 168 pages, $27.50).
The nose? What could be sillier? Yet, Taylor shows the eloquence that Rembrandt brought to his depiction of his own nose in self-portraits and to the noses of his other sitters, and he taps into that eloquence to tell the story of the artist's life and his inner joys and turmoil....
[Reardon goes on to note several other historians including Richard White.]
... White, a professional historian at the University of Washington, has an even deeper purpose in telling this story of his mother's birth in Ireland and immigration to the Southwest Side of Chicago. He wants to examine the interplay of memory and history, to see how the stories his mother told him of her upbringing and life travels mesh with the documents and records that are a historian's stock in trade.
In some cases, the documents and records help spark further memories in his mother. In others, they seem to show that the scenes she recalls from the past are distorted. Yet, however inexact those recollections are at times, they have their own weight, their own validity as an expression of how his mother felt and thought....
SOURCE: http://canberra.yourguide.com.au (7-1-07)
Professor Bill Gammage, of the Australian National University, said Turkey did not have the authority to conduct the roadworks, which had uncovered bones and war relics.
"What I'm essentially arguing is that that area is a cemetery," he told the Sunday Canberra Times.
"You don't put roads through graves anywhere else in the world, in any other cemeteries that I'm aware of, and I don't see why you should do it there."
Concerns about Turkish roadworks first arose in 2005 when bones were unearthed near Anzac Cove. Turkish authorities are currently working on a bitumen road that follows the original No Man's Land, uncovering even more remains.
Earlier this month, the National Trust said the new work would inevitably disturb unmarked graves and expressed concern that bones may be souvenired.
Speaking after a recent inspection of the battlefield, the trust's heritage officer, Dr Peter Dowling, said there was "almost a 100 per cent likelihood" of the new roadworks uncovering human skeletons.
In response, federal Minister for Veterans' Affairs Bruce Billson said he was confident that Turkey would conduct the roadworks "sensitively"....
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (7-2-07)
Not surprisingly, Gottfried is not alone in denouncing Wolfe. Jeffrey O. Nelson, president of the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, writes on the National Review Web site: "One could write a thesis on Wolfe’s misreading of Kirk’s understanding of American constitutionalism, but it would make dull reading, since Wolfe is a minor figure and his errors are so obvious." And over at The American Scene, Daniel Larison of The American Conservative asks, "Does anyone care what Alan Wolfe thinks?"
SOURCE: HNN Staff (7-2-07)
Our favorite (not pictured):"Historians kick ass."
Hat Tip: HNN Intern Jessica Steinbach
SOURCE: Letter to the editor of the NYT Book Review (7-1-07)
Walter Kirn’s review of my book “A Young People’s History of the United States” (June 17) attributes to me the belief that “telling the truth is not Job 1 for historians.” The reviewer seems to hold to the l9th-century von Ranke idea that there is one truth to be told. Most historians, and most intelligent people, including bright 12-year-olds, understand that there is no such thing as a single “objective” truth, but that there are different truths according to the viewpoint of the historian. Kirn is intent on giving a sinister ring to what is common sense.
Kirn is irritated because his “truth” is not mine. His truths — built around veneration of the “great men” of the past: the political leaders, the enterprising industrialists — add up to exactly the simplistic history fed to young people over the generations, which my book tries to replace. His kind of history produces a submissive population, always looking for saviors on high. I prefer that readers of history, including the young, learn that we cannot depend on established authority to keep us out of war and to create economic justice, but rather that solving these problems depends on us, the citizenry, and on the great social movements we have created.
My history, therefore, describes the inspiring struggle of those who have fought slavery and racism (Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Fannie Lou Hamer, Bob Moses), of the labor organizers who have led strikes for the rights of working people (Big Bill Haywood, Mother Jones, César ChÃ¡vez), of the socialists and others who have protested war and militarism (Eugene Debs, Helen Keller, the Rev. Daniel Berrigan, Cindy Sheehan). My hero is not Theodore Roosevelt, who loved war and congratulated a general after a massacre of Filipino villagers at the turn of the century, but Mark Twain, who denounced the massacre and satirized imperialism.
Kirn is annoyed at my refusal to go along with the orthodox romanticization of Lincoln. I suspect he has not read the chapter on Lincoln in Richard Hofstadter’s classic, “The American Political Tradition,” in which Hofstadter brilliantly punctures what he calls the “Lincoln legend.”
Kirn says: “Writing about abolitionism, Zinn leaves the impression that freeing the slaves was not enough.” It seems he does not know of the work of W. E. B. Du Bois and Eric Foner, who document the betrayal of the freed slave after the Civil War.
I want young people to understand that ours is a beautiful country, but it has been taken over by men who have no respect for human rights or constitutional liberties. Our people are basically decent and caring, and our highest ideals are expressed in the Declaration of Independence, which says that all of us have an equal right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The history of our country, I point out in my book, is a striving, against corporate robber barons and war makers, to make those ideals a reality — and all of us, of whatever age, can find immense satisfaction in becoming part of that.
SOURCE: WaPo (6-30-07)
But unlike the tourists, Murphy is imagining these things in ruins. The monument toppled, perhaps. Marble museums cracked and broken. Kudzu engulfing the temple to the Great Emancipator.
And why not? The man has spent years mulling the American future and the ancient past.
Murphy's new book -- titled, simply, "Are We Rome?" -- is an extended examination of one of the most contested historical analogies around.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has stood alone as the world's dominant power. So, for centuries, did Rome. Much has been made of the comparison, both by those who have urged America to seize its imperial destiny and by others who fear the consequences of doing so.
Edward Gibbon, after all, didn't call his life's work "The Rise and Continued Prosperity of the Roman Empire." How relevant is the phrase "Decline and Fall" in the American capital today?
During a customized "Are We Rome?" tour of Washington, Murphy will do his best to address this question....
There are the two militaries' enormous investments in logistical capability and in training. There are shared concerns about the ability to fight on multiple fronts at once. There are increasing manpower shortages, with Rome responding by incorporating"barbarians" into its legions and the U.S. Army by lowering its recruiting standards and relying, more and more, on private contractors.
And there is the recurring question of what true security means.
Murphy cites a 4th-century letter from a concerned Roman citizen to his emperor, which"makes the very modern point that security isn't just a matter of raw military power but also derives from a society's overall health." These days, that point is often made by concerned American citizens on the political left. But Murphy -- a registered independent who has voted for presidential candidates of both parties and thinks" centrist" is a fair term to describe his political views -- supports it with a quotation from a man whose military credentials are unimpeachable.
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired," Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower said in 1950,"signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed."...
SOURCE: NYT news story (7-1-07)
But some liberal scholars have challenged that heroic assessment. In “From Jim Crow to Civil Rights,” Michael J. Klarman argues that it was a political commitment to integration in the 1960s, not the Brown decision in the 1950s, that led to meaningful integration.
“Brown didn’t transform society very much, and to the extent that it did it was indirect,” says Mr. Klarman, who is a law professor at the University of Virginia. “Brown brought out the worst in White Supremacy, and Northerners were appalled by the police dogs they saw on television, and that advanced the civil rights movement.” He argues that meaningful desegregation didn’t occur until the Johnson administration’s Justice Department became committed to enforcing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare threatened to cut off financing to school districts that refused to integrate.
Professor Klarman said he believed that just as the court couldn’t bring about integration on its own in 1954, so it won’t be able to mandate colorblindness on its own today. “Just as Brown produced massive resistance in the South and therefore had little impact on desegregation for a decade, this decision is going to be similarly inconsequential,” he says. “This affects only the tiny percentage of school districts that use race to assign students, and even in those districts, like Louisville and Seattle, it won’t be consequential because there are so many opportunities for committed school boards to circumvent it.”
SOURCE: Robin Moroney in the WSJ (6-28-07)