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: http://www.victorhanson.com (8-29-07)
Leo: Welcome Dr. Hanson, your article "Why Study War?," strongly criticizes the academy for its increasing neglect of military history. How do you explain this neglect?
Hanson: Mostly for three reasons. First, since the campus revolt against Vietnam, academia has associated war exclusively with amorality, forgetting, for example, that chattel slavery, Nazism, fascism, and Stalinism were ended by arms or military deterrence.
Second, multiculturalism — no culture can be any worse than the West — has redefined the history of Western arms as exclusively in the service of racism, colonialism, and imperialism that in turn were unique to the West.
And lastly, the advent of postmodernism, and indeed 'theory' in general, into the arts and sciences meant a general disdain for, and absence of mastery of, names, dates, personalities, facts themselves — the stuff of military history — in favor of seeing all of the past as a morality tale to be deconstructed on the basis of preconceived (and often anti-empirical) gender, class, and racial oppression.
The result is that we have self-acclaimed sophisticated graduate students and professors that know very little about what actually transpired in the past, but who fret a great deal over whether anyone can know anything about what they don't know.
Leo: Is opposition to military history related to the strength of anti-military opinion on campus since the Vietnam War? Or is it more often a feeling that studying war somehow dignifies human mayhem?
Hanson: Both, but there is still this crazy notion that anyone who studies war does so not to understand and thus often mitigate its effects, but rather out of a sort of repressed or even overt desire for bloodletting — as if a oncologist likes tumors or a virologist is de facto an advocate for AIDs. Almost all military history, even if written in the most banal sense of antiquarianism, ultimately seeks to record the tragedy of taking human life, and speculate on the ways in which wars could have either been prevented or conducted with the greatest rapidity and avoidance of loss of life.
Leo: At a time when almost everything prized in the popular culture ends up on a college curriculum, how is it that the enormous upsurge of books, movies and cable shows about war is occurring at the same time that the study of war is fading on campus?
Hanson: War by nature involves the ultimate sacrifice of soldiers, usually of a rare segment of the general population willing to die for an idea, an order, a good or bad cause, to inflict havoc or save humanity. And there is a sort of gut-level fascination why humans would do such things.
In addition, there is a general societal fear, rightly so, that war de facto has the ability to destroy society as we know it — whether the Roman 'peace' at the end of the 3rd Punic War or the carnage of WWII Poland, Japan, and Russia — and thus should be examined if for prophylactic reasons alone. War, you see, is the ultimate expression, for good or evil, of action and the collision of material forces — in contrast to the steady devolution in the academia to discourse and theorizing. Pickett's Charge or Normandy Beach will win anytime over the 'Transvestism in the Medieval Cloister' or 'The Poetics of Manhood in the Renaissance Puppetry." Finally, there are millions of Americans in the general public who served in the military or are the children, siblings, and parents of those who did, but perhaps far less of such a percentage among the cohort that now runs the academy....
SOURCE: Sherman Yellen in Huffington Post (Blog) (8-30-07)
When I was a young man I knew a renowned art historian, born a Jew, whose loathing for his co-religionists knew no boundaries. It was the nineteen fifties and this distinguished and successful man -- whom I do not name out of consideration for his living children -- devoted much of his time to living in a pretend WASP world. The Holocaust and the long history of persecution that Jews had suffered had not opened his heart to his own people, it had caused him to shut off any feeling for them. Through a connection to then President Eisenhower, he even managed to purchase an apartment in an elegant "restricted" Fifth Avenue apartment building. He married his young gentile Smith College graduate assistant, and for all his success, deeply resented that his religion kept him from a place on the board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art which was then off limits to Jews. When a famed Jewish art collector and philanthropist died, and left his remarkable art collection to the state of Israel with the proviso that this "expert" deliver the dedication speech, the art historian kept postponing the trip until he was forced to go by his young wife. As he descended the airplane steps into the Holy Land, he fell forward and dropped dead. He was buried in Israel where he will lie for eternity. A sad, true, and dare I say it, funny story. We all know such people. Their self loathing is often explainable, the effects of a hostile culture upon them in their youth -- explainable but never justifiable, and comically tragic....
And now we have another champion self-loather in Senator Larry Craig....
SOURCE: CanWest News Service (8-29-07)
Mr. Hansen, a professor at the University of Toronto, this year testified before a Senate subcommittee investigating the historical accuracy of a text panel appearing on a Bomber Command exhibit entitled, An Enduring Controversy.
Mr. Hansen is one of at least five historians who found the 67 words of text were balanced and factually correct.
This week the museum stated that the exhibit would be changed and that the new wording is being considered.
"I think the decision is absolutely appalling both substantively and in terms of the process for making the decision," Mr. Hansen said Wednesday.
The panel states that Bomber Command and American attacks on Nazi Germany left 600,000 Germans dead, but did not halt German war production.
"The value and morality of the strategic bomber offensive against Germany remains bitterly contested," the panel reads.
"Bomber Command's aim was to crush civilian morale and force Germany to surrender by destroying its cities and industrial installations. Although Bomber Command and American attacks left 600,000 Germans dead and more than five million homeless, the raids resulted in only small reductions of German war production until late in the war."
Many veterans may not enjoy the conclusion that bombing of Nazi Germany in the Second World War had a marginal effect on the war's outcome, but it is historically accurate, Mr. Hansen said.
SOURCE: John Kasich interview with Douglas Brinkley on the O'Reilly Factor (8-30-07)
But their defense strategy is to shift blame to federal authorities for failing to secure the levees and state authorities for failing to order mandatory evacuations. Joining us now from Houston, historian Douglas Brinkley, the author of the best-selling book, "The Great Deluge." Douglas, how close is New Orleans to being fixed?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PH.D., HISTORIAN: Well, it's a tale of two cities. There's the sliver by the river, which is the above sea level part of New Orleans. And that's doing pretty well. The port business is about 90 percent back. Tourism's slowly coming back into the French Quarter and the Garden District.
But the below sea level areas, the lower 9th, is struggling, New Orleans East. It's having very hard times. And the bigger worry is the levees. Are they safe to survive a Category 5 storm or even a 3 storm?
Most people say they are not. We have a long, long ways to go. And it would really cost about $40 to $50 billion, the biggest public works project in American history to get those levees ready. We also have the wetlands issue. So their problems are many down in New Orleans on the second anniversary.
KASICH: Douglas, you being a historian, is there anything that's ever happened in our history that had such a black mark against it as the government's inability to get things fixed like this?
BRINKLEY: Well, I think it's — you know, there are people that will complain. There's going to — if you look reconstruction period, people of Atlanta, for example, was burned. And they wanted the federal government to help rebuild the South.
So you do have incidents. But the kind of — the path of destruction that we're dealing with here in Mississippi and Louisiana, it's really still unfathomable to people. It doesn't fit on your TV screen. And the anger is palatable. People are still upset at even just saying the word FEMA or Homeland Security or President Bush.
KASICH: But Douglas...
BRINKLEY: And then you have the problem of corruption.
KASICH: ...here's what I don't understand. This is a total disaster. This is America where this happened. This is not, you know, in Russia, where some, you know, meltdown occurred. This is the United States of America. How is it conceivable that this has not been fixed?
BRINKLEY: We haven't had leadership. You know, if you look at presidential history, you'll see something like TR built the Panama Canal and put aside $230 million for conservation. Or FDR in the New Deal or Eisenhower in the interstate highway system.
President Bush has a policy of inaction. Federal government's view is we have a one trillion dollar debt, we're fighting a war in Iraq, we don't have time for a huge public works project in the Gulf South. There's never been a major czar appointed.
KASICH: Oh, boy.
BRINKLEY: And we've have had a Marshall Plan for Europe, but we can't do a Marshall Plan for the Gulf South apparently. And I'm hoping the 2008 election, people will debate the future of the region.
KASICH: I mean, there is no excuse for government at all levels not fixing this thing. I mean, I'm just so fed up with this, it's ridiculous.
SOURCE: Fox News (8-30-07)
The private Chicago Catholic university recently informed professor Norman Finkelstein that his three courses were canceled after a dispute over tenure that drew charges of anti-Semitism against him.
Critics find issue with Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors, who believes that some Jews have exploited the Holocaust. Finkelstein is the author of five books, including "The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering."
SOURCE: Press Release--National Park Service (8-30-07)
The National Park Service (NPS) announces the selection of Dr. Robert K. Sutton as Chief Historian of the National Park Service. The Chief Historian position in the National Park Service is one of the most prestigious historian positions in the Federal government. The Chief Historian provides guidance and direction to the national parks as well as nationwide to the American people on the importance of verifying historical events and interpreting the significance of America’s historic places. The position provides national leadership in setting and implementing NPS standards and guidelines relating to the documentation of historically significant properties. Dr. Sutton will begin his new position on October 1, 2007.
Dr. Sutton has been Superintendent of the Manassas National Battlefield Park since 1995, which has an annual visitation of 800,000. While at Manassas, he initiated a major symposium on the Civil War that attracted renowned scholars and developed an interpretive institute for Civil War park rangers on creating new ways to interpret the Civil War. He oversaw the restoration of a 100-acre area of the park through a creative partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, where the loss of wetlands at the new Air and Space Museum at Dulles Airport was mitigated through the restoration of the Manassas land. He holds a Ph.D. degree in history from Washington State University and has decades of experience in conveying to the public the importance of preserving the nation’s cultural resources.
“We are very pleased that Dr. Sutton has joined the Washington, DC office of the National Park Service as Chief Historian,” said Janet Snyder Matthews, Associate Director, Cultural Resources. “We look forward to working with him on a wide range of history projects, including those that develop from the Centennial of the National Park Service through 2016.”
Dr. Sutton began his career as a park ranger with Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. Subsequent positions include museum curator with the Oregon Historical Society; historian with the Oregon State Parks; architectural historian with the NPS Southwest Regional Office in Albuquerque, New Mexico; historian with Independence National Historic Park; Assistant Professor in the History Department and Director of the Public History Program at Arizona State University; and Assistant Superintendent and historian at National Capital Parks-East. Since 1991, he has served as adjunct professor of history at George Mason University. In 2000, Dr. Sutton received the Department of the Interior’s Meritorious Service Award.
Dr. Sutton is editor of Rally on the High Ground: National Park Service Symposium on the Interpretation of the Civil War; co-author of Majestic in His Wrath: The Life of Frederick Douglass; and author of Americans Interpret the Parthenon: Greek Revival Architecture and the Westward Movement.
Dr. Sutton will be responsible for managing the Service’s history programs, which includes coordinating historical studies at the national level, managing the administrative history program, and overseeing the quality of documentation of historic places within national parks.
SOURCE: Euro Topics (8-22-07)
SOURCE: Scott McLemee at the website of Inside Higher Education (8-29-07)
Rather than devoting this column to celebration of The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual on its 40th anniversary, however, I thought it would be more interesting to discuss Cruse’s work with a young historian who is by no means uncritical of the book.
Peniel E. Joseph, associate professor of African and Afro-American studies at Brandeis University, is the author of Waiting ’Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America (Henry Holt) and the editor of The Black Power Movement: Rethinking the Civil Rights-Black Power Era (Routledge), both published last year. I have not seen the latter volume, but can attest that Midnight Hour deserved being named one of the best books of 2006 by The Washington Post.
Joseph answered some questions by e-mail about Harold Cruse and his legacy. A transcript of the discussion follows.
Q: The title of Cruse’s book will sound rather dated to many readers now — and it probably already did to some readers in 1967, even. Was there anything in Cruse’s background to make him want to insist on “Negro,” rather than some other expression?
A: I think that Cruse’s decision to use the term “Negro” in this instance is very purposeful and in some ways ironic. By 1967 many Black Power militants, most notably Stokely Carmichael, were urging African Americans to identify themselves as “black.” Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam had been key forerunners, in the national sense, of a black consciousness movement that disparaged the term “Negro.” Cruse had used the term “Afro-American” in a 1962 essay published in Studies on the Left that achieved a cult following among a certain segment of young black radicals.
But Cruse was also a highly idiosyncratic thinker and former activist who came of age during the Great Depression—World War II era. Transplanted to New York from Virginia, Cruse encountered a Harlem that, although past the prime of the New Negro heyday of the 1920s, featured street speakers keeping the embers of Garveyism alive. Local nationalists, from Carlos Cooks to Lewis Michaux, characterized African Americans as “black” or “Afro-American.” Cruse did not take the explicitly nationalist route however, preferring to join the Communist Party around 1946. Yet he retained a race pride that left him unable to completely repudiate the cultural and racial consciousness of black nationalism and pan-Africanism.
The Cold War impacts Cruse, as it did others, in indelible ways. By the early 1950s Cruse had abandoned the Communist Party and Harlem for both political and professional reasons. Politically, he felt the party promised more than it could deliver for African Americans and played favorites, lionizing figures such as Paul Robeson while failing to nurture younger, lesser know types such as himself. Professionally, ties to the CP were becoming more of an albatross than an asset. Cruse, like the young Ralph Ellison, held a driving ambition to make it as a writer at all costs....
SOURCE: HNN Staff (8-29-07)
The State Department is paying for the trip. But Collins will also be giving a seminar to officials brought together by Representative Frank R. Wolf (R-VA), a senior member of the Appropriations Committee. "One agency pays my way to Washington," Collins told HNN, "and then all these other agencies piggy back." Collins has frequently briefed officials in Washington about terrorism. He says Wolfe has had an interest in the subject since the 1990s.
Collins's book on terrorism financing, Alms for Jihad (co-authored with J. Millard Burr, a former State Department analyst), was reviewed in advance of publication by the publisher's libel lawyers. It therefore came as a shock, he says, when he was informed in July that Cambridge would be pulping all copies of the book. (The publisher even asked libraries to pull the book from the shelves.)
Mr. Collins is preparing an article for HNN about the controversy. It will appear in September.
SOURCE: Cinnamon Stillwell at the website of CampusWatch (8-29-07)
It has become popular for those with competing political agendas to allege threats to free speech, whether real or imagined. Yet, there is a very real threat to free speech that has received little attention in the public sphere. It's called libel tourism and it has become a major component in the ideological arm of the war on terrorism.
At question is the publication of books and other writings that seek to shed light on the financing of Islamic terrorism. Increasingly, American authors who dare enter this territory are finding themselves at risk of being sued for libel in the much more plaintiff-friendly British court system in what amounts to an attempt to censor their work on an international level.
The latest case of libel tourism to rear its ugly head involves the book "Alms for Jihad", which was published by Cambridge University Press in 2006. Co-written by former State Department analyst and USAID relief coordinator for Sudan J. Millard Burr and UC Santa Barbara professor emeritus of history Robert O. Collins,"Alms for Jihad" delves into the tangled web of international terrorist financing and, chiefly, the misuse of Muslim charities for such purposes.
Billionaire strikes back
Among those the book fingers for involvement is Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz, the former chairman of Saudi Arabia's largest bank, National Commercial Bank. Bin Mahfouz has come under similar scrutiny on previous occasions, including being named a defendant in a lawsuit filed by family members of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He even has a section of his Web site devoted to trying to refute such charges.
With this in mind, Cambridge University Press lawyers looked over the manuscript for"Alms for Jihad" carefully before giving it the go-ahead. According to Collins, the passages involving bin Mahfouz are, in fact, quite"trivial" compared to the wealth of information contained in the book on how such funds are used to finance conflicts around the globe.
Yet, it is bin Mahfouz's inclusion in"Alms for Jihad" that has proven to be the most problematic, for he soon threatened Cambridge University Press with a libel lawsuit. Before the suit could commence, Cambridge University Press capitulated and announced in July that not only was it taking the unprecedented step of pulping all unsold copies of"Alms for Jihad," but it was asking libraries all over the world to remove the book from their shelves. Cambridge University Press issued a formal apology to bin Mahfouz and posted a public apology at its Web site. It also agreed to pay his legal costs and unspecified damages, which, according to bin Mahfouz, are to be donated to UNICEF.
Authors Burr and Collins, however, did not take part in the apology, nor were they a party to the settlement, and they continue to stand by their scholarship. As Collins put it,"I'm not going to recant on something just from the threat of a billionaire Saudi sheik ... I think I'm a damn good historian." The authors were aware that Cambridge University Press' decision was based not so much on a lack of confidence in the book as on a fear of incurring costly legal expenses and getting involved in a lengthy trial. The British court system is known as a welcoming environment for"libel tourists" such as bin Mahfouz. The Weekly Standard elaborates:
Bin Mahfouz has a habit of using the English tort regime to squelch any unwanted discussion of his record. In America, the burden of proof in a libel suit lies with the plaintiff. In Britain, it lies with the defendant, which can make it terribly difficult and expensive to ward off a defamation charge, even if the balance of evidence supports the defendant.
Bin Mahfouz has indeed availed himself of the British court system on many occasions, having either sued or threatened suit against Americans and others at least 36 times since 2002, according to Rachel Ehrenfeld, author and director of the American Center for Democracy.
Ehrenfeld book also targeted
Ehrenfeld should know, as her own book, "Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed -- And How to Stop It", was also targeted by bin Mahfouz through the British court system. Bin Mahfouz sued Ehrenfeld for libel in 2004, soon after her book's publication in the United States, even though only 23 copies ever made it to the United Kingdom.
Ehrenfeld would not, as she put it in the New York Post,"acknowledge a British court's jurisdiction over a book published here" and a trial was never held, but the court ruled in favor of bin Mahfouz by default. It also awarded bin Mahfouz $225,913 in damages and ordered Ehrenfeld to apologize publicly and to destroy all unsold copies of the book.
Instead, Ehrenfeld chose to fight back. No doubt aware of the larger implications at work, she took her case to the United States and, giving bin Mahfouz a taste of his own medicine, sued him in a New York federal court on the basis that"his English default judgment is unenforceable in the United States and repugnant to the First Amendment."
Civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate has described her case as"one of the most important First Amendment cases in the past 25 years" and sure enough, in June of this year, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that it deserved a hearing. The court will begin hearing arguments this fall in what could turn out to be a pivotal case involving the clash between First Amendment rights and foreign libel rulings.
Ehrenfeld may indeed have a strong case. She maintains that bin Mahfouz has a long history of involvement in terrorist financing. The bulk of it, she wrote in 2005, revolves around the now-defunct Muwafaq (Blessed Relief) Foundation, which was founded by bin Mahfouz and"identified by the U.S. Treasury Department as providing logistical and financial support to al Qaeda, HAMAS, and the Abu Sayyaf organizations." Ehrenfeld recapped her concerns more recently:
The data in both"Alms for Jihad" and"Funding Evil" is all well-documented by the media and the U.S. Congress, courts, Treasury Department and other official statements. Further corroboration comes from French intelligence officials at the General Directorate of External Security (DGSE), as reported in the French daily, Le Monde. For example, the DGSE reported that, in 1998, it knew bin Mahfouz to be an architect of the banking scheme built to benefit Osama bin Laden, and that both U.S. and British intelligence services knew it, too.
For this reason, and also to create a precedent, Ehrenfeld has been the only defendant so far not to settle with bin Mahfouz. And she refuses to"acknowledge the British Court and its ruling" to this day.
Price of book skyrockets
Ehrenfeld's success thus far countering bin Mahfouz mirrors other indications that libel tourism may be backfiring. The largely Internet-based furor over the attempt to squelch"Alms for Jihad" and what is widely seen as Cambridge University Press' cave-in has caused the book's price to skyrocket. A copy of the book sold on eBay this month for $538. As noted at the blog Hot Air,"By suing publisher Cambridge University Press into submission, Khalid bin Mahfouz has turned an obscure scholarly book on the financial workings of terrorism into a prized, rare book."
In addition, the American Library Association is rising to the occasion. Rather than going along with the Cambridge University Press settlement stipulation that American libraries remove"Alms for Jihad" from their shelves, the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom issued the following statement earlier this month:
Unless there is an order from a U.S. court, the British settlement is unenforceable in the United States, and libraries are under no legal obligation to return or destroy the book. Libraries are considered to hold title to the individual copy or copies, and it is the library's property to do with as it pleases. Given the intense interest in the book, and the desire of readers to learn about the controversy first hand, we recommend that U.S. libraries keep the book available for their users.
Reportedly, Collins and Burr got the publishing rights to the book back from Cambridge University Press and, according to the Library Journal, have had"several offers from U.S. publishers." It appears the"Alms for Jihad" saga is far from over and free speech may yet win the day.
In another victory for free speech, as well as an instructive example of what such libel suits look like when attempted in the United States, a recent case involving Yale University Press proves useful. It involved a book written by Matthew Levitt, the director of the Stein Program on Terrorism, Intelligence and Policy at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, titled "Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad."
In his book, Levitt disputes the notion, popular among Hamas apologists, that the group's terrorist and social service pursuits can be seen as separate. In the process, he implicates the Dallas charity KinderUSA, which allegedly raises funds for Palestinian children, in terrorist financing. The group has personnel connections to the now-closed Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which has been under investigation by federal authorities for funding Hamas. KinderUSA has also come under investigation and as a result, in 2005 suspended operations temporarily.
All of this information is available to the public and the book was thoroughly fact-checked prior to publication. Levitt, who is a witness in the ongoing trial of the Holy Land Foundation, explained further that he" conducted three years of careful research for Hamas, and the book was the subject of academic peer review."
But this didn't stop KinderUSA and the chair of its board, Dr. Laila Al-Marayati, from filing a libel suit in California in April against Levitt, Yale University Press, and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. They disputed a particular passage from the book, as well as alleging that Yale University Press did not subject it to fact-checking. But, in filing the suit in California, they were faced with a formidable challenge: the state's anti-SLAPP statute. According to Inside Higher Education:
KinderUSA asked the court for an injunction on its request that distribution of the book be halted, and also sought $500,000 in damages. But in July, Yale raised the stakes by filing what is known as an"anti-SLAPP suit" motion, seeking to quash the libel suit and to receive legal fees. SLAPP is an acronym for"strategic lawsuit against public participation," a category of lawsuit viewed as an attempt not to win in court, but to harass a nonprofit group or publication that is raising issues of public concern. The fear of those sued is that groups with more money can tie them up in court in ways that would discourage them from exercising their rights to free speech. Anti-SLAPP statutes, such as the one in California with which Yale responded, are tools created in some states to counter such suits.
Not only did Yale University Press stand by its author, but, in the end, its aggressive response to KinderUSA paid off. It was announced this month that the libel suit has been dropped and no changes to the book or payments to the plaintiffs will be forthcoming. KinderUSA claims that it dropped the suit because of the costs involved, but it's more likely it felt that it could not win. If the case had been brought in the United Kingdom, the outcome could have been far different.
This is why Americans must be vigilant about protecting their free speech rights, even when the threats at hand do not fit into the politically correct playbook. Certainly not all Muslim charities and Saudi businessmen are involved in financing terrorism, but the overwhelming amount of evidence pointing to existing links deserves attention, as do the fervent attempts by interested parties to silence those trying to bring the truth to light. It is crucial that they not succeed.
SOURCE: Khody Akhavi at ipsnews.net (8-27-07)
In a Friday lecture at the New America Foundation, an eclectic Washington-based think-tank of the self-described "radical centre", Cole discussed his most recent work, offered some lessons from past Western incursions in the region and the fallacious logic that justified those interventions, as well as the political realities that may ultimately precipitate a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
"[Bernard] Lewis seems to think that Middle Easterners are like play-doh, but they are not -- they talk back," said Cole, referring to the soft modeling compound made in bright colors and marketed for children. "There are real people living in Iraq, with real aspirations."
In Cole's view, the Bush administration's rhetoric of "liberating Iraq" from the clutches of a tyrannical leader with a hankering for weapons of mass destruction can't mask its long-term neo-colonial ambitions. Like Napoleon, Bush has a tendency to believe his own propaganda. Both invasions deployed rhetoric of liberation. Like the French general, Bush had a desire to create a "Greater Middle East", only to face an insurgency that viewed the foreign presence as an occupation, not liberation.
The idea that Bush's war would somehow bequeath a democratic polity in Iraq doesn't add up in the final analysis either. As Cole observes, Bush "willy-nilly was pushed into holding elections early," which resulted in the ascendance of Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, a Shiite political body led by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim and supported by the U.S.'s regional foe, the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Two hundred years earlier, Napoleon appointed a group of Sunni scholars from Cairo's Al-Azhar University to "rule" on behalf of Egypt's "newly liberated" population. In both examples, a military occupation by ostensibly "democratic republics" -- who wanted to craft occupied lands in their own image -- ended up with Islamic republics.
And if Napoleon failed in his attempts to make Egypt a lucrative colony of the French Republic, why would Bush have any easier of a time turning Iraq into a "beacon of democracy" in the Middle East?
"The age of colonialism passed for very sociological reasons. Populations can mobilise in very effective ways and will not be crushed," said Cole. "The idea that America can just go in to shape a country is a very 19th century idea." ...
SOURCE: http://www.canadaeast.com (8-28-07)
Outdoorsman and iconic Canadian painter Tom Thomson goes out for a paddle in Ontario's fabled Algonquin Park and disappears. His body is found floating in Canoe Lake days later. Murder or misadventure? The year is 1917.
A Canadian diplomat, removed from a post in Japan and made ambassador to Egypt, jumps from a rooftop. He'd been the target of persistent allegations of communist sympathies and ties to the Soviets. The year is 1957.
These three unsolved mysteries have been deemed interesting enough to be selected as the final three "cold cases" being added to a popular interactive Canadian history website.
"History is too important to be boring," says Dr. John Lutz, a historian and co-director of the Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History project, based at the University of Victoria.
It's hard getting most students interested in history, especially Canadian history, he said.
"We realized that the problem was often the way we do it, by trying to cram dates and names into their heads. But that's not really history, it's just the context."
"Doing history is actually about solving puzzles and solving mysteries."
Ten years ago, he and another British Columbia historian, Ruth Sandwell, came up with the idea of putting intriguing mysteries on the web.
"We thought by putting the evidence up there for the students to solve themselves, we could hook them on history. I think we've been successful."
SOURCE: Ralph Luker at HNN blog, Cliopatria (8-27-07)
SOURCE: Daniel Pipes at his blog (8-24-07)
In their sensational historical detective work, Foxbats over Dimona: The Soviets' Nuclear Gamble in the Six-Day War (Yale University Press, 2007), Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez have challenge the widely-accepted idea that the Six Day War happened without anyone wanting it. Instead, they present a theory that the U.S.S.R. instigated the war as a way preemptively to destroy the Israeli nuclear facilities.
I was drawn to the argument (in an analysis at"The Soviets' Six-Day War) but dared not quite fully endorse it, wondering if all the evidence would hold up under critical scrutiny by other experts on this topic.
Today comes confirmation of a critical piece of data, as suggested by the title of David Horovitz' article in the Jerusalem Post,"Russia confirms Soviet sorties over Dimona in '67." The confirmation comes from Col. Aleksandr V. Drobyshevsky, chief spokesman of the Russian Air Force, and it is inadvertent, coming in a completely different context (commemorating the anniversary of the test pilots' school from which one of the pilots who participated in the 1967 flights had graduated). Drobyshevsky wrote, in an article posted on the official Web site of the Russian Defense Ministry in October 2006 but only noticed by Remez and Ginor now:
In 1967, the military valor and high combat training of Col. Bezhevets, A.S. (now a Hero of the Soviet Union, an honorary test pilot of the USSR, [and] retired Air Force major-general), were demonstrated while carrying out combat operation in Egypt, [and] enabled [him] to perform unique reconnaissance flights over the territory of Israel in a MiG-25RB aircraft.
The MiG-25RB would be the"Foxbat" aircraft of the title. Remez and Ginor describe this passage as an"extraordinary disclosure" and as"official confirmation of the book's exhibit A and the source of its title." It comes, they add,"as close to an official document as one can hope for in the foreseeable future, given the prevailing circumstances in Russia."
An aerial view of Israel's Dimona reactor.
But the verdict is not unanimous. Bezhevets, the Foxbat pilot over Dimona, continues to deny having undertaken this mission. Remez and Ginor explain this discrepancy by suggesting that Bezhevets is sticking to the old line; in contrast,"Drobyshevsky's [Defense Ministry] statement relied not on the pilot's testimony but rather on the air force's own documentation." This difference illustrates their point that"full and direct documentation of the Soviet role in 1967 is still being suppressed." (August 24, 2007)
SOURCE: New Yorker (8-27-07)
In Mearsheimer and Walt’s cartography, the Israel lobby is not limited to AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. It is a loose yet well-oiled coalition of Jewish-American organizations, “watchdog” groups, think tanks, Christian evangelicals, sympathetic journalists, and neocon academics. This is not a cabal but a world in which Abraham Foxman gives the signal, Pat Robertson describes his apocalyptic rapture, Charles Krauthammer pumps out a column, Bernard Lewis delivers a lecture—and the President of the United States invades another country. Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Exxon-Mobil barely exist. Where many accounts identify Osama bin Laden’s primary grievances with American support of “infidel” authoritarian regimes in Islamic lands, Mearsheimer and Walt align his primary concerns with theirs: America’s unwillingness to push Israel to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. (It doesn’t matter that Israel and the Palestinians were in peace negotiations in 1993, the year of the first attack on the World Trade Center, or that during the Camp David negotiations in 2000 bin Laden’s pilots were training in Florida.) Mearsheimer and Walt give you the sense that, if the Israelis and the Palestinians come to terms, bin Laden will return to the family construction business. It’s a narrative that recounts every lurid report of Israeli cruelty as indisputable fact but leaves out the rise of Fatah and Palestinian terrorism before 1967; the Munich Olympics; Black September; myriad cases of suicide bombings; and other spectaculars. The narrative rightly points out the destructiveness of the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories and America’s reluctance to do much to curtail them, but there is scant mention of Palestinian violence or diplomatic bungling, only a recitation of the claim that, in 2000, Israel offered “a disarmed set of Bantustans under de-facto Israeli control.” (Strange that, at the time, the Saudi Prince Bandar told Yasir Arafat, “If we lose this opportunity, it is not going to be a tragedy. This is going to be a crime.”) Nor do they dwell for long on instances when the all- powerful Israel lobby failed to sway the White House, as when George H. W. Bush dragged Yitzhak Shamir to the Madrid peace conference....
SOURCE: NYT (8-28-07)
Five months after Mr. Halberstam’s death in a car accident on April 23, some of this celebrated journalist’s closest friends and colleagues will be banding together to cover different legs of a nationwide publicity tour for his final book. Hyperion is releasing that 705-page history, “The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War,” on Sept. 25, with a first printing of 300,000 copies, the publisher announced.
The unusual promotional push will stretch from New York to La Jolla, Calif., Washington to Chicago, Milwaukee to Nashville.
At each engagement Mr. Halberstam’s “surrogates,” as Mr. Woodward calls them, will pay tribute to him, a best-selling author of books like “The Best and the Brightest” and “Summer of ’49,” by offering personal reminiscences and readings. It took Mr. Halberstam 10 years to do the reporting and to write the book, which he called, in a term familiar to librarians and football fans, a “bookend” to his Pulitzer Prize-winning work on Vietnam.
“It’s a magnificent book,” Mr. Woodward said of the new volume, partly because of the analogies drawn to the war in Iraq, he said, “the lessons of bad intelligence, no plan, the disconnect between the war as seen by the fighting man and headquarters.”
SOURCE: http://en.apa.az (8-27-07)
“I am grateful to you for your opinion about my book and revealing my mistake. This is a mistake. Gara Garayev is not Armenian, he is Azerbaijani composer. I will try to correct the mistake in the second edition of the book,” he said.
Gara Garayev is introduced as an Armenian composer in the scientific work about the Soviet composers by Tomov and in the famous Britanika Encyclopedia.
SOURCE: Dan Michman in Haaretz (8-28-07)
Hilberg fled as a child with his parents from Vienna to the U.S. after the Anschluss (the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938). He was recruited to the U.S. army at the age of 18, toward the end of the Second World War, and took part in the last American campaign on German soil. Afterward, he started his studies at Columbia University in New York, attending courses taught by another refugee scholar, Franz Neumann. Through Neumann's mediation, Hilberg became a member of the U.S. War Documentation project, and thus encountered much German-captured documentation. He became intrigued by these documents and by the modes of functioning of the Third Reich as revealed by them, and when he had to decide on a topic for his PhD-thesis in 1950, to be supervised by Neumann, he chose to focus on the bureaucracy of Nazi Germany.
The major question propelling Holocaust research in its initial post-war years was: How could a modern state and society turn into a barbaric, though highly efficient, slaughtering machine? At that time, the term Holocaust was not yet in use (shoah was used only in the Jewish Yishuv in pre-state Palestine), and the murder of the Jews was perceived as one, although perhaps the most extreme, of many atrocities carried out by the Nazis.
Hilberg finished his thesis in 1954, and later expanded on it; the updated version, which became the masterly comprehensive study of the Holocaust, "The Destruction of the European Jews," was published in 1961....
SOURCE: http://www.aijac.org.au (9-1-07)
Professor Richard J. Evans, who visited Australia in July, played no small part in the downfall of the loathed titan.
In 2000, Irving brought a libel suit against Prof. Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books for publishing her 1993 book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. Irving alleged that Lipstadt’s book defamed him by claiming that he had deliberately distorted, misquoted and falsified history.
The lawsuit was a monumental blunder on Irving’s part, turning the focus onto the bona fides of his claims to be a historian and not a racist polemicist.
Lipstadt and Penguin Books hired Prof. Evans, a Cambridge University expert on modern German history, to trawl through Irving’s writings.
Analysing Irving’s works and the original sources cited in the footnotes, Prof. Evans produced a 750-page report that pulled apart the web of deceit, deliberate obfuscations and distortion and selective quoting perpetrated by Irving to further his Holocaust denial activities. Irving lost the trial, and was branded by the court “anti-semitic and racist” and a “right-wing pro-Nazi polemicist,” who “for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence.”
He was so thoroughly discredited by the finding and Prof. Evans’ 24-hours of courtroom testimony that one can comfortably delineate a pre and post-trial period in both Irving’s influence and the number of mainstream fence sitters who had equivocated on Irving’s “scholarship”.
Prof. Evans explained that, essentially, because the trial was not concerned with the veracity of the Holocaust, but whether Irving had been libelled, Lipstadt’s lawyers could delve into his writings and activities.
“I went into it thinking that it would be a very interesting exercise in how and where you draw the line between an imaginative reinterpretation of the sources and the deliberate falsification....
SOURCE: Financial Times (8-26-07)
In normal, calmer times, their worthy opus might have attracted only limited attention. After all, the 1907 turmoil has never carried the fame of 1929. But in a happy burst of brilliant timing – and sheer luck – their work is due to be published this autumn, and the two authors are unexpectedly finding their insights in hot demand from the financial world. “We had no expectation that a crisis would sprout this summer,” admits Professor Bruner. “[But] our re search taught us that the drivers of crisis are always present [so] we thought the lessons of 1907 would be immensely relevant to investors, CEOs and regulators.”
SOURCE: WSJ (Click on SOURCE link to read Winik's summaries of each book) (8-25-07)
2. "The Memoirs and Anecdotes of the Count de Ségur" translated by Gerard Shelley (Scribner, 1928).
3. "The Age of the Democratic Revolution" by R.R. Palmer (Princeton, 1959, vol. 1; 1964, vol. 2).
4. "George Washington" by Douglas Southall Freeman (Scribner, 1948).
5. "The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson" by Bernard Bailyn (Harvard, 1974).
SOURCE: http://www.joplinindependent.com (8-28-07)
Now teaching at the University of Sussex in England, Roll's dissertation is entitled, "The Road to the Promised Land: Rural Rebellion in the New Cotton South, 1890-1945." It explores how African American and white farmers created a grassroots radicalism to defend agrarian traditions against the rise of capital-intensive agriculture in the lowlands of southeast Missouri.
Roll's specialty is the United States after the Civil War. His research and writing focuses on the intersection of race, work, and protest in the political economy of rural America. Parts of this research have already appeared in the Journal of Southern History, Labor History, and Radical History Review.
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (8-28-07)
The treasures, including an early Turner painting, a jousting score sheet and a rare celebratory banner from the 14th century as well as the first drawings of Stonehenge, all belong to the Society of Antiquaries, which was founded in 1707.
Starkey's Making History exhibition marks the 300th anniversary of the society, which began the serious study of British history. Prior to the collecting of objects and study by the society's fellows British history was mired in myth and biblical stories.
"In default of any other art galleries or museums, it became a sort of collector of last resort," said Dr Starkey. "It bought or was given early royal portraits, like Hans Eworth's splendid painting of Mary I that would later be the preserve of the National Portrait Gallery...."
SOURCE: WaPo (8-27-07)
Writing in the Los Angeles Times on Saturday, Boston University professor Andrew J. Bacevich, a Vietnam veteran, accused Bush of being "oblivious to the history that actually matters." In the Houston Chronicle, Robert Buzzanco, a professor at the University of Houston, said Bush missed the point that it was U.S. intervention in Cambodia that caused the rise of the Khmer Rouge -- an interpretation still hotly debated three decades later.
Military author Max Boot, by contrast, hailed Bush's analogy in the Wall Street Journal but said he should have gone further in laying out the lessons of Vietnam and the dangers of withdrawal.
White House officials seemed pleased with the attention to the speech. Even with the negative commentary in many quarters -- predictable, in their view -- the feeling seemed to be that they needed to do something to shake up and reframe the debate over Iraq as the Sept. 15 date approaches for a new administration assessment of the war. "Now is the time to use that argument," said one White House ally who has been involved in the war policy debate.
White House counselor Edward W. Gillespie, who oversees the speechwriting department, suggested that there was little hesitation about including the discussion of Vietnam in last week's speech, especially since Bush discussed the other great conflicts in Asia. "To have talked about South Korea and Japan, and not about Vietnam, you couldn't do that," he said.
But some outside the administration saw greater significance in the White House move. "They have not used this analogy up until now," said Peter W. Rodman, a Defense Department official in the Bush administration. Rodman co-wrote a recent New York Times op-ed with the British journalist William Shawcross, cited by Bush last week, laying out what they believe to have been the grim consequences of U.S. withdrawal from Indochina. "I have always thought they were good debating points," he added.
SOURCE: Times (UK) (8-23-07)
The historian Professor Norman Cohn achieved great international popularity by linking his profound knowledge of the medieval and earlier past to the most contemporary concerns of his 20th-century audience.
His chief interest, most memorably described in his book The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages (1957), was how “in situations of mass disorientation and anxiety, traditional beliefs about a future golden age or messianic kingdom came to serve as vehicles for social aspirations and animosities”. He traced the emergence of these millenarian beliefs in different parts of Europe from the 11th to the 16th centuries – and he hinted at the way in which Nazism and revolutionary Soviet communism could also be understood, at least in part, as modern versions of such phenomena.
Cohn’s subsequent research looked more directly at the origins of modern anti-Semitism. And he also looked further back, beyond the medieval period, to examine the deepest roots of such beliefs as Noah’s Flood and the Creation story and also the origins of a belief in a perfect future in which evil will be overcome. In all his work Cohn was aided by his mastery of sources in many languages and by his willingness to cross boundaries between disciplines and periods in a way that defied the increasing specialisation of historical research....
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE) (Click here for embedded links.) (8-28-07)
At Cliopatria, a group blog of historians, Ralph E. Luker is calling it “KC’s Moment.” He notes, however, that at Scott Eric Kaufman’s blog Acephalous, the historian Timothy Burke finds the book’s anti-intellectualism “positively Horowitzian in tenor and substance.”
As for Johnson, at the blog he set up for covering the controversy, Durham-in-Wonderland, he’s now taking the Duke University Press to task for the “pedagogical slant” of its list, which he says publishes a disproportionate share of academics who leapt to pillory the lacrosse players.