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: Press Release--National Archives (8-14-07)
The War: An Intimate History, 1941-1945, is the companion volume to the Fall 2007 PBS series. Focusing on the citizens of four towns, The War: An Intimate History follows more than 40 people from 1941 to 1945. Woven largely from their memories, this compelling, unflinching narrative unfolds as the war unfolded-month by month, with the outcome always in doubt. Enriched by maps and 450 photographs, including many never seen before, this is an intimate, profoundly moving chronicle of the war that shaped our world.
The National Archives "American Conversations" series focuses on American history and identity. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Lynne Cheney, award- winning filmmaker Ken Burns, and historian John Hope Franklin were among those featured in previous programs, which may be viewed on the National Archives web site at http://www.archives.gov/about/archivist/conversations.
Events in this series are held in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., located on the National Mall at Constitution Avenue and 7th Street, N.W. and fully accessible. All programs in the "American Conversations" series are free and open to the public. Seating for this program is on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information or to request an accommodation (e.g., sign language interpreter) for a public program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-357-5000 at least two weeks prior to the event to ensure proper arrangements are secured.
Geoffrey C. Ward wrote the script for the film series The War and is the winner of five Emmys and two Writers Guild of America awards for his work for public television. He is also a historian and biographer and the author of fourteen books, including most recently Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson. He won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1989 and the Francis Parkman Prize in 1990. He lives in New York City.
Archivist Allen Weinstein is a former Professor of History who has held professorships at Boston University, Georgetown University, and Smith College, and is the author of numerous essays and books, including The Story of America (2002), The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America-The Stalin Era (1999), Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case (1978 & 1997), and Freedom and Crisis: An American History (3rd edition, 1981). From 1985 to 2003, he served as President of The Center for Democracy in Washington, DC. His international awards include the United Nations Peace Medal (1986).
For press information contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-357-5300.
SOURCE: NYT (8-14-07)
Dr. Segre is physics professor at the University of Pennsylvania. His uncle, Emilio Segre, was a winner of the 1959 Nobel Prize for the discovery of the antiproton. An older brother is a physicist, and an additional “six or seven” cousins do physics, too.
But Dr. Segre, 68, has a second profession: he writes popular books about the history of science. His most recent book, “Faust in Copenhagen: A Struggle for the Soul of Physics,” about a 1932 conference at Niels Bohr’s Institute for Theoretical Physics, has just been published, drawing praise from reviewers.
Q. Why write a book about one scientific meeting?
A. Because this was no ordinary meeting. For much of the 1930s, Niels Bohr invited young physicists to Copenhagen for an annual gathering where they could talk, joke and trade theories.
The 1932 conference took place at a moment of profound transitions. This was the “miracle year of physics,” when a rapid succession of discoveries brought an end to the uncovering of quantum mechanics and the beginning of nuclear physics. Within the year, the Nazis would take power in Germany. Many of the conferees were Jewish. They’d soon be refugees....
SOURCE: Walter Reich in the LAT (8-11-07)
If you're not overwhelmed by human catastrophe, can you be truly human? But if you are overwhelmed by human catastrophe, can you truly study it? One of the triumphs of Raul Hilberg, the great Holocaust historian who died last week, was that he solved that conundrum. He taught us how, by being clinically rigorous, he could be true to his scholarship -- and true, as well, to the victims of the human catastrophe to whose story he dedicated his work and his life.
In 1993, Hilberg, whose "The Destruction of the European Jews" was the foundational history of the Holocaust, sent me the manuscript of his memoir, "The Politics of Memory: The Journey of a Holocaust Historian." He asked for comments.
Hilberg had written about his childhood; about his decision soon after the Holocaust to study it even though few academics or others were interested in it; about his efforts, at first unsuccessful, to publish his book; and about his focus on documents. More than anyone else, Hilberg was known as a meticulous examiner of the mountains of documents that the Germans had left recording their murder of Europe's Jews.
After reading his memoir, I called to offer a few comments. But I also asked him if any of those documents had made him cry. Hilberg had been widely criticized for being unfeelingly focused on documents -- on the train schedules of the transports that brought Jews to the gas chambers, for instance -- as if he didn't care about the Jews themselves. His critics thought that this man -- who, when asked what he did for a living, would answer, with grim irony, "I study dead Jews" -- was incapable of sentiment.
Hilberg was taken aback by my question. Others had asked him a similar question -- whether reading any document had made him feel nauseated -- but, apparently, no one had asked him whether any had made him cry. I guess I asked him about crying because crying was my response to documents about and accounts of the Jewish catastrophe. Sometimes, immersed in such materials, I'd break down, unable, for a while, to go on....
SOURCE: Jamie Glazov at frontpagemag.com (8-14-07)
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Gregory Davis, the author of Religion of Peace? Islam's War Against the World. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University. He is the managing director of Quixotic Media and producer of the feature documentary Islam: What the West Needs to Know -- which has just been released on DVD.
FP: Gregory Davis, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Davis: Thank you for having me.
FP: So tell us a bit about this documentary.
Davis: The documentary originally came out in 2006 but is now in wider release on DVD. There have been several documentaries done on the subject of terrorism, but none so far that examine the sources of Islamic violence within Islam itself. For the most part, there has been a great effort to keep violence done in the name of Islam and Islam itself separate. In contrast, our movie examines the doctrines and history of Islam with the aim of discovering the roots of Islamic violence and intolerance. We focus on the canonical Islamic texts -- the Koran, hadiths ("reports" of Muhammad's life), and the Sira (or Life of the Prophet Muhammad) -- and how Islam has operated through history. We then move on to the role Islam is currently playing in conflicts around the globe -- from Nigeria, to Sudan, Kosovo, Chechnya, Kashmir, Thailand, etc. -- as well as international terrorism, and what the future is likely to hold.
FP: Why do you think there is so much that the West actually doesn’t know about Islam? Why the impulse to deceive oneself?
Davis: I think that there are several reasons. The first is a natural if unwarrantable reluctance to face the very uncomfortable reality that there is an entire civilization seeking our subjugation under nothing less than a totalitarian system of government, i.e., Islamic (Sharia) law.
When faced with National Socialism and Communism, the West demonstrated a similar unwillingness to face up to very grim realities. The continued emphasis on a "new world order" in which violence and warfare will be swept into the dustbin of history makes it that much more difficult for people to realize that, far from a coming era of perpetual peace and happiness, we are facing a future of conflict and civilizational struggle.
The second reason I believe is the persistence of the multicultural myth that all peoples, religions, and civilizations are morally equivalent. Despite its manifest absurdity, this idea nonetheless continues to taint just about every public discussion on Islam and throttles any kind of objective analysis of the origins of Islamic violence.
Thanks to multiculturalism, every theory except the obvious one -- that Islamic violence has roots in Islam -- is advanced: that the jihadists are acting out of "frustration" due to "poverty," "disenfranchisement," etc. Such theories are belied by such jihadists as the 7/7 bombers in London, who were native Britons, and the more recent British doctors, who seemed to have plenty to live for in Western society.
And then there is of course someone like Osama bin Laden, a multimillionaire many times over, a father, poet, and animal-lover, who nonetheless is willing to throw it all away in order to follow in the footsteps of Muhammad. The unhappy truth is that the jihadists are, to a great extent, acting from genuine, deeply-held religious conviction.
Invariably, the jihadists are serious, pious Muslims, many of whom recently rediscovered the tenets of their faith. It is an uncomfortable fact for a tolerant society such as ours to acknowledge that sincere religious belief can pose an imminent danger to a society's physical safety. We would be better off discarding "religion" as a term and instead focus on the very real distinctions between religions and their implications.
FP: So what hope exists that there can be a modernization and democratization within the Islamic world? How can this even begin to happen when the extremists appear to be in command in most of its quarters?
Davis: Hope that a "reformation" of Islam will somehow eliminate its fundamental hostility to the non-Muslim world is wishful thinking. The only even modestly successful attempts to "reform" Islam have taken the form of de-Islamization. This was the policy of Attaturk, who in Turkey replaced the cult of Muhammad with the cult of himself.
Throughout Islamic history, the only alternative to the rule of Islamic law is military dictatorship. It is between these two extremes that modern Turkey continues to oscillate.
Democratizing Islam is really a contradiction in terms: one might as well try democratizing National Socialism or Communism. Islam is what it is: a repressive, expansionary, militaristic religious and political system with a mandate from Allah to conquer the globe. Putting it that way almost sounds silly to the Western ear, but this does not deny the truth of it.
The fundamental problem is that the Muslim extremists are not really "extreme" at all -- rather they are the orthodox faithful. By Western logic, Muhammad himself -- who engaged in political assassination, wars of aggression, and massacre --- would qualify as an "extremist." Violence and intolerance are mainstream in Islam, not distortions of its orthodox traditions as they would be in a religion such as Christianity.
FP: But we have many Muslim moderates and reformers who are our allies. We don’t want to alienate them. They are our allies in this struggle. Surely many Muslims are our allies against extremism. What should our strategy be?
Davis: The primary task for Western leaders today is to mobilize their societies to confront the Islamic threat -- it is not to manipulate the Muslim world to develop a fictive "moderate" Islam. The danger of encouraging "moderate" Muslims is that it gives a false signal to Westerners that there can be a long-term modus vivendi between Islam and the West. We must understand that, while there are peaceful Muslims, there is no peaceful Islam. The distinction is capital. Muslims who have rejected Islam's violent injunctions, consciously or unconsciously, have thrown out one of the essential elements of their faith. An analogy would be with the Mensheviks, who rejected the necessity of the violent revolution that their Communist ideology required. The Mensheviks were thus forever trying to square a circle: they remained Communists while rejecting one of Communism's primary tenets. It was inevitable that their illogic would ultimately give way to the more logically rigorous -- and bloody -- Bolsheviks. The same with Islam. Throughout Islamic history, there have been those who rejected Allah's call to violence, but they have never managed to become politically efficacious precisely because their position so obviously contravened Islam's unmistakable teaching on jihad.
Pretending that there is a peaceful Islam will only foster further muddled thinking and disastrous policy. Fearing that we will alienate peace-loving (unorthodox) Muslims by properly identifying Islam as violent is a recipe for disaster. As Osama bin Laden has put it, people will naturally favor a strong horse over a weak one. Islam today is showing itself as the strong horse, confident in its purpose and determinedly pursuing it, while the West cannot even bring itself to speak plainly about the enemy. However well-intended, the Western statesmen who insist on "reaching out" to "moderate" Muslims are objects of contemptuous fun to the jihadists, who move from strength to strength while Western governments spin themselves dizzy to avoid the plain reality that Islam is at war with the world.
Publicly affirming Islam as the imperialistic political program that it is, rather than alienating peaceful Muslims, will draw to our side many on the fence and signal to the jihadists that we are through with the political correctitude that is our chief impediment to decisive action. As infidels, we are not going to have much effect on the long-term course of Islam one way or the other; we should concentrate on mobilizing our own civilization, which necessitates a frank discussion of what Islam is -- not what we wish it to be.
We should encourage genuinely peace-loving Muslims to take a hard, unflinching look at their religion and to draw the necessary conclusion: as have prominent apostates such as Ibn Warraq, Walid Shoebat, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. They have had the intellectual integrity to acknowledge the violent nature of Islam and to reject it by renouncing Islam in its totality. That sort of courage is a tall order -- apostasy is a capital offence in Islam -- and we in the West should do everything to encourage and protect such acts of conscience. But the half-measure of encouraging peaceful Muslims to take up a "moderate" form of Islam is not only an act of intellectual dishonesty, it is a sure way to foster future acts of jihad. Many of the Islamic terrorists of recent years have been formerly "moderate" Muslims who reawakened to an orthodox interpretation of their faith. The European "youths" responsible for the intermittent riots in France and elsewhere are largely the offspring of "moderate" Muslim immigrants who fled the repression of their native Islamic lands. Trying to foster a "moderate" form of Islam is like trying to foster a "moderate" form of Communism or National Socialism.
FP: What are your thoughts in terms of the Left’s behaviour in the terror war? And how about how the Left recoils from allowing an honest examination of Islam, when for years it has made vicious attacks on Judea-Christian values?
Davis: The defining characteristic of the dogmatic Left is that they will align themselves with any movement that has as its aim the destruction of Western civilization. The Left proved themselves a significant fifth column during the Cold War, less from open advocacy of Communism than from rearguard activity that eroded Western cultural and institutional integrity. The Left are instinctively sympathetic to Islam primarily because they can use it today as a battering ram against the West much as they once used Communism. Recall the Left's silence following 9/11: their dilemma at that time was to reformulate their arguments so as to come up with a way of taking the side of the jihadists without seeming totally insane or provoking a devastating public reaction. It took them a little while, but they finally managed it with variations of "we asked for it" interwoven with sanctimonious condemnation of "all religious extremism." The cult of multiculturalism continues to forestall any serious examination of just what Islam is, what it has done, and what it means to do -- the essential questions that we ask in Islam: What the West Needs to Know. In the DVD, we go directly to the Islamic sources in order to understand Islam from its own point of view -- a violation of the first commandment of political correctitude, thou shalt not ask questions. We do ask questions, the simple but necessary ones that have been so absent from the public discourse on Islam.
Significantly -- and sadly -- it has not only been the Left who have been guilty of intellectual laziness on this issue. Many of the Right have similarly declined to give Islam a hard look. The phrase "war on terror" is an example of this tendency to avoid serious examination of the origins of Islamic violence. A "war on terror" is a war with the primary object of not hurting anyone's feelings; it is a half-hearted war against an unreal enemy. While the Left fail to see Islamic imperialism as a threat to the freedoms they ostensibly cherish, the bias of much of the right is to see "religion" as a natural conservative force in the world and therefore resurgent Islam as a natural ally. Such conservatives are fighting the last war: they correctly diagnose the secular Left, but they fail to realize that Islam is a far older, more determined, and ascendant enemy. They are committing the same error as many Leftists by refusing to draw the necessary distinctions between cultures. The hope of a "new world order" in which conflict of all sorts will happily melt into the past has blinded many to the irreducible hostility of Islam toward the non-Muslim world. The exploding Muslim population worldwide combined with the demographic collapse of Europe mean that the balance of forces are changing very rapidly.
The choices confronting us are not between a maintenance of the old nation-state system, with its uncertainty and occasional violence, and a new era of global peace and prosperity, but between the survival of our civilization and global Islamic hegemony.
Safeguarding our survival and containing Islam, as opposed to building a brave new global regime in which traditional identities are submerged into one, must be the order of the day.
FP: What do readers need to do if they would like to get a hold of this dvd?
Davis: The DVD is available at a number of online retailers. They can visit our website, www.WhatTheWestNeedsToKnow.com, or go directly to Amazon.com.
FP: Gregory Davis, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
Davis: Jamie, it is always a pleasure.
SOURCE: NYT (8-13-07)
TEHRAN, Aug. 12 — A senior judiciary official said Sunday that Iran had finished its investigation into two Iranian-American academics who were arrested in May on espionage charges, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
But the official, Hassan Haddad, who is Tehran’s deputy prosecutor, did not disclose the conclusions of the investigation into the detainees, Haleh Esfandiari, a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington, and Kian Tajbakhsh, an urban planner with ties to the Open Society Institute, a pro-democracy policy planning organization financed by George Soros.
“They have to do some written work and then a decision will be made about them,” the news agency quoted him as saying. He did not elaborate.
Ms. Esfandiari and Mr. Tajbakhsh have been in Evin Prison since their arrest three months ago. The state-run television showed a video of the two last month that suggested they had been involved in activities to overthrow the government.
SOURCE: Andrew Lawler at Discover (8-3-07)
... What is the status of the museum today? Is it threatened? About three or four months before I left, we had a mass kidnapping take place in the street outside the museum. A dozen official cars painted in camouflage drove up, full of personnel who were completely armed, equipped, and wearing uniforms. They took 50 people off the street. Shortly after, the interior minister announced that they had nothing to do with the kidnapping. I immediately called my senior staff and asked one simple question: What can we do if these people come to the museum, accuse us of hiding something in our storerooms, and demand to go in? Can we stop them? We agreed there was no stopping them, so we started immediately securing the museum. We put antiquities in the registration rooms and labs into boxes, took them down into the storeroom, and started welding the iron doors. For a day and a half, we welded all the doors leading to the storerooms and to the museum area. And the last thing we did was to build a wall half a meter thick with bricks and concrete at the entrance. The museum was completely sealed. Now, unfortunately, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities wants to reopen the museum just to show the outside world Baghdad is OK and everything is fine. The museum director e-mailed me that she’s under pressure to reopen. Of course it would be ridiculous to do this. [Since this interview, the tourism minister has been forced to resign, along with several other Shiite ministers. The museum remains closed.]
How bad is the looting in southern Iraq? Last year, al-Sadr’s followers attacked and burned the museum of Nasiriyah and its library. They said to the guards—and I know this is true because I spoke with them—“tell [local inspector] Abdul Amir Hamadan we will do to your antiquities exactly what the Taliban did!” In Najaf, al-Sadr’s party was heard to tell worshippers that looting artifacts is ethical so long as the money goes for guns or building mosques. And we have started to have problems in an area in Basra called Zobeir—the original Basra—which was founded by the caliph Omar in A.D. 638. Our inspector says people are building houses on the site, in practice destroying the first Islamic city that was built outside the Arab peninsula. Historically, Omar is considered the enemy of all Shiites. So is it being destroyed intentionally or just neglected? I don’t know. But I’m worried this is exactly what happened to the Samarra mosque and shrine [destroyed in a sectarian bombing in 2006]. This kind of conflict might also lead to huge destruction of Islamic monuments and archaeology. We have an armed force of 1,400 men to patrol the provinces, and we managed to get some cars from the State Department and about 45 cars from Unesco. We concentrated on Nasiriyah because the looting was so bad there and because there are over 700 archaeological sites in the area. Inspector Abdul Amir [Hamadan] and his team did a very good job, patrolling, arresting looters, and sending looted antiquities to the museum. But rich people on the city council with ties to the Islamic parties are agitating for easy access to antiquities. ...
SOURCE: Philadelphia Inquirer (8-12-07)
His 1990 masterpiece The Civil War - the top-rated limited series in PBS history - "was so wrenching for us, we felt spent. We vowed not to do another war film. Period. End of statement.
"It was too heavy. Too close. We're emotional archaeologists. We're not just excavating dates from the past. These are not products or ways to make a living. These are grand obsessions."
Still, aging vets and/or their children kept pleading with Burns to turn his unique, quintessentially American lens on World War II. He politely declined.
Until the late '90s, that is, when he read that U.S. vets were dying at the rate of 1,000 per day. Suddenly, Burns felt he couldn't let their memories die with them.
These aren't our ancestors, he thought. These are our fathers, our grandfathers.
Also, it didn't hurt that his friend Tom Brokaw had blazed the trail with his hugely successful "Greatest Generation" franchise....
SOURCE: NPR interview from 2005 rebroadcast 8-12-07 (8-5-05)
DAVID GOODMAN: Thanks for having me, Bob.
BOB GARFIELD: Who was William L. Laurence?
DAVID GOODMAN: Laurence was an immigrant from Eastern Europe. He was a science reporter for the Times. He won his first Pulitzer Prize in 1937. And he became a staunch advocate of the atomic bomb long before the atomic bomb was ever dropped. Throughout the 1930's he was advocating for research into the use of atomic power, such that he earned a nickname, "Atomic Bill."
BOB GARFIELD: So when the War Department was looking explicitly for a working newspaperman to help mold public opinion about the bomb, natural choice.
DAVID GOODMAN: Indeed. General Leslie Groves, who was the military director of the Manhattan Project, scientists who researched and created the bomb, his own words were that he was looking for a "suitable newspaperman" to tell the story of the bomb to the public, to put the language of this arcane science in laypeople's terms. So in March 1945 there was an extraordinary secret meeting held at the offices of the New York Times, in which General Groves came to meet with William Laurence and asked that he become a special consultant to the War Department.
BOB GARFIELD: David, there is one brief passage in a piece by Laurence as he flew in the plane that was about to drop the bomb on Nagasaki, that is an astonishing window into his frame of mind. Can you read that for me, please?
DAVID GOODMAN: What Laurence wrote was that he felt no, quote, "pity or compassion for the poor devils" who were about to die. And he went further because his compassion was reserved for the bomb itself. When the bomb detonated, quote, "Awe-struck, we watched it shoot upward like a meteor coming from the earth instead of from outer space, becoming ever more alive as it climbed skyward through the white clouds. It was a living thing, a new species of being, born right before our incredulous eyes."
BOB GARFIELD: Now the story goes beyond Laurence reporting, with an obvious conflict of interest, about the dropping of the bomb. It gets far more sordid because when the news of radiation disease began to leak out, the War Department went into full defensive mode and used Laurence to publish, in effect, disinformation. Tell me about that.
DAVID GOODMAN: General Groves handpicked a group of journalists to accompany him not to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but to the bomb site out in New Mexico where the first bomb was detonated. And it was there that William Laurence wrote what General Groves had wanted him to write. Laurence, quoting General Groves, writes, "The Japanese claim that people died from radiation. If this is true, the number was very small." Laurence continues in his own editorializing in the story. He writes, "The Japanese are still continuing their propaganda, aimed at creating the impression that we won the war unfairly, and thus attempting to create sympathy for themselves and milder terms. Thus, at the beginning, the Japanese described symptoms that did not ring true." ...
SOURCE: Anthony Holden in the Times Literary Supplement (8-8-07)
The degree of Schadenfreude common to both cases further suggests the notion of one guilty man attempting to rehabilitate another – and so, in the process, himself. Apparently confident of his own acquittal, Lord Black of Crossharbour perhaps intended it to coincide with his impassioned vindication of Nixon as “one of America’s greatest political leaders”, cruelly maligned by his unworthy contemporaries. Unfortunately for the author, he has no successor with the power to grant him, too, a pardon, thus avoiding the public washing of dirty linen attendant upon a lengthy trial – whose details we literary jurors are required by the supreme court of impartiality to attempt to ignore.
It is no easy task, although Black’s skills as a historian are not to be underestimated. He marshals evidence persuasively, tells a story well, is a knowledgeable student of American history. But he keeps undermining these virtues with his self-important use (and misuse) of quirky, overwrought language, too often stooping (like Nixon) to mere abuse when dismissing contemporary judgements in favour of his own, based on a sense of right and wrong as questionable as his subject’s. Throughout the Watergate affair, for instance, the author is constantly urging Nixon to doctor, withhold, or destroy the White House tapes which proved his undoing.
From the outset, Black makes it quite clear whose side he is on. Impartiality may not be a prerequisite of an effective biographer – quite the opposite, in my view – but a sense of balance surely is. As Black rehashes the familiar details of the many crises in Nixon’s long career, he is not merely reinterpreting events with the benign spin of like-minded hindsight; he is saying: this is how I would have handled it myself. He is identifying with his subject – a fellow Machiavel with the same self-righteous hostility to his critics – to the point of indistinguishability. ...
According to information received in July 2007, Dolma Kyab (pen-name Lobsang Kelsang Gyatso) was transferred to Seilong (Xining) prison, about 400 kilometres from Lhasa, on 19 July 2007 where he is serving the remaining of his ten-year prison-sentence for his critical writings. Seilong prison is a labour camp where prisoners undergo “re-education through labour”. A former detainee reports to have met Dolma Kyab there a few days before he was released. He also stated that Dolma Kyab seemed to be in very poor health and that he appeared to be suffering from some medical condition.
Dolma Kyab is imprisoned for writing a comprehensive study about Tibet. The manuscript, written in Chinese, is entitled Sao dong de Ximalayashan and is reportedly a compilation of 57 chapters covering various topics including democracy, the sovereignty of Tibet, Tibet under communism, colonialism, and religion. Dolma Kyab is also said to have started another manuscript on the geographical aspects of Tibet, which was comparatively short yet touched on sensitive topics about the location and number of Chinese military camps in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
Dolma Kyab was reportedly arrested on 9 March 2005 in Lhasa, where he was teaching History at a Middle School. He was held pending trial at the Public Security Bureau Detention Centre, on charges of “endangering state security”, and sentenced on 16 September 2005 by Lhasa Intermediate People’s Court to ten years in prison. The sentence was upheld on appeal on 30 November 2005. In March 2006 he was transferred to Chushul Prison on the outskirts of Lhasa. While in the Public Security Bureau Detention Centre, Dolma Kyab contracted tuberculosis for which he received medical treatment before his transfer to Chushul Prison.
The Tibetan Centre of PEN provides the following background for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), http://www.tchrd.org/ <http://www.tchrd.org/> :
“Dolma Kyab was born in 1976 in Ari Village, Qilian County,Tsochang Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province. He attended the local Primary School in 1984 and later joined the County Middle School. After completing his schooling in 1995, he joined a Teachers Training Centre and served as a teacher in a Middle School in Qilian County. He later went to a University in Beijing to continue his studies. In 2003, he came to India to learn English and Hindi languages and returned to Tibet in May 2004. Upon return, he served as a History teacher in a Middle School in Lhasa until arrest.”
Please send appeals to the Chinese authorities:
**Expressing concern for detained teacher and writer Dolma Kyab’s health following reports that it has considerably worsened in recent weeks, and seeking assurances that he is receiving all necessary medical care;
**Protesting the ten-year prison sentence handed down to Dolma Kyab, and calling for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.
His Excellency Hu Jintao
**President of the People’s Republic of China
Procurator General Mr. Jia Chunwang
**Supreme People’s Procuratorate
**Beiheyan Street 147
Please note that fax numbers are no longer available for the Chinese authorities, so you may wish to ask the diplomatic representative for China in your country to forward your appeals.
Centres may find that the Chinese representative in their own countries are more likely to respond to appeals, so please copy to your Chinese embassy or write in place of the above address.
For further information please contact Cathy McCann at International PEN Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: email@example.com.
SOURCE: Guardian (8-9-07)
Common to both modern and medieval versions of this ideology was a belief in the end of history, culminating, after much suffering and struggle, in an earthly paradise for an elect, and the destruction of their enemies. Just as the established church, rich landowners and Jews were to be swept away by the poor of medieval Europe, so the "world Jewish conspiracy" was to make way for the Third Reich, or the Marxist proletariat succeed the bourgeoisie. This enduring strain of belief has found more recent echoes in both Islamism and the US evangelical right.
Cohn was born in London to a Jewish father and Roman Catholic mother. He gained a scholarship to Gresham's school in Holt, Norfolk, where he demonstrated talent as a linguist. In 1936, he took a first in medieval and modern languages at Christ Church, Oxford, where he undertook research until the outbreak of the second world war, when he enrolled in the Queen's Royal Regiment. His interest in totalitarian ideologies and their roots in medieval Europe can be traced back to his experiences in postwar Vienna when, as an officer in the Intelligence Corps, he interrogated members of the SS and met refugees fleeing the horrors of Soviet-dominated eastern Europe....
SOURCE: David Brooks in the NYT (8-10-07)
He said there are at least two schools of thought on this question, one associated with Jared Diamond of U.C.L.A., which emphasizes natural resources, and another associated with the Harvard historian David Landes, which emphasizes culture. Over the next several minutes, he weaved the two theories together, siding a bit more with Landes.
The answer demonstrated an ability to handle contradictory information streams. From it, you could see how Romney had managed to graduate with honors from Harvard Law School, while graduating in the top 5 percent of his class at Harvard Business School. You could see how he managed to start Bain Capital and turn it into a $4 billion firm, doubling the return on investment every single year, on average. You could see how he turned around the Salt Lake City Olympics and passed bipartisan health care reform in Massachusetts....
SOURCE: Letter to the Editor of the NYT (8-9-07)
Re: "U.S. Says Bomb Suppled by Iran Kills Troops in Iraq" by Michael R. Gordon, August 8, 2007
It is increasingly suspicious that every time the United States has begun a diplomatic initiative with Iran--the latest on August 6, some United States military official in Iraq comes forward to accuse Iran of supplying weapons to attack U.S. troops. Perhaps it is coincidence, but the reporter rendering these accusations for the public seems always to be Michael R. Gordon. These military reports and the Times reportage seem timed to undermine these diplomatic talks. Following the historic May 28 talks between Iran and the United States in Baghdad, the Iranian government called for a second round of talks. As negotiations for this second round were underway General Kevin Bergner provided a briefing on precisely the issue of the IED's covered in the August 8 article by Mr. Gordon. Mr. Gordon's last reportage of General Kevin J. Bergner's account of these Iranian attacks ("U.S. Ties Iran to Deadly Iraq Attack" July 2, 2007) was a textbook case in hype. Mr. Gordon significantly enhanced General Bergner's already specious and exaggerated statements to make the Iranian government appear even more culpable than the evidence in the press conference would warrant. Although Mr. Gordon's August 8 reporting on L t. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno's account of essentially the same phenomenon does acknowledge that critics of the Bush administration assert that there is no proof of Iranian state involvement in supplying the IED devices, the article is riddled with innuendo accusatory of Iran, such as identifying "Iranian-backed cells" as if they existed as verified definable entities, and they had been proved to have ties to Iran. Mr. Gordon's piece appears on page 1 of the Times above the fold (as did his July 2 piece) thus increasing the hype factor. The Times should save its partisanship for the editorial pages, and not conscience it in its reporting.
William O. Beeman Professor and Chair Department of Anthropology University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN 55455
SOURCE: Israel National News (8-9-07)
In an open letter to Columbia University and its Barnard College affiliate, Stern charged that anthropology Prof. Nadia Abu El Haj is unqualified for tenure at the institutions. Her book Facts on the Ground alleges that archaeologists have "created the fact of an ancient Israelite/Jewish nation" and that the ancient Israelite kingdoms are a "pure political fabrication."
Stern argued that El Haj's evidence is not professional and ignores evidence pointing to the existence of the Biblical kingdoms and that many statements are made without sources.
SOURCE: State Journal-Register (8-2-07)
He was born Jan. 26, 1938, in St. Cloud, Minn., the son of Paul and Marguerite Shaw Paludan.
Phillip Shaw Paludan was a professor of history and the Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield. One of the nation's foremost authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, he joined the faculty of the history program at UIS in 2001.
He received B.A. and M.A. degrees from Occidental College and his doctorate from the University of Illinois where he studied under Harold Hyman and Robert Johannsen. He taught at the University of Kansas for over thirty years, and held visiting appointments at Rutgers University and University College Dublin, Ireland, before being named Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at UIS.
He is the author of four books on the Civil War era, studying constitutional thought of the age, guerrilla warfare, the impact of the war on Northern society (A People's Contest, The Union and Civil War 1861-1865, Harper & Row, 1988), and The Presidency of Abraham Lincoln (Kansas, 1994). He received the Lincoln Prize for his study of Lincoln's presidency, as well as the Barondess Lincoln Award from the New York City Civil War Round Table. His numerous awards include post doctoral fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Harvard Law School. He has also received a Diploma of Honor from Lincoln Memorial University and an honorary doctorate from Lincoln College.
SOURCE: http://www.bucksfreepress.co.uk (8-8-07)
Sir Oliver Millar, an acclaimed art historian and former surveyor of the Queen's pictures, left the three quarters of an acre site off Elm Road to the residents' society to look after.
Sir Oliver was a well known face in and around the village and had lived in nearby Penn for 49 years - first in Yonder Lodge in Elm Road and later in Rays Lane.
He died after suffering a heart attack in May aged 84 and since then the executors of his estate have been sorting out his land. They approached the society three weeks ago and asked them if they would be prepared to take on part of it.
SOURCE: http://www.scoop.co.nz (8-8-07)
Emeritus Professor Bill Oliver has donated three paintings by the late Frank Davis to the University Art Collection.
The gift will be acknowledged tomorrow (Thursday, 9 August) at the inaugural WH Oliver lecture in the Old Main Building auditorium, Palmerston North campus, at 5.30pm.
Mr Davis worked as a lecturer in the former Palmerston North Teachers’ College (now Massey College of Education) art department from 1963 and headed the department from 1968 until his death in 1983.
His work was said to be outside the mainstream, often challenging contemporary ideas about New Zealand society. He had a close interest in things Mäori.
SOURCE: Newsbusters (8-7-07)
On this morning's "Today" show, NBC's Andrea Mitchell went to Goodwin for a critical take on Hillary, but even when asked to find a negative about the Senator from New York, Goodwin couldn't help but fill her critique with superlatives as she determined Hillary may need to soften her "articulate" and overly "prepared," image by intentionally making a mistake. The following analysis was aired on the August 7, "Today" show:
Andrea Mitchell: "So far, Clinton has scored points in debates by showing she is knowledgeable. Now experts say she may also have to prove she's likable."
Doris Kearns Goodwin, presidential historian: "It means she may have to take a risk of making a mistake. She may have to take a risk of not being so articulate and so prepared, to show spontaneity, to show humor."
As any student of recent history knows, Hillary is more than capable of making un-calculated mistakes. Perhaps Goodwin believed her disastrous attempt to socialize health care and her infamous "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies" remark were all part of an ingenious strategy to humanize the "so prepared" Hillary.
In fact, judging from Goodwin's comments from her appearance on Tim Russert's CNBC show, back on July 28th, Goodwin seems to have developed an image of Hillary as an innocent victim who has been forced to overcome the mistakes of others:
When Russert asked Goodwin to rate the '08 candidates' ability to overcome adversity, Goodwin noted Hillary's great accomplishment of having "withstood" such public trials as Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky.
Goodwin: "Looking back. I think for Hillary Clinton, to a certain extent, having withstood the extraordinary damage to her reputation with both Whitewater and the humiliation with the Monica Lewinsky affair, and being willing to slog it out again on the public campaign trail, shows that she's come through something."...
SOURCE: http://www.stateline.org (8-8-07)
Speaking for nearly an hour without notes, the best-selling author warned that students in this country are growing up historically illiterate. A key to solving that problem is to make sure teachers are better prepared for the classroom, he told the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“We’ve got to get over this idea that teachers are sort of glorified babysitters who take care of our children or our grandchildren while we’re doing the important work. They are doing the important work. And we’ve got to do a much better job of teaching our teachers,” McCullough said.
McCullough, author of two best-sellers about the American Revolution, praised Illinois State University at Normal, Ill., the University of Oklahoma and the University of Pennsylvania for requiring future teachers to have a subject major outside of education.
“For a young person to go into teaching and graduate with a degree in education and no major of the usual kind is to send that person into the classroom with an enormous handicap, which will be passed on to her students,” he said.
On top of that, higher education in general should set more specific course standards, he urged.
“Of the 50 supposedly best colleges and universities in the country, at very few of is history required for graduation. In many cases no foreign language is required nor any science requires and yet we say to these people on commencement day that they are educated. Who are we kidding?” McCullough said.
SOURCE: Letter to the New Republic (8-9-07)
Since the book went to press, some new evidence has emerged that further confirms our thesis from several angles, including additional testimonies to Soviet preparations in May 1967 for a paratroop drop, as well as a naval landing, in Israel. The most dramatic of these, however, was a statement by the chief spokesman of the Russian Air Force, posted on the website of the Russian Defense Ministry, asserting that in 1967, a Soviet pilot flew "unique" reconnaissance missions over Israel in a MiG-25 "Foxbat."
This is about as close to an official document as one can hope for under the prevailing circumstances. As in several cases that we cite in the book, this startling disclosure of a hitherto secret operation apparently was included inadvertently in a statement that was published in a completely different context: the anniversary of the test pilots' school from which the pilot graduated. It illustrates the point we emphasized, that full and direct documentation of the Soviet plan in 1967 is still being suppressed--to the extent that it ever existed and was not destroyed. We do not share Morris's expectation that such material will soon, or ever, be systematically released from former Soviet archives, nor his willingness to await such release in order to set the record straight.
Indeed, our experience even with U.S. and Israeli archival sources for the period encountered only somewhat less selective declassification. Criticism of our findings merely on the grounds that no basis for them has yet been exposed in Soviet archives is, therefore, not merely fallacious. It is also disturbingly dangerous, because it implicitly admits the Orwellian nightmare whereby the absence, prostitution, or suppression of archival evidence can and should be allowed to excise entire chapters from history. The alternative, to which we have tried to contribute, is to cross-check and piece together, cautiously and painstakingly, the myriad and often random references now available from other sources, in order to assemble a picture that evolves gradually toward the actual facts as they occurred. Our approach is discussed at greater length in the first chapter of Foxbats.
SOURCE: NYT Magazine (8-5-07)
Having left an academic post at Harvard in 2005 and returned home to Canada to enter political life, I keep revisiting the Iraq debacle, trying to understand exactly how the judgments I now have to make in the political arena need to improve on the ones I used to offer from the sidelines. I’ve learned that acquiring good judgment in politics starts with knowing when to admit your mistakes.
The philosopher Isaiah Berlin once said that the trouble with academics and commentators is that they care more about whether ideas are interesting than whether they are true. Politicians live by ideas just as much as professional thinkers do, but they can’t afford the luxury of entertaining ideas that are merely interesting. They have to work with the small number of ideas that happen to be true and the even smaller number that happen to be applicable to real life. In academic life, false ideas are merely false and useless ones can be fun to play with. In political life, false ideas can ruin the lives of millions and useless ones can waste precious resources. An intellectual’s responsibility for his ideas is to follow their consequences wherever they may lead. A politician’s responsibility is to master those consequences and prevent them from doing harm....
Ralph Luker: An Ignatieff Roundup
SOURCE: AHA Blog (8-5-07)
Peruse the Digital Archives and find links, separated by state, to sites like the Library of Congress exhibition "Voices of Civil Rights;" the Booker T. Washington papers from University of Illinois Press; and Indiana University’s Archives of African American Music & Culture. Visit the Timeline section of the site for breakdowns of African American history for each century. And check out the Perspectives on African American History for personal accounts and articles on events like the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, the rise of hip hop in Eastern Europe, and a lynching in Obion County, Tennessee.
With so much quality information in one place, this site just might be justified in calling itself "the ‘Google’ of African American history."
SOURCE: Nicholas Wade in the NYT (8-7-07)
Historians and economists have long struggled to understand how this transition occurred and why it took place only in some countries. A scholar who has spent the last 20 years scanning medieval English archives has now emerged with startling answers for both questions.
Gregory Clark, an economic historian at the University of California, Davis, believes that the Industrial Revolution — the surge in economic growth that occurred first in England around 1800 — occurred because of a change in the nature of the human population. The change was one in which people gradually developed the strange new behaviors required to make a modern economy work. The middle-class values of nonviolence, literacy, long working hours and a willingness to save emerged only recently in human history, Dr. Clark argues.
Because they grew more common in the centuries before 1800, whether by cultural transmission or evolutionary adaptation, the English population at last became productive enough to escape from poverty, followed quickly by other countries with the same long agrarian past.
Dr. Clark’s ideas have been circulating in articles and manuscripts for several years and are to be published as a book next month, “A Farewell to Alms” (Princeton University Press). Economic historians have high praise for his thesis, though many disagree with parts of it....
SOURCE: http://www.stuff.co.nz (8-7-07)
Titled Such Anger, Such Danger: Passchendaele 1917, the prestigious November gathering, featuring the world's foremost World War I authorities, involves three days of lectures and battlefield tours.
"It's an absolute honour to be chosen to go," Dr Harper said.
"To represent not only New Zealand but Australia as well at the conference is really big, and really quite exciting. There will be a couple of hundred people there and I'll be speaking on the Anzacs at Passchendaele.
"It's quite good because the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has paid for my flights, so that's another detail I don't need to worry about."
He plans to spend three weeks in Belgium, some of it to be spent on archive research for a future topic, Monte Cassino.
SOURCE: http://www.courant.com (8-7-07)
"On December 2nd , acting under the authority Truman had delegated, MacArthur ordered the United States Air Force to drop five Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs on Chinese columns advancing down the Korean peninsula. Although not as effective as they had been against Japanese cities at the end of World War II, the resulting blasts and firestorms did stop the offensive. Some 150,000 Chinese troops were killed in the attacks, along with an unknown number of American and South Korean prisoners-of-war."
When I first read the passage, my mind raced for a few moments. Was Gaddis revealing an operation long hidden from the public? How did the world miss this? I quickly realized Gaddis was describing a might-have-been scenario. He was driving home the point that, if world leaders had made different choices, they could have triggered World War III.
But because I had already read 47 pages of serious, trustworthy narrative, this unexpected foray into fiction caught me off-guard.
It reminded me of a writer's most powerful weapon - surprise. While few engage in a ploy as bold as Gaddis', this trick can still jolt the reader.
SOURCE: Legacy Magazine (9-1-07)
What are the “lies” you have discovered at historic sites?
Sites don’t want to say anything bad about themselves. For example, James Buchanan was homosexual. To many people, that’s bad. When I went to Buchanan’s birthplace, the site not only did not mention anything about that, but when staff members were asked directly, they denied it.
Something that sites do even less of is historiography. They almost never talk about how they used to present their past. Most sites tell you what happened in 1863 if it’s a Civil War site, but they don’t suggest that what they are saying is anything other than the eternal truth. That’s too bad, because visitors don’t understand that what we say about the past may not be the past. They don’t get any sense that a historical site should get critiqued.
What’s the difference between the lies at an interpretive site and the lies in a textbook?
The advantage of textbooks over historic sites is that they’re still available after they go out of date. It’s hard to get a 1970 interpretation of Gettysburg at Gettysburg, but it’s easy to get a 1970 edition of Triumph of the American Nation, the predecessor textbook to Holt American Nation. An enterprising teacher can collect textbooks for 50 cents each because they’re the slowest-selling books in used book stores. This makes for fascinating projects when students compare textbooks that were written in 1950, 1970, 1990, and 2007....