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: Harvard Crimosn (1-9-08)
It came in the form of a letter written in 1951 by then-President James B. Conant ‘14, who sealed it with instructions that it should be opened by the first Harvard president of the 21st century. The letter was lost in the Harvard Archives during the tenure of Lawrence H. Summers—or maybe it was just waiting.
The letter resurfaced just in time for Faust, a historian by training, to read from it during her installation speech, in which she argued that universities are uniquely accountable to the past.
“This is my life. My life has been, as a historian, the voices across generations, the voices from the past that have spoken to me in primary sources,” Faust said with palpable excitement on the eve of the installation. “To have something directed this way, to me at this moment, seemed almost supernatural somehow.”
A Civil War scholar raised in Virginia, Faust has written extensively on the experience of white slave-holding women and Confederate nationalism.
“She’s established herself as probably the foremost historian of the antebellum South in terms of cultural and gender history,” says Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War historian James M. McPherson.
“This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War,” Faust’s fifth book, was released yesterday by Knopf to largely positive reviews. [SEE CORRECTION BELOW]
The book—an analysis of the cultural impact of the Civil War’s 600,000 casualties—is the latest work in a remarkably broad scholarly career that has stirred praise and some controversy in academia.
And Faust is poised to bring the skills that she honed in her academic career—not least a dedication to provoking discussion about contentious issues—to bear on the presidency, infusing the office with a respect for and understanding of the past. ...
CORRECTION: The Jan. 9 news article "With New Book Out, Faust Shows Historical Side" incorrectly stated that "This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War" is Drew G. Faust's fifth book. In fact, it is her sixth.
SOURCE: Yanek Mieczkowski, writing for HNN (1-10-08)
The historical profession lost a giant with the passing of John A. Garraty, the Gouverneur Morris Professor of History emeritus at Columbia University. The author and editor of numerous American history books, Garraty was one of the most prolific historians of his generation. I worked as his last research assistant, and I once asked him the secret of his prolificness, as if expecting him to reveal some secret formula or regimen. In addition to his writing, he had a family, taught classes, vacationed at a Paris apartment, and even ran the New York City marathon. Amidst all this activity, he still wrote copiously. “Where do you find the time?” I asked.
“Time?” he responded. “Time is a question of priorities. Only the dead have run out of time. They’ve met their final deadline.” I began to laugh, because it seemed a curious way to answer my question. But when I laughed, Dr. Garraty put up his hand. “No, I’m serious,” he said. “If something ranks high enough as a priority, you’ll find the time.”
Time ran out for Dr. Garraty on December 19, as he died at his Sag Harbor, New York, home of heart failure at age 87. But he leaves a wealth of work for readers to contemplate. The New York Times obituary on Garraty focused almost exclusively on a project he completed during retirement, the massive American National Biography. With the rise of on-line encyclopedias, the ANB—available in the reference section of virtually every library—may be the last work of its kind.
The ANB represented just one of many legacies that Garraty bequeathed the historical profession. One of his most impressive achievements was his textbook, The American Nation, first published in 1963 and now in its twelfth edition. An entire textbook was a mammoth undertaking, but even in the days before word processors, Garraty was a fast writer. The American Nation became a best-selling college text, and Garraty published a version for high school students, too. Through his textbooks, Garraty reached millions of students—far more than through his classes or scholarly work.
Garraty had a knack for making history enjoyable. A specialist in political and economic history, he could make the dismal science of economics lively. The Great Depression, which Garraty published in 1986, has clear, simple chapter titles such as “Why It Happened,” “How It Started,” “What To Do About It,” and “How It Ended.”
General as well as scholarly readers were Garraty’s intended audience, and he helped popularize history. In 1989, he began the “1001 Things” series with 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About American History. The series has grown to comprise titles on the Civil War, the South, Women’s History, and Irish-American History, the last written by Edward O’Donnell of Holy Cross College, a Garraty student at Columbia who has emulated his former professor.
Biography was one venue by which Garraty made history come alive. In addition to describing this craft in The Nature of Biography, he wrote volumes on the lives of Henry Cabot Lodge, George Perkins, Woodrow Wilson, and Silas Wright. He was a master at capturing the right details about a subject. The Great Depression mentions the emphasis that leaders worldwide placed on frugality and balanced budgets to ride out the economic downturn, using as an example Prime Minister William King of Canada, “a man who was so parsimonious that he cut new pencils into three pieces and used them until they were tiny stubs….”
Garraty kept readers engaged with his sense of humor, too. In The American Nation, recounting the first Thanksgiving after a tough year, Garraty wrote, “But if the Pilgrims had quickly secured themselves a safe place in the wilderness, what followed was hardly all cranberries and drumsticks.” (He was witty in person, too. He and Eric Foner edited The Reader’s Companion to American History, and while instructing graduate students on writing articles, Foner suggested including entertaining historical facts, like the first nineteenth-century basketball games being played using an apple basket as a hoop. “It was a peach basket,” Garraty corrected his colleague, then added, “I was there.”)
As a writer, Garraty was a conscious stylist. Knowing a writer’s responsibility to construct digestible sentences, Garraty liked to say, “Adverbs are bad,” explaining that they added unnecessary words to sentences while injecting little meaning. Take out the adverbs, Garraty advised, and the sentence will read just as well—if not better.
Garraty wanted to use his writing to teach readers. They learned American history, and they learned about writing itself. Occasionally, he wove more complex words into his high school textbook. Once, a student sent a letter complaining about words in the book that he could not understand. Garraty wrote back, explaining that reading such words in a history textbook was an effective way to build his vocabulary. Garraty also circled some words in the boy’s letter, pointing out to him that he, too, used vocabulary deftly, even if he might not have been conscious of it.
Garraty also knew the debt that every generation of historians owes to preceding ones, and he paid homage to those scholars who laid the foundation for today’s writing. For his two-volume work, Interpreting American History: Conversations with Historians, he interviewed twenty-nine eminent historians, including Richard Hofstadter, Arthur Link, Richard B. Morris, T. Harry Williams, and C. Vann Woodward; this work remains a classic recording of the profession’s best minds. 1001 Things book has a section on “Great Historians,” and his books are sprinkled with quotations from historical colleagues and predecessors. In the classroom, Garraty asked first-year graduate students to write papers exploring the interpretations of nineteenth-century historian George Bancroft, one of his early favorites.
As a professor, Garraty related to a wide range of students and nurtured their talents. He received his undergraduate degree from Brooklyn College in 1941 and then worked during World War II as a Merchant Marine swim instructor. In 1948, he earned his Ph.D. from Columbia and then taught for twelve years at Michigan State University before returning to Columbia, where he was a professor for thirty-one years until his retirement in 1990.
At Columbia, Garraty ran the first-year seminar for American history graduate students. In it, he hosted a different guest professor from the Columbia and Barnard History Departments every week, a parade of stars that included Mark Carnes, Eric Foner, Kenneth Jackson, Rosalind Rosenberg, and Alden Vaughan. On the first day, the anticipation—and tension—among students were almost palpable. Statistically, the odds are against any graduate student finishing a doctoral program. The same thoughts ran through everyone’s minds: How difficult would it be? Who would survive, and who would not? Garraty spoke with eloquence that first day, giving students the best gift a professor could offer—encouragement. “Every one of you is capable of doing well here and completing the program. You wouldn’t have been accepted here if you weren’t,” he said. “You don’t have to be brilliant to write a good dissertation. I’ve sponsored some students who weren’t—believe me when I say that,” he smiled. “It does take persistence, though.” For many of us, Garraty’s words were precisely the right touch, the gentle encouragement we needed to hear.
When he was on campus, Garraty kept his office door open so that students could walk in to see him—although he had a playful French sign above his desk admonishing guests, “Soyez Bref” [“Be Brief”]. After talking to any visitor, he would return to work, showing the powers of concentration that were a key to his writing. Students lucky enough to work under Garraty during his four decades of teaching emerged with gifts that he generously bestowed—friendship and an immense knowledge of American history.
“In one sense the life of a great man ends with his last heartbeat, in another it goes on as long as people retain an interest in his accomplishments,” Garraty once wrote. Much the same can be said for John A. Garraty. His longtime friend and former student, Mark Carnes, Barnard College’s Ann Whitney Olin professor of history, now coauthors The American Nation textbook and coedits Garraty’s Historical Viewpoints volumes. Other former students continue to build on what Garraty taught them. Still more readers will indeed retain an interest in Garraty’s works, which beckon them in college courses and libraries nationwide.
Alonzo Hamby: John A. Garraty: A Great Life in Brief
SOURCE: Paul Buhle at the website of Inside Higher Ed (1-10-08)
History comics seem to have been a long time in coming, but readers of graphic novels have probably been expecting them for years. Art Spiegelman's Maus, drawn from the oral history of his father, a Holocaust survivor, was arguably the work that lifted respect for the craft toward its current level. Contemporary historical accounts of the Middle East and the Balkans by the cartoonist and journalist Joe Sacco have brought home to thousands of readers, otherwise bewildered by events in these regions, the heavy weight of the past. And though most of today's book buyers would not know it, a multivolume graphic history of pre-state Texas, by the late Jack Jackson (his pen name was Jaxon), is revered by regional scholars as a serious effort to do justice to all sides of a complex conflict.
My involvement in representing history dates to the founding of a history magazine for Students for a Democratic Society, back in 1967, with the seemingly odd title of Radical America. The idea was to find our own collective radical traditions rather than fishing for them abroad. The one-shot Radical America Komiks, which SDS published in 1969, wasn't all that historical except as a phenomenon of the new, uncensored comic art that was emerging at that time. But I was moving toward oral history as a calling, and I think now that there is a thread of commonality between the life-story interview and the comic-art narrative in the storytelling of history.
Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History owes its inception first to a publisher whose aunt was an SDS leader in Austin, Tex. He suggested the project to me. Second, it is owed to the comics scriptwriter Harvey Pekar, who developed the book's overarching narrative of SDS's history, within which the book's more intimate, local, and personal stories make sense. ...
SOURCE: Deutsche Welle (1-8-08)
Any historical conversation in Germany over Palestine and National Socialism usually turns to one name: Grand Mufti Hajj Amin al Husseini. The Muslim leader was an anti-Semite, a passionate follower of the Nazis and moved to Germany in 1941 to collaborate with Hitler's regime.
However, in a recently published study, Berlin-based historian Rene Wildangel has claimed Husseini "was simply not representative" of his countrymen during that time.
"It's not a question of whether he was an anti-Semite or a collaborator -- that's relatively clear," said Wildangel. "We have to consider the things that were happening in Palestine and not just this one person."
Much of the research conducted on relations between Arab nations and the Nazi regime, including a 2006 book by Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Martin Cüppers titled "The Crescent and the Swastika: The Third Reich, the Arabs, and Palestine" (Halbmond und Hakenkreuz. Das Dritte Reich, die Araber und Palästina), has reached the conclusion that only Germany's defeat in northern Africa prevented "German-Arab mass crime" against Jews....
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Ed (1-9-08)
How did this happen? What are the cultural, economic, political, and international factors that foster and sustain democracy? And perhaps most urgent, why has democracy failed to take root in the Middle East — the only region of the world that does not have a critical mass of democracies? Those are among the questions Diamond, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, tackles in The Spirit of Democracy: The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World (Times Books).
Diamond is primarily intent on showing how George W. Bush's soaring rhetoric about democratic reform in the Middle East has, in light of the failure to stabilize and democratize Afghanistan and Iraq, tarnished the cause of democracy promotion. He strenuously argues against the cynical idea that certain regions, cultures, or societies are incompatible with democracy, pointing to the progress of the past three decades as evidence that democracy is indeed a universal aspiration. "But in order for the promise of a democratic world to be realized," Diamond writes, "the international community will need to do much more to generate the conditions that facilitate democratic development — and do it more wisely."
SOURCE: AP (1-7-08)
Norman Finkelstein, who resigned last year as a political science professor at DePaul University in Chicago, met Hezbollah's commander in south Lebanon, Nabil Kaouk, in his office in the coastal city of Tyre.
He visited the border village of Maroun el-Rass where heavy fighting between Hezbollah guerrillas and Israeli troops took place during the two side's 34-day war in the summer 2006, according to the state-run National News Agency and Hezbollah's Al-Manar television.
SOURCE: Cass R. Sunstein in the New Republic (12-27-07)
The Compact Oxford Dictionary of Current English offers several definitions of the word "smear." One is "coat or mark with a greasy or sticky substance." Another is "damage the reputation of [someone] by false accusations." Neither of these definitions perfectly fits Sean Wilentz' discussion of Barack Obama and his supporters, published on The New Republic's website last week. But Wilentz has certainly produced a smear.
Wilentz does deserve considerable credit--this is one impressive smear. Saying nothing about Obama's career or positions, Wilentz announces that there is a "delusional style" in American political punditry, typified by support for inexperienced, unqualified candidates on the basis of the delusional belief that those candidates have good "instincts." In Wilentz' view, the presidential candidacy of George W. Bush was merely the latest beneficiary of the delusional style.
Is Wilentz actually trying to make a claim about American history? Or about American journalism? Sure, American political commentary has had its fair share of delusions, but the idea of a general "delusional style" is much too vague and abstract to be illuminating. There is no such "style" in American politics. (Wilentz is playing here on Richard Hofstader's illuminating, substantive, and influential 1964 essay, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics.") Wilentz is right to say that some members of the press were excessively generous to Bush's candidacy, perhaps because they preferred him to the not-terribly-fun Al Gore. Many of Bush's supporters, in the press and elsewhere, have been disappointed, but they were hardly deluded.
But Wilentz's real goal is not to act as some kind of press ombudsman, or to identify a previously unrecognized "style" in campaign reportage. It is to condemn the (hardly unanimous) press support for Barack Obama, who turns out, astonishingly, to be the new George W. Bush. An enthusiastic supporter of Hillary Clinton, Wilentz thinks that The Boston Globe editorial board, David Brooks, and Fareed Zakaria (among others) support Obama not on the basis of reason, but because of "nothing more than enthusiasm, based on feelings and projections that are unattached to verifiable rational explanation or the public record." In Wilentz' account, the delusional "Obama-awed commentators" have failed to learn the true lesson of the Bush Administration, which is that the last time America opted for intuition-based governance, it produced a "catastrophic presidency."
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Ed (1-11-08)
"Mark Twain has lived in our house a long time. His books are a huge presence. My husband joked that he's the third person in our marriage. There are always dimensions of Twain that turn up in unexpected places. There was this drawer of playwrights at the Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley. I had not expected to find anything rewarding to read when I started reading, let alone something worth publishing. It wasn't until I got to the penultimate manuscript that I could see there were memorable characters, hilarious scenes. I could see it working on stage in my mind's eye. I asked literally everyone I knew: Do you know anything about getting a play produced? It made sense to try to share with other people some of the fun Twain had writing it and I had reading it."
SOURCE: Renehan Blog (1-4-08)
SOURCE: http://www.international.ucla.edu (1-2-08)
Funding for the event was provided by the Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies' Nikkei Bruin Fund and the Northeast Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies. The conference brought together scholars from across the nation including some of Silverberg's former students. The University of Florida's Helen Lee, Stanford's Jun Uchida, Georgetown's Jordan Sand, Hamilton College's Haeng-ja Sachiko Chung, Cal State Fullerton's Kristine Dennehy, UNC-Chapel Hill's Mark Driscoll, Colorado State's Todd Henry, UC San Diego's Takashi Fujitani, UC Irvine's Serk-Bae Suh, the University of Chicago's Michael Bourdaghs, and Duke's Leo Ching discussed the Japanese colonial empire and its aftermath following World War II. UCLA scholars Sondra Hale, Esha De, Mariko Tamanoi, and Seiji Lippit also spoke.
"Miriam's students are spread across the country," Lippit said. "You get a sense of the impact she has had."
The papers presented during the symposium revealed the impact Silverberg's work has had on scholarship in modern Japanese studies.
"[This is] not just a conference for Miriam, but with Miriam," said Sand, co-organizer of the event with Tamanoi. "We have a very interested participant who is interested in hearing what you have to say."...
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Ed (1-11-08)
That may not be surprising coming from the new president of Harvard University, especially when fewer presidents are scholars, and more of their time is taken up with fund raising and business decisions. But for a prize-winning historian, author of numerous works on Southern history, it comes at a cost — one Faust has obviously thought hard about. She clearly enjoys the opportunity to talk about her book, rather than what it's like to be Harvard's first female president or recent controversies over the size of the university's endowment. But she says she faced the decision to leave her 25 years as a scholar behind when she agreed to move from the University of Pennsylvania to become, in 2001, the first dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, then undergoing the final transition from what had once been the women's annex of Harvard to a research center on women.
She had begun thinking about the topic of her new book, how the Civil War transformed America's collective experience of death, almost as soon as she finished her award-winning Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War, published in 1996. There, recording the feelings of Southern women, who feared the carnage their menfolk more often saw as glory, she was struck by how little Civil War historians — mostly men — had considered the war's confrontation with death as a cultural watershed....
SOURCE: Edward L. Ayers in the Chronicle of Higher Ed (1-11-08)
Soon after that, in a series of brilliant lectures, Faust challenged historians to rethink another topic many had written off as an oxymoron: Confederate nationalism. The founders of the Confederacy, she argued, adopted the latest ideals and strategies of the modern nation-state. In 1996 she published the prize-winning Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War, her most controversial book. There she put elite white Southern women in starring roles as skeptics and victims of the Confederate cause. Along the way, Faust published important essays in books edited by other scholars.
In her new book [This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (Knopf, 2008)], Faust does something no one has done before: She puts us face to face with death in all its dimensions in the Civil War. Books about war can hardly fail to touch on death and dying, but they can fail to look at death steadily, without blinking or looking away, as Faust has done. It is hard to imagine the sheer determination required to research such a book over a decade, the grit required to read thousands of letters from dying young men, the depth of compassion necessary to join heartbroken mothers and fathers in confronting the loss of their children. In all honesty, reading the book requires some of the same fortitude. It is customary praise to say that one can't put a book down; it is even greater praise to say that one simply must set this book aside periodically....
SOURCE: Scott Jaschik at the website of Inside Higher Ed (1-7-07)
The issue has been vexing to the American Historical Association, which got itself out of the business of adjudicating plagiarism disputes in 2003, but where no real consensus has emerged about who should deal with these issues and how to balance the rights of those who have been accused of plagiarism with those whose work may have been plagiarized. A panel discussion of journal editors at the AHA’s annual meeting on Saturday reinforced the results of a recent survey: Many journals have no written policies on how to handle allegations and fear that inquiries could get their publications sued.
A central problem, participants said, is that however much plagiarism may offend scholars and make professors look silly to the public when famous authors are exposed, the law takes a different approach. “From the point of view of the law, defamation of character is a very live issue, but plagiarism is really marginal,” said Alan Lessoff, professor of history at Illinois State University and editor of the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.
During the discussion, several editors shared horror stories (generally without names) of the kinds of plagiarism issues that have come their way — generally prior to publication, when a reviewer calls to say that the book or article that was sent for consideration is awfully familiar, because it comes from something the reviewer wrote. Other complaints go further, such as what to do about a reviewer who — in violation of a confidentiality agreement — shared unpublished research in a piece he was reviewing with one of his graduate students, denying the author a scholarly scoop....
SOURCE: Scott Jaschik at the website of Inside Higher Ed (1-7-08)
But judging from the discussion, professors in a number of programs are aware and concerned about the “passion gap” — enough to be rethinking some policies. One consensus on the panel was that even though undergraduates who pursue graduate degrees have fallen in love with doing history research, that is oddly missing from the first years of graduate education.
Tyler Anbinder, a professor at George Washington University, said that one of the things that has “gotten lost in the shuffle” of graduate programs is the experience of doing sustained history research (prior to the dissertation). Much of the writing in early years of a graduate program will be reviews and critiques and comparisons, not actual research, he said.
George Washington has dealt with this by adding requirements that graduate students do two original research papers in their first three semesters. “It’s getting students back into the archives ... probably what got you into graduate school in the first place,” said Anbinder....
SOURCE: AP (1-4-08)
The portrait of W. Richard West Jr. by New York painter Burton Silverman hangs in a fourth-floor lounge of the museum, which is part of the Smithsonian Institution and is dedicated to the arts and culture of American Indians.
West, who has come under fire recently for travel expenditures, authorized the payment for the 2005 portrait after consulting with some members of the museum's advisory board, Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas told The Washington Post. No other museum directors have commissioned portraits of themselves, she said.
Silverman, of Polish descent, was chosen after the Smithsonian "couldn't find a Native artist who did formal portrait sittings like this," St. Thomas said. According to Silverman's Web site, the portrait is in oil and is 48 inches high by 34 inches wide.
West, a 64-year-old Harvard-trained historian and member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, was hired in 1989 to oversee planning for the flagship museum, which opened in 2004. He retired last month....
SOURCE: Washington Times (1-2-08)
Mary Harris, from Adamstown, Md., counts freed slaves among her ancestors. She joined with regional historians at a mid-November workshop in Buckeystown to accomplish these two strategies.
She detailed how after emancipation, former slaves quickly began living in the tobacco shacks where they'd previously worked for their former masters.
The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnerships' African American Heritage committee aims to expand knowledge of blacks' historical impact along U.S. 15 from Gettysburg to Monticello, Va. That 175-mile corridor is known as the Journey Through Hallowed Ground.
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (1-2-08)
Q: The book talks about how the images many have of desegregation (James Meredith’s admission or George Wallace in the doorway) give a false impression of how desegregation happened generally. How do those images differ from the full story?
A: Across the South, desegregation took place on campus after campus, in program after program, eventually in residence halls and athletic programs, usually with little fanfare or public notice. Yet the iconic moments in the desegregation of southern higher education in the 1950s and 1960s, those widely recognized, are four episodes that took place in Alabama (1956 and 1963), Georgia (1961), or Mississippi (1962). Each was characterized by violence and visibility — a public show of mighty resistance to the enrollment of the first one or two black students.
Those episodes, those snapshots in time, have proved enduring. They garnered headlines at the time, and some 50 years later they continue to attract attention from historians and the wider public alike. Largely unnoticed at the time, and largely unnoticed since, are the dozens of moments at other schools, where the first black enrollment took place in grudging silence, as did various other breakthroughs on the way to full inclusion in the institutional life of the place. Every school had its own time line, its own pioneers. Each has its own stories.
Yet one must not exaggerate the differences between the most resistant states or institutions and the least. Each of the 17 segregated states, even if without public violence, acted only in the aftermath of litigation — usually in their own states, but in some instances in response to developments elsewhere, whether these were Supreme Court decisions about higher education in 1938 or in 1948–1950 or the decisions in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 or 1955. Delaware, Maryland, and other Border South states did not offer violent resistance, but they conceded change, step by step, only as appeared required by court decisions.
Long after a black student began classes in one program, segregation — deliberate exclusion — often persisted in other programs on the same campus. We reprint a document from Missouri in 1950 in which university officials calculate which black applicants they have to admit under court order, and which ones they can continue to exclude. Even in schools — Arkansas in 1948, for example — that acted without a specific court order, acceptance of a black applicant into the law school or medical school did not bring an end to the traditional policy of excluding black undergraduates....
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (1-2-08)
Data released by the American Historical Association in advance of this week’s annual meeting in Washington project that 940 new history Ph.D.’s will have been awarded in 2007, a slight dip from the previous year. Meanwhile, the number of history jobs listed in Perspectives, an AHA publication, is expected to be steady at about 1,030. (While not all job openings in history at listed in Perspectives, many are and the publication provides a good sense of direction in the job market.) This means that for the first time in the past 25 years, the number of known openings exceeded the number of new Ph.D.’s for three consecutive years.
That’s obviously good news for new Ph.D.’s. But analysis of the data by Robert Townsend, the AHA’s assistant director for research and publications, shows why the graduate students traveling to Washington for job interviews at the annual meeting do not necessarily have the odds in their favor. That’s because history departments continue to produce more Ph.D.’s in some areas (American and European history) than there are jobs in those subfields, while not producing enough Ph.D.’s to match demand in some areas....
SOURCE: Robert Townsend at the AHA blog (12-27-07)
The letter also expresses concern about a proposed change to the guidelines that removes the exemption for "Research involving materials (data, documents, records, or specimens) that…will be collected solely for nonresearch purposes." This change could potentially further extend IRB purview over gathering, archiving, and future use of oral histories and similar materials.
In addition to the comments submitted by the AHA, a number of members have copied us on their own submissions to OHRP. One of the most useful, surveying the historical background of the relationship between history and the IRB regime, was prepared by Zachary Schrag (an assistant professor at George Mason University) and posted on Institutional Review Blog. Many thanks to the members who responded so energetically to this opportunity.
But implicit in this assessment is the view that foreign policy failures have troubled the Bush presidency. And even if Ms. Rice and the president manage to achieve the sort of Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement that has eluded all previous administrations over the last 60 years and tame the North Korean communist regime, it is doubtful that these would be enough to counter what most people see as the administration’s failures in Iraq.
Ms. Rice’s record here as both national security adviser and secretary of state will surely undermine her historical standing. “She knows very well that if she doesn’t do anything” about the Middle East, “she will be Iraq,” a European diplomat who was a friend of Ms. Rice told Ms. Bumiller.
Although the greatest blame for the failures in Iraq will be shouldered by President Bush; Vice President Dick Cheney; Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld; the C.I.A. director George J. Tenet; the neocons Paul D. Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Douglas J. Feith; and L. Paul Bremer, administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority, Ms. Bumiller’s reconstruction of the prelude to war describes Ms. Rice’s contributions to the decision.
By the start of the invasion in March 2003, the Rice of early 2000, who had published an article in Foreign Affairs decrying the Clinton administration’s “moral impulse to spread American democracy,” had morphed into a forceful public advocate of bringing down Saddam Hussein, whom she pictured as intent on acquiring nuclear weapons that could lead to “a mushroom cloud” over the United States.
“Some of Rice’s friends,” Ms. Bumiller writes, “were stunned that she actually seemed to believe Bush’s argument in the final days of the war buildup that a liberated Iraq could spread freedom across the Middle East.” Ms. Rice also believed that “the postwar phase would be like the successful occupation of Germany after World War II, and that it would be possible to plant democracy in a shattered Iraq.” Either Ms. Rice knew less than she should have about pre- and post-1945 German history, or she was carried away by false optimism....
SOURCE: AP (12-22-07)
"I'm working on the politics of the Supreme Court," he says, seated in a small armchair in his converted farmhouse, a sunny, cluttered, book-filled loft just down the road and up the hill from Williams College, where he studied as an undergraduate and later taught for decades.
"I felt I had treated presidents and Congresses a lot, and here was this other branch I didn't know that much about. I had a feeling it would be even more political than I expected, and it is."
He is white-haired and wide-eyed, an ever curious scholar dressed smartly in khakis and a striped shirt for this afternoon interview. Although clearly slowed by age, he remains active enough that when his car broke down in town earlier in the day, he walked back home, uphill, for more than a mile.
First published nearly 60 years ago, Burns is a longtime expert on presidential leadership and leadership in general. He has written often about the "transformational" leader, one with the vision to change the world, and the "transactional" leader, one who knows how to negotiate and compromise. His 1978 text, Leadership, is widely studied by business and political science majors, while his two-volume biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt is a model for books on the late president.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-26-07)
David Starkey, who on Boxing Day presents the last of his 17-part Channel 4 series Monarchy, said: "I don't think she's at all comfortable with anybody intellectual.
"I think she's got elements a bit like Goebbels in her attitude - you remember, he said: 'Every time I hear the word culture I reach for my revolver'."
Dr Starkey said that while accompanying the Queen on a tour of his exhibition on Elizabeth I at the National Maritime Museum, she showed scant interest in the displays, save when she identified a portrait of her ancestor as one of "mine".
He compared her to an uneducated "housewife" who has simply been left some wonderful possessions, and seemed more concerned with the late arrival of her gin and Dubonnet than the exhibits.
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (1-1-08)
Howard Colvin was the greatest architectural historian of his own time, and perhaps ever. He admired his seniors Sir Nikolaus Pevsner and Sir John Summerson, but both of them were indebted to him for the factual basis on which their judgements were formed; revising Summerson's 1945 Georgian London in 2001, Colvin wrote "[its] combination of brilliant thought and writing with factual carelessness is quite difficult to handle".
The intellectual model whom he regarded as almost faultless was Robert Willis, whose Architectural History of the University of Cambridge (1886) pioneered the solution of archaeological problems by absolute mastery of the documentation, yet Colvin's six-volume History of the King's Works (1963-1982) alone was a greater achievement than Willis's. In addition, Colvin produced what might have remained the authoritative Biographical Dictionary of English Architects 1660-1840 in 1954, had he not expanded it to include Scotland and the years 1600-1660 in 1978 (with the title A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840), and brought out a revised edition in 1995.
It is possible for the very well-informed and very diligent to find an error, or even two, in 1,264 double-column pages of 10-point text, but difficult – and unusual. At the time of his death, Howard Colvin had nearly completed proof-reading the fourth version of this astonishing work, whose versions since 1954 have been the starting point of all historical research on the architecture of early modern Britain....
SOURCE: China Daily (12-29-07)
The dismantling of Shanghai's city wall after the 1911 Revolution was disastrous, Zheng wrote in a recent edition of the Journal of Social Sciences.
The wall, built over a span of three centuries starting in 1553 in the Ming Dynasty, would otherwise be a top attraction in Shanghai, just like the ancient city wall in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province.
The second major "historic folly" in Zheng's words was the filling of many waterways crisscrossing the city center. Otherwise Shanghai would be more intriguing with a maze of creeks.
Today, only street names such as Zhaojiabang and Xuejiabang (bang means creek) remind people that these were once creeks.
It is ironic to see property developers, such as those in Xintiandi and Xujiahui, dig ponds in recent years to landscape their areas, while so many natural waterways were ruthlessly buried.
Zheng also lamented at the many historical buildings that have been torn down over the past century, including landmark cinemas and markets.
The old Songshan Cinema, for example, used to attract the attention of many passers-by thanks to its unique arched roof. It was demolished a decade ago. The site is currently occupied by a modern shopping and residential complex known as Times Square.
In the pursuit of modernity represented by skyscrapers and wider streets, our cities have been paying a high price for erasing an important part of their own history. And such change is irreversible.