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: AP (3-27-08)
Edward Renehan Jr., a historian who has written six books, was charged Wednesday with charged with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and criminal possession of a forged instrument. The last charge referred to what authorities said was a phony letter claiming the association had given Renehan the Roosevelt note.
Renehan was released without bail until an April 21 court date. His lawyer, Peter Brill, said the 51-year-old had been diagnosed last summer with bipolar disorder.
In an email message yesterday to Israeli author Gideon Remez, who discovered the error, DIA webmaster David Baird wrote:"You are correct that the historical fact is wrong. We did not realize it until you pointed it out. We are taking steps to correct it."
By yesterday afternoon, the 1996"Defense Intelligence Agency: A Brief History," which contained the error, had been replaced on the DIA web site by a 2007"History of the Defense Intelligence Agency." Both documents can be found on the FAS web site here:
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Ed (3-27-08)
Allert, a professor of sociology and social psychology at the University of Frankfurt, quotes from the diary of a university student: "We knew where all our teachers stood toward the [Nazi] party, and we didn't have to check whether they were wearing an insignia. We got a clearer indication from the way in which they performed the mandatory Hitler greeting." By the 1936 Olympic Games, in Berlin, the salute was so ubiquitous that the English and French delegations demonstrated their respect to the host country by entering the stadium with right arms outstretched.
Allert dismisses the work of those historians who trace the rise of Nazism to anti-Semitism and an authoritarian German national character. Instead he encourages us to look at the microcosmic world of greetings to see how social mores decay, "making it easier for people to blind themselves to what was happening around them." In other words, the Hitler salute was not only a stark indication of the extent to which ideology intruded into the most pedestrian routines of everyday life in Germany, but, according to Allert, also served to "silence a nation's moral scruples."...
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (3-27-08)
A study that will appear soon in the journal PS: Political Science & Politics accepts the first part of the critique of academe and says that it’s true that the professoriate leans left. But the study — notably by one Republican professor and one Democratic professor — finds no evidence of indoctrination. Despite students being educated by liberal professors, their politics change only marginally in their undergraduate years, and that deflates the idea that cadres of tenured radicals are somehow corrupting America’s youth — or scaring them into adopting new political views.
SOURCE: Vancouver Sun (3-26-08)
Virtually all of the first nations' 9,000-year-old footprint in southwestern B.C. has been eradicated by development, Klassen said.
Most of it has been destroyed lot by lot, because each property taken alone may not register as scientifically significant.
"But when you look at it cumulatively, it is nearly all being wiped out," Klassen said.
SOURCE: AP (3-26-08)
Dongguk University is seeking more than $50 million in damages, saying Yale's actions "severely tarnished" its stellar reputation, sparked a criminal probe, cost employees their jobs and led to a decline in donations, government grants and student applications.
In 2005, Yale mistakenly confirmed that it had awarded an art history doctorate to Shin Jeong-ah, a disgraced former professor of art history and curator at Dongguk. The lawsuit contends Yale initially claimed its confirmation of the degree was a forgery and denied that it had received an inquiry from Dongguk.
"Dongguk University was publicly humiliated and deeply shamed in the eyes of the Korean population," the lawsuit says. "Because of the false statements made by Yale University, the Korean media reported and significant segments of the Korean population believed that Dongguk University had improperly hired Shin, that it had never contacted Yale University and that it had tried to cover up its inaction by relying on a forged document."
SOURCE: Middle East Strategy at Harvard (MESH blog) (3-26-08)
MESHNet will be launched next Tuesday, April 1. If you think you might qualify for membership, we urge you to apply.
SOURCE: Peter Dimock, at the Columbia University Press Blog (3-26-08)
Upon publication of the hardcover edition of the book, Peter Dimock, the editor of The Fire, wrote the following essay discussing the book’s importance, its relevance to contemporary events, and how we think about the conduct of modern warfare:
Sometimes an editor can feel in his bones when the prose on the page of a manuscript he is holding in his hands marks a possible turning point in the way the present decides to understand itself. I have been lucky enough to have had this feeling once or twice in the course of my twenty-two years in publishing. It happened again when, at the urging of another author, I and Columbia University Press took on the project of publishing the English-language edition of Jörg Friedrich’s The Fire. Here are the first words of the book from the chapter titled “Weapon”:
“The bomber will always get through.”—Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin
The bomb does not take a precise path when finding its target. So the target becomes
whatever the bomb can find—a city.
The sound of this voice, it seems to me, signals the arrival of a historical prose of a special order, the more so since the implied subject is the moral and historical significance of the Allied fire bombing of German cities during World War II. This sense is heightened when the reader is reminded that the author is a German writer celebrated for earlier historical work that is scathing in its portrayal of the leniency of the German prosecution of Nazi war criminals immediately following the war.
Why do so many historians and reviewers feel that so much is at stake in the way readers interpret Friedrich’s book and the critical reception it receives in the public media? The book has sparked controversy everywhere since its original appearance in Germany in 2002. The contemporary interpretive question The Fire is raising by historical indirection, I suspect, is the origins of the willingness of the contemporary modern liberal state to develop and use weapons of mass destruction against civilian populations. To see the fire bombing of German cities as an integral part of that history as well as the history of the virtuous Allied defeat of Germany and Japan is, for many, to experience interpretive vertigo.
Will contemporary understanding of this subject extend beyond the military necessity to defeat Hitler? Will our contemporary understanding include seeing the fire bombing of German cities as a pivotal early moment in the history of the development of weapons of mass destruction and the willingness of modern states to use the terror such weapons impose on daily life as part of their overwhelming arsenal of power?
Weapons of mass destruction obviously go directly to the heart of current issues of American power and the continuing projection of that power in Iraq and around the world. Perhaps the English-language translation of The Fire and the fascination it is beginning to exercise reflect a desire on the part of American and English readers, critics, and editors alike to confront these wider and timely issues.
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Ed (3-26-08)
Some have even set up a Web site, Save the European Reading Room at the LC!, to encourage people to take action.
The consternation reflects an anxiety among scholars not just over the fate of one reading room but over whether the library is putting tourism and public history ahead of its longtime commitment to research.
In a short statement issued on Tuesday, the library denied the closure rumors and sought to reassure researchers. The European Reading Room "will not be closed," it said. "Beginning this summer, the reading room will be relocated to the Southeast Pavilion, a space adjacent to the current reading room."
[HNN: The article says the AHA's Arnita Jones has received several emails about this from historians.]
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Ed (3-28-08)
Now, for the hard business: the sermons, which have been mercilessly chipped into for wearying television clips. While Wright's sermons were pastoral — my wife and I have always been awed to hear the Christian Gospel parsed for our personal lives — they were also prophetic. At the university, we used to remark, half lightheartedly, that this Jeremiah was trying to live up to his namesake, the seventh-century B.C. prophet. Though Jeremiah of old did not "curse" his people of Israel, Wright, as a biblical scholar, could point out that the prophets Hosea and Micah did. But the Book of Jeremiah, written by numbers of authors, is so full of blasts and quasi curses — what biblical scholars call "imprecatory topoi" — that New England preachers invented a sermonic form called "the jeremiad," a style revived in some Wrightian shouts.
In the end, however, Jeremiah was the prophet of hope, and that note of hope is what attracts the multiclass membership at Trinity and significant television audiences. Both Jeremiahs gave the people work to do: to advance the missions of social justice and mercy that improve the lot of the suffering. For a sample, read Jeremiah 29, where the prophet's letter to the exiles in Babylon exhorts them to settle down and "seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile." Or listen to many a Jeremiah Wright sermon.
One may properly ask whether or how Jeremiah Wright — or anyone else — experiences a prophetic call. Back when American radicals wanted to be called prophets, I heard Saul Bellow say (and, I think, later saw it in writing): "Being a prophet is nice work if you can get it, but sooner or later you have to mention God." Wright mentioned God sooner. My wife and I recall but a single overtly political pitch. Wright wanted 2,000 letters of protest sent to the Chicago mayor's office about a public-library policy. Of course, if we had gone more often, in times of profound tumult, we would have heard much more. The United Church of Christ is a denomination that has taken raps for being liberal — for example for its 50th anniversary "God is still speaking" campaign and its pledge to be open and affirming to all, including gay people. In its lineage are Jonathan Edwards and Reinhold and Richard Niebuhr, America's three most-noted theologians; the Rev. King was much at home there.
Friendship develops through many gestures and shared delights (in the Marty case, stops for sinfully rich barbecue after evening services), and people across the economic spectrum can attest to the generosity of the Wright family.
It would be unfair to Wright to gloss over his abrasive — to say the least — edges, so, in the "Nobody's Perfect" column, I'll register some criticisms. To me, Trinity's honoring of Minister Louis Farrakhan was abhorrent and indefensible, and Wright's fantasies about the U.S. government's role in spreading AIDS distracting and harmful. He, himself, is also aware of the now-standard charge by some African-American clergy who say he is a victim of cultural lag, overinfluenced by the terrible racial situation when he was formed.
Having said that, and reserving the right to offer more criticisms, I've been too impressed by the way Wright preaches the Christian Gospel to break with him. ...
SOURCE: Slate (3-21-08)
But which should it be: Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton? In fact, voters in November could actually endorse both versions of the ticket—truly, two presidents for the price of one. How? The Constitution's 25th Amendment allows for a new paradigm of political teamwork: The two Democratic candidates could publicly agree to take turns in the top slot.
Adopted in 1967 in the shadow of John F. Kennedy's assassination, the 25th Amendment allows presidents unilaterally to transfer presidential power to their vice presidents and enables presidents, with congressional consent, to fill a vacancy in the vice presidency should one arise. By creatively using the constitutional rules created by this amendment, the Democrats can, if they are so inclined, present the voters in November with a new kind of balanced ticket.
SOURCE: Carlin Romano in the Chronicle of Higher Ed (3-24-08)
Survivors of scholarly controversies often exhibit serious scars from their infighting. Mary Lefkowitz's experiences since she opposed a number of Afrocentrist historical claims in the 1990s — and wound up sued by Martin, assailed by Afrocentrists, and in a battle with breast cancer at the same time — add up to a cautionary tale.
History Lesson: A Race Odyssey, published this month by Yale University Press, is Lefkowitz's attempt to size up the lessons. "Was it worth it?" she asks. Her answer is "Yes." Most scholars who follow her through familiar campus phenomena from political correctness to colleague wimpiness ("I couldn't take sides because it wasn't my field," one colleague confided) will care more about the issues her case raises than her ultimate peace of mind....
SOURCE: Deseret News (3-23-08)
His newest book is "The Purpose of the Past: Reflections on the Uses of History."
In 21 varied and provocative essays, Wood considers how history has changed over the years in the hands of both popular and academic historians. As a professor with a doctorate from Harvard, he falls into the academic classification, but his philosophy has veered toward the popular.
"I try to appeal to two audiences simultaneously," said Wood during a phone interview from his office at Brown University. Whereas he used to write primarily for the university student and budding professor, he now writes with the general public in mind, and he is not worried that many historians writing today do not have doctorates.
Well-known popular historians like David McCullough (biographies of Harry Truman and John Adams) and Thomas Fleming tend to attract a larger reading audience than academic historians, Wood said. "McCullough, who has a wonderful sense of style, is the best known and is the natural successor to Barbara Tuchman. Thomas Fleming, author of 'The New Dealers' War,' is also a superb historian."
Others who write popular history include Ron Chernow, Walter Isaacson and Stacy Schiff.
Wood also praised the work of the prolific academic historian, Daniel Boorstin, who "reached two audiences and whose whole career caused academics to be displeased with him. His series of three books entitled, 'The Americans,' will be with us through the 21st century."
Wood believes that more historians in recent years have become literary, consciously making their books more readable to the non-historian. There also has been a remarkable increase in the numbers of authors writing so-called "historical novels," which Wood approves of "as long as they're labeled that way. You can learn a lot reading a historical novel, but most readers want to know if what they are reading is true."...
SOURCE: Nicholas Kristof in the NYT Book Review (3-23-08)
That initiative was an early warning that population policy can be very difficult to get right. In “Fatal Misconception,” Matthew Connelly, an associate professor of history at Columbia University, carefully assembles a century’s worth of mistakes, arrogance, racism, sexism and incompetence in what the jacket copy calls a “withering critique” of “a humanitarian movement gone terribly awry.”
Efforts to control population have long been ferociously controversial, and the United States under George W. Bush refuses to provide a penny of funding for the United Nations Population Fund because of its supposed (but in fact nonexistent) links to forced abortion in China. Critics of family planning programs will seize gleefully upon this book, and that’s unfortunate, because two propositions are both correct: first, population planners have made grievous mistakes and were inexcusably quiet for too long about forced sterilization in countries like India and China; and second, those same planners have learned from past mistakes and today are fighting poverty and saving vast numbers of lives in developing countries.
“Fatal Misconception” is to population policy what William Easterly’s “White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good” (2006) was to foreign aid: a useful, important but ultimately unbalanced corrective to smug self-satisfaction among humanitarians. Connelly scrupulously displays a hundred years of family planners’ dirty laundry, but without adequately emphasizing that we are far better off for their efforts. One could write a withering history of medicine, focusing on doctors’ infecting patients when they weren’t bleeding them, but doctors are pretty handy people to have around today. And so are family planners....
SOURCE: Newsweek (3-19-08)
NEWSWEEK: You've said that African-American church leaders have taken America's Christian values and turned them against the nation's practitioners of racial discrimination, violence and imperialism for hundreds of years. When and how did this tradition begin?
Edward J. Blum: It began even before the United States became the United States, during the slave trade. Throughout slavery, African-Americans used the Bible to challenge their enslavement. Olaudah Equiano, a slave who was later freed, wrote a narrative juxtaposing the Christianity of the slaveholders vs. his own Christianity. Frederick Douglass said he hated the Christianity of whites but loved the Christianity of Christ. As Africans became Americans and embraced Christianity, they continued to turn the teachings of Jesus against whites.
Newsweek: But we've obviously come far since the days of Frederick Douglass. Is it still appropriate or effective for African-American pastors to condemn America with such harsh rhetoric?
Blum: Well, it's important to make a distinction between prophets and politicians. Rev. Wright doesn't want to be a politician, he wants to be a prophet, and prophets always border on treason and heresy. Their social function is to push the envelope, to speak the unspeakable. Politicians like Obama, however, have a different set of tasks. Their job is to bring unity among diversity. For Obama it would be inappropriate to say "God damn America," but not for Rev. Wright.
Newsweek: How do you think Obama handled this controversy in his speech on Tuesday?
Blum: He handled it beautifully, because he refused to repudiate Wright completely. He held on to the notion that [Wright] was a strong influence in his life, while repudiating specific words. Obama, who is savvy about hating the sin and loving the sinner, continues to see Wright as more than just those words. And let's not forget that the notion of God judging America doesn't just come from African-American churches or from the left. We heard it from Billy Graham as far back as the 1960s, and more recently from [one right-wing religious group] who would go to soldiers' funerals and say that the war was happening because of homosexuality and that God is judging America. It comes from different places for different reasons.
Newsweek: How much damage do you think the surfacing of Wright's remarks has inflicted on Obama's campaign, especially among non-African-Americans?
Blum: There is real damage. I've gotten two types of e-mails since Obama made his speech [on Tuesday], the first set coming from other academics who support Obama reminding me that great African-American leaders throughout history have said these same types of things. I've received another set of e-mails from old friends from high school, more white, middle-class, mainstream folks, who are all saying the same thing: "Can you believe this guy [Wright] said this?"...
SOURCE: The Newsletter of the New York American Revolution Round Table (3-19-08)
SOURCE: Richmond Times-Dispatch (3-19-08)
But as to the future, "there are no guarantees here at all," said Craig Canning, a historian at the College of William and Mary.
U.S.-China trade began in 1784, when the ship Empress of China set sail from New York, bound for Canton -- now Guangzhou -- with a cargo of fur and ginseng, prized in Asia for its healing properties.
"It turned a handsome profit," Canning said. "And right away, other Americans went out to seek their fortune."
China scholar Canning spoke last night to about 35 people with the World Affairs Council of Greater Richmond at the SunTrust Building in the downtown financial district.
With interruptions -- notably the Maoist era, when commerce between the two countries was practically nonexistent -- "trade and economic interests were what primarily drove U.S.-China relations," Canning said.
Since 1979, when the U.S. formally recognized China, the Asian giant's economy has grown astonishingly as has its trade with the U.S.
"They go hand in hand," Canning said in an interview before his talk.
The United States' commerce with China amounted to $386.7 billion last year, he said, and the U.S. is China's largest single-nation customer....
SOURCE: Salon (3-20-08)
It was partly in response to media queries about the unimpeded looting of Iraq's cultural heritage that former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld uttered the infamous and cavalier rejoinder, "Democracy is messy." Five years after the sacking of Iraq, we decided to ask the experts how bad it really was, how many priceless antiquities have come back to their homeland, and what, if anything, has changed about the Bush administration's approach to protecting Iraq's history.
On behalf of Salon, Brian Rose, professor of archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania and president of the Archaeological Institute of America, conducted a round table with Donny George Youkhanna, former chief of antiquities for the Iraqi government and director general of the National Museum of Iraq; Cori Wegener, an associate curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts who, as a major in the U.S. Army Reserve, was called up in 2003 and sent to Iraq to assess the damage to the museum; and Micah Garen, a documentary filmmaker, photographer and journalist who went to Iraq shortly after the invasion to document the looting of archaeological sites. Youkhanna, who is known as Donny George in the West, was forced to flee Iraq in 2006 and is now a visiting professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Wegener is presently president of the U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield, which was formed in 2006 to protect cultural property worldwide during armed conflict. Garen, who wrote a book about his experience as a hostage in Iraq called "American Hostage," is working on a feature-length documentary about the looting. The round-table participants spoke by phone on Friday, March 14.
SOURCE: Letter to the Editor of the NYT (3-20-08)
Re “Obama Urges U.S. to Grapple With Race Issue” (front page, March 19):
I taught American history for 40 years and the history of African-Americans from the Civil War to the 1990s at the City University of New York. I think Barack Obama’s speech on race and politics on Tuesday is one of the most, if not the most, impressive and intelligent speeches made by a politician in our history.
It was indeed transcendent. It went far beyond the issue of his relationship to his church and pastor. It directly confronted the most serious problem in our country, and displayed a self-awareness and a penetrating insight into the race issue as it affects blacks and whites.
Mr. Obama did not avoid any of the questions raised by his relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. He met them head-on with eloquence, candor and understanding.
No matter what happens in this endless political campaign, we as Americans can be proud of this man’s rise and achievements.
SOURCE: Scott McLemee at the website of Inside Higher Ed (3-19-08)
Let’s put that sentence on the chalkboard and underscore the anthropologically interesting aspects of the situation, shall we? Harvard University Press has just issued a book promulgating a JFK assassination conspiracy theory.
Within the continuum of any given culture, there is what the structuralists used to call the combinatoire – the underlying grid of distinctions and exclusions, an implicit directory of what goes with what (and, just as important, what doesn’t). So the appearance of The Road to Dallas: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by David Kaiser counts, arguably, as something more than a piece of publishing news. That, too. But we may be talking here about something like a mutation in the cultural genome.
That said, the book’s argument does not exactly qualify as a paradigm shift. Kaiser, who is a professor of strategy and policy at the Naval War College and the author of two earlier books published by Harvard, argues that Lee Harvey Oswald pulled the trigger as a result of machinations within “a complex network of relationships among mobsters, hit men, intelligence agents, Cuban exiles, and America’s Cold War foreign policy.” To make this case, Kaiser examines an enormous mass of documents that have been declassified since 1992. “Hundreds of books on the Kennedy assassination have appeared,” he writes, “but this is the first one written by a professional historian who has researched the available archives.” Perhaps, but it is also a variation on certain familiar themes....
SOURCE: Middle East Strategy at Harvard (MESH blog) (3-20-08)
John L. Esposito is University Professor and Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. In 2002, he wrote: “Five years after a U.S. war with Iraq, it is likely that the Arab world will be less democratic than more and that anti-Americanism will be stronger rather than weaker.” (Read his full prediction here.)
From John L. Esposito
It is both satisfying and yet depressing that my predictions five years ago have in fact been realized. Anti-Americanism has grown exponentially in the Muslim world as it has in many other parts of the world. Thus, the question “Why do they hate us?” remains important to ponder. Likewise, while the spread of democracy has been the stated goal of the Bush administration, the charge that America is does not seriously support democracy and really operates under a double standard continues to be strongly leveled against us.
As we follow up on such issues after five years, what have we learned? To begin with, we have a new tool to enhance our understanding. Rather than depending upon the opinions and predictions of “experts,” we can listen to the people in the regions themselves by using data from the Gallup World Poll, which has been conducted since 2001 around the world.
Through 50,000 hour-long, face-to-face interviews with residents of more than 35 nations that are predominantly Muslim or have substantial Muslim populations, we have the largest and most comprehensive poll of the Muslim world, representing the voices of more than 90 percent of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims, young and old, educated and illiterate, female and male, living in urban and rural settings
Responses to both closed and open-ended questions tell us a lot. For example, starting with anti-Americanism, our answers to the common question, “Why do they hate us?” have often been “They hate who we are—our way of life, freedoms, democracy, and gender equality.” However, if we listen to the voices of Muslim respondents, they contradict these views. When asked what they admired most about the West, the top response was the West’s technology, its value system of hard work, responsibility and rule of law and its fair political systems, democracy, human rights, free speech and gender equality.
On the other hand, when asked what they admire least about the West, among the top responses was “hatred or degradation of Islam and Muslims.” And when asked what the most important thing the United States could do to improve their quality of life, the most common response after “reduce unemployment and improve the economic infrastructure” was “stop interfering in the internal affairs of Arab/Islamic states,” “stop imposing your beliefs and policies,” “respect our political rights and stop controlling us,” and “give us our own freedom.”
Thus, while we continue to talk about the importance of democracy and self-determination for the Muslim world, majorities in Jordan, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, and Morocco disagree that the United States is serious about spreading democracy in their region. In fact, looking at those we will call “Muslim democrats”—those who believe that democracy is important to their progress and future—we find that this group is more concerned about better relations with the West, but at the same time, more likely to view the United States unfavorably. Only 5 to 10 percent respond that the United States is trustworthy, friendly or treats other countries respectfully.
What of the future? A major concern for the foreseeable future will center on stopping the growth of global terrorism. While the military will continue to be needed to capture, kill and contain terrorists, the broader challenge is to limit radicalization. As data from the Muslim world reveals, while majorities are moderate, the number of politically radicalized is significant.
The Gallup Poll identified moderates and radicals by looking at those who said the 9/11 attacks were completely justified and also had an unfavorable view of the United States. Moderates, the vast majority (93 percent), said the 9/11 attacks were unjustified. The politically radicalized and thus potential supporters of extremism—7 percent—said the attacks were completely justified and view the United States unfavorably. Identifying respondents as “politically radicalized” does not mean they commit acts of violence, but rather that they are a potential source for recruitment or support for terrorist groups.
Although concern among respondents about bias and Western political interference in their affairs was widespread, the politically radicalized were far more intense in their belief that Western political, military and cultural domination is a major threat. When asked to define their greatest fears about the future of their country, the politically radicalized most frequently cite interference in their internal affairs by other countries, national security, colonization, occupation, and fear of U.S. dominance.
Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of the politically radicalized compared to 48 percent of moderates disagree that “the U.S. will allow people in the region to ’fashion their own political future as they see fit without direct U.S. influence.’” Surprisingly, 50 percent of the politically radicalized feel more strongly that their progress will be helped by “moving toward governmental democracy” compared to 35 percent of moderates. And even more surprising, the politically radicalized (58 percent) are more likely than moderates (44 percent) to associate Arab/Islamic nations with an eagerness to have better relationships with the West.
In a post-9/11 environment in which many are caught between the contending and contentious views of the battle of experts and pseudo-experts, we now have data that can lead the discourse and to guide future policies aimed at reducing the threat of global terrorism.
More about mutual misperceptions and developing policies and programs designed to “win the minds and hearts” of Muslims around the world can be found in the just-published book based on the Gallup World Poll, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think, which I have co-authored with Dalia Mogahed.
SOURCE: Exchange in the New Republic (3-18-08)
There are many memorable scenes in the first two episodes of John Adams. Capturing the feelings of a child watching the Battle of Bunker Hill was poignant, as was the composing and recomposing of the Declaration of Independence, with the scientific ben Franklin insisting that, when describing natural rights, the expression"self-evident" be substituted for"sacred and undeniable." How to interpret the Declaration has perplexed statesman and scholars ever since, and Lincoln was determined to give it a religious explanation by returning the term"sacred." The enigma of Adams was that he was a man of law and order who feared the mob--brought out vividly in his role as lawyer in the opening Boston Massacre episode--yet as the Revolution approached, he welcomed the rise of the waterfront riff-raff, celebrated throwing tea into the harbor, and praised rights and liberties more than duties and authority. Later, when it comes to defending the new Constitution, he again stands for the authority of political controls over unchecked liberty by the democratic masses. A cynic might say that all along he wanted to be in control, but I think that the explanation is more historical than personal, and that the events preceding the Constitution were so unruly as to lead him to this position. We shall see in future episodes.
Thomas Jefferson comes off as the aloof riddle that he was, rather hesitant about the Revolution and the Declaration, yet providing some of the most elegant writing to defend both causes. The depiction of grand old man Franklin was just right in his dismissal of right and wrong; he advised Adams to be sensitive toward the feelings of others and to avoid thinking in terms of absolutes. In Adams and Franklin we have the classic contrast between a man of principle and a pragmatist. Adams is certain of his convictions, while Franklin asks him to think of the consequences. I'm not sure the series will show the extent to which Franklin remained a reconciliationist, convinced that the differences between the colonies and mother country could be worked out short of war.
The opening episodes might lead viewers to conclude that the colonists rebelled because British soldiers and officials treated them so rudely on the streets of Boston, with utter contempt for the provincials. Little was shown about the Stamp Act and other measures that sought to regulate the colonies in order to gain revenue to make up for the debts of the French-Indian War. Yet the colonists interpreted the slightest infringement upon their rights to self-govern as the first step toward suppressing all their rights. Was there such a conspiracy? No, but in American history suspicion is the name of the game in politics, and, as we shall hopefully see in the rest of the series, Jefferson projected such suspicion on poor President Adams, accusing the Federalists of conspiring to deprive their opponents of their freedom and returning America to the British monarchy....
SOURCE: CQ Politics (3-15-08)
Last summer Weiner’s career reached yet another peak when his latest book, “Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA,” hit the New York Times best-seller list....
Yet it is Weiner’s handling of documents and sources, not to mention his book’s theme that the CIA’s record is one of almost abysmal failure, that has come under serious question by a growing cadre of critics.
The grumbling — in specialist journals, on the Web and in a flurry of e-mail among historians and investigative reporters — has gone undetected, or perhaps ignored, by the usually sensitive radar of the East Coast media, even as it now threatens to deny Weiner another Pulitzer next month.
The awards will be announced April 6.
Until recently, “Legacy of Ashes” had been considered a shoo-in. No longer.
“I can’t think of another spook book that has aroused similar passions for a long time,” says Thomas Powers, the acclaimed intelligence historian and author of “The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms & the CIA.”...
SOURCE: Robert Townsend at the AHA blog (3-17-08)
For the past seven years, the Association only provided full JSTOR access to members for an added fee. With this new arrangement, all members of the Association will enjoy this access as part of their regular dues.
In considering our new publishing collaboration with the University of Chicago Press we were aiming to provide more and better services to our members at less cost. Free access to members for the entire set of back issues of the Review is an excellent example of what we hoped to achieve.
“We think members will be exceptionally pleased with this added service, and are grateful to the University of Chicago Press for providing this added benefit,” observed the AHA’s Executive Director, Arnita Jones.
SOURCE: Providence Journal (3-18-08)
Most of the evidence came in testimony by David Rosner, a professor of history and public health at Columbia University, who co-wrote Deceit and Denial, a book about lead poisoning. Rosner testified that all three companies heavily advertised and sold their paints in Rhode Island.
Rosner’s co-author, Gerald Markowitz, a professor of history at John Jay College, also testified that there was extensive evidence that the companies were fully aware that their products were poisoning children and they discussed the resulting bad publicity as long ago as 1930.
The state in its papers described litigation that was “fierce” at times. It said at one point there were 121 lawyers who appeared for the defendants. Written legal pleadings exceeded 2,000. Trial judge Michael A. Silverstein issued 18 written decisions and 174 separate orders. Some 412 depositions were taken. On the eve of trial, defendants requested an emergency stay from the U.S. Supreme Court. The state’s lawyers produced tens of millions of pages of documents.
For those readers who are unfamiliar with the debate, here is a quick overview of the four main schools of Cold War thought (with occasional blending thereof). Realism, the oldest approach, holds that the Cold War arose out of the power vacuum at the end of World War II and that American and Soviet leaders pursued their respective national interests because of power politics. Rising to ascendancy in the 1960s and 1970s, revisionism counters that American presidents' policy choices, along with the market structure of capitalism, caused the East-West conflict, while the Soviet Union was a revolutionary power seeking political and economic equality. Starting in the 1970s with newly available materials from the Truman Presidential Library and other U.S. sources, post-revisionism aims to make realism more nuanced and presents the Cold War as a series of mutual misunderstandings between the United States and the Soviet Union. Finally, from the late 1980s to the present, corporatism merges the power politics of realism with the core economic arguments of revisionism, portraying the United States, the USSR, and their respective leaders as rational actors who constantly sought security through their strategic and economic policy choices. Although historians have dominated the debate between and among the four schools of thought, political scientists have weighed in heavily over the years. Indeed, none of these approaches would be possible without political science, since realism and neo-Marxist revisionism originated in that discipline. And it should be noted that the roots for these schools are found in practical politics rather than scholarly writing: witness the work of diplomat-scholar George F. Kennan, diplomat Charles Bohlen, and journalist Walter Lippmann for the realists and progressive politician Henry A. Wallace and, to an extent, Lippmann (again) for the revisionists....