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: artinfo.com (8-19-08)
SOURCE: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (8-19-08)
The new book is a lot shorter (not necessarily a bad thing) as it’s part of the American Presidents Series. It is expected to be about 200 pages.
Dallek, says Holt, “argues for the application of the tag of greatness, or at least near greatness, to the plainspoken man from Missouri who achieved unconditional surrender from Germany and Japan, ushered America into the nuclear age, established the alliances and principles that would define the cold war and containment policy, and started the nation on the road to civil rights. A strong, centrist leader, Truman also won the most dramatic election of the twentieth century—his brilliant 1948 “whistle-stop campaign” against heavy favorite Thomas E. Dewey. Few chief executives have had so lasting an impact.”
Missourians probably will agree.
SOURCE: Chris Bray at HNN blog, Cliopatria (8-19-08)
First, from the transcript of a recent Bill Moyers interview with Bacevich:"There was a time, seventy, eighty, a hundred years ago, that we Americans sat here in the western hemisphere, and puzzled over why British imperialists went to places like Iraq and Afghanistan. We viewed that sort of imperial adventurism with disdain."
That's seems so plainly wrong in so many ways, starting with the idea that Americans couldn't engage in"imperial adventurism" while sitting right here in the Western Hemisphere. (For fun, try putting it this way: Since Jamestown, Americans have been fiercely opposed to imperial adventurism.)
"Seventy, eighty, a hundred years ago" Americans somehow viewed imperial adventurism with disdain -- while fighting in the Philippines, landing troops in Honduras, occupying Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua, and sending the Great White Fleet around the world. My goodness, how'd all this interventionism show up on the scene in 2008?
My own view, which I perhaps mistakenly understand to be not-too-controversial, is that the American militarism and colonialism of 2008 connect in obvious ways to the long historical stream of American practice. American"imperial adventurism" conquered a big part of a continent, then kept going.
My favorite story about 19th-century colonial adventurism is the one about Jefferson Davis's reaction, as secretary of war, to the news that army officers in San Francisco were successfully putting a stop to filibuster recruiting in that city: He ordered them to move their headquarters across the bay, where they'd do less harm. That's the dominant American view of imperial adventurism, I think.
Then there's the essay Bacevich wrote for the May 2007 issue of the Atlantic Monthly. Titled"Warrior Politics," the essay lamented the Appeal for Redress movement among American military personnel who want Congress to bring the war in Iraq to a close.
The Appeal for Redress group, Bacevich warned,"heralds the appearance of something new to the American political landscape: a soldiers’ lobby. In formulating their appeal, men and women in America’s fighting forces claim a new prerogative: to engage in collective political action for the explicit purpose of influencing national-security policy."
A quick aside, here: Very shortly after I reported for my first assignment after infantry training, my first platoon sergeant pulled me aside, handed me a membership form, and told me that I would be joining the Association of the United States Army. You can read up on the AUSA's lobbying activity here. So a"soldiers' lobby"? Not so new.
Aside from the AUSA, though, there have been many soldier's lobbies throughout American history -- starting, arguably, with the soldiers of the Continental Army's Pennsylvania Line who marched out of their camp in 1781 under a committee of sergeants, determined to win back pay, much-needed clothing, and the release of soldiers whose terms of enlistment had expired.
We can find other examples without even moving beyond the Continental Army; I would call the officers involved in the Newburgh Conspiracy a soldier's lobby, for example -- and I would extend that description to the Society of the Cincinnati, a hereditary organization for Revolutionary officers and their ancestors that was founded originally to lobby for pensions.
There are probably arguments against this choice, but I think it's reasonable to call most veteran's organizations"soldier's lobbies," a choice that adds the Grand Army of the Republic and the Bonus Army to the list, not to mention the VFW and the American Legion.
In any case, even without the GAR, many groups of military personnel have tried to affect policy through organized action: a" colonels' revolt" during the Eisenhower administration, for example, or the organized groups of soldiers who refused to deploy to Vietnam.
I don't know Andrew Bacevich, but my guess is that his view of American military history is shaped by his professional background. A career soldier and West Point grad, Bacevich may have absorbed a history that was meant to teach him the boundaries of his profession: soldiers obey; our military institutions follow civilian authority; we are like this, not like that. That kind of history misses some big exceptions.
However well an officer's view of history served Bacevich in the army, then, it seems to steer him down some wrong paths in his generally impressive post-army career.
SOURCE: AHA Blog (8-18-08)
Kennedy examined the waves of European decolonization that began with the “New World” colonies in the late 18th/early 19th century, spread to the “Old World” in the early 20th century, and culminated in the “Third World” in the mid- to late-20th century. He explored the relationship between decolonization and global war, and considered the patterns of disorder (civil war, ethnic cleansing, etc.) that often accompanied and followed these upheavals. As mentioned above, the Kluge Center, at the Library of Congress, web casted the lecture, which can be viewed online here.
The seminar was generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and also featured a lecture on July 16 by Wm. Roger Louis on “The Moral Conscience of the World: United Nations and Palestine in 1947.” Professor Louis, the Kerr Chair of English History and Culture at the University of Texas at Austin, is also the founding director of the National History Center. His lecture, also available by web cast, examined the Palestine crisis of 1947 and the creation of a Jewish state in the next year. It was a critical moment that changed the colonial world order. The partition of the country tested the principles of self-determination and its debate in 1947 still has a lasting effect. As the British Empire decolonized, the United Nations played a crucial role in the creation of Israel.
SOURCE: Email from Clifford Kuhn (8-19-08)
Born in 1936, Gary grew up on a farm in eastern Montana. After high school he entered the U.S. Army where he had his intellectual conversion experience hiding in a boiler room at Fort Whittier, Alaska while trying to escape KP duty. He overheard a conversation about American literature between two other, college-educated, soldiers, and decided that sounded interesting. After leaving the service, Gary attended the University of Montana, taught history and coached for a while in Oregon, then went on to receive his Ph.D. at the University of Missouri. He taught at Mankato State University before coming to Georgia State in 1970 where he stayed until his retirement in 1998.
Though originally trained as a political historian, Gary developed a national reputation as a labor historian, eventually authoring or editing nine books in the field, along with two works on Jimmy Carter. He was a pioneer in the field of southern labor history. Along with Merl Reed of the Department of History, he co-founded the Southern Labor Archives of Special Collections, which grew into one of the nation’s preeminent labor history repositories. (He was also co-founder of the Georgia Government Documentation Project, a joint effort of History and Special Collections.) In addition, he helped organize the Southern Labor Studies Association whose biennial conferences from 1976 through 2003, almost all held at Georgia State, featured both renowned historians and younger scholars ready to make their mark, and the Seminar for the Comparative History of Labor, Industry and Technology (SCHLITS).
In others ways, too, Gary played an active role within the profession. He worked closely with the Carter Presidential Library, conducting seminars and conferences there. He was a leader within the Georgia Association of Historians, serving as president in the 1980s. He was honored by the GAH in the spring of 2008, where he gave his last public presentation, a warm, humorous, insightful reflection on his career as a historian. In recognition of his contributions, in 1998 he was presented with a Georgia Governor’s Award in the Humanities.
SOURCE: David Liebers, HNN intern (8-18-08)
Q: What prompted you to write about the issue of peacekeeping?
A: This is an issue that I've been interested in for a long time, and there seemed to be a fundamental gap in what we knew about this policy tool. To most lay-people, the image of peacekeeping is one of failure or impotence. What most people know about are the failures (Rwanda, Srebenica, Mogadishu), because these are the stories that make the news -- the successful cases are much less well known. At the same time, for policy-makers and academics who work on peacekeeping, there was a different problem. There was a lot of discussion about peacekeeping, and a huge literature, without any basic analysis of whether it worked, because people who work on the topic either look at only one case, or only make comparisons among peacekeeping cases, they don't think about comparing peacekeeping cases to those where belligerents are left to their own devices. So no one was asking what is the "value-added" of this policy tool, does it actually make peace more likely to last? And if it does so, how does it do so? So I wanted to fill those gaps by answering those questions.
Q: What is your response to the critique that peacekeeping often becomes a political tool that is more about short-term stability than resolving longterm mistrust?
A: In some ways, this is a valid critique -- by making war less likely to resume, peacekeeping can take away the incentive for parties to do the hard work of resolving their fundamental differences. But in many cases, long-term reconciliation and the building of trust is impossible without short-term stability. If the war starts up again and again, the prospects for long-term resolution are even worse than if peacekeeping "freezes" the conflict. So while peacekeeping is not a perfect solution, it is often a lot better than the alternative.
Q: What are the most important policy lessons that emerge from the study?
A: The biggest one is simple -- peacekeeping is a very effective tool for managing conflict, it makes peace much more likely to last. And that means it is a tool worth investing in.
Another important lesson, that will come as more of a surprise to a lot of people who work on this topic, is that the more militarily robust peacekeeping missions, known as enforcement missions or "Chapter VII" missions in the UN lingo, are not necessarily more effective than smaller, less well-armed "consent-based" or "Chapter VI" missions. The reason for this is that most of the ways peacekeeping has a stabilizing effect are not military in nature, but have to do with political and economic leverage, or the ability of belligerents to signal their intentions to each other, or the ability of peacekeepers to manage and prevent accidents that might otherwise spiral out of control. This means that the recent emphasis on beefing up the military side of peacekeeping missions and making sure they have robust enforcement mandates may be misplaced. These beefier missions may be best in some situations, but they are expensive and it's often hard to get countries to contribute troops to them. So we shouldn't conclude that if we can't have one of these robust missions that we shouldn't have peacekeeping at all -- the more modest types of missions are surprisingly effective and we should continue to use them.
Q: What's up with the image on the cover of your book?
This is a picture of a former rebel at a meeting held by peacekeepers in Sierra Leone (one of the case studies covered in the book). The image was cropped a little closer than I would have liked, so it's hard to see the "blue helmets" in the background. But I chose the image because it puts the focus on the parties to the conflict (whom I refer to as the "peacekept" in the book) rather than the peacekeepers. Most of the work on this topic focuses on the peacekeepers -- their mandates, equipment, relationships between the field and headquarters, who contributes troops, etc. -- and almost ignores the fact that it is the rebel and government leaders that make decisions about going back to war or maintaining peace, so peacekeeping can only have an effect by influencing the decisions of the belligerents themselves. In my research for this project, I focus on the perspective of the belligerents, and I relied heavily on interviews with government and rebel leaders to assess whether and how peacekeeping works. Since that is one of the unique contributions of the book, I wanted the cover to emphasize it.
SOURCE: Bob Herbert in the NYT (8-19-08)
In a letter to his campaign manager, dated Oct. 26, 1904, Roosevelt said: “I must ask you to direct that the money be returned to them forthwith.” As Roosevelt saw it: “We cannot under any circumstances afford to take a contribution which can be even improperly construed as putting us under an improper obligation.”
That kind of thinking is long gone, from both parties. Barack Obama, as well as Senator McCain, has taken contributions from oil industry executives. But what is telling about this particular difference between Teddy Roosevelt and John McCain is that it is so illustrative of what Roosevelt was really about, and how fundamentally different that was from what Senator McCain and the latter-day Republican Party is about.
“The truth of the matter is that Roosevelt today would be on the left,” said Mr. Brinkley, who is writing a biography of the former president titled “The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt’s and the Crusade for America.”
Roosevelt believed passionately in regulating industry and curbing the excesses of the great corporations. He favored the imposition of an inheritance tax and fought his party’s increasing tendency to cater to the very wealthy. And, of course, he was a ferocious protector of the environment.
Roosevelt was known as the “trust-buster,” but it was in the area of environmental conservation that he really made his mark. Mr. Brinkley, in a draft preface to the biography, tells how a number of bird species in the U.S. were headed for extinction as the 20th century approached, in large part because of the popularity of feathered hats for women.
By 1886, when the Audubon Society was founded, more than five million birds a year were being slaughtered to satisfy the millinery trade. The feather boom was especially big in Florida. Egrets, herons — just piles and piles of birds were being destroyed, many of them by men with semiautomatic weapons....
According to Mr. Brinkley: “When writing or lecturing about American birds, Roosevelt often turned downright lyrical, sometimes achieving the level of song.”
The kicker to the story about the contribution from Standard Oil is that despite Roosevelt’s repeated orders, it may not have been returned. Roosevelt went to his grave believing that it had been, but Mr. Brinkley said a later investigation of the campaign’s finances left open the possibility that Roosevelt’s orders may not have been followed....
SOURCE: BBC (8-13-08)
Dr Dan Healey from Swansea University is hoping to show how doctors and medicine were integral to the labour camps from the 1930s to the 1950s.
The three-year project begins in October and will give Dr Dealey the chance to explore the camps' archives.
Around 20 million people passed through the camps and countless numbers died.
Dr Healey's project will be entitled Medicine in the Gulag Archipelago and will be carried out in collaboration with Russian academic Dr Kirill Rossianov.
The Gulag was the network of concentration camps, which were located in the most remote regions of the Soviet Union during the rule of Joseph Stalin, from 1929-1953....
SOURCE: Lee White at the website of the National Coalition for History (NCH) (8-8-08)
The three-year grants will be awarded on a competitive basis and the legislation authorizes the program beginning in fiscal year 2009 and for five successive fiscal years.
Funding can be used to:
design and implementation of programs of study, courses, lecture series, seminars, and symposia;
development, publication, and dissemination of instructional materials;
support for faculty teaching in undergraduate and, if applicable, graduate programs;
support for graduate and postgraduate fellowships, if applicable; or
teacher preparation initiatives that stress content mastery regarding traditional American history, free institutions, or Western civilization,
The funds may also be used to conduct outreach activities designed to ensure information developed under the program are widely disseminated.
In addition, funds may be used to support collaboration with entities such as–
local educational agencies, for the purpose of providing elementary and secondary school teachers an opportunity to enhance their knowledge of traditional American history, free institutions, or Western civilization; and
nonprofit organizations whose mission is consistent with the purpose of this section, such as academic organizations, museums, and libraries, for assistance in carrying out activities described under subsection (a);
Traditional American History is defined in the bill as “the significant constitutional, political, intellectual, economic, and foreign policy trends and issues that have shaped the course of American history; and the key episodes, turning points, and leading figures involved in the constitutional, political, intellectual, diplomatic, and economic history of the United States.”
Free Institutions is defined as “an institution that emerged out of Western civilization, such as democracy, constitutional government, individual rights, market economics, religious freedom and religious tolerance, and freedom of thought and inquiry.”
SOURCE: Email from Peter Holloran (8-9-08)
SOURCE: Notice of death by Sandi Cooper, his wife (8-1-08)
Husband, father, grandfather, teacher, respected scholar, activist against social and political injustice, died at home after numerous illnesses. Lover of all things Italian, he devoted his life to its history, culture, politics, beauties. U. S. Navy Signal Corps, 1944-1945. Professor of History at Wayne University, Middlebury College, Hunter College, Rutgers University and John Jay College - CUNY (1967-1991) where he served as Provost and Dean of Faculty (1969-1974) and helped build an institution to serve New Yorkers, to invent the emerging science of criminal justice and to integrate liberal education into the training of professionals. Mourned by wife, Sandi E. Cooper, daughters Lisa, Ann (Marcia Gallo) and Melani, (Angelo Manioudakis), grandchildren, Mena, Alex and Lena, countless friends and colleagues. Memorial to be announced. Contributions to appropriate social or political organizations.
SOURCE: Campus Watch (8-8-08)
Yet many of these Israeli academics have built their reputation on scholarship that is harshly critical not only of Israeli policy, but of Israel's very existence. Anti-Israel scholars who hail from Israel are cited favorably by the entire range of Israel's critics, from pro-Palestinian groups like PSM, the Committee to Stop Demolition of Houses in Palestine, the Committee to Stop Torture, and Breaking the Silence to Jewish anti-Zionist groups like the American Council for Judaism, from neo-Nazis to Islamists.
The international standing of such scholars received a boost in the mid-1980s with the rise of the so-called "new historians" in Israeli universities. These scholars sought to debunk what they claim is a distorted "Zionist narrative" in Israeli historiography. In practice, they twisted the history of Israel's rebirth by, among other tricks, dismissing the efforts of the Arab states to destroy the new-born Jewish state as a Zionist myth, and claiming that Israel is built on ethnic cleansing and brutality towards the Palestinians.
Given this hostility to Israel's very existence, Middle East studies departments in the United States are tempted to hire anti-Israeli Israelis: they inoculate the employer against charges of anti-Semitism while seemingly legitimizing their claims of ideological balance gained through presenting an Israeli viewpoint. All this is achieved without changing the radical, anti-Israel, Arabist prejudices of their departments.
This problem is noted by leading Middle East historian Efraim Karsh, who in his book Fabricating Israeli History observes that propaganda in the field of Middle East Studies has become the accepted norm. In other disciplines, this would have created a serious crisis of credibility. Yet, Karsh notes:
Not so in contemporary Middle East Studies. For such is the politicization of this field that the New Historiography's partisanship has been its entry ticket to the Arabist club and its attendant access to academic journals, respected publishing houses, and the mass media.
Today, these "new historians" teach at many North American and European universities. In practice, it ensures that students are taught an ahistorical, one-sided interpretation of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Some recent examples illustrate the problem:
Ilan Pappe, formerly of Haifa University and now with the University of Exeter in England, was one of the driving forces behind the academic boycott movement against Israeli academics that began in the United Kingdom. Pappe believes that Zionism is a genocidal, racialist movement. Here he describes the founding years of the Jewish state:
The number of Jews coming into the country increased by the day—although even at that point, during the 1930s, the Jews were just a quarter of the population, possessing 4 percent of the land. As resistance to colonialism strengthened, the Zionist leadership became convinced that only through a total expulsion of the Palestinians would they be able to create a state of their own. From its early inception and up to the 1930s, Zionist thinkers propagated the need to ethnically cleanse the indigenous population of Palestine if the dream of a Jewish state were to come true.
Neve Gordon of Ben Gurion University of the Negev was a visiting professor at the University of Michigan this academic year. He has been described by Alan Dershowitz as, "One of the world's most extreme anti-Israel academics, [Gordon] belongs to the class of rabidly anti-Israel far-left professors whose trademark is the delight they take in comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa and Nazi Germany." Gordon believes that:
Israel is not a democracy. One-third of the demos does not enjoy a series of basic rights which make up the pillars of liberal democracies. The state of Israel has existed for 55 years and has controlled the Palestinian population in the occupied territories without giving them political rights for two-thirds of this period. Accordingly, the notion that the occupation is provisional or temporary should, by now, be considered an illusion concealing the reality on the ground...
SOURCE: Jewish Telegraph Agency (8-11-08)
Toben is awaiting the verdict of a contempt-of-court hearing in the Federal Court in Adelaide brought by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. The hearing ended Aug. 7.
He pleaded not guilty this week to 28 charges alleging that he breached a 2002 Federal Court order to purge all Holocaust denial material from his institute Web site. The judge said at the time that Toben’s site “vilified Jewish people.”
Among the claims Toben makes on the site are gas chambers did not exist at Auschwitz and that the Holocaust was “a lie."
Jeremy Jones, a former president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, has been at legal loggerheads with Toben since he first accused him of breaching the Racial Discrimination Act in 1996.
An attorney for the council, Robin Margo, told the court on Aug. 7 that Toben should be fined or jailed for his continued defiance of the court order over the last six years. Toben spent seven months in jail in Germany in 1999 after being convicted of inciting racism.
SOURCE: Chicago Tribune (8-11-08)
"David McCullough speaks with gentle but powerful authority about our past," said Tribune Editor Gerould W. Kern. "With his unique voice, he has breathed new life into his subjects, revealing their humanity as well as their extraordinary impact on history."...
SOURCE: BBC News (8-3-08)
The author of The Gulag Archipelago and One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich, who returned to Russia in 1994, died of either a stroke or heart failure.
The Nobel laureate had suffered from high blood pressure in recent years.
After returning to Russia, Solzhenitsyn wrote several polemics on Russian history and identity.
SOURCE: Washington Post (8-2-08)
Mr. Troy joined the CIA in 1951 and was an analyst of Middle Eastern affairs. He spoke Arabic and traveled throughout Egypt and other African countries as well as Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey and Israel during his years with the agency.
He also compiled a history of the CIA's founding while working at the agency in the 1970s. After several years, he received clearance to publish the study, "Donovan and the CIA: A History of the Establishment of the Central Intelligence Agency," independently under his own name.
The book described the career of William J. "Wild Bill" Donovan, who founded the Office of Strategic Services during World War II, and how the OSS evolved into the CIA by 1947. Mr. Troy interviewed many figures from the agency's early days, and his work is considered a definitive record of the CIA's founding...
SOURCE: The Independent (8-2-08)
Born in London in 1935, and educated at Jesus College, Cambridge, Frankel completed his PhD in 1961 and moved to Israel in 1964 to teach at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He remained there until retirement, while also teaching (and holding, intermittently, a Chair) at University College London, and at Columbia, Stanford and elsewhere.
He came from a family of Jewish businessmen, public figures, professionals, artists, scholars and, in the not-too-distant past, rabbis, and he was raised in a traditional Jewish home with strong Zionist commitments. His devotion to Israel ran deep; it was wedded to an unyielding belief in liberalism, a crucial feature of Frankel's highly active political life as well as his scholarship, and he was a fixture of Israel's peace movement. He wrote often for intellectual magazines about Israeli affairs, and for years sat regularly at the Peace Now table outside one of Jerusalem's larger department stores, arguing patiently with passers-by...