This page includes, in addition to news about historians, news about political scientists, economists, law professors, and others who write about history. For a comprehensive list of historians' obituaries, go here.
SOURCE: http://www.al.com/news/birminghamnews (10-3-08)
Director Lonnie G. Bunch was in Birmingham on Thursday seeking ideas for the museum, which is scheduled to open in 2015 on the National Mall in Washington. Birmingham is one of several cities Bunch is visiting to help form the vision of the museum.
"None of us have a monopoly on wisdom," Bunch said in an interview. "I want people to help us think about what issues we want to explore."
Bunch, whose wife, Maria Marable Bunch, grew up in Birmingham, said that while he is interested in Alabama's civil rights-era history, he also wants to explore the role of black people in Birmingham's industrial history and the roots of the city's black middle class.
SOURCE: http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com (10-5-08)
"One reassuring thing is that both candidates realize that this is a country that needs to be healed," he said at Aurora University Tuesday. "Whoever is president is going to have to reach across the aisle."
Beschloss gave his comments during a presentation on presidential courage. He offered his opinion as to the vulnerabilities of both John McCain and Barack Obama.
Beschloss said McCain is in the same political party as an unpopular president who is fighting an unpopular war -- something that has hurt previous candidates.
In addition, although Beschloss hopes this is not a factor, his age could undercut his viability.
On the other side, Obama is vulnerable because he is the most liberal nominee since George McGovern, Beschloss said. In more recent times, Democratic presidents have been white Southern moderates.
Finally, Obama's race may come into play for some voters, although Beschloss hopes that isn't the case.
Most of Beschloss' presentation focused on his knowledge of past presidents, including Lyndon Johnson, Abraham Lincoln, Richard Nixon and Harry S. Truman.
He spoke about moments throughout the nation's history when a president has made courageous choices for the good of the country, even though they have been putting their careers, their popularity or even their lives at risk.
One example was Lincoln, who in 1864 was in danger of losing his bid for re-election because he had issued the Emancipation Proclamation a year earlier. He was encouraged to withdraw the proclamation in hopes of increasing his odds for re-election.
SOURCE: http://missoulian.com (10-2-08)
On the projector screen was a logo for the local burrito and taco joint, El Diablo.
The same logo was printed on the class syllabus for “The Americas: Conquest to Capitalism,” and a sticker for El Diablo was clipped to it.
“I've never seen anything like it,” said Sara Ford, a freshman in the class.
Kyle Volk, an assistant professor of history, told students the course was sponsored by El Diablo.
Volk brokered the deal with the burrito shop, which made a $250 donation to the University of Montana history department. In return, he handed out El Diablo stickers, mentioned the business in class and printed its logo on the course syllabus.
El Diablo has never donated money to the university before, Volk said. And he wanted to pilot a sponsorship program with a local business.
But UM administrators said such advertising contradicts school policy.
History department Chairman Richard Drake said he didn't know in-class advertising was against school rules, but said the idea was never to challenge the university's policies.
According to Drake, the advertising was intended to send a message.
“I regarded this idea as a witty way to draw attention to the plight of this history department,” he said.
Last June, the department ran out of paper and toner for the copying machine, Volk said. Professors had to ride out the rest of the semester without printing or making copies.
“We're struggling for basic everyday needs,” he said, because of the rising cost of school supplies.
SOURCE: New Criterion editorial (10-3-08)
Pick a topic, any topic, and you can be sure that Zinn is there with the standard-issue, off-the-rack left-wing cliché to explain it. Take the execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg in June 1953, for example. The Rosenbergs had been convicted of espionage, and not just your common or garden-variety espionage. They (Julius in particular) had funneled to the Soviets information critical to the construction of atomic weapons. According to Zinn, though, their conviction, and subsequent execution, was chiefly an illustration of right-wing, anti-Communist zealotry in the United States—"a demonstration to the people of the country … of what lay at the end of the line for those the government decided were traitors." In a later essay, Zinn asked whether the Rosenbergs had been executed "because they were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union"—or was it because "they were Communists" who had the misfortune to advertise their beliefs at a moment when "anti-Communist hysteria" was sweeping the country.
Zinn meant the questions to be rhetorical. Of course it was a matter of anti-Communist "hysteria." But the true answer, we now know, was the former.
We say "now," but in fact the Rosenbergs' guilt has been established "beyond a reasonable doubt" at least since Ronald Radosh and Joyce Milton published The Rosenberg File: A Search for the Truth in 1983. It has taken until now, however, for the news to penetrate the carapace of leftist denial. The Rosenbergs were spies for one of the most brutal tyrannies in history. Their treachery collaterally aided in blighting the lives of those nameless millions who suffered under the jackboot of Soviet Communism. Yet the Left adamantly denied the Rosenbergs' guilt almost as vociferously as they did Alger Hiss's. But just as it has been incontrovertibly demonstrated that Hiss was guilty of espionage, so it is with the Rosenbergs. Last month, Morton Sobell, co-defendent with the Rosenbergs, finally came clean at the age of 91. Sobell had been sentenced to thirty years in prison for his role in the case. He had always protested his innocence. Now, fifty years on, he finally acknowledged that he and Julius Rosenberg were both Soviet agents....
SOURCE: Daily Princetonian (10-1-08)
“I know that over the summer there was some internet speculation,” Manning said in an interview Monday, “but I’m actually very happy at Georgetown, and I’m planning on staying.”
Manning, who received her doctorate from Harvard in 2002, was dubbed a “rising star in the history of the Civil War” by The Boston Globe. In April 2007 her book “What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War” was met with rave reviews.
On Aug. 18, a blogger who calls himself Ambrose Hofstader Bierce III and aims to serve as a coagulator of the gossip of historians, posted a piece lamenting the University’s history department’s fall “onto troubled times.”
He attributed the fall to the departure or retirement of several prominent historians, including Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War expert James McPherson in 2004.
Bierce left his readers with the hint that “There are other plans afoot at Princeton this very moment, including ongoing efforts to replace the venerable McPherson.”
SOURCE: Martin E. Marty in the Chronicle of Higher Ed (10-3-08)
Now Noll has given us God and Race in American Politics: A Short History, a book not about the 2008 presidential election, but one that — surprisingly and profitably — tells us a lot about how we talk about God in politics, yesterday and today. As he does so often, Noll here writes serenely about volatile subjects, to inform a nation and provide perspective.
When I first began to write about religious history 50 years ago, fundamentalism, evangelicalism, and Pentecostalism were seen as fringe elements. As evangelicalism has since prospered, it has attracted first-rate scholars, many of them influential professors at first-rate universities and writers published by the most prestigious presses.
Despite its title, this book is not a broad view of race — American Indians and Asian-Americans, for instance, are not even mentioned — but only about African-Americans, who have always been on stage in the drama of race and politics. A quote from a character in the Walker Percy novel Love in the Ruins shockingly frames a question that haunts Noll's history: "Was it the nigger business from the beginning? What a bad joke: God saying, here it is, the new Eden, and it is yours because you're the apple of my eye. … And all you had to do was pass one little test, which was surely child's play for you had already passed the big one. One little test: Here's a helpless man in Africa, all you have to do is not violate him. That's all.
"One little test: You flunk!"
Noll's terse history is crammed with statistical data, legislative history, references to revealing events, and more critical comment than one expects in narrative histories. There are also jolting quotations to show how both supporters and opponents of slavery and segregation turned to biblical truth to justify their opinions, increasingly forging a shared, yet still different, evangelical tradition. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln noted that both sides "read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other"; so do preachers on all "sides" in Noll's story. But how they prayed and spoke differed....
SOURCE: Australian (9-29-08)
Award-winning historian Peter Cochrane is urging his colleagues to look to the narrative techniques of literature to recreate the past in a vivid and lively way.
Cochrane, an inaugural winner of the Prime Minister's Prize for Australian History, said historians should be able to cross freely into the territory of novelists and poets to use their techniques of plot, character, and imagination.
"We spend a great deal of our time on the intricacies of analysis, evidence evaluation and argument while we tend to neglect the literary side of history writing," he says in a speech prepared for this week's Australian History Teachers Association annual conference in Brisbane.
"This, I think, is an old, ingrained prejudice. Historians tend to see themselves as social scientists, as scholars whose job it is to 'write up' or report on their findings, rather than as writers whose job it is to create or imagine the past, to captivate anaudience.
"We should be crossing boundaries and borrowing what we can from fiction, or at least from fiction writers ... in terms of structuring and vivifying a story."
SOURCE: AFP (9-28-08)
"Police and interior security were given orders to do their utmost to arrest the culprits as soon as possible," he told journalists after historian Zeev Sternhell was wounded by a pipe bomb at his home in Jerusalem on Thursday.
"This appears to be the work of a clandestine group (from the extreme right)," Olmert said.
He said there was a "direct link" between the attack on Sternhell and the assassination of former premier Yitzhak Rabin, who was gunned down by a right-wing Jewish extremist in 1995 for his efforts to make peace with the Palestinians.
"An evil streak of radicalism, malice, hatred and disregard of state law is threatening Israeli democracy," he told a cabinet meeting.
The Maariv newspaper said that the attack on Sternhell was carried out by a clandestine right-wing group which has carried out four other attacks using the same methods and explosive devices.
SOURCE: http://news.uky.edu (9-29-08)
Following the keynote address by Governor Steve Beshear, the OAK and Acorn Awards were presented by Secretary of State Trey Grayson. The awards are sponsored by the Kentucky Advocates for Higher Education, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of postsecondary education in Kentucky.
The OAK Awards were inaugurated in 1987 to recognize outstanding alumni of Kentucky colleges and universities. Recipients of the OAK award hold an undergraduate degree from a public or independent Kentucky college or university, have achieved national stature and reputation in their chosen career and have exhibited a lifelong affection for, and attachment to, their alma mater and to Kentucky.
This year’s OAK winners are:
Harry B. Gray – Western Kentucky University
James C. Klotter – University of Kentucky
Johny B. Russell – Murray State University
Klotter is a professor of history at Georgetown College. A Lexington resident, Klotter has published more than 18 scholarly historical works about Kentucky history, including the award-winning textbook, "Faces of Kentucky," now studied by Kentucky fourth graders. His most recent work, "A Concise History of Kentucky," is acclaimed for making history accessible to adults as well. Klotter teaches all over the state and nation as a guest lecturer and has given over 700 public talks ranging from national professional groups such as the American Historical Association, to state groups such as Leadership Kentucky.
SOURCE: NYT (9-28-08)
His proud family sank into a poverty so profound that his grandmother starved to death rather than take welfare. His unemployed father sewed mailbags in a tiny kitchen — the same work inmates did in the local jail.
And Mr. Woodruff, who later became an eminent historian, was haunted until his death, on Tuesday, by the journey he took at 6 with his mother to the seaside resort of Blackpool. During the day, his mother would tell him to sit on a bench. From there he watched men, far better dressed than any he had known, enter the hotel. Some came out with his mother.
“You’re a grand lad,” some said, tossing him a coin or two. Billy Boy, as he was known, wondered why. And why did his mother jolt awake crying?
Almost eight decades later, Mr. Woodruff revisited these memories, or “ghosts,” he called them. He was by then a successful historian in the United States, but his late-in-life telling of the old tales in two best-selling books made him a celebrity in his native England and a living link to a vanished working-class Britain.