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: AHA Blog (12-30-09)
During the Annual Meeting, posts at AHA Today will cover meeting highlights, news, and perhaps even a few San Diego points of interest. Check each morning, Thursday through Sunday, to see a selective overview of sessions and events for the day.
Until the start of the meeting on Thursday, January 7th, blog posting on AHA Today will be either sporadic or put on hold. Until then, here are some links you might want to check out, whether you’ll be in attendance at the meeting, or not.
- Online Program of the 124th Annual Meeting – Peruse all of the sessions and events available at the meeting by visiting this highly searchable online version of the Program of the 124th Annual Meeting.
- Events of the AHA Working Group for Historical Perspectives on Same-Sex Marriage – Check out the sessions in this miniconference that explores histories of marriage and sexuality that range across historical time, geographic space, and thematic focus.
- Supplement to the 124th Annual Meeting – With this Supplement in hand, learn how to eat cheaply in San Diego, where to stop on the mission trail, what has changed in the Annual Meeting Program, and much more.
- Perspectives on History articles on the 124th Annual Meeting – All the general info, session highlights, San Diego history, and other 124th annual meeting articles included in Perspectives on History this year, conveniently collected in one place.
- Video: AHA Job Center How-To Guide – Spend a few minutes watching this video to get the ins and outs on the AHA’s Job Center.
- Precirculated Paper Sessions – Precirculated paper sessions are one of the ways the AHA attempts to increase audience participation and discussion at the Annual Meeting. These sessions are organized around presentations (papers, PowerPoint, text from online) and made available online for audience members to access and read before the Annual Meeting.
- Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel – Throughout the year, we have been communicating with members about a boycott underway at one of the Annual Meeting hotels, the Manchester Grand Hyatt, and how the AHA has been responding. Here is a communication to members from August that explains the facts of the boycott situation.
SOURCE: NYT (12-31-09)
But there was a major drawback, a new unpublished Army history of the war concludes. Because the Pentagon insisted on maintaining a “small footprint” in Afghanistan and because Iraq was drawing away resources, General Barno commanded fewer than 20,000 troops.
As a result, battalions with 800 soldiers were trying to secure provinces the size of Vermont. “Coalition forces remained thinly spread across Afghanistan,” the historians write. “Much of the country remained vulnerable to enemy forces increasingly willing to reassert their power.”
That early and undermanned effort to use counterinsurgency is one of several examples of how American forces, hamstrung by inadequate resources, missed opportunities to stabilize Afghanistan during the early years of the war, according to the history, “A Different Kind of War.”...
“A Different Kind of War,” which covers the period from October 2001 until September 2005, represents the first installment of the Army’s official history of the conflict. Written by a team of seven historians at the Army’s Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and based on open source material, it is scheduled to be published by spring.
The New York Times obtained a copy of the manuscript, which is still under review by current and former military officials.
Though other histories, including “In the Graveyard of Empires” by Seth G. Jones and “Descent Into Chaos” by Ahmed Rashid, cover similar territory, the manuscript of “A Different Kind of War” offers new details and is notable for carrying the imprimatur of the Army itself, which will use the history to train a new generation of officers.
The history, which has more than 400 pages, praises several innovations by the Pentagon, particularly the pairing of small Special Operations Forces teams with Afghan militias, which, backed by laser-guided weapons, drove the Taliban from power.
But, once the Taliban fell, the Pentagon often seemed ill-prepared and slow-footed in shifting from a purely military mission to a largely peacekeeping and nation-building one, fresh details in the history indicate....
SOURCE: DanielPipes.org (12-30-09)
In addition to the name, there are several reasons to think this is the butcher of Ft. Hood: He received the mailings for over half a year before his identity became notorious; he has not opened any e-mails in a while, presumably since he has been jailed; and a search for firstname.lastname@example.org on the internet finds this address associated with the Texas jihadi (for example, by the Northeast Intelligence Network)..
Comments: (1) I have never assumed that all the Middle East Forum's or my readers share our outlook. To the contrary, the lively debates carried on in the more than 100,000 published reader comments show that readers have all outlooks. Still, I never imagined that a future terrorist would subscribe himself to our writings.
(2) Why, I can't help but wonder, would Hasan have wanted to see the Middle East Forum's work? Opposition research? Or might he have been stalking us?
(3) This subscription gives new urgency to the concerns I addressed at "Am I Helping the Terrorist Enemy?" and I hereby rededicate myself to assuring that the Middle East Forum does not inadvertently provide guidance to the country's foes.
(4) On a sad note, this news brings to the mind that I learned just two months earlier, again while doing routine chores, that my articles were still being sent to the late Daniel Pearl's Wall Street Journal e-mail address, which had been initially subscribed before his murder nearly eight years ago.
SOURCE: http://www.stuff.co.nz (12-27-09)
The case comes less than two months after leading New Zealand writer Witi Ihimaera admitted his latest novel, The Trowenna Sea, contained plagiarised material, and vowed to buy back remaining copies of the book and republish it with full acknowledgments.
In the latest plagiarism row, Dr Danny Keenan – an associate professor of Maori Studies – is alleged to have copied from archaeology expert and historian Nigel Prickett without attribution in his book Wars Without End.
Sections from Prickett's 2002 book, Landscapes of Conflict: A Field Guide to the New Zealand Land Wars, appear in Wars Without End and are not referenced in the bibliography.
It is understood Prickett instructed lawyers to take Keenan's publisher, Penguin, to task over the matter. Penguin also published Ihimaera's book.
Penguin publishing director Geoff Walker refused to comment on the company's processes to ensure works were properly attributed.
"I can confirm that we withdrew Wars Without End by Danny Keenan... and just republished a revised version."...
SOURCE: New York Review of Books (1-14-10)
In effect, ALS constitutes progressive imprisonment without parole. First you lose the use of a digit or two; then a limb; then and almost inevitably, all four. The muscles of the torso decline into near torpor, a practical problem from the digestive point of view but also life-threatening, in that breathing becomes at first difficult and eventually impossible without external assistance in the form of a tube-and-pump apparatus. In the more extreme variants of the disease, associated with dysfunction of the upper motor neurons (the rest of the body is driven by the so-called lower motor neurons), swallowing, speaking, and even controlling the jaw and head become impossible. I do not (yet) suffer from this aspect of the disease, or else I could not dictate this text.
By my present stage of decline, I am thus effectively quadriplegic. With extraordinary effort I can move my right hand a little and can adduct my left arm some six inches across my chest. My legs, although they will lock when upright long enough to allow a nurse to transfer me from one chair to another, cannot bear my weight and only one of them has any autonomous movement left in it. Thus when legs or arms are set in a given position, there they remain until someone moves them for me. The same is true of my torso, with the result that backache from inertia and pressure is a chronic irritation. Having no use of my arms, I cannot scratch an itch, adjust my spectacles, remove food particles from my teeth, or anything else that—as a moment's reflection will confirm—we all do dozens of times a day. To say the least, I am utterly and completely dependent upon the kindness of strangers (and anyone else)....
SOURCE: http://www.dancohen.org (12-22-09)
Anyway, the digital sessions (hope to see you there):
SOURCE: AHA Blog (12-29-09)
SOURCE: National Coalition for History (12-23-09)
The Coalition is supported largely by the voluntary contributions of over 50 institutional supporters. However, the reality is that the vast majority of our organizational members are non-profits themselves and they have all faced their own financial challenges during the current recession. As a result, the NCH budget has also suffered this year.
We depend on our readers for a percentage of our budget. Often, it is your contributions that determine whether we end the fiscal year in the black. Today, we appeal to you, our readers, to give something back.
Visitors to the website and subscribers to our NCH Washington Update and RSS feed have instant access to our news stories as soon as they are posted. For example, when President Obama nominated David S. Ferriero to be Archivist of the United States in July, NCH subscribers were the first in the nation to receive the news. In fact, the Washington Post cited NCH as the source for the story.
The NCH Washington Update continues deliver to you (click to subscribe) free of charge – a wrap-up of news and information about what’s going on of interest to the history and archive community on Capitol Hill and within federal agencies. We are also accessible on History News Network.
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Historical and archival organizations that are not members of the National Coalition for History, but nevertheless benefit from the Washington Update and our other advocacy activities are urged to join the NCH by making a financial contribution.
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SOURCE: http://www.examiner.com (12-28-09)
While there are some who are oblivious to the new economy around them, those more directly effected believe that this is no ordinary recession. In some areas of the country, record unemployment has brought entire communities to their knees with images that make the Great Depression look like a picnic. Some estimates of the true unemployment rate for areas like Detroit is 50%. At the height of the Great Depression, it was only 23%.
Economist David Levy has created a name for the anomaly we are living in. He calls it the “New Abnormal.” At the heart of his theory is an America that will spend the next 10 years living in an era of chronically high unemployment and shrinking income.
Economic historian John Steel Gordon concurs with Levy’s prediction, "It will be the mother of all jobless recoveries."
And University of Texas historian, H.W. Brands believes, "There will be a continued hollowing-out of the middle class."
What does all of this mean?
It means that when we emerge from the deepest, most enduring recession we have seen since the 1930s, America will be a different place....
SOURCE: http://newsok.com (12-29-09)
Hoig was a member of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame and the Edmond Hall of Fame.
He wrote extensively about Western history, American Indian relations and the city of Edmond. His work has been recognized with many awards. This year, his book "The Chouteaus” was named a finalist in the nonfiction category of the Oklahoma Book Awards.
Hoig was born in Duncan and grew up in Gage. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II before attending Oklahoma State University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. He earned a master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Oklahoma.
He taught at the University of Central Oklahoma for 23 years and was named a professor emeritus of journalism.
SOURCE: AHA (12-29-09)
"Historical Perspectives on Same-Sex Marriage,"
Will be Highlight of American Historical Association Annual Meeting in San Diego January 7-10, 2010
"Marriage is so far from having been an institution, fixed by permanent and unalterable laws, that it has been continually varying in every period, and in every country."
- 18th Century author William Alexander
(Washington, DC – December 28, 2010) A unique 15-session miniconference addressing "Historical Perspectives on Same-Sex Marriage" will be a highlight of this year’s Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association (AHA) in San Diego, CA January 7-10. The miniconference sessions will involve some of the leading figures in historical research, such as Blanche Wiesen Cooke, John D’Emilio, Michael Grossberg, Ramón Gutiérrez, Alice Kessler Harris, Linda Kerber and many others, and will address a diverse range of topics related to the changing definition of marriage, domestic unions and family throughout history. The sessions are open to the public, and the AHA will publish their findings in 2010.
"One theme that emerges across this diverse range of miniconference panels is that marriage is not a static institution," said AHA President and Harvard University Professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. "The Puritans were actually marriage innovators, introducing marriage as a civil contract rather than a sacrament in the 17th Century, and permitting divorce. In this century, it was not until 1949 that the California State Supreme Court struck down racial restrictions on marriage in the state, and not until 1967 that the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated those restrictions for the country as a whole. We can argue about what marriage should be today…but we cannot argue that marriage has always been the same."
For more than a decade the issue of marriage equality and partnership recognition has been the subject of ongoing social and political debate both in the United States and overseas, with various courts, legislatures and ballot referenda taking different approaches and developing different responses to the question of what constitutes a "marriage." Differing civil and religious views of marriage and family will be addressed by leading scholars in this series of panels intended to bring historical perspectives to the discussion of marriage equality.
The miniconference was developed by the AHA Working Group for Historical Perspectives on Same-Sex Marriage. Among the issues to be addressed in the 15-session miniconference are:
Marriage politics in the 21st Century United States (Session 71, "Gay Marriage and Proposition 8: Reflections," Friday, January 8: 2:30-4:30 PM)
Perspectives of different groups who have been denied access to marriage, including gay and lesbian people, the disabled, racial groups and the poor (Session 106, "Access Denied: Comparative Biopolitical Perspectives on Marriage Restriction," Saturday, January 9: 9:00-11:00 AM)
How the issues of gay marriage and gays in the military have intertwined (Session 138, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Marry," Saturday, January 9: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM)
How social institutions, including governments, communities and churches have sought to influence, define and regulate inter-ethnic marriages (Session 174, "Inter-Ethnic Marriage in American Comparative Perspective," Saturday, January 9: 2:30 -4:30 PM)
Relationships between historical and legal arguments in legal cases addressing same-sex marriage. (Plenary Session, "Marriage on Trial: Historians and Lawyers in Same-Sex Marriage Cases," Saturday, January 9: 8:00-10:00 PM)
"Californians have been involved in an ongoing debate about marriage equality since the State Supreme Court granted, and Proposition 8 rescinded, the right to same-sex marriage," noted AHA Executive Director Arnita Jones. "AHA members wanted to contribute to this conversation by doing what historians do best—sharing research and perspectives on how these issues have evolved throughout history. With this year’s special miniconference, we hope to add the power of historical perspective to the global conversation on marriage equality."
"The Working Group for Historical Perspectives on Same-Sex Marriage seeks to set the issue in broad historical perspective: chronologically, geographically, and thematically," noted Working Group Chair and University of Southern California Professor of History and American Studies and Ethnicity Karen Halttunen. "Supporters of Proposition 8 argue that the initiative restored the historically consistent definition of marriage. This miniconference challenges this ill-informed idea by presenting a history that does justice to the complexity of human experience over time."
About the American Historical Association
The American Historical Association and its 14,000 members are dedicated to strengthening the practice and teaching of history by promoting historical studies, the collection and preservation of historical objects and the dissemination of historical research. This125-year-old nonprofit membership organization is the oldest and largest association for professional historians in the United States. AHA members include primary school teachers, academics at colleges and universities, graduate students, and historians in museums, libraries and archives. The AHA advocates for historians, fights to ensure academic freedom, monitors professional standards and spearheads essential research in the field.
The program of the 124th Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association is available at http://aha.confex.com/aha/2010/webprogram/start.html
For more information, please contact Mark Aurigemma at 212-600-1960 or email@example.com or Roberta Sklar at (917) 704-6358 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE: NYT (12-26-09)
One-legged Peter Stuyvesant statuette? Yes.
A mirror emblazoned with the logo of New Amsterdam beer? Absolutely.
These are office knickknacks that only a true connoisseur of Dutch Americana could love. And there surely is no one who loves Dutch Americana more than Charles T. Gehring.
How else to describe a man who has spent the past 35 years painstakingly translating 17th-century records that provide groundbreaking insight and renewed appreciation for New Netherland, the colony whose embrace of tolerance and passion for commerce sowed the seeds for New York’s ascendance as one of the world’s great cities.
Toiling from a cramped office in the New York State Library here, Mr. Gehring, as much as anyone, has shed light on New York’s long-neglected Dutch roots, which have been celebrated this year, the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s exploration of the river that bears his name....
SOURCE: David Walsh, Assistant Editor of HNN (12-24-09)
Protests by numerous history departments over the prominent support given to California’s Proposition 8 by the owner of the Manchester Grand Hyatt, one of the hotels where the meeting is to be headquartered, have prompted the AHA to sponsor a working group for “Historical Perspectives on Same-Sex Marriage.” This working group will explore recent scholarship on sexuality and marriage and will be running a series of threaded sessions throughout the convention. In keeping with the theme of “Oceans, Islands, Continents,” the working group is co-sponsored, along with the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History, the 2008 documentary An Island Calling, an exploration of the deeper issues surrounding the 2001 slaying of a prominent gay couple in Suva, Fiji.
As always, the AHA will be hosting a number of different sessions that place current events in an historical context. The inauguration of America’s first black president, coupled with the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, has spurred the formation of a panel chaired by UC-Berkeley’s David Hollinger to examine Barack Obama and the influence of various modes of twentieth century American history on his presidency and political thought. A roundtable discussion chaired by Michael A. Bernstein of Tulane University will also examine the legacy of the New Deal and its effect on Obama’s economic policies, the history of social legislation in America, and the Democratic Party’s complex relationship with foreign relations and national security.
The proliferation of new technologies has revolutionized both historical research and the teaching of history, and the AHA has formed several panels to address the ever-increasing digitization of the historical profession. Google’s controversial Google Books program will be the focus of the provocatively titled panel “Is Google Good for History?”
The AHA is not just the domain of academic historians, and there will be several panels at this year’s convention on history teaching in our nation’s high schools, and the relationship between academics and primary and secondary school teachers. The panel “Working Together: A Century of Collaboration between Classroom Teachers and University Professors to Improve History Teaching,” chaired by a high school teacher, will trace the origins of the separation between the university and the high school, and the developments within the past twenty-odd years to raise historical education standards in the United States.
HNN will have comprehensive coverage of these panels and many others, and will, of course, bring you the details of the AHA’s business and procedural meetings. Look for conference updates starting January 7.
SOURCE: Huffington Post (12-21-09)
Empire of Liberty is the title of Gordon Wood's magisterial new history of the early American republic, 1789 to 1815: boom and transformation on our shores, the rise and fall of Napoleon in the wider world. "Empire of Liberty," Jefferson's phrase, is also a neat capsule of the contradiction between a republic of free and equal mostly rural yeomen and a hegemonic global idea wrapped into the American flag. But Jefferson, the libertarian and slave-holder, was nothing if not paradoxical: he was a small-government man and a devotee of peace, but he would have been happy to see the French Revolution invade England, end monarchy and free the world.
CL: Gordon Wood, if there's a connection to be made across more than two centuries to the "realism" and "idealism" of President Obama's peace-prize speech, you're the man to make it.
GW: If we can talk about thise historical characters having present-day relevance, which Americans like to do, which is strange itself. People ask me, what would George Washington think of the invasion of Iraq! ... Hamilton would think it was too Jeffersonian. In the sense that he's already intending to pull out, he's really making that promise to cover his base, his democratic base, and that his intentions in Afghanistan are essentially to get out in the best way possible, without creating too many political problems for himself. I think Hamilton would take that rather cynical view of what Obama is doing. Jefferson I think would believe that we should avoid war at all costs and I think he would be in favor of getting out.
CL: Your book underlines for me what seems to me the main, if largely unspoken tension in our policy and politics today, which is the difference between the republic that the founders put together in Philadelphia ("if you can keep it," Ben Franklin said) and a notion of an ambitious world empire.
GW: Well I think obviously Hamilton would be most pleased with the modern America: huge beurocracy. He would love the pentagon, the CIA, all of the million plus men and women under arms. This was what he dreamed of : that we would be a great power. Jefferson would be appalled by the extent of Presidential power for example, and just general Federal governmental power would appall him. But I think he would also believe that we have tried to maintain our sense of ourselves as being the spokesmen for democracy in the world, and that's been an important part of our history. The critics of Bush were appalled not so much by the use of troops, but it was the torture, it was the brutality, the un-American aspects of the War on Terror that bothered a lot of people. Jefferson would have been on that side.
Idealism comes out of the Jeffersonian tradition. We're full of paradoxes. Jefferson himself is the greatest paradox in American history: that our supreme spokesman for democracy should be a shaveholding aristocrat has to be ironic. And he is a spokesman for democracy. He did believe at heart that every person is the same. Not just that people are created equal -- everyone can belive that, and everyone did in the 18th century -- but Jefferson believed that despite the inequalities you could see verywhere in our society, beneath the surface, at bottom, we were all the same. And he included slaves in this. That makes him a spokesman for democracy.
I think Obama had a little bit of Hamilton and a little bit of Jefferson in that speech. He's a peacenik, but he's also a realist in that speech. That is, he says: "there's evil in the world and war comes out of that evil." Jefferson would not have believed that. Jefferson was devoted to the idea that we could eliminate war, we could eliminate the use of military force. Hamilton, on the other hand, is the realist. He says "no, war is not caused by monarchies. War is caused by human nature. There are evil people." So there was a little bit of each -- a little Hamilton, a little Jefferson, a little realism, a little idealism -- in that Nobel Prize speech.
SOURCE: http://www.radiotelecomando.org (12-22-09)
“Let me be clear: I don’t have a cloak, a pointy hat and a magic wand,” Bellini jokes – and he absolutely can’t tell you who’s going to win the 3.30 at Ascot. What he can do, however, is draw upon a career spanning decades of research and analysis, networking and award-winning creative endeavours to produce assessments of the likely state of the future which are as informed, and as entertaining, as any you’ll encounter.
When SSON meets Bellini, the good doctor – whose PhD “in military stuff” came from the London School of Economics – has just finished presenting to the 8th Annual Shared Services Week in Sitges, near Barcelona. His talk – the first plenary of the event – has ranged from early corporate history, via demographic change in modern Europe, through ‘Gutenberg 2.0’, to the rise of a new wave of consumers and the hiring challenges posed by the emergence of ‘Generation C’– and he’s scattered some pretty brain-bending statistics along the way.
For example, those of us in the audience now know that by 2040, if current trends are maintained, Italy will have 20 million fewer inhabitants; that “in 1965 there were 10,000 people for every computer, but by 2015 there will be 10,000 connected devices for every person”; that “over 50 per cent of people on the planet have never made a phone call”; that by 2020 Japan will be the oldest society in the developed world, and the USA will be the youngest.
It’s from a vast archive of such data, analysed through methods many years in the perfecting, that Bellini is able to create the “works of informed imagination” that make up his futurological output. Facts and figures, he says, are the currency of futurology and he declares that, magpie-like, he “will steal anything without remorse” which will contribute to his understanding of the myriad forces shaping the times to come.
This understanding has developed over the course of a distinguished and varied career which has seen Bellini finding success as an academic, a think-tank analyst, a reporter and TV presenter, an author, a narrator and, of course, a public speaker. If, however, this suggests chameleonic professional tendencies to accompany his corvine approach to data, Bellini’s wry grin, penetrating stare and uncompromising wit mark him out as resolutely human – as does his unwillingness to pander to social niceties: his latest book, tackling corporate deceit and the pervasiveness of misrepresentation in the business world, is appropriately titled The Bullshit Factor.
Bellini moved from university (St John’s College, Cambridge) into advertising, among other roles – but it was in Paris as the first British member of the highly regarded Hudson Institute (co-founded by Bellini’s early mentor, nuclear strategist Herman Kahn) where he won his spurs, and plaudits, with a series of predictions for major European economies, starting with France. He and his colleagues were a long way ahead of the curve in foreseeing the French economic revival of the 1970s and ‘80s, and their success did not go unnoticed; brought in by the BBC as a consultant on a similar predictive piece about the British economy, Bellini ended up fronting the program as lead reporter. Perhaps unpredictably – even for this most promising of seers – television, and a modicum of fame, had come knocking.
Although he discusses his successes with disarming humility, Bellini’s career in television left him much to crow about: seven years as a studio presenter with Sky News and Financial Times Television; stints presenting Panorama, Newsnight and The Money Programme; and a host of awards including the Prince Rainier II Prize at the Monte Carlo International TV festival and a special award given by the United Nations for his work on the epic documentary series The Nuclear Age – as well as rather less glittering roles such as presenting a TV version of Cluedo. Meanwhile he continued to predict, to analyse – and to publish, with a series of well-received tomes reaching the shelves from the 1980s onwards.
By now Bellini had established a reputation as one of the most perceptive and intuitive pundits on the current affairs circuit, and the step to public speaking to compliment his flourishing literary career was a logical one. His natural flair for business (he has served in executive positions for numerous companies) and for communications, combined with his specific spheres of interest, mean that – although he’s just as happy to present to the likes of Greenpeace “for a cup of tea”- his natural constituency consists of relatively high-powered businessfolk with a vested interest in understanding the foundations of the future (exactly the kind of people attending Shared Services Week, in fact)....
SOURCE: Secrecy News (12-22-09)
The FRUS series is supposed to provide “comprehensive documentation of the major foreign policy decisions and actions of the United States Government” and it must must be “thorough, accurate, and reliable.” As such, it is a potentially vital tool for advancing declassification of significant historical records and assuring government accountability, at least over the long run.
Publication of FRUS is not optional. By statute, “The Secretary of State shall ensure that the FRUS series shall be published not more than 30 years after the events recorded.” But that 30 year goal, which has rarely if ever been met, is now receding further and further from realization, leaving the Secretary of State in violation of the law.
State Department spokesman Ian C. Kelly did not respond to a request for comment on the Department’s continuing violation of the law on FRUS publication.
But William B. McAllister, the Acting General Editor of FRUS, expressed a hopeful view of the future despite recent turmoil, which included the last-minute withdrawal of person who was to become the new FRUS General Editor. He said that a third FRUS volume on “Foreign Economic Policy, 1973-1976″ would appear before the end of the year, and at least one other in January 2010.
Likewise, Dr. Robert McMahon, who chairs the State Department’s Historical Advisory Committee, said “We continue to be optimistic about publication prospects for FRUS volumes in the near future despite the disappointing number of volumes that came out this year. There are four Vietnam volumes alone that should be published in 2010.”
“We anticipate being able to fill all [employment] vacancies in 2010, many of them rather early in the year,” Dr. McAllister wrote in an email message. “The Office of the Historian is … well on its way to resolving the multiple infrastructure, document handling, and archival access issues that impact FRUS production…. The Office of the Historian has launched several initiatives to address systemic impediments that slow the declassification process.” And over time, “we anticipate returning to a more typical production cycle.” But a typical production cycle has never yet meant regular compliance with the mandatory 30 year FRUS publication requirement.
The latest FRUS volume on “Global Issues, 1973-1976″ has a number of interesting features and a few peculiarities. Oddly, all of the documents were marked as declassified in December 2008, so this collection was apparently ready for publication online a year ago. And unlike other contemporaneous FRUS volumes, audio tapes are not listed as a source and were apparently not used in the collection. No explanation for this omission was offered.
Among the noteworthy records in the collection is a 1976 intelligence assessment (pdf) of the likelihood of terrorist acquisition of nuclear weapons, which is deemed “unlikely” in the following year or two. In most respects, the assessment is no longer current or relevant, but it still includes some remarkable observations. Thus, it notes that “The locations of most U.S. [nuclear weapons ] storage sites abroad are locally known and could be ascertained by any terrorist group with a moderately good intelligence potential. Detailed intelligence about the site could be fairly readily acquired in many cases….” Despite this apparent fact, which is even more likely to be true today, the Department of Defense still insists that such information is classified. By doing so, it disrupts routine declassification activities, forcing reviewers to search for and remove non-sensitive but technically classified information.
See “The Likelihood of the Acquisition of Nuclear Weapons by Foreign Terrorist Groups for Use Against the United States,” United States Intelligence Board, Interagency Intelligence Memorandum, 8 January 1976.
Another 1976 document on Naming the Space Shuttle sought President Ford’s approval of a request from hundreds of thousands of “Star Trek” fans that the first NASA space shuttle be named “Enterprise.” Most of the White House staff, including Brent Scowcroft and others, concurred. But presidential counselor Robert T. Hartmann contended that Enterprise is “an especially hallowed Naval name… I think the Navy should keep it.” Presidential counselor John O. Marsh approved the choice of the name, but said he was “not enthusiastic about the [Star Trek] rationale for the selection,” which he disdained as “appealing to a TV fad.” President Ford initialed his approval of the proposal.
As it turns out, it seems that the Star Trek “fad” is going to outlast the space shuttle itself.
SOURCE: MWC News (12-20-09)
Commenting to the BBC on the theft of the Auschwitz sign, Rabbi Andrew Baker, the Director of the International Jewish Affairs of the rabid Zionist American Jewish Committee maintained that there should be no replicas to substitute the entrance monument. “There can be no copies or reproductions; visitors must see only what was real. In that way they will be bear witness to the very objects and structures which in turn remain the mute eyewitness to what happened there”.
Rabbi Baker wants the “real thing”. However, every person who happens to be brave enough to step into the muddy topic known as Holocaust history, is quick to discover the embarrassing fact that lies at the heart of the Auschwitz museum experience: the gas chamber on display is no less than a reconstruction built after the war by the soviets. The original gas chambers were destroyed by the Germans in October 1944 just before their evacuation.
The following extract is taken from an ultra kosher Zionist Holocaust memorial site:
“In late 1944 (17 October 1944), the SS, on orders from Berlin, dynamited all the still functioning gas chambers to destroy any evidence of the killing that had happened there.”
Here is an attempt by, again, another ultra kosher Zionist memorial site to deal with the fact that Auschwitz Crematorium 1 is a reconstruction.
“After the war, when the Main Camp was turned into a museum, the authorities felt that a crematorium was required at the end of the memorial journey for visitors. Since the four cremas/gas chambers where most of the mass murder of the Jews took place lay in Birkenau two miles away, they couldn't be used for that purpose…..The chimney, the gas chamber room, the doors, and four of the openings in the roof which had been used to pour in the Zyklon-B were restored. Two of the three ovens were rebuilt. The ovens were not hooked up to the chimney as it was not an operating facility.”
The Memorial site concludes, “Crema 1 in Auschwitz I (the Main Camp) is not a "fake" but a restored space meant to be a memorial and symbolic representation of all the gas chambers and crematoria in the Auschwitz complex.”
Some historians debate as to the original function of the ruined gas chambers. I would save myself from commenting on the subject. First, I am not a historian. Second, I am far more concerned by the systematic destruction of the Palestinian people by those who survived the Holocaust. This continuous shoa that is curried out by the Israelis, in the name of Jewish suffering, is taking place right in front of our eyes.
Yet, one thing is clear beyond doubt. For the last six decades tourists have been visiting a gas chamber that was built after the war by the Soviets. As far as the Auschwitz museum is concerned, people haven’t been witnessing the ‘real thing’.
Accordingly, I would advise Rabbi Baker to revise his demand. The Auschwitz Museum experience is founded on a “copy” and a “replica” or in other words “a restored space meant to be a memorial and symbolic representation”.
For the last three decades Auschwitz has been operating as a tourist resort. It has its Holiday Tourist Guide, ‘near by’ hotels, Hot Dog stand, recommended restaurants and so on. Considering Auschwitz has achieved the status of a successful tourist attraction, I would regard the theft of the entrance monument as a major opportunity. I suggest the current staff at Auschwitz prepare for a mass of tourists to come. I propose creating many more gate facilities decorated with entrance monuments. In the spirit of multiculturalism and global markets, each entrance can be accompanied by a real McDonalds for the American crowd, a genuine pub for the Brits, an authentic Nandos for chicken lovers and Maoz Falafel for the Israeli youngsters who are sent year after year to brew in Jewish suffering just before they join the IDF. It is in Auschwitz where young Israelis fuel themselves with enough hatred so they can punish the Palestinians for crimes committed by Europeans.
SOURCE: Palestine Herald (12-15-09)
For years Bishop was the face of historical research inside the county, as she was tireless in her efforts to document the area’s deep roots.
“All of Houston County is saddened by the death of Miss Eliza Bishop,” Houston County Judge Lonnie Hunt said. “We lost a true Texas treasure. In the past 89 years no other person has done more than Eliza Bishop to preserve and promote the history of her native Houston County.”
Of the 261 official Texas historical markers inside the county, Hunt said Bishop was responsible for most. She also authored several books, including “The History of Houston County, Texas.”
Some of the first American settlers came to Houston County around present day Augusta in 1821. Shirley Cutler, of Augusta, who has worked and researched to get historical markers for the Augusta Cemetery and the Augusta Union Church, worked closely with Bishop over the years to document the community’s early history.
“She was a real valuable source of information,” Cutler said of Bishop. “She did more for the historical part of the county than anybody — she just lived history.”
Through her work, Bishop hoped to preserve the county’s history of others.
“She was proud of her county and she wanted the people to uphold its history,” Cutler said. “She would help people in any way she could. She helped us get our (Family) Land Heritage (registry).”
Along with her work on the county’s historical commission, Bishop also worked for the Houston Post; served as president of the Texas Press Women and was organizing president and charter member of the David Crockett Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. She also served as a news commentator for a time at Palestine’s KNET radio station.
“Hers was a life devoted to others,” Hunt noted. “Through her many contributions and accomplishments, she herself became a great historical figure in her own time.”
SOURCE: Victoria Bynum at the Renegade South blog (12-10-09)
Why, he even called me a gadfly–again. His definition: one who ”builds her reputation by constantly annoying, irritating, or slandering others.” Well, I prefer Socrates’ description of the gadfly’s role: ”to sting people and whip them into a fury, all in the service of truth.” Under those terms, I plead guilty, having criticized the sloppiness of his research and the distortions of his arguments. That’s what reviewers (and gadflies) are expected to do, when warranted, in our profession.
Professor Stauffer claims that he and Sally Jenkins have in turn treated my work with respect. Go back and listen to you and your co-author’s remarks about me in your interviews last May and June with Mike Noirot of This Mighty Scourge, and on NPR’s Diane Rehm show. Who are you kidding?
Aside from gadfly, what I really am is a history professor who has taught at the same university (in that “small Texas town” he sneeringly mentions) for almost 24 years; a historian who has written three books published by the University of North Carolina Press, a premier academic press.
I could say more about my credentials, but then I’d begin to sound like Stauffer, who ritualistically trots his out. So let’s get to the point. Mr. Stauffer says that I have slandered him. As he kindly explains for us, that means “saying something false or malicious that damages somebody’s reputation.” He then proceeds to attribute words to me that I have never uttered (how’s that for slander?)! Such as that I “dismissed” him and Ms Jenkins as “Yankees and carpetbaggers.” Mr. Stauffer is not only confused, he repeats himself a lot. You can read my response to these and other phony charges by clicking here.
There is a new charge against me. Stauffer now accuses me of having launched a “blitzkreig” against his and Jenkins’s work on the Internet. Gee, all I did was review their book. They were the ones who asked Kevin Levin of Civil War Memory to let them post a response to that 3-part review, and Kevin graciously did just that. An internet debate followed in which the authors and I, and anyone else who cared to, participated.
So, what’s all this talk about me refusing to debate? Seems to me we’ve already had that debate. Virtually every charge that Stauffer raises anew in his ReView column I have answered either on Renegade South or Civil War Memory. In any case, Mr. Stauffer has never extended an invitation, as he claims, to debate me face-to-face. Now, Mark Thornton, the editor of the Jones County ReView, did once extend such an invitation–Oh, my, has Mr. Stauffer appropriated Mr. Thornton’s idea as his own? Tsk, tsk, imagine that.
Having misrepresented not just the history of Jones County, but also the history of the present debate, Stauffer goes on to confidently proclaim my book, Free State of Jones, a failure. Most remarkable are his standards for that judgment: sales figures and fame. You see, my university press book hasn’t sold nearly the copies that his mass-produced, media-hyped Doubleday version has.
Here I was, thinking it was great that people from around the United States continue to contact me eight years after Free State of Jones was published. But, no, Stauffer assures us that my book was “virtually unknown outside of Jones County, the Texas town where she teaches, and a community of some 50 scholars who write on Southern Unionists.” Why, he says, I was just a poor little nobody who had never even had my name in the New York Times (just imagine!) before he and Ms. Jenkins opened the door to fame and fortune for me. Silly me for thinking that fame and fortune have about as much to do with high-quality scholarship and history as pop stardom does with perfect pitch. Mr. Stauffer can explain that, too: he says I simply don’t understand his book’s ”genre.”
Despite Professor Stauffer’s tactics, which represent the worst in academic class snobbery, one might expect that he, an academic himself, would understand that the vast majority of historians don’t spend years in graduate school because they hope to write bestsellers that will entertain the masses.
Which reminds me. Years ago, when I was in the final years of my Ph D work at the University of California, San Diego, I proudly wore a shirt sold at conferences by Radical History Review. The logo on the front featured Karl Marx holding a copy of the Review and the words “Earn Big Money; Become a Historian.” My fellow graduate students and I loved that shirt–it epitomized the passion we felt for the research and writing of history. No, we were not in it for the money.
(To see a copy of the t-shirt logo, visit Radical History Review and scroll to the bottom of their page. You might even want to order one for yourself!)
The same, evidently, can’t be said for all history professors. For some, it is, rather, all about the money.
It all comes down to this: John Stauffer and I have very different approaches to the profession of history, and I have a very different personal story from his, one that he apparently can’t fathom from his lofty Harvard perch. You see, I earned a PhD the hard way–as a divorced mother of two children and the daughter of parents who, through no fault of their own, never graduated from high school. It may surprise Mr. Stauffer to learn that I never aspired to be either an Ivy League professor or a bestselling author; that my hard-won goals were to write honest, deeply-researched histories about ordinary people of the past who acted in extraordinary ways, and to teach students from backgrounds similar to mine that intellectuals are not confined to elite institutions.
Mr. Stauffer, in contrast, evidently loves to write about poor, downtrodden folks from the past, yet exhibits contempt for present-day renegades who have beat the odds, achieved success on their own terms, and have the gall to proclaim a flawed book just that–no matter who wrote it.
Why, Mr. Stauffer, you’re all lit up like a Christmas tree, and all because of the words of this little old Texas gadfly.
With the sting of truth,
SOURCE: Cynthia L. Haven in the Stanford News (12-17-09)
Voltaire's life was superbly successful – but it was a life with sorrows, too. Voltaire’s famously acerbic tongue caused his banishment on more than one occasion.
"His whole life, in a way, was an effort to get back to Paris," said Dan Edelstein, assistant professor of French. The French Enlightenment's leading philosophe eventually achieved a pyrrhic victory, returning to Paris a few months before his death in 1778.
So what does this correspondence have to do with the colorful images, lines and maps on the computer screen of the" collaboration room" in the Humanities Center?
Edelstein, principal investigator for"Mapping the Republic of Letters" with history Professor Paula Findlen, has mapped thousands of letters that were exchanged during the period of the Enlightenment to uncover hidden truths about the"Republic of Letters." The latter is"a shorthand that scholars use to refer to writers and philosophers and clergymen and other early modern intellectuals who corresponded across Europe and even across the world," said Edelstein.
On the computer screen, a map of Voltaire's correspondence shows a complex geometry of red lines to major European cities – but the heavy yellow line, showing the most frequent correspondence – connects directly to the heart: Paris.
Dan Edelstein, Nicole Coleman and Paula Findlen have mapped thousands of pieces of correspondence for the Republic of Letters project.
The"Republic of Letters" project attracted a three-year Stanford Presidential Fund grant in 2008, which awarded the project $60,000 a year, and earlier this month received $99,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Providing tools for scholars
"With this grant, we'll be able to pull out significant data" that will"provide tools for scholars and the questions they want to ask," said Nicole Coleman, the academic technology specialist for the Humanities Center and"technical lead" for the project. She compares the three-year project to"standing up on a high mountaintop and seeing broad patterns."
According to Edelstein,"We tend to think of networks as a modern invention, something that only emerged in the Age of Information. In fact, going all the way back to the Renaissance, scholars have established themselves into networks in order to receive the latest news, find out the latest discoveries and circulate the ideas of others."
"We've known about these correspondences for a long time – some of them have been published – but no one has been able to piece together how these individual networks fit into a complete whole, something we call the Republic of Letters."
There have been surprises. For example, although Voltaire admired England for its tolerance, freedom and political institutions, surprisingly few letters actually went to England. Was England more a mystique than a reality?
"There are these mythical values attributed to certain places like England, but then when you look at what's really happening and what ideas are circulating – it's nothing like what we thought it was," said Edelstein.
Insights at a glance
"While you could have teased that out of the 20 volumes of Voltaire's correspondence," with GIS (geographical information system) mapping technology, you can see it at one glance.
"You immediately see that he is not corresponding with many people in England, not that many in Italy, and almost no one in Holland," said Edelstein."This really reconfigures the map of Enlightenment Europe."
Compare Voltaire's efforts, for example, to those of the polymath Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher a century earlier (the project collects letters from the late Renaissance, as well as the Enlightenment). Findlen has described the early scientist as"the first scholar with a global reputation." His correspondence reached to China, India and the Americas.
The Republic of Letters"was also a remarkable institution because it was the first kind of peer review," said Edelstein. "These scholars were discussing each other's work, they were evaluating each other's methodologies. They were able to produce scholarship that met the highest standards of excellence. They were constantly encouraging each other."
"This was a kind of separate state, a republic that had its own laws, its own governance. It was not a monarchy, but represented a kind of ideal, a Platonic city for intellectuals, except that it stretched across cities, even continents."
The project began at a Stanford conference in 2007, where a group of scholars, including Edelstein, discussed their inability to get the"big picture" of the Republic of Letters. Jeff Heer, an assistant professor of computer science, produced a visualization prototype with his class. Oxford supplied the metadata for about 50,000 letters, allowing the project to go"beyond any of our expectations," said Edelstein.
The project is currently negotiating to receive more data from other European sources. It has all Benjamin Franklin's correspondence, thanks to the Packard Humanities Project.
Caroline Winterer, an associate professor of history, said the project has allowed researchers to think about people like Voltaire, Kircher and Franklin"in the same historical space."
Raising new questions
"We can begin to ask questions about them that were not necessarily apparent before," she said.
For example,"when you have a rich, dense and geographically expansive correspondence network," what exactly puts you at the hub?
In other words, are you the leading light because you are a great thinker with provocative ideas? Or are you a good patron who can bring people together? Or is it that"you have goodies to give?"
Surprisingly, said Winterer, Franklin's chief attribute appears to have been that he had goodies to give. Although he was a notable patron and renowned as an ideas man,"there were things he could do for people – like helping Americans in Europe with the smallest kinds of things."
"All these things generate paperwork," said Winterer – that is, much of Franklin's correspondence had to deal with these utilitarian, often financial, matters.
For scholars, it means"we're really filling out our picture of the way the Republic of Letters really worked." For a Franklin scholar, such as Winterer, it's a bonanza.
"We all get excited about possibilities we're seeing in other people's networks," she said."These kinds of collaborative activities have opened up new worlds for us."
SOURCE: Juan Cole iPhone App (12-19-09)
SOURCE: Lee White at the website of the National Coalition for History (NCH) (12-18-09)
As introduced by Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE), S. 2872 would have increased the NHPRC’s authorized spending level by $500,000 each year beginning at $13 million in fiscal year (FY) 2010 and ending at $15 million in FY 2014. However, when the bill was brought up for consideration before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Ranking Republican Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) balked at the proposed increase.
Senator Collins cited the fact that the NHPRC’s grant funding level had increased over the past four fiscal years from $5.4 million in fiscal year 2007 to $13 million in FY 10. Collins noted that the Bush administration had tried to eliminate the program, and called the proposed increase “fiscally irresponsible.” Senator Carper’s offered to compromise at a flat $13 million increase for five years. However, Senator Collins refused to yield and the bill as adopted keeps the NHPRC authorization level at $10 million from FY 10—FY 14.
Notwithstanding Senator Collins’s distorted use of the facts, the truth is that despite the increased appropriations over the past three fiscal years, the NHPRC has been woefully underfunded for decades. The NHPRC’s authorization level has been $10 million or less since 1991. Only three times in nearly 20 years has the NHPRC received an amount equal to or more than its authorized level. In addition, $4.5 million of NHPRC funding in FY 10 is earmarked for the project to make the papers of the Founding Fathers available on-line. So in reality, the amount that the NHPRC has to fund its traditional grants is actually lower than last year.
The bill as introduced also would have eliminated the current 4 percent cap on the amount of money the archivist may deposit into the Records Center Revolving Fund each year. NARA charges a fee to other federal agencies for storing their records in their regional archives facilities. NARA uses the money mainly for capital costs and renovations to maintain its facilities. Senator Carper stated that cap forced NARA to seek earmarks in appropriations bills for major renovations, and removing the cap would eliminate the need for such earmarks.
Senator Collins once again objected, arguing against removing the cap. She agreed to a compromise with Senator Carper to increase the cap to 10 percent rather than eliminate it. The Committee then agreed to the amended version of the bill by voice vote.
Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) urges Sens. Collins and Carper to continue to work out their differences before the bill comes to the floor for a vote. So the hope is that the spending level will be increased before consideration by the Senate.
Legislation (H.R. 1556) to reauthorize the NHPRC was introduced in the House by Representative Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO) earlier this year. That bill would reauthorize the NHPRC at an annual level of $20 million per-fiscal year for five years running from 2010-14.
NCH supports the proposed funding level in H.R. 1556.
SOURCE: Jamie Glazov interview with Victor Davis Hanson at Frontpagemag.com (12-31-69)
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and historian at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.
FP: Victor Hanson, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Hanson: Glad to be here again.
FP: Sarah Palin is, clearly, carving out a national presence right now. It’s not just the appeal of her book, but also her outspokenness on the Copenhagen conference and other issues. What do you think she might be up to? And what is she tapping into? What are her possibilities?
Hanson: I think she taps into a current of populist unhappiness in the country with Washington insiders, Big Money, and condescending elites in the media and popular culture. The Wasilla mom of five, married to the snow-mobile champ, is simply the antithesis of all that. She senses the general disgust with an insider class that has nearly bankrupted the country through insane federal spending and equally insane financial speculation. She resonates in this regard mostly through an authentic middle-class upbringing, the real-world living of Alaska, natural intelligence, spunk and drive that sent one from the Wasilla city-council to the governorship of Alaska—and common sense answers like less government, lower taxes, more self-reliance, and national confidence.
Her can-do “let’s develop our own energy and spend no more than we earn” creed has a reassurance in these days. People root for her. The Ivy-Leaguers in government, whether the lawyer Obama or the economist Summers, haven’t exactly wowed the public with their studied brilliance so far.
Palin feels at ease with Middle America, and in a strange way is the antithesis to Barack Obama. Both are young, and charismatic, and appeal to populist constituencies. But whereas Obama came out of a Honolulu prep school and elite Ivy League hot-house, and had to acquire, quite artificially, his street credentials at the foot of Rev. Wright and in the Chicago scratch-back world of Valerie Jarrett and Mayor Daley, Palin was a true product of the working class and took on rather than swam into the status quo political structure.
That fact was sadly lost in 2008, but it is starting to ring true as her popularity rises and Obama’s declines. Remember, though, these are mostly perceptions still, and Palin will have to give long interviews, do debates, lecture, write, and show a public grasp of the issues in the way that earlier charismatic, non-career politicians like Eisenhower and Reagan could—in contrast to flash in the pans like a Wesley Clark. For 2008 and much of 2009 the left and the media successfully caricatured her as a creationist, white-supremacist, Christianist nut, but that demonization is wearing off. Quite simply, the more the public sees her, the more it likes her—and that’s not true of most politicians like a Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid—or Barack Obama.
FP: Can you expand a bit on what is it that the liberal-Left hates so much about Palin?
Hanson: Well, well, let us count the ways:
1) Feminists resent her stance on abortion, not just her pro-life views, but the fact she delivered a challenged child in her 40s and her teen-daughter delivered an out of wedlock boy; for many professional women on the up and up, those decisions are not just absurd but scary.
2) The elite Left was furious over her populist appeal, particularly her charm, good looks, accent, and appearance. In sum, their view was “don’t hoi polloi know, as we do, that this glitzy thing is a moose-hunting mom with an Idaho BA? To a Maureen Dowd or Sally Qunin, a Christian mom, who hunts, lives in Alaska, and is married to Todd is OK—but not OK if she thinks she can come east and run their US.
3) She’s an interloper outside the normal cursus honorum. Almost all our female columnists, many of our politicians, and several of our TV personalities either married into, or were born into, influence and can trace some of their careers to the wealth or influence of powerful husbands, fathers, and mentors. Not Palin—she had no family or marital connections, no money, no powerful fixer, she’s a genuine up-from-the-bootstraps sort of feminist that, oddly, feminists don’t define as feminist.
4) Conservative, attractive women, with traditional marriages and child-raising, for a variety of reasons, earn media scorn;
4) She scares the Left by her star power; few in America can fill stadia like she can—and that worries the powers that be. Populism is supposed to be a leftist phenomenon, but when a conservative resonates with the folks, that raises concern.
5) Finally, her accent, her demeanor, her poorly prepared interviews with Couric and Gibson all cemented for many intellectuals and cultural grandeess, both left and right, the idea that she was hickish. Many tsk-tsked her in snobbish disdain.
FP: What do you think of Palin?
Hanson: I both admire and worry about her. She has exuberance and natural intelligence, coupled with energy and toughness and a certain fearlessness, and doesn’t seem to be a trimmer, but consistently articulates a common-sense position on the issues. On the other hand, she has so many obstacles in a strictly political sense to overcome. She is based thousands of miles away from New York and Washington. She is the mother of 5 and has little money, or powerful friends. The East-Coast Right dislikes her as much as the liberal elite. With young children, the Levi Johnston mess, the resignation from the governorship, the constant traveling to earn an income for her large dependencies, she is burning the candle at both ends. So I admire her pluck, but again worry that her present frenzied pace is unsustainable.
FP: What advice would you give to Palin?
Hanson: After her book tour ends and she has earned some money, I wish she would hunker down somewhere to write, recharge and contemplate things. A month at Hillsdale College, for example, where, in friendly and supportive surroundings, she could debate, talk to faculty, read and write would be wonderful, or in fact a month almost anywhere she could review issues, have her views tested and debated, and do some in depth reading and discussion would be great.
If she wrote a weekly column or did a bi-weekly radio address, in the fashion of Reagan, that too would allow her to both support her family and at the same time master the intricacies of modern national politics. She has so many gunning for her, that she needs to be proactive. Joe Biden did not know that FDR was not President in 1929 or that TV was still experimental—but given his status, the media shucked “Oh, that’s just Joe!” Obama can be clueless about state geography, a 50-state union, or the basics of US history, but that’s because “he’s tired and has so much on his mind.” Wasilla moms has no such margin of error.
The good news is that she is so energetic, naturally talented, and charismatic, that, with a few weeks prep, she could redo the Couric interview and sparkle. What happened in 2008, was that she went from a supportive populace in Alaska to a hostile prime-time lion’s den, without proper appreciation that she was the antithesis of most of the values and lifestyles of those who would write and comment on her—and they were waiting for her in a way I think she did not anticipate. That said, I think we can already see that she is becoming media-savvy and picking her venues carefully.
FP: Victor Hanson, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
SOURCE: Lee White at the website of the National Coalition for History (NCH) (12-14-09)
- Funding for the U.S. Department of Education’s Teaching American History (TAH) program would remain at $119 million under the fiscal year 2010 omnibus spending bill passed by Congress on December 13. Funding for the program has remained relatively constant since FY 2004, fluctuating annually between $120 million and $118 million.
The National Historical Publications and Records Commission’s (NHPRC) budget would increase from the current fiscal year’s $11.25 million to $13 million under the fiscal year (FY) 2010 omnibus funding bill passed by Congress on December 13. Most importantly, the NHPRC would receive the entire $13 million in funding for grants; the highest appropriations level in its history. This is a sizeable increase of $3.75 million over the $9.25 million in grant money NHPRC received in FY 2009.
The National Archives & Records Administration’s (NARA) budget will increase by $9 million to $457 million under the fiscal year (FY) 2010 omnibus spending bill that cleared the Congress on December 13. The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) will receive $13 million in grant funding, the highest level in its history. (see related story).
- On December 11, Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE) introduced legislation (S. 2872) to reauthorize the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for five years. The bill would increase the NHPRC’s authorized spending level by $500,000 each year beginning at $13 million in fiscal year (FY) 2010 and ending at $15 million in FY 2014. The NHPRC’s most recent authorization expired at the end of FY 2009, and was at a level of $10 million.
SOURCE: The Hill (12-31-69)
How did you pick these six men to profile?
They’re the six generally agreed on as the six major Founding Fathers. … You had to draw the line somewhere. Six seemed to be a very good [number]. And they really did the most important things.
Did they have any common characteristics?
They really don’t have any truly common characteristics. The striking thing is how different they all are one from another.
So what were the striking differences?
The startling difference is they are different ages, for one thing. Franklin was by far the oldest. He was almost 30 years older than Washington. Madison was much younger than Washington, and Hamilton was almost a boy. He was 22 when he became Washington’s aide in 1777.
These are men who have had volumes of books written about them. How did you decide what to include and what to exclude?
As a novelist I was very interested in insights into the personal lives of people. … I was doing research into how people thought and felt in these distant eras. … I hadn’t really looked at what was going on behind them in their personal lives. And this book is a perfect example, if I may say so, of my ability to blend … those two sides … to look at these men’s personal lives through the eyes of the historian.
I like how you included equal information about their wives and mothers.
It gives a depth to the portrait we have of them.
Since you’ve written so much about this time period, was there anything you learned that surprised you?
It’s full of surprises for both the writer and the reader. The perfect example is the opening. … I knew that Washington had written this letter to Sally Fairfax but I had no idea when it had gotten into the historical arena, so I started doing research and I found out it appeared in the 1870s. … It was in the New York Herald, the biggest newspaper of the time, this letter, this Washington love letter. And then you followed this sensation it caused that George Washington wrote this love letter — not to his wife — but to the wife of his close friend. He wrote it four months after he got engaged to Martha.
Was it really a love letter?
Not all historians agree what this letter means. … I think it’s very convincing that this was a love letter written by a man on the verge of going into battle.
I noticed you quoted a lot of letters in your book.
That’s the great thing about picking these six Founding Fathers: All of their collections are in the process of being published. … But one of the surprising things is that the letters of some of these women have been collected. … There are sources that make you feel like you’re in touch with historical reality.
Not all these men were born to wealthy or prominent families?
Some were, but Hamilton — you couldn’t get much more poorer than Hamilton down there in the West Indies.
He had a tough childhood.
He was orphaned at 14 or 15 and had no money at all. He was supported by a relative who felt sorry for him and his brother. His father was just a colossal failure in business. And, as I say in the book, his mother was quite a dame … she kicked [Hamilton’s father] out of bed and he just left. It just gave you a depth and more much insight into … what Hamilton had to deal with in his life.
Out of these six men, did you have a favorite?
I always like to say you respect Washington immensely and admire him. … But Franklin was my favorite. You’ll love him. You’ll love Ben Franklin.
He’s so funny, so witty, so charming. He had the ability to say the right thing. He was especially good at saying the right thing to women and teasing them and so forth. … He had a wife in London who he didn’t marry and a wife in Philadelphia that he outgrew.
I was surprised to read Franklin was quite the ladies’ man.
His reputation as a ladies’ man has gotten out of control, I’m afraid — mostly because of John Adams and all the vicious things he wrote about Franklin in France. ... [I]n France, these French women adored him. They loved his banter.
What was Adams’s reaction?
Adams couldn’t deal with this. He just went nuts. He wrote these scandalous letters about Franklin.
Were there any other feuds between the men you wrote about?
Washington and Jefferson just went at each other. They became deadly enemies before it was over.
How did their feud get started?
Jefferson was so infuriated at the way Hamilton had persuaded Washington to do things his way. So he goes to see the president and he sits down, talks for one solid hour, damning Hamilton any way he can think of … and Washington listens without saying a word and then at the end he says: “Mr. Jefferson, I have listened very carefully to everything you have said and I’m sorry to tell you I don’t agree with a word of it.” … Jefferson couldn’t deal with it. He resigned after that rebuff. Jefferson did not like the kind of the president Washington was. Jefferson saw him as kinglike. Jefferson was absolutely paranoid about federal power.
So sex scandals haven’t changed much in 200 years?
The really big scandal was Hamilton. He had a lack of confidence in himself as far as being a faithful husband was concerned because [of] what he had seen growing up. I think there’s another side to Hamilton’s affair with this woman.
I think it has a lot to do with the fact he met Maria Reynolds, the woman he had the affair with, at the peak of his political victory. ... He had restored America’s finances, the stock market was going out of sight. He was a miracle worker. He was having political ecstasies.
Modern politicians seem to have those too.
I think there is a connection between politicians’ affairs and the kind of emotions they generate when they’re out there campaigning, giving speeches and so forth. … [Hamilton] wanted the kind of sexual experience he wasn’t getting from his wife that would match the political thrill.
Is the Revolutionary War your favorite time period?
... I grew up in this Irish ghetto in Jersey City. I was very proud of being Irish … but I didn’t know much about my American history. … I wanted to become as American as I was Irish and I really devoted the main portion of my life to it.
SOURCE: CBC News (11-12-09)
Chief Tecumseh was a Shawnee chief from Ohio who allied with the British to help capture Detroit in August 1812. He was killed a year later, in the Battle of the Thames, in Thamesville, a community 24 kilometres northeast of Chatham.
His life story is described briefly on a plaque on the current monument.
But that's not enough for Lisa Gilbert, chair of the Tecumseh Monument Redevelopment Committee, who hopes to add a few more details as the war's bicentennial approaches.
"We're hoping to use this once-in-200 years chance to more properly tell the story of Tecumseh and his native brethren," Gilbert told CBC News on Friday morning. "[We want] to more properly interpret the story and to more properly commemorate the sacrifice that he made."
Gilbert and her team are now looking for funding for their project. They have plans to apply for a variety of grants, and hope that governmental agencies like Parks Canada and Ontario's Ministry of Culture "might make a significant contribution to the cause.
"We're also hoping that the government will step up to the plate and fund this project on its own, because we think it's a valuable one," Gilbert said. "Failing that, we're certainly going to go to the community — the beleagured community — from service clubs, from corporations, from individuals."