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: Financial Times (12-5-09)
That this small, neutral nation should exhibit such a vivid interest in the war says much about the intensity of feeling about what happened between Switzerland and its neighbours during the rise of Nazism and the conflagration beyond. For its detractors, Switzerland was the small, but significant, base that oiled the Nazis' financial wheels. For many Swiss, by contrast, the war was a period of plucky self-reliance when a nation of part-time soldiers used its courage and training to thwart continental Europe's most fearsome military machine. It was the work of Swiss historian Jean-François Bergier to uncover the truth.
Revelations about the dormant Swiss bank accounts of Holocaust victims and the stonewalling that greeted the efforts of relatives to gain access drew such stinging international criticism that in December 1996 Switzerland set up an international commission of experts to examine the country's wartime role. Bergier was roused from his bed late at night by a call from officials in Bern and asked to take on the job of chairing it. He was given quarter of an hour to make up his mind - and agreed.
The pipe-smoking Bergier was an unlikely man for the job. As a respected economic historian with links to bourgeois and rightwing politicians, his name was unknown outside academia. He had no experience of the diplomatic and media minefields that would confront the chairman of a 10-member commission, none of whom was likely to sanction a whitewash.
Backed by a staff of about 100, the commission, which reported in March 2002, went well beyond the initial question of relations with Nazi Germany. In 25 volumes and almost 11,500 pages, Bergier and his colleagues delved much deeper, encompassing the Swiss government's approach to the thousands of Jews seeking entry to escape Nazi oppression.
SOURCE: Shropshire Star (12-4-09)
The star was at Enginuity in Ironbridge to deliver a lecture on industry and the environment, just days before the climate change summit in Copenhagen, which starts on Monday.
The lecture on Tuesday was jointly sponsored by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and the University of Birmingham.
Mr Hart-Davis’s TV series have chronicled the history of inventors and inventions.
He said: “Ironbridge saw the start of the Industrial Revolution in 1709 with Abraham Darby’s discovery, which then prompted the discovery of all the technological advances that moulded our society.
“We are now having to mitigate the effects of global warming that probably resulted at least partly from those developments. We are all being urged to do our bit, but it needs to be Government-led.”...
SOURCE: Hurriyet Daily News (12-4-09)
Fabio L. Grassi was always interested in history, but it was a university professor of his who set him down the road of Turkish studies, ultimately culminating in a biography of the country’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
“I was enchanted by the Turkish language,” Grassi said. Such enchantment is evident because, apart from the interview, he preferred to chat in Turkish. He said he does not feel fluent enough yet in Turkish, but intends to speak it flawlessly in the future.
Born in Rome in 1963, Grassi switched to late Ottoman and early Republic history during his college years. Naturally, he then discovered Atatürk and the Westernization and modernization of Turkey that came with the founding of the Turkish Republic.
“I found it to be a very meaningful history,” he said. “I found Kemalist Turkey to be very meaningful. It was like a laboratory experiment, comparatively shut off from the outside world; [it was] an attempt to shape a new society completely different from the old one.”
Asked if he thought the experiment was successful, Grassi said: “It is partly successful because Mustafa Kemal’s psychology and culture were rooted in positivist culture. He thought there was a clear and straight road to civilization.”...
... Grassi does not perceive Turkey to be different from his own country and said he feels at home here after 11 years of residence. “I first came for pure cultural interest, which has turned later to genuine love for the country,” he said.
Now at Yıldız Technical University, Grassi has written extensively about Atatürk, including a detailed biography. “I felt a big gap in Italian historiography; the lack of a serious and comprehensive book on Atatürk,” he said. The biography was published in Italy in September 2008 and its Turkish translation appeared on the shelves of bookstores one month ago...
SOURCE: Temple University (12-3-09)
It has been a full 37 years since President Nixon fulfilled his campaign promise and ended the draft in 1973, shortly after the last American combat troops returned from Vietnam. In America’s Army: Making the All-Volunteer Force, Temple historian Beth Bailey tells the story of America’s all-volunteer force (AVF) and in the process offers a history of America in the post Vietnam era. According to Bailey, the Army — more so than other institutions — has had to directly confront the legacies of the social change movements of the 1960’s.
At first glance, it might seem like a stretch for Bailey, a social and cultural historian, to tackle a military topic. Her last book, Sex in the Heartland: Politics, Culture, and the Sexual Revolution (Harvard University Press, 1999) argued that the sexual revolution was forged in towns and cities alike, as “ordinary” people struggled over the boundaries of public and private sexual behavior in postwar America.
But, explained Bailey, “I have always been interested in the question of who belongs, of who counts in American society and on what terms. Military service is one of ways that people claim the full rights of citizenship in this country.”
SOURCE: Bsanna News (12-4-09)
At the awarding ceremony in the Bulgarian Presidency, Pantic was presented with the Holly Brothers Cyril and Methodius award for his contribution to the popularization of the Bulgarian culture in Serbia and promotion of relation between the Bulgarian and Serbian people.
SOURCE: CNN (12-4-09)
President Obama was walking through what's called "the saddest acre in America," Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The section is the burial ground for U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obama hugged graveside visitors, shook hands and listened to mourners while a "bone-chilling drizzle" fell, Meek says. As he watched Obama, Meek says he saw his commander in chief take on a new role: the consoler in chief...
... Roles of Lincoln, Reagan cited as 'griever in chief'
In the days ahead, Obama must master those moments to sustain support for the war in Afghanistan, says Jerald Podair, a history professor at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Podair says Lincoln did this during the Civil War when he wrote a tender letter to the widow Lydia Bixby, who had lost five sons in battle. (During his recent speech on Afghanistan, Obama said that he had to sign letters personally to every fallen soldier's family.)
President Reagan was also at his empathetic best when he honored the victims of the space shuttle Challenger disaster with a tender, poetic speech, Podair says.
"Grief is the one part of a president's job that cannot be spun. It must be personal and come from the heart," Podair says.
Yet the cool and cerebral Obama is not known for opening his heart, Podair says...
... If Obama bungles a public occasion for mourning, he can permanently damage his ability to lead, some historians say.
President George H.W. Bush was joking with reporters during a televised press conference in 1989 when several news stations decided to show a split-screen image of the coffins of U.S. soldiers recently killed in Panama being taken off military planes, says Gary Woodward, a professor of communication studies at The College of New Jersey.
The elder Bush had no control over the broadcast decision, but the damage was done, says Woodward, who later wrote about the incident in an essay. It reinforced the perception that Bush was out of touch with ordinary Americans, something that would haunt him during his re-election campaign, he says.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera (12-2-09)
Tariq Ali, a historian and political activist, told Al Jazeera that Barack Obama's decision to send more troops echoed the policies of George Bush, the former president.
"Obama is masqueraded as a peace president and he's now deciding to send more troops... In order to try and appease his own supporters, he's giving an approximate date for an exit strategy, but that never works.
"We've seen this before in Vietnam, where the commander in chief was saying 'the boys will be home by Christmas next year' and they didn't come home for a long time.
"I think Obama has fallen into a trap laid for him by generals... I think it's a fateful decision and it could determine whether he's a one-term president."
SOURCE: Business Standard (12-5-09)
First, Meghnad Desai as the historian before we study his history. Desai is first and last a political economist, to begin with distinct Marxist sympathies which have mellowed over the years but still bear traces in his selection of facts and his observations in the book. Desai has divided his story into two parts after a long introduction, India at Sixty. The first opens with the coming of Vasco Da Gama (1500), the consolidation of British rule and rapidly comes down to Gandhi, Irwin and Churchill, the beginnings of Partition and the Road to Pakistan, and closes with the Political Economy of Empire and Nation. It is cobbled history at best which is suitable for the general reader but not for a student even slightly familiar with British rule and the rise of nationalism in the 20th century. In fact, class 12 students would get all this and more from a standard NCERT text.
It is the short second half of the book that deals with contemporary India in five long chapters that would interest the common reader. These chapters are: Independent India: The Nehru Years, Heirs and Successors, Search for Stability, 1989-2004, Globalizing India and Whose India? Which India? That would be of principal interest to some of us. But this is essentially journalistic writing, gossipy in most parts, and for someone who has followed the ups and downs of Indian politics, much of it is familiar stuff...
SOURCE: Andrew Smith's Blog (12-3-09)
Tennent’s blog post draws on his extensive knowledge of Scottish, British, and global economic history. He begins his analysis with a discussion of the Darien scheme of 1690, the abortive attempt by Scotland to establish a colony in Panama. His blog post also pays attention to more recent developments. Dr Tennent writes:
“The collapse of Iceland’s banking system forced it to seek a £6bn emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund; unfortunately much of this will end up being spent recompensing savers abroad. Had Scotland been independent during the present crisis, then with RBS alone loosing around £24bn in 2008 the country would also have been driven to seek aid from the IMF; the whole of Scotland’s GDP was £86bn in 2006 (although this excludes oil and gas revenue). To cover this loss alone Scotland would have been forced to spend a more than a quarter of its GDP.”
This post should interest Canadians for two reasons. First, there is an obvious parallel between the question of Scottish independence and the separatist movement in Quebec. Would Quebec, which lacks North Sea oil, be a viable state? Second, there is the less obvious but even more important parallels between Scotland’s relationship with England and Canada’s relationship with its wealthy and populous southern neighbour. Most English-speaking Canadians would be in favour of Canada remaining independent of the USA. If they had an opinion on Scottish independence, it would probably be that Scotland should stay in the United Kingdom. Canadians are conservative in the deepest sense of the word and generally prefer to keep things as they are. But we need to ask ourselves why, if independence is a good thing for Canada, would it be a bad thing for Quebec and Scotland? What’s good for the goose may also be good for the gander.
SOURCE: YouTube (11-30-09)
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SOURCE: Columbia Spectator (12-3-09)
With a substantial reduction in crime, an upsurge in real estate prices, and an influx of retail chains, Harlem has become a completely different world for Jones.
“This used to be a block of nothing but African Americans and Caribbean Americans,” she said, pointing out the middle- and upper-class residents increasingly making their way into the area.
Relics of the past century—old brownstones, historic theaters, and street signs from the block’s construction dating back to 1891—still color the streets of Harlem today, but local preservationists and historians say that maintenance is increasingly difficult due to rapid development and the complex bureaucracy of designating landmarks. Now, though, as the aftermath of recession lingers and discourages developers from breaking ground on new projects, some say that there is an opportunity to preserve what remains...
... Michael Henry Adams, a local historian and graduate of Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, agreed, saying, “Harlem is grossly under-landmarked, and so is every black neighborhood in the city.” He added, “If you look at the Upper East Side and Upper West Side, all the places where the richest people live, there’s the most landmarking.”
Landmarks Commission Preservation spokesperson Elisabeth de Bourbon contested these claims, saying, “I don’t see how anyone could conclude that it is an underrepresented neighborhood in terms of buildings that are landmarked.”
SOURCE: The Chronicle of Higher Education (12-3-09)
Debate over the book consumed the anthropologists' meeting in 2000. Nine years later, the passions still have not cooled. During a panel session on Wednesday evening, a Northwestern University scholar presented new evidence of distortions in the book, and she charged that the anthropological association had badly mishandled the entire affair...
... The book at the center of the controversy, Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon (W.W. Norton), was written by Patrick Tierney, a Pittsburgh-based freelance writer. Mr. Tierney's targets were Napoleon A. Chagnon, a professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the late James V. Neel, a geneticist who taught at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Mr. Neel died in 2000, several months before the book appeared.
In Mr. Tierney's account, Mr. Chagnon and Mr. Neel committed a wide range of sins during three decades of work with the Yanomami, an indigenous people who live in a region of the Amazon straddling the Brazil-Venezuela border.
Among other things, Mr. Tierney asserted that Mr. Neel had worsened a measles epidemic in 1968; that the two scholars had failed to obtain full informed consent when collecting blood samples from the community; that Mr. Chagnon had tacitly encouraged violent conflicts among the Yanomami; and that Mr. Chagnon had collaborated with an unscrupulous gold miner in an effort to create a research reserve in Venezuela...
SOURCE: NYT (12-1-09)
IT’S important for Americans to recognize our national heroes, even those who have been despised by history. Take John Brown.
Today is the 150th anniversary of Brown’s hanging — the grim punishment for his raid weeks earlier on Harpers Ferry, Va. With a small band of abolitionists, Brown had seized the federal arsenal there and freed slaves in the area. His plan was to flee with them to nearby mountains and provoke rebellions in the South. But he stalled too long in the arsenal and was captured. He was brought to trial in a Virginia court, convicted of treason, murder and inciting an insurrection, and hanged on Dec. 2, 1859.
It’s a date we should hold in reverence. Yes, I know the response: Why remember a misguided fanatic and his absurd plan for destroying slavery?
There are compelling reasons. First, the plan was not absurd. Brown reasonably saw the Appalachians, which stretch deep into the South, as an ideal base for a guerrilla war. He had studied the Maroon rebels of the West Indies, black fugitives who had used mountain camps to battle colonial powers on their islands. His plan was to create panic by arousing fears of a slave rebellion, leading Southerners to view slavery as dangerous and impractical.
Second, he was held in high esteem by many great men of his day. Ralph Waldo Emerson compared him to Jesus, declaring that Brown would “make the gallows as glorious as the cross.” Henry David Thoreau placed Brown above the freedom fighters of the American Revolution. Frederick Douglass said that while he had lived for black people, John Brown had died for them. A later black reformer, W. E. B. Du Bois, called Brown the white American who had “come nearest to touching the real souls of black folk.”
Du Bois was right. Unlike nearly all other Americans of his era, John Brown did not have a shred of racism. He had long lived among African-Americans, trying to help them make a living, and he wanted blacks to be quickly integrated into American society. When Brown was told he could have a clergyman to accompany him to the gallows, he refused, saying he would be more honored to go with a slave woman and her children.
SOURCE: NRC Handelsblad (12-3-09)
The Dutch writers, historian Harry Veenendaal and journalist Jort Kelder, base their conclusions on evidence that has been available to other researchers: archived diaries of a court secretary and military police reports describing the attempted coup d'état which mention the prince’s name in relation to the coup.
Prince Bernhard, the father of the reigning queen Beatrix, has always been a source of controversy. In 1976, after being accused of accepting bribes from the American aeroplane manufacturer Lockheed, he was stripped of his military titles. He also fathered two children with women other than his wife during their marriage.
The charges now levelled at Bernhard are the latest in a string of more and less substantiated claims concerning his supposedly unprincely conduct...
SOURCE: The Daily Herald (12-2-09)
After school let out, Zinn fielded questions via teleconference from about 30 students gathered in the school's music wing.
The question-and-answer session with the renowned author of "A People's History of the United States" was part of an ongoing series of talks with major scholars at the Carpentersville high school.
Zinn answered students' questions on topics ranging from the impact of religion on feminism and the role of big business in American domestic and foreign policy.
SOURCE: John Moore in the National Post (11-26-09)
Hofstadter, who died in 1970, was at one time amongst America's pre-eminent historians. He documented the evolution of the country's political culture and its populist underpinnings from the Revolution to the post-Kennedy-assassination era. It's no surprise that his work is still generally relevant, but his landmark 1964 essay, The Paranoid Style in American Politics, is Cassandra-like in its prescience.
The Paranoid Style asserts that a pervasive angst about the United States being under siege from within is an integral mutant string in the DNA of American politics. In 30-to-40-year intervals, a cohort of the population (almost invariably found on the right of the political spectrum) is seized with the conviction that the Republic is on the brink of destruction. Sound familiar?
Which is why the essay reads as if it was written last month and not 40 years ago. When Hofstadter described the right wing's "qualities of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness and conspiratorial fantasy" he wasn't writing about Sarah Palin or the frothing tea bag brigade but of Senator Joe McCarthy and the John Birch Society.
He identified a sizable segment of the population that lives in permanent fear of outsiders, secret societies and covert plots to subvert the Constitution. This genus of political citizen styles himself the ultimate patriot. "His sense," wrote Hofstadter, "that his political passions are unselfish and patriotic ... goes far to intensify his feeling of righteousness and his moral indignation."
This mindset is not to be confused with healthy dissent or alternative political perspectives. It's a deep-seated, emotional and irrational conviction. There's a difference between concern that your country is headed down the wrong track and insistence that the President is a non-citizen, that his health reforms are a Nazi-inspired eugenics project and that his foreign policy is a plot to bring about one world government...
SOURCE: The University of Manchester (12-1-09)
The American researcher, who grew up near the world famous Saratoga Race Track in New York, said before the late 1850s, a cross section of all citizens - from Presidents to slaves - took a passionate interest in the sport.
It was so popular that Congress would go out of session when a race was held, George Washington was one the country’s top jockeys and Presidents Jackson and Jefferson were leading breeders of thoroughbreds.
Dr Zacek said: “Before the Civil War, a horse’s stamina was more important than its speed as races, run on dirt, were in three heats of three or four miles.
“The animals weren’t so young as they are today and would walk a couple of hundred miles between races. Nowadays, they just aren’t up to that.
“Because of today’s pressures to be ever faster – which began in the 1860s - inbreeding has gone too far: horses are too young and lightweight, but their strength makes them delicate.
SOURCE: Vermont Public Radio (12-1-09)
VPR's Nina Keck spoke with two local historians about Brown's role in U.S. history and some recently discovered ties to Vermont.
(Keck) John Brown was born in Connecticut in 1800. He married twice and had 17 children. Over the years, he built and sold several tanneries, speculated in land sales, raised sheep and established a brokerage for wool growers. Nearly all of his business ventures failed. But while his financial situation weakened his determination to fight slavery grew stronger.
(Coffin) "Brown decided that he was going to make war on slavery. And contrary to popular myth, slavery was not weakening in the south it was gaining strength."
(Keck) That's Civil War historian and author Howard Coffin. In the late 1850s, Brown moved west where he fought against pro-slavery factions in Kansas and Missouri. Those violent raids put a price on Brown's head and made him a compelling speaker at abolitionist rallies. Howard Coffin says he'd heard rumors that John Brown had come to Vermont to raise money for his cause, but hadn't found any proof - until recently.
(Coffin) "About 6 weeks ago I was doing research on a visit in to Bellows Falls by President Grant - and I just happened on a reminiscence written by a person who had met with and seen John Brown in Cavendish in 1857. It was just what I was looking for and the account is so detailed and convincing that even though the writer is not identified - there's no question in my mind that it's authentic." ...
SOURCE: Frontline (Volume 26) (12-1-09)
... Could you briefly tell us about the findings of the independent report prepared by M. Athar Ali, Suraj Bhan, R.S. Sharma and you?
The Babri Masjid was built by Mir Baqi, a military officer in the kingdom of the Mughal ruler Babur, in 1528-29. The main contention of the Sangh Parivar is that the mosque was built by demolishing a Ram temple and that it was the birthplace of Rama. But it was only in 1948-49 that you see a miraculous appearance of idols under Gobind Ballabh Pant’s chief ministership [of the United Provinces] and Nehru’s prime ministership. Between then and the mid-1970s, one does not hear of this controversy at all. It was only after the VHP [Vishwa Hindu Parishad] came into being that it started talking about Kashi, Mathura and Ayodhya as pilgrimage centres. Gradually in 1986, you see the opening of the locks [of the masjid] and, subsequently, the shilanyaas.
All these developments coincided with the emergence of the VHP as a strong force and other organisations such as the Bajrang Dal and the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh] in the Hindutva camp. They made political use of it.
I think the dispute is really an artefact created by the Hindutva camp for fundamentalist purposes that culminated in the demolition of the mosque in 1992. Before 1992, slogans like “Mandir wohin banayenge”, and “this is Ram’s janmabhoomi [birthplace]” rent the air in North India. But if you look at the historical texts and evidence, Ram Janmabhoomi does not find prominence....
... There seems to be a gap between history in classrooms and popular historical notions, as is clearly reflected in the Ram Janmabhoomi case. Similarly, the state tries to create its own history as part of nation building and the political parties teach another kind of history for indoctrination. How do you assess the role of a professional historian in engaging with popular history to reshape historical understanding among the masses? Do you see any space in between from where history writing is possible in order to create a harmonious society instead of a divisive one?
I think, in this regard, historians are at fault to a certain extent. If professional historians write for the people that will ultimately have some impact.
In Gujarat, what happened in 2002 can be attributed to the kind of history that was being taught in the State for the past 40 years. In North India, schools like Sishu Mandir and Vidya Bharati are teaching non-history in the name of history.
Ninety per cent of professional historians are the most secular people in the country, but the state has to play a greater role in unifying the education system. Anything that is not borne out by rationality and evidence should be stopped altogether by the state.
The problem, however, is that education is both a Central and a State subject. The NCERT brings out model textbooks, but the States do not adopt them. They make their own changes. Secularisation of education and promotion of scientific temper should be a state effort. Otherwise, whatever historians write, it won’t be of any help. I don’t see any indication of this in the ATR. The state makes its own compromises according to political pressure, as was seen in the Ram Setu case recently.
Historians who come in proximity to power change their secular lines, too. There should be an atmosphere of dialogue in the academic community. Intellectuals should come out in the open and say that there was no Ram temple in Ayodhya, which most of them believe. They should make their assumptions clear to the reader and then be as objective as possible in writing history. Only then the reader will judge the writer and historical facts better.
SOURCE: Greek Reporter (11-30-09)
Speaking at the Australian Macedonian Advisory Council (AMAC) forum last Monday, Professor Joy Damousi (foto), head of the School of Historical Studies at Melbourne University said that the experiences of migrants who grew up in Greece during the war years of the 1940s is the topic of her next book.
She highlighted the need to “put on the map” the experiences of migrants who lived through the trauma of invasion, a war of resistance followed by internecine conflict.
“There are intergenerational effects of the memories the Greek migrants brought to Australia but also the community and the wider society, said Professor Damousi.
“How they [migrants] relate to their children, what memories they recount and how their experiences shape their identity and that of the second and third generation are important elements of the history of the Greek community, Australia but also Greece” she said.
SOURCE: Scientific Blogging (12-1-09)
Ohio State University historian Randolph Roth claims that the distrust of government on display at the tea parties earlier this year has appeared sporadically throughout America's history and may be linked to homicide rates. In short, when Americans begin routinely complaining about how they hate their government and don't trust their leaders, they commit more murders...
... At any one point in time, researchers may find an association between one of these causes and homicide rates in a particular area. But once you try to apply those theories more broadly, at different places and in different eras, the links disappear.
For example, during the Great Depression the homicide rate in the United States went down, even while poverty was increasing. In the 1960s, the United States had more police and more people in prison than nearly any other nation on earth, along with strong economic growth – and yet the murder rate skyrocketed...
SOURCE: Times Online (11-30-09)
For Bergier, a distinguished academic historian but not a particularly well-known public figure, was pitched into the centre of Switzerland’s fraught debate about its wartime past in 1996 when he accepted an invitation to head an international commission of historians investigating aspects of the country’s relationship with Nazi Germany. The commission was set up after an earlier scandal over the revelation of dormant accounts in Swiss banks belonging to victims of the Holocaust.
In the end its work covered not only questions of assets and economic relationships with Germany but also the especially sensitive question of the thousands of Jewish refugees who were refused entry to Switzerland. The commission concluded that the Swiss authorities had knowingly sent thousands back to face death at the hands of the Nazis. “Large numbers of persons whose lives were in danger were turned away — needlessly,” Bergier stated.
As individual as well as historian Bergier felt caught between what he knew was a deceptive, rose-tinted view of Swiss history and neutrality on the one hand, and what he saw as unduly ferocious attacks on his country’s overall reputation on the other. Setting out more of the facts, in a spirit of academic inquiry rather than emotional political debate, was, he believed, what he could best offer.
His love of history developed as a child, after being born in 1931 into what he proudly described as one of the oldest families of Lausanne. His father was a pastor who had ministered to a French-speaking congregation in Italy but had moved back to Switzerland shortly before their son’s birth, uneasy at the way in which Italian Fascist society was developing.
Bergier recalled how in the summer of 1940 he sensed the tension between his idyllic Alpine holiday and news of the fall of France while British bombers flew overhead en route to Italy. Such experiences, he believed, fed his historical imagination, together with a fascination for the person of Napoleon.
A sense of the broader European world surrounding the Swiss redoubt was fed by studies in Munich, Paris and Oxford. He was much inspired by contact with the great French historian Fernand Braudel, though disappointed at Braudel’s lack of enthusiasm for Alpine history, seen as peripheral to the main European story...
... Jean-François Bergier, Swiss historian, was born on December 5, 1931. He died on October 29, 2009, aged 77
SOURCE: NYT (11-30-09)
As the media metabolism becomes endlessly speeded up, Mr. Lapham has slowed down. Two years ago he moved from a monthly, Harper’s magazine, to publishing four times a year with Lapham’s Quarterly, a scholarly journal that he has tried to give more mass-market appeal. The target audience, he said, is “people who wished they had paid more attention in school.”
It has a Web site, laphamsquarterly.org, but up-to-the-minute is not the mantra: recently the home page featured an audio interview with Gordon S. Wood, the Brown University historian of early America, that was recorded more than a year ago during the presidential campaign.
“The idea was to bring the voices of the past up to the microphone of the present,” said Mr. Lapham, describing the quarterly’s mission, before quickly paraphrasing Twain: “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.” (He sashayed straight to Schlesinger’s “notion of history as an antidote to folly.”)
Mr. Lapham, 74, left Harper’s in 2006, after serving as editor since 1983, following an earlier five-year stint. Last year he started his nonprofit quarterly as a selection of historical writings with a single topic for each issue. War was the first topic, and others have been money, nature and crime.
The current issue is about medicine, and includes selections from Hippocrates, Plato, Rudyard Kipling, Virginia Woolf and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, all noteworthy for being — among other things — dead and therefore cheap. It is fronted by a long essay by Mr. Lapham that begins with a quotation from Montaigne and near the end quotes Socrates...
... Politically, the Obama era is an odd time for Mr. Lapham, who in one of his last columns before leaving the editorship of Harper’s called for President George W. Bush’s impeachment. The disconnect between his upbringing and his affinity for the country club life, and his words and purported values — on paper he has been a stalwart liberal and defender of meritocracy — are perplexing to some.
In many ways Mr. Lapham’s views are a remnant of a period of radicalization of the American ruling class that began in the 1960s, reflecting a politics that blends a certain populism with aristocratic values. William F. Buckley Jr., who founded the conservative magazine National Review, was the embodiment of this on the right.
“I think the mix of high culture and populism and redistributionist politics doesn’t fit with liberalism,” said Jacob Weisberg, chairman of the Slate Group and author of “The Bush Tragedy.” “It falls to the left and the right of liberalism.”
He added, “I suspect Lewis would be the first to agree that it is outside the prevailing political consensus.”...
SOURCE: NetIndian (11-30-09)
The other winners announced by the Infosys Science Foundation for their outstanding contributions to scientific research in India were theoretical physicists Thanu Padmanabhan and Ashoke Sen and developmental geneticist and neurobiologist.
The winners of this year's prizes were announced by the Trustees of the Foundation at an event where Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal was the chief guest via video conference...
... Dr Singh was given the prize for her contributions as an outstanding historian of ancient and medieval India. She is a Professor in the Department of History at the University of Delhi and had taught history at St. Stephen's College in the capital from 1981 until 2004. Her wide range of research interests and expertise include the analysis of ancient and early medieval inscriptions; social and economic history; religious institutions and patronage; history of archaeology; and modern history of ancient monuments...
... The Infosys Science Foundation was established in February 2009 to promote world-class research in the natural and social sciences in India. The Infosys Prize is an annual prize across five disciplines to reward and recognize outstanding inventions or discovery, or a cumulative body of work done in India that has a positive impact on the nation.
SOURCE: Deleware Online (11-30-09)
As streets were named for Declaration of Independence signers, officials erred on the last to sign -- Thomas McKean of Delaware. They mistook the start of his last name as an initial and the N with a final flourish as a P.
The result? Keap Street.
Despite the error's age, John Slagg, a retired court worker from Flushing, N.Y., said, "Isn't now the time to fix it? If not now, when?"
Slagg, now in his 80s, says he gave its name no thought when he lived there. "I moved to Keap Street when I was 2 years old and moved out when I got married 32 years later."
But he recently got into history, starting in that area of the city.
He saw streets named for other signers, such as Rodney Street, next to Keap, for Caesar Rodney, who rode to Philadelphia to break Delaware delegates' tie to favor independence. "But I kept wondering, who the heck is this guy Keap?" he said.
In "Brooklyn by Name," by Leonard Bernardo and Jennifer Weiss, he read of the error blamed on McKean's "scrawled signature." Slagg didn't mind the book's error that McKean signed for Pennsylvania but wants his old street to honor the man it aimed to honor.
SOURCE: Sun 2 Surf (11-30-09)
In an interview, he said he wanted to know the number of Chinese school students awarded national scholarship in the past, as well as the number of world-class scholars the Chinese schools in Malaysia have produced since 1880.
Khoo said people who do not agree with his view that Chinese schools tend to churn out copycats, should disprove him with historical records and evidence.
Only then, he stressed, would he retract his remark, he said when contacted by the daily on Sunday.