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: NYT (5-30-10)
It’s not that the American Revolution hasn’t produced entire platoons of excellent surveys, including — but far from limited to — Don Higginbotham’s “War of American Independence” (1971), Robert Middlekauff’s “Glorious Cause” (1982), Gordon S. Wood’s “Radicalism of the American Revolution” (1992), Joseph J. Ellis’s “Founding Brothers” (2000) and John Ferling’s “Almost a Miracle” (2007). But no real consensus has anointed one of them. In terms of sheer narrative thwack, historians have had better luck breaking off small slices of the period, as David McCullough did in “1776” and his biography of John Adams.
Into this hot fug comes Jack Rakove’s new book, “Revolutionaries,” which bears the subtitle “A New History of the Invention of America.” Mr. Rakove is a professor of history, American studies and political science at Stanford University. He was also the winner, in 1997, of a Pulitzer Prize for his book “Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution.” He sounds like an interesting man, the kind who sometimes gets his boots muddy. He has been an expert witness in Indian land claims litigation....
SOURCE: FiveBooks (5-26-10)
[Lindsay Porter, author and cultural historian, has published widely on conspiracy theories and secret societies.]
Your first choice is Political Murder: From Tyrannicide to Terrorism.
This is the most historically far-reaching of all the books I’ve chosen, and raises interesting questions about the causes of assassination and the different attitudes surrounding it during different time periods and in different cultures. Although the book is organised chronologically, beginning with Classical Antiquity, and looking at notions of vengeance and judgment in the Bible, it continuously raises comparisons across time and place, whilst avoiding what the author describes as ‘laboured’ historical analogies. The result is always challenging and thought-provoking.
Ford looks at three different concepts of politically motivated killing in this book – with the broadest being political murder (from the specifically targeted to random killings), assassination and then, specifically, tyrannicide. He explores the origins and definition of the word ‘assassination’ and how that has evolved. The word is thought to have its origins in the Ismaili Muslim sect, the Hashishin, operating in the Middle East from 1090 to 1272, a sect which operated with a great deal of secrecy, including murder of political opponents. The Crusaders then picked up on it and the Hashashin gained a reputation for ruthless, covert killing. Marco Polo elaborated on the myth, describing a potent and irresistible blend of drugs and sex, in which recruits were drugged and promised an afterlife full of young maidens in exchange for unquestioning fealty. The notion of the assassin as working covertly, often as a result of a plot or conspiracy, had pretty much taken root by the 14th century.
Equally important with the evolution of the idea of assassination are the debates about the justification for politically motivated killing, and any study of assassination will look at the different philosophical debates trying to justify tyrannicide. A significant treatise debating the rights and wrongs of tyrannicide, Policraticus, was written by John of Salisbury, Thomas Becket’s clerk. One would expect a theologian to argue against any kind of murder, but John of Salisbury was responding to a debate that had been going on since antiquity, arguing the rights and wrongs of murdering a tyrant. A tyrant was defined as such either by the manner or his rule, or the means by which he had gained his power (tyrannus in regimine or tyrannus in titula). For John of Salisbury and many of his peers, God was the highest authority: if the king was against the law of God, his assassination was justifiable....
SOURCE: U.S. News & World Report (5-27-10)
As a general matter, the character issue never seems to go away. "It's always out there," says historian Robert Dallek.
What makes all this particularly important now is that the latest moral lapses might further undermine trust in government and contribute to a "throw the bums out" mentality, which is already running strong across the country. One side benefit, however, might go to President Obama, who benefits from pervasive perceptions of his good conduct. By all indications, he has a very strong and committed relationship with his wife, Michelle, and with his two young daughters, Malia and Sasha. In fact, the Obamas seem to embody the kind of family values that Americans admire, which is one reason the president's likability is so high....
SOURCE: WCCO (MN) (5-27-10)
They say Fort Snelling wasn't just a frontier outpost; it was a concentration camp for Dakota.
Waziyatawin, of Granite Falls, holds a doctorate in history from Cornell. She says Fort Snelling needs an extreme makeover. She wants it torn down.
"It feels like a constant assault on our Dakota humanity," said Waziyatawin.
Waziyatawin's ancestors were among those caught up in Minnesota's bloody Dakota War in 1862. That winter, 1,700 Dakota, mostly women and children, were imprisoned outside the Fort. Hundreds died from disease, exposure and murder before their forced removal from Minnesota. Thirty-eight were hung at Mankato, still the largest mass execution in US history.
"I don't want the Fort sitting on that site of genocide," she said. "I don't want the American flag flying high. I don't want soldiers reenacting marching out to that site and firing cannons every day."...
SOURCE: Medieval News (5-24-10)
Medieval blogs such as In the Middle have raised the issue in the last few days, and have drawn extensive discussion and interest. One of the In the Middle's editors, Jeffrey J. Cohen, has published an open letter to the Medieval Academy of America (MAA) calling on them to "seriously consider not holding its planned annual meeting" in Tempe, Arizona. Over seventy other scholars have also signed the letter.
Their main objection is the immigration law passed in Arizona last month which makes it a crime to be in the United States illegally. The law also requires legal immigrants to carry their registration documents at all times and allows police officers to ask people about their immigration status if they have reasonable grounds for suspicion. Critics of the law have called it racist and unconstitutional, and that is aimed against the large Hispanic community in Arizona.
The law, considered to be the toughest in the United States, has generated a great deal of debate across the country. Cohen, a professor of English and Director of the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute at George Washington University, wrote that the the law is "almost carte blanche for police intimidation and harassment is, to my mind, racist and just wrong."
Dozens of other medieval scholars and bloggers added their views about the law. In an interview with Medievalists.net, Cohen said, "I've been a bit surprised at -- and heartened by -- the passion medievalists have brought to the discussion. Despite the fact that most of us study a time period a millennium away, we obviously care deeply about contemporary social justice. Some of the comments made in support of not holding the annual meeting were personal, and affecting: one from someone who'd grown up in apartheid South Africa and seen how a boycott could work; another from someone who'd suffered from being labeled an alien herself.
"But I also liked that despite the way this Arizona law makes many of us feel, the discussion has been cautious and mainly level-headed. People have emphasized the complexity of the situation, and most trust that the MAA will make the right choice here. So it's good to see the confidence in the integrity of our professional organization and its elected leaders."
Officials with the Medieval Academy of America have already made responses to the situation. MAA President Elizabeth A.R. Brown wrote to Professor Cohen and remarked that "We have been concerned about this problem from the moment the governor of Arizona signed the bill concerning immigrants. We are all following developments closely and are keenly aware of the importance of the issues that are at stake."
MAA Executive Director Paul E. Szarmach told Medievalists.net that the controversy over the Arizona location has only emerged in the few last weeks, and that they are currently gathering views and suggestions on which course of action to take. He has confirmed that they are examining the option of moving the conference outside of Arizona, but that they would have to pay a cancellation fee of $30 000 to the Chaparral Suites Hotel. He notes that their are "strong feelings, strong ideas" about the issue, and that "people want to do the right thing." Szarmach expects a decision to be made within the next few weeks.
The annual meeting of the Medieval Academy of America is one of the largest medieval studies conferences in North America - the 2010 meeting was held at Yale University and drew over 150 speakers to give papers and participate in round table discussions. The location of the annual meeting changes every year, and it was last held in Tempe in 2001 - it is hosted by the Arizona State University, which is home to the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. The decision to have the 2011 annual meeting be held in Arizona was made over two years ago, long before the anti-immigration legislation was even proposed.
Medievalists are not the only people thinking of boycotting the state - since the immigration law was passed at least 19 conferences have been cancelled in Arizona, and there have been calls for Major League Baseball to move its 2011 All Star Game from Pheonix unless the law is repealed....
SOURCE: Press Release (5-27-10)
We are writing to ask for your help in an important project in the battle with conservative ideas. Today, as in the past, the fight to transform American politics and policy takes place on a battlefield in which ideas, narratives, and the construction of a politically driven conventional wisdom constitutes a set of highly potent weapons. Too often conservatives in the Congress and the media have captured the rhetorical high ground by asserting that virtually any substantial, progressive change in public policy, especially that involving taxes on the wealthy or regulation of business, will kill jobs, generate a stifling government bureaucracy, or curtail economic growth.
But history shows that in almost every instance the opponents of needed social and economic change are “crying wolf.” We therefore need to construct a counter narrative that demonstrates the falsity or exaggeration of such claims so that the first reaction of millions of people, as well as opinion leaders, will be “There they go again!” Such a refrain will undermine the credibility and arguments of the organizations and individuals who use such dire social and economic prognostications to thwart progressive reform.
To give substance and scholarly integrity to this “crying wolf” argument, we are calling upon historians and social scientists, in training or well established, to use their research skills to identify instances, in recent years as well as in the more distant pass, in which the “crying wolf” scare was put forward by industry executives, conservative politicians, and right-wing pundits before the passage of legislation or the promulgation of regulations that have become hallmarks of popular and progressive statecraft. On each issue we seek to document three things: First, historical examples and quotes drawn from speeches, legislative testimony, newspaper and other media opinion pieces, think-tank reports, or political platforms which claim that a proposed policy or regulation would generate a set of negative consequences; second, a discussion of how these crying-wolf claims impacted the new laws or regulations as they were passed into law; and third, a well-documented analysis of the extent to which conservative and special interest fears were or were not realized during the years and decades after the new laws or regulations went into effect.
This work is sponsored by the San Diego-based Center on Policy Initiatives and funded by a grant from the Public Welfare Foundation. Donald Cohen of CPI, Peter Dreier of Occidental College , and Nelson Lichtenstein of UC Santa Barbara constitute the ad hoc committee now administrating this initiative.
Based on some of the policy areas listed below, we solicit one page proposals for the kind of short studies outlined above. If we think the proposal promising, we will then ask the applicant to develop a larger policy brief, perhaps 2,000 words in length. It should be well documented and scrupulously accurate. We will pay $1,000 for each brief that meets these standards. We hope that many of these become the basis for opinion pieces designed to run in the mainstream media, on line, on the air, or in the press.
We will be focusing on the following policy areas.
1. Taxes and public budgets
2. Labor market standards
3. Food, tobacco and drug health and safety
4. Environmental protection: air, water, toxics, etc
5. Workplace safety
6. Financial regulation
7. Consumer product safety
8. Local issues (i.e. inclusionary housing, building code standards, etc.)
We will be looking for the following things in each case study/policy brief:
1. Specific Laws or Regulations within the policy area
2. Why the law or regulation was needed: citations of studies, articles that demonstrated need, etc.
3. Principle opponent interest groups
4. The quotes and claims: Reports, correspondence and/or public testimony of interest groups that lobbied against passage and implementation of laws and regulations. [While some quotes will certainly be included in the policy brief, we would like all quotes that are found to be included in appendices]
5. Principle proponent groups (for research and help)
6. Any existing retrospective qualitative and quantitative costs and benefits of laws
7. Major books, articles, sources on the history and impact of legislation/regulation.
Proposals should be sent to Donald Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please feel free to forward this RFP and/or to send ideas, references and proposals.
Cry Wolf Project Coordinators
Peter Dreier, E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics, Director of the Urban & Environmental Policy program, Occidental College
Donald Cohen, Executive Director, Center on Policy Initiatives
Nelson Lichtenstein, Professor of History at UC Santa Barbara and Director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy
Project Advisory BoardRobert Kuttner, Co-founder & Co-editor, American Prospect
Gerald Markowitz, PhD, John Jay College, CUNY
David Rosner, PhD; Co-Director, Center for the History & Ethics of Public Health
Alice O’Connor, PhD, UC Santa Barbara
Janice Fine, PhD, Rutgers University
Andrea M. Hricko, MPH; Southern CA Environmental Health Sciences Center
Jennifer Klein PhD, Yale University
Meg Jacobs PhD, MIT
William Forbath JD, PhD, University of Texas Law School
Tom Sugrue PhD, University of Pennsylvania
Lizabeth Cohen PhD, Harvard University
SOURCE: Barron's (5-27-10)
The prolific author and professor of history and business at Harvard U. also tipped his hat to natural resources....
SOURCE: Sun Sentinel (FL) (5-26-10)
“Every major campaign does it. It’s almost like kabuki theater. You know the roles people are going to play. Basically there’s sort of a set role, set moves. It’s very stylized and that’s what we’re seeing here.”
Zelden is a professor of history and legal studies who specializes in politics and voting at Nova Southeastern University.
It started with Jeff Greene challenging Kendrick Meek. “It’s what politicians who are behind do. If you are the challenger you challenge. Even when you know the answer is no for good reason you challenge and you say ‘I asked.’”
One legitimate reason Greene’s idea isn’t workable is Meek is a member of Congress, and the House will be in session for much of the time covered by the challenge.
Zelden said the ultimate resolution “depends almost exclusively on Meek’s situation.”
If Meek is ahead in the polls and feels he’s getting his message out, there won’t be too many debates, he predicted. If Meek is slipping, more debates are possible.
Frontrunners are always reluctant to debate. “They don’t want to give credibility or a platform to the opponent. They’ve basically got more to lose in the game.”
Lots of debates may sound good at first blush, but they’re not necessarily great for the democratic process and informing the public, he said.
“There’s only so much to argue about. They’ll come in and say the same thing,” Zelden said. “One good televised debate has more impact than five or six debates that only the people who show up hear.”
The reason the famous Lincoln-Douglas Debates, between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas involved seven meetings, Zelden said, is they had a large state without electronic mass media....
SOURCE: FrontPageMag (5-24-10)
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Olga Velikanova, an Assistant Professor of Russian History at the University of North Texas. She was among the first scholars to work with declassified Communist Party and secret police archives. Her research about everyday Stalinism, the cult of Lenin and Russian popular opinion has been broadcast by the BBC, Finnish and Russian radio and TV, as well as the History Channel in Canada. She is the author of Making of an Idol: On Uses of Lenin, The Public Perception of the Cult of Lenin Based on the Archival Materials and The Myth of the Besieged Fortress: Soviet Mass Perception in the 1920s-1930s. She is a recipient of many awards from different international research foundations.
FP: Olga Velikanova, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
I would like to talk to you today about the Commission to Counter Attempts to Falsify History to the Detriment of Russia’s Interests, which Russian president Dmitry Medvedev created a year ago, on May 19, 2009. What are the goals of this Commission exactly and what has it achieved?
Velikanova: Thank you, Jamie.
A yearago, as you say, on May 19, 2009, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev created the Commission to Counter Attempts to Falsify History to the Detriment of Russia’s Interests.This Commission puzzled many historians. Was it an offensive against freedom of thought and speech? Did it open a door for possible repression of historians who would “undermine” the national image of Russia by bringing up unpleasant things about Russia’s national identity and the cruel truth about the Soviet past?
Without a doubt, we see a Stalinist-like intervention of the state occurring right before our eyes. It is an intervention into the historical profession and an imposition of boundaries on historical study.
The idea of the Commission was initiated by the Russian Ministry of Foreign affairs to oppose attempts by the Western neighbors of Russia to return to a discussion about the beginning and the results of WWII, and the role of the USSR in the post-war settlement. Primarily, this Commission was an instrument of struggle in foreign relations. It was a signal to Russian historians and media what positions they “should” take in their publications.
While Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have interpreted the occupation of their countries by the USSR in 1944-45 as enslavement, Soviet historiography has presented it as a liberation. As Baltic states argue, liberation from one dictatorial regime (Nazis) was followed by the onslaught and imposition of another dictatorial regime (Soviet). This account of two regimes was supported by the OSCE resolution on July 3, 2009, which stated equality of the role of Nazi Germany and the USSR in starting WWII. In response, the Russian media protested against any comparison of the two regimes of the 1930s.
Thus, the formation of the Commission should be read mostly in the context of foreign relations in the Baltic region (especially with Poland), rooted in the painful events of 1939-1945 and also in Russian-Ukrainian relations.
SOURCE: CHE (5-26-10)
SOURCE: CNN.com (5-24-10)
Editor's Note: This article's prior headline identified Douglas Brinkley as Alan Brinkley. The error has been corrected.
A presidential historian is warning that President Obama's political stock could hinge on the administration's response to the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
"I think that the President has to get control over this situation," historian Doug Brinkley said on CNN's Campbell Brown Monday night. "Right now there is a feeling in the country that BP's in charge but BP is the one that has been grossly negligent," Brinkley said. Brinkley, a longtime resident of New Orleans, offered Brown suggestions about what President Obama needs to do: Address the American people on television within 48 hours, tell them what's happening in the Gulf and talk about what's being lost. Brinkley also believes the White House must consider freezing BP's assets in the United States and called for the Justice Department to speed up its probe into BP.
When asked by Brown what price the President could pay for a slow response, Brinkley told Brown "It's a huge price."...
SOURCE: The Australian (5-25-10)
Eminent historian Stuart Macintyre criticised the impasse between the states and the federal government over who is going to pay for the teaching resources and training needed to implement the new curriculum, due to be introduced from 2011. While universities are training teachers who will be required to teach the national curriculum, no faculty of education has adjusted its course to take account of the changes.
The problem is most serious in history, with few education faculties outside NSW including the subject in teaching degrees, and many removing it from primary school teaching courses when it is about to become mandatory.
Professor Macintyre told The Australian the consultation process set up by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority had become derailed by "capricious" decisions made to change the course without reference to the expert advisory groups or the writers....
SOURCE: Special to HNN (5-25-10)
Living American Historian
- David McCullough- Number of Citations: 5,213
- James M. McPherson- Number of Citations: 4,090
- Peter Gay- Number of Citations: 3,559
- Edmund Morgan- Number of Citations: 3,103
- John Lewis Gaddis- Number of Citations: 3,060
- Robert Fogel- Number of Citations: 2,887
- Robert C. Tucker- Number of Citations: 2,144
- Carl Degler- Number of Citations: 2,090
Modern American Historians (Dead or Alive)
- David H. Donald- Number of Citations: 13,533
- Arthur Schlesinger- Number of Citations: 6,336
- David McCullough- Number of Citations: 5,213
- James M. McPherson- Number of Citations: 4,090
- Peter Gay- Number of Citations: 3,559
- George Mosse- Number of Citations: 3,425
- John Lewis Gaddis- Number of Citations: 3,060
- Robert Fogel- Number of Citations: 2,887
- Howard Zinn- Number of Citations: 2,621
- Robert C. Tucker- Number of Citations: 2,144
Modern International Historians (Dead or Alive)
- Paul Johnson (British)- Number of Citations: 19,241
- Harold James (British)- Number of Citations: 15,771
- EP Thompson (British)- Number of Citations: 13,835
- David H. Donald (USA) - Number of Citations: 13,533
- Arthur Schlesinger (USA)- Number of Citations: 6,336
- Richard Evans (British)- Number of Citations: 5,704
- Lawrence Stone (British)- Number of Citations: 5,647
- Fernand Braudel (French)- Number of Citations: 5,369
- David McCullough (USA)- Number of Citations: 5,213
- Christopher Hill (British)- Number of Citations: 4,338
SOURCE: Special to HNN (5-20-10)
[Ms. O'Neill is an HNN intern.]
The successful conciliation of the Iraqi city Tal Afar in 2005 now stands as a prime example and archetypal strategy of how to effectively implement U.S. counterinsurgency strategies, and Brigadier General H.R. McMaster can not only be credited with this successful campaign but also with the development of counterinsurgency theories, as he was part of General David Petraeus’ counterinsurgency council of experts in from 2007 to 2008.
General McMaster has been known for his invaluable critical thinking, as he has been one of the main brainpowers driving the strategies of the Army. He received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in American History, and his book Dereliction of Duty (1998), which severely criticizes the Johnson administration and the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their strategies in the Vietnam War, has even made it onto the reading list of the Marine Corps. Now McMaster is the director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center's Concepts Development and Experimentation Directorate, where he has led the “Army Capstone Concept,” which examines what the future of armed conflict will bring and how the Army will be able to address them.
While his actions have become the ideal prototype of the Army’s counterinsurgency methods, McMaster has recently found that obstacles to efficaciously waging counterinsurgency in Iraq are not simply limited to external forces, but to tools within the U.S. military as well.
In December of 2009, Richard Engel of NBC News released an article entitled “So what is the Actual Surge Strategy?” in which he unearthed the now-notorious PowerPoint presentation “Dynamic Planning for COIN in Afghanistan” and set off a debate on the actual effectiveness of the military’s extensive use of PowerPoint. Additionally, a recent article from April 2010 in the New York Times called “We Have Met the Enemy, and He is PowerPoint,” reveals the dependence of military briefings on the use of slides and also illustrates how this tool has suppressed critical reasoning and analytical discussion.
Many army commanders have acknowledged the dangers of this technological device, and McMaster recognized PowerPoint as an ineffective tool as early as 2005, when he banned such presentations during the pacification of Tal Afar. He does not, however, see the congested and perplexing slides as the major impediment to valuable decision-making and comprehension of the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The true danger of PowerPoint, according to McMaster, is the program’s basic tendency to deconstruct all concepts into mere bullet points, a dangerous trend that does not take into account military situations that will undoubtedly have political, ethnic and economic implications. General McMaster realizes the military currently faces situations that interweave many different factors and that bullet points only create a false impression of control for the U.S. Army and in no way create sufficient means for properly comprehending and effectively responding to the intricate situation in Iraq and Afghanistan.
SOURCE: El Paso Inc. (5-25-10)
The contrast was stark, and when he asked why, the explanations made no sense.
Those answers – corruption, a legacy of inferior administration from the Spaniards, and even a cultural tendency toward laziness – still make no sense, he says. So he’s putting in his two cents.
Martinez, 67, is a regents professor of history at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He’s finishing his latest book, titled “Why Mexico is Poorer than the United States.” It makes the case that there is a logical, empirically measurable set of answers.
“It is greatly exaggerated that Mexico is a rich country with regard to raw materials and resources. The reality is that Mexico is one of the poorest countries in terms of land,” he said. “The difference is the United States has the best space on the planet.”
Martinez said his neighborhood in Juárez was humble, and his father was often away working illegally in the U.S., leaving his mother – who was very strong, he says – to raise five children. From his parents, he learned a work ethic that some Americans think is their unique cultural advantage.
Martinez teaches the history of Mexico and of the border. His research focuses on the political, economic and social history of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands....
SOURCE: Minneapolis Star-Tribune (5-24-10)
She was 12 when the first birth control pill went on the market in 1960. Her parents were deeply involved in its development and distribution, her father as a clinical researcher, her mother as an advocate for birth control clinics in Los Angeles, where the family lived at the time.
She remembers the media swarming. No, her father told them, the Pill would not make single women promiscuous. (It was always women who were "promiscuous," not men, May said.) But it would prevent unwanted pregnancies, he insisted.
As May writes in her new book, "America + the Pill," that is perhaps the one expectation that the Pill has actually fulfilled 50 years later. It was not the miracle drug that solved the population explosion and world poverty; nor did it help defeat communism, as many of its advocates hoped. Its primary legacy today is that it gives the women lucky enough to get it the power to control the creation of life in their bodies -- and the chance to reach for their dreams.
"The Pill was hugely important in allowing women to control their fertility and their lives," said May, a professor of history and American studies at the University of Minnesota....
SOURCE: Diverse Issues in Higher Education (5-24-10)
Former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige and NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous were among those who spoke before the board earlier in the week. Paige, who served as Education Secretary during President George W. Bush’s first term, implored the board members to take more time to consider the new standards, saying they will diminish the importance of civil rights and slavery....
More than 1,200 scholars from universities across the state wrote a letter condemning the board for falling short of “providing even a basic education to Texas school children.”
“Standards are supposed to be about equity, not about marginalizing certain groups by using political power,” said Dr. Julian V. Heilig, assistant professor of education policy and planning and affiliate faculty in the department of African and African American Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.
“Standards, accountability and testing were created under the auspices of creating greater equity for students who have been historically underserved by the schools, the districts and the state,” he says. “As standards have become more and more politically defined the histories of those groups are being defined by other groups. When you disempower the history of the very groups that these standards were created to serve, the unintended consequences, I believe, is that these students are disempowered by those changes. It serves as a disincentive for these kids to stay in school.”...
Dr. Clayborne Carson, professor of history at Stanford University and director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, says he is concerned by the lack of expert guidance the board considered.
“What’s disturbing is when you not only want coverage of a certain area, but you want a certain viewpoint of an area. You’re mandating an interpretation of American history,” Carson says. ”When you demand a certain interpretation of American history, then why bother to have historians write history books? Why don’t you have the Texas Board of Education write them? Because they can’t. They’re not qualified to write. It puts historians into a very difficult position of essentially having to lie. You’re not really telling what you think is the story. You’re telling what you’ve been told is the story.”...
SOURCE: The Australian (5-26-10)
"The male line was really weak, they died in battle or were minors for many years," says Broomhall, a professor of history at the University of Western Australia. "It was the women who kept reminding people of the family through systematically promoting it, so when The Netherlands decided on a monarchy, their family was the obvious choice." The family still rules, via Queen Beatrix.
A $450,000, four-year Australian Research Council grant will help Broomhall and colleague Jacqueline Van Gent tease out the scope of the women's influence....
Broomhall's special interest is 16th-century French history and she was researching in the Paris archives in 2000 when she came across a cache of letters written between William the Silent's daughters Charlotte Brabantina, Elizabeth and Flandrina. The first two had married and moved to France, the last was a nun there. "They wrote to each other about once a week over a 30-year period," Broomhall says.
These letters are among thousands the scholars will mine, but they will also look for paintings, palaces and other non-paper records for clues to the personalities of the family....
SOURCE: American Thinker (5-23-10)
The population of Jews in the US is three percent ... but [their 'genius'] leads to their controlling so much power that even presidents are scared [of them]. Whether [President Barack] Obama will be able to escape the notion that three percent of the country is so powerful that the top gentile in the land cannot criticize Israel is not clear.
The above statement was made not by a Hamas or KKK leader, but by Ali al-Amin Mazrui, director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies at SUNY Binghamton. He was addressing the Ifriqiyya Colloquium Conference, held on the top floor of Columbia University's International Affairs Building, on Thursday, May 6. Mazrui is a darling of the far left, appearing prominently in venues such as Democracy Now, as well as at Islamist forums like the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
Columbia Professor Mahmood Mamdani and Barnard College Professor Nadia Abu El-Haj also sat on the panel, the former serving as moderator. Mamdani introduced the speaker, telling the audience that the Ifriqiyya Colloquium was about "gain[ing] some depth to the study of Africa." It may require a Ph.D. to appreciate how Mazrui's anti-Semitic diatribe relates to that mission statement.
Mazrui's lecture was entitled "Euro-Jews and Afro-Arabs: The Semitic Divergence in History," but he spent most of his time discussing the development of Jewish "genius" and "cultural impurity" in a European context. Ostensibly, Mazrui was comparing the impact of Jews on Europe to the impact of Arabs on Africa. However, he was more interested in why "Arabs lagged behind Jews in manifest genius." After admitting he knew little about Arab history and even less about Jews, Mazrui proceeded to spend his allotted time talking about the history of both peoples....
The conference ended at the completion of Mazrui's diatribe. It was a surreal experience to bear witness to a professor of Mazrui's professional stature dispensing with the usual fig leaf of "anti-Zionism" to espouse classic anti-Semitism. Academia ostensibly supports a world without prejudice, but professors like Mazrui now provide a legitimate façade for Jewish racial stereotypes. This is rank hypocrisy, and it's time we call it what it is....
SOURCE: Carlin Romano at CHE (5-23-10)
Like attacking the Catholic Church during its heyday of killing heretics and infidels, criticizing Islamism today is not for those who jump at the sound of bubble wrap cracking.
Ibn Warraq, author of Why I Am Not a Muslim and Defending the West, operates under a pseudonym, a wise move considering that goons called for his murder on a British Muslim Web site in 2008. Bassam Tibi, a Muslim liberal who deems Islamism totalitarian, needed 24-hour police protection in Germany for two years. Magdi Allam, an Egyptian-Italian journalist of similar bent (who further outraged some Muslim peers by converting to Catholicism) travels at times with multiple bodyguards, an entourage also necessary for the Somali-Dutch author Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Infidel, Nomad), who fled to the United States when the Dutch scotched (so to speak) her protection.
The list of critics of Islamism who've paid a high price in loss of personal freedom goes on: Italian journalist Fiamma Nirenstein, French critic and gay-rights activist Caroline Fourest, French philosophy teacher Robert Redeker, Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, and the most famous example of all, the novelist Salman Rushdie, forced into underground life for years after the Ayatollah Khomeini demanded his murder.
The examples come courtesy of Paul Berman, the shrewd, engagé New York intellectual and former MacArthur Foundation fellow who has become, after the death of Susan Sontag, our paramount lifeline to the trenches of French intellectual battle. Berman, author of Terror and Liberalism (Norton, 2003), among other important books, doesn't mention whether he's got his own beefy contingent laying low. But his provocative new The Flight of the Intellectuals (Melville House)—a tough-minded examination of Muslim reformist thinker Tariq Ramadan, at various times dubbed the "best-known Muslim in all of Europe," a "Muslim Martin Luther," and "the prophet of a new Euro-Islam"—gets high marks for bravery at the same time that it highlights another modern truth all public intellectuals should acknowledge....
SOURCE: Boston Herald (5-24-10)
Niall Ferguson, a revisionist economic historian best known as the author of “The Ascent of Money” book and TV series, has helped create a World War II strategy game and is also developing a Web-enabled history textbook that integrates his lectures on Western civilization with data, images and minigames for students to play at critical moments.
“Today’s students want to be engaged, and those who play strategy games know more about history than those who just read today’s textbooks,” said Ferguson. “The interactive approach to learning history is going to be a game-changer.”...
SOURCE: Slate.com (5-21-10)
It has long been an article of faith that President Lyndon B. Johnson said, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America," or something like that, after watching the February 1968 CBS News special about the Vietnam War in which well-respected broadcaster and host Walter Cronkite described the conflict as "mired in stalemate." Indeed, a month after the special, Johnson told the nation he would not be running for re-election.
"The program supposedly was so singularly potent that it has come to be remembered as the 'Cronkite moment,' " Campbell writes.
But when and where did Johnson make his Cronkite statement? The earliest mention of the Johnson anecdote Campbell could find is in David Halberstam's 1979 book about the press, The Powers That Be, which was published more than a decade after the alleged utterance. Halberstam doesn't put the apocryphal Johnson statement in quotations....
There are a half-dozen problems with Halberstam's reporting. Johnson doesn't appear to have seen the program when it aired, as Campbell documents. The program was recorded, according to Johnson Presidential Library records, but there is no evidence he watched the tape. Nor does Johnson mention the program in his memoirs, The Vantage Point. Arguing against the view that the program made a big impact on Johnson are the strident pro-war speeches Johnson gave after it aired. In one hell-raiser, he demanded a "total national effort" to win in Vietnam....
SOURCE: FOX News (5-20-10)
"[T]ravel to any foreign country," Oates wrote in the Atlantic Monthly in November 2007, "and the consensus is: The American idea has become a cruel joke, a blustery and bellicose bodybuilder luridly bulked up on steroids...deranged and myopic, dangerous."...
Andrew Roberts, a British historian and author of the best-selling Masters and Commanders: How Four Titans Won the War in the West, 1941-1945, has endorsed American exceptionalism in his own writings. Asked about Oates's comments, Roberts told Fox News it was evidence of a "psychiatric disorder" among liberal American intellectuals.
"For postmodernists, whereby everything has to be related to something else and nothing is truly exceptional, it's a disgusting concept that America could stand above and away from the normal ruck of history," Roberts said. "And of course, it also feeds in very much to Auropean anti-Americanism, especially at this time of the war against terror."
America, Roberts said, "is not like any other country. It wasn't born like other countries. It didn't come to prominence like other countries. It's not holding its imperium like other countries....It probably won't lose its supremacy like other countries. And so in that sense it is completely exceptional."...
Eric Foner of Columbia University, a leading historian of the colonial and Civil War periods -- his The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, due out in October, will be his twenty-second book -- told Fox News he finds some strains of American exceptionalism "parochial" and "chauvinistic."
"It causes problems because it has, at various points in our history, led us to interventions abroad...claiming to bring the benefits of American life to people who sometimes aren't all that anxious to receive it," Foner told Fox News. "So it leads to this kind of imperial frame of mind that we know best for everybody, we know that our system is better -- and of course sometimes other people aren't as convinced of that.
"To think about oursleves [sic] as exceptional really is a very narrow vision in a world which is becoming more and more globalized every day," Foner added. "Throughout our history, many of the processes which have shaped American history -- industrialization, urbanization, things like that -- are not purely national phenomena. And yet we sometimes think that the only way to understand American history is to think about it within the United States...[the pushing Westward of] the frontier, or things that are indigenous to the United States."...
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (5-21-10)
The Jefferson Lecture is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, which describes the lecture as "the most prestigious honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities." Those chosen for the distinction are typically academics or creative types (or both) -- but, given the setting, the sponsor, and the nature of the award (which "recognizes an individual... who has the ability to communicate the knowledge and wisdom of the humanities in a broad, appealing way"), Jefferson Lecturers have historically taken the opportunity to make a larger (and sometimes tacitly political) point related to the humanities. Last year, controversial bioethicist Leon Kass used his lecture to criticize the way the humanities are taught and researched at American universities; in 2007, Harvey Mansfield argued, with many subtle political allusions, that the social sciences are in dire need of "the help of literature and history"; Tom Wolfe's 2006 lecture discussed how the humanities shed light on modern culture (and lamented the current state of the culture on campuses); and 2005 lecturer Donald Kagan and 2004 lecturer Helen Vendler offered opposing views on which disciplines of the humanities are most crucial, and why.
If any of those in the crowd (noticeably larger than last year's) at the Warner Theatre last night were familiar with the Jefferson Lectures of years prior, they were in for a surprise.
Spence is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University, whose faculty he joined in 1966. His specialty has always been China -- his 14 books on Chinese history include 1990's The Search for Modern China, upon whose publication the New York Times accurately predicted that it would "undoubtedly become a standard text on the subject" -- and his lecture was entitled "When Minds Met: China and the West in the Seventeenth Century." Even this relatively specific appellation, however, conveys a misleading breadth, for Spence's lecture focused almost exclusively on three men -- Shen Fuzong, an exceptionally learned Chinese traveler; Thomas Hyde, an English scholar of history and language; and Robert Boyle, also English, a scientist and philosopher of considerable renown -- and one year: 1687....
SOURCE: Interfax (RU) (5-19-10)
"On Stalin's idea, this hall was built as a kind of chapel, a kind of church, where only elite is allowed," historian Olga Zinovyeva told TV Center....
SOURCE: Scott McLemee at Inside Higher Ed (5-19-10)
[Scott McLemee writes for Inside Higher Ed.]
The new titles that arrive from publishers each week usually come with promotional material that, apart from remembering to recycle, I carefully ignore. But over the past week -- thanks to an eagle-eyed colleague -- I have been making up for this practiced neglect by lingering over one publicist's letter in particular.
It is remarkable. It may be the most striking and provocative bit of prose concerning a scholarly book to have circulated in some while. The passage in question runs to one paragraph appearing about two-thirds of the way down the page of a note accompanying the page proofs for 1877: America’s Year of Living Violently by Michael A. Bellesiles, to be published by the New Press in August. Here it is:
“A major new work of popular history, 1877 is also notable as the comeback book for a celebrated U.S. historian. Michael Bellesiles is perhaps most famous as the target of an infamous ‘swiftboating’ campaign by the National Rifle Association, following the publication of his Bancroft Prize-winning book Arming America (Knopf, 2000) -- ‘the best kind of non-fiction,’ according to the Chicago Tribune -- which made daring claims about gun ownership in early America. In what became the history profession’s most talked-about and notorious case of the past generation, Arming America was eventually discredited after an unprecedented and controversial review called into question its sources, charges which Bellesiles and his many prominent supporters have always rejected.”
These sentences have absorbed and rewarded my attention for days on end. They are a masterpiece of evasion. The paragraph is, in its way, quite impressive. Every word of it is misleading, including “and” and “the.”
Bellesiles has a certain claim to fame, certainly, but not as “the target of an infamous ‘swiftboating’ campaign.” He is, and will be forever remembered as, a historian whose colleagues found him to have violated his profession's standards of scholarly integrity. Arming America won the Bancroft Prize -- the highest honor for a book on American history. But far more salient is the fact that the Bancroft committee took the unprecedented step of withdrawing the prize....
- David A. Walsh: Michael Bellesiles is Back with a New Book
- James Lindgren: Michael Bellesiles and the Bogus NRA Conspiracy
- Eugene Volokh: A New Book Coming Soon from Michael Bellesiles
- How the Bellesiles Story Developed
- Summary of the Emory Report
- Bellesiles's Response to the Report
- Other Responses to the Report
- Remaining Questions