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: World Mag (1-15-11)
Many people associate Islam with terrorism, but you also examine a long-term threat that would be peaceful but transformative. In this country, mostly because of 9/11, we focus on terrorism, but in Europe the discussion is much more about immigration and culture. They say,"Unless we make changes, our civilization will disappear." Demographics, culture, and religion may make Europe an extension of North Africa, with attractions like the Mosque of Notre Dame in Paris.
In part that's because non-Muslim Europeans have few children, Muslims have many? There are three factors. First, demography: Women on average need to have 2.1 children to maintain a population, but in Europe right now it's about 1.4, one-third fewer children than are needed. The second factor is religion: the weakening of Christianity. Factor three is multiculturalism: no sense that your own culture is special, something worth fighting for and defending. Muslims have many children. They also immigrate. They have a distinct sense of the superiority of their civilization....
SOURCE: NYT (12-24-10)
His books include “Ben-Gurion: Prophet of Fire,” a biography of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister; “A Special Mission: Hitler’s Secret Plot to Seize the Vatican and Kidnap Pope Pius XII,” about an episode in which Nazi officials in Italy undermined a direct order from Hitler in 1943 to abduct the pope and loot the Vatican; and “Blood and Water: Sabotaging Hitler’s Bomb,” about Allied efforts to destroy Norsk Hydro, a plant in Norway that could create deuterium oxide, or heavy water, a substance that could have helped the Nazis build a nuclear bomb....
SOURCE: WaPo (12-23-10)
Look at all that was passed: a huge compromise tax bill, the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," a major food safety bill, the New START treaty and the 9/11 first responders health-care measure.
That was the work of the lame-duck Congress. But the idea that this Congress limped out or was in any way lame seems risible.
The 111th Congress capped its remarkable term - which historian Alan Brinkley called "probably the most productive session of Congress since at least the '60s" - with a flurry of legislative activity that President Obama described as "the most productive post-election period we've had in decades."...
SOURCE: BBC News (12-22-10)
Dr Stewart worked as a lecturer in Stranmillis College of Education, before becoming a lecturer at Queen's University Belfast.
He was also a best-selling author and a contributor to BBC history programmes and to the Irish Times.
Professor Lord Paul Bew, from Queen's School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy, said Dr Stewart was an "outstanding historian in an outstanding generation of Queen's historians".
"He was also a well-known journalist and broadcaster, capable of bridging the gap between the academic and public sphere....
SOURCE: University of Wyoming (12-20-10)
December 20, 2010 — An inventory of papers and correspondence of Bruce Catton, widely regarded (along with Shelby Foote) as the most popular of America's Civil War historians, is now accessible online through the University of Wyoming American Heritage Center.
There are no access restrictions on the materials for research purposes, and the collection is open to the public.
Catton (1899-1978) was a newspaper reporter in Cleveland and Boston before working for the War Production Board and the U.S. Department of Commerce during World War II. The first of his 15 Civil War histories was published in 1951. His"A Stillness at Appomattox" won both the Pulitzer Prize for history and the National Book Award in 1954. He was an editor with"American Heritage" from 1954-1978.
A description and inventory for this collection [is now] accessible at http://rmoa.unm.edu/docviewer.php?docId=wyu-ah04032.xml/.
SOURCE: The Root (12-19-10)
Truth be told, that historic Kodak moment didn't truly reflect the movement that everyone, from folks at the conservative Fox News Channel to the hip-hop generation to the White House, lays claim to today. The civil rights struggle was fragmented and contentious and had serious internal divisions.
But the need to dream and do remains. "Today we face a new set of challenges," says Brian Smedley of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank devoted to issues of concern to African Americans, "and one of the most significant challenges for the movement today is to somehow tackle the notion that the United States is now color-blind or post-racial."
Here's a history lesson according to Wade Henderson, president of the 60-year-old Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: Were there no NAACP, founded in 1909, there would have been no Martin Luther King Jr. to answer the call in Montgomery in 1955 and no March on Washington in 1963. And if that had not happened, there would be no Barack Obama accepting the Democratic Party's nomination for president on Aug. 28, 2008, and there would be no President Obama about whose effectiveness those concerned about a civil rights agenda are now debating.
Ask Mary Frances Berry, former chair of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and a longtime history professor at the University of Pennsylvania, or Roger Wilkins, professor emeritus of history at George Mason University, if there is a discernible civil rights movement in 2010 and they will say no....
SOURCE: Talking Points Memo (12-21-10)
Earlier, I asked Todd Moye, an associate professor of history at the University of North Texas, and also the author of Let the People Decide: Black Freedom and White Resistance Movements in Sunflower County, Mississippi, 1945-1986, for his expertise on the matter.
He called the councils a "terrorist organization."...
SOURCE: Huffington Post (12-20-10)
"It is quite disturbing that the governor of this state would take an approach to try to change the history of this state," said Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi NAACP. "It's beyond disturbing -- it's offensive that he would try and create a new historical reality that undermines the physical, mental, and economic hardship that many African-Americans had to suffer as a result of the policies and practices of the White Citizens Council."
In his interview with The Weekly Standard, Barbour heaps praise on the pro-segregation Citizens Council, which he credits with integrating the Yazoo City public schools without any violence....
Joseph Crespino, an associate professor of history at Emory University, also noted a particular incident in Yazoo City undermining Barbour's claims. "One of the things the Citizens Council would do is carry out economic harassment -- sometimes physical intimidation -- against local blacks," he said. "There was this well-known incident in Yazoo City in the 1950s where a handful of black parents tried to file a lawsuit against a local public school. They lost their jobs because they filed a lawsuit and they participated in the local civil rights movement. So it's well-documented that the kind of harassment that blacks faced when they tried to desegregate the schools there in Yazoo City."...
SOURCE: NYT (12-20-10)
Her death was confirmed by Dr. Philippe Rodet, a friend.
Ms. de Romilly, who in 1973 became the first woman named a professor at the Collège de France, embraced the culture of ancient Athens with an almost romantic fervor and spent much of her life championing the humanities, in particular Greek and Latin, whose waning role in the French education system distressed her greatly.
Although known as a specialist on the historian Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War, she wrote dozens of books on philosophy and political thought in ancient Greece, on the tragedians Aeschylus and Sophocles, and on Homer....
SOURCE: Miller-McCune (12-20-10)
“We’re celebrating that those 170 people risked their lives and fortunes to stand for what they believed in, which is self-government,” one of the event’s organizers told The New York Times. “Many people in the South still believe that is a just and honorable cause.”
“Of course, when South Carolina did secede, there was enormous celebration, dancing in the streets and so on,” said James McPherson, a Princeton Civil War historian and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning history Battle Cry of Freedom....
“Probably 90 percent, maybe 95 percent of serious historians of the Civil War would agree on the broad questions of what the war was about and what brought it about and what caused it,” McPherson said, “which was the increasing polarization of the country between the free states and the slave states over issues of slavery, especially the expansion of slavery.”...
“One hundred and fifty years ago Christmas Eve day, everyone knew why South Carolina was seceding because they said so — it’s a wonderful document,” said James Loewen, a sociologist and co-editor of The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader.
Four days after South Carolina seceded on Dec. 20, 1860, the state adopted a second document titled “Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.” Loewen considers the record, central to his new collection, one of the five most important documents in the history of the country, launching as it did a seminal chapter in America’s ongoing struggle to define itself.
“So why does nobody ever read it?” he asked. “Everybody knew [secession was] about slavery. This document is all about slavery.”...
SOURCE: El Paso Times (12-20-10)
Now certain New Mexico historians are hoping that legendary outlaw Billy the Kid receives a posthumous pardon from outgoing New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.
Richardson last week received a formal petition to pardon Billy the Kid. The governor's staff said the issue, though, has been on Richardson's mind since he took office eight years ago.
If Richardson is to pardon Billy the Kid, or anyone else, he must act by midnight Dec. 31, when his second term ends and he returns to private life.
Billy the Kid's real name was William H. Bonney, although he also was known as Henry McCarty and Henry Antrim.
SOURCE: Ian Johnson at the NYRB (12-20-10)
Yang Jisheng is an editor of Annals of the Yellow Emperor, one of the few reform-oriented political magazines in China. Before that, the 70-year-old native of Hubei province was a national correspondent with the government-run Xinhua news service for over thirty years. But he is best known now as the author of Tombstone (Mubei), a groundbreaking new book on the Great Famine (1958–1961), which, though imprecisely known in the West, ranks as one of worst human disasters in history. I spoke with Yang in Beijing in late November about his book, the political atmosphere in Beijing, and the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo.
Tombstone, which Yang began working on when he retired from Xinhua in 1996, is the most authoritative account of the Great Famine. It was caused by the Great Leap Forward, a millennial political campaign aimed at catapulting China into the ranks of developed nations by abandoning everything (including economic laws and common sense) in favor of steel production. Farm work largely stopped, iron tools were smelted in “backyard furnaces” to make steel—most of which was too crude to be of any use—and the Party confiscated for city dwellers what little grain was sown and harvested. The result was one of the largest famines in history. From the government documents he consulted, Yang concluded that 36 million people died and 40 million children were not born as a result of the famine. Yang’s father was among the victims and Yang says this book is meant to be his tombstone.
Over the past few years, foreign researchers and journalists have used demographic and anecdotal evidence to arrive at similar estimates. But Yang has gone further, using his contacts around the country to penetrate closely guarded Communist Party archives and uncover more direct proof of the number of dead, the cases of cannibalism, and the continued systematic efforts of the state to cover up this colossal tragedy. This makes Tombstone one of the most important books to come out of China in recent years and led the government to ban it.
Ian Johnson: I wondered when reading Tombstone why officials didn’t destroy the files. Why did they preserve all this evidence?
Yang Jisheng: Destroying files isn’t up to one person. As long as a file or document has made it into the archives you can’t so easily destroy it. Before it is in the archives, it can be destroyed, but afterwards, only a directive from a high-ranking official can cause it to be destroyed. I found that on the Great Famine the documentation is basically is intact—how many people died of hunger, cannibalism, the grain situation; all of this was recorded and still exists.
SOURCE: NYT (12-20-10)
His daughter, Joanne, confirmed the death.
Historians say that as many as 1.5 million Armenians died in orchestrated killings between 1915 and 1918, amid the chaos of World War I and the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey, which has always denied that there was a planned genocide, maintains that 300,000 Armenians and at least that many Turks were killed in civil strife after Armenians, backed by Russia, rose up against the Ottomans. To this day, uttering the words “Armenian genocide” can be grounds for prosecution in Turkey....
SOURCE: National Security Archive at GWU (12-16-10)
Thomas Blanton, executive director of the National Security Archive, who testified today before the House Committee on the Judiciary. During the first Congressional hearing in the aftermath of "Cablegate" and the Wikileaks release of State Department documents, Blanton urged that lawmakers take a reasoned view of the issues raised by the leaks and not to "overreact."
"There is more heat than light," Blanton stated, citing calls for broadening the Espionage Act and assassinating Wikileaks leader, Julian Assange. Hasty punitive reactions, he predicted, "will actually produce more leaks, more crackdowns, less accountable government, and diminished security."
"History shows we end up doing more damage from the overreaction than from the original leak," according to Blanton....
SOURCE: Sheffield Telegraph (UK) (12-14-10)
SOME books do exactly what it says on the tin.
Tweedale’s Directory of Sheffield Cutlery manufacturers 1740 to 2010 is one of them.
In short, this tome of almost an inch thick contains a history of the Sheffield Cutlery trades from the 1740s right up to the present day.
Geoffrey Tweedale, a professor of history at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, has been researching Sheffield’s cutlery industry for more than 30 years.
He’s written several other books on the subject - including Sheffield Steel and America, Steel City Entrepreneurship, Strategy and Technology in Sheffield and the Sheffield Knife Book, a Collectors Guide - but none can be more detailed or comprehensive than his latest work....
SOURCE: Indian Express (12-15-10)
SOURCE: Star Tribune (12-10-10)
The 1852 house is filled with period pieces like cast-iron stoves, a chair with cowhorn arms and art made of twisted hair. But exactly what is the story the house is trying to tell?
"The story of Richfield," said Sarah Hummel, director of the Richfield Historical Society....
Richfield won an AASLH award for a 2008 history book on the city. The Anoka County Historical Society has been recognized for an exhibit on the local impact of the Vietnam War. This year, AASLH leaders singled out the Wadena Historical Society for recording oral histories about the tornadoes that hammered the city in June....
SOURCE: The Age (AU) (12-15-10)
His first contribution to the canvas of Australian military literature was an article published in December 1941 in the Australian Quarterly. Four books followed: centennial histories of the Science Museum of Victoria (1972), and the Naval and Military Club (1981), a History of the School of Mines and Industries Ballarat (1984), and the biography of Professor R. H. Samuel (1997).
Perry's special interests - Sir John Monash, and on the civilian side, Sir Frederick Shedden, and those Australian officers who attained field rank - were expressed in about 85 articles published in a range of military journals, with a further 10 contributions to the Australian Dictionary of Biography....
SOURCE: Associated Baptist Press (12-13-10)
Because of nightly requirements for church-going families -- including children's sports -- week-long and two-week revivals that were once a mainstay of Baptist life are becoming a thing of the past, Leonard says in the summer/fall 2010 issue of the journal Baptist History and Heritage.
Leonard, professor of church history at Wake Forest University Divinity School, says revival movements of the 19th and 20th centuries not only propelled Baptists from a small sectarian community to America's second-largest denomination but also had an impact on Sunday mornings....
SOURCE: BoilerStation.com (12-13-10)
The holiday brought out surprising kindness in slave owners, giving their slaves numerous gifts and lavish banquets, according to Purdue University history professor Robert E. May.
Still, often these acts of kindness had a dark side to them.
May will discuss this segment of American history during the holidays at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Tippecanoe County Public Library, 627 South St. His talk, "Christmas in the Confederacy," is free and open to the public.
Question: What was Christmas like in the South before the Civil War?
Answer: Churchgoing, shopping and gift-giving were extremely important to Southern whites before the Civil War, and the holiday became crucial in mitigating the possibility of slave revolts in the region. Many masters were remarkably generous to slaves at Christmas, throwing them sumptuous banquets (including astounding amounts of liquor) and giving them many days off from work and many presents -- some under a ritual with psychological nuances called "Christmas Gif." Slave weddings commonly took place over the holidays, for reasons that I will get into at my talk....
SOURCE: Oregon Live (12-11-10)
From street level, we can raise our eyes to the Wells Fargo Center or the US Bancorp Tower, the Oregon Health & Science University complex on Marquam Hill, or Mount Hood soaring on the eastern horizon....
"Above" is the operative word, as in "Above Portland," a new coffee-table book by Portland photographer Bruce Forster, with historic passages and captions by Chet Orloff....
Forster's career began in London with work for Nova, the BBC, the Daily Telegraph and various professional journals. He came to Portland in 1970, opened his own studio and has assembled extensive credentials in fine art, magazine, architectural and corporate photography.
Orloff is perhaps best known as director emeritus of the Oregon Historical Society....
SOURCE: Irish Examiner (12-11-10)
Charles Schulze, who had served as a captain in the Dorsetshire Regiment during WWI, led Auxiliaries on a rampage of burning as a reprisal for an IRA ambush which left a colleague dead and 15 injured....
Historian Jim Herlihy has discovered letters written by Schulze to his mother and girlfriend.
SOURCE: Atlanta Examiner (12-11-10)
Mark Simpson, commander of the South Carolina Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, acknowledged that an event such as the December 20 Secession Gala in Charleston is seen by most Americans as politically incorrect. But "to us it is part of our nature and our culture and our heritage. Slavery was a very big issue. Anyone who denies that has his head in a hole somewhere. But slavery was not the single or primary cause, and that is where the line gets drawn. The primary cause was states’ rights – the purported right of states to nullify federal laws and freely leave the Union they voluntarily joined.”
Most historians would disagree, and strongly! "Slavery was the principal cause of the U.S. Civil War, period," said Bob Sutton, chief historian for the National Park Service. "Yes, politics was important. Yes, economics were important. Yes, social issues and states’ rights were important. But when you get to the core of why all these things were important, it was slavery!"...
SOURCE: Chicago Sun-Times (12-11-10)
....On Friday at the University of Chicago’s Joseph Regenstein Library, researchers unveiled a new website intended to make it easy for the public and scholars alike to locate these African-American artifacts as well as a host of others in the city from the same period in history....
The website is the “cutting edge portal into discovering primary source materials to study and know black Chicago’s history from the 1930s to the 1970s,” said Jacqueline Goldsby, a former U. of C. professor who headed up the three-year project....
SOURCE: NYT (12-13-10)
“It seemed that the purpose of the singing and dancing was only to sustain each other in their last ordeal,” a witness observed. “As the last moment rapidly approached, they each called out their name and shouted in their native language: ‘I’m here! I’m here!’ ”
Thirty-seven of the men were among the “most ferocious” followers of the Dakota leader Little Crow, according to the federal government. They stood accused of killing approximately 490 settlers, including women and children, in raids along the Minnesota frontier.
But one man, historians say, did not belong there. A captured Dakota named We-Chank-Wash-ta-don-pee, often called Chaska, had had his sentence commuted by President Abraham Lincoln days earlier. Yet on the day after Christmas 1862, Chaska died with the others.
It was a case of wrongful execution, Gary C. Anderson, a history professor at the University of Oklahoma and Little Crow biographer, said last week in an interview. “These soldiers just grabbed the wrong guy,” he said....
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (12-13-10)
I took charge of the president’s books because it was my assigned job to write thank-you letters for them. I would send her the books and the unsigned draft replies on presidential letterhead; for each one, she sent me back the signed letter and, most of the time, the book, meaning she had no further use for it. Some books she would keep, but seldom for very long, which meant those came back to me too, in one of the smaller offices on the third floor of Mass Hall where there was no room to put them. Furthermore they weren’t so easily disposed of. Often they bore inscriptions, to President Drew Faust or to her and her husband from people they knew; and even if the volume was something rather less exalted — a professor from India sending his management tome or a book of Hindi poems addressed, mysteriously, to "Sir" or to the "vice-chancellor of Harvard University" — these books obviously couldn’t end up in a secondhand bookshop or charity bin or anywhere they could cause embarrassment. All were soon moved to an overflow space at the very end of the hall, coincidentally looking out at a donation bin for books at a church across the street....