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: Newark Advocate (1-19-11)
Two giant light stands, two cameras and a Columbus-based film crew filled half of the room, taping a lecture titled, "The Roots of Progressive Reform," for the C-SPAN program, "Lectures in History."
"I had not anticipated such an impressive (display)," Lerner told his freshman history class. "When I'm a big Hollywood star, you are all going to be able to say, 'I was there at the beginning.'"
About six months ago, Lerner received an e-mail from the cable channel asking if he was interested in taking part in the program and asking him to send in syllabi for his courses. He teaches upper- and lower-level history classes primarily in Newark but also in Columbus....
SOURCE: Institute for the Study of the Americas (1-17-11)
In 1960, US political scientist Richard Neustadt began his seminal book, Presidential Power, with the observation: “In the United States we like to ‘rate’ a President. We measure him as ‘weak’ or ‘strong’ and call what we are measuring his ‘leadership.’” In the half century since then, systematic presidential rating has become a regular exercise for US scholars. Over the same period, study and research of US history and politics expanded dramatically in UK universities. Until now, however, there has been no UK poll of US presidents.
The United States Presidency Centre [USPC] of the Institute for the Study of the Americas (part of the University of London’s School of Advanced Study) has made good this omission by conducting the first ever UK scholarly survey of US presidents from George Washington to George W. Bush, with an interim assessment of Barack Obama.
In total, 47 UK specialists on American history and politics took part in the poll that was conducted in September/October 2010. They were asked to rate the performance of presidents (*) in five categories: (i) vision/agenda-setting – did the president have the clarity of vision to establish overarching goals for his administration and shape the terms of policy discourse? (ii) domestic leadership – did the president display the political skill needed to achieve his domestic objectives and respond effectively to unforeseen developments? (iii) foreign policy leadership – was the president an effective leader in promoting US foreign policy interests and national security? (iv) moral authority – did the president uphold the moral authority of his office through his character, values, and conduct? (v) positive historical significance of their legacy – did the president’s legacy have positive benefits for America’s development over time?...
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945) was placed first overall in the poll, with Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) second and George Washington (1789-1797) third. Roosevelt came first in three categories: vision/agenda-setting; domestic leadership; and foreign policy leadership; Washington came first for moral authority; and Lincoln did so for the positive significance of his legacy.
Only one president who has held office since 1960 – Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) – made the overall top ten, coming at No 8. Most of the recent presidents held middling positions in the poll: Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) was placed at No 18, Bill Clinton (1993-2001) at No 19, George H. W. Bush (1989-1993) at No 22, Richard Nixon (1969-1974) at No 23, and Gerald Ford (1974-1977) at No 24. However, George W. Bush (2001-2009) at No 31 came in the bottom ten and was the lowest rated president of any who has held office since the scandal-hit Warren Harding (1921-1923), placed at No 38....
SOURCE: The Atlanta Post (1-18-11)
Neither will his age. When he leaves the ...White House — in either 2013, or 2017, at the age of 52 or 56, depending on the outcome of the next election — he will still have a dangerous jump-shot and a bop in his walk, and his children will still be youngsters.
“He’ll be a relatively young ex-President, so he’ll have a long career,” said Alan Brinkley, a historian at Columbia University. “I think we’ve had somewhat younger Presidents fairly recently, and also people are living longer now, so ex-Presidents seem to be around for a longer time. Some of them are very active, like Clinton and Carter, and others seem to just disappear. I doubt that Obama will disappear.”
As a member of what Herbert Hoover called the “most exclusive trade union in the world,” Obama stands to reap the rewards of having served as leader of the free world in times of global crisis. The Clintons, who never earned much during their years in public office and who left office with crushing legal bills, were able to earn $100 million just eight years after leaving Pennsylvania Avenue. If Obama leaves office with high approval ratings and with the country believing itself to be on the right track, he could follow in Bill Clinton’s footsteps, or perhaps earn more....
SOURCE: Trend (Azerbaijan) (1-17-11)
"It should be noted that this issue was discussed at the Politburo, which was considered the supreme organ of the Party, and the defense ministry was directly instructed to enforce this decision, and Baku was occupied. Citizens could not think that their own army would commit such crime against them, since the Soviet Union still existed then, and those who served in the army were citizens of the USSR," said Hasanli....
SOURCE: Washington Examiner (1-16-11)
"Ronald Reagan deeply loved his son, Ronald Prescott and indeed all of his children. He demonstrated that love in countless ways throughout his life. If one reads President Reagan's diaries from 1981 until 1989, they would discover a man completely in control of his own destiny," Shirley said in a statement issued today....
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (1-16-11)
Today, on a side road leading off from the heath, the Marxist ambition remains alive in the house of Eric Hobsbawm. Born in 1917 (in Alexandria, under the British protectorate of Egypt), more than 20 years after both Marx and Engels had died, he knew neither man personally, of course. But talking to Eric in his airy front room, filled with family photos, academic honours and a lifetime of cultural objets, there is an almost tangible sense of connection to the men and their memory....
Tristram Hunt At the heart of this book, is there a sense of vindication? That even if the solutions once offered by Karl Marx might no longer be relevant, he was asking the right questions about the nature of capitalism and that the capitalism that has emerged over the last 20 years was pretty much what Marx was thinking about in the 1840s?
Eric Hobsbawm Yes, there certainly is. The rediscovery of Marx in this period of capitalist crisis is because he predicted far more of the modern world than anyone else in 1848. That is, I think, what has drawn the attention of a number of new observers to his work – paradoxically, first among business people and business commentators rather than the left. I remember noticing this just around the time of the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Communist Manifesto, when not very many plans were being made for celebrating it on the left. I discovered to my amazement that the editors of the [in-flight] magazine of United Airlines said they wanted to have something about the Manifesto. Then, a bit later on, I was having lunch with [financier] George Soros, who asked:"What do you think of Marx?" Even though we don't agree on very much, he said to me:"There's definitely something to this man."
SOURCE: NYT (1-13-11)
Roads blast through;
Triborough, Whitestone, Throgs Neck, Verrazano;
Northern State, Southern State, Saw Mill, Henry Hudson;
Jones Beach, Riverside Park.
To be sure, the musical is considerably less comprehensive than Mr. Caro’s 1,286-page 1974 book, “The Power Broker,” which follows Moses’ career as city parks commissioner and chairman of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. “Robert Moses Astride New York” moves through major chapters of history in just a few stanzas, and the piece to be performed Saturday is only a sampling of what the composer, Gary Fagin, ultimately hopes will become a full-fledged production featuring additional characters like the neighborhood activist Jane Jacobs and Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia. Saturday’s concert will feature the Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra (Mr. Fagin is its music director and conductor), which will also perform classics by American composers like Aaron Copland, Charles Ives, Leonard Bernstein and Bob Dylan.
At a piano rehearsal the other day the work sounded like an opera. It is sung through, performed by a booming tenor (Rinde Eckert), and there are no dance numbers. And Mr. Caro understandably seemed a little self-conscious, seeing it in the intimate setting of a music studio, sitting in a single straight-back chair, with only a reporter and a photographer joining him as audience. Even as Mr. Caro was observing the performance, he was being observed by them, not to mention Mr. Fagin and Mr. Eckert, who were pretty psyched to have him there.
But Mr. Caro said he enjoyed himself nonetheless. The piece took him back into the book, with its references to pivotal Moses battles like that over Central Park (Moses wanted to expand Tavern on the Green’s parking lot; parents wanted to save their playground; they won) or Moses’ bitterness at having Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller accept his resignation.
Mr. Caro said he was particularly pleased by the musical’s last section, which recalls Moses’ dedication of a bench in Flushing Meadows, one of the parks he’d built. It is the poignant scene that concludes “The Power Broker,” in which Moses wonders why he wasn’t sufficiently appreciated.
Someday, let us sit on this bench
And reflect on the gratitude of man.
And when someone asks,
“Who built this road, this bridge, this park?”
Say: A giant, a genius.
He built it all.
He built New York.
Mr. Caro said the bench dedication inspired the last line of the book — “Why weren’t they grateful?” — and enabled him to organize an otherwise overwhelming seven years of research and to start writing.
“In all the stuff that’s ever been written about ‘The Power Broker’ no one has ever written about the bench,” Mr. Caro told Mr. Fagin after the rehearsal. “The bench was the great moment as a writer, an epiphany: I can do this. I have the last sentence.”...
SOURCE: Politico (1-14-11)
The pageantry and patter of the Oval Office that came so naturally to Reagan and Bill Clinton haven’t come quite as easily to Obama, an electrifying campaign performer who is finally mastering the intimate, idiosyncratic language of the American presidency....
“It was different than Clinton at Oklahoma City or Reagan after the Challenger crash, but it was equally important for his presidency,” said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, who has written books on Reagan as well as Presidents Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and both Roosevelts.
“Remember, he took some shots when he first took office, and that has bred caution in his speechwriting,” added Brinkley. “The Oval Office speech on the BP spill was boilerplate. Even the Fort Hood eulogy, while heartfelt, was pretty unmemorable. But this was a great presidential speech. This was a serious, transformational moment in his presidency.”...
SOURCE: HNN Staff (1-7-11)
The Center for History and New Media at George Mason University announced this evening that the fundraising drive to rename the CHNM after its late founder, Roy Rosenzweig, has reached $950,000, only $50,000 short of the $1 million goal.
Jack Censer, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at George Mason University, and Gary Kornblith, professor of history at Oberlin College, made the announcement at a reception to celebrate the posthumous release of Dr. Rosenzweig’s Clio Wired: The Future of the Past in the Digital Age at the AHA in Boston.
The Center for History and New Media “represented [Roy's] vision in all of its generosity and his effort to make history freely, openly, and radically available to the demos,” said Dr. Kornblith.
For more information, or to make a donation, visit the Center for History and New Media’s website here.
SOURCE: US News & World Report (1-14-11)
"Back in the 1940s and 1950s, the common advice was to cut what was called 'the silver cord,'" says Stephanie Coontz, a professor of history and family studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. "Don't take your parents in, experts warned. Don't even remain very close to them. Focus on your own nuclear families."
"Those years were the low point in all of American history in the percentage of multigenerational households, as well as in favorable attitudes toward them," adds Coontz, who also works with the nonprofit Council on Contemporary Families. "I think that there has been a rediscovery of the importance of intergenerational ties in recent years, partly perhaps because marriages have become more fragile, partly because adult kids often delay marriage long enough so that they socialize more with their parents in their 20s, and partly because more democratic and individualized child-rearing values have led to a greater sense of closeness."...
SOURCE: FoneHome (UK) (1-14-11)
...The whole app has been compiled by Richard Overy, Professor of History at the University of Exeter. You can’t get much more credible than that. It’s a fresh new move from one of the best iPhone game makers out there, and is available now for £5.99.
SOURCE: The Daily Caller (1-12-11)
According to noted historian Douglas Brinkley, a fellow at the Baker Institute and a professor of history at Rice University, it will rank up there with one of the bloodiest times in U.S. history, the Civil Rights Era in Alabama, including the September 15, 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham and the March 7, 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma....
SOURCE: OC Weekly (1-12-11)
The Weekly has chimed in when author/KPFK radio host/UC Irvine history professor Jon Wiener has pressed the federal government to release secret FBI files on John Lennon, academia to better police historians and our owners to loosen what he perceived to be a stranglehold on our sister paper, LA Weekly. Wiener has also written in our pages, real and virtual.
But now the good professor has gone waaaay too far: In the wake of the Arizona tragedy, he's advocating the arming of old, white college professors like, uh, the guys he sits across from at Anthill Pub & Grille....
SOURCE: NPR.org (1-12-11)
The term "blood libel" is not well known, but it is highly charged — a direct reference to a time when many European Christians accused Jews of kidnapping and murdering Christian children to obtain their blood. Jews were tortured and executed for crimes they did not commit, emblematic of anti-Semitism so virulent that some scholars recoiled Wednesday at Palin's use of the term....
"In her own thinking, I just don't understand the logical use of this word," said Ronnie Hsia, a professor of history at Pennsylvania State University who has written two books about blood libel. "I think it's inappropriate and I frankly think if she or her staff know about the meaning of this word, I think it's insulting to the Jewish people."
Said Jerome Chanes, a research fellow at the Center for Jewish Studies at the City University of New York: "It's a classic case of, I don't know what you want to call it, semantic corruption."...
SOURCE: NYT (1-12-11)
The cause was heart failure, his wife, Terry, said.
Professor Grabar, the son of the eminent Byzantinist Andre Grabar, specialized in the architecture of the seventh- and eighth-century Umayyad dynasty early in his career. In the 1960s he led the excavations at Qasr al-Hayr East in Syria, the site of an early Islamic palace in an area long thought to be a historical blank.
His interests broadened to embrace the Islamic world beyond the Middle East and a wide variety of subjects, including the architecture of Jerusalem under Islamic rule, Arabic and Persian illustrated manuscripts, Islamic ornament and contemporary Islamic architecture....
SOURCE: NJ.com (1-12-11)
Grabar was a professor emeritus at the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Studies, where he began teaching in 1990.
Grabar, who taught at the University of Michigan and Harvard before coming to the Institute, published 20 books and wrote numerous articles in scholarly journals. He is credited with expanding the interest in and study of Islamic art in the U.S.
Glen Bowersock, a colleague and close friend, described Grabar as a charismatic teacher who mentored scores of graduate students, many of whom went on to remarkable careers of their own....
SOURCE: CHE (1-12-11)
Participants in a panel discussion held here last weekend, at the annual conference of the American Historical Association, said historians' relative silence about today's policies stems not from agreement, but from trends in their field that have discouraged their scholarly peers from becoming actively involved in public debates.
They argued that historians in academe need to be doing much more to inform policy makers and sway public opinion on matters such as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, by sharing their views with members of Congress, submitting op-eds to local newspapers, giving talks, and reaching out to local activists....
A retired U.S. Army colonel, Peter R. Mansoor, who is now a military historian at Ohio State University argued that the Bush administration had "managed to forget nearly every lesson" of the Vietnam conflict in its approach to Iraq and Afghanistan, and ended up making many of the same mistakes the United States made in Vietnam as a result.
"History may not repeat itself," said Colonel Mansoor, who formerly served as an adviser to Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq, "but it does rhyme, and policy makers can either choose to recognize these rhythms, or suffer the adverse consequences of their lack of insight into humanity and its often violent past." He argued that if historians in academe do not get involved in debates over foreign policy, "we cede the ground to people in think tanks," specifically citing the conservative American Enterprise Institute....
Certainly, a few historians in academe have consistently been vocal critics of some actions undertaken by the U.S. government since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. One who stands out was a member of last weekend's panel discussion, on "The Public Uses of History and the Global War on Terror": Juan Cole, a professor of history at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, who often has taken federal officials to task for historical analogies he regarded as way off the mark, such as former Vice President Richard B. Cheney's comparison of Al Qaeda to the Nazis....
Rick Shenkman, an associate professor of history at George Mason University and the editor and founder of that university's History News Network, said "historians largely have liberal sympathies," but he too has noticed a dearth of public criticism of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars by scholars in his field. "The country itself has tended to ignore those wars, and so has the history profession," he said....
SOURCE: Bloomberg News (1-12-11)
“He turned the Fed into the biggest hedge fund in history,” said Ferguson, an historian at Harvard University, in a speech delivered at a conference in Copenhagen hosted by the Skagen Fund. “He bought stuff that no central bank has ever bought before. He bought utter garbage and in doing so, I believe he saved us from a great depression.”...
SOURCE: NOLA.com (1-10-11)
Oil was gushing into the Gulf from a hole in the sea floor, with no end in sight. Americans were transfixed and horrified by the biggest story of 2010. Congress, firmly in the hands of Democrats and eager to expose the culpability of an oil industry many viewed as reckless and rapacious, launched a frenzy of hearings, as many as five in a single day.
More than seven months later, the commission will present its final findings Tuesday about the disaster -- its causes and lessons -- in a very different environment....
Brian Black, a professor of history and environmental studies at Penn State Altoona, also views the spill and the study as a turning point in taming the oil industry.
"I hope that when I teach about this event in 10 years, I will cite the commission and then trace how our energy transition picked up steam from 2010 forward, and Big Oil was brought under more regulation and monitoring than ever before," Black said. "The problem is that being in the eye of such change often makes its overall trajectory hard to discern."...
SOURCE: FrontPageMag (1-11-11)
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Anna Geifman, aProfessor of History at Boston University, where she teachesclasses on imperial Russia and the USSR, psychohistory, and modern terrorism. She is also Senior Researcher at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. Her most recent book is Death Orders: The Vanguard of Modern Terrorism in Revolutionary Russia.
FP: Anna Geifman, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Geifman: Thank you! I am very grateful for the opportunity to share my work.
FP: Let’s start with what inspired you to write this book.
Geifman: I have written this book after having researched and published on the topic of modern terrorism for exactly 25 years. So, Death Orders is a précis, or summation, of my position with regards to political extremism.
The turning point for me was the September 1, 2004 massacre in School No. 1 in Beslan, North Ossetia. It is shocking how few people remember: 32 terrorists detained 1,200 pupils, their relatives, and their teachers. There was not a chance that Russia’s president Putin would have fulfilled the terrorists’ demands; they knew this, and the purpose of their acts was to spill blood for the sake of blood spilling. So, by no way am I exaggerating when I say that they turned theschool into a mini-replica of Auschwitz. They shot first-graders in the back as they were trying to run away. Eventually, at least 334 hostages were killed, among them 186 children; over 700 were wounded. Death Orders shows that not 9/11, but the collective murder in Beslan, specifically directed against children and affecting the entire town, marks a new stage in global terrorist practices.
I have written Death Orders in Israel, one of the epicenters of terrorism. I have had direct personal experience with what had previously been a matter of scholarly research during my work a small Israeli town of Sderot. There, Hamas-manufactured Qassam rockets exploded in residential areas as people tried to go about their daily routines… I have written this book as an expert in my field, taking full responsibility for the validity of my sources, arguments, and conclusions. At the same time, for me terrorism was no longer an issue that I could tackle solely as an intellectual enterprise: the Sderot experience had a major emotional impact on my life....
SOURCE: Durango Herald (1-11-11)
Mr. Britz was born to Air Force Technical Sgt. Daniel T. and Ida M. (Berger) Britz on May 1, 1954, at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. As a military family, they lived in a number of places, including Homestead AFB in Florida; Turner AFB in Georgia; Nouasseur AFB in Morocco; and Davis Monthan AFB in Tucson, Ariz..
Mr. Britz graduated from Sunnyside High School in Tucson in 1972 and went on to get a bachelor’s degree in history at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., in 1976. After a brief hiatus from school, he returned to Tucson and received a master’s degree in 1986 and a doctorate in U.S. history in 1999 from the University of Arizona....
A well-respected member of the museum field for more than 30 years, Kevin worked as a consultant to various historic sites and communities and taught at several universities while employed at museums in Minnesota, Arizona and Oregon....
SOURCE: Medievalists.net (1-10-11)
The key to the new discovery lay in manuscripts, some of them mere fragments, discovered in an old synagogue in Egypt and brought to Cambridge at the end of the 19th century. The so-called Cairo Genizah manuscripts have been housed ever since in Cambridge University Library.
Now, a fully searchable online corpus (http://www.gbbj.org) has gathered these manuscripts together, making the texts and analysis of them available to other scholars for the first time....
SOURCE: The First Post (UK) (1-9-11)
The trip, scheduled for June, will visit the Munich beer cellar where the future Fuhrer launched his ill-fated 1923 putsch, Berchtesgaden where Hitler had his 'Eagle's Nest' castle and Berlin where he committed suicide....
Dissent came from historian David Cesarani, who told the Sunday Times: "There is a danger of sensationalism...
"If you focus on the sites most pertinent to Hitler, you are concentrating on the cult of that personality. The trip in effect becomes a perverse pilgrimage."...
SOURCE: Discovery News (1-5-11)
Famous for its triumphant Neapolitan Baroque interior and lavishly decorated with colored marble and frescoes, the fortress-like church of Gesù Nuovo has long puzzled historians for the mysterious symbols engraved on the diamond-shaped stones protruding from its facade.
"It was believed that these symbols represented the names of caves of a volcanic rock called piperno from which the stones were made," art historian Vincenzo De Pasquale told Naples daily "Il Mattino."
"Instead they are Aramaic letters [ an alphabet adapted from Phoenician]. We have seven letters, and each of them corresponds to a musical note," De Pasquale said....
SOURCE: Unreported Heritage News (1-2-11)
Constantine was the Roman emperor who allowed Christians to practice freely, ending hundreds of years of persecution. His decision led people throughout the empire to convert and disseminate the New Testament.
Now, thanks to this new discovery, we know the story of one of these Christians.
“It is the first and only ancient instance where we know the owner of a Greek New Testament papyrus,” writes Professor AnneMarie Luijendijk in an article recently published in the Journal of Biblical Literature. “For most early New Testament manuscripts, we do not know where they were found, let alone who had owned them.”
The papyrus was discovered in the late 19th century at the Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus, located roughly 160 kilometres south of Cairo. The document contains the first seven verses of Paul’s Letter to the Romans.
“There are several mistakes in spelling and part of verse 6 is omitted” wrote site excavators Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt in 1899. They concluded that the papyrus was “no doubt a schoolboy’s exercise.”...
SOURCE: LA Times (1-7-11)
He was stolen while she was imprisoned by Gen. Francisco Franco's regime, in the early 1940s, after the country's bitter civil war.
"I felt that anguish all my life," Giron told a historian 60 years later. "I carried him for nine months and I never got to know him. Pain like that does not go away. I will take it with me into the next life."
Giron died at 95 in 2007, five years after telling her story to historian Ricard Vinyes, who was also jailed by the Franco dictatorship. She never found out what happened to Jesus....