This page includes, in addition to news about historians, news about political scientists, economists, law professors, and others who write about history. For a comprehensive list of historians' obituaries, go here.
SOURCE: AHA Today (5-31-11)
The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) announced its 2011 fellows and grantees today, Tuesday, May 31st. Almost $15 million is being awarded to the 350 scholars, of which there are numerous historians. ACLS fellowships and grants are awarded to individual scholars for excellence in research in the humanities and related social sciences. This year’s projects span a wide range of topics and time periods, from a “Mapping Antislavery geospatial database” project, to a “history of obligation and economic life in the Western Indian Ocean,” to a look at the “impact of electric light on American culture.”
Below we note some of the fellows and winners (from history departments), and offer congratulations to all.
Jessica M. Chapman (Williams Coll.), Paul Cheney (Univ. of Chicago), Nathan J. Citino (Colorado State Univ.), Ada Ferrer (New York Univ.), Ernest Freeberg (Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville), Ellen Herman (Univ. of Oregon), Kristin L. Hoganson (Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), Paul F. Lerner (Univ. of Southern California), Kristin Mann (Emory Univ.), Nancy Y. Reynolds (Washington Univ., St. Louis),Mark E. Ruff (Saint Louis Univ.), Kirsten Schultz (Seton Hall Univ.), Barbara J. Skinner (Indiana State Univ.), Christina Snyder (Indiana Univ., Bloomington), Meredith E. Terretta (Univ. of Ottawa), Lisa Tran (California State Univ., Fullerton), George R. Trumbull IV (Dartmouth Coll.), Deborah M. Valenze (Barnard Coll.), Lynne A. Viola (Univ. of Toronto), Chad Williams (Hamilton Coll.), and Yanna Panayota Yannakakis (Emory Univ.).
Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships
Mustafa Aksakal (American Univ.), Michael Gubser (James Madison Univ.), Anne E. Lester (Univ. of Colorado, Boulder), Guy Ortolano (New York Univ.), Lori Watt (Washington Univ., St. Louis), Carl C. Wennerlind (Barnard Coll.), and Edward N. Wright-Rios (Vanderbilt Univ.).
Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars
David R. Como (Stanford Univ.), Laura Gotkowitz (Univ. of Iowa), Weijing Lu (Univ. of California, San Diego), and Ethan Pollock (Brown Univ.).
ACLS New Faculty Fellows
Thomas Adams (Univ. of Chicago), Robert Fredona (Cornell Univ.), Jessie B. Ramey (Carnegie Mellon Univ.), Michael Alan Schoeppner (Univ. of Florida), Aaron Shkuda (Univ. of Chicago), Eren Tasar (Harvard Univ.), Zeb J. Tortorici (Univ. of California, Los Angeles), Shannon Withycombe (Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison), and Leandra Ruth Zarnow (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara).
Andrew W. Mellon/ACLS Early Career Fellowship Program Dissertation Completion Fellowships
Jennifer Ann Adair (New York Univ.), Daniel Asen (Columbia Univ.), Abigail Krasner Balbale (Harvard Univ.), Fahad Ahmad Bishara (Duke Univ.), Shira Niamh Brisman (Yale Univ.), Nathan Riley Carpenter (Univ. of California, Davis), Kevin P. Coleman (Indiana Univ., Bloomington), Helen Anne Curry (Yale Univ.), Alan Shane Dillingham (Univ. of Maryland, College Park), Leanne Good (Univ. of California, Los Angeles), Adam Dylan Hefty (Univ. of California, Santa Cruz), Michael Hunter (Princeton Univ.), Lauren Virginia Jarvis (Stanford Univ.), Melanie A. Kiechle (Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick), Erin Lambert (Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison), Samson W. Lim (Cornell Univ.), Austin Prosser Johnson Mason (Boston Coll.), Matthew Benjamin Matteson (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Amy C. Offner (Columbia Univ.), Mauro Pasqualini (Emory Univ.), Laurencio O. Sanguino (Univ. of Chicago), Lisa A. Ubelaker (Yale Univ.), Sam C. Vong (Yale Univ.), Andrew C. Warne (Northwestern Univ.), Joshua Michael White (Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor), Kristoffer Whitney (Univ. of Pennsylvania), Amrys O. Williams (Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison), Peter Joseph Wirzbicki (New York Univ.), Colleen P. Woods (Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor), and Ran Zwigenberg (City Univ. of New York, Graduate Center).
Comparative Perspectives on Chinese Culture and Society
Tonio Andrade (Emory Univ.), Joan E. Judge (York Univ.), Rebecca Nedostup (Boston Coll.), and Miranda Brown (Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor).
East European Studies Programs
Winson W. Chu (Univ. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee), Travis C. Currit (Univ. of Washington), Steven B. Davis (Texas A & M Univ.), Magdalena Gross (Stanford Univ.), Jessica Lee Herzog (Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick), William deJong-Lambert (City Univ. of New York, Bronx Community Coll.), Andrew Kornbluth (Univ. of California, Berkeley), Jared Manasek (Columbia Univ.), Jacob Bruno Mikanowski (Univ. of California, Berkeley), Mary C. Neuburger (Univ.of Texas, Austin), Alison J. Orton (Univ. of Illinois, Chicago), John Luke Ryder (McGill Univ.), and Erika Cornelius Smith (Purdue Univ.).
SOURCE: Lee White at the National Coalition for History (5-27-11)
Sharon Fawcett has announced her retirement as Assistant Archivist for Presidential Libraries after 34 years in public service, effective June 4, 2011. Susan Donius, Deputy Assistant Archivist for Presidential Libraries, will be serving in an acting capacity until a replacement is named.
Fawcett’s career began in the presidential library system in 1969 as an archivist on the staff of the Lyndon B. Johnson Library. She remained with the LBJ Library until transferring to a position in the National Archives in Washington, DC. In 1980, she left the National Archives, later moving to West Branch, IA, the home of the Herbert Hoover Library, returning to the National Archives in 1988. She served as Chief of the Reference Service Branch and later the Director of User Services where she was responsible for the overall planning, development, direction, coordination, staffing and control of all research room in the National Archives Building in Washington DC, and the College Park, MD facility....
SOURCE: Boston Globe (5-31-11)
David McCullough was taking his customary morning stroll through the Public Garden one day last week when a woman asked for a word with him. Spotting the eminent historian was easy enough. With his mane of snow-white hair and stately, professorial mien, McCullough, 77, is as recognizable as any working — or walking — American author alive today.
The woman praised his book “1776’’ for its humanizing of Revolutionary War-era history. McCullough, who moved from Martha’s Vineyard into a Back Bay apartment two months ago, graciously heard her out. Then, with little prompting, he told her how much he’s enjoying living in the city — “one of the two or three top destinations in the country for history, a center of civilization,’’ filled with great statuary, architecture, museums, and libraries.
The woman reacted as if she’d just gotten an impromptu cello lesson from Yo-Yo Ma.
If McCullough had an extra spring in his step that morning, it wasn’t solely due to his chance encounter with a fan. Last week also marked publication of his latest book, “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris,’’ a sprawling narrative centered on a large contingent of artists, writers, physicians, and politicians who migrated to Paris in the 19th century, to lasting effect on their lives and careers. Spanning seven decades, McCullough’s story weaves memorable portraits of Samuel Morse, James Fenimore Cooper, Charles Sumner, Mary Cassatt, and John Singer Sargent, among others....
SOURCE: Jerusalem Post (5-30-11)
Indonesian historian Azyumardi Azra, one of the world’s leading scholars of moderate Islam says Islam and Judaism can learn from each other.
The non-moderate vein of Islam prevalent in the Middle East is due to the Arabs' “besieged” mentality, a result of centuries of Western occupations and sectarian clashing, according to an Indonesian historian and one of the world's leading scholars of moderate Islam.
"Muslims in the Middle East are on the defensive – they possess an undersiege mentality,” explained Prof. Azyumardi Azra on Monday. “They are afraid of interacting, and giving greater room,” whether to different Muslim sects or members of other religions.
Later in the day, Arza delivered a lecture on the interplay among the Indonesian state, democracy and the Shari’a, at Bar-Ilan University’s international conference on Religious Law and State Affairs. The conference, supported by the Tager Family Jewish Law Program in the university’s Faculty of Law, advances research in Jewish law from a variety of viewpoints – among them religious, historical and philosophical.
SOURCE: NYU Steinhardt (5-30-11)
A panel “Historians, Power, and Politics” was held at New York University on May 4, 2011, exploring the history and contemporary resonance of Jesse Lemisch’s classic critique of the historical profession: “Present Mindedness Revisited: Anti-Radicalism as a Goal of American Historical Writing Since World War II.” The panel was chaired by Blanche Wiesen Cook. Panelists included historians Staughton Lynd, Rust Eisenberg, John McMillian, Jesse Lemisch, and Robert Cohen.
Lemisch, a leading radical historian – who, along with E.P. Thompson, pioneered the new social history and the writing of history from the bottom up -- presented “Present Mindedness Revisited at the 1969 convention of the American Historical Association. He was part of a group of radical historians seeking to get the American Historical Association to come out against the Vietnam war in 1969, a move that mainstream historians resisted and ultimately defeated, on the grounds that historians as professionals were , and ought to remain, politically neutral and so their professional organizations ought not take a stance on the war.
“Present-Mindedness Revisited” was a searching critique that refuted these claims of political neutrality by exposing the Cold War and anti-radical politics embedded in much of mainstream American historical writing. This is why Noam Chomsky termed Lemisch’s “Present Mindedness Revisited” a “penetrating critique of anti-radical bias in the historical profession,” and finds it “regrettably – as pertinent today as it was when Jesse issued this call for integrity and intellectual independence years ago. It poses starkly the challenges that should be faced with the courage and commitment that he has shown in his remarkable work.”
SOURCE: NYT (5-27-11)
In February, the last surviving American veteran of the First World War died. It is hard to imagine the day when we say goodbye to the last survivor of the Second World War, so large do the “good war” and the “greatest generation” still loom in the national imagination. But the calendar and the census do not lie. Some 16 million Americans served in the military during World War II. On the 60th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 2001, about 5.5 million were still living. This year, as we prepare to mark the 70th anniversary, the number is closer to 1.5 million, and it drops by almost a thousand a day....
Americans’ favorite World War II stories have always been about the democratic heroism of ordinary soldiers; this kind of popular history has never disappeared, and probably never will. Laura Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken” (2010), which has resided for months near the top of the best-seller list, tells the story of Louis Zamperini, an ex-track star turned airman, who was shot down over the Pacific and survived weeks adrift on a raft and even worse ordeals in a Japanese prison camp. As the title suggests, Zamperini is an untroubling kind of war hero, because his greatness was his refusal to break, not his ability to break others — a part of the soldier’s job that is far less comfortable to read about. Zamperini was a bombardier on a B-24, and at the very time he was being tortured by the Japanese, other bomber crews, made up of men no better or worse than he, carried out “Operation Gomorrah” — the weeklong raid on Hamburg, Germany, that in July 1943 killed some 40,000 civilians and destroyed virtually the entire city. Can we make room for that story, and others like it, in our memory of World War II? And if we do, can we still keep our pride in a “good war”?
Those are the questions being asked by the new wave of World War II histories. These books are not “revisionist,” in the pejorative sense: they don’t suggest a moral equivalence between the Axis and the Allies, or minimize Nazi crimes, or deny the Holocaust. Rather, they are thoughtful works by professional historians, who are less interested in rewriting the facts of the war than in reconsidering their moral implications. Americans who learn about the war in Europe from a book like Stephen Ambrose’s “Band of Brothers” (1992), for instance, could be forgiven for thinking of the defeat of Germany as the work of doughty G.I.’s. Yet in “No Simple Victory: World War II in Europe, 1939-1945” (2007), the British historian Norman Davies begins from the premise that “the war effort of the Western powers” was “something of a sideshow.” America lost 143,000 soldiers in the fight against Germany, Davies points out, while the Soviet Union lost 11 million....
SOURCE: NYT (5-28-11)
TORNADO experts had seen it all before: whole neighborhoods obliterated, big-box stores flattened, even a hospital badly damaged.
But what really shocked them about the powerful storm that struck Joplin, Mo., last week was the toll in lives: more than 125 and counting. “We thought we were done with the 100-dead tornadoes,” said Thomas P. Grazulis, a tornado historian in St. Johnsbury, Vt. “With warnings and Doppler radar, there was a lot of feeling that we were done with this stuff.”...
Mr. Grazulis, the historian, said that no doubt some people in Joplin would rebuild their homes and include storm shelters, which can cost about $5,000 or more. “But I bet Joplin will not be hit again for a hundred or a thousand years,” he said. “The people that build these shelters — generations are not going to have to use them.”
Instead, the next disaster will happen elsewhere. And right now, Mr. Grazulis said, “the next town that needs them has no idea it needs them.”
SOURCE: NYT (5-28-11)
Nicholas V. Riasanovsky, a Russian émigré who came to the United States at 14, served in the Army during World War II and became one of the country’s leading scholars of Russian history, writing a college textbook that served as the American standard for teaching Russian history during the cold war, died on May 14 in Oakland, Calif. He was 87.
His family said he died in a nursing home after a two-year illness.
Professor Riasanovsky taught Russian and European intellectual history at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1957 until his retirement in 1997. He specialized in the reign of Emperor Nicholas I (1825 to 1855), a period he examined from different perspectives in a half-dozen books focusing on the monarchy itself, the emergence of state-sponsored nationalism and the alienation of Russia’s intellectual elite. His writing was known for its scrupulous examination of perceptions and misperceptions on all sides in unfolding events.
But when Professor Riasanovsky decided to write a textbook for undergraduates in the early 1960s, he was motivated at least in part by concern with the perceptions that Americans had about Russia, said Mark Steinberg, a professor of Russian history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a former Riasanovsky student....
SOURCE: NYT (5-26-11)
Gertrude Stein and her family and friends are the focus of two major San Francisco art exhibitions: “Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories” at the Contemporary Jewish Museum and “The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde” at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art...
Here are excerpts of interviews with Janet C. Bishop, curator of painting and sculpture at SFMOMA, and the co-curators of “Seeing Gertrude Stein,” Wanda M. Corn, the Robert and Ruth Halperin professor emerita in art history at Stanford University, and Tirza True Latimer, chairwoman of the visual and critical studies department at the California College of the Arts. (Their words have been edited and condensed.)
Q. Stein’s image is cemented in the public imagination through photos that show her unsmiling and serious. “Seeing Gertrude Stein” features a video of her laughing and joking around during her U.S. tour in 1934. Was displaying humor unusual for her?
MS. CORN The artists living in Paris who took her image — and they were all men — have her look stern and austere and powerful and tyrannical. Only in America really did the smiling, warm, funny Stein emerge in the public imagery. That’s partially because she was on the stage, and those qualities also came out when she was lecturing....
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (5-26-11)
Oxford University has appointed its first chair of Israel studies to research the economics, society and politics of the Jewish state, following a £3m benefaction by a charitable foundation.
Derek Penslar, professor of Jewish history at Toronto university, will take up the post next year as a fellow of St Anne's College. He said he regarded himself as under an obligation to "strive for political neutrality" and would study Israel "within a global context". "One cannot understand Zionism without studying the history of nationalism, both within Europe and as a reaction against European colonialism.
"One cannot understand Israeli politics, or the relationship between the Israeli state and its military, outside of the framework of Arab-Israeli relations and the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Penslar told the Guardian in an email. "Israel's economy is, particularly in recent years, very much a product of trends towards globalization."...
SOURCE: Boston College Chronicle (5-25-11)
Boston College has been served a subpoena by the US Attorney’s Office on behalf of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) requesting two tapes that were recorded as part of the University’s Oral History Archive on the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
The oral history project, which was directed by author and former Irish Times journalist Ed Moloney, and overseen by Executive Director of Irish Programs and University Professor of History Thomas E. Hachey and Burns Librarian Robert K. O’Neill, contains dozens of personal accounts from individuals on both sides of the violent struggle that engulfed Northern Ireland between 1970 and 1998, including former members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The subpoena requests tapes of recordings of former IRA members Brendan Hughes, who died in 2008, and Dolours Price, who were interviewed for the project by republican Anthony McIntyre under the assurances of confidentiality....
“Boston College is reviewing the subpoena from the US Attorney’s Office and is requesting additional information in light of the ramifications it poses regarding the safety of those involved, the impact on oral history projects, and the effect on the peace process in Northern Ireland,” said University Spokesman Jack Dunn....
SOURCE: Chicago Tribune (5-24-11)
SPRINGFIELD — Democratic lawmakers moved ahead Tuesday with their plans to redraw the state's legislative district boundaries despite complaints from a prominent Latino voting rights group that the proposal shortchanges minorities....
Representatives for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said the plan falls short of the requirements of the federal Voting Rights Act, which prohibits diluting minority voting strength. Meeting the Voting Rights Act is a key element of redistricting.
Nina Perales, litigation director for MALDEF, stopped short of threatening a lawsuit Tuesday but noted the group has a history of going to federal court to challenge Illinois redistricting plans.
Attempting to counter MALDEF's warning and set a legal marker for a potential lawsuit, House Democrats retained Allan Lichtman, a professor of history at American University in Washington and a noted redistricting expert, at a rate of $400 an hour in taxpayer funds....
SOURCE: The American Independent (TX) (5-25-11)
In an op-ed published in the Bryan-College Station Eagle, Texas A&M University associate professor of history Jonathan Coopersmith argues for a radical restructuring of higher education in Texas to address bureaucratic overlap.
Coopersmith points out that the sudden and possibly involuntary resignation of Mike McKinney as the chancellor of the Texas A&M System “provides the opportunity to rethink the structure of public university education in Texas. The result could save taxpayers millions of dollars and produce better universities.”
The Texas A&M and University of Texas systems comprise 20 institutions (excluding medical centers, extension services and other agencies). Both the A&M and UT systems are dominated by their flagship, Tier 1 research universities.
College Station has 49,000 of the 115,000 A&M students, with Prairie View and Tarleton State next with 8,600 students each. Austin has 51,000 of the 198,000 UT students, with UT Arlington the next largest with 33,000 students....
SOURCE: PR Newswire (5-25-11)
MOUNT VERNON, Va., May 25, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The seventh annual George Washington Book Prize, co-sponsored by Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and George Washington's Mount Vernon, honoring the year's best book about America's founding era, has been awarded to Pauline Maier for Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788 (Simon & Schuster, 2010). Maier, author of five previous books on the history of revolutionary America, received the $50,000 prize Wednesday evening, May 25, at a black-tie dinner at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens.
"This book will really prove to be an eye-opener to many people who think that drafting the Constitution was the end of a long road to creating a strong and effective government," said Mount Vernon's president, James C. Rees. "But getting the document ratified was an uphill struggle most historians ignore, and on more than one occasion, the entire unification process was almost doomed to failure."
The debates over drafting the Constitution that took place in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 have long been enshrined in American history. But Maier's book reveals an equally dramatic and essential -- though almost forgotten -- series of debates that played out during the year that followed, as citizens, journalists, and politicians argued state-by-state over whether to ratify the nation's founding document....
SOURCE: Jay P. Greene at the National Review (5-26-11)
Jay P. Greene is the 21st-century professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas and a fellow at the George W. Bush Institute located at Southern Methodist University.
For some reason, when a prominent policy expert completely changes her position on an issue, her views are thought to have extra credibility. So when Diane Ravitch, an education historian who served as an assistant secretary of education during the first Bush administration, reversed herself on choice and accountability testing and became a champion of teachers’ unions, a large number of people who had previously dismissed her opinions began to hang on her every word. Her willingness to switch sides and her reputation as a historian somehow make her a trusted authority in many people’s minds, and that has given her considerable influence in policy debates.
But Ravitch’s credibility has come into question. On her Education Week blog, Ravitch accused a public official, Commissioner Deborah Gist of Rhode Island, of gross misbehavior during a meeting they recently had with Gov. Lincoln Chafee and some aides. She wrote:
Gist is clearly a very smart, articulate woman. But she dominated the conversation, interrupted me whenever I spoke, and filibustered to use up the limited time. Whenever I raised an issue, she would interrupt to say, “That isn’t happening here.” She came to talk, not to listen. It became so difficult for me to complete a sentence that at one point, I said, “Hey, guys, you live here all the time, I’m only here for a few hours. Please let me speak.” But Gist continued to cut me off. In many years of meeting with public officials, I have never encountered such rudeness and incivility. I am waiting for an apology....
These allegations, coming from a prominent expert, are the sort of thing that could cost an education commissioner her job, or at least severely compromise her effectiveness. But fortunately for Gist, there are serious doubts about the accuracy of Ravitch’s . Gist immediately denied the charges, and it turns out that a documentary filmmaker recorded the exchange. The filmmaker has agreed to release the video if those who were present give their permission. Gist has asked for the release of the video, but Ravitch has so far refused to give her consent.
We have good reason to suspect that the video would contradict Ravitch’s account, and not just because Gist’s willingness to release it was met with Ravitch’s refusal. Other people were present at the meeting. In particular, Governor Chafee, who has never been described as a wild-eyed education reformer, backed Gist’s account of the conversation....
SOURCE: CNN (5-26-11)
Just who are the Africans who helped shape the Americas, and where did they come from?
Launched in April, the online database could help trace the roots of more than 100,000 Africans who were shipped to the Americas during the transatlantic slave trade.
"In the 19th century, when the slave trade was in the process of being suppressed, there were a set of international courts established around the Atlantic world and captured slave vessels were brought into these ports and adjudicated by the courts," Eltis said....
SOURCE: MLive (5-24-11)
Newt Gingrich and Glenn Beck weren't the first to blame Detroit's historic decline on Democratic policies, but their high-profile status has re-invigorated a debate over the political, social and economic factors that led to the city's many problems.
Beck, speaking in March on his now-cancelled Fox News show, compared Detroit unfavorably to Hiroshima, arguing the latter city recovered from an atomic bomb by embracing the free market while Detroit rotted under the weight of progressive policies, unions and a federal government that didn't allow the auto industry to fail.
Yesterday, we riled a few feathers by posting a quote from University of Pennsylvania historian Thomas Sugrue, a Detroit native who penned one of the definitive accounts of the post-war city.
He suggested that Gingrich oversimplified Detroit's decline -- and likely will continue to do so for political purposes -- arguing that suburban flight, the interstate highway system and the loss of automotive industry jobs played a larger role in determining the city's fate than party politics or entitlement programs.
Sugrue elaborated that position later in the day during an interview with Frank Beckmann on WJR-AM 760. Listen to the full interview in the embedded player or read on for highlights.
On Gingrich and Beck: "To explain Detroit's fate on food stamps, as Ginrich did, or the recent bailouts to the auto industry, as Glenn Beck suggested, is to really miss the long history that led to the problems Detroit is facing today. They go back way before the last 20 years. They really go back to the 1950's and the 1960's. Even before the urban riots and even before Detroit began losing jobs in big numbers."...
SOURCE: CS Monitor (5-24-11)
An outspoken historian is facing the threat of a criminal trial for his writings on the Thai monarchy, spurring an international appeal by scholars for the protection of academic freedoms in Thailand.
Somsak Jeamteerasakul, a history professor at Thammasat University in Bangkok, has accused the Thai military of forcing the government to prosecute him under a century-old royal defamation law. He said that he had received an anonymous phone call that said he would be arrested soon.
Mr. Somsak is the latest public figure to be accused of lèse-majesté, a crime that carries a potential 15-year jail term. Dozens of cases are pending against politicians, activists, and journalists accused of defaming King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the constitutional ruler, and his family, who are typically shielded from public scrutiny....
SOURCE: UC Berkeley (5-24-11)
Nicholas Valentine Riasanovsky, an emeritus professor of European history at the University of California, Berkeley, and a leading authority on the history of Russia, died May 14 in an Oakland, Calif., nursing home following a long illness. He was 87.
Riasanovsky’s “A History of Russia,” an English-language textbook for undergraduates, remains the bestselling survey of Russian history and covers every period of Russian and Soviet history from the Kievan state to Vladimir Putin. The first edition was published in 1963 and the eighth edition in 2010. It has been translated into French, Italian, Korean, Polish, Mandarin and Rumanian.
“For almost 50 years, most Americans who studied Russian history studied it by reading ‘A History of Russia,’” said Yuri Slezkine, professor of history at UC Berkeley and director of UC Berkeley’s Institute of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies. “He was a giant in the field of 19th-century intellectual history, but there was nothing about Russian history that he did not know or was not interested in.”
Mark Steinberg, a former Riasanovsky student and a professor of history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, worked with Riasanovsky on the last two editions of “A History of Russia.” He said Riasanovsky’s efforts creating and revising the text reflected his dedication to teaching as an essential part of scholarship. He also praised Riasanovsky’s “careful attention to documentable facts, balance and fairness, recognition of diverse points of view, and an inclusive view of history that attends not only to the actions of rulers but also to social life, the economy, ideologies, culture and the arts.”...
SOURCE: Michael Lind at Salon (5-24-11)
Michael Lind is Policy Director of the Economic Growth Program at the New America Foundation and is the author of "The Next American Nation: The New Nationalism and the Fourth American Revolution."
The right-wing British historian Niall Ferguson seems to have conquered America: pushing his latest perishable book, "Civilization," this one based on the trendy and quickly dated conceit of the six (or is it seven?) "killer apps" of Western civilization; writing cover stories for Newsweek; debating foreign policy on TV with Zbigniew Brzezinski; and pouting and snarling his way through a debate about economics with Paul Krugman, Jeff Madrick and Bill Bradley. If you missed his Chicago lecture on the imminent decline of America, then at least on YouTube you can still catch him warning before the 2008 presidential election that "Islamic jihadists" and "Europeans" were hoping that John McCain would lose. Recently, it was announced that Henry Kissinger has made him his official biographer, perhaps in the hope that Ferguson, who thinks that the Kaiser should have been allowed to crush Europe, will be equally kind to Kissinger’s reputation. Time magazine in 2004 named Ferguson one of the 100 most influential people in the world, which might help to explain the condition of the world.
"The Elite Turns Against Obama," screamed a recent headline in the Daily Beast.
According to former New York Daily News gossip columnist Lloyd Grove, the evidence that "the intelligentsia" was turning against Obama consisted of a panel at the Aspen Institute, where the right-wing New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman agreed with Ferguson that the Democrats are hurting America. Ferguson, described as a "dashing Brit" by gossip columnist Grove, praised Republican congressman Paul Ryan’s scheme for abolishing Social Security and Medicare, a plan so callous and unpopular that other Republicans have scrambled to distance themselves from it. The Dashing Brit then told the assembled plutocrats that unemployed Americans are lazy: "The curse of long term unemployment is that if you pay people to do nothing, they’ll find themselves doing nothing for long periods of time." On an earlier occasion he created a stir when he compared Barack Obama to the lascivious cartoon character Fritz the Cat, because, he said, both are "black and lucky."
What accounts for the attention lavished by the American media on a huckster as vulgar and shallow as Niall Ferguson? His accent surely is part of the explanation. Only a combined lack of personal and national self-confidence can explain the way that America’s publishers and producers -- many of them insecure, upwardly mobile social climbers -- will fawn over a mediocre British pundit or pop historian whom they would completely ignore if he were Tony Zacarelli from Long Island or Fred Huffernagel from Oregon. Little has changed since the Midwesterner Jay Gatz, to be taken seriously on the Anglophile East Coast, had to change his name to Gatsby before he could qualify as "dashing."
Ferguson is the most prominent of a number of British conservative intellectuals and journalists who have found more sympathetic audiences in the U.S. than in their own country, where their enthusiasm for Victorian imperialism and Victorian economics stigmatizes them as cranks. His Old World accent and reactionary politics might not have been sufficient to earn Niall Ferguson his cisatlantic celebrity, were it not for the demise of American intellectual conservatism, chronicled by Sam Tanenhaus and others. The mass extinction of America’s intellectual right at the hands of anti-intellectual Jacksonian populists like the Tea Partyers has created a lack of native conservative thinkers with impressive academic credentials who are willing to dash to a TV studio at a moment’s notice. And in an era when the conservative movement is symbolized by lightweights like Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter and Jonah Goldberg, rather than William F. Buckley Jr., George Will and Irving Kristol, even Niall Ferguson can be mistaken for an intellectual.
SOURCE: McClatchy Newspapers (5-20-11)
FRESNO, Calif. -- A California State University, Fresno, graduate is making news in England.
Bradley Hart discovered previously unseen photos of Adolf Hitler and documents that for the first time link a prominent British scientist to Nazi Germany's efforts to create a master race through its use of sterilization.
Hart's groundbreaking historical research about England's eugenic movement in the 1930s was unveiled Thursday at Cambridge University, where he's working on his doctorate through the university's Churchill College,
Already, London's Daily Mail newspaper and the local Cambridge press have published stories about his discovery. He did a radio interview with the BBC World Service on Thursday morning....
SOURCE: The Scotsman (5-22-11)
History professors Tom Devine, Christopher Smout and Michael Lynch, and archaeologist Dr Anna Ritchie - all former trustees of the National Museums of Scotland - say they fear standards will slip without expert advice at a crucial time.
They have now written to the new Scottish Government to make their concerns clear about the make-up of the current museum leadership.
They claim the NMS board, chaired by banker Sir Angus Grossart, now has more financial, managerial and legal clout than academic expertise.
SOURCE: Public Radio International (5-21-11)
Sergei Zhuk remembers the first time he heard rock and roll.
"I was six years old when my brother brought the record Rubber Soul from the Beatles," he said.
Zhuk grew up in the USSR in 1960s and 70s. He said everybody was obsessed with the Beatles and Rolling Stones back then.
"Because it was very unusual for our ears. It was sincere, with a lot of energy," Zhuk said.
Sergei Zhuk, who moved to the United States in the 1990s, is a professor of history at Ball State University in Indiana. He traces how this forbidden music slipped under the Iron Curtain, and hastened the demise of Soviet communism in his new book, "Rock and Roll in the Rocket City."
He has a provocative thesis.
"I would argue that rock music per se did not destroy Socialism, but the values and cultural practices related to obtaining this music contributed to the end of socialism," he said....
SOURCE: Boston Globe (5-23-11)
The two future history scholars met as boys at school in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1940. It would become a lifelong friendship between Ernst Badian, an Austrian refugee from Nazi Germany’s roundup of Jews, and New Zealander Edwin Judge.
“I first met Ernst at the Boys High School when I was 12,’’ Judge, emeritus professor of history at Macquarie University in Australia, said in a phone interview from Sydney. “Ernst already seemed a dangerous figure, since it was alleged he knew more than our teachers. Once, I held back when getting off the tram to school to avoid the risk of contact. But he stopped and offered me a sweet.’’
Dr. Badian never changed, colleagues said. He could be intimidating when judging the work of others but was very generous with his time and help.
“People whom he didn’t even know could send him their articles with the polite request for criticism, and normally they would receive two or three pages of detailed observations in return,’’ said Mortimer Chambers, an emeritus professor at UCLA.
Dr. Badian, who taught history at Harvard for 27 years, died Feb. 1 at Tufts University Medical Center from injuries sustained in a fall the day before at his longtime Quincy home, said his wife, Nathlie. He was 85....
SOURCE: North Jersey News (5-20-11)
Former Teaneck resident William J. Maxwell, who led Jersey City State College for 18 years, died Sunday. He was 79.
The cause was heart failure, said his son, William Maxwell IV.
Mr. Maxwell, an expert in African-American history, was named president of what is now New Jersey City University in 1974. Under Mr. Maxwell, the school expanded its enrollment beyond its traditional urban base by improving academic standards. He also led the campaign to secure passage of legislation giving New Jersey’s state colleges control over their fiscal management.
The school’s College of Arts and Sciences bears Mr. Maxwell’s name.
William Maxwell was born in Hoboken to a family of longshoremen and worked on the docks before joining the Army. His Korean War experience helped kindle an interest in African-American studies....
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (5-16-11)
A promotional campaign linked to the 2014 Winter Olympics is stirring debate in Russia because of its use of allegedly "fascist" imagery.
The campaign employs images of blue-eyed, blond sportsmen and women which have been described by critics as "neo-Hitlerite" and "like something from a Leni Riefenstahl film".
Images of an Aryan-looking snowboarder and an ice-skater gazing into the middle distance dominate giant billboards in Moscow and feature on the cover of brochures to advertise Gorky Gorod, an elite housing complex being built at Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi on Russia's Black Sea coast. The complex is a private-public partnership which will be the Olympic media village at the 2014 Games.
"Without doubt the authors of this advertising were inspired by Nazi art," said Ekaterina Degot, a well-known art historian and former curator at the State Tretyakov Gallery....