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: HNN Staff (8-21-12)
Fareed Zakaria, a well-known international author and TV host, has been reinstated by Time magazine and CNN after being suspended earlier this month following revelations that a column he had written for Time (and parts of which appeared on his CNN blog) were plagarized from a New Yorker article by Harvard historian Jill Lepore.
Mr. Zakaria has been under suspension from CNN since the plagarism charge surfaced on August 10. Mr. Zakaria himself has apologized for the column, calling it "a terrible mistake."
Yesterday, the New Haven Register reported that Mr. Zakaria, who received his B.A. from Yale and has been a member of the Yale Corporation, the university's governing body, since 2006, resigned his position yesterday. He wrote in a letter to university president Richard C. Levin that, "in order to focus on the core of my work, I will have to shed some of my other responsibilities." This decision followed calls some members of Yale faculty and staff for Zakaria to either resign or be fired.
SOURCE: Matthew O'Brien for The Atlantic (8-20-12)
"Certainly, the stock market is well up (by 74 percent) relative to the close on Inauguration Day 2009. But the total number of private-sector jobs is still 4.3 million below the January 2008 peak."
SOURCE: Newsweek/The Daily Beast (8-20-12)
Niall Ferguson is a professor of history at Harvard University. He is also a senior research fellow at Jesus College, Oxford University, and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His Latest book, Civilization: The West and the Rest, has just been published by Penguin Press.
You know you have hit the target when Paul Krugman takes time out from his hiking holiday to accuse you of “multiple errors and misrepresentations” ... but can only come up with one truly feeble objection.
In my piece I say: "The president pledged that health-care reform would not add a cent to the deficit. But the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation now estimate that the insurance-coverage provisions of the ACA will have a net cost of close to $1.2 trillion over the 2012–22 period."
Krugman counters in his Conscience of a Liberal blog by saying: “The ACA would reduce, not increase, the deficit—because the insurance subsidies were fully paid for.” But I very deliberately said “the insurance coverage provisions of the ACA,” not “the ACA.” There is a big difference.
Krugman suggests that I haven't read the CBO's March 2010 report. Sorry, I have, and here is what it says:
“The provisions related to health insurance coverage—which affect both outlays and revenues—were projected to have a net cost of $1,042 billion over the 2012–2021 period; that amount represents a gross cost to the federal government of $1,390 billion, offset in part by $349 billion in receipts and savings (primarily revenues from penalties and other sources).”...
SOURCE: Washington Post (8-20-12)
Ezra Klein writes for the Washington Post.
But while the fact that Ferguson is trying to trick his readers about the facts of his case might be a reason to be skeptical of the rest of his piece, it’s not the main reason. After all, Ferguson’s careful misdirection is arguably evidence of a quick and agile mind. He might be cheating to strengthen his argument. But that doesn’t mean his argument is wrong.
Rather, the main reason to mistrust Ferguson is that, for years now, his argument has been wrong.
Almost since the crisis began, Ferguson has pushed a very specific theory with a very specific prediction: The bond markets, he has said, are going to revolt against American debt. And if that doesn’t happen, inflation is going to run amok.
As Joe Weisenthal details, back in September 2009, Ferguson was warning that “long-term rates have risen by 167 basis points in the space of five months,” which “settled a rather public argument” Ferguson had been conducting with Paul Krugman, in which Ferguson argued the markets were turning on our debt and Krugman argued that they were not. So who was right? Well, the interest rate on 10-year Treasuries was 3.73 percent when Ferguson wrote that column. Today, they’re 1.81 percent. Point, Krugman....
SOURCE: James Fallows for The Atlantic (8-20-12)
James Fallows is a blogger for The Atlantic.
Yes, I know, you could imagine many sentences that would follow that headline. But here is what I have in mind right now: A tenured professor of history at my undergraduate alma mater has written a cover story for Daily Beast/Newsweek that is so careless and unconvincing that I wonder how he will presume to sit in judgment of the next set of student papers he has to grade. It's by the irrepressible Niall Ferguson, it is headlined "Obama's Gotta Go," and its case rests on logic of this sort:
Certainly, the stock market is well up (by 74 percent) relative to the close on Inauguration Day 2009. But the total number of private-sector jobs is still 4.3 million below the January 2008 peak.
Hmmm, what might possibly be the flaw in this comparison? Apart from the fact that Obama did not take office until January 2009 and that private sector jobs have recovered better in his first three-plus years than they did under George W. Bush....
There is lots more, which you can judge for yourself. Let me re-establish the point: I have no complaint with anyone making a strong case against Obama, or in his favor. That's what an election year is for. My point concerns the broadside pamphleteering nature of his argument, which is no worse than what we expect on cable-news talk shows, but also no better. And it comes from someone trading heavily on the prestige that goes with being a tenured professor at the world's leading university....
SOURCE: Paul Krugman in "Conscience of a Liberal" (NYT Blog) (8-19-12)
Paul Krugman is an economist at Princeton University and an op-ed columnist for the New York Times.
There are multiple errors and misrepresentations in Niall Ferguson’s cover story in Newsweek — I guess they don’t do fact-checking — but this is the one that jumped out at me. Ferguson says:
The president pledged that health-care reform would not add a cent to the deficit. But the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation now estimate that the insurance-coverage provisions of the ACA will have a net cost of close to $1.2 trillion over the 2012–22 period.
Readers are no doubt meant to interpret this as saying that CBO found that the Act will increase the deficit. But anyone who actually read, or even skimmed, the CBO report (pdf) knows that it found that the ACA would reduce, not increase, the deficit — because the insurance subsidies were fully paid for....
SOURCE: Sydney Herald-Sun (8-18-12)
THEY are some of Sydney's most precious and historical photographs of early maritime activity on the Harbour. But they were almost never seen - ordered destroyed more than 30 years ago when they were deemed "not worth keeping".
Sydney historian Rob Henderson said he remembers seeing the occasional photo float through the office while he was working at P&O - and was keen to see more.
"When I went to investigate I discovered most of the stuff was being destroyed," he said.
"These are all photographs that would have been burnt had I not found out what was going on."
An avid shipping enthusiast, the now 70-year-old saved the photos and began to build his own private archive....
SOURCE: USNavySeals.com (8-17-12)
A naval historian for the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) on Aug. 13 provides unique and inspiring insights into the life of U. S. Navy Sailors during the tumultuous time of the War of 1812.
Christine Hughes was helping the Naval Support Activity (NSA) Naples commemorate the War of 1812 Bicentennial. She offered presentations that included “Life in the Sailing Navy” and “1812 Navy Battles,” which chronicled some of the highlights from the War of 1812 Battle of Lake Erie.
“I think the War of 1812 is an important event in naval history because our country didn’t have a navy before this time,” said Hughes. “This war was a turning point for our Navy because it helped congress recognize our country’s need for one.”...
SOURCE: New Jersey Newsroom (8-15-12)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been tapped as the keynote speaker for the Republican convention later this month. It’s a high profile slot that can sometimes make or break a political career. David Greenberg, associate professor of history and journalism and media studies in the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University, said Christie will have to adapt his rhetoric to fill the role of statesman at the convention. Greenberg studies the American presidency and its reflection in the media and popular culture. He is author of Nixon’s Shadow: the History of an Image, Presidential Doodles and Calvin Coolidge. He is presently working on a book about the history of political spin.
Rutgers Today: Gov. Chris Christie has been named as the keynote speaker for the Republican National Convention. Why Christie?
Greenberg: Mitt Romney’s main problem is that he’s a flawed messenger for the pro-business agenda of the Republican Party. In his biography and his appearance, he comes across as the embodiment of the so-called 1 percent. Christie, to the extent that he’s popular beyond the Republican base, seems to have more of a common-man appeal than Romney. He may be able to deliver the Republican message in terms that regular people can relate to. His major failing as a messenger, however, is that he often comes across as a bully or a loudmouth. Although a certain amount of vituperation is expected at conventions – last time around it came from Rudy Giuliani - the keynote is usually a time for someone more statesmanlike. Christie will have to find a new form of political rhetoric, one that does not alienate people who disagree with him, to succeed as a keynoter....
SOURCE: AHA Today (8-14-12)
Perspectives Online is featuring an important article on a recent landmark copyright case by Michael Les Benedict, emeritus professor of history at The Ohio State University, and a member of the AHA Task Force on Intellectual Property.
This case, Cambridge University Press v. Becker, is one that directly affects how teaching historians go about their work, and should be read by anyone who has ever assigned or plans to assign, a course reading through their library’s e-reserve system.
Benedict helpfully places Becker, decided in May 2012, within the context of past decisions on copyright rulings and the even larger debate over the meaning of copyright in the U.S. Constitution. He analyzes not only what this ruling means presently, but also looks at where the debate and the legal struggles will move next. He concludes by recommending that educators and librarians get involved immediately in working toward a solution that meets the needs of all parties involved, rather than wait for a “devastating court loss” to radically transform how they serve their students.
Read the entire article here.
Readers will also be interested in Benedict’s pamphlet recently published by the AHA, A Historian’s Guide to Copyright.
SOURCE: University of Manchester (8-13-12)
A cultural historian at The University of Manchester says we should change our minds about “blaxploitation” films, exactly 40 years after the term was first coined by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Dr Eithne Quinn says that though films such as Shaft (1971) and Super Fly (1972) did contain sex, violence and racial stereotypes, what is rarely acknowledged is that they had more black workers on screen and behind the camera than almost any previous mainstream film productions in US history.
The term blaxploitation first appeared, in the wake of Super Fly’s release, as a Junius Griffin quotation in a Hollywood Reporter story called “NAACP Takes Militant Stand on Black Exploitation Films,” on 10 August 1972. Griffin was head of NAACP at the time.
The films, says Dr Quinn, were a major influence on ‘hip hop’ culture, typified by a silver tongued Oakland pimp called Goldie in one of the most popular ever blaxploitation films, The Mack (1973)....
SOURCE: Global Saskatoon (8-9-12)
TORONTO – New research suggests the real intent of the historic raid on Dieppe in 1942 was to steal a machine that would help crack top-secret German codes.
Military historian David O’Keefe spent 15 years searching through the once-classified and ultra-secret war files and says the real purpose behind the Dieppe operation—which cost hundreds of Canadian soldiers their lives — was to capture advanced coding technology from the German headquarters near the French beach.
“For years, so many veterans, men who stormed the beaches and ended up in prisoners of war camps, had no clue what the reason was that they were there,” O’Keefe tells Global National’s Christina Stevens....
SOURCE: Michelle Goldberg in The Daily Beast (8-11-12)
Michelle Goldberg is a senior contributing writer for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism and The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power and the Future of the World, winner of the 2008 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award and the Ernesta Drinker Ballard Book Prize. Goldberg’s work has appeared in Glamour, Rolling Stone, The Nation, New York magazine, The Guardian, and The New Republic. Her next book is about the world-traveling adventuress, actress, and yoga evangelist Indra Devi.
At the Rediscovering God in America conference in 2011, Mike Huckabee gave an impassioned introduction to David Barton, the religious right’s favorite revisionist historian. “I almost wish that there would be something like a simultaneous telecast and all Americans would be forced, forced—at gunpoint, no less—to listen to every David Barton message,” he said. “And I think our country would be better for it.”
It’s hard to overstate how important Barton has been in shaping the worldview of the Christian right, and of populist conservatives more generally. A self-taught historian with a degree in religious education from Oral Roberts University, he runs a Texas-based organization called WallBuilders, which specializes in books and videos meant to show that the founding fathers were overwhelmingly “orthodox, evangelical” believers who intended for the United States to be a Christian nation. Newt Gingrich has called his work “wonderful” and “most useful.” George W. Bush’s campaign hired him to do clergy outreach in 2004. In 2010, Glenn Beck called him called him “the most important man in America right now.” At the end of the month, he’s slated to serve on the GOP’s platform committee at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
But now, suddenly, Barton’s reputation is in freefall, and not just among the secular historians and journalists who have been denouncing him for ages. (I’m among them; I wrote extensively about Barton in my 2006 book Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism.) Earlier this week, the evangelical World magazine published a piece about the growing number of conservative Christian scholars questioning his work. Then, on Thursday, Thomas Nelson, the world’s largest Christian publisher, recalled Barton’s most recent book, the bestselling The Jefferson Lies, saying it had “lost confidence in the book’s details.”...
SOURCE: Iowa City Press Citizen (8-11-12)
When thinking about the leaders of the United States, historian Timothy Walch regards former president Herbert Hoover as a champion.
Walch, who served as the director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum from 1993 to 2011, said Hoover’s determination, persistence and compassion set him apart.
“When you think of all that he accomplished, saving the lives of a billion people, stepping up and setting aside a career of wealth, applying the skills he had to those who had the most need, is a wonderful message,” Walch said....
SOURCE: Asahi Shimbun (8-14-12)
FANGZHENG COUNTY, China--Amid all the rancor in China over Japan's war responsibility, local historian Guo Xiangsheng comes across as a lone voice in the wilderness.
He is campaigning to preserve the memory of thousands of Japanese settlers who died in China after the Imperial Japanese Army abandoned them in the chaotic close of World War II.
The seeds of his quest lie in Japan's military occupation of northeastern China. Many Japanese were sent there as farmers to raise productivity after Tokyo established its Manchukuo puppet state in 1932.
Later, the settlers were dragooned to defend its northern borders against the Soviet Red Army, which overran the region in August 1945.
The settlers were left to fend for themselves after the Japanese army fled....
SOURCE: Ahram Online (8-13-12)
The Egyptian Print Censorship Authority has banned the import of A History of the Modern Middle East by eminent academics William L Cleveland and Martin Bunton, now in its 12th edition.
Khaled Fahmy, chair of history at the American University in Cairo (AUC), said that he received an email from the university informing him that the book he had requested for his modern Arab history course had been banned from entering the country. The short email did not give any reasons for the ban.
The author of All the Pasha's Men said that he has no idea of why the book was banned especially it does not contain anything that is particularly contentious. Fahmy thinks "it's an excellent simple book for the freshmen students of the modern history of the Mideast. I've been using this book for almost 10 years, for its simple smooth presentation of the modern Arab history."...
SOURCE: NYT (8-10-12)
SOURCE: NYT (8-9-12)
Roy S. Bryce-Laporte, a sociologist who led one of the nation’s first African-American studies departments, at Yale University, and did research that advanced understanding of blacks who came to the United States voluntarily rather than as slaves, died on July 31 in Sykesville, Md. He was 78.
His brother, Herrington J. Bryce, said that the cause was undetermined, but that he had had a series of small strokes.
Professor Bryce-Laporte was named director of Yale’s new department of African-American studies in 1969, when colleges and universities were recruiting black students and searching for ways to include their culture, history and other concerns in the curriculum.
Students participated in the selection of Professor Bryce-Laporte. One of them, Donald H. Ogilvie, praised him as “not all academician and not all activist,” adding that Professor Bryce-Laporte was “still angry.”...
SOURCE: OutHistory.org (8-7-12)
In 1982 historian Jonathan Ned Katz initiated a correspondence with Gore Vidal that lasted, intermittently, until 2001. To mark the death of Vidal on July 31, 2012, OutHistory is reproducing the texts of Vidal’s brief, humorous thirteen letters to Katz, often on the theme of heterosexuality and, sometimes, homosexuality. The publication also includes descriptions of Katz's thirteen letters and his accounts of a telephone call from Vidal, and one meeting with him. Commenting on Katz's efforts to recover the history of same-sex and different-sex intimate relations, in one late letter Vidal exhorts: "Keep the war going" (Vidal to Katz, postmarked ?-18-1996)....
SOURCE: NYT (8-6-12)
Robert Hughes, the eloquent, combative art critic and historian who lived with operatic flair and wrote with a sense of authority that owed more to Zola or Ruskin than to his own century, died on Monday at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx. He was 74 and had lived for many years in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.
He died after a long illness, said his wife, Doris Downes.
With a Hemingwayesque build and the distinctively rounded vowels of his native Australia, Mr. Hughes became as familiar a presence on television as he was in print, over three decades for Time magazine, where he was chief art critic and often a traditionalist scourge during an era when art movements fractured into unrecognizability....
SOURCE: Asia Sentinel (8-3-12)
The US bombing of Hiroshima ranks as one of history's greatest controversies. Dennis Giangreco, former editor of Military Review, is also the award winning author of Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall the Invasion of Japan, 1945-1947. His path breaking research into Japanese defense preparations leads him to defend the atomic strike. He offers this exclusive interview to Asia Sentinel.
Q. Mr. Giangreco, please summarize the arguments of the critics of President Harry Truman over the bombing.
Actually, they have changed somewhat over time. Originally, his critics maintained that Japan would have soon surrendered even without the atomic bombs or the Soviet entry into the war on August 8 1945. And, more importantly, that Truman knew this but bombed Japan to intimidate the Soviets, not save lives during a bloody invasion --- that Hiroshima and Nagasaki marked America's opening shots in the Cold War.
After the death of Japanese Emperor Hirohito in 1989 and the very public struggle over how to exhibit the Enola Gay bomber that hit Hiroshima at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, a flood of documents emerged from archives on both sides of the Pacific.
They revealed that there was no compelling evidence to support any of these theories. In fact, there was overwhelming documentary evidence demonstrating the opposite. Truman had meant exactly what he said: that the bombs were used to bring a terrible, brutal war to a swift, and decisive conclusion....
SOURCE: NYT (8-3-12)
Gene Smith, who with a vivid touch depicted the lives of presidents, prime ministers and generals in a series of popular biographies, among them the 1964 best seller “When the Cheering Stopped: The Last Years of Woodrow Wilson,” died on July 25 at his home in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He was 83.
The cause was bone cancer, his daughter, Jessica Smith, said.
Of Mr. Wilson’s fading days after eight years in office, Mr. Smith wrote how the former president, long debilitated by a stroke and respiratory problems, had sought solace in the countryside:
“He took with him an old cape bought years ago in Scotland and even on warm days wore it around his shoulders beneath the long, thin face. A cap was always on his head. He was like some apparition from the past, from Yesterday, coming along the road in his big, old open car with two small W’s painted where once the Seal of the President had been.”
In tracing Wilson’s last years, “When the Cheering Stopped” chronicles the death of the president’s first wife, Ellen Axson Wilson, in August 1914; his courtship of the Washington widow Edith Bolling Galt and their subsequent marriage in December 1915; his triumphal reception in Europe after World War I; and his failed campaign for American membership in the League of Nations.
But as the critic Orville Prescott wrote in The New York Times, “The personal tragedy of Wilson’s fateful illness is the principal subject” of the book, “not so much its political and historical significance.”...
SOURCE: NYT (8-2-12)
John Keegan, an Englishman widely considered to be the pre-eminent military historian of his era and the author of more than 20 books, including the masterwork “The Face of Battle,” died Thursday at his home in Kilmington, England. He was 78.
His death was announced in The Telegraph, where he had served as the military affairs editor. No cause of death was given, though Con Coughlin, the paper’s executive foreign editor, said in an e-mail that Mr. Keegan had died after a long illness.
Mr. Keegan never served in the military. At 13, he contracted orthopedic tuberculosis and spent the next nine years being treated for it, five of them in a hospital, where he used the time to learn Latin and Greek from a chaplain. As he acknowledged in the introduction to “The Face of Battle,” he had “not been in a battle, nor near one, nor heard one from afar, nor seen the aftermath.”...
SOURCE: Education Week (subscribers only) (8-3-12)
For years, bands of educators have been trying to free history instruction from the mire of memorization and propel it instead with the kinds of inquiry that drive historians themselves. Now, the common-core standards may offer more impetus for districts and schools to adopt that brand of instruction.
A study of one such approach suggests that it can yield a triple academic benefit: It can deepen students’ content knowledge, help them think like historians, and also build their reading comprehension.
The Reading Like a Historian program, a set of 75 free secondary school lessons in U.S. history, is getting a new wave of attention as teachers adapt to the Common Core State Standards in English/language arts. Those guidelines, adopted by all but four states, demand that teachers of all subjects help students learn to master challenging nonfiction and build strong arguments based on evidence ....
SOURCE: NYT (7-31-12)
Mr. Crist’s position as a government historian and adviser to the United States Central Command, which oversees all American combat forces in the Middle East and which his father used to lead, has afforded him unique access to government officials and classified intelligence. Nonetheless he proves himself a dispassionate narrator. While no apologist for the Iranian regime, Mr. Crist pulls no punches in pointing out America’s strategic and sometimes moral failings in dealing with Iran.
Other books, notably Kenneth Pollack’s “Persian Puzzle” and David Sanger’s “Confront and Conceal,” have ably covered American foreign policy toward Iran. Mr. Crist’s stands out for its focus on the troubled relationship’s military context. For much of the 20th century, including the first decade after the 1979 revolution, Washington’s chief concern was that Iran could fall sway — or prey — to the Soviet Union. Mr. Crist reveals military contingency plans to occupy and even use nuclear weapons on Iranian soil in the event of a Soviet incursion. As one C.I.A. official observed, “We now had a plan to defend those who don’t want to be defended against those who are not going to attack.”
SOURCE: Yahoo (7-30-12)
Lieutenant Colonel Jenns Robertson, 45, has spent the past six years working on one of the most unusual historical projects in modern times: compiling a database of every bomb dropped by U.S. forces dating back to World War I.
"It has proven useful in the real world, in real time," Robertson told the Boston Globe. "You can pick any place you want and look at it in detail."
The project is called THOR: Theater History of Operations Reports and allows people to use their computers to literally point and click to nearly any location on the globe and receive a near-instantaneous assessment of when and where U.S. bombs were dropped over the past century....