John Fea: Is a Historian Worth $1.6 Million?
John Fea chairs the History Department at Messiah College in Grantham, PA, and is the author of Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? A Historical Introduction (Westminster John Knox Press, 2011). He blogs daily at philipvickersfithian.com.
Thanks to Newt Gingrich, people are talking about how much a historian is worth.
In a recent GOP presidential debate in which Gingrich was asked to explain why he earned $300,000 from Freddie Mac, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives claimed that he had given the mortgage company advice in his capacity as a historian. Later it was revealed that Gingrich had actually received between $1.6 and $1.8 million for his supposed work as a historical consultant.
By one definition, Gingrich is a historian.... He taught history at West Georgia College (now University of West Georgia) and, believe it or not, was influential in starting an environmental studies program there. When he did not receive tenure at West Georgia he set off on a political career.
Gingrich has written several books of a historical nature. Most of his work has focused on the Civil War and World War II. Some of his books are novels. None of them has been embraced by the scholarly community of historians, but I am sure they sell a lot of copies. As far as I can tell, Gingrich has absolutely no experience or scholarly knowledge of the American housing system....
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