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: News 8 Austin, TX (8-31-06)
Gonzales, who teaches at Cedar Park Middle School in the Leander Independent School District, was named Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Preserve American Initiative. This is a national teaching award, voted on by her peers.
"It's long overdue," fellow teacher Phillip Sozansky said.
Sozansky learned a lot about teaching, from Gonzales.
"I want to engage them in activities that will make them want to learn about history. Making history fun," Gonzales said.
"I think that all people, as they've grown up they've encountered social studies teachers that have had very dry, strictly book-oriented approach to history. That is definitely not Betsy," Sozansky said.
Gonzales incorporates skits, poetry, movies and whatever else her imagination comes up with into her lessons. Her students' grades and TAKS score are proof her teaching method works.
"We read to them excerpts from Roots, and they listen and they're very quiet, because it's dark. I'm just reading to them and they've got their eyes closed and they're just supposed to be thinking about that it was like to be on a slave ship," Gonzales said.
Gonzales wants her lessons to lead to students getting involved in their community. She teaches that each person can make their own history.
"Two things keep me teaching, my students and my colleagues. And Betsy ranks foremost among them," Sozansky said.
Gonzales isn't sure how long she'll be teaching.
"When it's not fun anymore, then I will retire," she said.
SOURCE: Newsday (8-22-06)
Cathal Nolan, an international relations scholar, two weeks ago took over operations of the Muttontown-based group that has more than 2,000 members and is dedicated to promoting recognition of the 26th president.
Hiring Nolan, author of "The Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations" and other foreign policy books, is a critical part of a changeover of top management to make the organization more active and visible, said board member and TR's great-grandson Tweed Roosevelt. "He's a TR scholar, a very energetic, thoughtful, intelligent and forward-looking guy," Roosevelt said of the new director.
Nolan, 50, who was born in Ireland and whose first name is pronounced CAW'-hull, has worked at BU for 11 years and since 1999 has been executive director of its International History Institute.
"I've been an academic for 20 years," he said, "and I was ready for a new challenge."
He added that running the TRA "is an extraordinary platform about a transformational president." Before Roosevelt, Nolan said, this country was "really a minor power. The United States becomes the principal shaping force of world history in the 20th century and TR is the principal initial shaper of that force."
Nolan, who often is told he resembles TR, wants to supplement the association's quarterly magazine with an annual journal; improve fundraising and membership; establish a film program; set up a naval history lecture series with the Naval War College in Newport and a lecture program at a West Coast university focusing on TR and conservation; and begin having the TRA publish its own books about Roosevelt.
Nolan succeeds acting chief executive Edward Renehan Jr. of Rhode Island, a historian who stepped in after the death last year of executive director John A. Gable. And the TRA board chairman for the past six years, Norman Parsons of Sea Cliff, will step down in October but remain on the board.
SOURCE: E.J. Dionne, Jr. in the Wa Po (8-22-06)
Anyone who loves American history owes a debt to Hofstadter, and that would include me. I was blessed with two inspiring high school history teachers, Jim Garman and Norm Hess, who stoked my passion for the subject by introducing me to Hofstadter.
Along with thousands of students, I was entranced by Hofstadter's grace of expression, his gift for aphorism and his icon-smashing approach to America's heroes. He was a liberal who was as tough on progressives, populists and reformers as he was on right-wing mass movements, anti-intellectualism and the countryside's disdain for the city. To this day -- we can dream, can't we? -- I still aspire to Hofstadter's clarity and to his gift for synthesis.
But reading Brown is also a reminder of where Hofstadter may have misled the very liberal movement to which he was devoted. There was, first, his emphasis on American populists as embodying a "deeply ingrained provincialism" (Brown's term) whose revolt was as much a reaction to the rise of the cosmopolitan big city as to economic injustices.
Many progressives and reformers, he argued, represented an old Anglo-Saxon middle class who suffered from "status anxiety" in reaction to the rise of a vulgar new business elite. Hofstadter analyzed the right wing of the 1950s and early 1960s in similar terms. Psychological disorientation and social displacement became more important than ideas or interests.
Now, Hofstadter was exciting precisely because he brilliantly revised accepted and sometimes pious views of what the populists and progressives were about. But there was something dismissive about Hofstadter's analysis that blinded liberals to the legitimate grievances of the populists, the progressives and, yes, the right wing.
The late Christopher Lasch, one of Hofstadter's students and an admiring critic, noted that by conducting "political criticism in psychiatric categories," Hofstadter and his intellectual allies excused themselves "from the difficult work of judgment and argumentation."
Lasch added archly: "Instead of arguing with opponents, they simply dismissed them on psychiatric grounds."
This was, I believe, a wrong turn for liberalism. It was a mistake to tear liberalism from its populist roots and to emphasize the irrational element of popular movements almost to the exclusion of their own self-understanding. FDR, whom Hofstadter admired, always understood the need to marry the urban (and urbane) forms of liberalism to the traditions of reform and popular protest.
Hofstadter died of leukemia in 1970, much too young at the age of 54. Few writers have left behind so much good work, books steeped in the paradoxes and ironies of our national story. I'd like to think it's an honor to Hofstadter's legacy that we might subject his own history to the kind of revisionism he practiced with such skill. Liberals owe a debt to Hofstadter, and they owe themselves an argument with him, too.
SOURCE: Press Release -- musicfortomorrow.org (8-22-06)
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SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (8-21-06)
A taste for the recondite, a love of languages, a delight in the bizarre or puzzling - these, allied to careful and accurate scholarship were the characteristics that led Maddison from his undergraduate studies in modern languages and history to the direction of the world-class collection of scientific and technical artefacts in Oxford.
Francis Romeril Maddison was was born at Hounslow on July 27 1927, the elder son of Robert Edwin Witton Maddison, an organist, research chemist and historian of science, and of Adélaïde Romeril Verdier. Francis was educated at Hounslow College and at Exeter College, Oxford, where he took a degree in Modern History having switched from Modern Languages.
Maddison was also fascinated by archaeology, and as president of the university's archaeological society in 1948 he learned to cut flint in the palaeolithic manner from RJC Atkinson, under whose supervision he directed excavations at Cricklade and Dorchester.
He was a member of the British School at Rome expedition to Leptis Magna, Tripolitana, in 1949, before becoming assistant archivist, first at the Glamorgan County Record Office, then in Warwickshire. While preparing an exhibition about the Warwickshire county historian Sir William Dugdale, he met CJ Josten, Curator of the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, who was collecting materials for his monumental life of Elias Ashmole, Dugdale's son-in-law.
Shortly afterwards, Josten encouraged Maddison to accept the post of assistant curator in the Museum of the History of Science rather than that of archivist to the University Press. It was the beginning of a 40-year association with the museum.
Crown among the many riches of the museum is the collection of more than 100 astrolabes, the largest of its kind in the world, and some two-thirds of which are Arab-Islamic instruments.
Maddison had already learnt the rudiments of Arabic from his father, but he now extended his command of the language while studying and re-displaying these instruments.
The interdisciplinary nature of this material, requiring skills in geometry, epigraphy and linguistics to be combined with the historian's sense of context and change, was perfectly suited to Maddison's delight in variety and the resolving of puzzles. A stream of scholarly papers in the late 1950s and 1960s resulted from this work, and Maddison's expertise was increasingly in demand among scholarly antiquarian book-sellers, such as Ernst Weill, and the leading London auction-houses.
But Maddison's curiosity would not allow him to remain within the limits of a single discipline, even one as one as varied as his own. He extended his research interests into the history of horology, time-measurement and early techniques of navigation at sea. In later years he studied Georgian and Armenian with his colleague and friend Charles Dowsett, holder of the Callouste Gulbenkian chair in the subject at Oxford....
SOURCE: Desiree Cooper in The Free Press (8-17-06)
"African Americans from Detroit who could buy cars on company plans could certainly make a show of going South in their new wheels," he said. "Until the late 1960s, there was a huge wage gap between Northerners and Southerners. With a new car, you could show you had broken through."
For Jeff Wardford, 51, a car collector whose family migrated to Detroit from Tennessee, cars didn't just represent a dream, but middle-class reality.
"In so many other places, blacks didn't have access to housing or jobs, so a car created the illusion of wealth," he said, remembering his uncle who used to drive from New York to Detroit in his new Cadillac -- but who didn't own a home.
"In Detroit, blacks built nice, middle-class neighborhoods like Conant Gardens. For us, the car was an accessory to a bigger lifestyle."
Melvin Bell, 64, remembers when his Uncle Ollie would come down with the family from Detroit to Kosciusko. "He would have his big Chryslers and Lincolns," said Bell, whose father ran a used-car business in Mississippi. "We looked up to him because he was coming from the North, but we found out that he wasn't doing much better than we were!"
Sugrue argues that the automobile was about more than social climbing for African Americans, it was about freedom from Jim Crow laws.
"In an era where blacks were cordoned off into separate and invariably unequal accommodations on buses, trains and in stations," he said, "having a car meant that you could bypass those indignities."...
SOURCE: Bruce Kuklick in Christianity Today (July/Aug. 2006) (8-18-06)
... If professional historians are religious, they mostly hide their religion under a bushel. They are much more likely to proclaim that they are feminist or politically liberal than that they are believers. There is plenty of religious history served up in most texts, but in comparison to the other forms of history that are "privileged," as we say, in texts, religious history takes a back seat. Professional historians think, rightly I believe, that if you study religion you are probably religious, and the profession frowns upon this. Thus, again comparatively speaking, the texts devalue religious history.
Unto a Good Land is different. It self-consciously makes religious history much more central among the specialties included in its pages than do most texts. I bet you the six authors who have written it are themselves religious, though since I don't know any of them, I may be wrong. I also think the space given to religion here is a more accurate reflection of the importance of religion in American history than one gets in the typical texts, though this is a treacherous judgment to make. I should add that Unto a Good Land covers all the standard topics adequately and without noticeable bias. Indeed, the treatments are often excellent. I found some of the writing on European empires in America in the 16th and 17th centuries confusing—a standard failing in texts. But Unto a Good Land is outstanding, for example, on the Revolutionary War and on 20th-century political developments.
So let me here at once make a summary evaluation. Teachers at religiously oriented schools could not do better than Unto a Good Land; teachers at other schools will not find the book deficient or partial in any way.
In fact, my principal criticism of this text is that it is too much like other texts. The authors make an astonishing statement. They say the United States "has never been a Christian nation." On the contrary, the United States has in its essence always been a Christian nation, and this should be apparent to anyone with half a brain. In the passage that follows their mind-boggling statement, the authors argue that their "stance" is one that makes religion, and not Christianity in particular, central. In actuality what they do is to offer proportionately more religious packets of information in their book. That is the only significant way Unto a Good Land differs from other texts. It is at least 100 pages longer than the other four texts I have at my disposal, and the discrepancy is just that there are 100 extra pages on religious issues. The authors barely have a "stance," except that as professional historians they are committed to force-feeding students this enormous quantity of data.
I will go even further. The United States is a Protestant nation. There are certainly other ways to organize the story of the nation—a text by Pauline Meier and others, Inventing America: A History of the United States (2003), does for technology what Unto a Good Land does for religion. Economic opportunity and the growth of enterprise strike me as another organizing principle. But Protestantism is right up with these. Look at the influences in England propelling colonists to the shores of the New World. Examine the spiritual foundations of politics during the Founding period. Consider the rationale for expansion in the 19th century; the background of Progressive era reformers; the foreign policy of Woodrow Wilson and his righteous descendants from George Kennan and Dean Acheson to George W. Bush; the black religiosity of the Civil Rights movement; the crux of the culture wars of the last forty years. If you want an organizing principle, for God's sake, what better one could you ask for? My problem with Unto a Good Land is that it really does not want a theme; it wants to be like other texts....
SOURCE: Blog (8-18-06)
SOURCE: Aron Hirt-Manheimer in Reform Judaism Online (8-18-06)
According to your book, there was a time in America when we as a nation were not dependent on oil to power our cars.
Yes. In the 1890s, most of the original automobiles were smooth-running, quiet, environmentally friendly electric vehicles powered by lead batteries. Thousands of such vehicles traversed our city streets and even the back roads of rural America. How we regressed from electric to oil is a complex story rooted in corruption and control. Here's the short version: During the first years of the 20th century, the electric vehicle people were "the bad guys" in America. The key players were the Pope Manufacturing Company in Hartford--which had secured a monopoly on the bicycle industry; the Electric Vehicle Company in New York and Philadelphia, which controlled a monopoly on batteries; and a small group of powerful carmakers such as Olds and Packard. Together, they created an automobile cartel that tried to dictate who could and could not buy and sell a car in America--and what kind of car. These monopolists acquired a primitive automobile patent called the "Selden Patent," designed from the outset to be used as a patent litigation weapon. Armed with this patent, the cartel threatened to file an expensive patent infringement case and injunction against every American who purchased an inexpensive internal combustion car that the "Selden Trust" did not authorize. At the same time, the cartel allowed its own technologically superior electric vehicles to falter in the marketplace in favor of high-priced, extremely profitable gasoline-burning cars designed for the moneyed elite. Remember, this was before mass production; each car was hand-built. Oil, especially oil from the Mideast, was very cheap, much cheaper than a lead battery. What's more, supply and demand of oil could be manipulated, yielding billion-dollar profits.
Soon, production of electric vehicles became limited to a few dozen small, independent car companies that could barely keep the flame of clean auto-making alive.
Didn't Henry Ford play a major role in popularizing internal combustion automobiles?
Yes, but that's only the end of the story. The beginning is fascinating. In 1903, Ford introduced a cheap, mass-produced internal combustion machine for the average man that revolutionized the car industry. The Model T became the "everyman" car. This was also a time when electric vehicles and battery makers--even decent independent ones--were perceived by the masses as scoundrels, crooks, and liars. For decades, imperfect, broken electric-battery technology had been used by devious financiers to launch stock swindles and monopolistic trusts based on exaggerated technology and capability. Thus, for many Americans, purchasing a Model T petroleum car over an electric car became an act of popular defiance against the rich, powerful, and corrupt transportation tycoons who were attempting to control the people's freedom of choice and movement.
In 1914, however, Ford saw the light, so to speak, and joined his lifelong idol Thomas Edison in a project to replace gas-driven internal combustion machines with cheap electric cars powered by revolutionary lightweight nickel batteries that could power a car or truck about 75 miles on a single charge and last for 40,000 miles--which could be the life of the vehicle in those days. Ford and Edison envisioned that all home and automotive energy would eventually be generated by wind-powered backyard and basement generators. Together, the two men invested years and millions of dollars to perfect a new generation of battery-run vehicles and to create a national infrastructure of charging stations and even curbside charging hydrants--remember, this was before gas stations were even invented. Their creative research and planning coalesced in 1914, when they were ready to launch mass production. America once again stood at the crossroads. Would we drive vehicles powered by electricity or oil?...
SOURCE: Toronto Star (8-17-06)
"It means the British government is trying to demonstrate that it is deeply sensitive and no longer like its predecessors," Jack Granatstein, former director of the Canadian War Museum, said in an interview. "People did things the way they did 90 years ago. Trying to change history this way is nonsense."
British Defence Secretary Des Browne has ordered, "as a matter of priority," a review of official policy on the men who were shot at dawn for running away from battle. "I believe it is better to acknowledge that injustices were clearly done in some cases, even if we cannot say which, and to acknowledge that all these men were victims of war."
A total of 25 Canadians, including four from Toronto and one from St. Catharines, were executed by firing squad during the 1914-1918 war, though two of them were convicted of murder. Granatstein said dragging the men's names back into the public eye could be more humiliating for their descendants than simply letting matters rest.
Supporters of a blanket pardon argue that many deserters were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, then known as shell shock. But this was rarely considered a valid defence by British generals bent upon maintaining discipline in appalling front-line conditions.
Several of the executed Canadians had deserted more than once and had jail sentences commuted so they could fight....
SOURCE: Ben Fenton in the Telegraph (UK) (8-17-06)
"In one sense it is justified because we know a lot more about the psychological effects of war now than we did then and it would have been treated differently if they had had that information,'' said Sir Lawrence Freedman, professor of war studies at King's College, London.
"But you do have to put it into the context of generals having to persuade large numbers of men to take extraordinary risks and in that context what was done would not constitute unreasonable action.''
But Ian Hislop, the editor of Private Eye and the presenter of a television series about the Great War, called Not Forgotten, said: "This is a recognition of a change of attitude, an acknowledgement that a lot of those who were shot were just boys suffering from shell-shock.
"I think it's a good gesture and a sensible thing to do.''
For Col John Hughes-Wilson, author of Blindfold and Alone, the move towards a pardon by Mr Browne was a political decision.
"What we are seeing here is an attempt to reinvent the past to suit today's political correctness,'' he said.
"I think this leaves military law with a big question mark over it because war is not a walk in the park and different rules apply.''
Martin Middlebrook, author of The First Day of the Somme, said: "I do not agree with a blanket pardon because there were some right villains among [those executed].''
His view was echoed by Dr Keith Lloyd, author of Loos 1915, who felt the decision would strengthen a distorted popular perception of the Great War derived from simplistic school lessons and images from the TV comedy Blackadder.
"It's also important to remember that not everyone was like Harry Farr,'' Dr Lloyd said. "Some of them simply were running away from the heat of battle and some were repeat offenders who were arrested in civilian clothes, often attempting to return to the United Kingdom....
SOURCE: David Thompson at Butterfliesandwheels.com (blog) (7-11-06)
Karen Armstrong has been described as “one of the world's most provocative and inclusive thinkers on the role of religion in the modern world”. Armstrong’s efforts to be “inclusive” are certainly “provocative”, though generally for reasons that are less than edifying. In 1999, the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Los Angeles gave Armstrong an award for media “fairness”. What follows might cast light on how warranted that recognition is, and indeed on how the MPAC chooses to define fairness.
In one of her baffling Guardian columns, Armstrong argues that, “It is important to know who our enemies are… By making the disciplined effort to name our enemies correctly, we will learn more about them, and come one step nearer, perhaps, to solving the… problems of our divided world.” Yet elsewhere in the same piece, Armstrong maintains that Islamic terrorism must not be referred to as such. “Jihad”, we were told, “is a cherished spiritual value that, for most Muslims, has no connection with violence.”
Well, the word ‘jihad’ has multiple meanings depending on the context, and it’s hard to determine the particulars of what “most Muslims” think in this regard. But it’s safe to say the Qur’an and Sunnah are of great importance to Muslims generally, and most references to jihad found in the Qur’an and Sunnah occur in a military or paramilitary context, and aggressive conceptions of jihad are found in every major school of Islamic jurisprudence, with only minor variations. Mohammed’s own celebration of homicidal ‘martyrdom’ makes for particularly interesting reading.
The Muslims who do commit acts of terrorism do so, by their own account, because of what they perceive as core Islamic teachings. The names they give themselves – jihadist, mujahedin, shahid – have no meaning outside of an Islamic context. But Armstrong would have us ignore what terrorists repeatedly tell us about themselves and their motives. One therefore has to ask how one defeats an opponent whose name one dare not repeat and whose stated motives one cannot mention.
In another Guardian column, Armstrong insists that, “until the 20th century, anti-Semitism was not part of Islamic culture” and that anti-Semitism is purely a Western invention, spread by Westerners. The sheer wrong-headedness of this assertion is hard to put into words, but one might note how, once again, the evil imperialist West is depicted as boundlessly capable of spreading corruption wherever it goes, while the Islamic world is portrayed as passive, devoid of agency and thereby virtuous by default.
According to Armstrong, Mohammed was, above all, a “peacemaker” who “respected” Jews and other non-Muslims. Yet nowhere in the Qur’an and Sunnah does Mohammed refer to non-Muslims as in any way deserving of respect as equals. Quite the opposite, in fact. Apparently, we are to ignore 1400 years of Islamic history contradicting Armstrong’s view, and to ignore the contents of the Qur’an and the explicitly anti-Semitic ‘revelations’ of Islam’s founder. Has Armstrong not read Ibn Ishaq’s quasi-sacred biography of Mohammed? Has she not read the Hadiths? Does she not know of the massacre of the Banu Qurayza and the opportunist raids against the Bani Quainuqa, Bani Nadir and Bani Isra’il and other Jewish tribes? Does she not know how these events were justified as a divine duty, one which formed the theological basis of the Great Jihad of Abu Bakr, setting in motion one of the most formidable military expansions in Islamic history? Does she not know how these theological ideas established Jews and Christians’ subordinate legal status throughout much of the Islamic world for hundreds of years?...
SOURCE: Star Phoenix (8-16-06)
And, the way they came together to ward off threats from southern bands from what are now the Dakotas and Minnesota may have resembled a very early form of North American diplomacy.
University of Calgary archeologist Dale Walde has proposed the controversial theory in the prestigious World Archaeology journal, following more than fi ve years of research in the fi eld in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
If accepted, Walde's theory will rewrite history that has accepted the widely held belief Plains aboriginals lived in small bands of between 30 and 40 until the arrival of Europeans and the domesticated horse in the 1600s.
"The idea that people on the northern Plains were living at lower levels of social organization, at a subsistence level, is becoming less and less popular," said Walde.
"There has been a tendency by some to regard them as simple hunter-gatherers with very basic levels of organization, living hand to mouth in small bands, but that really isn't accurate." Walde suggests pressure from horticulturalbased bands from the midwestern United States prompted First Nations living on the Canadian Plains to organize themselves into larger groups to better hunt the massive buffalo herds that roamed the prairies.
The bands realized that by unifying, they could hunt and kill more buffalo, stopping hunters from the south ranging into the northern Prairies and enabling local bands to trade more effectively with their southern neighbours....
SOURCE: Michael Grunwald in the New Republic (8-14-06)
SOURCE: Melanie Eversley in USA Today (8-15-06)
A historian recently learned that he is descended from the slave couple believed to have written the song, and now he wants to publicize the story of his ancestors.
Currie Ballard says he was browsing through a bookstore around Christmas when he found Via Oklahoma: And Still the Music Flows by the late Mabel Alexander. Inside, he was startled to find a story identical to one his mother and grandmother had told him when he was a child.
Wallace and Minerva Willis, Ballard's ancestors, thought up the words and music of Sweet Chariot in the mid-1800s while working at a school for Native American boys in Oklahoma's Indian Territory. The song so moved the headmaster that he sent it to the Fisk Jubilee Singers in Nashville.
"I thought, 'I'll be doggoned,' " says Ballard, 47, historian-in-residence at historically black Langston (Okla.) University. "These stories are true."
Now Ballard and his cousin, Bernard Glenn-Moore, an aide to Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., are pushing for a resolution in Congress honoring the famed Fisk choral group, the Willises and their music. Davis plans to introduce the resolution when lawmakers return from their summer recess, Glenn-Moore says. The cousins also hope to organize a commemorative concert in Washington featuring the Fisk singers.
Another family, which shares Ballard's Oklahoma roots, also is exploring its ties to the Willises.
Minerva Willis was the grandmother of Ballard's grandmother's aunt and great-great-grandmother of Kim Burge, 49, a retired Oklahoma City police officer. He gives this account, based on his research:
The couple lived on a plantation in Holly Springs, Miss. When their owner, Brit Willis, a half-Choctaw man, left for the Trail of Tears — the route taken by Native Americans when the U.S. government ordered them to relocate to the West — he brought the Willises along.
Brit Willis rented the couple out to Spencer Academy for Choctaw boys near Doaksville, Okla., where the Willises entertained students by singing Sweet Chariot and other original Willis spirituals like Roll Jordan Roll and Steal Away to Jesus .
When the Fisk singers took Sweet Chariot on tour, Queen Victoria was visibly impressed, Burge says, which fueled the song's popularity....
SOURCE: Richard Allsop in The Australian (8-15-06)
... Among all the positives the summit will produce, however, there is still some cause for concern. Speaking on ABC radio recently, Education Minister Julie Bishop said: ''Australian history should be a critical part of the school curriculum, it should at least be a stand-alone subject, and compulsory to say Year 10. I think we should have a great deal of pride in our nation's history, and to ensure we have more informed citizens, they need to have a greater understanding of our nation's past.''
The Minister is correct that history should be a critical part of the school curriculum, but should this be solely Australian history? There is no doubt a need to address, as Gregory Melleuish has done in the paper he has prepared for the summit, the perennial complaint about Australian history that it is not interesting because it lacks the wars, violence and revolutions of other countries.
Like Melleuish, my own historical interest has largely been focused on Australian history. But trying to prevent the Left having a walkover victory in the Australian ''history wars'' in the nation's classrooms, does not mean that the history of the rest of the world should be forgotten as Australian children of the 21st century take their places in an increasingly globalised environment. If a student's knowledge of World WarI is confined to Gallipoli, or of World WarII to Kokoda, the balance is definitely wrong.
If a student leaves an Australian secondary school with quite a detailed understanding of how the Chinese were treated on an Australian goldfield, but no appreciation of the significance of China as a country throughout history, then there is a problem. Space must be left in the history curriculum for Alexander the Great, Joan of Arc and Mao Zedong. It is surely more important to know about Napoleon Bonaparte than Edmund Barton....
Kermit was everything one could want in an author: an accomplished scholar, of course, but also a consummate gentleman with a dry and much-appreciated sense of humor. He was a good friend who was never too busy to answer a query, recommend a reviewer, or send an email that put a smile on his editor's face. We will miss him greatly.
SOURCE: Albany Times Union (8-14-06)
The Associated Press reported that beachgoers rescued Hall and his wife, Phyllis, around 2:20 p.m. Sunday about 100 yards from shore. Hall died at Hilton Head Regional Medical Center around 3 p.m.
Friends said late Sunday night that Phyllis Hall was uninjured but they were unsure of details.
A hospital official declined to comment or provide further information, citing federal privacy laws.
Authorities in Beaufort County, S.C., did not return repeated telephone calls seeking information on the incident.
Hall was appointed UAlbany's president in late 2004, having previously served as president of Utah State University. Many said Sunday that in his short tenure he provided the university with a sense of collegiality and momentum. He was a university president just as likely to be seen meeting with a concerned student as with the governor, they said.
"He was the real deal. This is going to be difficult to deal with," said Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, who counted Hall among his friends.
"He cared about what was good for the university and what was good for this city," Jennings said.
He recalled that when Hall first came to Albany last year, the two men and Mark Sullivan, president of The College of Saint Rose, took a walking tour of the city.
"We went straight to the student areas. He wanted to see life from the perspective of his students," Jennings said.
University Provost Susan Herbst echoed those remarks, and said Hall will be remembered for his focus on improving undergraduate education and for linking the university to its city....
SOURCE: Sam Tanenhaus in the NYT Book Review (8-6-06)
This school had a limited shelf life, but Hofstadter’s work has outlived it, owing to the clarity and nuance of his thought and his talent for drawing parallels between disparate episodes in our national narrative, almost always bringing the argument around to the concerns of midcentury America. “I know it is risky,” he acknowledged in 1960, “but I still write history out of my engagement with the present.” The gamble, of course, was whether questions so pressing in his time would continue to engage later generations. To a remarkable extent they have, and so Hofstadter remains relevant — in some respects more relevant than ever.
This isn’t to say he was the most enduring historian of his time, but rather the one who came closest to being his generation’s exemplary intellectual. Others, like Bernard Bailyn and C. Vann Woodward, probably left a deeper imprint on the profession; or, like Arthur Schlesinger Jr., had greater influence on the important events of the day. But no other historian wrote so penetratingly about the politics of the moment, and at the same time none did more to establish pragmatic liberalism as a kind of unofficial, if constantly imperiled, public doctrine during the peak years of the cold war. Indeed so immersed was Hofstadter in the complications of postwar liberalism that he came finally to dramatize them, not only in his work but also in his life. This is the story David S. Brown tells in “Richard Hofstadter: An Intellectual Biography.” Brown, who teaches history at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, describes his intelligent and stimulating book as “an extended conversation with the formal writings of Richard Hofstadter.” That’s too modest. Brown’s interviews with Hofstadter’s colleagues and students and his careful reading of Hofstadter’s copious writings, including unpublished manuscripts and letters, help situate the work in the context of Hofstadter’s short life (he died, at age 54, of leukemia) and also within the larger tumult of his period.
Brown admirably balances respect for his subject with critical distance and persuasively makes the case that the ambiguousness of Hofstadter’s legacy is inseparable from his continuing interest. There is, first, the ambiguity of his professional identity. Though he held a distinguished Ivy League professorship and wrote important books on higher education and on historiography, Hofstadter characterized himself as being “as much, maybe more, of an essayist than a historian.” Some of his most famous formulations, for example on “status politics” and “the paranoid style in American politics,” came in think pieces first published in general interest magazines, and were written in elegant, ironic prose modeled on that of social observers like H. L. Mencken, Thorstein Veblen and Edmund Wilson....
SOURCE: NYT (8-11-06)
The cause was complications of a stroke, his family said.
Dr. Young, an emeritus professor of history at Emory University, wrote two volumes on the study of drugs and therapeutic devices of the sort once hawked at sideshows and through mail-order catalogs.
In “The Toadstool Millionaires: A Social History of Patent Medicines in America Before Federal Regulation” (1961), he addressed the laxatives, tonics and other concoctions “often mixed with a strong dose of alcohol” that were popular in the 19th century and profiled their salesmen.
Howard R. Lamar, an emeritus history professor and former acting president of Yale, said the book had “an ironic title, describing people who made money out of questionable medicines, created from herbs or animals or from nothing at all.”
A second volume, “The Medical Messiahs: A Social History of Health Quackery in Twentieth-Century America” (1967), continued the thread and covered false cures for cancers and other illnesses. The book also touched on a subject that became the focus of Dr. Young’s work on the history and development of federal standards for food and medicines.
SOURCE: Press Release -- Washington College (8-4-06)
The centerpiece of the celebration will be a lecture by Ms. Schiff, "Dr. Franklin's French Adventure," in the College's Tawes Theatre at 5 p.m. on Thursday, September 14. The public is invited to attend and learn how Franklin's eight-year mission to Paris helped to turn the tide of the Revolution and secure strategic allies for the fledgling United States. The festivities that day will also include historical reenactments, Revolutionary War-era music, and other special programs.
Ms. Schiff will be on hand for a public welcoming and book signing before her lecture, beginning at 4:15 p.m. in Martha Washington Square. The following morning, Friday, September 15, Adam Goodheart, Director of the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, will host "A Conversation with Stacy Schiff," which will include a public question-and-answer session. This event will be held in the Casey Academic Center Forum at 10:30 a.m.
The George Washington Book Prize Celebration is free and open to the public. Visit the Washington College home page at www.washcoll.edu for updates and a complete schedule of events.
In her prize-winning book, Ms. Schiff draws on new and little-known sources to illuminate the least-explored part of Franklin's life. A Great Improvisation also describes a side of the Revolution still largely unfamiliar to many Americans: a tale of backroom deals, political infighting, and diplomatic maneuvering. In Ms. Schiff's telling, our country's independence was won not just on the battlefields of Yorktown and Saratoga, but among the glittering salons and dinner parties of Paris and Versailles.
"In sparkling prose, burnished to a high gloss, Stacy Schiff tells the tale of Benjamin Franklin in Paris with piquant humor, outrageous anecdotes worthy of the finest French farce, and a wealth of lapidary observations... C'est magnifique," said Ron Chernow, winner of the 2005 George Washington Book Prize for his biography Alexander Hamilton.
Ms. Schiff is the author of Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabakov), winner of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for biography, and Saint-Exupéry, a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and was a Director's Fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. Ms. Schiff's essays and articles have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times Book Review, and the Times Literary Supplement, among other publications. She lives with her husband and three children in New York City.
The George Washington Book Prize, instituted in 2005, is awarded annually to recognize outstanding published works that contribute to a greater understanding of the life and career of George Washington and/or the nation's founding era. Presented by Washington College's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and George Washington's Mount Vernon, the $50,000 prize is one of the largest book awards in the United States. For more information, visit gwprize.washcoll.edu.
Chestertown, Md., is located on the upper Eastern Shore, approximately 45 minutes from Annapolis and Dover, Del., one hour from Baltimore and Wilmington, and 90 minutes from Washington and Philadelphia.
About the Prize Partners
Established in 2000 with a grant from the New York-based Starr Foundation, the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience draws on the special historical strengths of Washington College and the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Through educational programs, scholarship, and public outreach, the Starr Center explores the early republic, the rise of democracy, and the manifold ways in which the founding era continues to shape American culture. In partnership with other institutions and with leading scholars and writers, the Center works to promote innovative approaches to the study of history, and to bridge the gaps between historians, contemporary policymakers, and the general public. Washington College was founded in 1782 under the patronage of George Washington, and was the first college chartered in the new nation.
Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History promotes the study and love of American history among audiences ranging from students to scholars to the general public. It creates history-centered schools and academic research centers, organizes seminars and enrichment programs for educators, produces print and electronic publications and traveling exhibitions, and sponsors lectures by eminent historians. In addition to the George Washington Book Prize, the Institute also sponsors the Lincoln Prize in conjunction with the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College and the Frederick Douglass Prize in cooperation with the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University.
George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, open to the public since 1858, communicates the character and leadership of Washington to millions of Americans each year through a variety of interpretive programs on the Estate and in classrooms across the nation. Mount Vernon is owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, founded in 1853, making it America's oldest national preservation organization. The George Washington Book Prize is an important component in the Association's aggressive outreach program, which engages millions of teachers and students throughout the nation.
Fernando Arcas, Professor of History at Malaga University, agrees that one of his great passions in life is to listen to people talk about the past. And more so when the speakers have lived history in the flesh, as many old people in the province of Malaga have done. He is delighted with his latest project, which is to recuperate the “historical memory”, as the Spaniards call it, in reference to finally closing the worst chapter in modern Spanish history, the Civil War, by listening to what both losers and winners have to say. This is an ambitious project being carried out by a small research group, titled “History, Image and Memory of Andalucía”.
You are heading into the time machine of the Civil War survivors, as others have done before you. What makes your study different?
Ours is different in that our study is oral. This requires a different approach and methodology, specific to each survivor. We listen to what each of them has to say, and record it. Our aim is to collect testimony from all over the province, and since January, we have carried out 150 interviews in 40 municipalities in the province, listening mostly to people aged between 80 and 85.
This project is a battle against time and memory loss. What exactly are your aims?
To create a historical archive of the province and save the testimony of people who lived through the Civil War and its consequences. If this work is not done, this valuable testimony will be lost forever.
How is it going?
We began in January, so we’re still in the first phase of collecting testimonies through interviews. We plan to continue for the rest of the year, and expect to interview 200 survivors. This figure puts Malaga among the provinces with most oral testimony of the Civil War in Spain. Once the interviews have been done - on video - the next stage is to study them and edit them to finally make a documentary film.
You must have listened to many different stories of the Civil War while carrying out this project. Which surprised you most?
The most surprising aspect of our work has been the passion with which old people still speak about it. The trauma of the Civil War is still with them. They were witness to the horror of that war, the loss of loved ones and the cruelty of what actually happened. Some of them, in fact, reached a point in their stories in which they simply could not carry on, and just sat there, silent....
SOURCE: OAH President Richard White in the OAH Newsletter (8-8-06)
As historians, we do take opposing positions, but we seem to be united on one thing: a reluctance to debate. This was evident in our attempts to implement the “scholarly controversies” sessions. I won’t mention names—and there is no need to—because the problem is not personal but rather collective. The unwillingness to debate spans the spectrum of the profession. It was as strong on the left as on the right. Race and gender, as far as I know, made no difference. There were numerous excuses given, including other commitments, but although the reasons varied, the refusal was pretty universal. The always exceptional Patricia Limerick accepted and so did a few others, but they were the outliers.
This is, on one level, puzzling. If the debate were to take place on Crossfire, I can understand a “thanks but no thanks” answer. If this were to be a debate along the lines of presidential “debates,” I could understand why people, particularly the potential audience, might say, “why bother?” But these would be debates between colleagues who have taken differing positions on important issues. The audience would be their professional equals. I have little doubt that all of us would go to the wall to defend the free exchange of ideas, but we don’t seem much interested in exchanging ideas ourselves, at least in public where there might be occasion for embarrassment.
I may be the most naïve member of this organization, but I didn’t think that any of us have that much to lose....
SOURCE: Africa Today (7-31-06)
Oxford historian Professor David Anderson, whose studies unearthed new evidence linking two British officers to the murder of 22 Kenyans in the spring of 1953, told reporters that the incident was "the tip of the iceberg" in a bloody campaign that Britain should be ashamed of. Anderson and his team of academics researchers confirmed that two British junior officers were with the Somalis at the time of the massacre. One of the two is believed to be dead, but the second is still living in the UK. The vital evidence in the case, the only data not recorded in Kenyan National Archives documents that detailed the compensation hearing held after the massacre, is in statements made by three local women eyewitnesses and ten of the Somali soldiers.
The statements are the missing part of a file and are wanted by Anderson's team under the Freedom of Information Act, but the MoD has still declined to release them. The only eyewitnesses to the period of the massacre tracked down by Anderson and the BBC Radio 4's Document programme were two men, Celestino Mbare, now 84, and Jediel Nyaga, 80. Mbare told BBC Radio 4 programme how he had gone along to identify the dead, 20 of whom were from his own village. Nyaga recounted to the BBC: "They were innocent people who went to help soldiers and soldiers shot them." The UK's ministry of Defence decision on the documents shuts the door to a trial or a public enquiry, although it tacitly admits that a crime did take place and has gone on to pay blood money to the families of the murdered men. The MoD is reported to have told one of Anderson's associate that it did not want to release the missing 11 pages of testimony because it was too graphic and upsetting.
SOURCE: Ralph Luker at HNN blog, Cliopatria (8-7-06)
Now, Brown is reaping the fruit of years of hard work: blurbs by Peter Gay and Michael Kazin; publication in the UK; reviews by Robert S. Boynton in BookForum, David Greenberg at Slate; Adam Kirsch in the New York Sun, Wilfred McClay at Center for Ethics and Public Policy, Eric Rauchway at Altercation and POTUS, Carlin Romano at the Chronicle of Higher Education; Christopher Shay in the Boston Globe; John H. Summers in the New York Observer; Sam Tannenhaus in the New York Times, Sean Wilentz in The New Republic and, apparently, one still in the works by Scott McLemee; and his own op-ed in the LA Times. McClay is remarkably critical of Hofstadter, but no one has really laid a glove on Brown and the review by Tanenhaus should send book sales soaring. It's great to see these rewards to a struggle up from academic obscurity.
SOURCE: Manan Ahmed at HNN blog, Cliopatria (8-8-08)
There is a radical difference between the Islamic Republic of Iran and other governments with nuclear weapons. This difference is expressed in what can only be described as the apocalyptic worldview of Iran's present rulers. This worldview and expectation, vividly expressed in speeches, articles and even schoolbooks, clearly shape the perception and therefore the policies of Ahmadinejad and his disciples.The goverment, Lewis contends, is in the hands of religious nuts who preach a unique brand of eschatology. Oh wait. Wrong goverment.