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: NYT (12-8-08)
A dozen friends and admirers — including the writers Jimmy Breslin, Victor Navasky and Walter Mosley — hailed Mr. Terkel, author of “Working” and “The Good War” (winner of the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction), saying he taught America how to listen to and understand the unpretentious and the unpolished: the steelworker and nurse, the shipbuilder and waitress.
“The pages of history are cluttered with the pronouncements of presidents and military heroes,” Howard Zinn, the historian, told the crowd of 800 at the Great Hall at Cooper Union. “Studs brought people back onto the pages of history, people with feelings, people with anguish and their joys.”
“He was always concerned with what he called the ‘et cetera’ of history,” Mr. Zinn added. “The people left out.”
The tribute was presented by his longtime publisher, The New Press, and co-sponsored by The Nation magazine and The Indypendent, a newspaper of New York’s independent media.
“Studs used to say, I tape, therefore I am,” said Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation’s editor in chief. “Only one other person used the tape recorder with as much fervor: Richard Nixon.”
SOURCE: Oliver Marre in the Observer (Guardian) (12-7-08)
On Tuesday night, C4's offshoot channel, More4, is showing a 90-minute documentary, An Independent Mind, in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It is publicising it heavily, with a special screening the night before at the Royal Society of Arts, hosted by Channel 4 News's foreign correspondent Jonathan Miller. According to the puff: 'This unique film gives a voice to eight characters from around the world who have fought to exercise their right to free speech.'
What C4 doesn't say is that the film's eighth and final hero is Irving. The timing is fortunate for Irving, if not for the rest of us, since he's currently trying to flog his self-published misery memoir.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews tells me the programme should not be shown. 'Whatever airtime David Irving gets is too much,' says chief executive Jon Benjamin. 'Here, he once again seems to be casting himself in the role of victim.'
SOURCE: http://www.wickedlocal.com (12-6-08)
The living history museum announced the layoffs of eight veteran employees after the Plantation closed for the winter earlier this week. A ninth employee opted into the reduction in force as the layoffs unfolded. The reorganization consolidates most of managerial duties under four positions. Two are newly created managerial positions. The museum’s Board of Trustees approved the reorganization at its November meeting.
Director John McDonagh said the layoffs result from a need to reduce the museum’s operating budget by 10 percent and reflects the museum’s commitment to maintaining a powerful, interactive experience for visitors. The eight workers are responsible for much of the content of museum programs and exhibits, but generally have limited interaction with the public.
McDonagh would not name the eight people who lost jobs but did identify their positions. They are: the program manager of the Colonial Interpretation Department, the curator of historical technologies, the associate director for historic landscapes, the associate director for facilities, the curator of museum reproductions, the manager of Colonial wardrobe and textiles, the Colonial foodways manager, the director of museum programs and the administrative assistant for programs.
An employee who spoke on condition of anonymity said the layoffs amount to “a complete decapitation of the program division.” The nine workers represent more than 200 years of combined service to the museum. One of the managers, alone, had been with the Plantation since 1979.
McDonagh acknowledged there is no denying the loss of intellectual capital.
“They provided great service for many years, and we’re grateful and respect the work they gave us,” McDonagh said.
“Many were long-serving professionals here who had risen to management roles. Principally, they have, over the years, brought great value to the mission and our program. We had to look at that layer, that level, because we wanted to protect and preserve of our front line interpreters as much as possible because that’s where the magic happens for visitors,” McDonagh said....
SOURCE: Gilder Lehrman Institute (12-4-08)
This is the first in a series of programs and projects about Lincoln that the Gilder Lehrman Institute is sponsoring over the next year, as part of the Lincoln Bicentennial celebration. The Institute will launch a new Lincoln podcast weekly beginning in January, 2009.
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Ed (12-3-08)
“Soldiers’ personal stories are a largely untapped mine of military insight and historical testimony,” said Todd Brewster, a former journalist who is director of the project. In addition to recording battlefield stories of soldiers — including those now deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as those who served in conflicts as far back as World War II — project leaders hope to interview senior policy makers, among them former secretaries of defense and state. Besides video, the project will collect audio recordings and textual materials.
SOURCE: http://media-newswire.com (12-3-08)
A scholar of modern European intellectual and cultural history, "William McGrath's signature mark was the way he broke down barriers between academic disciplines," noted Stewart Weaver, professor of history and chair of the Department of History at the University. His approach provided new insights by bridging such diverse fields as art history, philosophy, musicology, psychoanalysis, and politics, said Weaver.
Following a Fulbright fellowship year in Vienna, Mr. McGrath completed his doctorate in 1965 at the University of California at Berkeley under the guidance of Carl Emil Schorske, one of America's most important modern intellectual European historians.
"Professor McGrath is the finest of Schorske's students," said Celia Applegate, professor of modern European history at the University. His two books are "major interdisciplinary works that bring together art, music, and architectural history," she explained. Dionysian Art and Populist Politics in Austria ( 1975 ) explores how influences such as Richard Wagner's musical compositions and Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy shaped the cultural life of turn-of-the-century Vienna. Freud's Discovery of Psychoanalysis: The Politics of Hysteria ( 1986 ) places Freud's revolutionary psychological theories into their cultural, political, and historic contexts.
"The cliché about historians is that we 'put text into context,' " said Applegate. "Bill painstakingly, clearly, and beautifully did that; whether he was writing about a psychoanalytical text or a Mahler symphony, he showed how each emerged out of a particular time and place."
Moving from the University of Chicago to Rochester in 1971, Mr. McGrath taught at the University for 26 years, during many of which he served as director of undergraduate studies in history. He was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant from 1978 to 79 and, as a recognized Freud scholar, was a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books. In recent years, he was working on a new book on the German idea of freedom.
Mr. McGrath is survived by his wife, Stephanie Frontz, longtime art librarian at the University's Rush Rhees Library, as well as two daughters, Katherine McGrath and Jennifer ( Josh ) Torres; a son-in-law, Jordan West; and four grandchildren. Friends may call Thursday, Dec. 4, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Anthony Funeral & Cremation Chapels, 2305 Monroe Ave. and are invited to bring a written memory or favorite photograph of Mr. McGrath for the family's memory book.
A memorial service will be held Friday, Dec. 5, at 2:30 p.m. at the University's Interfaith Chapel on Wilson Boulevard. Donations may be directed to the Friends of the Library, 236 Rush Rhees Library, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627.
The University flag will be flown at half-staff in Mr. McGrath's honor on Friday as well.
SOURCE: http://www.princeton.edu (12-3-08)
He and Romila Thapar, a professor emeritus in history at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, will receive the award in a ceremony Wednesday, Dec. 10, at the Library of Congress. They are the sixth and seventh recipients since the prize's 2003 inception, and each will receive half of the $1 million award.
A 2006 recipient of the award was Ying-shih Yu, Princeton's Gordon Wu '58 Professor of Chinese Studies Emeritus.
Endowed by Library of Congress benefactor John W. Kluge, the Kluge Prize is unique among international prizes at this monetary level in rewarding a wide range of disciplines including history, philosophy, politics, anthropology, sociology, religion, criticism in the arts and humanities, and linguistics, as well as a variety of cultural perspectives in the world.
SOURCE: Editorial in the Austin-American Statesman (12-3-08)
The better we know the past, the better we can shape our future, and that's why Briscoe's gift is an extremely generous one. Even more generous is the former governor's attitude about the money. In reply to a question from the American-Statesman's Ralph K.M. Haurwitz about how the money should be spent, Briscoe replied: "The judgment of those running the center is excellent. And their judgment would be better than mine on how to use it."
The first $3 million of the total was donated late last year and established an endowment in the name of Briscoe and his late wife, Janey, for projects involving Texas history. The remaining $12 million is pledged to establish a separate endowment for general support of the center.
Center Director Don Carleton said the gift would strengthen the center in all facets. The money, which nearly triples the center's endowment, will buy more historical collections, fund travel for visiting scholars and underwrite research and publishing.
SOURCE: Winfield Myers at Daniel Pipes's Campus Watch (12-3-08)
Political correctness is at its most parodic precisely when it seems beyond parody. The latest bit of history to support this adage is the Middle East studies establishment's reception of Sherry Jones's novel The Jewel of Medina (Jewel), a life of Aisha, the favorite wife of Muhammad. As Robert Spencer writes in his review of Jewel for the Winter 2009 issue of the Middle East Quarterly, Jones set out to"be a bridge-builder" who chose her historical sources selectively to ensure that her work would present a flattering picture of her subjects.
Enter Denise Spellberg, who teaches Islamic history at the University of Texas. She heard of Jewel pre-publication because Jones, in her naiveté, asked her then-publisher Ballantine, an imprint of Random House, to obtain an endorsement from Spellberg to splay across the back of the dust jacket. Spellberg is author of Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past: The Legacy of Aisha bint Abi Bakr, which Jones cites as one of her sources. She is, in addition, a typical practitioner of the blatant bias toward things Muslim and, more particularly, Arab that has become almost ubiquitous among practitioners of Middle East studies. Put simply but accurately, this means that things Arab/Muslim = good; things American/Western = bad. Under this regime, dispassionate, fair-minded research that takes a critical look at the Middle East is more likely to be rewarded with professional ostracism than advancement.
The results of Spellberg's fantasy-laden reading of the publisher's galleys of Jewel is by now familiar: she threw a Texas-sized tantrum and effectively persuaded Random House (the publisher of her forthcoming Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an) to withdraw publication of the book. According to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story, Spellberg made a"frantic" phone call to Muslim friend Shahed Amanullah, who owns the popular site altmuslim. After telling him the novel"made fun of Muslims and their history" and asking him to sound the alarm, word spread rapidly that Random House was on the verge of publishing a book on Islam that would spark worldwide violence akin to what occurred in the aftermath of the publication of the Danish cartoons of Muhammad and Salmon Rushdie's Satanic Verses.
Here is a sample of what Spellberg has said about Jewel:
- A very ugly, stupid piece of work.
- A declaration of war...explosive stuff...a national security issue.
- I don't have a problem with historical fiction. I do have a problem with the deliberate misinterpretation of history. You can't play with a sacred history and turn it into soft core pornography.
- (Via Jane Garrett of Random House): [Spellberg] thinks it will be far more controversial than the satanic verses [sic] and the Danish cartoons. Does not know if the author and Ballantine folks are clueless or calculating, but thinks the book should be withdrawn ASAP.
But whoever reads The Jewel of Medina, after suffering through stilted Hollywood historical epic dialogue larded with Arabic tidbits for authenticity's sake, will wonder what the fuss was all about. True to her word, Jones offers a portrait of Muhammad that is so flattering as to be worthy of British religion writer Karen Armstrong, who compared Muhammad to Gandhi.
Jones, says Spencer, saves her harsh judgment for Muhammad's enemies:
In keeping with this approach, Jones paints Muhammad's enemies with lurid comic-book strokes as evil, treacherous, and repulsive. The Jews of the Qaynuqa tribe, whom Muhammad eventually exiled, lurk sinisterly in doorways and play evil pranks upon Muhammad's wives. Abu Sufyan, the Quraysh leader who fought Muhammad and the Muslims in the battles of Badr, Uhud, and the Trench, abducts and murders a friend of Aisha; Jones describes his sweat glistening"like beads of grease in every fold and crease of fat" while his accomplice's"pocked face seemed to writhe with hatred."
Spencer does find one instance in which, by having Aisha fall in love with Safwan ibn al-Muattal and express initial disappointment at her marriage to Muhammad, Jones ensures that"feathers will be ruffled." But enough to justify violence? That, Spencer says,"is doubtful in the extreme."
Spencer's review further demonstrates that Spellberg's solicitousness of things Muslim caused her to grossly overstate the risk involved in publishing Jewel. The British publishing house Gibson Square Books canceled publication of the book in the UK after the home of its head was firebombed. While it's impossible to say for sure that no violence would have accompanied its publication in the UK had Spellberg never launched her hysteria-laden campaign against the book, it's beyond dispute that Beaufort Books in the U.S. went ahead with publication, and to date no violence has occurred. Thanks to Robert Spencer's careful review, we can better understand why: Jewel is more"soft history" than"soft pornography."
SOURCE: Ralph Luker at HNN blog, Cliopatria (12-3-08)
SOURCE: John Allen, Jr. at the website of the National Catholic Reporter (11-28-08)
Last April, however, when Pope Benedict XVI came to town, one of the brightest stars in that firmament was conspicuously absent. Historian and journalist Garry Wills, perhaps the most distinguished Catholic intellectual in America over the last 50 years, spurned requests for comment from every major TV network, as well as The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.
It may seem a curious missed opportunity for the author of 2000’s Papal Sin, a blistering, best-selling polemic against what he described as systemic papal dishonesty and inflated papal power. Wills, however, offers a simple motive for his reticence: “I’m poped out.”
“I’ve had my say, and I have no desire to say more,” he said. “Popes don’t interest me very much.”
Therein lies a key to understanding the unique spot on the Catholic landscape occupied by Wills, one of the most fascinating personalities American Catholicism has ever produced. In the wake of Papal Sin, fans and critics alike tended to style Wills as a new guru of the Catholic left, a sort of Noam Chomsky for the Call to Action set. In truth, he is both less and more. Less, in that Wills has no interest in leading a reform campaign in Catholicism, since doing so would imply investment in an institution he regards as irrelevant and dull; more, in that Wills is hardly just a “Catholic writer,” but one of America’s most distinguished nonfiction writers, period, whose horizons are far broader than the church.
Wills’ remarkable life and career thus reflect several realities of U.S. Catholic life: the emancipation of American Catholics from their pre-Vatican II ghetto into the full light of secular accomplishment and acclaim; the post-Vatican II option of many liberal Catholics for political and social crusades rather than internal church concerns; and the consequent quandary of the Catholic left, which is that its best and brightest often don’t care enough about the institutional church to stand and fight.
Now 73 and still going strong, Wills sat down with NCR for an extended interview at his home in Evanston, Ill., near the campus of Northwestern University, where he has served as a professor of history since 1980.
Wills is an academic and a journalist, putting him on both sides of what has long been a peculiar love/hate relationship. Reporters mock the specialized jargon and narrow interests of the egghead class, but depend upon the fruits of their learning; intellectuals lament the superficiality of journalists, but envy their fame and public influence.
What’s distinctive about Wills is not that he has a foot in both worlds, but that he has scaled heights of success in both that few ever attain in one.
There’s never been any doubt about his erudition. Wills is the kind of guy who, as a young man, when asked if he was a conservative, would reply, “No, I’m a distributist.” (To save traffic on the Wikipedia Web site, distributism is a political theory associated with the English Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton and 19th-century papal social teaching. It posits that ownership of the means of production should be widely distributed among the population, rather than controlled by the state, as in communism, or by financial elites, as in capitalism. Its model is the medieval guild system. Not coincidentally, Wills’ first book was on Chesterton, and he remains for Wills an enormous influence.)
Today Wills is regarded as America’s premier presidential historian, with acclaimed studies of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, Kennedy and Nixon. His Pulitzer Prize came for the 1992 book Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America, which is routinely assigned at major American universities as mandatory reading for incoming freshmen....
SOURCE: AHA Blog (Click here for embedded links in this post.) (12-1-08)
President (1-year term)
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Harvard University (early America, comparative women’s, material culture)
President-elect (1-year term)
Barbara Metcalf, University of Michigan and emeritus, Univ. of California, Davis (history of the Indian subcontinent, especially the colonial period; history of the Muslim population of India and Pakistan)
Vice-President, Research Division (3-year term)
Iris Berger, University at Albany-SUNY (Africa, comparative women’s, labor and working-class)
Council/Divisions (3-year terms)
Sarah C. Maza, Northwestern University (18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century France, methodology)
John K. Thornton, Boston University (Africa, Atlantic, world)
Barbara L. Tischler, Horace Mann School, NYC (American cultural, the 1960s, women’s, labor, teaching practice)
Committee on Committees (3-year terms)
Kriste Ann Lindenmeyer, University of Maryland Baltimore County (U.S. social with an emphasis on public policy, the history of childhood, and women and gender during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)
Lloyd S. Kramer, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (modern European cultural and intellectual history with an emphasis on nineteenth-century France)
Nominating Committee (3-year terms)
Marshall C. Eakin, Vanderbilt University (Latin America, with emphasis on Brazil and Central America; nationalism and nation-building, history of industrialization)
Poshek Fu, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (modern Chinese history, history of Hong Kong, Chinese diaspora, war and culture, popular culture, pan-Chinese and pan-Asian cinemas)
Carol Anderson, University of Missouri-Columbia (Emory Univ. beginning Jan. 2009) (diplomatic, U.S. 20th-century, African American)
SOURCE: Jim Pinkerton at the Fox News blog (12-2-08)
But even during this happy masque of lefty triumphalism, FOX News’ Chris Wallace threw a fair-and-balanced apple of discord into the middle of the festivities. Wallace had the nerve to defend George W. Bush from the ongoing liberal effort to Nixonize the 43rd President.
After the film’s screening, at the National Geographic Society headquarters in downtown Washington, director Ron Howard, playwright/screenwriter Peter Morgan, and Nixon-hater James Reston Jr. (son of the legendary New York Times columnist) appeared onstage for a question-and-answer session with the audience. The discussion was moderated by Robert Dallek, the retired Boston University professor and well-known historian.
Howard was, well, Hollywood-ish, talking about the making of the film and the screen-testing of various alternate endings. And Morgan was arty and somewhat abstract, seemingly more hostile to Frost—who conducted the 1977 “checkbook journalism” interviews with the disgraced 37th president that are the heart of the film—than to Nixon. But Reston, portrayed in the film as a young Nixon-hating researcher for Frost, was relentlessly vehement, using every occasion he could to steer the discussion back to Nixon’s “criminality” and the need to confront it. Again. And again. And again.
Then Reston went further, declaring that the film was “a metaphor for George W. Bush,” a theme that Howard and Dallek, at least, seemed comfortable with. That was fine for the liberal multitudes in the audience, including former CBS News reporter Daniel Schorr, now over ninety, who proudly recollected for the audience that he was “number fourteen on Nixon’s enemies list,” and former Watergate Committee counsel Richard Ben-Veniste, who resurfaced in 2004 as one of the 9/11 Commissioners.
But then “FOX News Sunday” host Chris Wallace, braving the liberal wind, asked a question, which was actually more of an accusation. “To compare George W. Bush to Richard Nixon is to trivialize Nixon’s crimes and is a disservice to Bush,” Wallace said. Recalling that 3,000 people were killed on 9/11, and noting that there hadn’t been any attacks on U.S. soil since, Wallace suggested that something had been done right. That’s why, he said, “we are all sitting here tonight so comfortably”—and not afraid of another terrorist attack. Moreover, Wallace said, “Richard Nixon’s crimes were committed solely for his own political gain, whereas George W. Bush was trying to protect the American people.” To suggest otherwise, Wallace insisted, “was a grave misrepresentation of history, then and now.” And, amazingly, Wallace received a smattering of applause.
Seemingly not wanting to get into a fight with the TV newsman, Dallek answered that we knew full well of Nixon’s criminality because of the Watergate tapes, but that no similar documentary record existed yet for Bush. Only when such information comes out, Dallek suggested, would the full horror of Bush’s presidency become visible. Which, of course, proved Wallace’s point: It was not fair to equate proven facts about Nixon with mere allegations about Bush.
“You make suppositions on no facts whatsoever,” Wallace concluded.
“Do you read The New York Times?” Dallek countered. That might not have been the strongest comeback ever, but it worked just fine with this audience. And with that, the Q & A session resumed its liberal course for the rest of the evening.
SOURCE: Russia Profile (11-30-08)
While the world continues discussing Russia’s “new informational closedness,” for almost twenty years now the Rodina (Motherland) magazine has been publishing exclusive historical Russian documents, dating from ancient Kiev to the 1990s. The documents are quite informative, processed by competent people with a wide vision of history. Who, for example, has ever thought about how the corrupt officials during Ivan Grozny’s times used the then-analogue of today’s prosecutor’s office for their own purposes? Who ever noticed that the conflict between the General Staff and the Ministry of Defense, which had cost the Russian army so much in Afghanistan and in Chechnya, actually began during the first months of World War I? Where else can you find out what real power did a governor of Vyatka or Yaroslavl have in the late 19th century? Rodina’s professional editorial staff does not allow for any generalizations or loud statements. Instead, on display are the results of scrupulous work by a team of historians, headed by the Editor in Chief Yury Borisyonok. Russia Profile spoke to Borisyonok about his work.
R.P. Today your magazine is one of the most authoritative and, at the same time, most popular periodicals on Russian history. How did it come into being?
Y.B.: We have two birthdays. In 1879 a weekly magazine called Rodina was launched in St. Petersburg. This periodical was very popular with the general public. A character from an Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov novel named Vasisualy Lokhankin, who is a parody of a liberal Russian intellectual, reads the Rodina magazine even in the 1920s, under the Bolsheviks. He does read an old collection of issues, though: the Bolsheviks closed the magazine in 1917 for political reasons.
In 1989 the same Bolsheviks reopened the magazine. The idea of reopening it belonged to the Editor in Chief of the Pravda newspaper at that time, Viktor Afanasyev. Starting with the very first issues, the magazine published interesting materials on history, including the most topical historical pages of the 20th century. For example, Rodina published materials about the 1918 execution of the royal family. Today we are already sick and tired of this topic, but back then it was sensational. In 1990 the magazine was closed for a short while, and it was published again in 1991 under the auspice of Russia’s new President Boris Yeltsin. This is when I joined the magazine as a correspondent.
R.P. One of your predecessors remembered that the name Rodina in the 1990s was perceived as something politically incorrect and nationalist. He called the atmosphere of those years “suffocating:” it was shameful to be called a patriot…
Y.B.: I remember the atmosphere at that time, and I can call it anything but suffocating. From the very beginning of my being here, I do not remember any occasions when the state authorities interfered with our editorial policy, although the list of Rodina’s founders includes the Government of the Russian Federation and the Russian Presidential Administration....
SOURCE: http://www.granthamjournal.co.uk (12-1-08)
The 10-year-old's video entry about William the Conqueror won him one of 10 places at a presenting boot camp with presenter Dan Snow.
Cai will travel to Wellington Arch, in London, on Monday to meet Mr Snow and receive tips on how to be a good television presenter and help to create his own professional show reel.
Then judges will review each of the finalists' work and select a winner who will present a one-off history programme on the English Heritage TV channel EHTV.
Cai said: "I can't wait to get to Wellington Arch to show the judges what I can do. I love history and it would be a dream come true to present a film on EHTV.
"I chose to make my video about William the Conqueror who was very brave and strong and did loads of amazing things, but also had a nasty side."
SOURCE: Reuters (12-1-08)
But historian Philip Jenkins argues in a new book that this narrative neglects the faith's first 1,000 years when Christianity set down firm roots in Asia and Africa - roots that flourished into huge churches but were pruned, withered and died.
"We can't understand Christian history without Asia - or, indeed, Asian history without Christianity," Jenkins writes in 'The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia - and How It Died.'
He notes that churches were operating in Sri Lanka before England had its first archbishop of Canterbury and that Nestorian Christian branches were well established across Asia long before Poland became Catholic.
Jenkins attributes the decline of these ancient churches to a number of factors including the rise of Islam and climate change which stoked social tensions -- connecting distant dots in a thought-provoking manner that is sure to stir debate.
One result is that the Christian church in the Middle East, the land of its birth, has shrunk to the point that Jenkins says in a "geographical sense. Christianity has no heart, no natural core."
SOURCE: Christian Science Monitor (12-1-08)
At stake is whether the government should order the authors of textbooks used in secondary schools throughout the country to revise them in line with the conservative outlook of President Lee Myung Bak and his top aides as well as the Defense Ministry.
Foreign as well as Korean intellectuals have risen to the defense of the textbook authors in a statement signed by more than 660 scholars, 112 from overseas.
"It is of grave concern," says the statement submitted to the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology, "that the current attempt to revise history textbooks appears to be driven by a specific political agenda to homogenize history textbooks, as demanded by the 'New Right' and parts of the governing group."
The statement charges that the ministry would allow "only one historical interpretation" – an approach that "leads to the repression of academic freedom in research and publication."
SOURCE: http://allafrica.com (11-27-08)
"Your Honour, I am a man of honour; whatever the consequences, I will leave", stated, with a raised voice, the French professor. Mr. Lugan came to testify as an expert at the request of General Augustin Bizimungu, the former chief of staff of the Rwandan army, and Captain Innocent Sagahutu, who commanded a company within an elite unit. "I will return to France at my expense, the miserable remuneration of the Tribunal of 4 000 dollars, I will give it to the tribunal", he followed.
The historian, "with a brawling temper", according to his own words, took the bait when Sefon tried to oppose a curriculum vitae written by a French association and qualified as "false" by Lugan.
"This is a leaflet, a forgery from an association which I have condemned before chambers in France. (...) Your attitude is the illustration of your method", he launched to his contradictor. The expert affirmed that the office of the prosecutor knew very well that this document, of which had already been a question in a past testimony, was a forgery.
"Why is Mr. Lugan afraid that I say to him that his work is not scientific?", asked the representative of the prosecutor in the middle of a hubbub of the defence counsels. "You are pitiful. You are useless", answered the witness, sitting at a Chamber obviously exceeded and attentive only to the respect of an acceptable delay between the questions and the answers in order to allow for the translation.
As if he had a power to take to the streets, General Bizimungu's lawyer Gilles Saint Laurent, one of the elders in the courtroom, called everyone to remain calm. "I ask everyone and you Mr. Lugan. It is impossible to work under these conditions. I call for calm, I call upon the wisdom of the Chamber", asked the Canadian defence lawyer.
"My ancestors did not fold before Louis XIV, I cannot fold before the prosecutor", reacted the historian; whose intransigence constrained Mr. Sefon to give up his line of questioning on the document. After a suspension of the hearing, motivated by a fire drill of the Tanzanian firemen, the proceedings resumed more calmly, Lugan apologized....
SOURCE: NYT (11-30-08)
Currently on newsstands is the magazine’s special Lincoln issue, focused on the 16th president. The Illinois Bureau of Tourism bought the back-page ad, depicting Lincoln with the caption, “Walk the same halls and streets that led him to the White House.”
On the flip side of that page, however, is an ad for a commemorative Civil War ring emblazoned with the Confederate Flag.
“It’s a little uncomfortable,” Edwin S. Grosvenor, the magazine’s editor in chief, said in a telephone interview.
Mr. Grosvenor said he became aware of the advertisement, placed by the Bradford Exchange collectibles company, just before the magazine’s deadline and that he had to walk a fine line between generating revenue and maintaining editorial tone.
But one of the contributors to the magazine, the historian James M. McPherson, said that the line had been crossed.
Mr. McPherson, a history professor at Princeton and author of “Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief,” said that many saw the Confederate flag as an incendiary symbol of slavery and that he would have protested the ad had he been aware of it before publication.
Eric Foner, a Columbia University professor and fellow essayist in the Lincoln issue, said he thought that the ad was more incongruous than illicit. “The Confederate flag is insulting to a great number of Americans, not just African-Americans, but it is legal,” he said....
SOURCE: NYT (11-30-08)
“The expence of living is greatly advanc’d in my absence,” he commented. “Rent of old houses, and value of lands ... are trebled in the past six years.”
Franklin, it seems, had come home to a real estate bubble. It eventually popped — bringing on a credit crunch and deep recession that was the macroeconomic backdrop to the American Revolution.
The parallels between the current economy and the one Franklin saw highlight a debate among historians: how big a role did economics, as opposed to ideas, play in fomenting revolution?
“I think there’s reason to doubt the Revolution would have happened as it did if it weren’t for these economic conditions,” said Ronald W. Michener, an economics professor at the University of Virginia, in a radical departure from today’s popular notion that the Revolution was a product primarily of grand ideas about self-government.
Gordon S. Wood, a professor at Brown University and perhaps the pre-eminent living historian on the subject, counters: “There was a great deal of instability, but that is hardly an explanation for the Revolution. I don’t think you can make a strong argument for an economic interpretation of the Revolution.”
Professor Michener and his collaborator, Robert W. Wright, a financial historian at New York University, plan to do just that. The tandem worked for several years on a manuscript arguing that the American Revolution was a direct result of the economic malaise that followed the French and Indian War.
Now they have a built-in marketing hook — the current financial crisis — and the publisher, Yale University Press, is hoping to bring the book out as early as next fall. “What I found was that the monetary difficulties faced by the colonies were not very different from modern macroeconomic problems,” Mr. Michener said....