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: Daily Mail (UK) (11-30-11)
An Oxford University history don has been accused of racial discrimination for comparing a black chef to a character in a book.
Dr David Parrott described New College Oxford's former deputy head chef Gregory Lewis as 'Mr Pangloss himself' during the cook's unsuccessful interview for promotion in 2007. Mr Pangloss is a character in Candide, the satire written by the French philosopher Voltaire.
Mr Lewis, who is of Afro-Caribbean origin and was later dismissed by the college, claimed at an Employment Tribunal, that the reference to Pangloss - ridiculed by Voltaire for his over-optimistic view that we live in 'the best of all possible worlds' - was racially charged as it implied he was lazy and unoriginal....
SOURCE: Kevin Carey for The New Republic (11-23-11)
Kevin Carey works for Education Sector, a think tank in Washington, D.C. This article appeared in the December 15, 2011, issue of the magazine.
On July 30, 2011, thousands of public school teachers rallied on the southwest corner of the Ellipse, near the White House. Union members mingled with the occasional communist pamphleteer, and, on a temporary stage, a series of activists, students, scholars, and teachers put forward variations on a theme: Standardized tests and corporate interests are ruining public education.
Late in the program, the actor Matt Damon showed up and began chatting amiably with an older, gray-haired woman sitting next to him on the stage. It turned out he wasn’t the only star in attendance. The next speaker “is the torchbearer, the champion for children,” an organizer announced. “Like Britney and Cher and Gaga, in the education world, all you need to say is ‘Diane.’ ”
The gray-haired woman walked to the microphone as the crowd chanted, “Diane! Diane!” “This is a historic day. I’m a historian,” she told them. She spoke for only eight minutes, in short, punchy sentences. “Carrots and sticks are for donkeys.” “Education is a right, not a race.” “Our problem is poverty, not our schools.” When she finished, the crowd began chanting again: “Thank you! Thank you!”
It was, historically speaking, a strange place for Diane Ravitch to be. There was no indication that, until recently, she had championed many of the policies that were denounced at the rally as tools of racism and oppression. That she had spent years in the inner circle of conservative education policy, advocating for school vouchers, firing incompetent teachers, and shutting down failing schools. Ravitch once assured the public, “Vouchers and charters will not destroy public education. This is an incredible and fantastical fear.” Now she says things like, “Vouchers are a con, intended to destroy public education.”
Improbably, at the end of a four-decade-long career as the nation’s most prominent education historian and a vocal advocate for education reform, Ravitch has emerged as reform’s fiercest critic. Her about-face has made her more famous and influential than she has ever been. Now, pundits, scholars, philanthropists, and education leaders are all asking the same question: What happened to Diane Ravitch?
“WRITING,” RAVITCH TOLD ME when we met near her Brooklyn home, “is what I’ve always done.” Born in 1938, she was raised in Houston, along with seven brothers and sisters. Although neither of her parents went to college, she made her way to Wellesley and, two weeks after graduating, married Richard Ravitch. Her husband joined his family’s thriving real estate business in Manhattan (he would eventually become lieutenant governor of New York), while she stayed home and raised their three sons. The second, Steven, died of leukemia at age two.
In January 1961, Ravitch showed up at the offices of The New Leader, a small but influential publication of the anti-communist left, and asked for a job. When the editor, Myron Kolatch, said he couldn’t afford to hire her, Ravitch offered to work for free.
The New Leader was where Ravitch received her true education. The small staff was crammed into one room on the fourth floor of an old building. Then and future luminaries like Daniel Bell and Nathan Glazer would drop by to turn in their latest essays; strong argument was prized. “This is where she learned how to write,” says Kolatch. Ravitch worked intermittently for The New Leader until 1967, when she took a part-time assignment from the nonprofit Carnegie Corporation to report on the city’s school system.
In the late 1960s, New York City public education was a battleground. After years of failed desegregation efforts, black and Puerto Rican groups were demanding control of their children’s education. A handful of local groups were given limited authority over their schools. One, a militant board in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville section of Brooklyn, promptly fired 19 mostly white, Jewish teachers and administrators. Racial and religious tensions escalated and spilled onto the streets. To protest the firings, Al Shanker, the head of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), called for a series of citywide teacher strikes, shutting down the million-student school system for much of the fall of 1968. City officials were terrified the situation would erupt into full-blown riots. The resulting compromise decentralized education in New York City and left scars that lasted decades.
Curious about the origins of this clash, Ravitch looked for a comprehensive history of the New York City school system and discovered that none existed. She contacted Lawrence Cremin, the esteemed education historian at Teachers College, Columbia University, and floated the idea of writing one herself. A book-length history was way beyond her capacity, he counseled—better to start with a few essays instead.
Ravitch ignored his advice and spent the next five years researching her book, usually writing after she’d put the children to bed. During this time, she applied to the doctoral program in Columbia’s history department, only to be turned away, she says, on the grounds of being old (she was 34), female, and interested in the unimportant subject of education. She obtained her Ph.D. through the university’s College of Arts and Sciences and Teachers College instead. Although her book was a work of popular history and not an academic one, the college allowed her to use it for her dissertation.
The Great School Wars: A History of the New York City Public Schools was published in 1974 and exceeded all expectations. It argued that four successive waves of immigration to the city had ignited four “school wars” over the promise of public education to lift up the poor and newly arrived; and, as a result, the city had oscillated between central and local control of its schools....
SOURCE: Yahoo News Canada (11-28-11)
Safe to say Eliot Cohen may not be getting many invitations from Americans marking the upcoming bicentennial of the War of 1812, though he could find himself an honoured guest at Canadian festivities.
The Johns Hopkins University history professor, once a senior adviser to former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, has just published a book that concludes Canada won the war.
The admission comes as the Conservative government ramps up plans to celebrate the war, which it is elevating to the kind of defining historical moment for Canada on a level with the Battle of Vimy Ridge in the First World War.
Cohen's book, entitled Conquered Into Liberty, states "ultimately, Canada and Canadians won the War of 1812."...
SOURCE: The Canadian Jewish News (12-1-11)
Israel’s continuing occupation of the West Bank looms as a major factor in its growing delegitimization, claims a leading Israeli historian.
“Today, we’re witnessing the steady delegitimization of Israel in the international community,” said Benny Morrris in a recent speech at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto.
The erosion of Israel’s legitimacy is taking place especially in European university campuses, the incubators of future political leaders in Europe, noted Morris, who teaches Middle Eastern history at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev....
SOURCE: NYU News (11-27-11)
NYU Russian history and politics professor Stephen Cohen visited Russia on a whim. After taking a year to study at Birmingham University in England, Cohen decided to stretch out his time abroad and found himself in Russia.
This month, over 50 years after his first visit, Cohen was awarded the 2011 Liberty Prize for his work advancing cultural bonds between the United States and Russia.
"It was an award that brought together the two countries that have shaped my entire adult life, so because it was an American-Russian award, it really was special for me," Cohen said.
The Liberty Prize is sponsored by the publisher Kontinent USA and the American University in Moscow. Every year, the jury selects individuals who have brought awareness and interest to Russian affairs....
SOURCE: NYT (11-28-11)
LONDON — As the novelist George Orwell observed, he who controls the past controls the future, so it is perhaps not surprising that Orwell’s home country is the latest setting for a battle over what history is and how it is taught. In recent weeks, two conferences here have seen the polite tones of academic debate shattered as historians traded accusations of racism, dumbing down and just plain ignorance.
At the same time Michael Gove, the education minister, has been urged by some of the country’s most eminent historians to abandon his plan to revamp the way history is taught in schools.
David Starkey, the author of several books about Henry VIII and his wives and a frequent guest on British television programs, argued at a historians’ conference in London this month that schools ought to focus more on Britain’s “own culture.”...
SOURCE: LA Times (11-29-11)
Niall Ferguson, a historian who teaches at Harvard, has responded to a negative review of his book "Civilization: The West and the Rest" with an angry letter and by saying, "Don't force my hand by forcing me to put it in the hands of lawyers." The long review, threaded through with analyses of Ferguson's previous works and related histories, was written by Pankaj Mishra and appeared in the Nov. 3 issue of the London Review of Books:
Ferguson himself is homo atlanticus redux. In a preface to the UK edition of Civilisation: The West and the Rest, he writes of being seduced away from a stodgy Oxbridge career, early in the 2000s, to the United States, ‘where the money and power actually were’....
Ferguson, setting aside his expertise in economic history, emerged as an evangelist-cum-historian of empire. He was already arguing in The Cash Nexus, published a few months before the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, that ‘the United States should be devoting a larger percentage of its vast resources to making the world safe for capitalism and democracy’ – if necessary by military force. ‘Let me come clean,’ he wrote in the New York Times Magazine in April 2003, a few weeks after the shock-and-awe campaign began in Iraq, ‘I am a fully paid-up member of the neoimperialist gang.’...
SOURCE: The Economist (11-28-11)
JOHN LEWIS GADDIS, a cold-war historian, is the author of “George F. Kennan: An American Life” (2011; reviewed by The Economist here). He is Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History at Yale University and a Distinguished Fellow and Director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy. He serves on the advisory board of the Cold War International History Project and is the author of “The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past” (2002); “Surprise, Security and the American Experience, Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of American National Security Policy During the Cold War” (2004; reviewed by The Economist here); and “The Cold War: A New History” (2005; reviewed by The Economist here).
How would you define containment?
Containment, associated with the American diplomat George F. Kennan, was the central post-war concept of the US and its allies in dealing with the Soviet Union. Containment kept the cold war from being a hot war. At the end of the second world war, when it became clear that the Soviet Union was not going to continue to be a reliable ally, many people in the West fell into despair. They saw two choices lying ahead—getting into a third world war with a massive country that already dominated Europe, or appeasement. That vision of George Orwell’s “1984”, of democracy being stamped out altogether, came close to capturing the mood of many people after WWII. It was George Kennan who showed a way out of Orwell’s grim vision....
SOURCE: Jon Wiener for The Nation (11-28-11)
Jon Wiener teaches history at UC Irvine and writes for the Nation magazine
The Berkeley Academic Senate voted 336 to 34 on Monday afternoon to “condemn” Chancellor Robert Birgeneau for his administration’s “authorization of violent responses to nonviolent protests over the past two years,” culminating in the police attack on nonviolent Occupy Cal demonstrators on Nov. 9. A million people have seen the YouTube video of that attack....
The resolution, co-authored by Wendy Brown, professor of political science, Judith Butler, professor of rhetoric and comparative literature, and Barrie Thorne, professor of sociology and of gender and women’s studies, originally had expressed "no confidence" in the chancellor, but some faculty members took that as a call for the chancellor’s resignation, which the authors did not seek. As a result, they deleted the call for “no confidence” and substituted the phrase about condemning the chancellor for the police attacks....
By the same 10-1 vote, the faculty also approved three other resolutions introduced originally as alternatives to the “no confidence” resolution. All criticized the Chancellor, but in different language. One, submitted by history professors David Hollinger and Tom Laqueur, expressed “greatly diminished confidence” in the chancellor; another, by Brian Barsky of Computer Sciences and Jonathan Simon of the Law School, laid out guidelines for campus police use of force....
SOURCE: The Daily Beast (11-28-11)
On a cold, gray morning last weekend, a group of about 30 relatives and neighbors waited for the funeral of a 65-year-old woman outside a five-story building on Lenin Prospect in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod. Some of them discussed the latest news in low voices: “Our Rima Stesheva would be too old for that maniac! He dragged home only the corpses of young women,” one of the women at the funeral said, referring to the deceased. “They said he placed musical boxes inside the mummies, set them up around his living room and had tea, while they were singing for him,” the other woman said, citing a recent article from a local newspaper. Soul-troubling details settled over the crowd, like wet snow, as more pedestrians joined the discussion in the courtyard: “He dug them out at night and turned the remains into pretty dolls”; “he collected clothes of dead women”; “his apartment was packed with the mummies he made out of dead bodies.” The moment the coffin showed up from the doorway, the gloomy-faced crowd quieted and boarded a bus to follow the deceased one to the cemetery.
Some Nizhny Novgorod papers nicknamed the villain of the story “The Lord of the Mummies”; others opted for “Perfumer”, after the Patrick Suskind novel Perfume. The thriller began on Nov. 3, a day before President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister’s Vladimir Putin’s official visit to Nizhny Novgorod, Russia's fourth-largest city and a center of military research and production that stayed closed to foreigners during most of the Soviet era. The reporters working on the Perfumer story were told not to make any noise on the story before the leaders left the city. But a news site named Criminal Chronicle could not contain itself: it ran a short brief saying that center “E," the Interior Ministry’s department for fighting extremist crime, had discovered 29 mummified corpses of women and girls between the ages of 15 to 26 in a three-room apartment that belonged to Anatoly Moskvin, a 45-year-old scientist....
SOURCE: NYT (11-28-11)
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Newt Gingrich is a historian. He earned a Ph.D. in history. If you’ve forgotten, he’ll remind you.
During a six-candidate forum in Iowa recently, Mr. Gingrich dropped in references to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, Capt. John Smith’s leadership of Jamestown, the French Revolution and, as a bonus, the Latin root of “secular.”
A few days earlier, as guests at a fund-raising breakfast forked into slabs of coffeecake, Mr. Gingrich told a lengthy anecdote about John Quincy Adams.
And in New Hampshire before that, he referred at a Tea Party forum to the Louisiana Purchase, Thomas Jefferson’s abolition of federal judgeships and, again, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.
Mr. Gingrich taught college history before entering politics, and his historical references on the campaign trail are such a feature of his public remarks as to be nearly a rhetorical tic. They strike some as evidence that Mr. Gingrich is the smartest candidate in the room — and others that he is a man determined to let you know how much he knows.
In an election season rife with factual misstatements, deliberate and otherwise, Mr. Gingrich sometimes seems to stand out for exhibiting an excess of knowledge....
SOURCE: NYT (11-27-11)
Hitler spent decades plotting his campaign for world domination. Alwyn Collinson, 24, a recent graduate in Renaissance history from Oxford University, hatched his own plan to invade Poland in a mere five days.
On Aug. 26 Mr. Collinson was just a marketing manager at a magazine in Oxford toying with the notion of starting some kind of a real-time Twitter project that would get people’s attention — maybe something like Orson Welles’s 1938 “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast, but that wouldn’t scare them to death.
Then suddenly he hit on the idea of tweeting the biggest terrestrial war of all time, and on Aug. 31 — roughly 72 years to the hour after Hitler’s tanks moved across the frontier — the Twitter feed RealTimeWWII was under way.
Since then the dominoes have fallen quickly. The number of followers jumped to 10,000 from about 300 by mid-September, after the project was featured on the blog The Next Web. By Nov. 9, the same date in 1939 that two British spies were captured by the SS at the Dutch border town of Venlo, the total had hit 45,000. Last week Mr. Collinson had more than 140,000 followers, dwarfing the numbers for similar feeds like @ukwarcabinet (based on documents from the National Archives in Britain detailing Winston Churchill’s cabinet debates in 1941)....
SOURCE: National Post (11-27-11)
In a relatively rare admission for an American scholar, a leading U.S. historian who authored a provocative new tome about North American military conflicts states bluntly that Canada won the War of 1812.
Johns Hopkins University professor Eliot Cohen, a senior adviser to former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, writes in his just-published book Conquered Into Liberty that, “ultimately, Canada and Canadians won the War of 1812.”
And Cohen acknowledges that, “Americans at the time, and, by and large, since, did not see matters that way.”
The book also echoes a key message trumpeted by the federal Conservative government in recent weeks as it unveiled ambitious plans to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812 over the next three years: that the successful fight by British, English- and French-Canadian and First Nations allies to resist would-be American conquerors — at battles such as Queenston Heights in Upper Canada and Chateauguay in Lower Canada — set the stage for the creation of a unified and independent Canada a half-century later....
SOURCE: Jon Wiener for The Nation (11-25-11)
Jon Wiener teaches history at UC Irvine and writes for the Nation magazine.
Berkeley is not only a school with an honored history of campus protest; it’s also our greatest public university, and its faculty include some of the country’s most brilliant and accomplished people. So when those faculty members meet to debate police violence against the “Occupy” movement on their campus, it’s big news.
On Monday, the Berkeley Academic Senate will vote on a resolution expressing “no confidence” in their chancellor, Robert Birgeneau, because of police violence against Occupy Cal campus activists there on November 9. The chancellor’s defense of police conduct was particularly outrageous: “It is unfortunate that some protesters chose to obstruct the police by linking arms,” he declared the day after the police confrontation. “This is not non-violent civil disobedience.”
Linking arms is “not non-violent”?...
But the chancellor does have defenders, most notably history professor David Hollinger, who wrote at a university website that the police were enforcing a ban on overnight camping on campus, which “has some reasonable justifications” and “does not impede political advocacy.” Fighting with the police, and the chancellor, over the tents is “an unfortunate diversion” from the real issue, he argued—declining funding of public education, and growing economic inequality in the US at large.
This protest, Hollinger says, is not like the Free Speech Movement of 1964, which challenged university rules that did prevent political advocacy. Focusing the campus Occupy Wall Street movement on the Berkeley chancellor “implies that the UC Berkeley itself is integral to the economic inequality against which Occupy Wall Street is directed,” which “grossly underestimates the role of UC Berkeley in advancing egalitarian goals.” Thus, Hollinger concludes, “It will not do to blame this on Chancellor Robert Birgeneau.”
It’s true that fighting over the tents is a distraction from the real issues. But who made the tents an issue? It wasn’t the kids—it was the chancellor. UC Berkeley Police Capt. Margo Bennett told the LA Times that the cops attacked and clubbed protesters because “the administration said no tents.”...
SOURCE: Alaska Dispatch (11-25-11)
Dr. Douglas Brinkley, the Rice University professor who earlier this month got into a heated confrontation with Alaska Rep. Don Young during a Congressional hearing on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, is fanning the flames of their sudden feud.
A week ago, Young and Brinkley got testy with one another after Young incorrectly called Dr. Brinkley "Dr. Rice," and then referred to the professor's testimony on ANWR as "garbage." Brinkley confronted Young, correcting him on his name and incorrectly claiming that Young never graduated from college.Young eventually told Brinkley, "You just be quiet. You be quiet," at which point the committee chair stepped in to mediate between Young and the still-riled Brinkley....
SOURCE: Alex Pareene for Salon (11-24-11)
Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon.
Admittedly, I spend a lot of time grousing and naysaying. Today, though, we put that negativity briefly aside, as we celebrate a day of thoughtful reflection, and a night without a GOP presidential debate. I thought it appropriate, on the occasion of Thanksgiving, to thank some of the people who’ve worked to make the country and the world a better place over the least 12 months....
Thanks to Diane Ravitch, and other school reform critics like Dana Goldstein, for adding desperately needed perspective and balance to the school reform debate, a debate in which one side receives what could charitably be referred to as the lion’s share of favorable press coverage and philanthropic support. Their needling forces school reform advocates and foes alike to examine their assumptions and strengthen their arguments, and they sometimes end up causing even dilettante education policy gurus like Steven Brill to see that the seductive claims made by technocrat reformers tend to be overstated. Better, smarter policy debates are enough of a rarity that we should all be thankful for anyone who can manage to produce them....
SOURCE: Vancouver Sun (11-22-11)
A U.S. historian who unearthed new evidence about the life of a War of 1812 heroine from New York has dismissed Laura Secord's famous midnight dash to save Canada from invasion as a mere "Sunday walk" in the woods compared to the exploits of Betsy Doyle, her American counterpart.
Catherine Emerson, official historian for Niagara County north of Buffalo, has unravelled a 200-year-old mystery surrounding Doyle, known to War of 1812 experts as the wife of a captured American artillery officer who bravely threw herself into the fighting but then disappeared from the historical record.
Doyle — better known by the given name "Fanny" because of a 19th-century scribe's erroneous writings — earned a respectable footnote in U.S. military history after briefly assuming her husband's role in the war and loading red-hot cannonballs into Fort Niagara's guns during a fierce November 1812 battle against allied British, Canadian and First Nations troops....
SOURCE: NYT (11-22-11)
Were the 1970s the most boring decade in history?
Anyone reading the popular press at the time might have been forgiven for thinking so. In 1972, The New York Times reported on the Ford Motor Company’s plan to fight boredom on the job and an alternative boredom-reduction plan put forward by the United Auto Workers. The Washington Post, meanwhile, fretted that boredom might be fueling interest in the occult. In 1976, Reader’s Digest declared boredom “the disease of our time.”
But boredom isn’t just boring, Jordan Grant, a graduate student at American University, said in a paper called “Meaning in the Malaise: Boredom and the Remaking of the American Mind in the Seventies,” delivered last week at an intellectual history conference held at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Boredom is also a window into important shifts in American intellectual life — not to mention a new research frontier for the sometimes-embattled scholars who study it....
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (11-21-11)
Towards the end of a typically barnstorming performance at the Hay Festival in May last year, during which Niall Ferguson had rubbished the way history was taught in this country, the spotlight was turned towards the audience to reveal that the new education secretary, Michael Gove, had snuck into the event and was sitting somewhere near the back. And after a few not entirely convincing exchanges of surprise along the lines of "Fancy seeing you here!", "You're marvellous", "No, you're marvellous", Gove offered Ferguson a job on the spot to help reform the history curriculum....
Wisely, perhaps, Gove chose to consult not just Ferguson. Instead, using the contacts book that mysteriously opens up for new ministers, he also invited several other well-known historians, including Simon Schama and Richard Evans, to contribute their suggestions for the wholesale reform of history teaching. Somewhere not far into the process, he also asked David Cannadine, Dodge Professor of History at Princeton – and, with Ferguson and Schama, yet another of the UK's top academic exports to the US – for his thoughts. Eighteen months down the line, Gove might rather be wishing he hadn't.
Like Gove and Ferguson, Cannadine has also taken a profound interest in how history is taught in state schools; unlike them, he didn't think that relying on hearsay and ideology was the best way to decide public policy. "There had been a great many theories about how history had been taught over time," Cannadine says, "but no one had done any detailed research to provide the evidence to back them up." So about two and a half years ago Cannadine, along with two research fellows, Jenny Keating and Nicola Sheldon, funded by the Linbury Trust and the Institute of Historical Research, set out to find the empirical data, and this week their findings are published in The Right Kind of History....
SOURCE: Scientific American (11-21-11)
Naomi Oreskes is a science historian, professor at the University of California, San Diego, and co-author (with Erik Conway) of "Merchants of Doubt," a book that examined how a handful of scientists obscure the facts on a range of issues, including tobacco use and climate change. Her seminal paper in the journal Science, "Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change," challenged – back in 2004 – the notion that climate change science was uncertain. Her work has documented the spread of doubt-mongering from an industry practice to a political strategy.
Dr. Oreskes did her undergraduate work at the Royal School of Mines in London and received her graduate degree from Stanford University. With her husband, Ken Belitz, and daughter, Clara, the family lives in San Diego. Her older daughter, Hannah, attends Stanford.
Question: Somewhere between your undergraduate and graduate degrees, you became interested in the history of science. What drew you to that field?
Answer: I was always interested in the human side of science, especially why people disagreed about evidence, and the strong - yet divergent - opinions that my professors had about what constitutes good science. Beyond that, it is a long story.
Q: What attracted you to the climate change deniers?
A: I fell into this. I was working on the history of oceanography, and came across the work of Roger Revelle, Dave Keeling and others who’d been working on climate change since the 1950s. I came to understand that the scientific basis for understanding anthropogenic climate change was much firmer than most people knew. That led to my 2004 work, which led to me being attacked. So we started digging and found direct links to the tobacco industry....
SOURCE: Mediate (11-20-11)
George Will really doesn’t like Newt Gingrich. On the This Week round table this morning, Will began his comments on Gingrich, now a frontrunner, by stating that his candidate “embodies everything disagreeable about modern Washington,” going on to laugh at the idea that Gingrich was hired by Freddie Mac as a “historian,” and, as a final blow, speaking more glowingly of even Rep. Ron Paul than of Gingrich.
Gingrich took a lot of bashing this morning, but mostly from familiar sources (Paul Krugman later on in the program commented that Gingrich was merely “a stupid person’s idea of what a smart person sounds like,” which is accurate if not somewhat projecting on Krugman’s part). But from Will, the barbs seemed even sharper. “It is an amazingly efficient candidacy in that in embodies everything disagreeable about modern Washington,” he began, arguing that his “colorful personal life” was actually the better part of his record, since he still supported ethanol subsidies, the types of programs from which the Solyndra scandals blossomed, and shrugged away the Freddie Mac scandal with a claim that he was a “historian.” “He’s not a historian!” Will noted derisively.
Turning to Gingrich’s comments that he was not a lobbyist for Freddie Mac, host Christiane Amanpour asked whether such damage control had a chance of working. The rest of the panel– Peggy Noonan and Matthew Dowd– seemed skeptical at best, though Noonan felt compelled to defend Gingrich after, in another attack, Will held Gingrich’s “absurd rhetorical grandiosity” against him.” “The base of the Republican Party doesn’t like Newt,” was the best she could muster as a defense, “and that’s a big plus.”...
SOURCE: Buffalo News (11-20-11)
LOCKPORT — A nearly 200-year-old missing-person case has been solved by the Niagara County historian’s office.
Historian Catherine L. Emerson told the County Legislature this week that she and her staff have traced the post-War of 1812 whereabouts of Betsy Doyle, a local heroine of the war.
Doyle was lionized for hauling red-hot cannonballs to gunners at Fort Niagara during a November 1812 cannon duel with the British forces in Fort George on the other side of the Niagara River.
However, no one seemed to know what happened to her after that.
Emerson discovered that Doyle, with her four children in tow, survived what could have been a winter death march across New York State after Fort Niagara fell to the British in December 1813....
SOURCE: WSJ (11-19-11)
Although their titles range from location scout to urban planner, the participants of "Block By Block: New York Street Historians," a photo-lecture event set for Sunday at the Brooklyn media-arts center UnionDocs, all have one thing in common.
"They're each out there on foot exploring these obscure corners of New York and coming back with their own observations about what they've seen," said Nathan Kensinger, filmmaker and curator of the event.
The roots of this homegrown blend of vocation and avocation can be traced back to journalist George Foster's after-hours city walking tour "New York By Gaslight," published in 1850. ...
SOURCE: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (11-19-11)
Rep. Don Young and historian Douglas Brinkley argued during a Congressional hearing Friday after Brinkley testified in support of keeping the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge off-limits to oil development and Young used the word "garbage" and called him "Dr. Rice," confusing Brinkley's name with that of the university where he teaches, Rice University in Texas.
Brinkley, who recently wrote a book about the conservation movement in Alaska, said he would like to see President Obama create a new national monument in ANWR to prevent future development on the coastal plain, which geologists say is the most promising on-shore prospect for oil development in the nation.
He said the monument should be named after President Eisenhower, for his role in creating the wildlife range....
SOURCE: NYT (11-19-11)
“When I was a kid,” David Greenberg recalled in a recent e-mail, “my perceptions of Nixon were shaped as much by ‘Saturday Night Live’ and songs like ‘Ohio’ (‘Tin soldiers and Nixon coming. . . . ’) as by political journalism, which I didn’t read until I was older.” In the intervening years, Greenberg, whose book “Nixon’s Shadow: The History of an Image” was published in 2003, has had plenty of opportunity to consider the various ways we view the presidency...
SOURCE: Fox News (11-18-11)
Few historical events have received more attention or been more carefully reenacted than the assassination of President Kennedy.
Yet as the country approaches the 48th anniversary of that tragic day in Dallas, a team of historians and retired Secret Service officers claims to have used new technology on old evidence to solidify the judgment that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
The NatGeo channel will air the new tests as part of a one-hour documentary this Sunday night called "JFK: The Lost Bullet."
Historian Max Holland led the team that applied digital technology to a number of home movies taken on Nov. 22, 1963, including the famous Zapruder film....