Taylor Branch's oral history with Clinton comes under attackHistorians in the News
The criticism seems strange to me because, in"Murder and Biblical Memory: The Legend of Vernon Johns,"* I published a fuller critique of Branch's work as a historian than any other historian.** One of its major points focused on his uncritical use of oral history. The scandal of Branch's new book on Clinton isn't that Branch accepted a National Humanities Medal from Clinton even as the interviews were being conducted. The scandal isn't even, as Tinkler seems to think, that the interviews were conducted privately or that other historians are denied access to them. Frustrating as it may be, that is very commonly the case in contemporary history. The scandal of Branch's new book is that even he had no access to the tapes that he and Bill Clinton had created. All Branch had were his notes and recorded memories of the interviews that he created after leaving the interviews with Clinton.
*Joyce Appleby, ed., The Best American History Essays, 2006 (NY: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2006): 201-229.
**My colleague on the Martin Luther King Papers Project, Clayborne Carson, will publish a tepid critique of Branch's civil rights trilogy in the coming issue of the American Historical Review.
comments powered by Disqus
- The History Behind Hong Kong's Ongoing Protests
- The last time a ‘Tanker War’ broke out in the Persian Gulf, it lasted for years
- Clarence Thomas says a Smithsonian exhibit about him is wrong. (It’s not.)
- Will Apollo Nostalgia Help NASA Get Its Artemis Moon Money?
- America's M4 Sherman Tank: World War II Wonder Weapon or Blunder Weapon?
- How Accurate is HBO's Chernobyl? Experts Weigh In
- Anthony Price, British author of thrillers with deep links to history, dies at 90
- Students and Parents Push for Better Textbooks to Help Fight Hate and Stereotypes
- CSIS destroyed secret file on Pierre Trudeau, stunning historians
- Truman Library Announces $25 Million Transformation