Taylor Branch's oral history with Clinton comes under attack
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
- Priests race to save manuscripts from jihadists in Iraq
- Where Mud Is Archaeological Gold, Russian History Grew on Trees
- Conflict Uncovers a Ukrainian Identity Crisis Over Deep Russian Roots
- Heirs Claim Bank Made Off with Nazi-Looted Art
- Add the University of Virginia to the list of universities actively confronting their association with slavery
- Stanley Kutler’s book on Nixon Watergate abuses has been turned into a show on the web
- China bans books by pro-Hong Kong historian who retired from Princeton
- Fordham Historian Lambasts ‘Shabby Treatment’ In Row Over Israel Boycott, Vows to Continue Fighting Anti-Semitism
- George Mason's digital history program is 20 years old -- and celebrating
- Watergate researchers can now see the materials — including tapes — Len Colodny used in writing "Silent Coup"