History People Are Talking About: Archives 2-28-03 to 4-10-03

History Being Talked About

  • Remembering the Louisiana Purchase on Its 300th Anniversary

  • Rorke's Drift was scene of British atrocities: Heroic effort marred by brutal aftermath

  • Partsian Review, RIP

  • Michelangelo's David: How Clean Is Too Clean?

  • It's Time for a Memorial in Lower Manhattan to the Slaves Who Helped Build NYC

  • The Liberty Bell and Slavery

  • How the New Deal Changed the Teaching of History

  • Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?

  • Forget the Wright Brothers

  • The DNA Scientist Who Never Received Credit for Her Pioneering Role

  • Hitler's Library

  • Germans as Victims: Not An Entirely Ignored Subject

  • UPI: Ossuary Is Real

  • Why Did Our Civil War Turn Out So Well?

  • Was U.S. Involved in the Allende Coup? Colin Powell Seems to Say Yes. State Department Seems to Say No.

  • New Finding: Truman WAS Told in Advance of Hiroshima to Expect Half a Million Casualties if the U.S. Invaded the Home Islands of Japan

  • The Reporter/Historian Who Uncovered the Welcome Mat Peronistas Spread for Nazis

  • Benny Morris: Unhopeful Now About the Future of Israel and Palestine

  • Lewis & Clark: Few Cared Until Frederick Jackson Turner Declared the Frontier Was Gone

  • A Clash of Civilizations? Yeah. Between Democracy and Old-Fashioned 30's Nazism

  • Russians Are Rewriting Their History Again (This Time the Mongols Are Ok)

  • Australia's Most Prominent Historian Weighs in on Windschuttle

  • The Empire that Dare Not Speak Its Name

  • Vietnam Might-Have-Beens

  • Deborah Lipstadt: The Danger of Holocaust Denial Will Grow in the Future

  • The Secret History of Black People in New York City

  • Stephen Kotkin:"Hitler Started the Cold War"

  • Dred Scott Wasn't the Only Slave to Sue for His Freedom

  • Was the Truman Administration Correct in Believing that Stalin Was Behind the North Korean Invasion of the South?

  • Was Palestine Filled with Arabs Before the Founding of Israel?

  • New Study: Geography's Important In School

  • Lamar Alexander's History Initiative

  • Ultraorthodox Jews Are Split Over The Way To Write History

  • Bulgaria Celebrates Saving Of The Jews

  • Germans As Victims In Ww2

  • Revolutionary War Sermons Discovered

  • Did Hitler Have An Advanced Case Of Syphilis?

  • Should We Associate Ohio Or North Carolina With The Birth Of The Airplane?

  • Argentina Covers Up Its Nazi Past

  • New Evidence About Japan's Atomic Bomb Project In 1945

  • Opposition To A Lincoln Statue In Richmond

  • Slavery Was The Cause Of The Civil War

  • How Indian Nationalists Are Rewriting History

  • Park Service Grapples With Slavery As A Cause Of The Civil War

  • Stalinism Remains Alive

  • First, Remember The Slaves Were Human Beings

  • Riddle Of Iraq's Batteries

  • Michael Beschloss: Did He Misstate FDR's Policy Toward The Jews?

  • The Empire that Dare Not Speak Its Name (posted April 10, 2003)

    John O'Sullivan, editor in chief of United Press International, reviewing Nial Ferguson's new book on the British Empire; in the Wall Street Journal (April 10, 2003):

    If a Martian historian with Methuselah's life span devoted himself to observing from afar the broad patterns of human activity over the past millennium, he would see an explosion of energy in the British Isles from the 16th century onward. In particular, between the early 1600s and the 1950s more than 20 million people emigrated from Britain and settled in other lands. The British also developed dense patterns of trade with such faraway areas as India and Africa. Only a few of them emigrated to those countries, yet they reshaped them in line with their own practices.

    From the standpoint of Mars, 1776 hardly registers. Eighty percent of British emigrants ended up in America, before and after independence. "Manifest Destiny" looks like a local instance of the emigration that was fueling Britain's imperialism. In any case, the same liberal principles -- free trade, the rule of law, representative institutions -- shaped both the U.S. and Britain's possessions.

    Altogether this Anglo-American network of emigration, trade and rule amounted to the first global order. What might puzzle our Martian was why this order broke down in 1914 -- and why, when it reappeared in 1989, its center had moved from London to Washington.

    Or has it? Niall Ferguson believes so. The neologism he coins to describe the British Empire is "Anglobalization." He concludes "Empire" (Basic Books, 392 pages, $35), his brilliant survey of its rise and fall, with an appeal to the U.S. to overcome its anti-imperialism and accept the responsibilities that the end of the Cold War has thrust upon it. So he must rescue British imperialism from the obloquy that descended upon it in the age of de-colonization.

    Mr. Ferguson's main defense is an economic one. He notes that the British Empire, by establishing a world order based on free trade and free capital movement, assisted the development of poorer countries and raised living standards in its far-flung colonies. Imperial rule also spread institutions and practices favorable to good government, such as secure private property, personal liberty and impartial law. These often took root. Seymour Martin Lipset points to a marked correlation between being a former British colony and enjoying liberal democratic government today. ...

    [W]hen the balance sheet is added up, one wonders why someone as sympathetic to imperialism as Mr. Ferguson scorns Curzon's judgment that "the British empire is under Providence the greatest instrument for good that the world has ever seen." Given the record of other human institutions, Curzon had a point.

    It is a point that Americans are reluctant to grasp even when the empire is their own "informal" one -- and even when U.S. troops intervene to remove threats to international stability, as in Afghanistan and Iraq. The more forthright Mr. Ferguson believes that the U.S. should sustain networks of trade, aid, investment and defense that will mimic the British world order. Rogue states will be curbed, failed nations healed and brushfire wars smothered -- by aid and investment where possible, by arms where necessary.

    It will, of course, be an imperialism that dare not speak its name. Some of the imperialists in progressive NGOs will even believe that they are anti-imperialist. And the logos under which they operate will be derived from the United Nations or the IMF rather than from the U.S. itself. But the underlying networks of cooperation that sustain this shy imperialism are likely to link the U.S. with such "Anglosphere" nations as Britain and Australia and perhaps, in due course, India and South Africa, which share the liberal world outlook.

    Vietnam Might-Have-Beens (posted April 9, 2003)

    Eric Alterman, writing on his blog (April 8, 2003):

    Here’s a post from H-DDiplo from the historian David Kaiser outlining the reasons why Vietnam, the United States and the world would all be better places had Lyndon Johnson had the good sense to take Richard Russell’s advice and stay the heck outta that quicksand quagmire.

    He makes an important point to remember with regard to Iraq and the rest of the imperial wars Bush and company have planned for us: intentions are not deeds; comparing what is with what you’d like it to be is almost always a pointless and ultimately counter-productive exercise when it comes to the use of war as an instrument of policy, rather than a matter of self-defense.

    Kaiser writes:

    I would agree that what the United States wanted for South Vietnam was better than what South Vietnam eventually got. However, 'wants' and 'wishes' do not necessarily pay off for anybody. I find it dubious to compare the present state of Vietnam to what would have happened had the United States 'triumphed' in the absence of any proof that the United States could have done so. What we are comparing, I thought, are two alternatives, one of which occurred (we fought and lost), and one of which certainly might have occurred (we didn’t fight, and lose.) I’m going to suggest some best case scenarios for the latter option.

    1. A coalition government led by Buddhists and General Khanh, formed early in 1965, might have survived. (Doubtful, I agree, but possible.)

    2. The neutral governments in Cambodia and Laos would have survived. (Extremely possible, in my opinion, especially with respect to Cambodia, where Sihanouk was politically strong.)

    3. Ho Chi Minh would immediately have sought a relationship with the US (Almost certain: the falling out with Mao was, I believe very likely.)

    4. In any case, without American intervention, the North Vietnamese Army would never have become the massively armed conventional force that it did, with Soviet help.

    5. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Vietnamese lives would have been saved.

    6. American prestige in the Third World would have been much higher.

    7. With the United States not distracted, there would have been no Six Day War, with all its consequences. (Anyone who doubts that is referred to Judith Klinghoffer’s excellent book on the subject.)

    8. The Democratic Party would have remained the majority party. (In my view, a good thing.)

    9. The student revolt at home would not have become nearly so destructive.

    Now if someone looks at this list, I think, roughly, that it proceeds from the merely speculative (1) to the almost certainly true. And since so many people are still so willing to speculate freely on the benefits of American victory (and to blame liberals for the American defeat, as I heard William Kristol do the other day), it seems only fair to assess, realistically, the benefits of American non-intervention.

    Deborah Lipstadt: The Danger of Holocaust Denial Will Grow in the Future (posted April 4, 2003)

    Linda Comins, writing in the Wheeling News Register (April 2, 2003):

    A prominent Jewish scholar and author believes the biggest threat posed by those who deny the Holocaust is a future danger - when few Holocaust survivors remain to speak the truth.

    Deborah Lipstadt, an Emory University professor, spoke at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Wheeling Tuesday night about researching the Holocaust denial movement and defending her written conclusions in a British courtroom.

    After a six-and-a-half-year legal fight and a three-month trial in London, Lipstadt won a libel case brought by an author whom she had labeled as a Holocaust denier.

    She visited Wheeling as part of the Holocaust Remembrance Series of West Liberty State College's Hughes Lecture Series. The West Virginia Humanities Council provided financial support for the program.

    "Denial is a form of anti-Semitism. Many of the deniers are also virulent racists," she charged.

    When deniers claim that the Holocaust is a myth,"it is not a clear and present danger; it is a clear and future danger," she commented.

    "The ability of people to deny it becomes stronger as there are fewer people around to give first-hand accounts."

    Offering a composite portrait, she said Holocaust deniers are anti-Semites and"many are racists; many are supporters of national socialism (Nazism)." She said the Holocaust stands out"because it was state-sponsored terrorism. It was state-sponsored genocide in which virtually every aspect of government was involved."

    The Secret History of Black People in New York City (posted March 28, 2003)

    Christine Stansell, professor of history at Princeton, writing in the New Republic (March 24, 2003):

    Not so long ago, the history of New York in the nineteenth century was the province of sensationalizing journalists. For years, professional historians did little to supplant old potboilers such as Herbert Asbury's Gangs of New York, weirdly exhumed this year by Martin Scorsese. Graduate students were warned away. New York was too big, too weird, too complicated (and too Jewish? ) to fit into approved models of the urban "case" provided by the tidier cities of Boston and Philadelphia, where WASP elites dominated and it was possible to imagine the Irish as the sole placeholders for ethnicity. Few wanted to muck about in New York's polyglot mix. There were important exceptions, such as Moses Rischin and Irving Howe, but their dense and delectable books about the Lower East Side elicited more public interest than academic respect.

    It was not until the late 1970s, in fact, that students looking for dissertation topics ventured into the New York City archives with any frequency. The books that they eventually wrote--some of them monographs, others crossovers for general readers--broke through the disinterest of the earlier generations of scholars. New York was undoubtedly atypical, they frankly acknowledged. But it was the great American exception, more properly compared to Paris or London than to Boston or Philadelphia. And this was all the more reason to study it.

    In American history as it is taught today, three decades of scholarship, culminating in Edwin Burrows and Michael Wallace's grand synthesis in Gotham, have pushed New York to center stage. Aside from Scorsese's historically preposterous film, which turns the ragtag Victorian gangs into warriors out of a biblical epic of the 1950s, sensationalism has given way to nuanced historical work that takes on the city's peculiar combinations of hauteur and hustling, snobbery and democracy, preening and poverty. The interpretations are rich, and the research is ambitious and near archaeological in the delicacy and the assiduity given to excavating the sources. There are marvelous books on the 1800s--books about artists and intellectuals; writers and actors; politicians, criminals, and prostitutes; the Jews, the Irish, and the Chinese; workers and women. There are studies of real estate, museums, crowds, high society, vaudeville, the opera.

    Except for a few monographs, though, there is almost nothing on African Americans. African Americanists have looked elsewhere: the tininess of the free black community in the antebellum period--16,358 people at its peak in 1840, about 5 percent of the population, shrinking to 1 percent in 1860--made it seem like an ancillary phenomenon, both to the city and to the system in which millions of black Americans lived in bondage. So the historians' narrative of black New York has only begun full throttle with the Great Migration from the South, when thousands of black people packed into Harlem. From this vantage point in time, New York seems a haven for African American freedom, however compromised it was by Northern racism. The city was far from emancipated, but it still wasn't Dixie.

    Still, it turns out that New York in 1800 was a slave city no less than Charleston. The largest slave city outside the South, its ties to the slave system and the Southern states remained strong in the nineteenth century. Even after emancipation, "the shadow of slavery" lay long across New York's African American residents. In finance and trade, its mercantile and financial elites were heavily dependent on Southern cotton; and Manhattan merchants, bankers, and retailers made sure that the city was a hospitable place to visiting planters, their commercial agents, and their slave catchers.

    This made New York the most dangerous place in the North for fugitive slaves, since someone from home might recognize them on the streets. Slave catchers not only apprehended runaways; they aggressively kidnapped free people, trumping up evidence that they were fugitives. Fights, melees, and scuffles between slave catchers and their victims often broke out on the streets. Unlike Boston, where anti-slavery sentiment made it hard for slave catchers to operate, the police and the courts in New York helped them. Merchants cautioned that any other attitude toward the representatives of Southern "property" interests would "embarrass trade."

    Churchill: Where He Stands Now (posted March 28, 2003)

    Edward Rothstein, writing in the NYT (March 29, 2003):

    In the public imagination, the heroic image has long been the dominant one. Churchill himself joked that he would ensure his place in history by writing that history himself — as he did in the six volumes of "The Second World War," which helped win him the Nobel Prize in literature in 1953. The stentorian prose of William Manchester's first two volumes of his Churchill biography ("The Last Lion") reinforced that stature for the lay reader. And the eight volumes of the "authorized" biography by Martin Gilbert testified to its subject's monumental importance.

    But beginning in the 1960's, Churchillian scholarship also began to focus on Churchill's military and political mistakes. The historian Robert Rhodes James subtitled his 1970 book about Churchill "A Study in Failure." (Mr. Lukacs considers it one of the best written about Churchill.) Mr. James argued that Churchill's warnings about Germany may have fallen on deaf ears partly because Churchill was so widely distrusted after a long career of party-switching, posturing and political misjudgments. In fact, as he was fulminating against Germany, Churchill was also opposing constitutional changes in the government of India and said it was "nauseating" to see a "fakir" like Gandhi being met on equal terms. Historians attacked Churchill from the political left for such imperial sentiments as well as for his admiration of political personalities like Mussolini (whom Churchill called a "really great man" in 1935 — before he changed his mind).

    Historians also attacked Churchill from the right. John Charmley's 1993 book, "Churchill: The End of Glory," argued that Churchill was wrong even when most triumphant. Mr. Charmley suggested that an agreement might well have been reached with Hitler in the 1930's, thus preventing war, but that instead Churchill's war strategy doomed the empire to dissolution and put Britain in America's pocket.

    At the same time, Churchill's own histories — including his multi-volume accounts of the first and second world wars, his epic "History of the English-speaking Peoples" and his study of his ancestor Lord Marlborough — came to seem academically quaint. J. H. Plumb criticized them for philistinism and their author for showing no mastery of Marx and Freud.

    In this critical context, some essays in a new book by the British historian David Cannadine, "In Churchill's Shadow" (Oxford), even provide a bit of reprieve, for while Mr. Cannadine says that Churchill was often "a bombastic and histrionic vulgarian, out of touch, out of tune and out of temper," he also believes that Churchill brought to British life "a breadth of vision, a poetry of expression and a splendor of utterances" unlikely to be heard again — a political poet of sorts, comforting, in Mr. Cannadine's view, a "nation in decline."

    Churchill poses a challenge because there is no simple way of accounting both for the scope of his achievements and for the range of his failures. Roy Jenkins's large-scale 2001 biography of Churchill (Farrar Straus & Giroux) sometimes risks reducing Churchill to a mere politician, but Mr. Jenkins — himself a veteran of the Parliament and the Cabinet — is still seduced into awe. The military historian John Keegan recounts in his recent brief biography of Churchill (published by Viking) that as a young man in the 1950's, Mr. Keegan, like many of his generation, found Churchill to be simply irrelevant — an aging conservative leader, a relic of a passing imperial age. But recordings of Churchill's speeches changed his mind.

    Stephen Kotkin:"Hitler Started the Cold War" (posted March 28, 2003)

    Stephen Kotkin, Princeton historian, writing in the New Republic (March 22, 2003)

    Hitler started the Cold War. Let us remember, he decisively won World War II. By 1941, through conquests, annexations, and alliances, Nazi Germany controlled all of Europe from the English Channel to the Soviet border. The defiant British, an irritant, posed no threat, and the compliant Soviets were obediently fulfilling a nonaggression pact and a trade pact with their Nazi comrades. But Hitler unilaterally broke his deal with Stalin and invaded the one country that had the power to defeat the Nazi land army, calling forth an epochal defensive war that unexpectedly implanted the Soviets in Berlin. The crusade that Hitler thrust upon the Soviets afforded them the transcendent purpose and the geopolitical aggrandizement that Communist ideology professed but that had largely eluded the Soviets outside their factory towns. The war integrated the huge village population into the revolution, extended state borders in all directions, and brought a bonus European buffer empire. The Vozhd, as Stalin liked to be called, never had a greater partner than the Fuhrer, not even Lenin.

    And Stalin, in turn, conjured up today's Pax Americana. Flush with victory in the great war, not only did he stubbornly refuse to accept change, or to bring his devastated domestic order even minimally in line with the more powerful liberal ascendancy being imposed on defeated Germany and Japan, but he also force-cloned Soviet regimes in the windfall lands that Hitler's racist megalomania had perversely bestowed. In the years after the war, Stalin appears to have expected a capitalist crisis still greater than the Great Depression, as well as divisions among the capitalist powers even deeper than those of the interwar period. Mistake! He and his heirs came smack up against the capitalist world's greatest economic boom, while his ideologically inflected opportunism in Eastern Europe, and then in Korea, united the highly fractious Western powers and decisively mobilized the internationally circumspect United States for a sustained global campaign. Stalin is long dead and the Cold War won (except, of course, on the Korean peninsula). But the world that the Soviet menace induced, with a huge initial hand from the Nazis (and a lesser one from the Japanese), lives on: an American superpower engaged and deployed across the entire planet, not to mention outer space.

    Dred Scott Wasn't the Only Slave to Sue for His Freedom (posted 3-26-03)

    Stephanie Simon, writing in the LA Times (March 18, 2003):

    The creamy linen pages are creased and torn, smudged with grease or sweat. The ink has faded to sepia. A squashed fly is smeared on the edge of one sheet.

    Through these tattered documents, the unheard voices of America's slaves call out for justice.

    Tempe complains in 1818 that her master has failed "to supply her with clothing necessary for comfort and decency." Ralph, in 1830, expresses "fear that James and Coleman Duncan will take me by force from this place and sell me." Daniel, in 1835, states simply that he is "entitled to his freedom."

    Winny speaks, and Celeste, and Milly, Arch and Anson and Matilda, Charlotte and Julia, Jerry, Rachel. These were men and women who had no last names, who could not read or write, who were bought and sold like livestock. Yet, in a remarkable display of courage and desperation, they and hundreds of others sued for their freedom in the white man's court.

    Their stories, their voices, are emerging now as Missouri state archivists sort through 4 million court documents that had been stashed away in metal cabinets, untouched since the Civil War.

    Among heaps of musty affidavits about contract disputes and unpaid debts, the archivists have uncovered 283 "freedom suits" filed in St. Louis from 1806 to 1865.

    Decades before Dred Scott became the most famous slave to sue for freedom, the imposing, domed courthouse here echoed with the defiant voices of Tempe, of Ralph, of so many others who refused to accept their bondage. They dictated their petitions to lawyers or clerks and signed them with faltering Xs in black ink. "He has frequently abused and beaten her, particularly yesterday." "Unlawfully an assault he did make in and upon her."

    Before this cache of documents was discovered, historians had no idea how many slaves had put their faith, and their fates, in the courts. They thought Dred Scott was an anomaly. Now, they are uncovering evidence of an underground grapevine that passed word about the freedom suits from slave to slave, emboldening men and women and even teenage children to sue.

    Was the Truman Administration Correct in Believing that Stalin Was Behind the North Korean Invasion of the South? (posted 3-25-03)

    Leo Lovelace, a professor at the University of Southern California, commenting on H-Diplo about the Truman administration's belief that North Korea decided to invade the South in 1950 at the behest of Joseph Stalin (March 25, 2003):

    The most authoritative source on this matter now, on the basis of declassified documents from the Soviet archives, is now at the National Security Archives, and may be found at http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/CWIHP/BULLETINS/b3a2.htm.

    These documents show Kim Il Sung's attack plan was deliberate in its attempt to gain control of a unified Korea, and that Stalin supported it. According to Kathryin Weathersby, of the National Security Archive, this proves the revisionist thesis is incorrect.

    The revisionist thesis proves to be correct, however, to the extent that, contrary to the Truman's administration absolute assumption--pivotal for the consolidation of the Cold War mindset and strategic framework--the Soviet declassified materials show the plan was not a Stalin's initiative, but Kim's own design.

    Was Palestine Filled with Arabs Before the Founding of Israel? (posted 3-24-03)

    Harry Mandelbaum, writing in Think-Israel (March 2003):

    Unknown to most of the world population, the origin of the"Palestinian" Arabs' claim to the Holy Land spans a period of a meager 30 years - a drop in the bucket compared to the thousands of years of the region's rich history.

    At the beginning of the 20th century, there were practically no Arabs in the Holy Land. By contrast, the Jews, despite 2000 years of persecution and forced conversions by various conquerors, have always been the majority population there. When General Allenby, the commander of the British military forces, conquered Palestine in 1917/1918, only about 5000 Arabs resided there. Other Muslims in the area either came from Turkey under the Ottoman Empire, or were the descendents of Jews and Christians who were forcefully converted to Islam by the Muslim conquerors. None of these other Muslims were of Arab origin.

    The local inhabitants did not call themselves"Palestinians". The concept of a"Palestinian" to describe the local residents had not yet been invented; neither was there ever in history a"Palestinian Arab" nation. None of today's Arabs have any ancestral relationship to the original Biblical Philistines who are now extinct. Even Arab historians have admitted Palestine never existed.

    In 1937, the Arab leader Auni Bey Abdul Hadi told the Peel Commission:"There is no such country as Palestine. Palestine is a term the Zionists invented. Palestine is alien to us."

    In 1946, Princeton's Arab professor of Middle East history, Philip Hitti, told the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry:"It's common knowledge, there is no such thing as Palestine in history."

    In March 1977, Zahir Muhsein, an executive member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), said in an interview to the Dutch newspaper Trouw:"The 'Palestinian people' does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel."

    Mark Twain - Samuel Clemens, the famous author of"Huckleberry Finn" and"Tom Sawyer", took a tour of the Holy Land in 1867. This is how he described that land:"A desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given over wholly to weeds. A silent, mournful expanse. We never saw a human being on the whole route. There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country."

    In 1874, Reverend Samuel Manning wrote:"But where were the inhabitants? This fertile plain, which might support an immense population, is almost a solitude.... Day by day we were to learn afresh the lesson now forced upon us, that the denunciations of ancient prophecy have been fulfilled to the very letter -- `the land is left void and desolate and without inhabitants.'"

    Here is a report that the Palestinian Royal Commission, created by the British, made. It quotes an account of the conditions on the coastal plain along the Mediterranean Sea in 1913:"The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track, suitable for transport by camels or carts. No orange groves, orchards or vineyards were to be seen until one reached the [Jewish] Yabna village. Houses were mud. Schools did not exist. The western part toward the sea was almost a desert. The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many villages were deserted by their inhabitants."


    Chester Finn, writing in Gadfly (March 20, 2003):

    We learn from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, from surveys by the National Geographic Society, and from a hundred other sources that American students’ knowledge of history and geography is lamentably thin, that their understanding of their nation’s past is weak, and that their comprehension of the world outside U.S. borders is skimpy indeed. Yet there has never been a time when such knowledge mattered more. Geography plays a crucial role in shaping history and the study of history provides an important context for students learning geography. Yet K-12 teachers rarely take advantage of the complementary nature of these two subjects by teaching both in one integrated curriculum. A new report from the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation shows how the study of U.S. history can be enriched by blending geography into the curriculum. The centerpiece of the report is an innovative curricular framework for studying the American past, a course in which each historical period is supplemented and enriched by the introduction of relevant geography. See www.edexcellence.net to download a copy of the report or to order a hard copy.

    The Best of Both Worlds, Blending History and Geography in the K-12 Curriculum, by Richard G. Boehm, David Warren Saxe and David J. Rutherford, Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, February 2003, http://www.edexcellence.net/library/GeoHistfinal.pdf


    Chester Finn, writing in Gadfly (March 20, 2003):

    Rarely does a newly introduced bill deserve comment before it’s even gotten to the stage of hearings, but you should know about this one. Senator Lamar Alexander--former U.S. Secretary of Education, Governor of Tennessee, president of that state’s flagship university, and chairman of the National Governors Association--used the occasion of his “debut” speech on the Senate floor to introduce S. 504, The American History and Civics Education Act of 2003. As he put it, this bill joins “two urgent concerns that will determine our country’s future…: the education of our children and the principles that unite us as Americans.” It authorizes the National Endowment for the Humanities to create a dozen “Presidential Academies for Teachers of American History and Civics” and a like number of “Congressional Academies for Students of American History and Civics.” (It also provides for a new “National Alliance of Teachers of American History and Civics.) Authorized at $25 million, the measure is seen by Alexander and his co-sponsors as a pilot to demonstrate the value and effectiveness of residential summer programs for K-12 teachers specializing in history and/or civics, and for high school students who are accomplished and interested in those subjects. About 300 teachers would attend each 2-week program (i.e. about 3600 per annum) as would a similar number of students (their programs would last a month). Universities and education research organizations would run these projects. If enacted, these would be substantial--as well as highly symbolic--sources of encouragement to K-12 and higher education to pay closer heed to what Alexander terms “better teaching and more learning of the key events, persons and ideas that shape the institutions and democratic heritage of the United States.”

    Lamar Alexander's speech.


    Steven Aftergood, writing in the newsletter for Secrecy News (March 20, 2003):

    A new book by ultra-orthodox Rabbi Nathan Kamenetsky, entitled The Making of a Godol [Great Man] has been banned by other ultra-orthodox rabbis, who have burned copies of the book and defamed its author for his respectful but unvarnished description of leading figures in the early 20th century orthodox Jewish world. See this account in the March 14 Forward:


    This is more than just a tiresome sectarian squabble. It is part of a fascinating confrontation with history that has wracked orthodox Jewry in recent years, raising profound questions about "the uses and disadvantages of history for life."

    In ultra-orthodox circles, history is not a matter of books and conferences. It is an existential challenge that can keep you up at night, and drive you to extremes. The unfolding conflict has divided the community between those who insist that history must be contained within the boundaries of hagiography so as to edify its readers and those, like R. Kamenaetsky, who contend that "truth is the seal of God."

    Central features of the dispute were sensitively described by Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter in "Facing the Truths of History," Torah U-Madda Journal, published by Yeshiva University, Volume 8, 1998-1999, pp. 200-276.

    Orthodox Jewish historiography can be a hoot. Analysis of one early twentieth century orthodox "history" volume revealed that its author had lifted the fictional plot and characters of an 1898 short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, entitled "The Jew's Breastplate," and incorporated them in his purportedly non-fictional text. An astonishing account of this imaginative excursion is presented in "The Adventure of the Maharal of Prague in London" by Prof. Shnayer Z. Leiman, Tradition, published by the Rabbinical Council of America, vol. 36, no. 1, spring 2002, pp. 26-58.


    Matthew Brunwasser, writing in the South China Morning Post (March 18, 2003):

    Sixty years have passed since Bulgaria saved its Jews from deportation to extermination camps in Poland in World War II. Despite the extraordinary success of Bulgarians of all social groups in saving the entire Jewish population, and a strong sense of national pride in the country's long history without anti-Semitism, this is Bulgaria's first celebration of the saving of the Jews.

    The anniversary includes a "Lesson in Dignity" taught in every school across the country, the first time schools in Bulgaria have taught about the Holocaust.

    High-profile celebrations in the national theatre, parliament and Sofia synagogue are helping to keep the events at the top of the national news. A new postage stamp commemorates the 60th anniversary and an unorthodox ceremony at a monastery featured a rabbi and a priest conducting religious rites at the graves of top Bulgarian clergy during World War II. Before last week, most Bulgarians knew little about the widespread protests which stopped the planned deportation of 50,000 Jews. Before 1989, the story could not be told because it credited the enemies of the communist regime: the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Tsar Boris III and the average Bulgarian on the street who loudly voiced opposition to his government's policy, while communist partisans did little to help.

    Since then, the emotional debate over who should receive credit, fuelled by the unsettled political scores left over from communism, prevented any national commemoration.

    The passage of 60 years since the cattle trains, waiting in Plovdiv and Kyustendil, were scheduled to depart with the first 8,500 Jews now coincides with the regeneration of Bulgaria's democratic institutions. The country has chosen to value the lesson offered by the moral actions of a broad range of individuals and institutions, over political vindication.

    "So many people expressed the will to save the Jews, against the official policy of the government," says Albena Taneva, a professor at Sofia University and Holocaust educator and researcher who is helping organise the national observation.

    "It is very important for people to understand, no matter how authoritarian the circumstances, or how severe the political situation, there is always a personal choice."

    GERMANS AS VICTIMS IN WW2 (posted 3-18-03)

    Richard Bernstein, writing in the NYT (March 15, 2003):

    For the last few months in fact, television has been showing endless documentaries and discussions of the air war waged by Britain and the United States against Germany in World War II. While this is not exactly a new subject in Germany, there are at least two ways in which the discussion is different from the past.

    First, the emphasis in today's articles and discussions is on what Jörg Friedrich, author of a best-selling book on the Allied bombing campaign, calls "Leideform," the form of suffering inflicted on the German civilian population.

    In other words, a taboo, by which Germans have remained guiltily silent, at least in public, about their experience of the horrors of war, has been suddenly and rather mysteriously broken.

    Second, the new awareness of the Allied bombings and the devastation they wrought has become an important element in German opposition to the expected American war on Iraq. What people like Ms. Lang and Ms. John, both antiwar activists in Dresden, have been saying is something like this: We have direct knowledge of the gruesome effects of war and we don't want anybody else to experience what we have experienced.

    In Germany, where all consideration of World War II bears a special weight, this new national attention to German suffering has generated plenty of commentary of its own. Much of it focuses on the wildly successful book by Mr. Friedrich, which is titled "Der Brand," or "The Fire," a work that describes in stark, unrelenting and very literary detail what happened in city after city as the Allies dropped 80 million incendiary bombs on Germany.

    "Der Brand" is about mass deaths by fire and suffocation, the fearsome technology of incendiary bombing and the obliteration of architectural and cultural monuments. But it describes as well the effects on the spirit, what Mr. Friedrich in a recent interview in Berlin called "the slow destruction of psychic endurance, the living day and night in fear of death."

    It is not that Mr. Friedrich is the first to write on this. There have long been books and photographic collections on many of the cities destroyed in the bombing, including an authoritative one on Dresden by Götz Bergander, a 76-year-old survivor of the firebombing. Five years ago, the novelist W. G. Sebald, who has since died, aroused considerable emotion here with a book, "On the Natural History of Destruction," whose main point was that German wartime suffering had been strangely absent from postwar German literature.

    But the reaction to Mr. Friedrich's book is something special, more visceral and widespread, and it brings questions to mind: Is there a danger that the Germans will conflate their suffering with the vastly greater and more unforgivable suffering they inflicted on millions of others, including both the genocidal slaughter of the Jews and the bombing raids on London, Coventry, Warsaw and Rotterdam?

    Have the Germans attached themselves to Mr. Friedrich's book and, similarly, have they used Mr. Friedrich's book to fuel their rejection of war with Iraq — because it gives them a rare and intoxicating taste of the moral high ground?


    Daniel J. Wakin, writing in the NYT (March 17, 2003):

    The country is at war. New York City is threatened. A pastor exhorts young men to fight for liberty, be brave and prepare for the day of death."Let a spirit of patriotism fire your breath," he says in a voice reaching out from 1776.

    In a remarkable discovery, members of the First Presbyterian Church in Greenwich Village stumbled upon two previously unknown sermons from the Revolutionary War, tucked between pages of an old ledger found during a cleanup of the church basement.

    Apparently written by the Rev. John Rodgers, the church's pastor from 1765 to 1811 and a staunch pro-colonist and prominent clergy member in New York, they give a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a city about to be plunged into the violence of the war. And their words have an uncanny resonance in 2003.

    Kenneth T. Jackson, president of the New-York Historical Society, called the discovery of the sermons"an important find." In a strongly Loyalist city, he said, these words were treasonous, so speaking them and saving the texts were acts of bravery.

    "This is revolutionary language, publicly stated from a public place," Mr. Jackson said."It's what makes history exciting."

    Written in a tiny, perfectly ruled hand, in ink faded to brown, the first sermon is dated Jan. 14, 1776, and is mainly a discourse on the nature of fear of the Lord. But on the last page, Rodgers takes flight on the subject of fighting for freedom. He addresses those preparing to volunteer for the Colonial side.

    "Many have already dressed themselves in military array and taken the field, choosing rather to risk their lives in the cause of liberty, than to resign their privilege and live in slavery," he writes.

    In death, he goes on,"your memory will be dear to survivors, and you will be translated to the world where there never will be the scourge of war, nor the sad spectacle of garments soaked in blood."


    Mark Henderson, writing in the Times (London) (March 12, 2003):

    HITLER may have been dying of syphilis when he committed suicide in his Berlin bunker, according to a new book that could explain his mental decline in the final months of the Second World War.

    New analysis of the records kept by Hitler's doctors has revealed that he suffered from many of the most characteristic symptoms of tertiary syphilis, and that he was treated regularly with drugs that were commonly prescribed for the sexually transmitted disease.

    The controversial diagnosis, which would cast new light on the dictator's behaviour, from his sexual frigidity to his paranoiac rages, is advanced in Pox: Genius, Madness and the Mysteries of Syphilis, by Deborah Hayden, an American historian. Although it may never be possible to prove that Hitler was syphilitic, the balance of evidence suggests the disease as the most likely explanation for the wide range of health problems that afflicted him, particularly in his last years.

    "If Hitler's life is looked at through the selective lens of a possible diagnosis of syphilis, one clue leads to another and then another until a pattern of progressive disease emerges," said Ms Hayden, a former lecturer on the history of the disease at the University of California at San Francisco. "Syphilis must be considered in our understanding of Hitler's career, his motivations, the events of World War Two, and even the Holocaust."

    The theory that Hitler had syphilis has been advanced before, most notably by the Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal, but has generally been rejected for lack of proof.

    Ms Hayden has amassed an unprecedented wealth of circumstantial evidence, although she accepts that the diagnosis will never be irrefutable.

    "This is not definitive proof, but I think there is a preponderance of circumstantial evidence," she said. "It certainly might have affected his mind, and if he knew or thought he had it, and didn't have long to live, it may have accelerated the war effort."


    Patrik Jonsson, writing in the Christian Science Monitor:

    On the 100th year of flight, both states [Ohio and North Carolina] are vying to claim the Wright Brothers' legacy as their own.

    The Kill Devil Hills at Mile Post 8 on the Outer Banks is a flier's paradise: Here, hawks, ducks, and pipers swoop in dogfights along the surf-sprayed dunes. For Orville and Wilbur Wright, the spot was ideal for testing their flyer. The brothers from Dayton, Ohio, selected the hill because of its privacy - and promise of Southern hospitality from the postmaster. But it was perfect in other ways that are still evident: The hill has been carved out by the wind over centuries, making a perfect sloped runway into the ocean breeze.

    But the choice of location unwittingly sparked a quarrel over the genesis of manned flight: Was this barrier island near the town of Kitty Hawk merely a stepping-off point for an idea hatched in Ohio - or part of the very inspiration of flight?

    For its part, North Carolina boldy stated its claim a few years ago with license plates that boasted "First in Flight." It was followed by Ohio's "Birthplace of Aviation" claim a few years later. And in the late 1990s, North Carolina again moved first to put the flyer on its state quarter, taking a lot of oomph out of Ohio's "Pioneers of Flight" motto.

    But in the 100th year of flight both states have put rivalry aside, realizing the skies could not have been cleaved without the benefits of both locales.

    "In Dayton, they proved that powered flight was practical; at Kitty Hawk, they proved that it was possible," says Bob Petersen, a park ranger at the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.

    The same force that sparked the quarrel is at play now: Tourism. But instead of fighting for millions of tourism dollars from centennial parties, the two states have traded representatives on their centennial commissions, staggered celebration dates, and even listed rival events on their websites. Part of the reason for this return to comity is that the sheer number of celebrations worldwide this year threatened to obscure both locales.

    "What we've been hearing is there's this big rivalry between North Carolina and Ohio," says North Carolinian Tom Parramore, author of "First to Fly." "But there's been no attempts to step on the toes of the other. They're 'The Birthplace of Aviation.' We're 'First in Flight.' "


    Larry Rohter, writing in the NYT (March 9, 2003):

    Under fire because of a new book that documents for the first time how Juan Peron clandestinely maneuvered to bring Nazi and other war criminals to Argentina after World War II, the Peronist government here is resisting calls to release long-secret official records about the collaboration.

    According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center here, both the Foreign Relations Ministry and the Interior Ministries have failed to respond to letters, sent to them shortly after the book was published here late last year, asking that the records be made public.

    In addition, seven members of Congress have now called for an investigation into how crucial immigration records were apparently destroyed six years ago in defiance of existing laws.

    The book that ignited the controversy, published in the United States as "The Real Odessa: Smuggling the Nazis to Peron's Argentina" (Granta Books: 2002), has become a best seller here. Its author, Uki Goni, is an Argentine journalist who had to do much of his research in European archives after encountering closed doors here.

    "This is an issue of credibility and transparency," Mr. Goni said in an interview.

    But he also said he recognized the political explosiveness of the documents since they demonstrated "just how closely linked Argentina and the Third Reich were and prove the existence of a secret postwar organization that involved Peron and provided a safe haven to Nazis."

    According to records Mr. Goni has uncovered here and abroad, Peron's government, which was in power from 1946 to 1955, shepherded nearly 300 war criminals into the country.

    Besides such notorious figures as Adolf Eichmann, Josef Mengele and Klaus Barbie, dozens of French, Belgian, Italian, Croatian and Slovak fascists, many of them Nazi collaborators sought in their home nations, were also admitted, some under aliases, others under their real names.

    The documents indicate that the covert network was run directly from the presidential palace here by Rodolfo Freude, a German-Argentine who was one of Peron's closest advisers. At the same time, Mr. Freude was both running Peron's propaganda apparatus and serving as director of the newly founded state intelligence service.

    During his research in Europe, Mr. Goni also discovered a confidential Foreign Ministry circular from 1938 whose effect was to close Argentina to Jewish refugees seeking to flee Germany.

    It ordered Argentine embassies to turn down visa requests from all applicants who "have abandoned their country as undesirables or expulsees, regardless of the motive of their expulsion."


    Kenji Hall, writing in the Advertiser (March 8, 2003):

    For nearly six decades, historians have been unable to solve one of the mysteries of Japan's World War II A-bomb project: How close were Japanese scientists to building the bomb before the US air raid stopped them?

    All official records were believed to have been burned in the closing days of the war, forcing historians to piece together an answer from less reliable clues.

    However, long-lost wartime documents are setting the record straight.

    The 23 pages of Imperial Army papers returned to Japan in April offer convincing evidence that Japanese scientists were years away from completing their 20-kiloton A-bomb which would have had more force than the US's 15 kiloton bomb dropped on Hiroshima but less than the 22-kiloton one that hit Nagasaki.

    Historians say not only had Japan's scientists underestimated how much of the rare isotope uranium-235 they would need for the bomb, they misunderstood the mechanics of an atomic explosion.

    "The documents are one-of-a-kind. We can finally prove that even if Japan had built a bomb, it would not have been powerful at all," said Masakatsu Yamazaki, a professor of science history at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, who analysed the papers.

    "And it might have taken them another decade to complete one."


    Frank James, writing in the Chicago Tribune (March 7, 2003):

    Forget everything you learned about President Abraham Lincoln. He was really a blood-thirsty despot guilty of killing innocent civilians and destroying the South.

    At least that's what a few vocal Southerners say. And that's why -- 138 years after the end of the Civil War -- they are feverishly opposed to a bronze statue of Lincoln and his son Tad being placed at a national park in Richmond this spring, a stance that brings to mind novelist William Faulkner's maxim:"The past is never dead. It's not even past."

    The war of words has become so heated that some of the sculpture's foes have used rhetoric that many other Americans might find extreme. For example, a few have likened a Lincoln monument in Richmond to a statue of Adolf Hitler in Israel or an Osama bin Laden likeness at the site of the World Trade Center.

    Statue bashers also have fired off accusations, like so many Civil War minie balls, that those behind the planned monument actually have unseemly financial motives and have violated state law in their efforts to raise money for the statue.

    Those supporting the new monument, which is to be dedicated on April 5, estimate it will cost $250,000 to $275,000....

    The sculpture, by New York artist David Frech, is meant to commemorate the visit to the Confederate capital by Lincoln, accompanied by his son, on April 4, 1865, shortly before Lincoln's assassination and mere days after Richmond's capture by Union troops.

    The statue depicts a pensive, melancholy Lincoln seated on a bench with his right arm around Tad's shoulder. Lincoln experts assume the planned statue will be the first public art to honor the 16th president in the 11 states that made up the Confederacy.

    Late last month, the Richmond City Council passed a resolution supporting the Lincoln statue as a"historic symbol of unity and reconciliation" and agreed to contribute up to $45,000 toward the granite pad and wall that will surround the statue....

    The trip was extremely risky because angry Confederates were everywhere. ``When you consider that he was walking around with his 12-year-old son in a captured capital still engulfed in flames, I mean, it's probably the most courageous thing that happened in the Civil War,'' said Edward Smith, director of American University's American studies department.

    "Anybody who wanted to kill him could have killed him. And he knew that," said Smith, who avidly supports a Lincoln statue in Richmond and argues that the North has shown its desire to reconcile with the South in numerous ways. For instance, the Navy named a Polaris submarine for Lee, he said.


    David Parker, associate professor of history at Kennesaw State University, responding to a column by Carole E. Scott that appeared a few days earlier; in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (March 6, 2003):

    Carole E. Scott wrote that Northerners did not seem strongly committed to ending slavery. From this, she concluded that"preserving slavery may not have been the most important reason for the Southern states fighting for their independence."

    The North might have wavered on slavery, but the South did not. If we want to know why the Southern states seceded and were willing to fight for their independence, all we have to do is listen to their own words.

    Georgia voted to withdraw from the Union on Jan. 19, 1861. Ten days later, it justified that action in a document called Declaration of the Causes of Secession. Prominent among those causes: the victory of"abolitionists and their allies in the Northern States" who were guided by the principles of"prohibition of slavery in the Territories, hostility to it everywhere, [and] the equality of the black and white races."

    Other Southern states defended secession in similar terms. South Carolina, the first state to secede (a few weeks after Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected president), wrote of the"increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding states to the institution of slavery."

    Mississippi said,"Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery." After the Republican victory in 1860,"there was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union."

    Texas explained its decision to secede by noting that Republicans"demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the Confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these states."

    Georgian Alexander Stephens, in a speech in Savannah on March 21, 1861, a month after having been elected vice president of the Confederacy, spoke of"our new government":"Its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery --- subordination to the superior race --- is his natural and normal condition."

    "It was slavery and nothing but slavery that made Georgia secede," wrote Cartersville's Rebecca Felton, the first woman in the U.S. Senate, in her memoirs."If there had been no slaves, there would have been no war. It tires me to read about the alleged causes, other than the ownership of slave property."

    Scott argued that the Union fought to force the South back into the Union, not to end slavery. But that begs the question. Why did the South try to leave in the first place? Slavery.

    The South never wavered in its commitment to slavery, and that, more than any other issue --- more than all other issues put together --- brought on the war.


    John Lancaster, writing in the Washington Post (February 27, 2003):

    A little more than half a century ago, Vinayak Savarkar was on trial for his life, accused of conspiring with seven other men in the assassination of Mohandas K. Gandhi on Jan. 30, 1948.

    The court acquitted Savarkar, citing insufficient evidence, but there was never much doubt about where his sympathies lay: A hard-line Hindu nationalist who wrote admiringly of Nazi Germany, he made no secret of his antipathy toward India's Muslim population or toward Gandhi, whose embrace of religious tolerance and diversity he saw as a threat to India's cultural purity.

    Moreover, Savarkar was personally acquainted with Nathuram Godse, Gandhi's assassin and one of Savarkar's most devoted followers. Some historians still believe that Godse would not have committed the murder without a green light from Savarkar, who died in 1966.

    But yesterday's suspect is today's hero. In a ceremony this afternoon, India's Hindu-nationalist government unveiled a portrait of Savarkar to hang opposite Gandhi's in the central hall of Parliament, describing him as a neglected and misunderstood patriot who deserves his place in the pantheon of India's great leaders.

    The ceremony reflected the degree to which hard-line Hindu nationalism has moved into the mainstream of Indian politics, drowning out debate on other topics, such as development, and alarming those who see the movement as a threat to the secular, pluralistic nature of Indian democracy.

    "All the political stigma has been cleared today," Savarkar's nephew, Vikram Savarkar, said after the ceremony, which was organized by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and presided over by President Abdul Kalam."He had been kept away from history books. Now his name will be everywhere."

    That prospect is deeply disturbing to guardians of India's secular democratic traditions, among them leaders of the opposition Congress party, which boycotted the ceremony. Historians and civil-society groups joined the Congress party in denouncing the government's decision. Besides resurrecting questions about Savarkar's role in the Gandhi assassination, they cast doubt on his patriotism, citing evidence that he had collaborated with India's British colonial overlords and endorsed partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan at independence in 1947 -- an outcome still widely seen here as an avoidable tragedy.

    "He has been a figure of shame all his life, and now his portrait will go here in Parliament?" said Vishwa Nath Mathur, 90, who was imprisoned by the British during the colonial era and appeared at a news conference Tuesday organized by opponents of the portrait-hanging."Savarkar was essentially from the beginning a very weak character."

    Spokesmen for the BJP and its parent organization, the National Volunteer Corps -- known as the RSS, the initials of its name in Hindi -- accused the Congress party leader, Sonia Gandhi, and other critics of distorting Savarkar's record for political purposes. On the charge that Savarkar was involved in Gandhi's assassination, they said the court acquittal speaks for itself. On the charge that he was unpatriotic, they released a 1980 letter from Prime Minister Indira Gandhi -- Sonia Gandhi's mother-in-law, but no relation to Mohandas Gandhi -- in which she praised Savarkar as a"remarkable son of India" who deserved to be celebrated for his"daring defiance of the British government."


    Carole E. Scott, writing in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution (March 4, 2003):

    The National Park Service was recently induced to add at its Civil War battlefield sites information about the role slavery played in causing the South to leave the Union and go to war with the North.

    Is it going to follow a balanced policy and describe many Northerners' willingness to let slavery continue to exist in the South?

    Although he did not approve of slavery, President Lincoln considered blacks inferior to whites. Whites and blacks, he believed, could not coexist in equality. His pre-war solution to this problem was to return them to Africa.

    In his first inaugural address, Lincoln assured the nation that he neither wished to nor had the power to abolish slavery.

    Furthermore, in 1861 the U.S. Congress passed a never-ratified Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that Lincoln supported that read as follows: "No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any state, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said state."

    In an 1862 letter to New York newspaper editor Horace Greeley, Lincoln wrote: "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union."

    Lincoln revoked Union Gen. John C. Fremont's 1861 emancipation of Missouri's slaves, and Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation did not free any slaves because it applied only to that part of the Confederacy still under Confederate control. Slave states still in the Union were exempted, as was Washington.

    Many historians believe that he hoped that this proclamation would prevent the slavery-hating English from entering the war on the side of the South. He may also have hoped that it would lead to a slave insurrection in the South like the one that had taken place in Haiti, where, despite the fact that its white men were not off fighting a war, many whites were slaughtered.

    According to some foreign observers, Lincoln's motivation for preserving the Union was financial. English writer Charles Dickens said, "The Northern onslaught upon slavery was no more than a piece of specious humbug designed to conceal its desire for economic control of the Southern states."

    Just as eliminating slavery may not have been the North's prime motivation, the fact that late in the war, Confederate soldiers successfully petitioned their Congress and president to allow the enlistment in the army of slaves who would be promised their freedom suggests that preserving slavery may not have been the most important reason for the Southern states fighting for their independence.

    STALINISM REMAINS ALIVE (posted 3-6-03)

    Johann Hari, writing in the Independent (London) (March 5, 2003):

    [W]e do not take Stalin's crimes seriously in this country. While Le Monde publishes a pull-out supplement and the anniversary features on the front pages of most Eastern European papers, here there is a distracted silence save for a BBC documentary. Or, to give another, trivial but revealing example: Gordon Brown's former spin doctor, Charlie Whelan, used to keep the collected writings of Stalin prominently on his bookshelf,"for a laugh". Obviously Whelan is far from being a Stalinist; but can you imagine if, say, Amanda Platell, William Hague's spin-doctor, had kept Mein Kampf prominently on display in her office? Some readers will find the comparison with Hitler offensive. In fact, Stalin was worse. Alexander Yakovlev, an expert on Stalin's crimes, estimates that his victims totalled more than 30 million. To give some idea of the scale of this: Stalin's body count is the equivalent to an army of 1.5 million Fred Wests, or 10,000 11 Septembers. Yes, Stalin helped to defeat Nazism, but so would any Russian leader who had been attacked by the Reich.

    One anecdote will have to suffice to give some sense of Stalin's contempt for human life. His wife Nadezhda began in the early 1930s to teach courses in textile production in an attempt to escape the misery of life in the Kremlin. She and her students carried out assignments in the Russian countryside, where she witnessed the degeneration of the peasantry because of Stalin's policy of forced seizures. According to the historian Robert Conquest, 3.5 million people starved to death, and cannibalism became rife. Nadezhda's students were so shocked that they insisted on reporting back to the great leader Stalin. They did, and Stalin had them all arrested for"sedition". Nadezhda killed herself not long afterwards.

    I don't raise this only in order to provide a diverting history lesson. I raise it because Stalinism lives. Nazism is now a movement confined to the outer fringes of politics, yet Stalinists still control several countries and rule over a greater population than Tony Blair. Even after 50 years, the malign ideology of"Uncle Joe" has yet to join him in the grave.


    Robin Rupli, writing in VOA News (February 28, 2003):

    A new book on African-American history has just been published that presents slavery from a new perspective. Jubilee: The Emergence of African-American Culture is a series of essays and photographs that presents the story of a people not as victims, but as survivors of a cruel and oppressive institution and, who in spite of all that, emerged to become an integral part of American history and its culture.

    The institution of legal slavery in the United States spanning the 16th to mid-18th centuries is a blight on this nation's history that most people would just as soon forget, both the descendents of slave owners and African-Americans whose ancestors were enslaved themselves. But in the new book, Jubilee, author Howard Dodson says it is time to re-examine the period of slavery beginning with the term itself.

    "They were human beings caught in a bad situation trying how to figure out how to make it better," he explains."That's the simplest way of thinking about this. That's been one of the problems with so much of the previous work and the previous scholarship is that people would begin the conversation by defining them as slaves, rather than defining them as human beings in a state of enslavement."

    "And if they are human beings in a state of enslavement, then they are certainly perfectly capable of assessing their situation," he adds," of developing images and notions about their ideals for themselves, for their families, for the world, and acting on those ideals to bring them into reality."

    RIDDLE OF IRAQ'S BATTERIES (posted 3-3-03)

    Arran Frood, writing in the BBC (February 27, 2003):

    In any war, there is a chance that priceless treasures will be lost forever, articles such as the"ancient battery" that resides defenceless in the museum of Baghdad.

    For this object suggests that the region, whose civilizations gave us writing and the wheel, may also have invented electric cells - two thousand years before such devices were well known.

    It was in 1938, while working in Khujut Rabu, just outside Baghdad in modern day Iraq, that German archaeologist Wilhelm Konig unearthed a five-inch-long (13 cm) clay jar containing a copper cylinder that encased an iron rod.

    The vessel showed signs of corrosion, and early tests revealed that an acidic agent, such as vinegar or wine had been present.

    In the early 1900s, many European archaeologists were excavating ancient Mesopotamian sites, looking for evidence of Biblical tales like the Tree of Knowledge and Noah's flood.

    Konig did not waste his time finding alternative explanations for his discovery. To him, it had to have been a battery.

    Though this was hard to explain, and did not sit comfortably with the religious ideology of the time, he published his conclusions. But soon the world was at war, and his discovery was forgotten.

    More than 60 years after their discovery, the batteries of Baghdad - as there are perhaps a dozen of them - are shrouded in myth.

    "The batteries have always attracted interest as curios," says Dr Paul Craddock, a metallurgy expert of the ancient Near East from the British Museum.

    "They are a one-off. As far as we know, nobody else has found anything like these. They are odd things; they are one of life's enigmas." ...

    Perhaps it is too early to say the battery has been convincingly demonstrated to be part of a magical ritual. Further examination, including accurate dating, of the batteries' components are needed to really answer this mystery.

    No one knows if such an idol or statue that could have hidden the batteries really exists, but perhaps the opportunity to look is not too far away - if the items survive the looming war in the Middle East.

    "These objects belong to the successors of the people who made them," says Dr Craddock."Let's hope the world manages to resolve its present problems so people can go and see them."


    James Cheeks, writing in an HNN post:

    In the interview “Michael Beschloss talks about his new book”, Mr. Beschloss says that Roosevelt failed to speak out in public on Nazi treatment of the Jews “for almost 2 years” after 1942, and failed to threaten the Nazis with punishment for their crimes. In this view, repeated at book promotion ceremonies, Mr. Beschloss is less than straightforward with the full historical record, failing to mention the fact and the effects of the Allies’ Declaration in December 1942 condemning Nazi atrocities against Jews and vowing retribution.

    This omission or distortion is continued into the book itself. “The Conquerors” text says this, and no more, about the Declaration: “On December 17, 1942, at the initiative of the British, the Allies issued a declaration against ‘exposure and starvation’ and ‘mass executions’ imposed by the Nazis ‘on many hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children.’”

    Mr. Beschloss has selected his quotes to give the impression that general Nazi frightfulness, rather than specific treatment of Jews, is being condemned. The Declaration’s title, which Mr. Beschloss nowhere mentions, is “German Policy of Extermination of the Jewish Race”. The Declaration contains these statements: “Hitler's oft-repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe ... From all the occupied countries, Jews are being transported in conditions of appalling horror and brutality … . In Poland, which has been made the principal Nazi slaughterhouse, the Ghettoes established by the German invaders are being systematically emptied of all Jews…. The able-bodied are … worked to death in labor camps.”

    This is the context in which the Declaration’s denunciations of “exposure and starvation” and “mass executions” are set. It took much ingenuity on Mr. Beschloss’s part to refer to and quote from this Declaration and still manage to conceal that it spoke specifically and exclusively about treatment of Jews.

    The Declaration is also mentioned in his notes, without its title or any more of its contents. Though the Declaration, an act of the “Governments of …the United States of America” and its allies, is part of the United States official records (7 Dept of State Bulletin 1009 is one source), Mr. Beschloss’s notes refer the reader only to other authors.

    In his book “The Holocaust in History”, Michael R. Marris says that the December 1942 “declaration denouncing the murder of Jews … could not have been more clear.” (Meridian edition, p. 163) “By December 1942 … the news about the mass slaughter … had been broadcast all over the world and featured in all major newspapers outside Nazi-occupied Europe”. (Marris, p. 163, quoting Walter Lacquer’s “Terrible Secret”)

    Mr. Beschloss also said in the interview and elsewhere that Roosevelt’s failure to speak out forfeited the opportunity to threaten the Nazis with punishment for their crimes. His mode of reporting the December 17 Declaration keeps his readers and listeners from learning that the Declaration says: “The above-mentioned Governments”, including the government headed by FDR, “reaffirm their solemn resolution to ensure that those responsible for these crimes shall not escape retribution”.

    Might Mr. Beschloss think that the U.S. government positions in the Declaration were not FDR’s positions? If so, he’s at odds with Joseph Persico, who says that in December 1942 “FDR finally and publicly condemned the Nazi extermination of the Jews and declared America’s policy—those perpetrating mass murder would be dealt with as criminals when the fighting ended.” (“Roosevelt’s Secret War”, p. 220)

    Some while before “The Conquerors” came out Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. said that Roosevelt “has been given a bad rap” on Holocaust issues. In “The Conquerors”, the rap goes on, at some cost to the historical record.

    Remembering the Louisiana Purchase on Its 300th Anniversary (posted 4-30-03)

    Andro Linklater, author of Measuring America, in the NYT (April 29, 2003):

    With this week's bicentennial of the treaty's signing in Paris, it is useful to see it through the eyes of the actual negotiators. To them it was a real estate deal — vast in extent, but fundamentally a commercial matter of fixing the price of a property. Exactly half the credit for the businesslike approach of the two sides should go to the compelling attractions of a French society hostess named Adélaïde de Flahaut.

    Her role began in 1785 when the New York diplomat and businessman Gouverneur Morris went to France to negotiate tobacco deals for an (unrelated) associate, Robert Morris. Flahaut, whose pet name was Adèle, took Morris as her lover, a pleasure he shared with the bishop of Autun, otherwise known as Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord.

    Paris gossip speculated salaciously on the curious coincidence of Talleyrand's having a clubfoot while Morris stumped around on a wooden leg. But none of the three cared. "My friend's countenance," Morris wrote of Adèle, "glows with satisfaction in looking at [Talleyrand] and myself as we sit together agreeing in sentiment & supporting the opinions of each other."

    A decade later the Jacobin Terror forced Talleyrand to flee France, and as a refugee in the United States he naturally sought out Gouverneur Morris, who found him employment with Robert Morris's real estate company. In the years since independence, a frenzy of land speculation had overtaken the young republic; governments, state and federal, sold huge swaths of territory to finance their operations.

    Breathtaking deals were struck. In the infamous Yazoo land fraud, 40 million acres were sold by a bribed Georgia legislature to a consortium that included a United States Supreme Court justice, several members of Congress and the governor of the Tennessee Territory. Speculators like Robert Morris (who, naturally, also had a stake in the Yazoo deal) could buy and sell millions of acres a year.

    Talleyrand, dispatched to Maine by Robert Morris to spy out new lands for purchase, surveyed the grandeur of the landscape with thoughts that were unmistakably those of a speculator. "There were forests as old as the world itself," he wrote, "large natural meadows, strange and delicate flowers in the face of these immense solitudes we gave vent to our imagination. Our minds built cities, villages and hamlets."

    When fortune carried him back to France and elevated him to the post of foreign secretary under Napoleon, this commercial experience became sharply relevant. By 1803 Napoleon wanted to raise money for war with Britain, and Jefferson was prepared to pay for control of France's territory around the mouth of the Mississippi in order to guarantee free use of the river.

    The American minister in Paris, Robert Livingston, had already approached the French about such a limited purchase. (Livingston, who owned some 130,000 acres in upstate New York, was himself very familiar with the American real estate market.) But a critical shift occurred on April 11, 1803, when he went to meet Talleyrand in his offices in the Rue du Bac.

    Writing James Madison that evening, Livingston reported that Talleyrand had suddenly asked whether "we wished to have the whole of Louisiana." Surprised and playing for time, Livingston at first denied any interest, but Talleyrand persisted, "What would you give for the whole?" Livingston came back with an opening bid of about $3.75 million, which Talleyrand dismissed as too low. But both men knew the game being played.


    Legendary Battle of Anglo-Zulu War marred by brutal aftermath (posted 4-29-03)

    Rory Carroll, writing in The Guardian (April 29, 2003):

    It is one of the glories of British military history. A garrison of just over 100 men, including sick and wounded, holding out against an army of 3,000 Zulus.

    Wave after wave of warriors with spears and rifles crashed against the makeshift defences at Rorke's Drift, South Africa, and still the redcoats held firm.

    After a number of unsuccessful attacks in the 11-hour battle, the Zulus were finally forced to withdraw. Queen Victoria and her empire had reason to celebrate. In a way Britain still does: the 1964 film Zulu, starring Michael Caine as one of the officers at Rorke's Drift, endures as a television favourite. More Victoria Crosses (11) were awarded to the troops at Rorke's Drift than at any other single battle by the British army.

    But that image of valour and nobility in the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879 could now turn to shame. Documents have been uncovered which show that Rorke's Drift was the scene of an atrocity - a war crime, in today's language - which Britain covered up...

    ...The letters and manuscripts, stored and forgotten in British and South African museums and archives, show that the British had no mercy for captured opponents after the Zulus set fire to the garrison's hospital during the battle, then burst in and speared the patients.

    "Altogether we buried 375 dead Zulus, and some wounded were thrown in the grave," wrote one trooper, William James Clarke."Seeing the manner in which our wounded had been mutilated after being dragged from the hospital we were very bitter and did not spare wounded Zulus."

    Horace Smith-Dorrien, a lieutenant who later became a general, wrote that a frame to dry ox-hides became an improvised gallows"for hanging Zulus who were supposed to have behaved treacherously" during the battle.

    Samuel Pitts, a private, told the newspaper the Western Mail in 1914 that the official enemy death toll was too low."We reckon we had accounted for 875, but the books will tell you 400 or 500." In fact, Lieutenant Colonel John North Crealock's private journal, discovered in the royal archives at Windsor, reported that"351 dead Zulus were found and 500 wounded". He did not elaborate on the fate of the wounded and the book's authors conclude they were probably all killed, since there was no record of taking prisoners or tending wounded.

    The garrison's heroism was no myth, but the Victorians lionised Rorke's Drift to compensate for the debacle at nearby Isandhlwana, a British camp where 20,000 Zulus killed more than 1,000 soldiers on the same day.

    Taking no prisoners, they disembowelled many of the British and their colonial and native allies.

    A British relief force saw the bodies on its way to Rorke's Drift, and it was this force which executed the Zulu wounded, not the garrison's men, who were resting after the battle.

    Six months after Rorke's Drift, the British government said"several" Zulus had been treated, but made no mention of the hundreds of other wounded Zulus.

    "The British government and public thought it was better to sweep it under the carpet," Ron Lock said yesterday.

    There is no mention of the atrocity at the museum at Rorke's Drift, nor monuments marking mass graves.

    Partisan Review, RIP (posted April 29, 2003)

    Arnold Beichman, a fellow with the Hoover Institution, writing in the Washington Times (April 27, 2003):

     Georges Clemenceau, the French statesman, is reputed to have said: "He who is not a socialist at age 20 has no heart; he who is still a socialist at 40 has no head."

         Partisan Review, which after an almost 70-year publishing history as a quarterly has just closed its doors forever, exemplified the French statesman's observation. PR started out in 1934 as the "literary" organ of a wholly owned subsidiary of the Communist Party, the John Reed Club, located in Greenwich Village.

         In its opening statement, Partisan Review declared that its "definite viewpoint" would be "that of the revolutionary working class." Its young co-founders and editors , the genial and witty William Phillips and the uncongenial and domineering Philip Rahv, promised to publish works of what was then called "proletarian literature," one of Moscow's more seductive oxymorons.

         As would-be revolutionaries (both died some years ago, Rahv in 1972, Phillips in September 2002 at age 94) they even helped organize one of the most successful communist fronts in the party's history, the League of American Writers.

         The League, in fact, was so successful in its recruitment that an unwitting Franklin D. Roosevelt accepted honorary membership in the League. The president resigned when Sidney Hook, a later member of the PR editorial board, pointed out to the White House that FDR's name was being exploited by the Communist Party that was at that moment supporting the Nazi-Soviet Pact. (The correspondence is to be found in the FDR Library in Hyde Park).

         Breaking with the Communist Party and the party line on culture was not as difficult as breaking with socialism, for as Phillips wrote in 1984: "When we reappeared [in 1937] as an independent, Left literary and cultural review, we still avowed an allegiance to a radical movement and to the basic direction of Marxist thinking." A belief in Marxian socialism was and still is an indomitable characteristic of many intellectuals worldwide. As the AEI's Joshua Muravchik has written: "Much of the history of the last two centuries has revolved around the pursuit of a single idea — socialism."

         PR needed funds for revival. It found financial support from private contributions and thus began a long career in literary criticism and literary journalism. PR formed "the core of a literary-intellectual opposition to the Communist Party," as John Earl Haynes has written. PR brought to its pages George Orwell, Lionel and Diana Trilling, Saul Bellow, Norman Podhoretz, James Baldwin, Mary McCarthy, James Farrell, Dwight Macdonald, Wallace Stevens, Bernard Malamud, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Albert Camus, Arthur Koestler, Robert Penn Warren, Edmund Wilson, Hannah Arendt — the list is endless. ...

     While PR believed in giving great latitude to its writers, it occasionally published articles that violated its high standards. One such article by Tom Hayden, published in 1966, said: "Perhaps the only forms of action appropriate to the angry people are violent. Perhaps a small minority, by setting ablaze New York and Washington, could damage this country forever in the court of public opinion."

         Another article PR ran 40 years ago contained a paragraph that will forever stain its editorial judgment. The passage appeared in a contribution by Susan Sontag in the winter 1967 issue, page 52. It was her answer to the PR symposium, "What's happening to America?" Wrote Miss Sontag: "The white race is the cancer of human history; it is the white race and it alone — its ideologies and inventions — which eradicates autonomous civilizations wherever it spreads."

         To have allowed such a racist Farrakhanesque paragraph to appear in a magazine of high cultural standards indicates an unforgettable intellectual lapse that, fortunately, was rare in PR's history.

    Michelangelo's David: How Clean Is Too Clean? (posted April 29, 2003)

    James Beck, professor of art history at Columbia University, writing in the Wall Street Journal (April 29, 2003):

    To read the press coverage of the scheduled restoration of Michelangelo's David, one of the most recognizable icons of Western art, you might think the only issue was a dispute between two middle-aged women over the affections of the naked marble man. But what is at stake is the future of our cultural inheritance. In the past, even the immediate past, some of the world's grandest artworks have been irrevocably altered in the name of cleanliness.

    Last month, Agnese Parronchi, who had been hired by Antonio Paolucci, the chief superintendent of art for all of Florence and Tuscany, offered her resignation as the designated restorer. She cited irreconcilable differences with Franca Falletti, director of Florence's Accademia Museum, where the statue is housed. The media have transformed this serious division within the art community concerning how much restoration is too much into a banal shouting match.

    Once it was brought out of Michelangelo's workshop, the artistic appeal of the gigantic rendering of the Old Testament hero, carved between 1501 and 1504, was so embracing that both Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael made drawings of it. Today, the David can be regarded as Italy's leading tourist attraction, and as such questions of power and turf should be regarded as subtexts.

    Ms. Parronchi is widely acknowledged to be the world's leading restorer of Michelangelo's stone sculptures, having successfully achieved a dignified cleaning of the Medici Tombs in San Lorenzo with her respectful minimalist technique, and of the master's two early reliefs at the Casa Buonarroti, the Madonna of the Stairs and the Battle of the Centaurs. Her record of deliberate and reserved treatment of sculpture over the past two decades is well documented.

    In dramatic contrast, Ms. Falletti's position reflects that of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence, one of Italy's two national institutions devoted to restoration. My experience has been that the Opificio's cleanings of marble have been particularly radical, indicating a determination to seek whiteness and brightness at the expense of older surfaces.

    Witness the Fonte Gaia in Siena, marble fountain sculptures that the Opificio cleaned recently. Like the David, the fountain -- finished around 1419 -- had been exposed to the elements for centuries. (The David was brought indoors, while the Fonte Gaia carvings were placed in a protected loggia, more than a century ago.) The Opificio cleanings have made these sculptures by Jacopo della Quercia appear today as if they were made of gesso -- that is, cheap chalky plaster, not prestigious stone.

    Yes, they are clean, but at what cost? Much the same can be said for the Opificio's cleanings of the engaging 14th- and 15th-century reliefs from Florence's Bell Tower now in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. The cleaned panels no longer have any sense of unity, much less the flavor of their pre-restored appearance.

    The David has had a difficult history, even before it was born. Begun by Agostino di Duccio around 1465, hacked on by another sculptor in the 1470s, the vast marble block was then abandoned for decades in the courtyard of the Cathedral. It was already distressed when Michelangelo took it over in 1501. Completed three years later, David was placed at the front of the Palazzo Signoria. There it stood for 3 1/2 centuries, until the David was cleaned and placed indoors in 1873.

    I believe that no decisions should be made until an impartial judgment is rendered.

    It's Time for a Memorial in Lower Manhattan to the Slaves Who Helped Build NYC (posted April 25, 2003)

    C. Virginia Fields, Manhattan borough president, writing in Newsday (April 24, 2003):

    Daniel Libeskind's design for the World Trade Center site accomplishes more than art and architecture. Words such as "resurgence," "optimism" and "memorial" have been applied to this soaring expression of the human spirit and life itself.

    But a nation is only as remarkable in its ability to project forward as it is able to honor how it all began. To that end, another historic project downtown of universal significance must be completed. New York was birthed in great part by the work of thousands of slaves, and an effort to unchain their memories has languished in bureaucracy for a decade.

    I'm referring to the African Burial Ground, discovered in 1991 during excavation for a new federal building in Lower Manhattan.

    Unearthed was the forgotten resting place of thousands of enslaved Africans - survivors of the torturous "Middle Passage" across the Atlantic - and others who were buried in the six acres that extend around and beyond City Hall Park, making it the largest known African burial ground in the world. Archaeologists, anthropologists and historians believe the cemetery may have been used before the first known reference of 1712.

    Up to 20,000 graves, including those of many first-generation African Americans, may have existed in the burial ground. Some 230 remarkably well-preserved remains were disinterred in 1991 for scientific study - research that has yielded a wealth of information.

    After its discovery, the federal government handed the African Burial Ground Project over to the General Services Administration, an agency that acts as the landlord of federal property. This probably was a mistake, given the fact that GSA does not generally deal with historic sites or national symbols.

    It's time to rescue the African Burial Ground from the federal government's "property management" file and gear it up as a major memorial and educational project that reflects its historical and symbolic significance both nationally and internationally. The Smithsonian Institution described the site as a "perfect" opportunity to explore the institution of slavery in this country, including its international slave-trade aspects.

    Various steps can give the burial ground its long-overdue recognition:

    It is time to let the National Park Service have an expanded role in this project. This is a historic site, not surplus federal property. The National Park Service is used to managing historic monuments; GSA is more adept at procuring and managing buildings, computers and other federal property. The two should now collaborate to make this project a reality.

    The federal government should expedite re-burial of the remains removed from the African Burial Ground. Scientific research on the remains is complete, and re-interment has been promised for years but has yet to actually occur.

    It's time to build at or near the site a magnificent memorial museum complex. The African Burial Ground should become part of the planned National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum would honor these early heroes and builders of America and at the same time educate and enlighten with respect to the African and African-American experience in this country.


    The Liberty Bell and Slavery (posted April 25, 2003)

    Stephen Mihm, writing in the NYT (April 23, 2003):

    VISITORS to the Liberty Bell on Independence Mall in Philadelphia have traditionally been treated to a quick lecture about freedom, followed by a photo opportunity with the bell. Soon they may learn about another, less-celebrated part of American history: slavery.

    Plans to update the site have been in the works since 1997 as part of a $300 million renovation and expansion of Independence National Historic Park. This includes the Liberty Bell Center, the $12.9 million future home of the bell. The project was not controversial until an article in a scholarly journal ignited a series of battles by academics and activists seeking more complex presentations of the past.

    The argument began in January 2002, when the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography published an article by Edward Lawler Jr., a local historian, about a house called the executive mansion, where George Washington lived as president when Philadelphia was the nation's capital. (It moved to the District of Columbia in 1800.)

    Mr. Lawler wrote that the house, most of which was razed in 1832, was adjacent to the site of the new Liberty Bell Center. Washington, a slave owner, had brought slaves to Philadelphia, and, according to Mr. Lawler, he housed them in a structure behind the mansion -- right where visitors would be lining up to see the bell.

    The article attracted attention, and a handful of scholars formed a group called the Ad Hoc Historians, hoping to persuade the National Park Service, which manages the site, to acknowledge slavery as part of the site's history.

    "This was an opportunity to get people interested in the contested nature of freedom," said Randall Miller, a professor of history at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia and a member of the Ad Hoc Historians.

    "Contested" is a mild description of what happened at the site in George Washington's day. The first president wrote of his concern that his slaves would find the idea of freedom "too great a temptation to resist," and that living there might "make them insolent in a state of slavery."

    A house slave, Oney Judge, escaped, confirming his worst fears. Washington fumed at her insolence, and what she described as her "thirst for compleat freedom," with the only result being that nine months later, his prized cook disappeared as well.

    For months, the historians' group lobbied the Park Service, and a meeting took place in May 2002. As a result, the Park Service agreed to rework the historic material, addressing the topic of slavery.

    Shortly afterward, some people in Philadelphia's black community formed a group called Avenging the Ancestors Coalition, which began to put pressure on the Park Service to incorporate Washington's slave quarters into the site. Their efforts ranged from petitions to letter-writing to a street protest.

    It paid off. The Park Service commissioned a study to combine the mansion with the bell site. Two companies participated: Vincent Ciulla Design, a museum design firm in Brooklyn, N.Y.; and the Olin Partnership, a landscape architecture firm in Philadelphia that had been involved with the Independence Mall design.


    How the New Deal Changed the Teaching of History (posted April 25, 2003)

    Norman Ravitch, writing for Richard Jensen's Conservativenet (April 24, 2003):

    There is not any doubt that radical academics joined with major book publishers have over the last half century totally changed what children learn about American history in the schools. One thing, however, has not changed. What they learn continues to be boring, boring, boring.

    Somewhere among New Dealers it was decided that history should be taught to further democratic ideology, the notion that this nation is a democracy where everyone is equal.

    Earlier this nation was portrayed as a Republic where all republicans were equal -- a different notion from democracy.

    Teachers influenced by scholars influenced by John Dewey and liberalism generally, which really was Marxism in one form or another, started teaching social studies, which was usually the story of how America did in its blacks, farmers, immigrants, and Indians. This was allowed to be taught, and what was not taught was constitutional history. Kids like myself once knew every nook and cranny of the Constitution. Now they know about unimportant native American women and black agitators but nothing about real American heroes.

    I am not sanguine about changing all this. Academics still control history and the history they prefer is passed on by teachers, teachers being the least educated of all college majors bar none.

    It would be easier to legislate property and educational requirements for voting (I am totally pro) than to change the History curriculum.

    We need historians like Livy: able to lie about Rome's past for a higher good. Unfortunately our feminist, socialist, ethnicist historians only lie about what suits them. They have no higher good in mind.

    Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? (posted April 25, 2003)

    Richard Ostling, writing for the Associated Press (April 19, 2003):

    Easter is a day not only of hope, but also of discord -- at least among theologians.

    Throughout modern times, liberal scholars have challenged a central tenet of Christianity: that Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead after being crucified by the Romans on Good Friday. Whether the Resurrection occurred, they say, is ultimately unimportant compared with Jesus's message.

    But to myriad rank-and-file Christians, who each Sunday profess faith in the Resurrection of Jesus and, ultimately, their own, that's heresy.

    Now, a respected conservative theologian is backing their viewpoint with a monumental new book, "The Resurrection of the Son of God" (Fortress). In his 817-page work, the Rev. N.T. "Tom" Wright, canon theologian of Westminster Abbey in London, disputes theologians who contend the Resurrection was "not a historical event" or that it's unseemly to even ponder the point.

    There's a historical question, he insists, that is inescapable: Why did Christianity emerge so rapidly, with such power, and why did believers risk everything to teach that Jesus really arose?

    The best explanation, Wright concludes, is that the earliest Christians held two strong convictions that worked in tandem: First, Jesus's tomb was discovered empty on Easter morning. Second, Jesus then appeared to his followers alive in bodily form. In other words, the unvarnished New Testament story.

    Wright, 54, said that the best history can do for any ancient event is a "high probability" that it occurred. He argues that the Easter story qualifies as true because all proposed alternatives fail to explain the early power of Christianity.

    The oldest alternative, mentioned in Matthew 28, was the claim that Jesus's body was stolen from the tomb. Wright notes that New Testament writers presented that possibility even at the risk of "putting ideas into people's heads." They did so, he says, precisely because skeptics were trying to explain why the tomb was empty.

    Another standard challenge is that the Easter stories in the four Gospels conflict with one other. Different people arrive at the tomb, they meet different people and Jesus's first appearances are in different locations.

    Wright turns that argument inside out. If the accounts were concocted, he says, "you'd expect a better effort to have stories come into line with each other. No, this is the rough sort of way it came out" in the four accounts preserved in the Gospels. He also thinks the Gospel reports about women as the first witnesses argue against fiction: The Gospel writers wouldn't have made this up because the ancients discounted women's testimony.

    Forget the Wright Brothers (posted April 25, 2003)

    Johnathan Briggs, writing in the Baltimore Sun (April 22, 2003):

    There are those who would have you believe that on Dec. 17, 1903, in the fishing village of Kitty Hawk, N.C., two men with a penchant for starched white collars and bowler hats did not solve the age-old riddle of human flight.

    Those first-flight tales by the brothers known as the Wrights? Simply wrong, they say.

    Never mind that the world's first successful airplane - the 605-pound 1903 Wright Flyer - hangs suspended by wires high above the floor at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

    The way they tell it, months - in some cases, years - before the Wrights successfully piloted their flying machine of spruce, ash, muslin and piano wire, an aviator from Connecticut - no, New Zealand ... or was it Brazil? - had already beaten them to the sky.

    Such are the assertions of an enduring subculture of Wright brothers detractors who, with the approach of the 100th anniversary of powered flight, are raising the volume on a refrain that flies in the face of those boastful North Carolina license plates: The Wrights were not "first in flight."

    Instead, they laud early aviation experimenters such as German-born craftsman Gustave Whitehead, New Zealand cattle farmer Richard Pearse and Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont.

    Whitehead, who as a boy built parachutes and trapped birds to examine their wings, is said to have flown his bat-winged airplane No. 21 over Fairfield, Conn., on Aug. 14, 1901 - two years before Kitty Hawk.

    Self-taught inventor Richard Pearse, known to trudge behind a horse-drawn plow with his head buried in Scientific American, is reported to have flown a 25-foot monoplane a distance of 50 yards - eight months and three weeks before the Wrights' legendary flight.

    And then there's Santos-Dumont, the dapper son of a wealthy Brazilian coffee planter who was widely credited with inventing the airplane after making the first official powered flight in Europe in 1906. That was three years after the Kitty Hawk flight - an event still disputed by Santos-Dumont supporters in Brazil who hail their native son as the "Father of Aviation."

    "I'm fascinated by them," Wright brothers historian Tom D. Crouch says of the Kitty Hawk naysayers. "What's at work is an enthusiasm for conspiracy theories that operates in lots of areas in modern life. Sort of, 'Wouldn't it be fun if everybody was wrong about a big issue like this and somebody else had really done this?' "

    Unbowed, the Wrights' challengers press on from the fringes of the centennial spotlight.

    The DNA Scientist Who Never Received Credit for Her Pioneering Role (posted April 25, 2003)

    Elizabeth Schainbaum, writing in Alameda-Times Star (April 25, 2003):

    Cal State Hayward professor is helping unravel the history behind the discovery of DNA. Fifty years ago, British scientists James Watson and Francis Crick deciphered the spiral staircase-shaped DNA, the molecule that is fundamental to life.

    But absent from most accounts of the scientific discovery is the pivotal role scientist Rosalind Franklin played. Watson and Crick used her data and photographs to solve the double-helix conundrum.

    Franklin never knew that her work, especially that one of her pictures, Photo 51, was crucial to the finding. She died in 1958, four years before Watson and Crick received the Nobel Prize.

    Lynne Osman Elkin, 56, a biology professor at the Hayward campus, who lives in Oakland, is among the experts trying to set the record straight. She will weigh in on the DNA saga during the PBS show"Nova," in an episode called"Secret of Photo 51" ....

    "She needs to be acknowledged properly. I hope to get people thinking about calling it the Watson-Crick-Franklin (DNA) structure," she said, adding that her proposed name change has caused an uproar in the science community.

    "I don't want to take away from Watson's and Crick's brilliance -- I mean that sincerely," she said."I just want to add her along."

    Hitler's Library (posted April 19, 2003)

    Timothy W. Ryback, director of the Salzburg Seminar, writing in the Atlantic Monthly about the long-neglected"Hitler Library" at the Library of Congress. The library includes 1200 volumes belonging to Hitler recovered after the war. (May 2003):

    Scholarly neglect of the Hitler Library derives in good part from an early misperception that its historical or biographical importance was limited. "Spotchecks revealed little in the way of marginal notes, autographs, or other similar features of interest," an internal Library of Congress review determined in January of 1952. "Indeed, it seems that most of the books have never been perused by their owner." Gerhard Weinberg, a leading authority on the Nazi era and one of the first scholars to explore the collection, confirms this initial assessment. "I was a newly minted Ph.D., and this was my first job beyond graduate school," Weinberg told me not long ago. "I was compiling information for the Guide to Captured German War Documents. The books had only recently been uncrated, and I was intrigued by what I would find there." To Weinberg's disappointment, the Hitler Library appeared to consist mostly of presentation copies from authors or publishers. "There were few clues that many of these books had been part of his personal library, and even less evidence that he had read any of them," Weinberg says.

    In 2000 Philipp Gassert and Daniel Mattern reached a similar conclusion. Beginning in 1995 Gassert, an assistant professor of history at the University of Heidelberg, and Mattern, the senior editor at the German Historical Institute, in Washington, D.C., systematically reviewed every volume in the collection. In the spring of 2001 Greenwood Press published the results of their research, The Hitler Library, a 550-page bibliography that lists each book alphabetically, with its author, page count, and call number. Also included are transcriptions of all handwritten dedications, some brief descriptions of marginalia, and an indication of which books contain the Führer's bookplate—an eagle, a swastika, and oak branches between the words EX LIBRIS and ADOLF HITLER.

    The Hitler Library provides the first comprehensive road map through the collection, but at times it leads readers astray.

    Most significant is overlooked marginalia. In one reference Mattern and Gassert note correctly that the Hitler Library contains two identical copies of Paul de Lagarde's German Essays, but they don't mention marginalia, despite the fact that in one volume fifty-eight pages have penciled intrusions—the first on page 16, the last on page 370. Given that Lagarde belongs to a circle of nineteenth-century German nationalist writers who are believed to have had a formative influence on Hitler's anti-Semitism, the marked passages are certainly worth noting. In an essay called "The Current Tasks of German Politics," Lagarde anticipates the emergence of a "singular man with the abilities and energy" to unite the German peoples, and calls for the "relocation of the Polish and Austrian Jews to Palestine." This latter phrase has been underlined and flagged with two bold strikes in the margin.

    Sometimes writing along the side of a page is recognizably in Hitler's jagged cursive hand. For the most part, though, the marginalia are restricted to simple markings whose common "authorship" is suggested by an intense vertical line in the margin and double or triple underlining in the text, always in pencil; I found such markings repeatedly both in the Library of Congress collection and in a cache of eighty Hitler books at Brown University. Hitler's handwritten speeches, preserved in the Federal German Archives, show an identical pattern of markings. In one anti-Semitic rant Hitler drew three lines under the words Klassenkampf ("class struggle"), Weltherrschaft ("world domination"), and Der Jude als Diktator ("the Jew as dictator"); one can almost hear his fevered tones.

    Hitler's habit of highlighting key concepts and passages is consonant with his theory on the "art of reading." In Chapter Two of Mein Kampf he observed,
    A man who possesses the art of correct reading will, in studying any book, magazine, or pamphlet, instinctively and immediately perceive everything which in his opinion is worth permanently remembering, either because it is suited to his purpose or generally worth knowing ... Then, if life suddenly sets some question before us for examination or answer, the memory, if this method of reading is observed ... will derive all the individual items regarding these questions, assembled in the course of decades, [and] submit them to the mind for examination and reconsideration, until the question is clarified or answered.
    In these marginalia one sees a man (who famously seemed never to listen to anyone, for whom "conversation" was little more than a torrent of monologues) reading passages, reflecting on them, and responding with penciled dashes, dots, question marks, exclamation points, and underscorings—intellectual footprints across the page. Here is one of history's most complex figures reduced merely to a reader with a book and a pencil.

    Germans as Victims: Not An Entirely Ignored Subject (posted April 19, 2003)

    Julia M. Klein, cultural critic, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education (April 18, 2003):

    Baghdad is aflame, and before this war is over, it may well be in ruins. The debate over what the damage signifies -- over who is responsible and whether the force expended was justified -- will doubtless continue far longer than the war itself. So it has been in Germany, where the smoldering ruins of German cities symbolized not just the Third Reich's well-deserved defeat, but also the plight of German civilians, both guilty and innocent.

    Until recently, it could be argued, the gaps and fissures left by war defined not only the urban landscape, but public memory of the assault. Still, Germans have, over the past few decades, paid generous homage to wartime suffering, including their own. In the capital city of Berlin, the jagged profile of the Gedächtniskirche (Memorial Church), shattered by bombs, has been left untouched as a perpetual reminder of war's costs. Dresden, whose firebombing was memorialized by Kurt Vonnegut in Slaughterhouse Five, for decades kept its Frauenkirche in ruins as a peace monument. Since German reunification in 1990, rebuilding efforts in these two eastern cities have been pursued with vigor. But the country's physical renaissance has been accompanied by a strange psychic fallout. Even as Berlin remakes itself into a 21st-century showplace of skyscrapers and museums, and Dresden painstakingly recreates its Baroque heart brick by brick, the issue of German victimization has exploded more forcefully into popular consciousness.

    It is unlikely that this new introspection will entirely replace the ongoing cultural preoccupation with the Holocaust and other German atrocities. But the current debate, fueled by several new books and an amplifying media response, does represent a significant nod toward the perspective of Germany's vanishing World War II generation. Interestingly, and perhaps necessarily, given the complicated politics of postwar Germany, three of the works are by authors whose credentials as ex-post-facto "good Germans" are unquestionable; a fourth is by an Englishman. If this is revisionism, it comes, as it must, with a politically correct imprimatur.

    Anthony Beevor's The Fall of Berlin 1945 (Viking Press, 2002), recently translated into German, details the mass rapes and other war crimes committed against the German people by the Red Army as it captured Berlin and avenged its own massive losses. Another history, Der Brand: Deutschland im Bombenkrieg 1940-45 (The Fire: Germany Under Bombardment 1940-45, Propyläen Verlag, 2002) by the Holocaust scholar Jörg Friedrich, appropriates Holocaust terminology to describe the deadly bombing of German cities. It has not yet been published in the United States but has provoked considerable comment both in Germany and in Britain.

    Two other key texts, also controversial in Germany, are now available to American readers. The Allied air attacks, and specifically the presumed failure of German literature to represent them, are the subjects of the first part of W.G. Sebald's On the Natural History of Destruction (Random House, 2003), a set of posthumously published essays. The Nobel laureate Günter Grass's Crabwalk (Harcourt, 2003), a historical novel, has a somewhat different target in its sights: It explores the aftermath of the January 1945 sinking of a German refugee ship by a Soviet submarine, and, by extension, die Vertreibung, or expulsion, of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe.


    UPI: Ossuary Is Real (posted April 19, 2003)

    Lou Marano, writing for UPI (April 17, 2003):

    In the six months since a limestone bone box bearing the inscription "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" was announced to the world, evidence mounts that the ossuary is authentic and that the "Jesus" is indeed the rabbi of Nazareth.

    This dramatic discovery -- the first archaeological evidence of the man Christians worship as God, the second person of the Holy Trinity -- is the subject of a new book and a documentary film.

    Dateline NBC will air a small portion of the film, "James the Brother of Jesus," on Good Friday. On Easter Sunday at 9 p.m., the Discovery Channel will broadcast the film on 100 stations worldwide.

    The authors of "The Bother of Jesus" are Hershel Shanks, the founder and editor in chief of Biblical Archaeological Review and Bible Review, and Ben Witherington III, professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary in Lexington, Ky.

    The film, which was previewed this week at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, was produced by Simcha Jacobovici, a Toronto-based filmmaker who won Emmy Awards in 1996 and 1997 for Outstanding Investigative Journalism.

    "In the 3,500 years of their history, the Jewish people use ossuaries for 65 to 90 years maximum," Jacobovici told United Press International before the screening, referring to a period that began about 20 B.C. and lasted until the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. "The practice was prevalent in Jerusalem and in the Galilee. Resurrection was in the air. ... All the cave tombs faced the Temple Mount. They were waiting for messiah, and their physical resurrection. That's why they got their bones ready in an ossuary."

    "Many Jews in Jerusalem in Jesus' time buried their dead in long niches in cave tombs," Shanks writes in the book's introduction. "After a year, when the flesh had desiccated and fallen away, the bones of the deceased would be collected in limestone chests ... just large enough to accommodate the longest bone of the body, the thighbone. Sometimes the name of the deceased would be inscribed on the outside of the box."

    Of the thousands of ossuaries discovered, 233 of the some 900 catalogued are inscribed with the names of those buried inside.

    In those days, people were known by their given names followed by the given name of their fathers. Only under very special circumstances was any other information added in ossuary inscriptions. For example, one man is identified as the builder of the temple sanctuary, and another as the person who made the gates of the temple.

    The James ossuary came to light a year ago in Israel. André Lemaire, a former priest who specializes in the study of ancient Semitic inscriptions, is chairman of the Hebrew and Aramaic philology and epigraphy section at the Sorbonne in Paris. In April, 2002, Lemaire met an antiquities collector -- Oded Golan, 51, a Tel Aviv engineer and entrepreneur -- at the home of another collector.

    Lemaire accepted Golan's invitation to view some of the more difficult-to-read inscriptions on his artifacts. Almost as an afterthought, Golan showed Lemaire a photograph of an inscription that was not difficult to read. Golan said he found it interesting because it was one of only two catalogued ossuary inscriptions that mentioned a brother. But Golan did not regard the artifact as important enough to display in his major collection, so he kept it in storage. Golan said in the early 1970s he bought the box from a dealer in the Old City of Jerusalem who said it had come from Silwan, an Arab neighborhood just south of the Mount of Olives on the flank of the Kidron Valley, site of many ancient Jewish cave tombs.

    The inscription read, "Ya'acov, son of Yosef, bother of Yeshua," all common Jewish names in the first century. The association of the names had no significance for Golan, who didn't know that "Jesus," the Latinate form familiar to us, had a brother named "James" who led the community of Christian Jews in Jerusalem until his martyrdom in 62 A.D. The historian Josephus tells us that during an interregnum between Roman procurators of Judea, the Saduceean high priest Ananus the Younger seized the opportunity to have James and others stoned.

    Lemaire, however, was struck by the possibility that this was the ossuary of "James the Just." Later, after examining the artifact itself, Lemaire asked Golan if it would be possible to publish a study of the inscription. Golan agreed, asking that the article appear in an English publication because he is not fluent in French. Lemaire suggested Shanks' Biblical Archaeological Review.

    This led to a press conference in Washington on Oct. 21, which the review held jointly with the Discovery Channel, and a major article by Lemaire in BAR's November-December issue.

    "I went into this whole issue as skeptical as anybody, on every count," Jacobovici told UPI. But he emerged from the process convinced of the authenticity of the ossuary and the inscription.


    Why Did Our Civil War Turn Out So Well? (posted April 18, 2003)

    Amy Goldstein, Jonathan Weisman and Margot Williams, writing in the Washington Post about a new 2 hour History Channel documentary based on Jay Winik's book about the last month of the Civil War:

    The American Civil War, Winik points out, could have ended as badly as some others. By the end of the war, 600,000 men on both sides had been killed and a million more wounded. When Gen. Robert E. Lee sat down with Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and surrendered his army, there were still about 175,000 Confederate troops in the field, more than enough to continue hostilities.

    "The day before the signing at Appomattox, Lee called a council of war," Winik said. "One of his aides said, We can move to the hills like partridges and rabbits and continue to fight. Davis had already called for [guerrilla fighting] days earlier.

    "It could have led to the Vietnamization or the Middle Easternization of America. The consequences were profound. In 1865 we were looking to end this cycle of civil war."

    The question before Lee, Winik pointed out, was whether to continue resistance in that fashion and make some marginal gains. There were examples in history of other civil strife that had ended badly. And there was at the time a guerrilla war being waged in Missouri in the midst of the Civil War.

    "It was commonplace there for soldiers, terrorists, to wear necklaces of human teeth, fingers and ears as signs of their conquests," he said.

    After weighing his options, Lee joined Grant at the peace table. Lee's surrender is one of many scenes described in the book and documentary in detail that is both fine, exciting and moving. When Grant tips his hat to Lee at the conclusion of the proceedings, it is one of the early signs that the Civil War might evolve into a civil peace. Relatively speaking, at least.

    "After Appomattox," said Winik, "history tends to telescope and there's a lot that we forget. On that morning, the Chicago Tribune was editorializing that Lee should be hanged."

    Lincoln had set the stage for a more unifying and conclusive peace. The president was haunted, Winik said, by the fear that the Confederates might take to the hills and wage a guerrilla war that might last for years.

    On the other hand, a more punitive peace might disintegrate into something akin to the French Revolution, conjuring an image of Confederate heads rolling in the streets.


    Was U.S. Involved in the Allende Coup? Colin Powell Seems to Say Yes. State Department Seems to Say No. (posted April 17, 2003)

    George Gedda, writing for UPI (April 16, 2003):

    When a student asked Secretary of State Colin Powell about the 1973 military coup in Chile, the retired general turned diplomat made no secret of his deep misgivings about the U.S. role in that upheaval.

    "It is not a part of American history that we're proud of," Powell said, quickly adding that reforms instituted since then make it unlikely that the policies of that Cold War era will be repeated.

    The matter might have ended there had not Washington operative William D. Rogers taken notice of Powell's televised comment. Rogers served under Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1975-76 as the department's top official on Latin America and maintains a professional relationship with Kissinger.

    In a highly unusual move, the State Department issued a statement that put distance between the department and its top official. The statement asserted that the U.S. government "did not instigate the coup that ended Allende's government in 1973" -- a reference to the elected president, Salvador Allende.

    Rogers was concerned that Powell's comment was reinforcing what he called "the legend" that the Chile coup was a creation of a Kissinger-led cabal working in league with Chilean military officers opposed to Allende. He called the department legal office to point out that there was a pending law suit against the government and Powell's comment was not helpful.

    "I also called Kissinger," said Rogers. "I talked to him about it. I wouldn't say he was upset. ... I told Henry I think this is bad stuff. It doesn't help the U.S. legal position."

    Rightly or wrongly, Kissinger has been linked to the coup that brought Gen. Augusto Pinochet's military government to power.

    Rogers said the Chilean military acted not because the United States urged it to do so, "but because they believed that had the Allende regime continued much longer, Chilean liberties would be irretrievably lost."

    Peter Kornbluh, a student of Latin American issues, whose book, "The Pinochet File," will be released in September, disputed Rogers' account. "The U.S. government carried out a clear effort to undermine and destabilize Allende's ability to govern, creating the climate necessary for a coup to take place," Kornbluh said.

    Rogers insists Kornbluh overstates the case. "Climate is one thing. Instigating a military attack on the civilian regime is quite another."

    Kornbluh said the perceived U.S. role in Chile did not end with the coup. He added that the U.S. government helped the Pinochet regime consolidate its power with overt and covert support, "despite the full knowledge of its atrocities."

    The notion of Nixon administration involvement in the post-Sept. 11, 1973, period was reinforced last November when 11 residents of Chile filed a complaint against Kissinger and the U.S. government seeking damages for deaths and other rights abuses by the Pinochet government.

    New Finding: Truman WAS Told in Advance of Hiroshima to Expect Half a Million Casualties if the U.S. Invaded the Home Islands of Japan (posted April 17, 2003)

    D. M. Giangreco, author of Dear Harry. . . Truman’s Mailroom, 1945-1953, writing in American Heritage (May 2003):

    What did President Harry S. Truman and his senior advisors believe an invasion of Japan would cost in American dead? In recent years this has been a matter of heated historical controversy, with Truman's critics maintaining that the huge casualty estimates he cited were a "postwar creation" designed to justify his use of nuclear weapons against a beaten nation already on the verge of suing for peace. As one historian put it in a New York Times article, "No scholar of the war has ever found archival evidence to substantiate claims that Truman expected anything close to a million casualties, or even that such large numbers were conceivable." Another skeptic wrote of the total absence of "any high-level supporting archival documents from the Truman months before Hiroshima that, in unalloyed form, provides even an explicit estimate of 500,000 casualties, let alone a million or more."

    A series of documents recently discovered at the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Missouri - and described by this author in an article in the March 2003 Pacific Historical Review - tells a different story.

    In the midst of the bloody fighting on Okinawa, President Truman received a warning that the invasion could cost as many as 500,000 to 1,000,000 American lives. The document containing this estimate, "Memorandum on Ending the Japanese War," was one of several papers written by former President Herbert Hoover at Truman's request in May 1945. The Hoover memorandum is well known to students of the era, but they have generally assumed that Truman took no real interest in what the former President had to say and solicited it purely as a courtesy to Hoover and Secretary of War Henry Stimson who had earlier served as Hoover's secretary of state. As it turns out, however, Truman had a much higher opinion of Hoover than do today's historians.

    "What we now know," says Robert Ferrell, the editor of Truman's private papers, "is that Truman seized upon this memo and sent memoranda to his senior advisors asking for written judgments from each." Moreover, adds Ferrell, this discovery "not merely shows that Truman knew about such a high casualty figure" far in advance of the decision to use atom bombs, but that he "was exercised about the half-million figure - no doubt about that." Yet another discovery, by the Hoover Presidential Library's former senior archivist Dwight Miller, indicates that the estimate likely originated during Hoover's regular briefings by a group of Military Intelligence officers from the Pentagon.

    After Truman received the "Memorandum on Ending the Japanese War," he wrote "From Herbert Hoover" across the top and forwarded it to the director of the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion, Fred M. Vinson, on June 4. Truman's manpower czar had no quarrel with the casualty estimate when he responded three days later. He returned the original memo along with one of his own, suggesting that Hoover's paper be shown to Stimson, Acting Secretary of State Joseph C. Grew, and former Secretary of State Cordell Hull. Truman agreed, and sent copies of the memo to all three men, asking each for a written analysis of it and summoning Grew and Stimson to a meeting to discuss their analyses with him.

    Grew immediately forwarded the memo to Judge Samuel L. Rosenman, a long-time adviser and speech writer of FDR's, who was then serving as Truman's special council. Stimson, meanwhile, passed on his copy to the Army's Deputy Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Thomas J. Handy, because he wanted to get "the reaction of the [Army] Staff to it," and mentioned in his diary that he "had a talk both with Handy and with Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall on the subject."

    Hull responded first. Although branding the memo an "appeasement proposal" because it suggested that the Japanese be offered lenient terms to entice them to a negotiating table, he did not take issue with the casualty estimate. And Grew? Ironically, just hours after Hoover's White House meeting he had told both Truman and Rosenman that "The Japanese are a fanatical people capable of fighting to the last man. If they do this, the cost in American lives will be unpredictable." In his June 13 reply to the memo, Grew confirmed that the Japanese "are prepared for prolonged resistance," adding that "prolongation of the war [will] cost a large number of human lives."

    Editor's Note In an email to HNN, Mr. Giangreco explained that he'd first run across the documents in the Truman library in the 1980s. He says there is a reference to the documents in an article he wrote in the Journal of Military History"buried deep in one of my verbose footnotes. The article was already overly long and impossibly dense so I couldn't really get into the details of what Truman knew since the subject of the article was what the Army did." He adds:

    It is unfortunate that this exchange of memos between Truman and his senior advisors is being presented far too late to have been of any help to the vets who, along with Truman, were regularly beat up during the Enola Gay mess. That, however, was eight years ago and the slow poison of the"postwar creation" myth that the atom bombs were not used to save countless thousands of lives --- American and Japanese --- is today felt in the debate over what should be done in the fight against international terrorism. Said one speaker at a Middle East Studies Association meeting:"We ought to be reminded of our responsibilities for Hiroshima and Nagasaki and understand that we're not so good."

    The Reporter/Historian Who Uncovered the Welcome Mat Peronistas Spread for Nazis (posted April 16, 2003)

    Hector Tobar, writing in the LA Times as reprinted in the Montreal Times (April 10, 2003):

    Rodolfo Freude is an old man now, with an office in a nondescript high-rise in the centre of this capital. Once upon a time, he was one of the most powerful men in Argentina, a right-hand man to President Juan Peron and friend to his charismatic wife, Eva.

    He was also, according to historians here, a saviour to some of the most notorious war criminals in history. Thanks to him, hundreds of Nazi officers and alleged French, Belgian and Croatian collaborators found a haven in this faraway South American country.

    Peron named Freude, the scion of a wealthy Argentine German family, his chief of intelligence in 1946.

    According to documents obtained by Argentine historians, Freude's agency organized a network of agents who smuggled the fugitives to Buenos Aires through way stations in Milan, Italy; Madrid, Spain; and other cities.

    More than five decades later, the work of that smuggling ring has come under a microscope, thanks to an enterprising historian and investigative journalist.

    The revelations in Uki Goni's The Real Odessa, published in Argentina this year, have led Jewish organizations here to demand that the government release documents related to the Nazis.

    In polite, brief letters, both the secret service and the Foreign Ministry have said their files contain no such documents.

    "It's totally inconceivable that the Argentine secret service has nothing on this period," Goni, a writer and investigative journalist, said in an interview.

    "All they have to do is call Rodolfo Freude. His name is in the phone book."

    Calls to Freude's office over two months by the Los Angeles Times always produced the same answer: he was unavailable for interviews.

    Freude was part of a secret assistance network for suspected Croatian, Belgian, French and German war criminals, according to documents uncovered by Goni and other investigators.

    Given new identities by Argentine spies and by sympathizers in the Italian church, the suspects would receive visas from immigration officials here to work as "technicians."

    Josef Mengele, the infamous doctor of Auschwitz, escaped to Argentina in 1949 thanks to the network, arriving in Buenos Aires still in possession of the records of his ruthless experiments on twins in the Nazi death camps.

    Discussion of Argentina's role in the Nazis' escapes has remained taboo here for decades, with generations of Argentine government officials blocking access to key archives. The revelations tarnish the image of Juan Peron, a man whose shadow still dominates Argentine politics almost 30 years after his death.

    The current president and three of the four leading candidates in this month's presidential election are Peronists.

    "Covering up for this sort of past sin is part of the political culture of Peronism," said Carlos Escude, an author and adviser to Argentina's Foreign Ministry in the 1990s. "Peron's ties to the Nazis are an embarrassment. They think they're doing their patriotic duty by shutting out any investigation of the past."

    Argentine officials briefly opened key files to investigators in 1997, when then-President Carlos Menem created the Commission for the Clarification of Nazi Activities in Argentina, known here by its Spanish initials, CEANA.

    Beatriz Gurevich, then an investigator with the Delegation of Argentine Israelite Associations, joined the commission and travelled to Argentine embassies and consulates in Stockholm, Sweden; Milan and other cities to pore through their records.

    But it was in the National Archives in Buenos Aires that Gurevich found perhaps the most revealing document. It detailed the existence of "secret advisers" with the authority to smooth the passage of suspected war criminals through Argentine immigration.

    "Their signatures carried the weight of law," Gurevich said, even though most of the advisers were themselves suspected war criminals, such as Branko Benzon, who was ambassador to Berlin for the Nazi puppet state in Croatia. "The documents made it clear their authority had come directly from the president."


    Benny Morris: Unhopeful Now About the Future of Israel and Palestine (posted April 15, 2003)

    Benny Morris, the revisionist Israeli historian, writing in the New Republic (April 21, 2003):

    In their new book [The Palestinian People: A History (Harvard University Press)], which is actually just a revision of a book that they published ten years ago, Baruch Kimmerling and Joel S. Migdal write that their "central argument" is that "the creation of the Palestinian nation has been as much the product of events, acts, and institutions at the grassroots level as it has been the doing of top leaders." So let us attend to the grassroots: to judge by Palestinian opinion polls and street demonstrations, most Palestinians today do not seek only the liberation of the territories from Israel's occupation. They seek also the destruction of Israel. Palestinians interviewed in the streets of Ramallah and Jenin often say so bluntly. And the masses express their hatred of the Jewish state by supporting suicide bombings inside Israel proper, against buses, supermarkets, and restaurants. For the Palestinians, each suicide bombing represents a microcosmic assault on Israel's existence; and each street celebration following successful bombings (as followed Saddam Hussein's missile attacks on Israel's cities in 1991) testifies to the popularity of the method and the goal.

    Kimmerling and Migdal point out that in the early and mid-1990s, before the Oslo peace process began to expire, opinion polls showed that the Palestinians largely supported a two-state solution. The writers believe that the Palestinians are not governed by an inherent, unshakable rejectionism. If conditions and developments are favorable, they will agree to a compromise; but if circumstances turn sour, as they have during the past few years, they will veer toward rejectionism. Like good liberals, Kimmerling and Migdal generally give Arafat and his colleagues the benefit of the doubt, dismissing their rejectionist assertions to Arab and Muslim audiences as so much posturing. They repeatedly and happily point to Arafat's more conciliatory declarations, as in his famous piece in The New York Times last year, in which he assured his readers that while he supports the Palestinian refugees' "right of return," he would take Israel's demographic concerns into account when considering its implementation.

    But even Kimmerling and Migdal, to judge by their tone at the end of the book, are far from sanguine. Recent Palestinian actions, it would seem, have managed to jar even their liberal moorings. They conclude rather grimly:

    At this writing, it is unclear whether the Intifada can truly be a war of liberation—liberating Palestinians not only from Israeli rule but from illusions about what the future holds for them. If the war of liberation can be a step toward internal reconstruction and acceptance of two states in historic Palestine, it will have succeeded. But if it leads only to the glorification of death and to the illusion that Israel, like the earlier Crusader state, will simply melt away, then it will do nothing but prolong the Palestinians' bondage.

    Speaking for myself, Palestinian behavior during the past three years has provided the unhappy ground for a serious re-examination of my own political assumptions. But, to be completely candid, it is not just the experience of the past three years that has provoked this reconsideration. I have spent the past twenty years studying the hundred years of Zionist-Palestinian conflict. At first I focused on the revolutionary events of 1948. Later I began to study the decades before and after the establishment of Israel—and this research, in conjunction with recent events, has left me profoundly unhopeful.

    I have come away from my examination of the history of the conflict with a sense of the instinctive rejectionism that runs like a dark thread through Palestinian history— a rejection, to the point of absurdity, of the history of the Jewish link to the land of Israel; a rejection of the legitimacy of Jewish claims to Palestine; a rejection of the right of the Jewish state to exist. And, worse, this rejectionism has over the decades been leavened by a healthy dose of anti-Semitism, a perception of the Jew as God's and humanity's unchosen.

    Lewis & Clark: Few Cared Until Frederick Jackson Turner Declared the Frontier Was Gone (posted April 14, 2003)

    Catherine Watson, writing in the Star Tribune (April 13, 2003):

    Strange as it sounds now, Americans didn't go wild when Meriwether Lewis and William Clark returned from their epic journey to the Pacific.

    "I don't think, when all was said and done, those people who lived in the 19th century thought that Lewis and Clark expedition was all that important," said Robert Archibald, a scholar of the American West and president of the National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission.

    The expedition -- which left St. Louis in 1804 -- is quickly approaching its bicentennial years. The monumental scope of the planned celebrations is a far cry from the national shrug that greeted the Corps of Discovery on its return in 1806.

    "That's not shocking and surprising," Archibald said, given the expeditions' two main outcomes: "One, they fail in the effort to find a water route across the continent, and, two, they describe thousands and thousands of acres of wilderness, which Americans already had more of than they knew what to do with."

    It took 90 years, Archibald said, but that attitude changed in 1893, when an American scholar named Frederick Jackson Turner stood up at a gathering of historians and said, "It's all gone, we've used it all up, there's no frontier left."

    "Think of it," Archibald said. "Within 100 years, that legacy of land that Jefferson thought would last forever was gone."

    From that point on, he said, the nation took a heightened interest in Lewis and Clark. They had seen a kind of American Eden, "a world that will never exist again," and Americans began to be nostalgic for it. "America began to consider whether or not wilderness untouched had some value."

    Sakagawea looms larger from that point, too. "America was reconsidering the treatment that Americans had afforded to Indian people," Archibald said, and women were pressing harder for the right to vote. Sakagawea "was not only Indian, she was a woman, a female, and she was a heroine."

    "To call her a translator is to minimize her role," he said. "She is a cultural intermediary. She was trying to make cultural sense to two groups" -- the Indians and the expedition -- "that have almost nothing in common. . . .

    "We ought to think more about that role in the 21st century," he added. "Goodness knows, we need people who can make people culturally intelligible to each other.

    A Clash of Civilizations? Yeah. Between Democracy and Old-Fashioned 30's Nazism (posted April 14, 2003)

    Gary Rosen, managing editor of Commentary, writing about Paul Berman's new book, Terror and Liberalism; in the NYT (April 13, 2003):

    In the final chapter of his book ''A Tale of Two Utopias'' (1996), Paul Berman laid out the rival historical claims of Francis Fukuyama and Andre Glucksmann, big thinkers with very different notions of what the cold war's end would bring. Fukuyama, the optimistic American, looked forward, in his famous thesis about ''the end of history,'' to the slow, sure spread of liberal democracy. Glucksmann, a Frenchman and chastened ex-Maoist, saw dark, even monstrous possibilities ahead in the likely reaction to the free world's triumph. Berman himself split the difference: ''Since I am a critic and not a philosopher, I see no reason not to say that both messages seem true enough.''

    Though more of a gloomy Glucksmannite these days -- who isn't? -- Berman has not given up on the idea of a globe-sweeping democratic revolution. What has changed, as his new book attests, is his frame of mind. No longer content to sit back and watch the world-historical drama unfold on its own, he has exchanged his critic's pen -- employed with distinction over the years in the pages of this review and at magazines like The New Yorker, The New Republic and Dissent (where he sits on the editorial board) -- for the more personal, engaged style of an advocate.

    In the raging debate over what to do about Islamism and Iraq, Berman has been that rarest of creatures, a banner-waving liberal interventionist, eager to see the United States stand, as he writes here, ''for the freedom of others.'' ''Terror and Liberalism'' is his manifesto -- an eloquent, strangely quixotic, frustratingly uneven effort to chart a course between right-wing ''realists,'' with their cold calculations of national interest, and left-wing ''anti-imperialists,'' who recoil at their country's every international move. Neoconservatives occupy a similar ideological terrain, but, as Berman himself notes, his approach is too ''drippy'' for membership in that camp. Call his position Wolfowitz for lefties, or (to borrow an apt Woody Allen quip) a severe case of Dissentary.

    Berman is reluctant to describe the present crisis as a ''clash of civilizations.'' Samuel Huntington (who popularized the phrase) may have been prescient when he noticed, a decade ago, that ''bloody borders'' marked every point of contact between Muslim and non-Muslim peoples, but Islam itself, in Berman's view, explains only part of the problem. The Middle East's tyrants, terrorists and raving ayatollahs owe their nastiest qualities less to their own traditions, he believes, than to ours. They are, in a word, totalitarians.

    Though hardly alone since Sept. 11 in making this claim, Berman is one of the few commentators who haven't used the label simply as an epithet. He wants us to see Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein -- not to mention such affiliated villains as the Taliban, Hezbollah and Hamas -- in a new light, as heirs to a mode of thought handed down by the Bolsheviks, fascists and Nazis, and anticipated in the words and deeds of Saint-Just, Dostoyevsky's Ivan Karamazov and an assortment of bomb- throwing anarchists. Left or right, Berman argues, liberalism's sworn foes have always shared the same ideal -- ''submission,'' ''the one, instead of the many,'' ''the total state, the total doctrine, the total movement'' -- and, upon encountering intransigent reality, have always brought in their wake the same bloody result: ''a cult of death.''

    Does the totalitarian shoe fit? Berman makes a compelling case, particularly with regard to the Islamists, who have obligingly practiced the ''politics of slaughter'' everywhere they have appeared.

    Russians Are Rewriting Their History Again (This Time the Mongols Are Ok) (posted April 11, 2003)

    Fred Weir, writing in the Christian Science Monitor (April 9, 2003):

    Tatarstan is trying to rehabilitate Russia's traditionally dim historical view of the Mongols.

    The old saw that Russia is the only nation with an unpredictable past seems truer than ever as scholars here try to recast Moscow's view of the medieval Tatars.

    "The goal is to replace the prevailing enemy image with the idea that Tatars were one of the formative sources of Russian statehood," says Rozalinda Musina, an ethnologist at Tatarstan's Institute of History.

    This is no dry academic dispute. If historians can settle one of the bitterest issues of Russia's past, post-Soviet politicians may take the cue. Modern Tatarstan, one of Russia's most populous and ethnic republics, declared "limited sovereignty" a decade ago. The oil-rich, mainly Muslim republic is still forging its relationship with Russia's Slavic, Orthodox Christian majority.

    Tatars trace their lineage to the Golden Horde, a branch of Genghis Khan's vast Mongol army that swept across most of Asia and subjugated Russia in the 13th century. For Russian historians, the nearly two-and-a-half centuries the country spent under the "Tatar-Mongol yoke" was a catastrophe that held Russia in barbarism at a time when much of Europe was edging into the modern age.

    The worst ills of Russian history are often blamed on the traumatic centuries of Mongol rule, including political autocracy, corruption, technological backwardness, and the deep-rooted social ethic of collectivism that to this day punishes individual initiative. "Tatar-Mongol rule was an unmitigated disaster for Russia," says Alexander Nazarenko, a specialist with the official Institute of World History in Moscow. "I do not see any evidence that should lead us to reconsider that."

    Russia struggled free from Mongol rule in the 15th century, and in 1552 Ivan the Terrible seized the Tatar capital, Kazan. Under the czars, Tatars were treated as a conquered nation and subjected to centuries of forced Russianization and Christianization. The USSR solved the problem of the hated Mongol remnant in its midst by simply declaring that modern Tatars were unrelated to the Golden Horde. "Stalinist historiography held that Tatars are descended from another nation, the Volga Bulgars, and have no connection with the Mongols," says Ms. Musina. In 1949, the Soviet Academy of Sciences banned all study of the Golden Horde.

    But Tatar historians say they think it's time their Russian colleagues accorded them a little respect. Rafik Moukhametshin, a historian at the Islamic University in Kazan says Russian scholars have exaggerated the Mongol record of cruelty, treachery, and destructiveness and have ignored the Mongols' contributions, including modern technologies such as gunpowder brought from China - and the relatively tolerant form of government they imposed on Russia. "The Mongols allowed the Russians to rule themselves and did not attempt to suppress the Orthodox Church or other national traditions," says Mr. Moukhametshin.

    Tatar schools have begun introducing new history texts that treat the Golden Horde generously and stress its connections to today's Tatarstan.

    Similar changes are not soon likely for history classes in the rest of Russia, however. "Yes, we teach the Mongol period with emphasis on an enemy who rapes, plunders, and burns," says Tatiana Koval, a history teacher at Moscow's School No. 218. "This is what the primary sources of Russian history tell us. And anyway, why should modern Tatars be offended by that?"

    Tatars point out worriedly that Russian history and literature also paint a dark and savage portrait of the Chechens, another Islamic nation that was forcibly incorporated into the Russian Empire and the USSR. Post-Soviet Russia has initiated two bitter wars to suppress a secession drive in Chechnya, and the situation remains unresolved.

    "A democratic state should have a balanced and objective history, one that is fair to the viewpoint of all its peoples," says Ms. Musina. "This approach is growing in Russia, but not fast enough."


    Australia's Most Prominent Historian Weighs in on Windschuttle (posted April 11, 2003)

    Bernard Lane, writing in the Australian (April 5, 2003):

    AUSTRALIA'S best-known historian, Geoffrey Blainey, has weighed in to the Aboriginal history debate, declaring that the evidence for genocide in Van Diemen's Land seems to be weak or false.

    Although academics, journalists, politicians and others had believed the story of a colonial campaign to exterminate the Tasmanian Aborigine, Professor Blainey said "the evidence for 'genocide' or deliberate 'extirpation' appears frail or false".

    He made his remarks in a review of Keith Windschuttle's book, The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, which he said would "ultimately be recognised as one of the most important and devastating written on Australian history in recent decades".

    Launched last December, the book sharply criticised the methods and conclusions of scholars such as Henry Reynolds, Lyndall Ryan, Brian Plomley and Lloyd Robson, who emphasised frontier violence in Van Diemen's Land and a determination by whites to exterminate the blacks.

    Until now, Professor Blainey had kept aloof from the ensuing debate, although his early books -- Triumph of the Nomads and A Land Half Won -- had drawn popular attention to the achievement of Aboriginal society and its inevitable conflict with an alien British culture.

    Reviewing the Windschuttle book for the New York-based New Criterion magazine, he said: "The island of Tasmania is now seen in scholarly and unscholarly circles as the setting for one of the most disgraceful episodes in the recorded history of the human race. Various historians and other social scientists have described it as a policy of genocide, and a forerunner of what happened a century later in Hitler's Europe."

    Even so, he approached Mr Windschuttle's vigorous criticism of the so-called frontier violence school conscious that all historians could make errors. "While reading the long recital of these failings, I felt an initial sympathy towards the Australian and overseas historians who were under such intense scrutiny. But many of their errors, made on crucial matters, beggared belief.

    "Moreover, their exaggeration, gullibility, and what this book calls fabrication, went on and on."

    He said it was difficult to avoid the conclusion these historians were biased since most of their inaccuracies were "used to bolster the case for the deliberate destruction of the Aborigines".

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