2004 4-September to December
Week of 12-27-04
French and Indian War: Welcome to 2005: the Year of the French and Indian War. Actually? Make that years, plural. The celebration is continuing through 2010. New York would like to be known as the French and Indian War State, since it will serve as host of a national, and international, five-year-long commemoration of the many battles that took place within its borders. None other than the inexperienced 22-year-old George Washington was a catalyst, triggering the war on May 28, 1754, when the contingent of Virginia soldiers and native warriors he was leading ambushed a French detachment and killed its commander, Joseph Coulon de Villiers, Sieur de Jumonville. Though the French had many early victories, the tide ultimately turned in favor of the English, and they won control of Canada in 1760, a year after their victory on the Plains of Abraham at what is now Quebec City. The war continued in Europe, Africa and Asia until 1763, when the Treaty of Paris formally concluded hostilities. France lost all of its colonies in North America to the English, except for two coastal islands. Historians had long discounted the importance of Indians in the French and Indian War"because the attitude was that they chose the wrong side and they were doomed," said historian Fred Anderson. But, he said, research in recent years has shown"that Indians controlled every single historical outcome on the North American continent from the 1500's to the middle of the 18th century. They had always managed to play one side off against the other, but it didn't work in the Seven Years' War."
Medieval Witchcraft: A mural which has come to light in Tuscany has been identified by a British university lecturer as the earliest surviving representation of witchcraft in Christian Europe. A book published in Italy by George Ferzoco, director of the centre for Tuscan studies at the University of Leicester, argues that at least two of the women in the porno-erotic wall painting are sorceresses."I have no doubt that this is by far the earliest depiction in art of women acting as witches," he said. The 13th-century mural was discovered four years ago at Massa Marittima, a town south-west of Siena. Dr Ferzoco believes it was intended as a warning, by supporters of the papacy, of the anarchy and licentiousness that would supposedly engulf the town if it fell into the hands of their political rivals.
Teaching the Constitution: Goucher President Sanford J. Ungar and other educators are criticizing a provision in the recently approved appropriations bill that requires every educational institution in the country receiving federal funds to present an annual program on the Constitution on Sept. 17, the anniversary of its signing in 1787. The provision was inserted by Sen. Robert Byrd. The objection? Byrd may have set a precedent for the Congress to begin establishing national curriculum requirements."What might be next? The Ten Commandments? The U.N. Charter?"
Spain's Archives Opened: A TUG of war over secret police files from the Spanish civil war has re-ignited hostilities - barricades included - that split the nation nearly 70 years ago. Spain's Socialist government gave the green light this week to return to Catalonia files on Catalan anarchists, republicans, socialists and freemasons who opposed Franco's forces between 1936 and 1939. The conservative mayor of Salamanca, Julian Lanzarote, insists however that"not one document is leaving the city, whatever anyone says".
Veep Cheney's Civil War Hobby: An Atlanta-based Civil War re-enactors group has been invited to march in President Bush's inaugural parade next month because Vice President Dick Cheney's great-grandpappy was a Union soldier who fought in some of the bloodiest battles in Georgia. It turns outthat Cheney is a Civil War buff and was briefed by Quinlin, head of the re-enactors unit, on four or five occasions — two of them in long, private meetings in the White House. Quinlin told Cheney all about his ancestor and provided copies of rare letters discussing the soldier's exploits. Two months before the election, Cheney boasted in Toledo that his ancestor had fought in Georgia and was"in Sherman's march to the sea through Atlanta." He added:"I don't talk about that much in Georgia."
Bush Inauguration Protest: Not everyone gathering in the nation's capital and beyond next month will be celebrating President Bush's inauguration. Organizations from ReDefeatBush.org to the January 20 Coalition of New Orleans are planning alternate activities that day, ranging from a" counter-inaugural" ball to a jazz funeral.David Lytel, the organization's founder, said he also plans to walk the parade route in the character of Alexis de Tocqueville, author of"Democracy in America," while historian Clay Jenkinson will portray Thomas Jefferson in a re-enactment at the Jefferson Memorial.
Holocaust: A Jewish family is fighting a legal battle with L'Oreal to receive compensation for property lost to Nazis. In the 1990s, Holocaust historians focused on Nazi looting of artwork and bank accounts from wealthy Jewish families. Today the focus of Holocaust indemnification has turned to what happened to the goods of average people. In November 2003, Paris was shocked by a book published by historian Jean-Marc Dreyfus and sociologist Sarah Gensburger that detailed the history of three Nazi labor camps in the heart of Paris itself. The camps were tasked with sorting and packing stolen goods from some 38,000 Parisian apartments once inhabited by Jews. In 1997, Prime Minister Alain Juppé commissioned a team to look into the compensation of Jews whose property was looted by Nazis and their sympathizers during the war.
Russian Spymaster Memoir: Former KGB Col. Victor Cherkashin, the spy who turned both Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, has told how he did it in a new book. Told from the KGB's vantage point, Mr. Cherkashin's story provides a gripping account of its successes in the spy war. He shows Mr. Hanssen to have been an easily managed and highly productive"penetration" who operated via the unusual tradecraft of dead drops, leaving material at designated locations where it could be transferred without spy and handler ever meeting. (Indeed, the KGB never knew Mr. Hanssen's identity.) Mr. Ames, for his part, was a more complex case, since he had come under suspicion and the KGB had to concern itself with throwing the CIA off his trail. That America's counterespionage apparatus allowed both men to operate as long as they did is a testament to its complacency as much as to the KGB's cleverness.
Columbia University Middle East Studies Department: Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff takes Columbia President Lee Bollinger to task for refusing to initiate a review of the Middle East Studies department curriculum. He approvingly cites the documentary the David Project, which publicized student complaints that professors are biased against Israel.
Fake TV Historian: The NYT rips the WB show,"Jack & Bobby," for the way history professor Grace McCallister is depicted. Professor McCallister - the mother of the 51st president of the United States, in the show's conceit - is meant to be a great contrarian, but she's incongruously reverential about canonical writers. A professor of history at the fictional Plains University in Missouri, Grace has two Ph.D.'s, both inexplicably in history; still, her addresses to the undergraduates of the plains recall Miss Jean Brodie's exhortations to Scottish schoolgirls. Only less intelligent.
1960s Race Riots: A new study by economist Professor Margo, of Vanderbilt University, says the riots depressed incomes and property values for years. The study helps explain why the gap in net wealth of blacks and whites remains large despite the fact that incomes of the two groups have converged. In 1940, black-owned homes were worth only 37 percent as much as white-owned homes, as against 62 percent in 1970 - still a significant gap, but a much smaller one. From then on, however, the gap barely budges, with the ratio reaching only 65 percent by 1990.
Armenian Genocide: At a time when Turkey exerts efforts to pose as model or example for the neighbouring countries, a Turkish professor tries to justify the Armenian genocide by Ottoman Turks. Ankara Anatolia news agency (27.12.04) reported from Konya that Prof. Dr. Yusuf Halacoglu, chairman of the Turkish History Society, has stated that foreign population statistics openly and clearly refute Armenian allegations that 1.5 million Armenians were massacred by Ottoman Turks.
Jaroslav Pelikan: Recently, the Library of Congress awarded its annual John W. Kluge Prize in the Human Sciences to Yale University historian Jaroslav Pelikan. The $1 million award focuses on those academic disciplines not covered by the Nobel prizes and have only been awarded since 2003. Christianity Today has rerun a brief profile of Pelikan written by Mark Noll of Wheaton College.
Jesus Brother Ossuary: Experts advised world museums to re-examine their Bible-era relics after Israel indicted four collectors and dealers on charges of forging items thought to be some of the most important artifacts discovered in recent decades. The indictments issued Wednesday labeled many such ``finds'' as fakes, including two that had been presented as the biggest biblical discoveries in the Holy Land -- the purported burial box of Jesus' brother James and a stone tablet with written instructions by King Yoash on maintenance work at the ancient Jewish Temple.
Cold War: In the jockeying for American control of Antarctica early in the cold war, the Navy dispatched the George 1, a patrol plane with a crew of nine to map the coast of the continent. Of all the places where the cold war was waged, this was surely the coldest. Even now, buried somewhere under 100 feet of snow and ice, still unrecovered after 58 years, lie the bodies of three American servicemen, casualties of the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union on the world's most frigid and remote continent. Now the United States Navy, piggybacking on scientific explorations of western Antarctica, has begun an effort to locate the plane and recover the remains of the crew members who died.
Nazi Suspect: An 86-year-old New Jersey man served in a Nazi-sponsored Ukrainian police force during World War II, federal authorities alleged yesterday in a complaint aimed at revoking his citizenship. Michael Bojcun served in the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police during the three years that the Nazi occupiers of the city of Lviv repressed, confined and murdered Jews, according to U.S. Justice Department prosecutors. The city was in Poland then but is now in Ukraine. The Justice Department is asking the U.S. District Court in Trenton to revoke Bojcun's citizenship.
Ancient Chinese Wharf: After three years of excavation, archeologists have unearthed China's oldest wharf -- at least 2,000 years old --in the village of Guchengtou close to the county seat of Hepu, said Xiong Zhaoming, head of the archeological team. The discovery has reaffirmed the widespread belief that the ancient trade route started in today's Hepu county in the city of Beihai, said local archeologists at Wednesday's symposium on China's marine silk road.
Monitor Crewmen: Historians at the federal government's Monitor National Marine Sanctuary - based in Newport News, Virginia, and established to protect the wreckage of the Monitor from treasure hunters and other underwater intruders - are hopeful that a report might be released next year concerning the bodies of two 19th century U.S. sailors. The remains have since reposed at the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii, where forensics experts have been painstakingly assessing DNA samples and other evidence in hopes of determining the men's identities.
Ancient Peruvian Civilization: An ancient civilisation was flourishing in Peru over 5,000 years ago, making it the oldest known complex society in the Americas, Nature magazine has reported. Archaeologists used radiocarbon dating to chart the rise and fall of the little known culture, which reigned over three valleys north of Lima. The society, whose heyday ran from 3000 to 1800BC, built ceremonial pyramids and complex irrigation systems.
Prehistoric Granaries Found: An American excavation mission has unearthed eight granaries that are relics from agricultural life in the Neolithic era, the Egyptian culture minister said in a statement Tuesday. The granaries were discovered last week in Fayoum, an oasis some 50 miles southwest of Cairo, Farouk Hosni said in the statement. The statement said the granaries date back to the Neolithic era that began around 9,000 B.C., known as a transition point from roaming and hunting societies to an agricultural one. Top antiquities official Zahi Hawass also described the"unique" granaries as"our witness of the oldest agriculture communities of Egypt."
Film Preservation: Two historical epics recalling humanity's dark past, 1993's Schindler's List and 1959's Ben-Hur, are themselves being preserved in perpetuity--along with the King of Rock 'n' Roll, a spinach-happy sailor and one nutty professor. The Library of Congress is out with its annual list of 25 cinematic classics selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said the works slated for preservation were chosen from nearly 1,000 titles nominated by the public. The final selection was done by the library's staff and advisers from the National Film Preservation Board.
Grammy Nomination: Princeton University history professor Sean Wilentz has been nominated for a Grammy Award for his album notes accompanying a live Bob Dylan two-compact disc set that was released last spring. Professor Wilentz, who is the Dayton-Stockton Professor of History and director of the Program in American Studies at Princeton, wrote a historical and critical essay that appears in the 52-page booklet accompanying"The Bootleg Series Volume 6: Bob Dylan Live 1964 — Concert at Philharmonic Hall."
Nazi Hunters: The Justice Department's Nazi hunters, still busy as ever, are about to get a new class of bad guys to chase. The intelligence overhaul law signed Dec. 17 by President Bush includes a provision that directs the department's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) to root out all manner of war criminals and human rights abusers who try to settle in the USA. Whether they're linked to state-sponsored killings in Chile or Cambodia, or to war crimes in Rwanda or Bosnia, they'll be targets of an operation that has deported scores of people charged with Holocaust crimes.
Afghanistan: The newly repaired National Museum of Afghanistan opened its first exhibition in 13 years this month, a display of life-size pre-Islamic idols smashed by the Taliban three years ago and now painstakingly restored by museum and international experts. The wooden statues from Nuristan, one of Afghanistan's mountainous northeastern provinces, are an apt subject for an inaugural exhibition. Museum staff had worked hard to hide the collection from looters and Islamic fundamentalists intent on destroying all idols and artistic depictions of the human form.
Teaching History in Britain: New guidelines to be issued by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), the Government's exams watchdog, will stress the importance of pupils learning chronological dates in history lessons.The move represents an about-turn in history teaching after years in which prominent historians have claimed the subject had become"a farce."
Rudolf Hess: A brief entry in the diary of the wife of a British spy has led to the discovery of the true story behind one of the greatest mysteries of the Second World War - the bizarre 1941 flight to Britain of Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess. The diary has revealed that MI6 was not only heavily involved in the run-up to Hess's flight but even planned"a sting operation" aimed at luring Hess or another prominent German into bogus peace talks with Britain.
Tsunamis: Deadly waves have killed thousands over the years tsunami waves, often set off by undersea earthquakes, have caused several major disasters in coastal communities over the years. References to these waves date back as far as ancient Greece and Rome, including a wave that shook the Eastern Mediterranean on July 21, 365, killing thousands of residents of Alexandria, Egypt.
Teaching History in Britain: British students will be required to learn old-fashioned British history dating back to 1066 instead of Tudor Kings and World War II, The Independent said. The new guidelines were set by the government's exams watchdog agency, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, and emphasize 11-to-14-year-olds must develop a chronological understanding of history. Teaching styles began to change in the 1970s it was thought pupils would benefit from choosing an era from history that most appealed to them. As a result, most schools opted for Nazi Germany or the Tudor period, the newspaper said.
Natural Disasters: For some, the televised images of destruction in Asia yesterday no doubt brought back memories of the 1969 film"Krakatoa, East of Java," in which Maximilian Schell and Diane Baker found themselves face to face with massive tsunami waves, similarly triggered by an Indonesian natural disaster. But no movie could capture the magnitude of what really happened on the island of Krakatau in 1883, when one of the largest volcanic eruptions recorded in history launched 120-foot high tsunami waves that caused a death toll three times as large as that reported yesterday.
Iraq: Mark Alan Stamaty, creator of the Boox comic strip in the New York Times Book Review, has written a childen's book celebrating the story of a librarian in Basra who was afraid that the city's library, which contained many texts chronicling the history and culture of her people, would be lost if the library were bombed. After appealing to the authorities and getting nowhere, she takes matters -- and books -- into her own hands, spiriting out armfuls and carloads, day by day, and storing them at home and in a restaurant next to the library.
Iraq: The head of Iraq's tourism board, Ahmed al-Jabouri says he has a"happy heart" when he thinks about the tourism potential of a country that, while one of the most dangerous places in world, prides itself on being the cradle of civilisation. No matter that he is not aware of a single foreign tourist visiting Iraq in 2004. He himself advises them to stay away right now."It's very important for me, for their own safety that they don't come," he says. Still, his 2,474 staff are keeping themselves busy. The tourism board says it has 14 centres open around the country from Basra in the south, to Saddam Hussein's hometown Tikrit, to Mosul - where insurgents recently took over the city's police stations. There's even an office in Ramadi, despite regular fighting between American troops and rebels."My staff check on hotels and restaurants and award licenses," says Mr Jabouri.
Oliver Stone's Alexander: Stone's movie died a quick death in American theaters, earning just $35 million (it cost $150 million). But it opened number 1 at theaters in some 20 countries. Why did Americans shy away from the film? Stone says:"He's called Alexander the Great for 2,300 years, but because we're living in a different time, perhaps more cynical and dark, he's Alexander the monster. I defend him passionately. But if that's the general cynicism about him, it was an uphill battle to begin with, and it didn't matter if I had cut 15, 20 more minutes. I don't think it would have been recognizable as a movie to Americans because of the Greeks, their amoral behavior by American standards. We're going through a raging conservatism. We had more people run to the movie in the opening weekend in Croatia than in the entire South."
Fake Relic: A famous artifact on display in the Israel Museum, which is billed as the only relic of the First Temple ever discovered, is actually a forgery, a committee of experts has determined. The panel, which has been secretly working for the past several months, found that the"ivory pomegranate" comes from a much earlier period, while the inscription on it is a fake that was added recently, Haaretz has learned. The committee recently presented its findings, based on the latest diagnostic methods, to the museum, which last night confirmed the information received by Haaretz.
Week of 12-20-04
Confederacy: From renaming Confederate Boulevard in Arkansas to shrinking"Heart of Dixie" on Alabama's license plates, the South is slowly erasing reminders of its Civil War past for fear of offending tourists and scaring off business."Business people and tourists don't know what to think about slavery, elitism, the Civil War," said Ted Ownby of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi."So one way is to give them an easy out. We'll change the name of this building, this street, change this display." Among the streets renamed? In Litle Rock Confederate Boulevard was renamed Springer Boulevard on the eve of the inauguration of the Clinton library.
Berlin Wall: Fifteen years after the fall of the wall, Berlin finally has a memorial to the many people shot and killed while trying to escape from the East to the West. But rather than a source of pride and satisfaction, the memorial is proving to be the cause of contention and conflict. The memorial itself consists mainly of an array of large wooden crosses, a bit over 1,000 in all, each commemorating a would-be escapee shot or otherwise killed in the vicinity of the wall that, from 1961 to 1989, divided this city into two halves. In all, 1,067 people are said to have died trying to flee East Germany's Communist dictatorship.
Army Historian Cites Lack of Postwar Plan: The U.S. military invaded Iraq without a formal plan for occupying and stabilizing the country and this high-level failure continues to undercut what has been a"mediocre" Army effort there, an Army historian and strategist has concluded."There was no Phase IV plan" for occupying Iraq after the combat phase, writes Maj. Isaiah Wilson III, who served as an official historian of the campaign and later as a war planner in Iraq. While a variety of government offices had considered the possible situations that would follow a U.S. victory, Wilson writes, no one produced an actual document laying out a strategy to consolidate the victory after major combat operations ended. Looking at the chaos that followed the defeat of the Saddam Hussein regime, a military officer's study says,"The United States, its Army and its coalition of the willing have been playing catch-up ever since.""While there may have been 'plans' at the national level, and even within various agencies within the war zone, none of these 'plans' operationalized the problem beyond regime collapse" -- that is, laid out how U.S. forces would be moved and structured, Wilson writes in an essay that has been delivered at several academic conferences but not published."There was no adequate operational plan for stability operations and support operations."
Women Warriors in the Roman Army: THE remains of two Amazon warriors serving with the Roman army in Britain have been discovered in a cemetery that has astonished archaeologists. Women soldiers were previously unknown in the Roman army in Britain and the find at Brougham in Cumbria will force a reappraisal of their role in 3rd-century society. The women are thought to have come from the Danube region of Eastern Europe, which was where the Ancient Greeks said the fearsome Amazon warriors could be found.
Race Movies: They are big-screen films that only some of America -- its segregated citizens -- saw in the 1930s, '40s and early '50s. Once thought lost, the"race movies," as they were known, which were shown mostly in the segregated movie houses of the old South, have been reproduced as a three-DVD box set and in recent months distributed to 1,000 poor school districts and African American museums in Texas. There are tales about entrepreneurs, lawyers, novelists, preachers, musicians, cabdrivers and farmers. And, yes, the movies include gangsters, swindlers, bumblers, compulsive gamblers and plain mean folks. In plot, they're not much different from other Hollywood films of the pre- and post-World War II eras, but white society was never meant to see them.
Saddam: America's senior diplomat in London, David T Johnson, denies that the US"armed and groomed" Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein."We did support Afghans who fought Soviet occupation, but we did not arm Bin Laden. You don't have to take my word for it. In his memoirs, his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, rejects the claim that the US financed or trained the Arab mujahideen (not even"one penny", he says). Nor did the US arm Saddam Hussein."
Shredding of Documents in Britain: Hundreds of thousands of secret Whitehall files are being shredded before the public gains the right to see them under the Freedom of Information Act on 1 January. Figures obtained by the London Independent show a dramatic escalation in the destruction of confidential papers before the new rights of access come into force. Whitehall departments, including the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), have almost doubled the number of files they have destroyed since the Freedom of Information Act became law.
Elie Wiesel: In a letter sent December 15th to Romanian President Iliescu, Mr. Wiesel said he was returning the"National Order the Star of Romania, rank of grand officer," a title he received from Iliescu in 2002 because he cannot accept being put on the same level as the extreme nationalist and anti-Semitic political leaders Corneliu Vadim Tudor and Gheorghe Buzatu. Elie Wiesel recently led an international committee of historians from Israel and the US to Romania to uncover the truth about Romania's role in the Holocaust. At the time, Iliescu's decision to invite such a committee into Romania was a complete reversal of his earlier position, which leaned towards minimizing Holocaust crimes in Romania.
Vietnam: University of California, Davis professor Larry Berman today filed suit against the CIA under the Freedom of Information Act, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, seeking release of historic President's Daily Briefs given to President Johnson during the Vietnam War. Represented by the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine and by the National Security Archive of George Washington University, Vietnam expert Berman is challenging the CIA's"blanket policy" of refusing to release any PDBs, even historic or innocuous ones that risk no damage to national security.
U.K. Government Accused of Destroying Files: Whitehall officials have stepped up the shredding of documents before January when a law giving Britons access to more information takes effect, the opposition Conservative Party said. The Government denied any link between the deletion of records and the Freedom of Information Act which comes into force on January 1. Parliamentarian Julian Lewis, who has called for an investigation into the shredding, said answers to his written questions showed the Department of Trade and Industry had destroyed 97,000 documents in 2003-2004, almost double the number in 1999-2000.
Obituary: Professor Charles Feinstein died, November 27, 2004, aged 72. He was a scholar whose work traced the form of the British economy from the 20th back to the 18th century Charles Feinstein's achievement was to work out the structure and size of the British economy from the present all the way back to the Industrial Revolution. His work makes it possible to evaluate how well the economy has performed at any period in the past two centuries, and to compare it with other periods and other countries.
Israeli History: The Jewish nation needs to better learn and understand its own history, President Moshe Katsav said Thursday to the Jerusalem Post Executive Editor Amotz Asa-El. The president invited Asa-El due to the publication in America of his new book, The Diaspora and the Lost Tribes of Israel. Katsav said he intends to convene in the spring a gathering of Jewish leaders in order to explore with them his idea of establishing a pan-Jewish forum for airing ideas.
AHA Meeting/Student Unions: An organizer for the Graduate Students Employee Union is circulating a resolution the union plans to present at the American Historical Association's annual meeting in January. The resolution calls on the AHA to condemn a recent anti-union vote of the National Labor Relations Board.
Republicans Attempting To Alter U.S. House Rules: Thomas Jefferson was looking for a way to promote civility between the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate while maintaining each chamber's independence. So he figured each body should all but ignore the other. Now, more than 200 years after Jefferson crafted a parliamentary rule barring legislators from disparaging their esteemed colleagues in the"other chamber," House conservatives are seeking to overturn it. The rule change, proposed by Florida Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo, is one of 10 sought by a growing cadre of House conservatives, called the Republican Study Committee, that's pressing for more clout in the upcoming session of Congress. Most of the proposed changes would make it more difficult, procedurally, to increase spending. None would alter history like Feeney's proposal.
Armenian Genocide: In an exclusive interview on Wednesday with the French TF 1 television, French President Jacques Chirac reaffirmed his country's position that Turkey should review its history and acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. Chirac deliberately used the word"genocide" and when the reporter asked to clarify"genocide or tragedy," Chirac said"genocide," adding that the fact is a law in France, adopted by the parliament.
Paul Revere Engravings: Priceless engravings crafted by Paul Revere are being jeopardized by Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, according to experts, all for the sake of a $200,000 fund-raiser for a state agency."There's no question about the fact that the surface will be altered by this" reprinting process, said MIT professor of archaeology Heather Lechtman, regarding three irreplaceable works created by the Revolutionary War hero. Despite some experts' reservations, Galvin authorized the use of the engravings as a fund-raising bid for the state archives. State officials estimate the operation will bring in $200,000 to $300,000.
Iran and the Persian Gulf: Iran unveiled a collection of historical maps on Sunday in a bid to prove the legitimacy of calling its neighboring sea the Persian Gulf instead of the"Arabian Gulf" as it also is listed in the new world atlas by National Geographic. Last month, Iran banned the sale of National Geographic Society publications to protest the"Arabian Gulf" inclusion. The issue also has caused widespread protests by intellectuals, historians and students across Iran, formerly Persia.
Banishing a Nude: In a repeat of history, the Republican governor of Vermont, James Douglas, wants to banish from his statehouse desk a lamp that replicates"The Greek Slave," a famed statue depicting a chained, naked young woman. Art lovers are crying censorship -- among them, officials at Washington's Corcoran Gallery of Art, where one of the originals of the statue by Hiram Powers is displayed. In the 19th century the statue shocked Americans and led to calls for its banishment. Initially a spokesman said the governor was concerned that schoolchildren touring the statehouse would see the nude, but last week Douglas said that wasn't the issue. He told reporters he feared that kids might break the lamp while touring his office:"I wouldn't care if that statue were wearing a sweater and turtleneck. It's not an appropriate place for a lamp."
Holocaust/Israel: More than 100 Germans doing volunteer work in Israel at any given time to atone for the deeds of their parents and grandparents. Germany is one of Israel's most vocal defenders in the European Union and a leading trade partner. Since the 1950s, Germany has paid some $80 billion in reparations to Holocaust survivors worldwide, including some 250,000 living in Israel today. The biggest German volunteer group, Action Reconciliation Service for Peace, or Aktion Suehnezeichen Friedensdienste, has been in Israel since 1961. Currently, 25 of its volunteers are here.
Holocaust/Israel: Reports that surfaced Tuesday of a plan by some of the 8,000 Gaza settlers slated for evacuation to wear orange, Nazi-style Star of David badges has stirred fierce controversy in the Jewish state. It was not clear how many settlers would take part in the protest, which immediately was denounced by the Yesha Council, the main settler group.
Organ Transplants: Thursday, Dec. 23, will be the 50th anniversary of the first successful organ transplant, a kidney transplant from a living donor performed in Boston in 1954. The first successful organ transplant took place on Dec. 23, 1954, when Richard Herrick received a kidney from his healthy identical twin brother, Ronald. Richard survived for eight years until the original kidney disease struck again.
Columbia University's Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures Department: Academics are signing and circulating a petition asking university President Lee Bollinger to address the question of alleged bias by certain professors against Israel in the Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures department.
Iraq Historic Preservation: Iraq's national library is slowly being rescued from the ashes, says the Guardian. But in a country where recent history remains bitterly disputed, resurrecting the library and national archive has turned into a remarkably sensitive and political operation. A Kurdish historian who lived in exile for many years and studied at the London School of Economics, Mr Eskander believes the fires that devastated the library last year were carefully targeted. Two in mid-April destroyed all the records of the republican era from 1958 until the present, including most of the Ba'ath regime's documents. He estimates the library lost about 60% of its archive, including most of its rare books.
JFK Assassination: The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is announcing the release of additional materials relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The records being released are documents recently re-reviewed and processed by the Central Intelligence Agency.
CIA: The National Archives and Records Administration is asking the Central Intelligence Agency to explain its recent statement to a federal judge that it cannot locate copies of the classified annexes to the intelligence authorization acts for fiscal years 1947 through 1970. A newly obtained letter from NARA to the CIA states:"It is our understanding that a record set of those annexes should be preserved among the permanent appropriations and budget files of the CIA," wrote Howard P. Lowell.
Holocaust: The U.S. government has agreed to settle a lawsuit with tens of thousands of Hungarian Holocaust survivors over a trainload of gold, jewelry and other property seized by the U.S. Army at the end of World War II, lawyers said on Monday. The agreement over 24 boxcars filled with $50 million to $200 million worth of art and household goods stolen by the Nazis and then confiscated by the United States still has to be worked out in detail, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, Sam Dubbin, told a court.
Civil Rights Movement: An anonymous donor has posted a $100,000 reward for information leading to murder charges in one of the most notorious crimes of the civil rights era -- the ``Freedom Summer'' slayings of three civil rights workers in 1964. The reward will be administered by an interfaith organization as the state renews efforts to bring charges in the killings of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman.
Jesus Ossuary: 60 Minutes reports that the Israeli who found the ossuary that was supposed to contain the bones of Jesus' brother -- Oded Golan -- reportedly tried to sell fakes to major museums in London, Paris and New York, and he may have succeeded. The Israeli police say they plan to indict Golan on multiple charges of forgery and fraud in the next few months.
Holocaust: Secretary General Kofi Annan has started a monthlong polling of the 191 member states of the United Nations seeking approval for a special session of the General Assembly in January to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration camps. The session was requested in a letter to Mr. Annan on Dec. 10 by the United States envoy, John C. Danforth, and supported by Canada, France, Hungary, Russia and the Netherlands, representing the 25-nation European Union.
National Coalition for History: The NCH has issued an annual report on history. Conclusion:"Overall, 2004 was a good year for the history and archive communities."
Iranian Historian: A renowned Iranian historian, Emadeddin Baghi, whose case is currently being reviewed in Tehran’s court in a seven-page letter to the head of Iran’s Judiciary protested to various issues, Iran Daily reported. The former jailed Iranian editor has been deprived of teaching at university and any research activity. He has been also banned from international trips and seven of his books have been confiscated after publication.
Hitler: Adolf Hitler spent years dodging taxes, accumulating enormous debts as he led his Nazi party to power, a German tax expert has revealed. He owed the authorities 405,500 Reichsmarks (6m euros; £4m in today's money) by 1934, when as German chancellor his debts were forgiven.
Week of 12-13-04
Blogging for a Politician: John Lauck of South Dakota State University was paid $27,000 for his blog, Daschle v Thune, which was favorable to the Thune campaign.
John Lott: The National Research Council reports that there is no evidence for John Lott's controversial thesis. Quote:"There is no credible evidence that 'right-to-carry' laws, which allow qualified adults to carry concealed handguns, either decrease or increase violent crime." They discuss Lott's research at some length and find it wanting.
Google and Libraries: The NYT reports that some hisorians and librarians have rservations about Google's plan to digitize the collections in major university libraries. Said one archivist:"What I've learned is that libraries help people formulate questions as well as find answers. Who will do that in a virtual world?" Most however welcome Google's decision.
Japanese Patriotism: High school students and faculty are now required by law in Tokyo to face Japan's flag and sing the national anthem at graduation and in the classroom.
Franz Boas, Uncensored: The American Anthropological Association moved on Thursday to right an 85-year-old wrong done to a pioneer in the field and a founder of the association. At its annual meeting, the group voted to rescind its censure of Franz Boas. The controversy dates from December 1919 when, amid a bitter dispute about patriotism, espionage, and scientific ethics, the group's governing council censured Boas, then a professor at Columbia University and probably the country's best-known scholarly anthropologist. He had been among the association's founders, in 1903. But in the aftermath of World War I, he angered many of his peers by making sharp-tongued criticisms of anthropologists who had covertly served as U.S. spies in Latin America. Now the association would like to make posthumous amends. On Thursday afternoon, scholars attending its conference here provisionally voted to renounce the 1919 censure. (subscribers only)
Indians: A professor accused of promoting negative stereotypes of American Indians and using quotes from his students without their consent will step down from his teaching post at Fort Lewis College on April 1, the Colorado college's president announced on Tuesday. The scholar, Andrew J. Gulliford, has served as a professor of Southwest studies and director of the Center of Southwest Studies for four years at Fort Lewis, where American Indians make up nearly a sixth of the enrollment. In an article titled"The Kokopelli Conundrum: Lessons Learned From Teaching Native American Students" and published in the June/October issue of American Studies International, Mr. Gulliford describes American Indian students as"impeccably polite" and"quiet, almost to a fault." He also quotes several students and relates personal details about their lives without having followed standard scholarly procedure by obtaining their prior consent.
British Heritage Lottery: An annual report on England’s historic environment has revealed the huge social and economic impact of heritage but warns about complacency in the future. The Heritage Counts 2004 report, undertaken by English Heritage on behalf of the heritage sector, highlights the importance of £3billion investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Holocaust: The only surviving diary account of the Warsaw ghetto uprising in 1943 has been discovered in a museum in northern Israel. The Jewish woman’s diary, which begins five days after the start of the uprising on April 19th, was found recently in the archives of the Ghetto Fighters' House museum in the Kibbutz Lochamei Haghettaot. She hid in a house basement with 45 others and describes in Polish how"hell has come to Earth" as the Nazis put down the revolt and destroyed the ghetto.
Queen Victoria: A newly discovered letter written by Queen Victoria, published Wednesday, raised more speculation about an age-old question: Did she have a love affair with her Scottish servant, John Brown? The letter, written after Brown's death in 1883, talks of"her present unbounded grief for the loss of the best, most devoted of servants and truest and dearest friends." The letter, written to Viscount Cranbrook on March 30, 1883, was discovered in an archive at the Suffolk Record Office by East Anglia University postgraduate student Bendor Grosvenor.
Best History Books of the Year: The shortlist for the Longman-History Today Book of the Year Prize for 2005 has just been announced. The winner will be presented with their award at the History Today annual ceremony on January 6th. Click here for the list of nominations.
Hitler: An artist who depicted Adolf Hitler as a pop art-style cartoon figure at an exhibition near the former Dachau concentration camp said Thursday he would close the 2-week-old show due to public outrage.Walter Gaudnek said his brightly colored artworks aimed to provoke people by showing Hitler as a human rather than a monster, but Jewish community and local political leaders see the images as dangerous.
Politically Incorrect History: Dr. Thomas E. Woods, a conservative history professor in the State University of New York system, has just published The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History (Regnery, 2004). In it, Woods says many contemporary Americans fail to realize that their founding fathers meant for the Constitution of the United States to safeguard Christianity from governmental interference. Contrary to many people's belief, Wood says the U.S. Constitution does not by any means imply the wide latitude and authority that many judicial activists exercise in their efforts to limit what they consider to be intrusions of religion into public life.
CIA: The Central Intelligence Agency has been unilaterally removing records from public collections in the National Archives, according to the minutes of a September 2004 meeting of the State Department Historical Advisory Committee that were approved for release this week.
American Music History: American music preservationists like Micheal Feinstein are desperately working to locate and preserve musical manuscripts and recordings by some of America's greatest songwriters. Still, experts say, not enough national attention has been focused on the issue.
Pat Buchanan and Holocaust Denial: A former senior aide to talk show host and one-time presidential candidate Pat Buchanan spoke at a meeting of Holocaust-deniers earlier this year, according to this year's annual report on Holocaust-denial activity around the world. The year-end report, Holocaust Denial: A Global Survey - 2004, has been issued by The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, which is located on the campus of Gratz College, near Philadelphia. The association of a former Buchanan aide with Holocaust- deniers is particularly noteworthy in view of Buchanan's own troubling positions concerning Hitler and the Holocaust. He has written that 850,000 Jews could not have been gassed in Treblinka because"diesel engines do not emit enough carbon dioxide to kill anybody"; he spoke out on behalf of accused Nazi war criminals Karl Linnas and Arthur Rudolph; he wrote columns defending Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk; he described Hitler as"an individual of great courage"; and he mocked Holocaust survivors' memories as"group fantasies of martyrdom and heroics."
Lincoln--Gay?: Was Abraham Lincoln a gay American? The subject of the 16th president's sexuality has been debated among scholars for years. They cite his troubled marriage to Mary Todd and his youthful friendship with Joshua Speed, who shared his bed for four years. Now, in a new book, C. A. Tripp also asserts that Lincoln had a homosexual relationship with the captain of his bodyguards, David V. Derickson, who shared his bed whenever Mary Todd was away. (NYT)
Roe v. Wade: David Garrow, the legal historian and author of Liberty & Sexuality: The Right to Privacy and the Making of Roe v. Wade (MacMillan, 1994) says that the Supreme Court in the near future will not consider over-turning Roe. Doing so would damage the institution.
Multiculturalism Under Attack in Europe: Imagine a former American president publicly grumbling that it was a mistake for a certain group to have been allowed to immigrate to the United States - the Irish, say, or Jews, or Pakistanis. The outrage would be justifiably loud.But a former German chancellor, Helmut Schmidt, now 85, recently declared that Germany should never have invited in all those Turkish guest workers in the 1950's and 60's, because, he suggested, multiculturalism can work only in an authoritarian society. The comment was not widely regarded as brilliant or wise, but it caused no uproar; indeed, it was consistent with many statements coming from German leaders lately on the subject of ethnic and cultural minorities.
Scholar Excluded from US: Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss-born philosophy professor and author of books on Islam, has resigned his teaching post at the University of Notre Dame after failing to receive a visa from the United States. In August, citing unspecified security concerns, the Department of Homeland Security revoked his visa and barred him from entering the country just days before he was to begin teaching. Mr. Ramadan, a grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, is a complicated figure who has avoided the militant language of many of Europe's mosque leaders but has been widely criticized, particularly in France, as a demagogue whose words have multiple meanings and are laced with anti-Semitism. He notified the university of his decision on Monday, citing stress."It was a hard decision to take," his wife, Iman, said in a telephone interview from Geneva."These times have been really hard for us. I don't know what tomorrow will bring."
Japanese War Atrocities: An appeal by four elderly Chinese women forced to become sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during World War Two was rejected today by a court in Japan that said the current government wasn’t responsible for the atrocities committed by wartime rulers.
Armenian Genocide: Turkey has reacted angrily to a demand by France that it accept responsibility for a `genocide' against Armenians nearly 80 years ago, which is thought to have influenced the Nazi Holocaust. Michel Barnier, the French Foreign Minister insisted that Turkey must officially recognise the 1915 genocide before it joins the European Union.
German Holocaust Memorial: A crane hoisted the last of thousands of charcoal-colored slabs into place at Germany's national Holocaust memorial Wednesday to commemorate the 6 million Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis. The event signaled a symbolic end to a 15-year battle over the building of the project — which has been tangled in debates about financing, artistic vision and Nazi-era guilt.
Israel, Palestine and Campus Civil Wars: Middle-east politics has viciously divided Columbia University and London's School of Oriental and African Studies. Stephen Howe maps the battlefields and proposes good rules for the conduct of the knowledge wars.
Obituary: HAROLD PERKIN was a path-breaking and rigorous historian, a provocative, witty lecturer and an influential intellectual, who helped to promote the change in the climate of ideas that presaged the end of the New Right ascendancy of the 1980s and early 1990s. His appointment as Professor of Social History at Lancaster University came in 1967, when he was only 38. He was the first such professor in Britain.
Thomas Clark/Kenucky: Thomas D. Clark, Kentucky historian laureate, has blasted the state legislature for failing to pass a budget. His comments have been picked up by the AP, an indication of the unusual role he plays in Kentucky. The story is headlined:"Historian: Get that Budget Passed."
Best History Books of the Year: The NYT has selected the 10 best books of the year. 2 history books made the cut: Ron Chernow's biography of Hamilton and David Hackett Fischer's book about Washington's Crossing. The list also includes Stephen Greenblatt's Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare.
Pinochet: Chilean judge ruled Monday that Gen. Augusto Pinochet was competent to stand trial for human rights abuses that occurred during his nearly 17 years as Chile's dictator and immediately charged him with nine counts of kidnapping and one of murder.
Google: Google, the operator of the world's most popular Internet search service, announced today that it had entered into agreements with some of the nation's leading research libraries and Oxford University to begin converting their holdings into digital files that would be freely searchable over the Web.
The Pacific Northwest Fur Trade: The Pacific Northwest has seen its share of major environmental battles. Now a new historical study of the fur trade indicates that early Europeans and Americans in the region struggled with similar issues nearly two centuries ago as they sought to exploit and preserve the area’s natural resources. In a pilot study examining the historical record for the National Park Service, a University of Washington researcher has found that the Hudson’s Bay Company, the dominant outside force in the region during the early years of the 19th century, set the stage for later environmental struggles through its own sometimes conflicting policies.
Bush's Second Term: You might call it a jinx, but second terms don't work out well for many presidents, who find their agendas drifting and legislation stalemated. President Bush has a few things going for him that his predecessor didn't. He has a mandate from voters, something he couldn't claim after it took the intervention of the Supreme Court to settle the outcome of the 2000 election. Becoming the first re-elected Republican president since 1924 to control a Republican Congress, Bush put to rest the political canard that he was an innocent from Texas who didn't understand national politics.
Bush Innauguration: As he leaves the Capitol after taking the oath of office Jan. 20, President Bush is expected to exercise a familiar presidential prerogative — reviewing the troops. George Washington, Richard Nixon, and Franklin D. Roosevelt all highlighted the military in their innaugurations. But the military theme will thread through the 10 days of President Bush's inaugural events that are normally highlighted by pomp and circumstance, a time when the nation's capital turns into a lavish backdrop for the revelry of the winning party.
Liberty Tree: 300-year-old sycamore that served as a marker on the Underground Railroad and a meeting place for abolitionists including Frederick Douglass has been cut down after city officials said it was too badly damaged to save. The remains of"The Liberty Tree" were fed into a chipper Monday despite the efforts of residents who had tried to win National Historic Register status for the tree and build a park and museum around it.
Holocaust Database: The lives of thousands of Holocaust victims are coming to light in a new database that allows anyone with an Internet connection to research the fate of family members and friends sent to Nazi death camps. More than 3 million names are included in the digital archive, which was launched last month by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust center in Jerusalem.
Plagiarism: The Chronicle of Higher Education uncovers 4 cases of academic wrongdoing involving"plagiarists you've never heard of." Two of the four are historians: Benson Tong and Donald Cuccioletta. The others: a geographer and a political scientist.
Obituary: Dr. Edgar Allan Toppin, a nationally known expert on African-American history and a distinguished professor emeritus at Virginia State University, died Wednesday of congestive heart failure. He was 76. Dr. Toppin was instrumental in turning Black History Week into Black History Month in 1976, said Dr. Lauranett Lee, the curator of African-American history at the Virginia Historical Society.
Sherlock Holmes: The mysterious death of Britain's leading Sherlock Holmes expert appears to have been a bizarre suicide plot deliberately based on one of the cases tackled by the fictional detective himself, a report said. According to friends of Richard Lancelyn Green, he appears to have dressed up his suicide as murder in an attempt to get at an enemy from beyond the grave, a notion lifted from one of Holmes's adventures. However friends believe Lancelyn Green killed himself and deliberately tried to get an American academic rival, whom the paper did not name, framed for the murder. The expert had spent two decades trying to track down the archive so as to write a definitive biography of Conan Doyle, and decided to take his own life, also implicating the American he blamed for breaking up the collection.
Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Natick, MA town historical society hopes to make more than $250,000 this week by auctioning the oldest known copy of Nathaniel Hawthorne's"The Scarlet Letter" — not bad for a manuscript that spent more than a century in a drawer before someone recognized its significance. A relative of Hawthorne donated the corrected page proofs in 1886 to the organization that became the Natick Historical Society. The pages are covered with more than 700 proofreading corrections and comments, many believed to be in Hawthorne's own hand.
The Planets: Britain has been found guilty of one of the strangest crimes in history: the theft of another world. A group of international historians has concluded that the UK authorities hijacked credit for the discovery of the planet Neptune, robbing French astronomers of the sole glory they deserved for the achievement. This verdict is the outcome of years of detective work by the group and only became possible with the finding in Chile of a sheaf of crucial documents that had been stolen from the Royal Greenwich Observatory. These, and other contemporary papers, show Britain indulged in its own 19th century attempts at spin doctoring to support its claim that the UK mathematician John Crouch Adams had predicted the existence of Neptune.
Thurmond's Black Daughter Writes Memoir: "I always thought I had a fairly normal childhood, until I found out my parents weren't who I thought they were." So begins the autobiography of Essie Mae Washington Williams, the daughter of longtime U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond and a 16-year-old black maid who worked at his family's home. Williams, now 79, came forward a year ago, after Thurmond's death, with the secret she had held for more than 70 years. Her upcoming book,"Dear Senator: A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond," deals frankly with her relationship with the one-time segregationist who privately acknowledged her as his child but never spoke of her publicly.
Indians: Chief Leschi of the Nisqually Indian tribe was exonerated by a historical court on Friday, nearly a century and a half after he was hanged for the death of a militia soldier in what is now Washington State. The unanimous verdict by a seven-judge panel is not binding legally, but it drew cheers from the hundreds who gathered at the state history museum to hear the decision.
Week of 12-6-04
Downloaded Film Clips: Footage of Adolf Hitler’s election as German Chancellor in 1933 is one of the most popular films downloaded from the Pathe News online archive. The eighty-second film titled‘A Wondering World Awaits ... What?’ is four times as popular as footage of other great 20th century leaders such as Winston Churchill in New York in 1932 and John F Kennedy's assassination in 1963. The clip most downloaded is the Titanic setting sail in 1912 with the 1944 D-Day landings third and footage of London in the Blitz in 1941 also popular.
Sean Wilentz: The Recording Academy nominated history professor and American studies program director Sean Wilentz for a Best Album Notes Grammy Award on Tuesday. Wilentz — historian-in-residence for bobdylan.com — penned an essay for the 52-page booklet packaged with"Live 1964: Concert at Philharmonic Hall," the sixth album in Bob Dylan's"Bootleg Series."
Cleopatra: New evidence casts doubt on one of history's greatest love stories as expert asks: Was Cleopatra murdered?
Bush Administration's Claims About North Korea: The Council on Foreign Relations has published an article that claims a review of the facts shows that the Bush administration misrepresented and distorted the data about North Korea's nuclear program--while ignoring the one real threat North Korea actually poses.
Thernstroms and Civil Rights Commission: President Bush's new chairman of the Civil Rights Commission, Gerald A. Reynolds, is the protege of Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom. Reynolds, a conservative, has argued that affirmative action is unneeded. He says he has never been a victim of racism.
Princeton's Near East Studies Department: The student newspaper features a long article about the warring factions inside the school's Near East Studies Department. At issue is Bernard Lewis's approach, often described as Orientalist. Or as one professor, anonymously, put it:"The Arab-Israeli divide goes right through that department, and everyone knows that."
Gay History: A book by David K. Johnson, a historian, has won a prestigious national award for advancing human rights. Johnson's book,"The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays in the Federal Government", University of Chicago Press 2004, is one of 10 winners of the 2004 Myers Outstanding Book Award, a national competition of the Gustavus Myers Center, a Boston-based center and national network.
Bill Moyers: Come next week, Bill Moyers will sign off from"Now," the weekly PBS newsmagazine he began in 2002, as, at age 70, he retires from television.
Palestinian and Israeli Textbooks: A study of Israeli and Palestinian textbooks shows how both sides tell the narrative of the conflict from their own perspective, ignoring the other side. Israeli politicians periodically cite Palestinian textbooks as damning proof that the Palestinians are continuing to educate to hatred and not to peace. The Fatah movement's candidate, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), picked up the gauntlet, but immediately threw one of his own at the Ministry of Education: You want to examine our education for peace? Help yourself, but based on the principle of reciprocity, we should also see what's happening on the Israeli side.
Development Threatens Chinese Historical Sites: Many Chinese cities, provinces and regions face a tug of war between speeding up economic development and properly protecting historical heritage. It is especially true of Shaanxi, in Northwest China, a slow-developing province with many historical ruins, ancient buildings and cultural relics above and under ground. According to Zhang Tinghao, director of Shaanxi Provincial Bureau of Cultural Heritage, Shaanxi is a powerhouse of historical relics, with 35,700 fixed cultural relics over its land, of which many are large-scale. Shaanxi has made strenuous efforts to protect its ancient cultural heritage while engaging in economic development, Zhang said.
Gullah Heritage and Southern Campaign of the Revolution Bills: Two bills to preserve and promote South Carolina’s heritage won approval this week in the U.S. Senate, though both will have to be reintroduced in the new session of Congress. Senators approved but amended a bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., to create a Gullah/Geechee Heritage Corridor. The Senate also approved the Southern Campaign of the Revolution Heritage Area Study Act, introduced by retiring U.S. Sen. Ernest"Fritz" Hollings, D-S.C. That proposal calls for a study of battle and other Revolutionary War sites.
Turkish University for Academic Freedom: In the five years since the Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey, was founded, the university has emerged as a new kind of academic institution in Turkey. In that time it has struck at least one significant blow for academic freedom, especially in the teaching of history, in a country fond of historical orthodoxies. And it is one of a handful of institutions shaping the new Turkey that is now pushing hard to join the European Union."We want our students to question everything, to form their own opinions," says Tosun Terzioglu, rector of Sabanci University. This is a relatively novel concept in Turkish universities, which have been an integral part of the official process of forging the nation and the citizen since the republic was created in 1923.
The Negro Leagues: Currently, a special research project is giving new life to the anonymous faces of some of baseball's first African American professional players. The work, a three-year, first-of-its-kind project funded with a $250,000 grant from Major League Baseball, used thousands of newspaper box scores to identify and compile statistics on more than 3,000 men who played in often-forgotten black baseball leagues from 1920 to 1948. The 5,000-page volume - which shows more conclusively that the quality of Negro Leagues play equaled white baseball at the time - is more in-depth than past statistical studies on black players prior to integration.
Award: The Mexican Ambassador to the United States of America, Carlos de Icaza, on behalf of President Vicente Fox, and of Secretary of Foreign Affaires, Luis Ernesto Derbez, awarded the Mexican Order of the Aguila Azteca to Dr. David Carrasco, a prominent professor at Harvard University. The Mexican Order of the Aguila Azteca was created in 1933 and is the highest honor bestowed upon foreigners by the Mexican government. Dr. Carrasco is an historian of religion specializing in Mesoamerican and the Mexican-American borderlands. He is the director of the Moses Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project and editor in chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures. His work has included special emphasis on Mexican culture and history.
Obituary: Shirley Sargent, 77, a writer and historian whose lifelong affection for Yosemite National Park and deep knowledge of the Yosemite high country made her something of a latter-day John Muir, died Dec. 3 at her home in Mariposa, Calif., just outside the park. She was the author of nearly two dozen books about Yosemite, its history and its people, including the naturalist Muir, a founder of the Sierra Club.
Allen Weinstein Nomination: The Coalition for History reports that an anonymous senator put a hold on the nomination of Weinstein as Archivist of the United States. Unless President Bush makes a recess appointment, Weinstein's nomination will now have to be taken up by the next Congress. His no ination was unanimously discharged from the Senate committee considering his nomination.
Jesus/Christmas: Newsweek reports in a cover story about the history of The Birth of Jesus that 79% of Americans believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus.
Pinochet: Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator, received multimillion-dollar payments from the governments of several countries, including the United States, during his 25-year tenure as Chile's ruler and military chief, according to documents recently uncovered during a Senate committee investigation into suspected money laundering at Riggs Bank. The documents, including General Pinochet's sworn financial statements, show that he received $3 million from the United States government in 1976.
Los Angeles and History: The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday approved spending $5 million to tally the city's historic resources. Armed with such a survey, city officials would know when a building is historic, instead of learning about it after a demolition permit has been issued and protesters pack the council chambers."For too long, historic preservation has been an afterthought, an oversight, or a political weapon for opponents of development projects," said Councilman Jack Weiss, who pushed for the survey at the suggestion of officials from the Getty Conservation Institute.
Iraq Artifacts: UCLA scholar Robert Englund is heading an ambitious international effort to enable systematic analysis of the ancient texts by a broad group of researchers, while also making cuneiform less foreign to the world outside the circle of Assyriologists like himself who study it. His work, and that of his colleagues, is perhaps even more relevant in these troubled times as the modern-day regions of ancient Babylonia are pummeled by war and lawlessness.""'The presumed plunder of the Iraq Museum shows the great potential of the Web for abuse as well as for good,' Englund says. 'At first, there were wildly exaggerated reports going out like wildfire of 180,000 objects removed and either destroyed or taken away in all directions. Through the great power of the Web, this was established as fact.' The loss is currently estimated at between 5,000 and 10,000 objects, most of it coming from a single large collection of cylinder seals. Rather than breathing a sigh of relief, Englund asserts that anyone interested in a shared world cultural history must think about what might have been and use the incident as a catalyst to digitally capture and preserve all of the most important collections of antiquities. To his dismay, that imperative appears to have returned to the back burner.
Former Radical Loses Job: A former leftist radical who spent 16 years in prison for possessing explosives has withdrawn from teaching a college seminar after her hiring sparked protests. Susan Rosenberg made her decision because it was in the best interest of all parties, Hamilton College officials said Wednesday. In response to her hiring, prospective students withdrew applications and donors rescinded hundreds of thousands of dollars in pledges, school officials said. She was going to teach:"Resistance Memoirs: Writing, Identity and Change." She was indicted in a 1981 armored car robbery carried out by a gang of radicals.
Award: Nearly 20 years in the writing, a biography of Harriet Jacobs has won the annual Frederick Douglass Book Prize. The $25,000 award for the biography,"Harriet Jacobs: A Life" (Basic Books), is to be presented to its author, Jean Fagan Yellin, distinguished professor emerita at Pace University, at a gala dinner at the Yale Club of New York on Feb. 24, during Black History Month. The prize, announced by Yale's Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition, honors the year's best nonfiction book on those subjects. The biography goes beyond Jacobs's account of her years as a slave, including seven years in hiding from a sexually predatory master, and accounts for her escape to the North, her harassment by her former owner and her return to the South during the Civil War to establish a school for black refugees behind Union lines.
Orchomenos Battle Monument Discovered: A farmer tending a cotton field in central Greece has uncovered a 2,000 year old stone monument marking the spot where the Roman army stopped a major westward offensive more than 2,000 years ago, a Greek archaeological official said Wednesday.The site near Orchomenos, about 75 miles northwest of Athens, was recorded by the Greek historian Plutarch. But the actual location of the long-sought monument - originally believed to stand 23 feet - was a mystery until last month, when the farmer plowing his fields stumbled upon a buried column that led researchers to uncover the monument's stone base.
Narional African American History Museum: Plans for an African-American history museum on the National Mall moved closer to reality this week as the project received its first federal funding, enabling it to move ahead. The Smithsonian Institution also appointed a board for the museum that includes Chicagoans Oprah Winfrey and magazine magnate Linda Johnson Rice, among other prominent African-American leaders.
God and American History: The San Fransisco Chronicle reports on Stephen Williams, a conservative Christian history teacher in Cupertino California who is causing controversy for his supplements to the district curriculum. According to the Chronicle, Williams passed out a list of religious clauses in state constitutions such as Delaware's -- which in 1776 required officeholders to"profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son." Then there was George Washington's prayer journal. And as an example of a modern-day presidential proclamation, Williams distributed President Bush's statement on National Prayer Day 2004, in which he said,"Prayer is an opportunity to praise God for His mighty works."
California History Center: Legislative leaders of both parties have proposed a bill to help fulfill first lady Maria Shriver's plan for a new California History Center - and women's museum - in downtown Sacramento. AB 42 would allow the financially strapped California State History Museum at 10th and O streets to be replaced with a new facility spotlighting the state's rich history while devoting a section to California women.
History Channel and The Big Apple: New York on Wednesday entered into a co-branding deal with cable TV's History Channel, aimed at boosting the Big Apple as a tourist destination. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the $19.5 million deal will see the city gain $15 million in free ads on The History Channel, $3.5 million toward the creation of an official New York History Center and $1 million in free programming. The television station will also develop walking tours of New York and contribute to the preservation of historic monuments and landmarks visited by tourists. In return, the History Channel -- which is owned by A&E Television Networks, a joint venture of the Hearst Corporation, ABC and NBC -- will gain free use of ad space on city bus shelters, street pole banners and phone kiosks among other things during the 3-1/2-year deal.
Warsaw Ghetto Diary: As flames engulfed the Warsaw ghetto in its last days in 1943, a young Jewish woman hiding from Nazi soldiers kept a journal about her fight to survive in a cramped basement. The six-page diary, apparently the only account written during the uprising that survived the battle, has surfaced at a Holocaust museum in Israel.
Nelson Mandela Letters: Newly opened archival documents illuminate the private side of South Africa's political titan, revealing a prison inmate whose concerns transcended race or status.
Reniassance Study: Over three years, British and American historians, classicists and linguists will seek to re-examine the social depth, the geographical breadth and the historical length of a period that saw the rebirth of classicism in art, philosophy and literature. The project, linking scholars in the West Midlands with American counterparts in the Midwest, has been made possible by a grant of £190,000 from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation
Henry VIII Love Notes: Clandestine love notes between King Henry VIII and his future wife, Anne Boleyn, have been discovered in the margins of books found during the first comprehensive investigation of the king's library.
Ted Kennedy Oral Archive: The Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia is to announce plans today to record an oral history of the life and career of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, a six-year, multimillion-dollar project that is the center's first effort to chronicle the history of a sitting senator.
Anti-Communism Memorial: A private foundation is planning a memorial to millions of people around the world who have been killed during decades of communist rule with a statue on Capitol Hill modeled on the"Goddess of Democracy" erected by students during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. The nonprofit Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation wants to erect the 10-foot bronze statue in a small, triangular park near the U.S. Supreme Court."Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, a number of us in town thought it would be appropriate to have a memorial to the victims," said foundation chairman Lee Edwards, a fellow in conservative thought at the Heritage Foundation.
Bush Signs Law Protecting Iraqi Antiquities: President Bush has signed into law the"Emergency Protection for Iraqi Cultural Antiquities Act of 2004." This grants to the President the authority to impose import restrictions on any cultural materials illegally removed from Iraq, continuing a restriction on the import of such materials that has been in place since August 1990.
Juan Cole: Juan Cole has been selected president-elect of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA). His term as president will begin next November. He will serve as president until November 2006. MESA is considered the leading organization of scholars doing research in Middle East history, anthropology, literature, sociology, and political science. Historians constitute about a fourth of the membership.
Hundreds of Items Missing From National Archives: Hundreds of letters and photographs are missing from the National Archives and its regional offices, including one presidential library. Many are suspected stolen. The extent of the losses is detailed in a series of reports from the organization's investigative office, but the value of the items is difficult to determine because that is largely measured by historic importance and rarity. The items include color photographs of Nancy Reagan and the king and queen of Jordan, letters from Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and a stately portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
New Bush Ranking by Zogby: This poll, released just a few days ago, rates Bush in the bottom third of presidents of the last three-quarters of a century. The winner here is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The next three presidents in the public poll offer us (and the current president) some other guideposts to greatness. In second place is John F. Kennedy. In third place is Ronald Reagan. Next is Truman. Democrats rank Bill Clinton as their third-greatest president and George W. Bush as the worst, even worse than the one they used to hate the most, Richard M. Nixon. Republicans rank the president third -- behind Reagan and FDR. Conservatives place the president in a tie with Truman for fourth, behind Reagan, FDR and Kennedy.
Pierre Berton: Hundreds gathered in Toronto on Tuesday evening to celebrate and remember the prolific Candadian historian and author Pierre Berton.
Joseph Ellis: Historian Joseph Ellis is wary of being forced to confront his personal demons in public again. This self-described"historian of imperfection" in others believes he has suffered enough and done enough penance for his own imperfections.
Napoleon: Two hundred years after he crowned himself emperor of France, a handwritten draft of Napoleon Bonaparte's memoirs -- littered with spelling mistakes -- fetched a record price at auction in Paris Tuesday. Thirteen pages in Napoleon's own hand, describing the triumphs and defeats -- military and political -- of the diminutive military genius at the dawn of the 19th century, went to a Swiss collector for 250,000 euros ($336,400). The memoirs reveal what numerous corrections and a vivacious writing style could not disguise -- that the commander of Grande Armee that subdued most of continental Europe had a less than total command of the French language.
Holocaust Insurance Policies: The effort to compensate Holocaust victims and their heirs for unpaid life insurance policies from the World War II era is moving toward an"exit strategy," as the commission overseeing the process seeks to process all claims by the end of 2005. The International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims has encountered some obstacles along the way but is"on track" to meet its deadline, said Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Diane Koken, vice chair of the International Holocaust Commission Task Force of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Chinese Fermented Beverage: Chemical analyses of ancient organics absorbed, and preserved, in pottery jars from the Neolithic village of Jiahu, in Henan province, Northern China, have revealed that a mixed fermented beverage of rice, honey, and fruit was being produced as early as 9,000 years ago, approximately the same time that barley beer and grape wine were beginning to be made in the Middle East.
Oneida Land Claims Settlement: Two Northeast Wisconsin Indian tribes have reached a deal to settle land claims with the state of New York. The Oneida Tribe of Indians and the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohicans announced deals with New York Gov. George Pataki."This announcement does not solve the Oneida Nation's land claim. Just as the Oneida Nation predicted, the floodgates are opened and the Governor wants more casinos to give to out of state tribes. This is history repeating itself," said the media spokesman for the New York Oneida Nation.
Persian Gulf Controversy: Iranians around the world are up in arms over the publication of the National Geographic Society's new"Atlas of the World." The uproar is over the inclusion of"Arabian Gulf" as a secondary name for the"Persian Gulf," the body of water that lies between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula. Iran insists the area has for centuries been called the Persian Gulf. In protest, the government in Tehran has banned the sale of"National Geographic" magazine until the secondary name is removed.
Mary Frances Berry: The AP reports that Mary Frances Berry, blunt-spoken chairwoman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, resigned Tuesday after more than two decades of criticizing the governments, both Democratic and Republican, that she served. Berry, an independent, and Democratic Vice Chairman Cruz Reynoso sent resignation letters to President Bush a day after the White House moved to replace the two. Both had resisted leaving Monday, arguing their terms wouldn't expire until midnight Jan. 21, 2005.
Henry Kissinger: Kenneth Maxwell, the historian who resigned from the Council on Foreign Relations, says that Henry Kissinger pressured the editor of the group's journal, Foreign Relations, to drop a rejoinder by Maxwell critical of Kissinger's role in the coup that ended Chile's democracy in 1973. For the first time Maxwell has recounted conversations he had with the editor which flatly contradict the editor's stated recollections. The story, recounted in the Nation, suggests the reputation of the esteemed journal may have been put in jeopardy.
Pearl Harbor Anniversary: With U.S. troops fighting in Iraq (news - web sites) and Afghanistan (news - web sites), Americans marked the anniversary Tuesday of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor with a salute to the nation's resilience 63 years ago."It was a day when weaker souls would have surrendered," Sen. Daniel Inouye (news, bio, voting record), D-Hawaii, said of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack that thrust the United States into World War II."It was a day that gave real meaning to our name the United States of America."
Secret Bronte Staircase: The secret staircase which inspired one of fiction's great characters has been uncovered, hidden behind oak panels and just as it was portrayed by Charlotte Brontë. Legend has it that Brontë based the character of the deranged Mrs Rochester - who was locked away in an attic at Thornfield Hall in the semi-autobiographical Jane Eyre - on a true story. She supposedly heard it during a visit in 1839 to the North Yorkshire country mansion, Norton Conyers. Nowadays, the house has around 2,000 visitors a year and the grand rooms are on show. But, though the Brontë setting is all in place, the reference in the plot to how the attic was accessed has remained a mystery - until a narrow flight of 13 steps was found at the medieval house. This staircase, revealed when floorboards were removed in an attic room where servants once slept, provides a direct link down to the first floor, true to Brontë's narrative where Eyre sees Mr Rochester go towards the attic:"He went: Iwatched the light withdraw. He passed up the gallery very softly, unclosed the staircase door with as little noise as possible, shut it after him, and the last ray vanished."
Gay Lincoln Book: The Free Press has pushed back The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, a potentially controversial book about the sixteenth president's sexuality which makes the argument that Lincoln was gay. Originally a November pub, it's now getting moved back to January, after charges of faked research were leveled against the author, the late C.A. Tripp, by the book's former co-author, the longtime plagiarism watchdog and freelance journalist Phillip Nobile. Nobile also says that, after the two split up, Tripp plagiarized him in the first chapter, at which point Nobile contacted S&S.
Rosa Parks: Rosa Parks's landlord has offered to let her stay in her apartment rent-free, two years after threatening to evict her when the owners said her caretakers missed rental payments. Parks' doctors say the 91-year-old civil rights pioneer has dementia and is in poor health. Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit had been paying Parks' rent, which had been as high as $1,800 a month, since August 2003, the Rev. Charles Adams said."We did not want her set out in the street," Adams said."We didn't want to make a big noise out of it. ... It was a simple act of kindness."
God & American History: Steven J. Williams, an evangelical Christian who teaches fifth grade at a public school in Cupertino, Calif., is fast becoming a folk hero among conservative Christians. In an affluent town in a region identified with the liberal elite, Mr. Williams has single-handedly turned the Declaration of Independence into a powerful tool for the Christian right in its battle against secularist teaching of colonial history, thrusting God and Christianity into the very same history lesson as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. When Mr. Williams, 38, gave his students at Stevens Creek Elementary School a proclamation from President Bush last May about national prayer day, a parent complained that it amounted to too much religion in the classroom. School officials then began requiring him to submit his class handouts in advance for review. A conservative group has sued the school.
Pipes Settles Lawsuit: A University of Oregon sociology instructor has settled a defamation lawsuit against authors of a column that labeled him anti-Semitic and listed him as one of six examples of"left-wing extremists" who indoctrinate students. Douglas Card sued the column's authors: Daniel Pipes, a Middle East scholar; and Pipes' research assistant, Jonathan Schanzer, a specialist in radical Islamist movements. Card claimed the pair is wrong about how and what he teaches and their column defamed him. Terms of the settlement are confidential. In a joint statement issued by both parties, Pipes and Schanzer said they"are now convinced that Card does not condone extremism in the classroom." In their 2002 column, published in the New York Post and on several Web sites, Pipes and Schanzer accused Card of describing Israel as"a terrorist state" and Israelis as"baby killers" in his course.
Struggle Over Bones: Eighteen-thousand years after it slumped over dead in a Southeast Asian cave, what is believed to be a tiny hominid has become the center of a bitter tug-of-war between the scholars responsible for its discovery and a counterpart from a leading Indonesian university. The hominid's skeleton -- along with fragmentary remains of four other individuals -- was unearthed during two excavations of a cave on the Indonesian island of Flores, creating a blaze of worldwide publicity this fall. Both the Australian and Indonesian scientists involved in the find are now dismayed that another scholar, who has said he is skeptical of the claims made by the skeleton's discoverers, has since removed the bones from Jakarta and taken them to his own laboratory several hundred miles away, at Gadjah Mada University, in Yogyakarta. That scholar, Teuku Jacob, has argued that the remains are not those of a distant human relative who reached the island hundreds of thousands of years ago but of a regular Homo sapiens with a shrunken brain case. (subscribers only)
Alaskan History Education: The state Board of Education will decide Tuesday whether to make the study of Alaska history a high school graduation requirement. Many schools across the state offer the course as an elective, but they do not require it for a diploma. If approved, high school freshmen in 2005 would have to take the semester course before graduating in 2009. The regulation does not set a curriculum for the course.
Graphology: Graphologists have studied the writing of politicians, monarchs and philosophers in documents exhibited for the first time by The National Archives in England. Their conclusions--Charles Dickens was arrogant, Winston Churchill was pigheaded and Karl Marx a difficult man who refused to listen in an argument.
Radio History: A microphone used in the first live radio music recital and the first trans-Atlantic wireless transmitter are among a collection detailing the history of early radio donated to Oxford University, the university announced Monday.The collection of artifacts and documents from radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi formerly resided in Chelmsford in southwestern England, but the Marconi Corp. lacked the resources to care for and display the historic artifacts.
China & History Textbooks: China has made a national pastime of wagging its finger at its neighbor, Japan, which it regularly scolds for not teaching the" correct history" about Japan's invasion of China in the 1930's, straining relations between Asia's biggest powers. However, a visit to a Chinese high school classroom and an examination of several of the most widely used history textbooks here reveal a mishmash of historical details that many Chinese educational experts themselves say are highly selective and often provide a deeply distorted view of the recent past. Most Chinese students finish high school convinced that their country has fought wars only in self-defense, never aggressively or in conquest, despite the People's Liberation Army's invasion of Tibet in 1950 and the ill-fated war with Vietnam in 1979, to take two examples. Similarly, many believe that Japan was defeated largely as a result of Chinese resistance, not by the United States. (NYT)
Week of 11-29-04
Indians: The Washington State Supreme Court has convened what for this state may be the ultimate trial in absentia: a new day in court for Chief Leschi, a revered icon of the Nisqually Indians of Washington and a celebrated American Indian martyr who was convicted in the killing of a white militiaman in an 1855 war.
Top 1,000 Books: More about the Online Computer Library Center's list of the top 1,000 books in library collections. OCLC contacted HNN to let us know that there is a downloadable spreadsheet version of the Top 1000 list here for anyone who wants to create their own checklist. They also posted a list of almost two hundred"runners up" who were close to the threshold: the original list stops with a book held in 5074 libraries; this list goes down to 4693. And history came out really well in this set.
Robert Byrd Surprise: Sen. Robert C. Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat and the Senate's unofficial constitutional scholar, has inserted language into the final $388-billion spending bill for 2005 requiring that any educational institution that receives federal aid offer its students an instructional program on the U.S. Constitution each September 17, the anniversary of its signing. The provision took higher-education leaders by surprise. They said they had not been consulted about it. Because the rider does not specifically exclude colleges, higher-education officials assume it applies to their institutions, as well as elementary and secondary schools, said Becky Timmons, director of government relations at the American Council on Education, an umbrella group that lobbies for colleges. A spokesman for Senator Byrd, Tom Gavin, said the measure would apply to all public and private institutions, including colleges, that receive federal money.
Award: At a White House ceremony on 17 November 2004, President George W. Bush awarded the 2004 National Humanities Medal to seven distinguished Americans and one historical society for their contributions to the humanities. One of the recipients was historian Gertrude Himmelfarb of Washington, D.C. She was cited for her critical analysis of history, which has yielded insights into Victorian England and the foundations of our culture. Her books, essays, and articles demonstrate vision and eloquence.
Award: A professor of history at the University of Notre Dame will receive the $200,000 2005 Grawemeyer Award for religion. George M. Marsden will be honored for his book Jonathan Edwards: A Life (Yale University Press, 2003), a biography of the 18th-century American preacher and theologian who is most famous for his sermon"Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God."
History Budgets: The National Coalition for History says the final budget for 2005 includes: $120 million for Robert byrd's Teaching American History grants ($9.5 million more than in 2004), #138 million for the NEH ($3 million over 2004).
Armenian Genocide: Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul Thursday denounced as"unacceptable" a resolution by the Slovak parliament recognising the 1915 massacre under the Ottoman empire of hundreds of thousands of Armenians as genocide. On Tuesday, the Slovak parliament adopted a resolution saying:"The Slovak parliament recognises the genocide of Armenians in 1915 during which hundreds of thousands of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were killed and considers this act a crime against humanity."
Venezuela: The Central Intelligence Agency was aware that dissident military officers and opposition figures in Venezuela were planning a coup against President Hugo Chávez in 2002, newly declassified intelligence documents show. But immediately after the overthrow, the Bush administration blamed Mr. Chávez, a left-leaning populist, for his own downfall and denied knowing about the threats.
Historic Sites Caught Up in Dispute Over Church & State: Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, a watchdog group, filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court to block the Interior Department from using federal funds to refurbish 21 Roman Catholic churches in California. Congress recently allocated $10 million to restore the churches under the California Missions Preservation Act, and the money is being disbursed by the department. But Americans United argues that 19 of the 21 churches are active houses of worship, not museums, and as such their congregations should support them.
Tariq Ramadan: Tariq Ramadan, the Muslim scholar whom the U.S. government refused to grant a visa to last September to teach Islamic ethics at Notre Dame University, has publicly taken issue with the popular idea of an impending confrontation between Islam and the West. Tariq says the notion of a" clash of civilizations" fails to take into account the fact that Muslims already comprise an integral part of Western civilization."I think we have to go beyond this binary vision of reality, you know, and the struggle is not on the borders. The struggle is within our [Muslim] society, because we are experiencing democracy. We are free. We can speak. Even though it is very difficult, even though we have still prejudices, discrimination. But the Muslims -- the European, the American, the Canadian -- should be involved in their society," Ramadan says."I think we have to go beyond this binary vision of reality, you know, and the struggle is not on the borders. The struggle is within our [Muslim] society."
Alexander: Greek lawyers are giving up efforts to have a new Hollywood film banned and its makers sued for depicting Alexander the Great as a bisexual. The lawyers, who saw a preview just ahead of"Alexander's" release in Greece on Friday, said it did not have the explicit scenes they had feared, though they were still unhappy it dealt with this aspect of their national hero's life.
Obituary: Pierre Berton, a sometimes provocative journalist who became the most popular historian in Canada and a well-known television personality, died on Tuesday in Toronto. He was 84. For many years a new book by Mr. Berton was as inevitable in autumn as falling leaves. Unusually prolific, Mr. Berton wrote more than 50 books, was host of radio and television shows, contributed newspaper and magazine columns, was a magazine editor and appeared as a quiz-show panelist for 37 years.
Prize: UCLA Professor Emerita Nikki R. Keddie has been awarded the 2004 Balzan Prize for a lifetime of research on The Islamic world. The four annual Balzan prizes - each of one million Swiss Francs - are regarded as the equivalent of Nobel Prizes in Humanities and Social Sciences. The Balzan Foundation of Lugano, Switzerland, gives its prizes"to promote throughout the world, culture, science, and the most meritorious initiatives in the cause of humanity, peace and brotherhood among peoples."
Australian History Wars: Controversial historian Keith Windschuttle has opened a new front in Australia's history wars by challenging the view that the White Australia Policy, which severely restricted non-European migration to Australia for more than half a century, was a deep stain on the country's conscience. Besides taking colleagues to task, his new book launches a new assault on multiculturalism, which in its more radical or"hard" forms, Windschuttle argues, is more racist than the White Australia Policy."What I call hard multiculturalism is a doctrine of the intellectual elite, and that's a doctrine which says people should not try to assimilate or integrate, they should preserve their own ethnic cultures intact, that no cultures are better than others," he told the Herald."It's a form of ethnic separatism which is far more racist than anything being acscribed to the White Australia Policy."
Jamestown: A skull fragment found in a 400-year-old trash pit at Jamestown contains evidence of the earliest known surgery - and autopsy - in the English colonies in America, researchers say. Circular cut marks indicate someone attempted to drill two holes in the skull to relieve pressure on the brain, the researchers said. The patient, a European man, died and was apparently autopsied.
Dracula: Dracula is much in vogue in Romania, a country that once ferociously resisted identification with a celluloid bloodsucker whose most famous film interpreter may be Bela Lugosi -- a Hungarian no less. Although tour guides still half-heartedly explain that Romania's own real-life Dracula, a historical figure known as Vlad the Impaler, had nothing to do with bats and bites, they have also surrendered to the irrepressible desire of tourists to thrill at the sites purported to be locales for Bram Stoker's 1897 novel"Dracula," which he just happened to set in Transylvania.
Einstein--Inventor: He is best known as the past century's most famous genius. But as well as devising the theory of relativity, Albert Einstein was also responsible, it emerged yesterday, for a less celebrated discovery - a fridge. Nearly 80 years after he invented it,a group of German physicists have begun making Einstein's unique alcohol-powered fridge. The existence of the fridge shows that the great scientist was not only a theoretician but also a down-to-earth practical inventor.
Britons Unaware of Auschwitz: Nearly half of Britons in a poll said they had never heard of Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in southern Poland that became a symbol of the Holocaust and the attempted genocide of the Jews. The results of the survey conducted by the BBC were released on Thursday as Britain's public broadcaster announced it will show a new series next January to mark the 60th anniversary of the concentration camp's liberation.
Columbus: The medieval finca of the Columbus family has been put up for sale in Mallorca with a €1M price tag and the prospect that it might be a “priceless” Trophy Home within a year. Local historians believe explorer, Christopher Columbus was born and brought up in the house, parts of which have been inhabited for 5,000 years, and learned his seamanship at nearby Porto Colom, named in his honour. Now DNA specialists from the FBI and University of Granada are comparing samples from the remains of the discoverer of the Americas and the man Spaniards claim to be his real father who lived in Mallorca.
Preserving a Living History: The voices of dozens of 20th century figures, including Malcolm X, Phil Ochs, Rosa Parks, Richard Pryor, Bella Abzug, Cesar Chavez, Dylan Thomas, Judy Collins, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Angela Davis and Noam Chomsky will be heard again on Thursday, as part of a nationwide broadcast called Preserving a Living History: A Day for the Pacifica Radio Archives. The Pacifica network (KPFA 94.1 FM in the San Francisco area) will pre-empt its regular programming in deference to the 13-hour broadcasting marathon (starting at 6 a. m.) that will raise awareness of, and funds for, the rare and valuable collection of 50,000 historical recordings housed in the Pacifica Radio Archives' vault.
Chile/Pinochet: A Chilean court stripped former dictator Augusto Pinochet of immunity from prosecution in a third criminal case on Thursday, this time for the 1974 assassination of a Chilean general and political foe. The Santiago Appeals Court has removed Pinochet's automatic immunity twice before but the 89-year-old has so far eluded trial on grounds his mental health is weak. Gen. Carlos Prats, who was commander in chief of Chile's army before Pinochet, was living in exile in Buenos Aires when he and his wife were killed by a car bomb. He was seen as a potential political threat to Pinochet, who tried to remove all opposition to his strong-arm rule. ALSO: Reacting to an official report describing torture as a"policy of state" under the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean Navy admitted that"for a brief time" in 1973 detainees were tortured aboard the Esmeralda, the training ship that is the navy's emblem.
Britain's Top Prime Ministers: A MORI survey of university experts published yesterday rated Clement Attlee, Britain’s first post-war leader, as the most influential premier of the 20th century. Mr Blair came sixth, also out-ranked by Winston Churchill, Lloyd George, Margaret Thatcher and Harold Macmillan.Any blow to Mr Blair’s self-esteem may have been cushioned by the fact that he was still judged to have been a more successful and important prime minister than 14 other previous occupants of 10 Downing Street, including his direct predecessor, John Major, who rated only 15th.
Napoleon: Napoleon Bonaparte, The Corsican, whose diminutive size belied his continental ambitions, is back in the news for his bicentennial -- and the timing couldn't have been more telling for a country facing an identity crisis and searching for its role in a 25-member European Union and a wider world led by the United States."History has been a little hard on the French lately," said Steven Englund, an American award-winning biographer of Napoleon."And I think they're looking for reasons to celebrate their own history."
Torture: Historians Against the War has just produced a pamphlet that examines the U.S. government's historical and current use of torture. It includes articles on torture in Nicaragua, Vietnam, and Iraq.
Historic Site: Archaeologists in Germany have discovered the ancient ruins of a Roman restaurant, chariot workshop and forecourt. The 2,000-year-old remains in the town of Neuss also include an area to feed and water horses and were unearthed beneath a bus station when scientists were asked to explore the feasibility of an underground car park.
Dylan Thomas: DYLAN Thomas might have had good cause to rage against the dying of his own light after it emerged a bungling doctor, rather than chronic alcoholism, brought about the poet’s demise. According to a new biography published tomorrow, the author of Under Milk Wood was found by doctors to be suffering from pneumonia when he was admitted to the New York hospital where he died in November 1953, aged 40. According to the authors of Dylan Remembered 1935-1953 it was mistreatment of that condition which led to his death.
Ancient Skeleton: Everything about the bones that turned up in a Grain Valley back yard last summer suggested to scientists that they came from a 50,000-year-old mastodon. But evidence yielded by additional digging has led the experts to conclude they were off-base. The remains are actually those of a mammoth that lived 500,000 to 1 million years ago, according to the scientists."The tooth was absolutely definitive," said Craig Sundell, a University of Kansas paleontologist who is leading the dig.
Copyright Case: A federal judge has ruled against legal scholars and archivists who challenged current copyright law in hopes of making it easier to archive old literature and films on the Internet, where they would be available free to the public. The case, Kahle v. Ashcroft, pitted two archive groups -- the Internet Archive, a nonprofit digital library, and the Prelinger Archives, which preserves films -- against the U.S. Justice Department. The archivists argued that four copyright laws are collectively keeping people from gaining access to"orphan" works: out-of-print books, old films, and academic articles that have little or no commercial value. A central part of the archivists' argument is that laws granting copyright protection to all works, even those for which the creators have not sought protection, have radically altered the"traditional contours of copyright." But Judge Maxine M. Chesney, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, disagreed with that claim and dismissed the case without hearing arguments on it.
Jaroslav Pelikan: Yale historian Jaroslav Pelikan, a former dean of the Graduate School, will receive the Library of Congress's second John W. Kluge Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Human Sciences, the Library announced Monday."Obviously it's not the sort of thing you count on getting," Pelikan said."It's an enormous gratification to have many years of scholarly work recognized that way." Pelikan is being awarded for his groundbreaking work in intellectual, cultural and religious history, Librarian of Congress James Billington said in a statement.
Death of James Forrestal: An investigation into the death of the nation's first secretary of defense, James V. Forrestal, resulted in a lengthy report long kept from the public. Admiral M. D. Willcutts, the commanding officer of the National Naval Medical Center, convened the review board that looked into James Forrestal's death in 1949. Now, more than 55 years later, the Navy has released the report, which is available electronically through Princeton University's Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library Web site. The documents were procured by David Martin of Virginia via a Freedom of Information Act request in April 2004. Martin scanned the report and gave the files to the Mudd Library, which also included five photographs obtained through the request. The Willcutts Report, issued in July 1949, investigated the circumstances around Forrestal's death. Forrestal, a member of Princeton's class of 1915, was a Wall Street investment banker who, on the eve of World War II, became undersecretary of the Navy. He became secretary of the Navy in 1944 and, with the passage of the National Security Act of 1947, President Harry S. Truman appointed him the first secretary of defense. He resigned in March 1949 and entered the Bethesda Naval Medical Center suffering from exhaustion similar to battle fatigue, and soon after fell to his death from a window.
Bill Clinton: According to the Associated Press, the University of Arkansas Press has published “The Clinton Riddle,” the first scholarly assessment of Bill Clinton’s presidency. The book of essays by 11 of the nation’s top political scientists and historians argues that Clinton’s legacy will be debated for the next hundred years.
Jamestown: Organizers are busily piecing together Jamestown's 400th anniversary even as archaeologists here each day unearth new shards of the history that the 2007 celebration will endeavor to tell. Historians and organizers of the quadricentennial say there is much more to the country's first permanent English settlement, on the banks of the James River, than the popular stories of Capt. John Smith and Pocahontas passed down through generations in Virginia.
French Holocaust Denier: French prosecutors said Monday they were opening a judicial investigation into comments by a leading far-right politician who questioned whether the Nazis used gas chambers in the Holocaust. Justice Minister Dominique Perben called for the inquiry after Bruno Gollnisch, a professor of Japanese at the University of Lyon, questioned how the gas chambers were used in the wartime slaughter of Jews and how many Jews were killed. Prosecutors in the southern city of Lyon said the investigation would focus on"denying crimes against humanity." France anti-racism laws have made denying the Holocaust a crime, punishable by fines and even prison.
California Missions Bill: A bill that would set aside $10 million in taxpayer money to restore California’s 21 historic Spanish missions has passed both houses of Congress and now awaits President Bush’s signature.
Japanese Textbooks: Japan’s education minister said this weekend that Japanese history textbooks have had a “self-tormenting” view of World War II and that he is relieved current texts have cut back on criticism, reports said Sunday. “There was a time when Japanese textbooks were full of nothing but extremely self-tormenting things saying that Japan was bad,” Education Minister Nariaki Nakayama told a town hall meeting in southern Oita prefecture on Saturday, the Asahi and Nihon Keizai newspapers reported. “We have tried to correct that,” he said. “I’m really glad that recently there are fewer words such as ‘comfort women’ and ‘forced relocation’ used in textbooks, he said.
Japanese War Crimes Ruling: Japan's Supreme Court refused compensation to South Korean war slaves after deliberating on a suit that was orginially brought in December of 1991. Japan's top court had a damages suit brought by South Koreans forced to work as sex slaves or soldiers by the Japanese Imperial Army, saying their suffering in World War II cannot be compensated under the post-war constitution. The Supreme Court ruling infuriated some plaintiffs, who climbed over the barrier separating them from the judges and court secretaries and roared in anger, Japanese news reports said. The 35 plaintiffs, including relatives of Koreans who died, had demanded Tokyo pay them 20 million yen (194,400 dollars) each for their suffering during Japan's colonization of the Korean Peninsula between 1910 and 1945.
Segregation in Alabama: On Nov. 2, Alabama voters refused to approve a constitutional amendment to erase segregation-era wording requiring separate schools for"white and colored children" and to eliminate references to the poll taxes once imposed to disenfranchise blacks. The vote was so close -- a margin of 1,850 votes out of 1.38 million -- that an automatic recount will take place Monday. But, with few expecting the results to change, the amendment's saga has dragged Alabama into a confrontation with its segregationist past that illuminates the sometimes uneasy race relations of its present.
Karl Marx: Documents shedding light on the years spent by Marx in the UK are about to be put on display at the National Archives in Kew. The exhibition Movers and Shakers provides manuscripts and artefacts belonging to some of the most influential figures in British history, from Geoffrey Chaucer to Elton John. It discloses that one of the world's most famous social thinkers invested £4 as one of the original shareholders on a working class British newspaper, the Industrial, which dissolved in 1883. It wasn't a surprise to find Marx involved in this kind of enterprise, Curator Sue Laurence says, given his life - financed by his friend Friedrich Engels and beyond his own means - as a bourgeois gentleman.
2004 Kluge Prize Winner: An 80-year-old American historian, Jaroslav Pelikan, and a 91-year-old French philosopher, Paul Ricoeur, will share the $1 million Kluge prize, created last year to honor achievement in fields not covered by the Nobel prizes. Pelikan, who lives in New Haven, Conn., has specialized in the story of Christianity from its beginnings to the present. He has written more than 30 books, using sources in nine languages and dealing with literary and musical as well as doctrinal aspects of religion. He is a former president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Pelikan"has moved over time to consider the whole history of church doctrine, both through the western Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.
Chile: The long-awaited report of an official commission investigating torture is finally in the hands of President Ricardo Lagos and is to be published any day now. But even before the findings are formally made public, the graphic, wrenching report is forcing Chileans to reassess their past and recalibrate their political attitudes. The 1,200-page document covers the period from the coup of Sept. 11, 1973, that installed Gen. Augusto Pinochet in power through 1989, when military rule was about to give way to a democratic civilian government. It concludes that during the dictatorship, especially in the first phase,"torture was a policy of the state, meant to repress and terrorize the population."
Week of 11-22-04
Top 1000 Books List: The Online Computer Library Center (founded 1967) has issued a list of the top 1,000 books in library collections. The bulk of the list, almost half, was fiction. Religious texts were strong in the top ranks, too. The first history book, Plutarch's Lives, clocks in at #48; Suetonius' Lives of the Caesars was #512; Tacitus' Annals was #792. Machiavelli's The Prince, which is one of the first pieces of Early Modern European analytical social science comes in at #58. Click here for the other history books on the list.
George's W's Library: At least six Texas universities want George W. Bush's future library and museum, including Southern Methodist University (Laura Bush's alma mater) and Baylor University, located near the president's beloved Crawford ranch. Texas A&M, home to the George H.W. Bush presidential library, has proposed a second complex on the campus to create the nation's first"father-son" presidential museum. Owners of the Texas Rangers, the baseball team once co-owned by Bush, have offered to donate land for a presidential museum adjacent to the team's ballpark in Arlington. The White House says that Bush hasn't even decided when to decide. (Newsweek exclusive)
Spanish Civil War: A highly acclaimed account of the Spanish Civil War written by a distinguished English correspondent was republished yesterday after being"lost" for more than 60 years. The Life and Death of the Spanish Republic, by The Daily Telegraph's Henry Buckley, has obtained mythical status among historians as much for its fate as its contents. Henry Buckley at work during the Spanish Civil War Buckley, who was born near Manchester, arrived in Spain six years before the outbreak of the 1936-39 conflict. He knew its protagonists, witnessed more battles than any other journalist and befriended Ernest Hemingway. He left Spain with the remnants of the Republican forces that fled over the Pyrenees after defeat by Franco. Buckley wrote his account on the eve of the Second World War. But in 1940, as stacks of first editions awaited distribution, a bomb destroyed their London warehouse. Republished: Buckley's account of the war Only 200 copies survived and until yesterday the book was never published again.
Lawsuit Threatened Against Juan Cole: From Martin Kramer:"Juan Cole is howling about a threat of legal action from the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which objects to claims he made about its press monitoring operation--claims which, according to MEMRI's president Yigal Carmon, are factually untrue. Cole claimed that MEMRI is funded 'to the tune of $60 million a year' (an absurd figure), that MEMRI is biased (in the eye of the beholder), and that it is somehow linked to the Likud party (it isn't). MEMRI now demands a retraction on all three points, and threatens Cole with possible legal action if he fails to do so. When I read Cole's posting, it reminded me of an earlier threat to sue--made by Juan Cole to Daniel Pipes and myself, after the Campus Watch website came online on September 18, 2002." Kramer goes on to oppose the threat of a lawsuit against Cole.
Alexander--The Movie: The NYT and Newsweek magazine have panned Oliver Stone's new movie, calling it dull and blowsy.
Indians: A ban on Indians entering Boston has been the law since 1675. Mayor Thomas M. Menino took a step toward repealing the ban on Wednesday, filing a home rule petition. Mr. Menino said a repeal would remove the last vestiges of discrimination from a vibrant, diverse city that is looking past old racial conflicts.
Oscar Schindler: An authoritative new biography of Oskar Schindler, the German businessman who saved more than 1,000 Jews from the Nazis, clashes sharply with his idealized portrayal in the Oscar-winning 1993 Steven Spielberg movie"Schindler's List" and the 1982 historical novel by Thomas Keneally that inspired it. The Schindler who emerges in this latest account - based on interviews with Holocaust survivors and newly discovered papers, including letters stored in a suitcase by a mistress - is far more flawed than the one depicted in the movie and novel. Even so, scholars say, the fresh revelations about Schindler's darker side cast his moral transformation and heroism into starker relief.
Google's New Scholarly Search Tool: With a new service called Google Scholar (scholar.google.com), a one-stop shop of scholarly abstracts, books, peer-reviewed papers and technical papers intended for academics and scientists, articles you can now find articles on obscure topics that Jstor may overlook. Jstor may not include the subscriptions that Google may.
Clinton Library, Architecture Review: The NYT gives the new Clinton library by architect James Polshek a favorably review, with some reservtions.
Clinton Library, Museum Review: The NYT review of the new Clinton museum compares it unfavorably with the Truman museum, drawing attention to its cost ($165 million versus Truman's $12 million, in 2004 dollars) and attitude toward history. Historical background is presented only to show accomplishment. Crime graphs drop. Economic graphs rise. Terrorism is fought. Evidence numbingly repeats itself (as do exculpations). There seems nothing - from community policing to tax cuts to fighting terrorism - for which credit is not claimed. Even a stock ticker heralds the climactic prices of stocks in 2000, taking no notice of the imminent collapse. As for the administration's scars, if all else is a record of social improvement, moral vision and consummate governance, then doesn't any attempt to challenge that record or its claims have to represent extraordinary villainy? At least the Truman library addresses the problem of self-promotion head-on in its exhibits, which were remade in 2001. Truman's years as president marked the end of World War II, the dropping of the atomic bomb, the beginning of the cold war, McCarthyism, the Korean War and immense social change.
Jack Granatstein: Grandfatherly historian Jack Granatstein has been named the winner of the 10th annual Pierre Berton Award, which honours those who popularize Canadian history."Beyond his obvious accomplishments celebrating Canadian history, Jack Granatstein continues to be active in determining how the history books will chronicle Canada today," Deborah Morrison said in a press release. Morrison heads up Canada's National History Society, the organization that gives out the award.
Ukraine: Ukraine is said to be divided by language, history, religion, and ethnic make-up. Of its 48m population, eight to 10m are ethnic Russians, most of whom want closer links with Moscow. An article published in the Belfast Telegraph explores the history behind the recent conflict.
Truman: In the 18,000 film and audio clips, kept in as many as 2,600 metal film cans, there are hidden moments that detail a side of Harry Truman most have never seen. A handful of volunteers at Truman's presidential library in suburban Independence are among the few. They have been sifting through the material for years so that researchers, historians and others can have a fuller picture of the only president from Missouri.
Thanksgiving: Until the arrival of the Mayflower, continental drift had kept apart North America and Europe for hundreds of millions of years. Plymouth Colony (and its less successful predecessor in Jamestown) reunited the continents. Ecosystems that had evolved separately for millennia collided. The ensuing biological tumult - plants exploding over the landscape, animal species spiking in population or going extinct - had consequences as profound as those from the cultural encounter at the center of Jennie Brownscombe's famous painting.
The Real Thanksgiving: Imagine a Thanksgiving Day without Pilgrims. No turkey, no cranberries, no happy celebrations with family and friends crammed around the extended dining-room table. Picture this instead: a solemn day of fasting, meditation and introspection, followed by a light meal of roasted oysters or Virginia ham. That, some Virginians claim, was how the real"first" Thanksgiving in the New World was celebrated Dec. 4, 1619, by several dozen men who had just landed on the shores of the James River at what is now Berkeley Plantation, two years before the Pilgrims' harvest feast in Massachusetts.
William and Mary: When students at the College of William and Mary learned their school was hemorrhaging talented young professors, they voted last fall to raise their student activity fee by $5 each.The first to benefit from the bonuses created with the funds are Margaret Saha, associate professor of biology; LuAnn Homza, associate professor of history; and Barbara King, professor of anthropology.The award is intended to help W&M retain its best faculty by giving each recipient $10,000 annually. College officials blamed the exodus on state budget cuts and salary freezes that left average faculty salaries at the 23rd percentile compared to peer institutions. In a referendum, dubbed"Save a Professor," 82 percent of the students who voted approved the idea of chipping in to help retain faculty. About 25 percent of the students voted.
Thanksgiving: The election battles over same-sex marriage behind them, some conservative Christians have returned their attention to a longstanding struggle over the singularly American holiday of Thanksgiving. For years, David Barton, a popular speaker who toured the country speaking to clergy groups for the Republicans during the campaign, has been collecting evidence to rebut what he considers distortions of the holiday in textbooks and public celebrations."Some textbooks say the first Thanksgiving was the pilgrims only saying thanks to the Indians," said Mr. Barton, who is vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party."That is incorrect. They were thanking God for bringing the Indians to them."
Hoover and MLK: Georgia-born G-man Cartha 'Deke' DeLoach tells his side of the story of the controversial secret tapes from J. Edgar Hoover Jr. investigation of MLK and the civil rights movement. A member of Hoover's inner circle throughout the 1960s, DeLoach argues that the FBI director was never out to get King. Instead, Hoover was after Communists whom he believed were trying to infiltrate the civil rights movement. He takes umbrage at the suggestion that Hoover was trying to destroy King, and he argues that the FBI never tried to peddle the King tapes or transcripts of King's sexual misadventures to journalists and others."[The tapes] were never played for anyone and the results were never told to anyone," DeLoach said. Ben Bradlee, who was then the Washington bureau chief for Newsweek, says DeLoach himself approached him with tapes and transcripts but that Bradlee rebuffed him."I never met with Ben Bradlee. He is wrong," DeLoach said."He lied." Bradlee, who retired in 1991 as the executive editor of The Washington Post, stands by his account."I don't think there is any doubt about it," Bradlee said."And I don't make things up."
Law Suit Threatened Against Juan Cole: Colonel Yigal Carmon, late of Israeli military intelligence, now an official at the Middle East Media Research Organization, or MEMRI, has threatened Professor Juan Cole with a lawsuit over blog comments Cole made at Informed Comment. Cole is asking his readers to write to protest this threat.
Plagiarism: The NYT features an article about the plagiarism allegations levelled this fall against 2 members of the Harvard law school: Charles J. Ogletree Jr. and Laurence H. Tribe. The two professors said their errors were accidental, and no scholar has suggested otherwise, but as Howard Gardner, a Harvard professor of cognition and education, pointed out, many students could make the same argument."I've never had a student tell me that they intentionally plagiarized," said Professor Gardner, who studies moral and ethical standards among academics and other professionals.
Obituary: Martin Malia, a historian of Soviet Communism who persistently challenged the prevailing notion of that system's durability, died on Nov. 19 in a convalescent home in Oakland. He was 80 years old. The cause was pneumonia, said a statement from the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught for more than 30 years. During the final three decades of the Soviet empire, Malia, who retired in 1991, provided an often provocative voice from the conservative flank of Soviet studies, which scorned the idea that Communist rule would ever be capable of reforming itself and assailed those of his fellow academics who foresaw such possibilities.
Schindler: An authoritative new biography of Oskar Schindler, the German businessman who saved more than 1,000 Jews from the Nazis, clashes sharply with his idealized portrayal in the Oscar-winning 1993 Steven Spielberg movie"Schindler's List" and the 1982 historical novel by Thomas Keneally that inspired it. The Schindler who emerges in this latest account - based on interviews with Holocaust survivors and newly discovered papers, including letters stored in a suitcase by a mistress - is far more flawed than the one depicted in the movie and novel. Even so, scholars say, the fresh revelations about Schindler's darker side cast his moral transformation and heroism into starker relief.
Spanish Fort in Appalachia: Archaeologists combining detective work with old-fashioned digging may have unearthed ruins and artifcats—evidence that Spanish soldiers did, indeed, roam the Appalachian Mountains. The researchers think they've found the site of Fort San Juan, where Spanish explorers reportedly stayed from 1566 to 1568.
Ramses II's First Son: American archeologist Kent Weeks has discovered a skull --that he believes, and new scientific evidence suggests-- may be that of the oldest son of Rameses II, the pharaoh who most historians agree was the ruler of ancient Egypt more than 3,000 years ago at the time of the biblical story of the Exodus. Weeks’s discovery could have profound implications for understanding a biblical narrative that is at the core of Judaism, and part of the foundation of Christianity and Islam. It raises the question as to whether the oldest son of the pharaoh of the Exodus was struck down not by the hand of God, as the Bible says, but by the hand of man. And if that is true, perhaps the 10th plague became a metaphor for the early death that befell the pharaoh’s oldest son.
California History Museum: California's first lady, Maria Shriver, has backed off her earlier proposal to create a women's history museum in Sacramento and instead is proposing a more inclusive California State History Center. When it surfaced last month, Shriver's idea to transform the museum that now showcases the state's archive collection into a museum honoring California women prompted the resignation of several board members. At the time, critics on the board said it would jeopardize public display of archives such as the state constitution. They also said a museum to celebrate women only would not fairly represent the state's history.
Franklin Pierce: Of his close friend Franklin Pierce, author Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote:"He comes before the people of the United States at a remarkable era in the history of this country and of the world." Pierce's presidency was the culmination of an unexpected rise to power from a small town on the New Hampshire frontier, to leader of a young Republic. He faced a nation on the verge of economic greatness and Civil War. today, his great-great-great nephew servers as US President. Today, on the bicentennial of his birth, Franklin Pierce remains of the least remembered, and most controversial Presidents in the nation's history, according to the commission that is commemorating he event in his home state of New Hampshire.
Babe Ruth: The bat Babe Ruth used to hit the first home run in Yankee Stadium and help usher in 80 years of New York Yankee dominance over his former team, the Boston Red Sox, is going on the auction block. The pre-sale estimate for the 36-inch ash wood bat Sotheby's will auction off next week is $1 million, but organizers of the sale say it could fetch a record price for sports memorabilia. The Yankees beat the Red Sox 4-1 in the inaugural game on April 18, 1923, at Yankee Stadium -- known as"the House that Ruth Built."
HolocaustThe AHA reports that academic historians played a major role in a new documentary about the Holocaust which is scheduled to be broadcast on the PBS network in January 2005. The 6 part documentary, Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State, will air on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi camp.
Russian Stonehenge?: Russian archaeologists have announced that they have found the remains of a 4,000-year-old structure that they compare to England's Stonehenge, according to recent reports issued by Pravda and Novosti, two Russian news services. If the comparison holds true, the finding suggests that both ancient European and Russian populations held similar pagan beliefs that wove celestial cycles with human and animal life.
Turmoil at Columbia University: A front page story in the NY Daily News, billed as a"special report," says that Columbia University"is at risk of becoming a poison Ivy, some critics claim, and tensions are high. In classrooms, teach-ins, interviews and published works, dozens of academics are said to be promoting an I-hate-Israel agenda, embracing the ugliest of Arab propaganda, and teaching that Zionism is the root of all evil in the Mideast."
Oliver Stone's Alexander: In an interview, Oliver Stone briefly talks about history and drama, imperialism, and why he was interested in the story of Alexander among other things. Describing the problem of sacrficing history for drama Stone replies,"It’s a very interesting question. You could talk a half hour on it."
JFK: In an article published by the Los Angeles Times, historian James Reston Jr. explains his evidence sugessting that the one medical remedy that probably killed the president was his corset. According to Reston, members of Kennedy's inner circle had often witnessed the painful ritual that Kennedy endured in his private quarters before he ventured in public, when his valet would literally winch a steel-rodded canvas back brace around the president's torso. But because of the corset, Kennedy's body did not act as a normal body would when the bullet passed through his throat. Held by his back brace, Kennedy remained upright, according to the Warren Commission, for five more seconds. This provided Oswald the opportunity to reload and shoot again at an almost stationary target.
Alfred C. Kinsey: Conservative Christian groups across the country are protesting a film about the life of sex researcher Alfred C. Kinsey, calling it a Hollywood whitewash of the man they hold largely responsible for the sexual revolution and a panoply of related ills, from high divorce rates to AIDS and child abuse. Focus on the Family, the Colorado-based broadcasting empire of psychologist James Dobson, has been working for nearly two years -- ever since it learned that director Bill Condon was planning to make the film -- to enlist scholars outside the evangelical Christian community to help"debunk" Kinsey's research. The film is at least the third Hollywood release in a year that has instantly become a cultural dividing line.
Hidden French Documents: French scientists and historians are trying to unravel the secrets behind a cache of documents hidden nearly two centuries ago inside one of Paris's best-known equestrian statues.The documents were found when the bronze statue of King Henri IV on the Pont-Neuf bridge by the Ile-de-la-Cite was dismantled for renovation.Four lead boxes were known to have been inserted in the horse's body when the statue was erected in 1818 under the instructions of the newly-restored King Louis XVIII. But workers also found three small wooden cylinders, whose existence had not been documented. The cylinders -- which were found in the horse's foot, in the king's arm and in his head -- contain rolled-up papers which will require the work of specialists to unwrap and decipher.
Alexander: Oliver Stone has been criticized in the past for ahistorical portrayals individuals like JFK and Richard Nixon. In his current movie, Alexander, Stone has again taken liberties to dramatize"his" Alexander, but it appears he is on more solid footing. Perhaps because this time around Stone had a worthy consultant, the respected biographer of Alexander, Robin Lane Fox, who brings to the whole project at the very least the patina of accuracy. For his part, Fox says that Stone"got" Alexander and that his dramatized version is historically defensible.
JFK Assassination: JFK Reloaded, an internet video game that lets players kill John F. Kennedy has been angrily condemned on its release -- the 41st anniversary of the former president's assassination."We genuinely believe that, if we get enough people participating, we'll be able to disprove, once and for all, the notion that someone else was involved in the assassination," said the managing director of the company that created the game.
New-York Historical Society: The $5 million"Alexander Hamilton" exhibition that the New-York Historical Society presented as a blockbuster - and that some historians derided as unbalanced history revealing a new, conservative bent at the institution - has drawn much smaller crowds than expected. Officials expected a quarter million visitors over a 6 month run that began in June; so far only 28,000 have come. And though the society's new benefactors have conditioned their long-term support on the institution's adopting more ambitious goals and a more national focus, eight of its 10 current and planned shows have New York themes.
Holocaust: Israel's Holocaust museum launched a Web site Sunday giving Internet users access to biographical information on 3 million Jews killed by Nazi Germany and its collaborators -- the most comprehensive database of its kind. The Yad Vashem museum's site, which will be formally unveiled Monday, digitizes the center's 50 years of work compiling information on Holocaust victims. The list -- the largest and most detailed available -- can be accessed in both English and Hebrew.
Library: Researchers are trying to restore and save fragments of books destroyed by a fire at the Anna Amalia Library in Weimar, Germany. Up to 30,000 volumes are presumed lost.
Alexander the Great: As the culture wars rage anew between social conservatives and their liberal counterparts, Hollywood is preparing to break fresh ground by releasing a high-budget epic film in which the lead character - a classic, and classical, action hero - is passionately in love with a man. In Greece, Reuters reported that a group of Greek lawyers threatened to sue the studio and Mr. Stone for saying that Alexander was bisexual. Warner and Intermedia said they had not been contacted by the group.
Week of 11-15-04
Civil Rights Movement: Bobby Frank Cherry, the former Klansman whose conviction two years ago for the church bombing that killed four black girls in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963 resolved one of the most shocking cases of the civil rights era, died yesterday at the Kilby Correctional Facility near Montgomery, Ala., a prison spokesman said. He was 74.
British Cover-Up: A 51-year search for the truth about the death of a young serviceman during secret nerve-gas experiments ended yesterday when an inquest jury decided that he had been unlawfully killed by the British Government. Ronald Maddison, 20, died in 1953 at the Porton Down research complex in Wiltshire after he and 348 other volunteers were exposed to massive doses of the sarin nerve agent during tests to establish its lethal dose.
China: The tomb of a forgotten revolutionary - who plotted with the founder of the South China Morning Post in a failed attempt to capture Guangzhou in 1903 - has been discovered in Happy Valley's Hong Kong Cemetery.
Sharon Considered Coup: Ariel Sharon considered a military coup to force a war against Egypt in 1967, the Israeli prime minister confessed in a government publication released yesterday. The revelation was contained in Ma'arachot, published by the defence ministry, and Mr Sharon's admission may lead to a re-examination of the build up to the 1967 war, which ended in the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The study shows that the general staff, which included the then Maj Gen Sharon and Yitzhak Rabin, then chief of staff and later prime minister, was convinced that the country was in danger because the government was procrastinating over the launch of war. This caused Mr Sharon to consider locking up the cabinet.
Letters Found: A series of letters written and received by Viscount Horatio Nelson, estimated to be worth more than GBP 25,000, have been discovered at the back of a wardrobe in an Edinburgh town house.
Clinton Library Opening: In honor of the first Democrat to win two terms as president since Franklin D. Roosevelt, members of many of the nation's past and present first families celebrated the life and political talents of Bill Clinton on Thursday as they dedicated his library here in a chilly, rain-drenched ceremony on the banks of the Arkansas River.
Indians: A professor at Fort Lewis College, in Colorado, has upset students and faculty members by publishing a scholarly article on teaching American Indian students that they say is offensive.The article calls American Indians at the college, who make up nearly a fifth of its enrollment,"well groomed,""shy," and"quiet, almost to a fault, slow to speak up, reticent to challenge professors." The article also mentions the first names of some students and quotes from their work, professors say, without their consent. The college is investigating the situation. The article,"The Kokopelli Conundrum: Lessons Learned From Teaching Native American Students," appears in the June/October issue of American Studies International, and was written by Andrew Gulliford, a professor of Southwest studies and history at Fort Lewis. (subscribers only)
Middle East Studies: University President Lee Bollinger says that Columbia officials will formally investigate accusations that some professors threatened and intimidated students. Alan Brinkley, the University's provost, is leading an inquiry into claims made in Columbia Unbecoming, a documentary film produced by non-profit Israel support group The David Project.
Taiwan's History Dispute: President Chen Shui-bian urged the public to be open-minded when reviewing the country's history, saying that to seek the truth of Taiwan's history is not equal to desinicization nor an act of independence."As the 11th president of the Republic of China [ROC], I support Chinese culture and respect the revolution of history," he said."And I cannot and will not interfere with the editing and compilation of history by professionals."
Ken Burns: On Thursday night, Ken Burns discussed his historical views in an interview conducted at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas. “The genius of our country is improvisation; the Constitution is the greatest piece of improvisation in history,” Burns said. “This nation is always in the process of becoming.” Exactly what it’s becoming is a topic of some concern and controversy, Burns said, in response to questions. Borrowing a phrase from historian Arthur Schlessinger Jr., Burns said he thinks the United States has “too much pluribus, not enough unum.” But he also said he thinks the divisions often talked about today aren’t as vast as politicians and the news media like to portray. “This is not like the years before the Civil War.” “Politicians need us to be divided — don’t give in to that,” he said. “They’re cynically trying to divide us.”
Pop Culture's History: Jerry Seinfeld walked into the National Museum of American History, looking good, fit and youthful, sharply dressed, but his eyes glanced around warily, as though he wasn't sure how this gig was going to play. He came last night for a ceremony, not a stand-up routine. He made a donation. He gave the museum the Puffy Shirt. The Puffy Shirt will go on display today near the popular culture collection's holy grail, Judy Garland's ruby slippers from"The Wizard of Oz."
Bolivar: A pair of ornate French-made pistols used by South American independence hero Simon Bolivar was sold at auction for $1.69 million, more than double the pre-sale estimate, auction house Christie's said on Thursday.
Bias on College Campuses: Two studies being published on Nov. 18 show that Republicans are outnumbered in academia. One of the studies, a national survey of more than 1,000 academics, shows that Democratic professors outnumber Republicans by at least seven to one in the humanities and social sciences. That ratio is more than twice as lopsided as it was three decades ago, and it seems quite likely to keep increasing, because the younger faculty members are more consistently Democratic than the ones nearing retirement, said Daniel Klein, an associate professor of economics at Santa Clara University and a co-author of the study. In a separate study of voter registration records, Professor Klein found a nine-to-one ratio of Democrats to Republicans on the faculties of Berkeley and Stanford. That study, which included professors from the hard sciences, engineering and professional schools as well as the humanities and social sciences, also found the ratio especially lopsided among the younger professors of assistant or associate rank: 183 Democrats versus 6 Republicans.
Afghan Treasures: After being secreted away a quarter-century ago, during the Soviet occupation, priceless artifacts from 5,000 years of Afghanistan's history have been recovered. Many feared the treasures were lost forever, but yesterday archaeologist Fredrik T. Hiebert announced that a just-completed inventory showed that all but a handful had been recovered from hidden caches in Kabul's presidential palace complex and other"safe places." The recovered pieces included cast bronze busts in the classical Roman style; Chinese lacquer bowls; and a glass bottle bearing the image of the Alexandria lighthouse. Hiebert said fewer than 100 objects from the museum's display collection remain unaccounted for.
Nation's Top Professors Honored: The Council for Advancement and Support of Education and The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching today named four professors as winners of the 2004 U.S. Professors of the Year Award. The professors, who will each receive $5,000 prizes, were selected for their outstanding teaching, commitment to undergraduate students, and influence on teaching. State Professors of the Year were selected as well. The following historians were among the state winners: Warren Ted Hamilton, Professor of History, Columbia College, Harry Fritz, Professor and Chair, Department of History University of Montana, Thomas A. Kolsky, Professor of History and Political Science, Montgomery County Community College, Timothy Huebner, Associate Professor of History, Rhodes College, James S. Olson, Distinguished Professor of History, Sam Houston State University, Kenneth J. Grieb, Professor of History and International Studies, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh.
Wine Records and Climate Change: A team of French scientists and historians has used wine records to yield insights into climatic change. In Burgundy, France, as in other parts of Europe, the first officially decreed day of grape harvesting has been carefully noted in parish and municipal archives for at least 600 years. Using a scientific method known as phenology—in which the onset of various stages of plant growth are correlated with climate—the team was able to reconstruct spring and summer temperatures in Burgundy from 1370 to 2003. The findings are based on the harvest dates of pinot noir grapes. According to the reconstructed temperature record, warm summers like those of the 1990s have occurred several times in Burgundy since the 14th century. The heat wave of summer 2003, however, was the hottest ever for western Europe.
Mussolini: A book about Benito Mussolini, written by his son, is causing controversy in Italy over how to deal with the dictator’s legacy and the country’s Fascist past. Il Duce Mio Padre (My Father Il Duce), which concentrates on Mussolini’s private side, has rekindled a debate over whether a political figure condemned by history for his hideous crimes should be described with a human touch. The debate, like that sparked in Germany by a film on the last days of Adolf Hitler, is sensitive in a country that many say has failed to come to grips with its recent past.
National Survey of Student Engagement: The National Survey of Student Engagement released its findings for the year. The group's latest survey of 163,000 students at 472 four-year colleges found only 11 percent of undergraduates surveyed said they are doing the 25 hours of class preparation each week that their professors recommend. About 44 percent of freshmen and 25 percent of seniors said they don't discuss ideas or reading from their courses with faculty outside of class. College officials often have said they care about how well they are teaching students, but experts have said there is little evidence that those officials mean it.
Kevin Boyle: Historian Kevin Boyle's"Arc of Justice," which focuses on a black family's fight to live in a white Detroit neighborhood in the 1920s, won the National Book Award for nonfiction. One of the finalists competing for the award was the 9-11 Commission Report.
Clinton Library: Yes, Monica Lewinsky's name is included, but visitors may have to search to find it. In one section devoted exclusively to the impeachment, the name of the former White House intern appears in small, white print, with little explanation. There is no photograph, no beret and certainly no blue dress."In terms of the overall story of the impeachment, you'll be able to get it fairly and accurately," said Skip Rutherford, the president of the Clinton Library Foundation."The full record of the national archives is there. The truth of the matter is that those who want to come and study impeachment can come." The impeachment exhibit, titled"The Fight for Power," depicts the entire scandal as Republican retaliation rooted out of jealously for Democratic success. There is no air of remorse or mention of responsibility for lying under oath to cover up an affair. The captions etched in glass, written by former White House speechwriters under Clinton's direction, declare:"Politics of Persecution," and"A New Culture of Confrontation."
Obituary: Austin Woolrych, who has died aged 86, was the founding professor of history at the University of Lancaster and a very respected and well-liked historian. His work explored three crucial phases of Britain's revolution: the autumn of 1647 and the Putney Debates; the Nominated Assembly of 1653 and the establishment of Cromwell's Protectorate; and the chaos that engulfed Britain between the fall of that Protectorate in 1659 and the Restoration.
Humans in North America: Archaeologists say a site in South Carolina may rewrite the history of how the Americas were settled by pushing back the date of human settlement thousands of years. But their interpretation is already igniting controversy among scientists. An archaeologist from the University of South Carolina on Wednesday announced radiocarbon tests that dated the first human settlement in North America to 50,000 years ago -- at least 25,000 years before other known human sites on the continent."Topper is the oldest radiocarbon dated site in North America," said Albert Goodyear of the University of South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. But not all scientists are convinced that what Goodyear found is a human settlement."He has a very old geologic formation, but I can't agree with his interpretation of those stones being man-made," said Michael Collins of the Texas Archeological Research Lab at the University of Texas at Austin. Collins disputes that the stone shards at the site show signs of human manipulation.
Gutenberg: Johannes Gutenberg may be wrongly credited with producing the first Western book printed in movable type, according to an Italian researcher. Presenting his findings in a mock trial of Gutenberg at the recent Festival of Science in Genoa, Bruno Fabbiani, an expert in printing who teaches at Turin Polytechnic, said the 15th-century German printer used stamps rather than the movable type he is said to have invented between 1452 and 1455.
Plagiarism: A fine-arts professor who two months ago admitted plagiarizing sections of another scholar's book has now sued New School University, saying it wrongfully fired him and demanding his job back. In September, Roger Shepherd, who taught in the university's Parsons School of Design, admitted that his book Structures of Our Time: Thirty-One Buildings That Changed Modern Life (McGraw-Hill, 2002) included copied portions from a previously published monograph by Meredith L. Clausen, an architectural-history professor at the University of Washington. At the time, he told The Chronicle that the copying was"a tragedy, probably the worst thing I've ever done." (subscribers only)
Ancient World: MARINE archaeologists have discovered a spectacular gold plaque of the 3rd century BC that bears an inscription confirming that an ancient site found off the coast of Alexandria four years ago is the fabled lost city of Heracleion. Despite being immersed in seawater for more than 1,000 years, the plaque was glistening on the seabed and in almost pristine condition when it was found by divers working with Franck Goddio, the French archaeologist who is collaborating with the Centre for Maritime Archaeology at Oxford University.
Napoleon: More than 800 items of Napoleonic memorabilia have been sold for £2.4 million during a three-day sale at the chateau of Fontainebleau, south of Paris.
William Safire Retiring: William Safire, former Nixon speechwriter, is giving up his NYT column at the end of January 2005--just 4 days after Bush is inaugurated.
Kerry/Brinkley/Swift Boat Vets: Nat Hentoff is dismissive toward Douglas Brinkley in an article that finds merit in the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign run by John O'Neill:"on Election Day, historian Douglas Brinkley -- who wrote a hagiographic book on Kerry, Tour of Duty, triumphantly told the Financial Times that the mainstream media have 'exposed Kerry's critics as liars and frauds.' I would not take a course with that careless historian, but I respect O'Neill for his courage and his public service for having enabled many Americans to look much more closely as John Kerry's presidential qualifications." Hentoff cites an article by Thomas Lipscomb that suggests that Kerry may not have been honorably discharged.
Bulgarian Youths Ignorant of History: A monument that honors the Soviet liberation of Bulgaria from the Nazis also serves as a makeshift ramp for skateboarders in Sofia, the capital. Amid recent years of economic changes and moves toward prosperity, young Bulgarians seem to be increasingly unaware of the Communist era that began in their country just after World War II and ended after the Berlin Wall fell.
Smithsonian Exhibit: The National Coalition for History says that"The Price of Freedom: Americans at War," the National Museum of American History's (NMAH) new permanent exhibit, is praiseworthy:"In spite of the flag-waving title of the exhibition, the fact is that this exhibition is content and artifact rich and it does not hesitate to draw attention to some American military exploits that most historians today characterize as 'shameful' - the Trail of Tears episode, for example."
Teaching American History: A joint partnership of H-Net, the Organization of American Historians, and the U.S. Department of Education will create a H-TAH network. This network will cover the activities, issues, and content related to the Teaching American History program of the U.S. Department of Education.
Brian Lamb: In honor of his commitment to hisory the AHA will give an award to C-Span's Brian Lamb at the Seattl meeting.
Ben Franklin's 300th Birthday: Philadelphians are preparing to celebrate the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, by developing a huge, multimillion-dollar, traveling exhibit that will celebrate Ben's 300th birthday on Jan. 17, 2006. The executive director of the effort, historian Rosalind Remer says the project is meant to"reintroduce" Franklin and his ideas to America and Europe. Franklin is the first of the country's founding fathers to have a 300th birthday celebration. The Franklin 300 exhibit will kick off in Philadelphia Dec. 15, 2005 at the Constitution Center and will stay here through April 2006. Then it will travel to at least three other U.S. cities and Paris, concluding in Jan. 2008.
Nazi Occupation of Greece: The period of German, Italian and Bulgarian occupation in World War II left terrible scars, not only on the population — with hundreds of thousands dead, the deprivation, oppression and destruction — but also on Greece’s archaeological and cultural heritage. Trenches sliced through archaeological sites, museums and collections were destroyed or looted, while huge numbers of churches and monasteries were bombed or burnt by the occupation forces. The Greek lands, which bear such obvious traces of history, were ground beneath the Nazis’ iron heel. From the Acropolis to Babylon, it is the fate of monuments to suffer during wars and occupations.
Alan Brinkley: In a speech delivered last night to an audience of undergraduate history majors and colleagues from the department, historian and Columbia University Provost Alan Brinkley outlined his initial thoughts on what went wrong with the recent election and on how the Democratic Party could reform its methods and strategies in the future. “This was a disastrous election if you’re a Democrat, Progressive, Liberal, Socialist—anything but a Republican" he is quoted as saying.
Digital Newspaper Archive: The government promises anyone with a computer will have access within a few years to millions of pages from old newspapers, a slice of American history to be viewed now only by visiting local libraries, newspaper offices or the nation's capital. The first of what's expected to be 30 million digitized pages from papers published from 1836 through 1922 will be available in 2006.
Anne Frank: The Dutch elected not to choose Anne Frank as the"greatest" person in Dutch history. Instead, slain anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn took the honor, ahead of the teenage diarist and painters Rembrandt van Rijn and Vincent van Gogh.
Bactrian Gold: A two-thousand-year-old Afghan treasure has come to light after a quarter century of rumors, legends, and speculation. Ibex figurines and jeweled scabbards and golden beasts--nearly twenty-one thousand pieces in all--have been found again. Precisely where the treasure is, Afghan officials aren't saying in the interests of security.
Lincoln: Richard Norton Smith's vision of the new Lincoln library and museum in Springfield is drawing complaints from some who accuse him of Disneyfying the 16th president.
Nazis: Retired University of Massachusetts professor David S. Wyman, who is considered the leading scholar of America's response to the Holocaust, said in an interview: ''Harvard should issue an apology without excuses and say, 'We as an institution would never conduct ourselves like that again.'" Over the weekend historian Stephen Norwood argued that Harvard officials maintained a friendly relationship with Nazi officials and Nazi institutions in the mid-1930s. Harvard officials categorically reject Norwood's findings. ''If there are new facts, they should be added to the archives of history and the dialogue of those times," spokesman Joe Wrinn said in a prepared statement yesterday. But he added: ''Harvard University and President [James Bryant] Conant did not support the Nazis."
Bernard Lewis on Arafat's Death: In an op ed in the Wall Street Journal, historian Bernard Lewis says the demand for a Palestinian state is accepted by most people, including most Israelis, as a reasonable one. There is, however, a serious question -- is their objective a Palestinian state alongside Israel or in place of Israel? He answers: the clear message from the Palestinian camp and from many of their Arab and other supporters is that the issue is the legitimacy, that is to say the existence, of Israel as a Jewish state. As long as this remains so, the struggle can only end when the Arabs either achieve or relinquish their purpose. Neither seems very likely at the present time.
Atlantis: American researchers claim to have found convincing evidence that locates the site of the lost kingdom of Atlantis off the coast of Cyprus. The team spent six days scanning the Mediterranean sea bed between Cyprus and Syria using sonar technology. They believe they found evidence of massive, manmade structures beneath the ocean floor, including two straight, 2-km (1.25 mile) long walls on a hill.
Historians and Tragedy: The suicide near San Francisco last week of Iris Chang, 36, author of"The Rape of Nanking," raises questions about the psychological toll of exposure to past tragedy, and experts say reactions differ. Reuters explores the effects of such work on scholars by interviewing historians Raul Hilberg and Robert Conquest and pyschologist David Spiegal, suggesting that a sense of purpose can help shield historians from their brutal subject matters.
Alexander The Great: The upcoming release of the film Alexander is generating wide interest in the historical figure of Alexander the Great. Alexander was a historic colossus"who aimed for the heights, and reached them, conquering much of the world and spreading the reach of Western civilization," says Robin Lane Fox, historic consultant on Stone's film. Yet, historians are still debating the true character of the 'Great' Macedonian warrior.
18th Century Medicine: A collection of historic medical manuscripts is to go on public show for the first time in more than two centuries following a court ruling. For 223 years, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh has acted as custodian for a unique historical archive of medical papers. The documents have remained hidden on the instructions of the physician who donated the material. But it has since been decided that the papers should be made public. The 10-volume collection, considered to be one of the most valuable manuscript sources of historical information on the practice of medicine in 18th century Europe, belonged to the renowned Scottish physician Sir John Pringle.
History Petition: "We, the undersigned, many of us members of the National Council for History Education (the sole nation-wide membership organization devoted to the improvement of the teaching of history in our schools), submit this statement on the CRISIS IN HISTORY in order to urge the Congress of the United States to expand on the Teaching American History initiative and Senate Bill 2721, the American History Achievement Act."
JFK Assassination: The old underground garage where Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald is being opened to the public for the first time. The idea became possible after the Police Department moved to a new building about a year ago. Because plans for the entire building must be drawn before the garage can be opened to tourists, the project is at least three years away. The fifth-floor jail cell that held Oswald — and later Ruby — could also be opened to the public some day.
Election 2004: A map floating around the e-universe in recent days shows Pre-Civil War Free vs. Slave States. It is indeed an eerie historical snapshot. Throw in the"territories open to slavery" (and southern Ohio) and you essentially have the blue-red divide again. Perhaps this is a reminder that the great vote switch of our times wasn't religious at all. It started with President Richard Nixon's decision to pursue a"southern strategy" (based, in part, on seeing the strength of segregationist Governor George Wallace's third-party presidential bid in 1968 in which he garnered 46 electoral votes and about 13% of the popular vote). It was meant to drive a wedge right into the greatest of all New Deal Democratic Party contradictions -- the long-lived, increasingly uneasy alliance of the northern liberal and southern white conservative wings of the Party. (Tom Engelhardt)
When Harvard Honored a Nazi: The son of a renowned Munich art dealer and a blueblooded Boston mother, Ernst Franz Sedgwick Hanfstaengl, who graduated in 1909 with a degree in history, spoke four languages, and moved in international circles. So when he returned to Cambridge for his 25th reunion, Harvard's upper crust received him warmly. There was just one problem. Hanfstaengl was a Nazi. He had supported Hitler since the early 1920s. By 1934, he was the head of foreign press operations for the Third Reich, responsible for disseminating Nazi propaganda abroad. With everything that was known about the Nazis in 1934 -- their violent anti-Semitism, their book-burning, the concentration camps into which they were herding their enemies -- why would Harvard have treated a Nazi functionary like Hanfstaengl with such courtesy? Why would it let itself be used, in the words of historian Stephen Norwood,"to help cloak the Nazi cause with a layer of legitimacy?" Norwood, a professor of history and Judaic studies at the University of Oklahoma, has studied the response of academia to the rise of Nazi power. In a paper to be delivered at a conference on the Holocaust at Boston University today, he contends that Harvard, like other elite institutions, was largely unmoved by the early horrors of the Hitler regime."It is disturbing to see the indifference of American higher education to what was going on in Germany," he said last week."Harvard had repeated opportunities to take a principled stand against the Nazis, and passed them up."
Harvard Responds: Harvard University maintained friendly relations with Nazi Germany long after Americans became aware of the persecution of the Jews during the 1930s, and after some academic leaders had taken stands against the Nazis, according to historian Stephen Norwood. When told about the findings of Harvard officials disputed Norwood's conclusions."The university was then and is now repulsed by everything that Hitler represents," a Harvard spokesman said in a statement.
Civil War/Saving Historic Sites: Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson led two vanloads of students through Chancellorsville National Battlefield last week on a victory march of sorts: It came two days after the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning as part of a deal that will help preserve about 140 acres where troops clashed in what historians say was the South's most decisive victory.
American Dynasties/Bush Family: Forget about the Kennedys, the Adamses, the Tafts, the Harrisons and the Roosevelts. When George W. Bush won re-election, American political history got a new first last name."They beat out the Adamses with this election," said Forrest McDonald, a former professor of history at the University of Alabama."And the Bushes are in ascendancy now. We don't know how 2008 is going to turn out, or 2012, but there is potential that another Bush could keep the tra dition going," McDonald said. The Bushes are now America's First Family
Slavery: Media take notice of Flordia's Lauderdale's African-American Research Library and Cultural Center. The facility — in one of Fort Lauderdale's oldest black neighborhoods — is one of the nation's few publicly run, easily accessible collections of African American history. Now in its third year, the 60,000-square-foot center has become a source of reading material for community residents, a reference point for scholars, and a venue for cultural events and educational and job-training programs."It is one of the very few repositories of black culture and history that help people in this state understand and appreciate the black experience," said Marvin Dunn, a professor of psychology at Florida International University who has just finished writing a book on African Americans in Florida."If I were starting a black Florida book today, instead of eight years ago, the first place I would go is to this facility," he said.
Week of 11-8-04
Iris Chang: When author Iris Chang caught a plane to Kentucky in August to plunge into her next book project, she was already exhausted and depressed, her husband said yesterday. Planning to interview American survivors of one of the most brutal chapters of World War II history, the Bataan Death March, Chang was no stranger to the horrors of war. Her passion for human rights had resulted in her best-known book, the 1997 bestseller,"The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II."
Herbert Hoover: Herbert Hoover, the former U.S. president associated at home with the despair of the Great Depression, is remembered as a hero to Poles in an exhibit that opened Friday. The show at Warsaw's Royal Castle,"American Friendship: Herbert Hoover and Poland," features photographs, letters and other exhibits that highlight his work to help orphans, impoverished Jews and the many other hungry Poles after both world wars. From 1919 to 1921, Hoover directed the American Relief Administration, an organization that raised private and government money to pay for relief efforts to Poland and elsewhere in Europe.
Atlantis: An American researcher on the trail of the lost city of Atlantis has discovered evidence of man-made structures submerged in the sea between Cyprus and Syria, a member of his team said Saturday. Robert Sarmast, who is convinced the fabled city lurks in the watery depths off Cyprus, will give details of his findings Sunday."Something has been found to indicate very strongly that there are man-made structures somewhere between Cyprus and Syria," a spokesperson for the mission told Reuters.
National Archives: Today the government's document warehouse opens a permanent exhibition on the letters, films, recordings, photographs and maps that are the underpinnings of American history. This $7 million initiative is intended to make the work of the Archives more accessible -- and to make history more interesting. In 9,000 square feet,"Public Vaults" gives visitors a sampling of the Archives' vast research stacks.
Rape Of Nanking: A popular Japanese comic announced yesterday that it would censor one of its own stories after nationalist anger about its portrayal of Japanese brutality during the Rape of Nanking. Young Jump, which sells two million copies a week, halted publication of its long-running story, The Country Burns, in September after being inundated by phone calls and e-mails objecting to the latest episode. The magazine ran an apology yesterday for illustrations showing Japanese soldiers bayoneting helpless captives, assaulting women and beheading civilians during the assault on the Chinese city in the 1930s.
Bush's Second Term: There is no end to speculation over how these coming four years will unfold. Bush knows as well as any man who has sat in the White House how events can intrude, how they -- even more than he -- can shape the contours of a presidency. And however much second terms are coveted, they do not guarantee success, never mind greatness. The 20th century, as University of Texas historian Lewis L. Gould puts it, is full of cautionary tales, from Woodrow Wilson's doomed League of Nations to Bill Clinton's impeachment. Perhaps -- Gould argues -- presidents should serve only one term, and"resist with all their power the empty promise of re-election," as he said in a 2003 speech at the University of Texas in Austin, soon after publication of his book,"The Modern American Presidency." Then, he suggests, history might be kinder.
Early Americana: Readex has announced the creation of a Web-based Archive of Americana featuring fully text-searchable facsimile images. This new resource, comprised of four major primary source collections, provides online access to the printed record of the American nation. Early American Imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker continues the Evans bibliography and includes books, pamphlets, and broadsides published in America between 1801 and 1819.
Inquisition: Church, academic and cultural experts will work together to gather documentation on religious and civil trials for witchcraft, heresy and other crimes against the faith during the Inquisition, the Vatican said Tuesday. Officials from the Vatican, the Italian Culture Ministry and the Center for Research on the Inquisition at the University of Studies of Trieste signed a collaboration agreement. Earlier this year the Vatican presented researchers' findings that victims of torture and burning at the stake during the Inquisition were far fewer than widely thought.
Obituary: Harold Perkin, a professor emeritus of history at Northwestern who revolutionized the perception of social history, died of stomach cancer Oct. 16 in London. He was 77.
Death of Iris Chang: The apparent suicide of San Jose author Iris Chang has rekindled the passions fueling the tense debate over her contribution to the history of China-Japan relations. Chang's passing sparked a passionate discussion on the Internet today. On the site of Japan Today, an English-language newspaper, dozens of emotional posts debated the quality of Chang's work, the meaning of her life and her death.
China/Japan: Ever since the October 10 news conference announcing the discovery of a small tablet in China's Tang dynasty capital of Chang'an (now Xi'an), excitement in Japan has run high. Recording the death of a Japanese student in China in 734, the tablet indicates that Jing Zhencheng posthumously received from the Chinese Emperor a high official appointment. The tablet, unearthed 1270 years later, reminds many Japanese not only of the Golden Age of Chinese culture but also of a period in which the sending of numerous envoys from Japan was emblematic of a flourishing China-Japan cultural and political relationship.
Slavery: Mingled African and European remains found at a site in Maryland. Perhaps the cemetery did date from the 1600s, and the earliest days of slavery, when white indentured servants and black slaves were not yet so segregated and might have been buried together in such a lowly spot. Perhaps these early Marylanders were white and black."That would fit with what we know about the 17th-century Eastern Shore," University of Maryland historian Ira Berlin said."Poor people caught in some kind of unfree relationship, whether slavery or various kinds of indentureships, lived together, drank together, slept together, and that they're buried together may not be that surprising."
Ignorance of History: A new survey aimed at gauging Canadians' basic knowledge of the Second World War has revealed a startling blind spot among the 30-to-44 age group. By a whopping margin, more of these prime-of-life citizens believed the prime minister during the 1939-45 conflict was Lester B. Pearson instead of Mackenzie King, the country's true wartime leader. The error seems all the more egregious because even younger Canadians -- those aged 18 to 29 -- knew enough history to pick Mr. King over Mr. Pearson, who was best known for the postwar diplomacy that won him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 and his so-so performance as prime minister of two minority governments in the 1960s.
Clinton Library: As he prepares to open his $165-million facility in Little Rock, historians and lawyers show an intense interest in its voluminous archives.
National Archives: With the opening of an exciting, innovative exhibition, a visit to the National Archives will be more rewarding, more memorable, and even more entertaining. We will take you beyond the Charters, beyond our walls and into our stacks and vaults to see for yourself the many documents and records that have nurtured and shaped our nation. The Public Vaults, which open in November, are a major component of the National Archives Experience and an interactive permanent exhibition that transports visitors into the world of records and the heart of our government.
OAH Committee on Academic Freedom Reports: The committee set up by the OAH in March to “investigate reports of repressive measures having an impact on historians’ teaching, research, employment, and freedom of expression” has filed its first report. Five major areas of concern have emerged in reports that have been brought to the committee’s attention to date: The first involves government surveillance of faculty members, students, visiting scholars, and libraries. Second, foreign historians, students, and researchers are now subject to interminable review if they apply for entry to the U.S. or for renewal of green cards. Third, the last two presidential administrations have made historians’ access to government documents increasingly difficult. The fourth area of concern involves direct efforts by the federal administration and by foundations and web sites that support it to shape the content of teaching and research in directions favorable to its policies. Fifth, many K-12 teachers have been condemned by school boards, organized groups, and individual parents for the content of courses they teach, books they have assigned or recommended to students, and artwork or notices they have permitted students to post.
Battle in Minnesota to Save Social Studies: In the past academic year, according to the Nov. OAH newsletter, the K-12 public school system of Minnesota survived an attempted hijacking of the statewide social studies curriculum by an alliance of radically right-wing and evangelical Christian activists who were empowered, startlingly, by the state’s own acting Commissioner of Education. This effort was defeated over the course of several months by a remarkable collaboration between an energized group of K-12 teachers and parents and members of the University of Minnesota’s Department of History. We describe this struggle, which has counterparts in a number of other states, and then assess some of its ramifications both for the place of history in K-12 curricula and for the public relevance of academic history.
Manipulation of History: James Horton, head of the OAH, has denounced efforts by pressure groups to rewrite the history of the Civil War and to downplay the importance of slavery as the central cause. He notes that when historian John Latschar, National Park Service superintendent at Gettysburg National Military Park, suggested in a public lecture that the war may have been fought over slavery, almost immediately the Southern Heritage Coalition condemned his words. Soon after, 1,100 preprinted postcards calling for his resignation flooded the Office of the Secretary of the Interior. At last count more than 2,400 protest communications, most in the form of pre-printed postcards and individual letters bearing the same language as the preprinted postcards, are on file at the office of the NPS Chief Historian.
Walter Russell Mead Q & A: The historian Russell Walter Meade is asked his opinions about Bush's foreign policy, Bush's religious impulses, and the effect of Iraq on American foreign policy.
Iris Chang: Acclaimed Chinese-American historical author Iris Chang has been found dead in her car, apparently after shooting herself, police sources said. The 36-year-old writer and journalist, who chronicled the rape and massacre of thousands of Chinese civilians at the hands of Japanese troops before World War II, was found in her car on Tuesday near the town of Los Gatos, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of San Francisco.
Japanese Internment: The Census Bureau's decision to give to the Department of Homeland Security data that identified populations of Arab-Americans was the modern-day equivalent of its pinpointing Japanese-American communities when internment camps were opened during World War II, members of an advisory board told the agency's top officials Tuesday."This for the Arab-American community is 1942," said Barry Steinhardt, a civil liberties lawyer and member of the panel, the Decennial Census Advisory Committee."Thousands of Arab-Americans have been rounded up and deported."
Wikipedia: It's a rocky road from news to history. If you don't think so, just take a look at the entry for George W. Bush on Wikipedia, the collaborative online encyclopedia founded in 2001 by Larry Sanger, a philosophy lecturer at Ohio State University, and Jimmy Wales, an Internet entrepreneur. Wikipedia, maintained by users all over the world who write and edit the entries pretty much as they wish, is visited by hundreds of thousands of people daily and has an estimated 400,000 entries on everything from manga, or Japanese comics, to strathspeys, or Scottish dance tunes. There are no user fees and no advertising. The site is supported by the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, based in Florida, which maintains and develops free resources, including a dictionary and a collection of quotations. To keep it all under control, contributors to the Wikipedia - Wiki is the software that allows for collaborative writing - are instructed to adopt a neutral point of view.
Thebes: Hundreds of artifacts dating as far back as 2 500 BC have been discovered near the Greek town of Thebes, officials said in Athens on Wednesday. Archeologists discovered ceramics as well as two tombs and building foundations from the Mycenaic era around 1 500 BC, the period when the legendary war of Troy is believed to have happened.
Allan Lichtman: American University professor and presidential historian Allan Lichtman recently joined host Carol Castiel to discuss the results of Election 2004 on Press Conference USA. He says that President Bush's victory at the polls was predictable long before Election Day for several reasons. He was the sitting president, he was uncontested within his own party, the economy was turning upward, and his Democratic opponent had run, in his words, anything but an inspiring campaign. Allan Lichtman says Senator Kerry ran a conventional, consultant-driven campaign, and he failed to express a clear alternative vision to that of the President, who sees his historic mission as protecting the country from terrorism and fighting dangers to the United States worldwide. Furthermore, he says that American politics today is no longer defined primarily by economic class, but is divided by race and religion. And the reason that the Republican Party got such a large turnout is because its core is made up of white churchgoers.
National Museum of American History: It is astonishing that something like this has not been done before. With David Allison as its curator and Christopher Chadbourne and Associates as the designer, the"Price of Freedom" exhibition is an ambitious, if flawed, chronological account of American wars, beginning with the French and Indian War and ending with the war in Iraq. There are 850 objects on view, ranging from George Washington's sword and scabbard to a restored Huey helicopter used in Vietnam. But the behind-the-scenes battles in the construction of this exhibition may have given it a split personality. These battles were over the nature of the national museum, over how American history should be portrayed, and over who gets to tell the story. These issues haunted the Smithsonian in the 1990's, in controversies over exhibitions about the atomic bomb, sweatshops, slave life and Freudian theories.
Scottish History Education: History is being squeezed out of the school curriculum in Scottish schools in order to make room for"sexier" subjects such as drama and arts and crafts, it was claimed last night. Too many headteachers are taking the easy option and reducing the time allocated for history in their timetables, according to Sam Henry, the president of the Scottish Association of Teachers of History. Mr Henry said that teachers had about 30 per cent less time to teach the subject now than they did a decade ago. In its place had come a greater emphasis on other subjects, including drama, arts and crafts and graphic communication.
William Wallace: Sir William Wallace may be granted a pardon, 700 years after his execution for treason. MSPs are to consult historians on whether they believe Wallace was wrongly condemned to death in 1305. And they will ask the Executive if they support a pardon for him.
Taiwan History: Teenagers in Taiwan will soon be confused by the island's authorities' 2006 drafted outline of history courses for high school students, which has completely altered the traditional teaching of history in Taiwan, says China Daily Thursday. The draft, reportedly published on Tuesday, takes the island province out of Chinese history, referring to the period in Chinese history after the Revolution of 1911 under the range of Chinese ancient history, but not the history of Taiwan. The island's"education minister" claimed the period of the Republic of China belongs to Chinese history and has nothing to do with Taiwan.
Indians Massacre: 1864 massacre victims' bodies to return home ... In 1864, 163 Cheyenne and Arapaho -- mostly women and children -- were massacred at Sand Creek, Colo., by U.S. troops.They were shot even as they tried to surrender, hacked apart as they attempted to escape. Their remains were treated as trophies by soldiers who paraded through Denver before cheering crowds after the massacre.
Himalayan Mystery Solved: For 60 years the skeletal remains of more than 200 people, discovered in 1942 close to the glacial Roopkund Lake in the remote Himalayan Gahrwal region, have puzzled historians, scientists and archaeologists. Were they soldiers killed in battle, royal pilgrims who lost their way and succumbed to hypothermia, or Tibetan traders who died of a mysterious illness? Now, the first forensic investigation of one of the area's most enduring mysteries has concluded that hundreds of nomads - whose frozen corpses are being disgorged from ice high in the mountain - were killed by one of the most lethal hailstorms in history.
Saving Digital Documents: In a frontpage story the NYT reports on the difficulties archivists are facing in saving digital documents and images."To save a digital file for, let's say, a hundred years is going to take a lot of work," said Peter Hite, president of Media Management Services, a consulting firm in Houston."Whereas to take a traditional photograph and just put it in a shoe box doesn't take any work." Already, half of all photographs are taken by digital cameras, with most of the shots never leaving a personal computer's hard drive.
Iraq War: The Guardian has reported that American troops in Falluja have been told to think of the fight in historic terms, as another Inchon or Iwo Jima, even with occasional references to Vietnam and the 1968 Tet offensive."You're all in the process of making history. This is another Hue city in the making," Sergeant Major Carlton Kent, the most senior enlisted marine in Iraq, told the forces. The newspaper also reports that last year, Pentagon officials were turning for advice to Gillo Pontecorvo's 1966 film the Battle of Algiers, which showed how brutal French military tactics put down an Islamic insurgency in Algeria, only to be followed by a national uprising that defeated the French.
Alamo Documents To Be Auctioned: Two historical documents pulled from a high-profile Sotheby's sale because of questions over their ownership are returning to the auction block. One of the broadsides cleared for sale is a copy of William Barret Travis' famous"Victory or Death" plea from the Alamo, which has an estimated value of $250,000 to $350,000. The other, a message delivering news of the loss at the Alamo, is expected to bring $50,000 to $75,000. The two printed handbills, or broadsides, that helped spread news of the Texas Revolution were among four items pulled by the auction house this summer after concerns that they may have been stolen from Texas state archives years earlier.
Lillian Smith Book Award: Barbara Ransby, a University of Illinois at Chicago historian, has received the 2004 Lillian Smith Book Award for her latest work,"Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision" (University of North Carolina Press, 2003). The award, first presented in 1968, honors those authors who, through their writing, carry on Smith's legacy of exposing the condition of racial and social inequity and proposing a vision of justice and human understanding. The award was presented by the Southern Regional Council in collaboration with the University of Georgia.
American History Museum: At the Smithsonian's American History Museum, battle lines are being drawn over the 'Price of Freedom' exhibition. The exhibit includes a display of a twisted structural column from the World Trade Center and a display on Medal of Honor winners. Inside however, will be the artifacts that museum curators have chosen to represent the war in Iraq -- among them the uniform of a U.S. Army ranger killed by a roadside bomb, a set of the"Most Wanted" cards handed out to American troops to help them identify key fugitives from Saddam Hussein's regime and a piece of decorated glass from one of Hussein's palaces. The Iraq display has already generated internal dissent."Treatment of current events without benefit of historical distance and analysis is a risky enterprise," wrote Katherine Ott, chair of the NMAH branch of the Smithsonian Congress of Scholars, in a July memo to museum management expressing some of her colleagues' concerns. In particular, Ott wrote, the choice to include the operations in Iraq under the"Price of Freedom" title"presents a partisan view of the current war and is counter to our neutral public mission." NMAH Director Brent Glass disagrees.
Amelia Earhart: The search for the remains of famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart will continue this week on Tinian in the Northern Mariana Islands, as the CNMI Historic Preservation Office joins the Tinian Earhart Expedition Team lead by Jennings W. Bunn Jr. Following a survey of the island in September 2003, the expedition team, through the assistance of the HPO, has obtained approval from a private landowner to permit earthmoving activities to search for remnants or material evidence related to Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan.
Lewis and Clark Re-Enactors: A group of re-enactors retracing the expedition of Lewis and Clark have returned home for a winter break. For nearly half a year, the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles - based in a city about 25 miles northwest of St. Louis - helped the nation commemorate the bicentennial of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark by traveling part of the explorers' route. A core group of about a dozen re-enactors traveled the bulk of this year's journey, and 200 of the group's 315 members nationwide took turns joining in for part of the travels. The new discovery expedition traced the eastern part of Lewis and Clark's route last year and traveled from Missouri to North Dakota over the past six months. They'll resume their voyage next April, returning to North Dakota to continue to the Pacific. In 2006, they'll go to Oregon to trace a path back to St. Louis by September.
Germany and the Wall: Just 15 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is being rebuilt -- in the small town of Philipsthal, between Hessen and Thuringia, right where the old Wall once stood. The rebuilding is supposed to be a"symbolic act," initiated and carried out by the editorial board of the satirical magazine"Titanic"; but according to the magazine's chief editor, Martin Sonneborn, in the meantime"It's taken on a life of its own." Mr. Sonneborn is also the founder and chairman of a new political party, called simply"The Party," which aims to"re-divide Germany." Over 4,000 people have joined The Party since its founding last summer,"and many of them mean it seriously," says Mr. Sonneborn. The Party is therefore planning to participate in the 2006 Bundestag elections.
Obituary: Nathan Reingold, 77, a senior historian emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, died Oct. 30 at his home in Bethesda. He died of a stroke and aspiration pneumonia. Dr. Reingold was mentor to a generation of historians of science, as well as the author or editor of six books, five volumes of"The Papers of Joseph Henry" and dozens of essays. He was instrumental in helping to transform the history of American science from an intellectual backwater to a major area of historical research. His two most notable books were"Science in Nineteenth-Century America: A Documentary History," published in 1964, and"Science in America: A Documentary History: 1900-1939," co-authored with Ida H. Reingold and published in 1981.
World War II/Hispanics: The Houston Chronicle features an article about the U.S. Latino & Latina WWII Oral History Project, which details how the war served as a turning point for Hispanics, who possessed a greater sense of ownership and worth when they returned home, said Jorge Chapa, professor and director of Latino studies at Indiana University, Bloomington. The war gave rise to their intolerance of disparate treatment in civil rights and education that resulted in the formation of such groups as the American GI Forum and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Their work provided a stronger foothold for the Hispanic generations that followed.
Historians Subpoenaed by Chemical Companies in Lawsuit: Lawyers representing more than 20 chemical companies have taken the unusual step of issuing subpoenas to five peer reviewers of a scholarly book as part of litigation over the alleged health risks of a widely used chemical compound. The peer reviewers, who are historians and health experts, have been summoned to be questioned next week in the case, which pits a former chemical worker who now suffers from cancer against the companies, including the Dow Chemical Company, the Goodrich Corporation, the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, the Monsanto Company, and Uniroyal Inc. The book's publishers also received subpoenas, several months ago, to provide information about early drafts of the book and its peer review. The civil case is in the discovery phase and is scheduled to go to trial in February in the U.S. District Court in Jackson, Miss. At issue in the subpoenas to the publishers and reviewers is the book Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution, which was published in 2002 by the University of California Press and the Milbank Memorial Fund, a foundation dedicated to research on health policy. The book's authors -- Gerald Markowitz, a history professor on two campuses of the City University of New York, and David Rosner, a professor of history and of public health at Columbia University -- analyzed internal industry documents from the 1950s through the 1990s. In the book, they present evidence that in the late 1960s and early '70s, chemical-industry leaders failed to inform the government about a link that had been found in experiments with rats between exposure to a chemical called vinyl chloride monomer and cancer. (subscribers only)
Putin Borrowing a Page from Stalin and the Czars: Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a billionaire who offended President Vladimir Putin, is put on display in a metal cage as his trial drones on. Political analysts say that President Vladimir V. Putin, who is believed to be behind the prosecution of Mr. Khodorkovsky, has placed himself firmly in line with his imperial and Soviet predecessors, using a pliable judiciary to bring his opponents to heel. One result has been this long-running update on the Moscow show trial - one more Russian regime's demonstration, through procedures that look like law, of the power of the state and the will of its leader."In Russia we have some sort of genetic memory," said Leonid Dobrokhotov, an adviser to Russia's Communist Party and a critic of Mr. Putin."Even when they are not understanding why, political figures are always repeating what was done before."
World War I on the Web: Families of British and Commonwealth soldiers who fought in World War I will be able to trace their relatives' war records through a Web site launched Monday. The National Archives site lists the records of more than 5 million men and women of the Army and Royal Flying Corps who won service medals during the war. Members of the Royal Navy are not included in the register.
Philip Zelikow/9-11 Commission: Democrat Jane Harman has denounced historian Philip Zelikow, executive director of the 9-11 commission. According to the NYT: Mr. Zelikow complicated the pre-election negotiations - and angered proponents of the Senate bill, including commission members - when he sent a memorandum to Capitol Hill last month suggesting that a compromise offered by House Republicans could provide a national intelligence director with sufficient powers. House Republicans released the memorandum publicly to show that they were not an obstacle to a final bill. Representative Harman, who supports the Senate bill, said that Mr. Zelikow had proved to be a"rogue actor in this play" and that the memorandum and General Myers's letter had been"dirty bombs" that undermined the Senate's negotiating stance. She said that while leaders of the Sept. 11 commission had issued statements within days distancing themselves from Mr. Zelikow's memorandum, they had been slow to act, bolstering the position of House Republicans."The Zelikow e-mail should have been disavowed in nanoseconds," Ms. Harman said.
Slavery: Some black leaders and scholars are accusing the National Park Service of dragging its feet on a congressional order to commemorate slaves kept by George Washington at the first presidential mansion. Congress directed the park service two years ago to build a monument at the site, which is just steps from the Liberty Bell at Philadelphia's Independence National Historical Park, but it remains vacant and unacknowledged. The commemoration would be the first federal memorial to slavery in the nation."We have to tell the truth, whether it hurts or not," said Charles Blockson, a curator of African American artifacts at Temple University."In the city of Philadelphia, it's never been told."
Money: Charleston city employees have discovered steel plates used to print bills toward the end of the War of 1812. The plates were found in an old safe in City Hall by employees who were preparing the building for a major renovation. The discovery has created a buzz at museums from Columbia to Washington. Banks and some large businesses and cities commonly printed money before the nationalization of currency, but many used inexpensive techniques or lithography, rather than engraved steel.
Week of 11-1-04
Racist Language in Alabama Statutes: Racist language referring to" colored children," segregated schools and poll taxes will remain embedded in Alabama's state Constitution after a narrow vote on Tuesday. Amendment 2 asked voters to decide whether to remove the offensive language, deemed unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable. Unofficial results showed that 50.9% of voters were against the largely symbolic measure.
Chile/Pinochet Era: After years of characterizing the human rights violations that occurred in Chile under the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet as"excesses" by individual officers rather than a deliberate government policy, the Chilean Army reversed course on Friday and acknowledged that it must bear collective"institutional" blame for such abuses.
Wal-Mart and Mexican Pyramids: A giant Wal-Mart discount store opened less than a mile from the ancient pyramids at Teotihuacán, just north of Mexico City, after months of protests, hunger strikes and a public relations campaign by locals and intellectuals who think the store will eviscerate small businesses and mar an important archeological site.
Tax Reform: TWENTY years ago, running against Ronald Reagan, a Republican incumbent who had slashed taxes and sent the budget deficit soaring, Walter Mondale offered a prediction:"Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I," he said."He won't tell you. I just did." Mr. Mondale proved to be a better seer than candidate. The economic hallmark of the second Reagan term was tax reform, which took the form of an effort to simplify the tax code and close what were seen as loopholes. It was painted as revenue neutral, but in fact it raised taxes and began the process of repairing the budget. For his second term, George W. Bush promised his own tax reform, although details were few. There has been talk of simplification and of a national sales tax.
John Kerry: Now what? Will Kerry into obscurity like Dukakis? Or will he follow in the footsteps of Humphrey and Ted Kennedy who roared back to life following their defeats in presidential politics? Dukakis predicts Kerry will remain fully engaged.
Roman Cosmetics: A pot of Roman cosmetic cream discovered in London has been analysed and recreated by scientists. Last year, archaeologists discovered the pot complete with its contents at a Roman temple close to Guy’s Hospital, Southwark. The cream, made of animal fat, starch and white tin oxide, is from around the year AD2.
Election 2004: Bush's electoral victory map looks remarkably like William McKinley's, bloggers are noticing. Click here to compare maps.
Middle East Studies: Martin Kramer calls on Georgetown's John Esposito to resign from the board run by Azzam Tamimi, a Palestinian who heads the Institute of Islamic Political Thought. Kramer cites a recent interview in which Tamini appears to endorse suicide bombings in Israel.
Lincoln: Resurrecting a four-decade old debate questioning the sexual orientation of President Abraham Lincoln, a new book asserts — based largely on circumstantial evidence — that the 16th president was gay. “The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln,” written by the late Dr. C.A. Tripp, is slated for publication early next year according to a spokesperson for Free Press, the book’s publisher. Tripp, who was a clinical psychologist, had worked closely with the controversial sexologist Alfred Kinsey. Using Kinsey’s famous 0-6 scale which ranks the homosexual component of an individual, Tripp wrote that, “By this measure Lincoln qualifies as a classical 5 —predominately homosexual, but incidentally heterosexual.” (HNN Editor's Note: At least one prominent journalist familiar with Tripp's account has found his use of evidence troubling. Click here for details.)
Iraq Professors Flee the Country: The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research claims that, in addition to dissatisfaction with salaries, more than 1600 university teachers have left Iraq due to threats, kidnappings, and murders. A ministry source said 14 university teachers were killed last year, while the fate of 75 teachers is still unknown. The source added that assassinations and kidnappings led to the closure of some fields of study in the last year - a problem the ministry also faces this year.
Impact of the Election on History Funding: The Coalition for History reports ..."For the first time since the 1920s the Republican Party has won control of the White House, the Senate, and the House in consecutive elections. Nevertheless, the across-the-board Republican victory is not expected to bring any big changes to archives, history, and humanities programs."
Election 2004 Predictions: The small band of political scientists who specialize in forecasting presidential elections had a lot more to crow about this year than in 2000, when their predictions that Al Gore would win a large share of the popular vote -- and, implicitly, the election -- went far astray. This year's election was kinder to the forecasters' models. Political scientists offered seven predictions in September, at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, and four of those predictions turned out to fall within 2.5 percentage points of President Bush's actual popular-vote share of 51.6 percent. (That was the number as of late Wednesday, with 99 percent of the nation's precincts reporting.) (Chronicle of Higher Ed subscribers only)
Plagiarism: (From Romenesko)Florida Times-Union editorial page editor Lloyd Brown says he'll retire"as soon as possible" after a panel found three instances of plagiarism and many other instances of lack of complete attribution in the paper's editorials. Brown, who has been in his post since 1993, says:"I do not dispute the committee's findings. ...However, I disagree with their conclusion. In my view, the critical element of the issue is intent. At no time have we ever attempted to pass off someone else's work as our own. If other material was used without proper attribution, it was inadvertent." The plagiarism probe was launched after an alternative weekly accused Brown of lifting material and viewing Internet porn at work.
Middle East Studies (I): Joseph Massad, the Columbia professor attacked in the film"Columbia Unbecoming" has responded:"The recent controversy elicited by the propaganda film 'Columbia Unbecoming,' a film funded and produced by a Boston-based pro-Israel organization, is the latest salvo in a campaign of intimidation of Jewish and non-Jewish professors who criticize Israel...."
Middle East Studies (II): A Columbia student defends the film"Columbia Unbecoming.":"The Orwellian McCarthyism, if you will, being practiced by [Columbia's Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures department] is where we should refocus the debate. The department avoids having to deal with criticism by calling it an infringement on its academic freedom—silencing its opponents by accusing them of trying to silence it. The real danger of MEALAC is not that there are professors who are pro-Palestinian, and it's not even that the department as a whole is biased. The real danger of MEALAC is that opposing points of view are dishonestly recast as attacks on academic freedoms."
Goya: Was Francisco de Goya gay? A book published in Madrid claims the Spanish master had a"homoerotic relationship with his friend Martin Zapater", whom he painted twice. The claim is based on Goya's uncensored personal letters that were made public in the 1980s.
Election 2004: Presidential historian Larry Sabato says that as deeply divided as the country has been in this election, it's survived much more bitter contests."Just in recent times, I would say the 1964 Johnson/Goldwater race was one of the most negative presidential battles in all of American history," says Sabato, who heads the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia."We've had a lot of negative races. We're able to recover and go along a lot better and faster than we think."
Historical Reality TV: PBS tries to offer a historical classroom to modern participants. The network has found success by daring people to live like our forefathers for the series"Colonial House" and"The 1900 House." The latest series requests people to visit England's Regency era. The Regency era lasted nine years (1811-1820) and was named for the King George IV -- the prince regent who ascended to the British throne. George IV, who took the throne when his father, George III, was declared insane, led his people into a new decadence that promoted fun, frivolity and a bit of immorality.
Queen Elizabeth: Britain and Germany should learn from history but not be obsessed by it, the Queen has said in a speech at a Berlin landmark where Hitler once honoured Nazi heroes. In a keynote speech to German President Horst Köhler, she said both nations should look beyond simplistic stereotypes and continue to build an enduring friendship after the suffering of the Second World War.
George Washington Makeover: Mention George Washington and the first image conjured up by most people is that of a stern, old white-haired man with a piercing gaze. Seeing him every day on dollar bills and quarters, it is hard to imagine that he was not born looking like that. A group of scientists, historians, archivists and other experts has set out to change all of that. Working from forensic evidence, documents and all manner of historical sleuthing, they are on a quest to put life and youth back into Washington.
Electoral College: Stanford historian Jack Rakove has written an op ed in which he hopes that the election ends in chaos. It's the only way he believes that we will finally be able to find enough public support to abolish the Electoral College.
Election 2004 Prediction: Yale economist Ray Fair predicts in his final assessment of the election that George W. Bush will win 57.70% of the popular vote. His model has accurately accounted for every election victory since 1960 with the exception of 1992.
Thracians: Not much history has survived of the Thracians, who some experts say lived in what is now Bulgaria, Romania, northern Greece and Turkey's European territory from as early as 4000 B.C. until being absorbed by the Roman Empire in 46 AD. But in Bulgaria, as new funding begins to trickle in, archeaologists are working furiously to thwart modern-day tomb raiders and find out more about the mysterious Thracians, who experts say founded one of Europe's earliest refined cultures.
Texas Rangers: Southern Methodist University in Dallas says new historical accounts are casting the long-revered outlaw and Indian fighters in a decidedly darker light. The scholarship - being gingerly acknowledged at the Hall of Fame - involves investigations into massacres committed in an obscure border war against Mexican bandits and insurrectionists in 1915, a quagmire of its time."Not a bright period in the history of the Rangers," concedes the museum's director, Byron Johnson, in a film seen by many of its 80,000 visitors a year. A recent book by an assistant history professor at Southern Methodist and other accounts exploiting archives on both sides of the border, including a damning but little-known Texas legislative investigation of 1919, link the Rangers to the"evaporations" of up to 5,000 Mexican insurgents and Tejanos - Texans of Mexican origin - whose lands in the Rio Grande Valley were coveted by Anglo settlers.
Week of 10-25-04
Election 2004 and Wall Street: Historians dissect impact of elections on Wall Street. Throughout history, who moves in and who moves out of the White House has moved stocks on Wall Street. Perhaps the biggest data point that jumps out is the one that dismisses what is perhaps the biggest myth on Wall Street: that stocks do better under Republican presidents. In the past 100 years, stocks have posted bigger gains under Democrats.
Joseph Ellis: In an essay in Newsweek, Ellis tries to imagine what George Washington would make of the issues facing us in this election.
Lame Duck Congress: Seventy-one years after reformers thought they had gotten rid of lame-duck sessions of Congress, lawmakers -- victors and vanquished alike -- will trudge back to Washington in mid-November to tackle problems they could not resolve before Tuesday's elections.
Heinz Family Fortune: A major profile by the LAT: If her husband is elected president, Teresa Heinz Kerry will be among America's most recognizable figures. But she already is commander of a family empire that has been a familiar name to Americans for over a century — one whose history includes political activism and philanthropy, but also infighting and tragedy.
Presidential IQ: Perceptions of candidates' intelligence have long played a major role in American politics, as have attempts to manipulate those perceptions. Misspelling the word"potato," for example, appears to have permanently doomed former Vice President Dan Quayle's Presidential ambitions. Thus, it's hardly surprising that some candidates have toiled to cultivate an image of brilliance. For example, Joseph Kennedy Sr. spent heavily on the ghostwriters who largely concocted the two nonfiction bestsellers published under his son John's name. JFK even won the Pulitzer Prize for"Profiles in Courage," which is now known to be mostly the work of speechwriter Theodore Sorenson.
Europe's Christian History: When European Union leaders gather in Rome to sign their new constitution today, they will rebuff Pope John Paul II and his effort to acknowledge Christianity in the historic document. The Roman Catholic pontiff has often voiced concern about Europe's increasingly secular society. In the signing of a constitution that does not acknowledge Europe's religious history, the Vatican sees proof that the EU is distancing itself from Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular.
Presidential Campaigns During Wartime: We tend to remember distant wartime campaigns in soft focus, with a noble president -- think Lincoln in his stovepipe hat or FDR in his navy cape -- rallying the people to his side. But the road to victory is never smooth, as Lincoln learned in 1864 and Roosevelt found 80 years later. In modern times, the sitting war president has often chosen not to run for reelection (Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson), and the challenger subsequently defeated the incumbent party's nominee (Adlai Stevenson in 1952, Hubert Humphrey in '68). These seemingly ancient campaigns hold valuable lessons for George Bush and John Kerry in the homestretch of a race dominated by the Iraq war. Analogies with the past are always inexact, but since most polls are locked within the margin of error, some historical handicapping can't hurt.
Algerian War: The eight-year-long Algerian war was to bring down six French prime ministers, open the door to de Gaulle — and come close to destroying him too. The war was the last of the grand-style colonial struggles, but, perhaps more to the point, it was also the first campaign in which poorly equipped Muslim mujahedin licked one of the top Western armies. The echoes of la guerre d’Algérie still reverberate across the Islamic world, especially in Iraq.
Kish Artifacts Reunited On-line: Scientists wanting to study Kish have been hampered by the placement of the artifacts on three continents. More than half of them went to Iraq's national museum in Baghdad, and the rest were split between the Field and Oxford's Ashmolean Museum. Now the National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded the Field Museum a $100,000 grant to pull the Kish artifacts back together again--not physically, but in a virtual collection available online. A digitized catalog will be offered in Arabic and English. Without a unifying catalog for the Kish artifacts, researchers had little clue about which of the three museums has which objects and where in the dig sites each object came from, meaning the collections were underutilized as a scientific resource.
UNESCO: The United Nations yesterday announced the creation of a new kind of rapid reaction force to step in wherever art treasures are threatened by war or natural disaster. The" cultural blue berets", as they are already being called, will initially be formed entirely of Italians and could include members of Italy's paramilitary police, the carabinieri. Yesterday's move followed international outrage over the looting of priceless antiquities during the US-led coalition's invasion of Iraq last year. But the absence of an internationally agreed plan for protecting mankind's cultural heritage was also underlined last December when an earthquake struck the city of Bam in south-eastern Iran, severely damaging the nearby, 2,000-year-old mud-brick citadel.
Nazi Maps: A German historian on Thursday published a set of top-secret maps of Nazi Germany's arms industry that were seized from Hermann Goering, the chief of Adolf Hitler's air force, at the end of World War II. The 33-map collection -- titled ``Goering's Atlas'' -- gives insight into the Third Reich's armament strategy and details the origins of the raw materials for the industry behind the German war machine, said Werner Abelshauser, a historian from Bielefeld University.
Historians Comment on Election 2004: From the San Francisco Chronicle ... Eminent historians scrutinize the single most important issue in the presidential campaign and find two central truths: quick success, long-term problems. The major combat phase of the war was a stunning tactical success for the technologically advanced volunteer U.S. military, a victory so swift and decisive that it will likely change the shape of future warfare, even if its lessons are not yet completely understood. The aftermath of major combat has been largely a failure, brought on by an ill-considered postwar plan and decisions poorly made. Some found the failures to be rooted in the decision to go to war in the first place. Others said that history may yet view the current chaos as the birth pangs of a new world, especially if Iraq is able to become a genuine, successful democracy. Comments are from: Joseph Nye, Malcolm Muir Jr., Victor Davis Hanson, Richard H. Kohn, Andrew J. Bacevich, G. Kurt Piehler, Andrew Wiest, Lawrence Suid, Eugenia C. Kiesling.
Lincoln Gay?: The LA Weekly reports that the late Dr. C.A. Tripp — in the book, The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, to be published in the new year by Free Press —"makes a powerful case" that Lincoln was gay. (HNN Editor's Note: At least one prominent journalist familiar with Tripp's account has found his use of evidence troubling. Click here for details.)
Hannah Arendt: In the newly reissued paperback edition of her acclaimed biography Hannah Arendt: For Love of the World, Elisabeth Young-Bruehl says she made only one significant mistake in the original, published by Yale University Press more than two decades ago. But it was a doozy. And the repercussions are bound to echo much louder now, thanks to the correction. In 1982, Ms. Young-Bruehl, then an associate professor of letters at Wesleyan University, wrote that Arendt made donations to the Jewish Defense League, a terrorist group, in 1967 and 1973. Actually, the biographer now says, the donations were to the United Jewish Appeal, a philanthropic organization. Ms. Young-Bruehl also says that Edward Said repeated the misinformation, then ignored her effort to set the record straight. (Subscribers only.)
Mexican Ruins at Risk: Washington Post reporter Anahi Rama finds that archaeological sites in Mexico, are"underfunded for investigation, embroiled in land conflicts, and being spoiled by the sheer number of visitors."
Government Secrets: The White House opposes the creation of a new classification board with the power to override executive branch decisions on what is stamped secret.
Philip Zelikow/9-11 Commission: The staff director of the independent Sept. 11 commission has sent a memorandum to Capitol Hill praising provisions of a Republican House proposal to enact the panel's major recommendations, complicating delicate last-minute negotiations in Congress on Tuesday because the 10 members of the commission and the White House have endorsed provisions of a rival bipartisan Senate bill. House Republicans made public the Oct. 23 memorandum from Philip D. Zelikow, the former staff director, as proof that House negotiators were not standing in the way of a compromise bill to enact the commission's chief recommendation: creation of the powerful job of a national intelligence director to coordinate the government's spy agencies.
Columbia University/Middle East Studies: A congressman from New York City is calling for the dismissal of a Columbia University professor he accuses of"displays of anti-Semitism." Rep. Anthony Weiner, a Democrat of Brooklyn and Queens, has written a letter to Columbia's president, Lee Bollinger, urging him to"fire" Joseph Massad, an assistant professor of Arab politics and one of the harshest critics of Israel on campus. In his letter, Mr. Weiner said Columbia cannot ignore instances like a public speech in which Mr. Massad is said to have likened Zionism to Nazism. The professor, in a published article, has also denied Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.
British Imperialism: British ministers' claim to be defending civilisation against barbarity in Iraq finds a powerful echo in 1950s Kenya, when Britain sought to smash an uprising against colonial rule. Yet, while the British media and political class expressed horror at the tactics of the Mau Mau, the worst abuses were committed by the occupiers. The colonial police used methods like slicing off ears, flogging until death and pouring paraffin over suspects who were then set alight. British forces killed around 10,000 Kenyans during the Mau Mau campaign, compared with the 600 deaths among the colonial forces and European civilians.
Ho Chi Minh: Behind thick concrete walls and iron doors, Ho Chi Minh and other top North Vietnamese leaders hid out in secret underground tunnels during U.S. B-52 bombing raids and plotted key military strategies that led to America's defeat in the Vietnam War. For the first time, Hanoi has opened the bunker used by the late former president, his military leader, Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, and others. It's in the same building where the 1968 Tet offensive and the fall of Saigon in 1975 were planned from about 30 feet below the surface.
Reconstructing the Past: In November 2003, half a century after the demolition of the Stadtschloss palace of the Hohenzollerns, the rulers of Prussia, the Parliament of reunified Germany voted to turn back the clock. Calling the Soviet built Palace of the Republic an unnecessary eyesore, the German Parliament decided to demolish it and rebuild the Stadtschloss. According to the plans, the reconstruction of the Baroque facade of the royal palace would be financed by donations and private investors. Designed by the 17th-century architect Andreas Schlüter, the facade would blend in well with the neo-Classical style of the neighboring Museumsinsel, an island in the Spree with five important museums. A modern interior would include museum space, a library, stores and maybe a hotel.
Mini-Human I: In what is being hailed as one of the most spectacular paleoanthropological finds of the past century, researchers have unearthed the remains of a dwarf human species that survived on the Indonesian island of Flores until just 13,000 years ago. The discovery significantly extends the known range of physical variation in our genus, Homo, and reveals that H. sapiens shared the planet with other humans much more recently than previously believed. Scientists writing today in Nature describe a partial skeleton from a limestone cave on the island known as Liang Bua. Dubbed LB1, the specimen appears to have belonged to an adult female who stood barely a meter tall and had a skull the size of a grapefruit--the smallest member of the human family yet.
Mini-Human II: The remains of a little cousin of modern man nicknamed"the hobbit" that lived only 12,000 years ago have been unearthed by scientists, in a spectacular find that rewrites the story of human evolution. The discovery on a remote Indonesian island shows that Homo sapiens shared the Earth with more primitive relatives soon before the dawn of recorded history, and suggests a tantalising explanation for the myths of elves, dwarves and"wild men of the woods" that are popular all over the world. Some scientists even believe it possible that the creature, or something like it, could still survive today in the planet's most isolated and unexplored outposts.
Korean History: Amid the historic disputes over the Koguryo Kingdom (B.C. 37-668) between the scholars of Korea and China, many found there to be a lack of materials for promoting the nation’s history overseas. There have been a good number of books on Korean history published and introduced overseas. However, most of them have been either written by foreign writers lacking deep insight into the country and its culture, or directly translated from Korean sources, which made them extremely hard to understand for foreign readers. Under the circumstances, it sounds timely enough to hear that a brand new English book on Korean history is waiting to be published in the US, written by a Korean professor who spent a great deal of his career promoting Korean culture and history.
Vietnam War/Kerry: The Weekly Standard says that John Kerry, despite media accounts, did keep his contacts with the North Vietnamese on a Paris trip in 1970 secret for some nine months.
Vietnam War/Kerry: The communist regime in Hanoi monitored closely and looked favorably upon the activities of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War during the period Senator Kerry served most actively as the group's spokesman and a member of its executive committee, two captured Viet Cong documents suggest. The documents - one dubbed a" circular" and the other a"directive" - were captured in 1971 and are part of a trove of material from the war currently stored at the Vietnam Archive at Texas Tech University at Lubbock.
Postponing Elections: The possible postponement of elections due to terrorist attack or other emergency is addressed in yet another new CRS report (the third to address the subject, by our count)."Due to the possibility of an emergency or disaster, including the threat of a terrorist attack, occurring immediately before or during a scheduled election, some states have enacted statutes providing for the temporary postponement of elections in their respective states, precincts, districts, or counties. This Report summarizes seven state statutes that provide a mechanism for the postponement of certain elections."
Algerian Independence: Fifty years ago Sunday, Algerian nationalists sparked what was to become one of the African continent's bloodiest independence wars with a series of some 60 nearly simultaneous explosions and attacks that left a dozen people dead. Their meticulously planned surprise operation targetted symbols of French rule such as police stations, municipal buildings, bridges and electrical facilities, stunning the colonial authorities only months after France lost Indochina at Dien Bien Phu. It would take the French political class nearly nine more blood-soaked years to grasp the amplitude of the rebellion, and to break ranks with proponents of an eternal French Algeria.
Foreign Policy: The daunting task of foreign policy will be approached with very different goals and strategies by the two presidential candidates, according to Tufts professors. President Bush's decision to engage in a preemptive war in Iraq was likely the most controversial decision of his presidency, and perhaps the most polarizing in terms of the support he gathers now. While America has a long history of imperialism and unilateralism in foreign policy, a greater extent of cooperation has generally been respected since World War II, according to Department of Political Science Professor Tony Smith.
Civil War Ship: The only Civil War-era vessel still afloat left its mooring in Baltimore's Inner Harbor on Tuesday and made its first voyage to the Naval Academy at Annapolis in 111 years. The venerable USS Constellation can no longer make the 30-mile trip on her own power, so the sloop of war was moved to the academy by tugboats. The six-day visit is part of a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Constellation, launched in 1854. It's the ship's first time out of the Inner Harbor since 1955.
Korean History Dispute: The Goguryeo Research Foundation, a Korean academic group composed of historians and China experts, examined key issues surrounding the history disputes with China at a conference yesterday."While previous forums focused on the facts about Goguryeo Kingdom and the legitimacy of Korea's claim for the ancient kingdom, this conference is designed to identify China's real motive and strategy," said Kim Jeong-bae, director of the foundation. The conference, held at a hotel in downtown Seoul, is the latest of a series of academic forums aimed at countering China's repeated claims that Goguryeo belongs to the Chinese history.
Roman Forts under Siege: Rabbits are threatening to destroy forts and watchtowers built by the invading Roman legions 2,000 years ago. Archaeologists say burrows have undermined about 60 defensive sites in Scotland, and some structures are in danger of collapse. The large fort at Ardoch, near Braco in Perthshire, established about 80AD, is one of the worst-affected sites. Established more than 40 years before Hadrian's Wall, it is the earliest example of a Roman frontier fort in Britain and was one of the largest in the country, covering six acres.
Wal-Mart: A Wal-Mart store rising near the 2,000-year-old pyramids of the Teotihuacan Empire has ignited the wrath of Mexican conservationists and nationalists, who say the U.S. retailer is destroying their culture at the foot of one of Mexico’s greatest treasures. Last week, 63 prestigious artists and intellectuals, in a letter published in Mexican newspapers, asked President Vicente Fox to stop the structure. They see it as a battle pitting Mexico’s heritage against encroaching U.S. influence. Wal-Mart is already Mexico’s largest retailer, with 664 stores in 66 cities, with sales of $12 billion."The struggle for Teotihuacan is a war of symbols," they wrote.
Germany and England: British history teachers have been flown to Berlin at German taxpayers' expense to learn that there is more to the country than the Nazi era. Twenty-four teachers from primary and secondary state schools are on a four-day tour at the invitation of the foreign ministry, which has complained that Britons are too obsessed with Adolf Hitler and know little about contemporary Germany.
Obituary: Nathan Miller, 77, author of more than a dozen books of U.S. history and biography, died Oct. 22 at the Washington Home after a series of strokes. A veteran of World War II in the Pacific, Mr. Miller centered his historical writing on his two major enthusiasms, the U.S. Navy and the Roosevelt family."FDR: An Intimate History" (1983) and"Theodore Roosevelt: A Life" (1992) were critically praised and remain steady sellers.
German Genocide in Namibia: Concentration camps. Pseudoscientific experiments that led to theories of racial superiority. The systematic killing of more than two-thirds of an entire population. These images come not from the Holocaust, but from its lesser-known precedent: the 1904 genocide of the Herero people by the German army in what is now Namibia. Despite being conducted on an exponentially smaller scale than the destruction of European Jewry during World War II, the German campaign in Southern Africa provided many of the methods, racial beliefs and even personnel for the Nazi atrocities.
Obituary: Professor Harold Perkin, who has died aged 78, was an important and innovative scholar, whose pioneering publications and vigorous entrepreneurship helped establish social history as a major area of study in British universities and in the broader public mind. As championed and practised by Perkin, social history was neither the mindless accumulation of antiquarian trivia, nor the nostalgic celebration of some imagined bucolic past, and least of all was it the arrangement of the facts in accordance with some preordained (and usually Marxist) pattern. For Perkin, social history was the history of society as a whole: its people and places, its structures and institutions, and its evolution and development over time.
The Stasi: Margaret Thatcher's visit to west Berlin in October 1982, during which she made a stand against communism in front of the Berlin wall, was a security fiasco from start to finish. According to files from the archives of east Germany's notorious secret police, the Stasi, communist spies secretly photographed and closely observed Mrs Thatcher throughout her trip after managing to get hold of an advance copy of her itinerary.
Access to Files Threatened By Asbestos: Up to 10 million pages of vital British military secrets have been rendered unusable by exposure to asbestos - and experts say the contamination threatens the operation of the Freedom of Information Act. The 63,000 files include many nuclear secrets and the official versions of events such as the sinking of the Belgrano in 1982 and the killing of IRA terrorists in Gibraltar by the SAS in 1988. A decontamination expert said the cost of cleaning the files would run into tens of millions of pounds and could take years to complete.
The Light Brigade Anniversary: Exactly 150 years after the Charge of the Light Brigade more than 200 British ex-soldiers, enthusiasts and tourists will gather near Balaclava today to mark the British Army's most infamous blunder. Led by Prince Philip, who has spent the past two days visiting the Crimean battle sites with retired officers from the Queen's Royal Hussars, the party will hold a service to remember the dead.
Nazi Criminals: The Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center will begin a campaign in January to flush out the last surviving Nazi war criminals in Germany, the head of the center's Jerusalem office said Sunday. Efraim Zuroff said the campaign will finally begin after several delays on January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. The campaign is part of the Jewish group's ``Operation Last Chance,'' a drive which has been underway across eastern Europe to catch World War II criminals who took part in the Holocaust.
Election 2004: The New Yorker has made the first political endorsement in its 80-year history, backing Sen. John Kerry in next week's presidential election. Asked why the magazine was endorsing a candidate for the first time, spokeswoman Perri Dorset said,"We believe this is a very critical election and an important time in our country and we decided we want to make a statement about it."
Joseph Ellis: In an article published by the Associated Press, Joseph J. Ellis, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, ponders what he has learned over the past three years and discusses his new book,"His Excellency: George Washington." He reveals how the writing of the book was part of his self-reflection, revealing"That we all are imperfect," he says."That we will never face our imperfections unless forced to do so. That the most serious wounds in life are self-inflicted."
Churchill: Britain's disastrous performance in the early years of the Second World War left Winston Churchill considering peace negotiations with the Nazis, documents unearthed by a Cambridge historian reveal. Correspondence contained in a major new book on the war-time Prime Minister shows he believed Britain faced no alternative by the summer of 1940 - and contradicts his public declaration that he would never negotiate with the Germans. Churchill began publishing his epic six-volume history of the war in 1948. With access to hundreds of top-secret documents, his account quickly become the definitive history of the war and helped him to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. But, it now appears, he also used it as a tool to hide his own, admittedly few, mistakes and weaknesses from future generations of historians.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: The latest edition of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography has been described as"the intellectual equivalent of the Millennium Dome" after the discovery that it is riddled with errors. A number of amateur historians have noticed glaring inaccuracies in several entries and say that the lax editorial process makes a mockery of the £7,500 retail price. In spite of the time it took to produce, several hundred entries are thought to include incorrect dates, misspelt names and a" complete ignorance" of recent specialist research.
World War II: Sixty-two years after its author died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, a remarkable and previously unpublished wartime work by an emigre Russian Jew in France has taken the world of publishing by storm. Suite Francaise, the first two parts of what Irene Nemirovsky originally intended to be a five-volume epic, has been hailed by ecstatic French critics as ``a masterpiece'' and ``probably the definitive novel of our nation in the second world war''.
Reaction to Peter Charles Hoffer's Book on the History Scandals: Hoffer, a former plagiarism adviser for the American Historical Association says in his new book, Past Imperfect, that his profession is in deep trouble. He's especially critical of the AHA for deciding not to pursue plagiarists."We must start acting like professionals, instead of making believe we're professionals," he said in a recent phone interview."One of the hallmarks of professionalism is to discipline erring members." But some colleagues say his case doesn't add up. Eric Foner, professor of history at Columbia University and former AHA president, says historians need to do a better job of monitoring professional misconduct, but he cautions that there are practical limits to what the AHA can do about it."We don't have the power of sanction," he explains."We can't take away a historian's license to practice." And misdeeds, he points out, hardly go unpunished."Bad publicity is a pretty big sanction, especially if you're a popular historian."
Michael Jackson: Yale University has held a scholarly conference called,"Regarding Michael Jackson: Performing Racial, Gender and Sexual Difference Center Stage." At the conference historians and lit critics, among others, discuss the significance of the"King of Pop."
Bill Clinton: Pirated translations of Bill Cinton's memoirs in Chinese invent a Chinese context for events that had nothing to do with China. In one scene from the early days in Arkansas, the future president and his Uncle Buddy sat around and chewed the fat, ham fat to be precise, and talked about how China was one of the world's most ancient cultures and had produced Four Great Inventions, one of which was gunpowder.
9/11 Commission Report: If the authors of"The 9/11 Commission Report" end up winning a National Book Award on Nov. 17, their acceptance speech should include a thank you to partisan politics. But first they will have to figure out who among the 10 commissioners and 80 staff members should be ready to walk on stage that day to accept the prize - a bronze scroll and $10,000. The 9/11 commission's executive director, Philip D. Zelikow, a University of Virginia historian, calls himself the report's"author surrogate."
Week of 10-18-04
Martin Luther: Archaeologists in Germany say they may have found a lavatory where Martin Luther launched the Reformation of the Christian church in the 16th Century. The stone room is in a newly-unearthed annex to Luther's house in Wittenberg. Luther is quoted as saying he was"in cloaca", or in the sewer, when he was inspired to argue that salvation is granted because of faith, not deeds. The scholar suffered from constipation and spent many hours in contemplation on the toilet seat.
Kissinger and he Media: Even in the midst of grueling diplomatic crises as the secretary of state in the mid-1970's, Henry A. Kissinger always took time out for calls from the press. He schmoozed, spun and lectured his way into the heart of Washington's media establishment, and that transformed him into Super-K, escort of starlets, perennial magazine cover story and master of foreign affairs.
Presidential Ancestry: Political candidates George W. Bush, John Kerry and their fellow office-seekers spend millions trying to masquerade as one of us—just an average Joe. It’s a tough sell, but there’s a grain of truth to the politicians’ just-folks spin: According to Family Tree Magazine, the country’s best-selling genealogy magazine, 100 million everyday Americans share ancestors with presidents. Even the current candidates, both descendants of New England families, can call each other kin. With at least eight common ancestors, Bush and Kerry are cousins several times over. No need to worry about an awkward run-in at a family reunion, though—their closest connection is eighth cousins twice removed.
Belgium Examines WWII Record: It could be two more years before Belgium's Parliament starts assessing the role some officials played in the Holocaust, but the process of examining the country's responsibility in the wartime deportation of nearly half its Jewish population appears finally to have gotten under way. Earlier this month, the Center for Historical Research and Documentation on War and Contemporary Society -- a government body known by its French acronym Ceges -- began examining the wartime files of various government agencies. The study follows a Senate bill in 2002 that said Belgium should take a hard look at its past and ``establish the facts and possible responsibilities of Belgian authorities in the deportation of Jews" during the Nazi occupation from 1940-1944.
5,000 Year Old Jewels: A Bulgarian archeological team came upon a stunning find of over 400 tiny gold jewels dating back 5,000 years, BBC announced Friday.The archaeologists had unearthed gold rings, beads and jewellery inlaid with tiny pearls, the head of Bulgaria's National Museum of History, Bozhidar Dimitrov was quoted saying. Dimitrov said the jewels had shown expert craftsmanship and an unexpectedly high level of technology for the time.
Separation of Church & State: On 10 October 2004, the Senate passed the"California Missions Preservation Act" (H.R. 1446/S. 1306), legislation introduced respectively by Representative Sam Farr (D-CA) and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) that authorizes the expenditure of federal funds to provide technical and financial assistance designed to restore and repair the California missions and their associated artworks and artifacts. The measure has been criticized by some as possibly violating the Constitutional doctrine of separation of church and state.
Kennewick Man: The Senate Indians Affairs Committee has approved a 2-word amendment to exisiting law that would help Indians retain the rights to ancient skeletons like Kennewick Man, which scientists have battled for the right to test.
Heroes of History: On 18 October 2004, the National Endowments for Humanities held its second annual"Heroes of History" lecture at the historic Ford's Theater in Washington, DC. The event is part of the Endowment's"We the People" initiative designed to strengthen the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture. This year the NEH selected Harold Holzer, a prolific writer and lecturer and one of the nations leading authorities on the Civil War era, to serve as the night's guest lecturer.
Middle East/Jordan: The Hashemite Dynasty of Jordan has posted a giant flag measuring 262 by 144 ft. at the Gulf of Aqaba. A right-wing publication in Israel claims this is evidence of an apparent bid to reestablish Hashemite claims to historical lands in modern Saudi Arabia.
Election 2004: "History shows there is nothing sacrosanct about war presidents," historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. writes in his new book,"War and the American Presidency.""It is evident that rally-round-the-president when the nation is at war is not especially the American tradition," added Schlesinger, a critic of Bush. New research supports Schlesinger's contention that the U.S. military deaths in Iraq, which now have now surpassed 1,100, have cumulatively sapped Bush's popularity and put his re-election in doubt. Each 100 American deaths have cut Bush's job approval rating by 1.4 percentage points, said the paper by political scientists Richard Stoll of Rice University in Houston and Richard Eichenberg of Tufts University in Medford, Mass. Using a statistical technique that separated out the impact of casualties from such other factors as the country's economy, the two said the war had become the determining factor for Bush's re-election.
German Identity: World War II is long over, the Nazis are history, and most of its survivors and participants are pensioners. However, Britain's continued obsession with World War II colours its attitude towards its European partner, says its Foreign Minister. It seems to Germans that the British have a view of their country which remains stuck in the first half of the 20th century. It is, the German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer says,"more than three generations out of date", He adds:"My children are 20 and 25 and when they watch Germany in some of the British media, they think this is a picture they have never seen in their whole lifetimes." In truth, it is a picture Mr Fischer, born three years after the war ended, has not seen in his own adult years.
Iraqi History: History is being" cleansed" in Iraq in order to"re-educate" Ba'athists. A month-long"re-education" course has been organised for senior members of the party by Iraq's Supreme National Commission for De-Ba'athification. Once they have attended the eight lectures and signed papers renouncing the party, they will be given a letter of recommendation and some will have the chance to return to their jobs. Most of those present on this first course were senior school teachers or officials in the education ministry."We have to write a clean history," an official said."Not like before. What happened is that the former regime faked all the history. They marginalised facts, there were a lot of mistakes."
Hitler: Is there something inappropriate, unseemly, gratuitous about having a pleasure palace for affluent vacationers seeking wellness on the very spot where Hitler lived out his myths about blood and soil and racial regeneration, even as he consigned millions to concentration camps and death?"It's too late now, but I still think it's wrong," Josef Dürr, the head of the Parliamentary faction of the Green Party in Bavaria, the state where Obersalzberg lies,"because Obersalzberg is famous in the world for being the idyllic place where Hitler tried to rule the world."
China/CIA: The Central Intelligence Agency made public on Monday a rich trove of previously classified documents on China, including the supposedly authoritative National Intelligence Estimates issued over the 30-year period of Mao Zedong's rule. For scholars of what Mao called China's" continuous revolution," of its tumultuous and intertwined relationships with the United States, the Soviet Union and Taiwan, and of the American intelligence efforts aimed at understanding the unfolding events, the documents disclose a mixed record of insights and miscues.
Anti-Kerry Documentary (I): The NYT movie reviewer says ..."Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," the highly contested anti-Kerry documentary, should not be shown by the Sinclair Broadcast Group. It should be shown in its entirety on all the networks, cable stations and on public television. This histrionic, often specious and deeply sad film does not do much more damage to Senator John Kerry's reputation than have the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's negative ads, which have flooded television markets in almost every swing state. But it does help viewers better understand the rage fueling the unhappy band of brothers who oppose Mr. Kerry's candidacy and his claim to heroism. Sinclair, the nation's largest television station group, reaching about a quarter of United States television households, backed down this week and announced that it would use only excerpts from the 42-minute film as part of an hourlong news program about political use of the media,"A P.O.W. Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media.'' That's too bad: what is most enlightening about this film is not the depiction of Mr. Kerry as a traitor; it is the testimony of the former P.O.W.'s describing the torture they endured in captivity and the shock they felt when celebrities like Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden visited their prisons in North Vietnam and sided with the enemy.
Anti-Kerry Documentary (II): The NYT reports ... that the documentary that Sinclair Broadcast Group has instructed 40 of its television stations to feature in a broadcast on Friday night makes some of the most serious accusations against Senator John Kerry of the campaign. The accusations include that he single-handedly prolonged the Vietnam War, worsened the torture of prisoners of war and ultimately caused countless, needless deaths with his antiwar activism 30 years ago. The film is rife with out-of-context and incomplete quotations from Mr. Kerry and other antiwar veterans. Several historians said many accusations in it were not provable or stretched far beyond reality.
Anti-Kerry Documentary (III): The Sinclair Broadcasting Company posted a press release on its Web site stating that they will not air the controversial anti-Kerry film, Stolen Honor. (Click here) This Friday, they will run"a special one-hour news program" titled A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media. This film, which will draw from portions of Stolen Honor, purports to explore"the use of documentaries and other media to influence voting. .... The program will also examine the role of the media in filtering the information contained in these documentaries, allegations of media bias by media organizations that ignore or filter legitimate news and the attempts by candidates and other organizations to influence media coverage."
Watergate: When they acquired the Woodward-Bernstein Watergate papers in April 2003, officials at the University of Texas at Austin said in a release:"Under terms of an agreement announced today (April 7), the bulk of the archive will be made available for public examination within 11 months." The public still can't look at the papers. The school now hopes to make them public by spring 2005.
India and Pakistan: Pakistan and India are victims of"distorted history" and the governments of the two countries should initiate immediate steps to prevent text books containing such matter from spreading"hatred" between the majority communities in the region. This was the view expressed by noted Pakistani historian Dr. Mubarak Ali, who claimed that distorted facts and"fictitious" history was being taught in Pakistani schools, and this was responsible for breeding hatred among the young.
Re-Ordering Time: The long-held belief that we are living in the 21st century is under fire, as new research suggests that traditional dates may be off by about 1000 years. A group of Russian scientists, led by mathematician Dr Antoli Fomenko, are compiling evidence to prove traditional dates inaccurate. It could be necessary to rearrange the order of history. According to Fomenko’s main collaborator, Russian statistician Dr Gleb Vladimirovich Nosovskij, proving historical dates inaccurate would impact people’s interpretation of the past.
China and Japan: Since taking office in April 2001, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has adopted an aggressive and nationalist stance towards Beijing. The most high profile aspect of this approach has been his annual pilgrimage to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine. The Shinto facility is dedicated to the 2.5 million Japanese who have died in wars since 1853 including several class-A war criminals responsible for atrocities committed in China during WWII. Wartime Prime Minister General Hideki Tojo, who was executed for his crimes, is amongst those honoured at the shrine. Many Asian countries view the facility as a symbol of Japan's militarist past, and Beijing believes that a prime minister paying homage at such an establishment is the clearest possible sign that Japan is not truly remorseful for its brutal wartime past.
Emmett Till Case on Sixty Minutes: 60 Minutes will broadcast a story on the killing of Emmett Till on Sunday. It will reportedly stress the possible involvement of Carolyn Bryant. She was the wife of Roy Bryant, one of the alleged killers. Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam were tried for the murder and acquitted in 1955. The 60 Minutes report will also include an interview with Henry Lee Loggins, a black former employee of J.W. Milam. Apparently, it will not, however, press for his prosecution.
Hitler: Using computer wizardry, a documentary presents the attempted assassination of Hitler as 'archive' film. Already, criticism has been voiced of Virtual History's method of recreating footage of events that were not actually captured on film at the time. According to Roger Graef, the award-winning documentary maker, the concept of mocking up archive material is"very dodgy":"It is up to the people at the top of broadcasting and the regulators to insist on the flexibility and willingness to back the authentic, in order to resist the easy temptation of putting everything into an artificial box," he says. Speaking at the launch of Virtual History in the suitably eerie surroundings of the actual Wolf's Lair (a huddle of ivy-clad concrete bunkers deep in the dense forest of north-eastern Poland, hard by the border with Lithuania), the producers are quick to acknowledge that they are potentially stepping into an ethical minefield here.
Victorian Society: The English like to think that they have come a long way since the prudish, conservative Victorians. But, as Christopher Howse discovered when researching the history of the past 150 years through the eyes of The Daily Telegraph, their Victorian ancestors had an intensity and passion for all aspects of life, including sex.
Spain: Authorities in the Spanish region of Aragon, whose kings helped evict the Moors from Spain 500 years ago, has stirred controversy by suggesting that the severed heads of four Moors should be removed from its heraldic shield. The heads have upset the semi-autonomous region's growing population of Muslim immigrants, provoking its socialist administration to propose that the heads be erased from its bottom left-hand quarter.
Stephen Ambrose: The state of Louisiana has joined Mississippi in naming a portion of Interstate ten for historian Stephen E. Ambrose. The Louisiana portion of Interstate ten between Slidell and Hancock County was renamed the Stephen E. Ambrose Memorial Parkway during a ceremony yesterday at the Slidell Welcome Station.
Colonial Era Poster: A 1772 Rhode Island colonial proclamation offering a 100-pound reward for the capture of the perpetrators of the the burning of the Gaspee, a British customs ship, is being acutioned off Thursday in New York. Only 200 copies of the Gaspee flier were printed by Solomon Southwick of Newport following the grounding, looting and burning of the British schooner on June 9-10, 1772. For decades, historians were aware of three remaining copies of the proclamation. They are owned by the Rhode Island State Archives, the Rhode Island Historical Society and the New York Public Library. The Gaspee reward flier is estimated to draw $20,000 to $30,000.
Taj Mahal: Indian authorities have launched an urgent investigation after historians reported that the Taj Mahal was leaning and in danger of sinking. The government in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh has asked a committee of experts to report back in a week. The historians fear the drying out of the nearby Yamuna river might have affected the Taj Mahal's foundations and want urgent action.
China and Japan: Zhang Qiyue, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, says that a correct understanding of history is crucial to the political foundation of Sino-Japanese relations. Zhang's remarks followed the statement of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi Monday that he would continue to pay pilgrimage to the Yasukuni Shrine that honors the Japanese war dead, including individuals China calls A-class World War II war criminals.
David Irving Update: Banned Holocaust historian David Irving is trying again to enter New Zealand. A month ago, he was stopped from boarding a Qantas flight to Auckland from Los Angeles. Irving had hoped to travel to Wellington - he had been invited to speak to the National Press Club. But the Immigration Service refused to let him into the country because he had previously been deported from Canada. Irving said from his London home yesterday that he was taking steps to apply for a special permit as it was the only way he could seek a judicial review of the ban. In a letter hand-delivered to New Zealand House in London, Irving said that if the application was denied, he would seek legal remedies in the New Zealand courts.
History Channel: The History Channel has received regulatory approval to launch Nov. 15 in Germany. The channel will be part of the digital program package of Germany's largest cable provider, Kabel Deutschland
Holocaust: A Holocaust-era diary and love letters written by a Jewish teen for her Dutch boyfriend while she was imprisoned in an internment camp in 1943 has been donated to a Dutch archives. Archivists in the Dutch city of Tilburg on Tuesday announced the rare discovery with parallels to the famed diary by Anne Frank. The journal was kept by 18-year-old Helga Deen during the final month of her detainment in a Dutch internment camp in April-July 1943. That July, she was shipped off to a Nazi concentration camp in Sobibor, Poland with her brother, father and mother. All four died at the camp."She kept the secret diary for her boyfriend in order to help him understand what she was experiencing," said Yvonne Weling of the Tilburg Regional Archive.
England: Dr David Starkey, the historian and broadcaster, is calling for a revival of English patriotism that recognises the country's unique role in shaping the modern world. Dr Starkey, 59, believes that the reluctance of the English to champion their own homeland means that England"is now the country that dare not speak its name". He also claims that English national identity is in danger of"going down the pan" because of a post-war obsession with the idea of being"British". Dr Starkey's patriotic rallying cry coincides with his new 24-part television series on the nation's kings and queens. Monarchy will profile every English monarch from the year 400 to today at the rate of six a year.
Censure: At the request of the Catholic Church, Lebanon has banned The Da Vinci Code the most popular work of American fiction during the past 18 months. Church leaders claimed the murder mystery's use of controversial theories regarding the life of Jesus defamed Christianity and warned that it could ignite Lebanon's old sectarian tensions in the process.
Spain and Franco: Sixty-five years after the civil war ended, and almost 30 years after the death of General Francisco Franco, Spain yesterday set about restoring the honour of tens of thousands who gave their lives for the losing side. The Socialist government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero agreed to review the case of Lluís Companys, the president of Catalonia executed in Barcelona by one of Franco's firing squads. Many Catalans see Companys as a martyr for their nation.
Medicine in Nazi Germany: The practice of medicine in Nazi Germany still profoundly affects modern-day medical ethics codes, according to Alan Wells, Ph.D., an expert in medical ethics with the American Medical Association (AMA) and Patricia Heberer, Ph.D., historian at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). To teach those lessons to the next generation of physicians, the AMA and the USHMM announced plans today to deliver a lecture series on the subject to medical schools around the country."During the 1930s, the German medical establishment was admired as a world leader in innovative public health and medical research," Dr. Wells said."The question we want to examine is: 'How could science be co-opted in such a way that doctors as healers evolved into killers and medical research became torture?'"
Hitler's Head Placed on Actor's Headless Body: Using a new film technique, the producers of a new"documentary" about Hitler re-enact the plot to kill him by placing Hitler's head on a real actor's body. What the film-makers have done is to shoot"new" newsreel footage that resembles the real thing but in fact shows events that were never filmed at the time. Thus Hitler is seen having his breakfast and being injected with his daily"pick-me-up" by his physician, while Churchill loafs about in his dressing-gown until mid-morning reading the papers.
Holocaust: THE private papers of a US army psychiatrist who interviewed leading Nazis at the Nuremberg trials have been published after lying forgotten for half a century. Leon Goldensohn joined a three-man team responsible for the prisoners' mental health in 1946 and met Hitler's No2, Hermann Goering, , Fritz Sauckel, who ran the slave labour program, and Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoss. As a psychiatrist, his technique was to let the defendants talk, often without challenging their assumptions. The papers reveal the depths of the self-deception practised by the Nazis, who tried to impress Goldensohn with claims that some of their best friends were Jews and that they, personally, did not carry out the killings.
American Heritage Overrated and Underrated: The magazine produces its annual list of ovrrated and underrated figures from history. Overrated? Michael Korda says it's Robert E. Lee, Kevin Baker says it's Ronald Reagan. Underrated? Edard Renehan, Jr., says it's financier Henry Villard.
Iraq War: Gen. Tommy Franks says John Kerry has got his history of Tora Bora wrong. On more than one occasion, Senator Kerry has referred to the fight at Tora Bora in Afghanistan during late 2001 as a missed opportunity for America. He claims that our forces had Osama bin Laden cornered and allowed him to escape. How did it happen? According to Mr. Kerry, we"outsourced" the job to Afghan warlords. As commander of the allied forces in the Middle East, I was responsible for the operation at Tora Bora, and I can tell you that the senator's understanding of events doesn't square with reality.
Rosa Parks: In-depth NYT article explains the tussel over Rosa Parks between her family and her longterm caretaker, who has sued the music group OutKast for allegedly defaming her. Douglas Brinkley, her biographer, says,"On one hand, I respect the group around her because they are gatekeepers. Everyone wants a piece of her, so she needs that. But they picked the wrong case with OutKast. It's a questionable lawsuit that taints her legacy. In part it's a reflection of the feeling that many African-Americans have, from Chuck Berry to Martin Luther King's family, that they've been ripped off by white America."
Civil War Sub Discovered: Archaeologist James Delgado, host of National Geographic International Television’s “The Sea Hunters,” has announced the discovery of a Civil War era submarine off the coast of Panama. Delgado’s discovery highlights not only the role of subs in the Civil War but also the exploits of a forgotten New York inventor named Julius Kroehl—whose invention may have killed him. His submarine was the most technologically advanced craft of its age, even more so than the fabled Hunley, but it had a fatal flaw. Its crew compartment, pressurized to the same intense pressures as the deep to allow divers to freely leave and reenter the sub to disarm enemy mines, lay explosives, or, in its final career, collect pearls from the seabed, did not allow the crew to “decompress” when the sub returned to the surface.
Election 2004: In an interview, David Herbert Donald, famous Abraham Lincoln biographer, emeritus history professor at Harvard, and two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize in biography, compares the presidency of Abraham Lincoln to that of George W. Bush. According to the historian, the Lincolnian way of going to war with Iraq would have been to rally a consensus -"by that I don't mean you go to the U.N. and get everyone to agree - a consensus of public opinion, a consensus of working with leaders of the other party - to say that these are things that are desperately needed, we have to agree on them, and let's take these steps one at a time." Amongst other things, David Herbert Donald also discusses energy issues, the Patriot Act, and the contemporary political machine.
Michelangelo's David: Michelangelo's David, the towering sculpture acclaimed for its depiction of male physical perfection, has a 'hole' in the back, two anatomy professors announced at a recent conference in Italy. Computer measurements of David's body taken by professors Massimo Gulisano and colleague Pietro Bernabei of Florence University show a hollow instead of a muscle on the right side of the back, between the spine and the shoulder blade. But it wasn't really a mistake. Michelangelo was aware of the flaw.
1850s Photography: A series of new halls devoted exclusively to photography opened yesterday at the National Gallery of Art, with an exhibit of work by Roger Fenton, one of the first war photographers. A British lawyer, Fenton documented the Crimean War that pitted Russia against Britain, France and Turkey 150 years ago. Fenton’s pictures range from portraits of Queen Victoria’s family to views of tired and badly equipped soldiers in a botched war. Fenton did not limit himself to war and royalty. He photographed All the Mighty World—the exhibit’s title— including Britain’s stately homes, cathedrals and rural scenery. He was the first official photographer for the British Museum.
WWII Reparations: Top lawmakers from Poland and Germany failed Monday to bridge differences over World War II reparations claims that are weighing on relations between the two former enemies and new European Union partners. German Parliament President Wolfgang Thierse emphasized after meeting his Polish counterpart Jozef Oleksy that the Berlin government does not back claims by Germans for ancestral property in Poland lost after World War II. But, the German government has said it can't prevent them.
John F. Kennedy: Malcolm Summers, one of the closest eyewitnesses to the John F. Kennedy assassination, has died of a heart ailment at age of 80, a funeral home said. Summers told police in a deposition at the time of the assassination he thought someone had set off a firecracker and hit the ground when he realized shots were being fired. Conspiracy theorists, who do not believe accused presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, have cited Summers as saying he saw suspicious characters in the Dealey Plaza area.
Doc Holliday: Over the years, history buffs have learned a lot about the gunslinger Doc Holliday by visiting the Glenwood Springs graveyard where he is believed to be buried. A monument at Linwood Cemetery has offered such details as when Holliday was born - 1852 - and the place of his birth, Valdasta, Ga. Visitors also learn that he attended Baltimore Dental School, and that he died in a Glenwood sanatorium. Trouble is, all this information is wrong. Now the record is finally being corrected with an updated stone obelisk.
Plagiarism: The Florida Times-Union's publisher appointed a committee Friday to examine whether the newspaper's editorials contained instances of plagiarism. The decision was prompted by a story in Folio Weekly, a Jacksonville alternative paper, that said Times-Union editorials used passages from other sources without attributing them. Publisher Carl Cannon announced the committee's formation through a written statement."We treat these allegations very seriously," the statement said."They speak to our very credibility as a newspaper. We do not condone plagiarism."
Textbooks: A new study by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation says statewide textbook adoption, the process by which 21 states dictate the textbooks that schools and districts can use, is fundamentally flawed. Textbook adoption distorts the market, entices extremist groups to hijack the curriculum, enriches the textbook cartel, and papers the land with mediocre instructional materials that cannot fulfill their important education mission. The adoption process cannot be set right by tinkering with it, concludes The Mad, Mad World of Textbook Adoption. Rather, legislators and governors in adoption states should eliminate the process and devolve funding for and decisions about textbook purchases to individual schools, individual districts, even individual teachers.
Election 2004: Historian David Herbert Donald is warning that a repeat of the 2000 election could seriously undermine American democracy. Before 2000, the last time the nation suffered such a disputed presidential election was in 1876, when the wounds of the Civil War were still fresh and the public had no appetite for a pitched partisan battle, says Donald. That dispute cooled soon after Rutherford B. Hayes, declared the winner by a bipartisan commission, assumed office in 1877. This time could be different, Mr. Donald warned."There was a lot more residual ill feeling, more of a feeling that 'we were robbed,' in 2000 than in 1876," he said."If we have another cliffhanger in which the court decides the outcome, there will be serious doubts about whether this is the best way to run a government."
Week of 10-11-04
International African American Museum: Organizers need $50,000 to continue with plans for an International African American Museum that will be built in Charleston, South Carolina, and have agreed to stage events to raise money and generate support. The museum, as now envisioned, will include three main galleries. The first will deal with the period before the early 1700s, focusing on life before slavery and the slave trade. The second will encompass the period from the early 1700s to the end of the Civil War, examining slavery and abolition. The third gallery will deal with the struggles since the war to achieve civil rights.
Obituary: Pierre Salinger, the spokesman for the Kennedy White House who later became a European correspondent for ABC News, died yesterday at a hospital near his home in Le Thor, France. He was 79. Mr. Salinger had been in declining health for four years and died of heart failure, said a longtime associate, Elizabeth Bagley, an ambassador to Portugal under President Bill Clinton. Ms. Bagley said she learned of Mr. Salinger's death from his wife, Nicole, the operator of a bed-and-breakfast in Le Thor, in Provence.
Rosa Parks: A judge has asked former Mayor Dennis Archer of Detroit to serve as a guardian to 91-year-old Rosa Parks, after questions were raised about whether she was being adequately represented. The judge, George Steeh of Federal District Court, appointed Mr. Archer to intercede in two lawsuits filed on behalf of Ms. Parks against the record companies of the hip-hop duo OutKast. Last month, a doctor said Ms. Parks had dementia and should not be forced to answer questions in the suit. In a 1999 lawsuit, Ms. Parks said OutKast and the record label BMG Entertainment violated her publicity and trademark rights in the 1998 song"Rosa Parks."
Srebrenica Massacre: Bosnia's Serb Republic conceded for the first time that its forces executed more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys in the town of Srebrenica during the 1992-1995 civil war in the country. The admission was made in an officially sanctioned report by a panel of judges and lawyers commissioned to look into the massacre. A previous report had admitted to the involvement of Bosnian Serb troops, but put the number of deaths at just over 600.
Obituary: Phyllis Williams Lehmann, an archaeologist and art historian known for reuniting the hand of one of the icons of Western art, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, with two of its long-lost fingers, died on Sept. 29 at her home in Haydenville, Mass. She was 91.
Raphael Painting Discovered: ANUNKNOWN painting by Raphael, one of the greatest of Renaissance Masters, has come to light in a church in Umbria. The painting, on a canvas gonfalone or processional banner, hangs in the Church of Santa Maria dei Servi, also known as Santa Maria al Corso, at Gubbio. Guidebooks have traditionally identified it as the work of Pietro Paolo Baldinacci, a minor local Renaissance painter.
Berlin Wall: CONTROVERSIAL work to reconstruct a 600ft section of the Berlin Wall in the centre of the German capital has provoked protests from politicians, historians and former victims of Communism who claim that the project smacks of"Disneyland". The plan has been launched by a private Berlin museum which aims to create a"wall memorial" to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the historic breaching of the concrete and barbed wire dividing line in November 1989. The absence of watchtowers, barbed wire, the so-called death strip and Kalashnikov-toting East German border guards with orders to shoot on sight defectors to the West has angered many victims of the former Communist regime.
Holocaust Denial (I): The president of a university in France has asked the country's education minister to suspend a professor for comments he made this week that called into question the existence of Nazi gas chambers. Guy Lavorel, president of Jean Moulin University, in Lyon, acted following remarks by Bruno Gollnisch, a professor of languages and Japanese culture who is also a member of the European Parliament and the deputy leader of the National Front, a far-right political party.
Holocaust Denial (II): The Anti-Defamation League has condemned a comment by Mark Hyman, vice president of the Sinclair Broadcast Group, that the television networks were"acting like Holocaust deniers" with regard to coverage of anti-Kerry veterans groups.
Vietnam Symposium: The symposium,"Vietnam: Voices and Visions Unfiltered," opened today at the University of New Mexico. The symposium will feature art, photography, a speakers series, public panel discussions and more.
History Wars: A book documenting the politicisation of history has won the Australian History Prize in the New South Wales Premier's History Awards. The main winner, The History Wars by Stuart MacIntyre and Anna Clark, debates whether Australia should celebrate or apologise for European settlement.
Obituary: John Tebbel, a journalist, educator and media historian whose major work chronicled the history of American book publishing from the colonial era to the late 20th century, died on Sunday at his home in Durham, N.C. He was 91.
Muslim Cartographers: Fuat Sezgin is one of the world's most prominent historians of science and technology in the Muslim world. The 80-year-old Turkish professor is the director of the Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, and a prodigiously productive writer. He has compiled a 13-volume history of Islam's Golden Age of Science, including three new books on the accomplishments of Arabic and Islamic cartographers. He says the cartographers not only opened much of the world to Muslim traders but also paved the way for European navigators, who later defined our modern view of geography.
Bush's Military Record: The Nation is continuing to trumpet a story that broke over a week ago ... that Bush allegedly stopped flying for the Texas Air National Guard as a result of the abuse of alcohol.
CIA Role in Bolivia Disclosed: Last month, the U.S. government quietly acknowledged and described a CIA covert action program in Bolivia during the Johnson Administration. The acknowledgment came in the form of an"editorial note" that was published in the latest volume of the official State Department series Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, on South and Central America and Mexico. That volume also described the CIA's clandestine role in the 1964 election in Chile.
Former Mexican President May Face Charges: A special prosecutor investigating political crimes from 30 years ago on Thursday hailed a decision by Mexico's Supreme Court to hear arguments on whether former President Luis Echeverria can be charged with genocide for the 1971 massacre of students. Supreme Court justice Jose de Jesus Gudino said it was"in the interest of the national community to legally analyze the historical events of the past that profoundly affected the country's political life." If the court ultimately rules in Carrillo's favor, an arrest warrant would be issued for Echeverria. He would be the first president in modern Mexican history to face criminal charges.
France Seeks To Sanction Scholar: France is checking whether it can take legal action against a leading far-right politician who has questioned whether the Nazis used gas chambers in the Holocaust, Justice Minister Dominique Perben said on Thursday. The University of Lyon has urged education officials to suspend Bruno Gollnisch, a professor of Japanese there, for questioning how the gas chambers were used in the wartime slaughter of the Jews and querying the death toll. The president of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, also called for legal action against Gollnisch, a European deputy who is also the number two man in the National Front party of extreme-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Early Renaissance Painters: Did early Renaissance painters" cheat" by using a form of light projector to make their paintings so very realistic? A scientific brawl over that question broke out Wednesday in Rochester, New York, where the Optical Society of America is holding its five-day annual meeting. Charles Falco, a professor of optics at the University of Arizona, argues the Flemish painter Jan van Eyck used the camera obscura method to produce a portrait of Cardinal Niccolo Albergati in the early 1400s, much earlier than anyone thought camera obscuras were used.
Obituary: The historian and Liberal Democrat peer Lord Russell has died aged 67, it was announced today. Lord Russell, the son of the philosopher Bertrand Russell, passed away this morning after a long illness.Earl Russell wrote widely, primarily focusing on political and parliamentary history. His publications include The Causes Of The English Civil War (1990), The Fall Of The British Monarchies (1991) and An Intelligent Person's Guide To Liberalism (1999).
Iraqi National Library: It's taken months of removing soot, tackling water damage, and reorganizing, but readers and researchers are back at Iraq's National Library. Nearly a year and a half after one of Iraq's chief repositories of historical record was looted and burned, surviving archives and manuscripts are being cleaned and catalogued - while the director ventures out occasionally to scour book markets for lost treasures. At the same time, the Iraq Museum remains closed. Its location near a hotbed of resistance puts it in the crossfire of frequent attacks on US forces.
California History Museum: Three members of the California State History Museum have resigned, saying they disagree with a quiet push from California's first lady Maria Shriver to refocus the museum's attention on the accomplishments of women. Opened in 1998 as the Golden State Museum, the center's current mission is to depict a broad experience of California life. But, according to reports in the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee, Shriver has successfully lobbied a majority of the museum board to rename the facility as the California Women's History Museum and devote the 25,000 square feet of exhibit space to women's roles in California state history.
Bush and Dred Scott: President Bush's discussion of the Dred Scott decision during Friday's presidential debate left political pundits and plenty of viewers scratching their heads. But some abortion opponents think they know just what he meant. For years, many conservative groups have drawn comparisons between Dred Scott, which affirmed that slaves were property and could not become citizens, and Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion. Since the president mentioned the 1857 Supreme Court decision, the Internet has been abuzz with speculation that he was trying to telegraph a message to his conservative base."The Dred Scott reference is code language for abortion rights," the popular political blog Daily Kos explained.
Obituary: Michael Grant was one of the few classical historians to win respect from academics and a lay readership. Immensely prolific, he wrote and edited more than 50 books of nonfiction and translation, covering topics from Roman coinage and the eruption of Vesuvius to the Gospels and Christ. Perhaps surprisingly, he began his writing career in academic numismatics. Michael Grant is widely known for his four books on Roman coinage, arguing that the conflict between imperatorial eccentricity and the traditionalism of the Roman mint made coinage, used as propaganda and currency, a unique social record. Later he would become president and honorary fellow of the Royal Numismatic Society.
California Missions: The Senate has approved Sen. Barbara Boxer's legislation authorizing up to $10 million in federal funds to help restore California's 21 historic Roman Catholic missions, but critics are threatening a lawsuit, saying the measure violates the doctrine of separating church and state.
Witches: Witchcraft trials and executions were facts of life in colonial Maryland. From Southern Maryland to the Eastern Shore and as far north as Anne Arundel County, historians have documented at least 12 cases of people prosecuted or persecuted for allegedly practicing witchcraft in the 1600s and early 1700s. There wasn't the same sort of hysteria in Maryland as in Massachusetts, where 19 men and women were executed and many others imprisoned for witchcraft in 1692. But the Free State and neighboring Pennsylvania and Virginia all had witchcraft trials, historian John Nelson told rapt listeners at a Sept. 28 lecture.
Scholars Against Bush: Over 650 foreign affairs specialists in the United States and allied countries have signed an open letter opposing the Bush administration's foreign policy and calling urgently for a change of course. The letter was released today by"Security Scholars for a Sensible Foreign Policy," a nonpartisan group of experts in the field of national security and international politics.
Nixon Tapes: Sometime in the very near future, Bill Cowell will hunker down in front of a bulky 25-year-old tape player in a nondescript cubicle at the National Archives, clap on a headset and, guided by codes on a sheet of paper, find a precise spot on a thin, brown ribbon to mark with his grease pencil. Then Cowell will flip a couple of levers, slip the delicate magnetic tape into a small aluminum block and slice away the voice of former President Richard M. Nixon. Cowell, 59, can't tell you what words he'll be cutting. A former military intelligence officer, Cowell was hired as a kind of historical surgeon at the National Archives because he knows how to keep a secret. But he will say that the conversations involve mundane moments in Nixon family life and the late president's comments on internal Republican Party politics — details that would be fascinating for biographers but that a federal judge ruled 11 years ago were none of the nation's business. So Cowell will cut. Uncomfortably, and with a nagging sense that he's destroying something of value. But he will cut.
Crimean War: ARMY veterans expressed outrage yesterday at the discovery by The Times (of London) of an increasingly lucrative trade in relics plundered from one of the most famous battlefields in British military history. Just two weeks before the 150th anniversary of the Charge of the Light Brigade, the Royal British Legion expressed deep concern at the plunder of relics from that site which are then sold illegally to foreign tourists and collectors for up to $400 (£225) an item.
Columbus: Scholars had hoped that this would be the year when they would finally have some hard evidence to help them identify the resting place of Christopher Columbus. But after two years of forensic tests on remains held in Seville that were thought to be the explorer's, the mystery endures. An analysis by a team of Spanish forensic scientists from the University of Granada has so far failed to determine whether the remains, which were brought to Spain about 100 years ago, belonged to Columbus, known in Spanish as Cristóbal Colón.
Columbus: Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez celebrated Columbus Day on Tuesday by toppling a statue in Caracas of the explorer whom Chavez blames for ushering in a ``genocide'' of native Indians. Police firing tear gas later recovered parts of the broken bronze image, which was dragged by the protesters to a theater where the Venezuelan leader was due to speak.
World War II: A full list of suspected wartime traitors, including the Duke of Bedford, Sir Oswald Mosley and many other members of the British upper classes who would have been arrested in the event of a German invasion has been released for the first time at the National Archives. The"Suspect List", which fills hundreds of pages of dog-eared papers kept in thick files, was one of the most closely guarded of wartime secrets and even now, 60 years to the day after it was formally closed, is still shrouded in mystery.
Media Blackout on Military Coffins: The Department of Defense was correct to prohibit news media coverage of the transfer of coffins of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq or their arrival at Dover Air Force Base, Congress declared in the new Defense Authorization Act. The DoD policy serves to protect the privacy of the families and friends of the deceased, Congress indicated. Furthermore,"It is the sense of Congress that the Department of Defense policy regarding no media coverage of the transfer of the remains of deceased members of the Armed Forces ... is consistent with United States constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of the press."
Anti-Kerry Documentary: The 62 television stations owned or managed by the Sinclair Broadcasting Group - many of them in swing states - will show a documentary highly critical of Senator John Kerry's antiwar activities 30 years ago within the next two weeks, Sinclair officials said. Those officials said the documentary would pre-empt regular night programming, including prime time, on its stations, which include affiliates for all six of the major broadcast networks in the swing states of Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Called"Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," the documentary features Vietnam veterans who say their Vietnamese captors used Mr. Kerry's 1971 Senate testimony, in which he recounted stories of American atrocities, prolonging their torture and betraying and demoralizing them. Similar claims were made by prisoners of war in a commercial that ran during the summer from an anti-Kerry veterans group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
Darfur: Underlying the present hostilities in Darfur is not only the contemporary political conflict and competition for scarce land and water resources among rival ethnic groups, but also the long, complex history of enslavement and racism in East Africa.
Columbus: The Dominican government Monday refused a request from Spanish scientists to perform DNA testing on remains here purported to be those of Christopher Columbus. Researchers studying genetic evidence from 500-year-old bone slivers said this month that preliminary data suggests Columbus might be buried in the Spanish city of Seville, though they said more testing was needed, especially in the Dominican Republic, to be certain.
The Crusades: Present-day tension between the West and Muslim countries has very little to do with the Crusades, says a historian. In fact, Thomas Madden, chair of the history department at St. Louis University and author of"A Concise History of the Crusades," contends that, from the Muslim perspective, the Crusades were not worth noticing. That changed when 19th-century revisionists started to recast the Crusades as imperialist wars, he says.
Sand Creek Massacre: A National Park Service plan to build a Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site just east of Eads, Colorado, is driving an emotional debate and focusing worldwide attention on a town of fewer than 700 people and a patch of grassland that's now little more than a few rolling hills of browned-out scrub. On Nov. 29, 1864, a force of 500 soldiers, temporarily enlisted in Colorado to fight Indians, swept down on a quiet village of Cheyennes and Arapahos along Sand Creek. The soldiers were led by Col. John Chivington, a part-time Methodist preacher who believed that God was leading him to wipe out Indians.
Revolutionary Era Documents: The National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Park Service in conjunction with the State of New Jersey are paying for the restoration of a collection of 5,200 pages of documents that detail a vivid story of New Jersey's Revolutionary War experience. The collection, including militia records and Loyalist papers, constitute 6 percent of the archives' holding on the Revolutionary War, state officials said.
Columbus: The end of an 18-year, UCLA-sponsored voyage of discovery into the life and times of Christopher Columbus came to an end in time for Monday's holiday dedicated to the famed explorer. The 13th and final volume of Repertorium Columbianum -- an exhaustive collection of Columbus-era documents -- just rolled off the presses, the university announced. The project was launched in 1986, with publication of the first volume in 1993. The documents include Columbus family legal records, Columbus' contracts with the Spanish royal house and"a bizarre collection of Biblical prophecies compiled by Columbus to argue his voyage was foreordained," according to a UCLA statement.
German Anit-Nazi Cleric To Be Sainted: Cardinal Clemens August von Galen, a wartime German cleric who openly criticised the Nazis and their euthanasia killings, is set to be put on the path to Roman Catholic sainthood by Pope John Paul next year. The official inquiry establishing his case should end before Christmas, clearing the way for beatification -- the step before sainthood -- in 2005. He was the only bishop in Germany to distribute Pope Pius XI's 1937 encyclical"Mit brennender Sorge" (With Burning Concern), the most outspoken Vatican condemnation of Nazism. His sermons were printed by the Allies and dropped during bombing raids over Germany.
Anti-Semitism Bill: Both houses of Congress have unanimously passed legislation requiring the U.S. to monitor anti-Semitism around the world, despite the State Department's opposition. The bill, known as the Global Anti-Semitism Awareness Act (H.R. 4230), was introduced by Congressman Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), in response to the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe and the Middle East. Lantos is the only Holocaust survivor serving in the Congress. The bill requires the State Department to compile an annual report on anti-Semitism around the world, and establishes an office within the department to focus on the issue.
Anne Frank Update: The Netherlands has been plunged into a painful re-examination of its past following calls to award Dutch citizenship posthumously to Anne Frank, the teenager whose war-time diary is the most widely read document to emerge from the Holocaust. Politicians, historians and the media are struggling to address the issue following her nomination for a television vote next month to decide the greatest Dutch person of all time.
Oxford History Test: Teachers at England's Oxford University say its new history entrance test is unfair to working-class applicants, the Telegraph reported Monday. The history admission test, which applicants will sit for the first time next month, is couched in"middle class" language, favouring those who can afford to be coached in exam techniques, they say.
The Crusaders: The Crusaders were not unprovoked aggressors, greedy marauders or medieval colonialists, as portrayed in some history books according to Thomas Madden, chair of St. Louis University's history department and author of"A Concise History of the Crusades." In an interview, Madden contests that the Crusaders were a defensive force that did not profit from their ventures by earthly riches or land.
Lincoln Library: Once the dusty domain of Civil War scholars, the thousands of artifacts and documents of the Illinois Abraham Lincoln collection are now in a library set to open this week, when curators will lay out the welcome mat to students, genealogists and amateur historians. Among the holdings, previously stored in offices beneath the former state Capitol, are a duplicate of the Gettysburg Address hand-copied by Lincoln, a signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation and the handwritten inaugural speech in which Lincoln turned the phrase"with malice toward none, with charity for all."
Dutch Diary A Fake: The best selling wartime diary of a 12-year-old Dutch boy who survived the German invasion of Rotterdam before escaping to America was an elaborate fake by the British secret services designed to draw the US into the war, according to a new book, Witness to War (Doubleday), by the leading intelligence historian Professor Richard Aldrich. Dirk van der Heide's story, My Sister and I, was hugely popular with American readers in the summer of 1941. With his mother killed by Luftwaffe bombs and his father in the army, the diaries tell how Dirk and his little sister Keetje made a dramatic escape to England.
Week of 10-4-04
Obituary: Richard Ellison, an Emmy-winning documentary producer whose best-known work, a 13-part history of the Vietnam War, inspired both critical praise and an impassioned televised rebuttal after it was broadcast on public television in 1983, died on Friday at his home in Kingston, Mass. He was 80. Produced in part by WGBH-TV in Boston,"Vietnam: A Television History" was the product of six years of work by Mr. Ellison, its executive producer, and the journalist Stanley Karnow, its principal reporter. Chronicling the war from its roots in Vietnam's struggle against French colonial rule in the 1940's and 50's through the fall of Saigon in 1975, the series combined archival footage with interviews with participants and policy makers on both sides of the conflict.
Obituary: Townsend Hoopes, an author and onetime Washington insider who wrote of how President Lyndon Baines Johnson tried to de-escalate the Vietnam War in 1968, died on Sept. 20 in Baja California, Mexico. Mr. Hoopes, a former assistant secretary of defense, was Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara's principal deputy for international security affairs. In that post, he was among the few who influenced American policies and strategies in Indochina. Later, as under secretary of the Air Force, he saw the resulting shambles on the ground. He startled Washingon - and the country - with his blunt 1969 account,"The Limits of Intervention," which focused on his impressions in light of the calamitous Vietnamese Tet offensive of 1968.
Obituary: James Chace, one of the country's leading foreign policy thinkers and historians, whose work altered mainstream thought about American global power, died Friday night of a heart attack in Paris. He was 72. His death was reported by his companion of many years, Joan Bingham, executive editor and vice president of Grove/Atlantic Press, the New York publishing house. Mr. Chace was in Paris working on a book about the Marquis de Lafayette, the French soldier and statesman who helped win the American Revolution. He is best known for his biography of Dean Acheson,"Acheson: The Secretary of State Who Created the American World" (1999). Robert Silvers, co-editor of The New York Review of Books, called the book a crucial revision of postwar history and"an exceptional insight into the cold war establishment."
Obituary: Gordon Bendersky, a pediatric cardiologist turned medical historian who studied sports injuries and medical plants in ancient Greece and fetal sculptures of the Olmec civilization, died Thursday in Abington, Pa. He was 75 and lived in Elkins Park, Pa. Alone or with associates, he ferreted out evidence of healing practices centuries and millennia old. He visited some of the places involved and also scoured museums and books to document his insights into prehistoric medicine. One of Dr. Bendersky's inquiries, with Susan C. Ferrence, then a doctoral candidate in art history, was into what apparently was the use of saffron as a medicine about 3,500 years ago. Previously, the earliest use was placed around 1000 B.C., with visual and written evidence of myrtle, the lily and the poppy, among other plants.
Thorstein Veblen: At the turn of the last century, the economist and social critic Thorstein Veblen - coiner of the phrase" conspicuous consumption" - railed against needless waste and the tendency of the rich to indulge themselves with expensive homes and superfluous possessions. So he might have appreciated the irony of the sales pitch for his soon-to-be-demolished home at 2006 Sand Hill Road, fabled avenue of Silicon Valley venture capitalists:"Build Your Own Dream Home! Fabulous West Menlo Park Location."
Ethiopia Asks World To Return Looted Treasures: Wander around Axum, a sleepy town in northern Ethiopia, and it is impossible to ignore the giant pit that has been dug right in the centre of town. It is to be filled with the Rome Obelisk, a 1,700-year-old carved granite stone that was hauled away by the Italians in 1937 during Mussolini's brutal occupation of the country. Sipping macchiato made from an imported Italian coffee machine, 24-year- old Akul explains just why the stone should be returned."It is our history and we are proud of it. They the Italians cannot be proud of their history in this country so they have no right to keep it."
Bloodletting: The common practice of bloodletting weakened and probably killed some patients including George Washington, who was bled of 2 to 3 quarts of blood after getting sick and died shortly thereafter. Undaunted, barber-surgeons and doctors continued bloodletting to the cusp of the 20th century, when it was finally consigned to the trash bin of discredited medicine. Now, however, a discovery published last month in the journal Science suggests that bloodletting actually might have helped some patients and offers a tantalizing reason why. Microbiologists at the University of Chicago found that when infectious Staphylococcus aureus bacteria were deprived of the iron in red blood cells, they did not spread and cause disease in the body.
Princeton History Department: The search has begun to replace Jim McPherson at Princeton.
Pope on Communism: Pope John Paul II, who experienced at first hand Nazi and communist oppression in his native Poland, has startled admirers and opponents alike by suggesting in a new book that communism may have been a “necessary evil” of the 20th century. The observation is contained in Memory and Identity, a book based on private conversations the 84-year-old pope had with two Polish philosophers in the summer of 1993, four years after the fall of communism in eastern Europe. “For me, it was suddenly clear that [communism] would last much longer than Nazism had done. How long? It was difficult to predict. What one was made to think was that this evil was in some sense necessary for the world and for mankind. “It can happen, in fact, that in certain concrete situations of human existence evil is revealed to be somehow useful useful in as much as it creates opportunities for good.”
Brain Surgery 1000 Years Ago: A PEASANT on the wrong end of a violent assault 1000 years ago had his brain surgeon to thank for his survival, archaeologists have found. The skull, unearthed from a medieval cemetery in the abandoned Yorkshire village of Wharram Percy, shows unexpected sophistication in cranial surgery in Anglo-Saxon times.
History Booklet Trashed: The Education Department this summer destroyed more than 300,000 copies of a booklet designed for parents to help their children learn history after the office of Vice President Dick Cheney's wife complained that it mentioned the National Standards for History, which she has long opposed.
Khmer Rouge: The WSJ calls on China to make amends for its support of the Khmer Rouge during the regime's reign of terror by putting its weight behind a proposed tribunal to bring to justice the perpetrators of the carnage.
National Geographic Updates World Atlas: From lines scratched in ancient dirt to Medieval charts with drawings of monsters in unknown parts of the ocean to modern computer printouts, maps have served a vital role throughout human history. Now, one of the nation's most venerable mapmakers, the National Geographic Society, is updating its massive Atlas of the World. The eighth edition of the classic volume goes on sale Oct. 14, featuring more than 15,000 changes and updates from the last version.
Berlin Wall: Fifteen years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a private museum is rebuilding a 200-meter section close to Checkpoint Charlie, the famous Cold War border crossing, to satisfy tourists who flock to the site. The replica consists of gratified concrete slabs, salvaged from the actual wall, but must run a slightly different course because of new buildings on the site of the former death strip. But critics fear the Checkpoint Charlie crossing -- already filled with sandbags, Soviet flags and Russian fur hut sellers -- is becoming a kind of kitsch theme park and have condemned the new wall as a crass money spinner.
Reconciliation Through History Texts: The Turkish Cypriot Secondary School Teachers Trade Union issued a statement yesterday calling for teachers to request history books of both the Turkish and Greek communities to change. Their representative reveals that the so-called education ministry in the occupied part of Cyprus yielded to their pressure and agreed to change the high school history books. The objective is to omit nationalistic elements from schoolbooks.
Alexander Hamilton: He was one of the giants of American history: a hero in the American Revolution; the new nation's first Treasury secretary; architect of the nation's monetary system; an early and vociferous opponent of slavery. Yet recent history has often bypassed Alexander Hamilton's contributions to the formation of American society. Now, on the bicentennial of his death, a new multi-media exhibition at the New York Historical Society aims to reassess the reputation of one the United States' founding fathers.
Cambodian King Abdicates: King Norodom Sihanouk, a quixotic ruler who freed Cambodia from its colonial shackles but failed to keep it out of the Vietnam War or the clutches of the brutal Khmer Rouge, abdicated last night, his son said. He will be remembered as the flamboyant, youthful ruler who held absolute sway over a young and independent Cambodia in the 1950s and 1960s but also as the man who inadvertently sowed the seeds of the country's 30-year civil war.
War in German Culture: Germans are allergic to anything that smacks of militarism. It has been that way since Germany's defeat in World War II and its re-emergence as postwar Europe's economic powerhouse. A profound sense of guilt for the crimes of the Third Reich also weighs heavily."A historical experience like that stays around for a long time. It never leaves your system entirely," said Christoph Bertram, director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin."But the idea that this is a pacifist nation - it's simply not true," he said.
1918 Flu Epidemic: By recreating the influenza virus that killed up to 50 million people in 1918-19, researchers may have identified the gene that turned it into one of the most lethal in human history. The gene, one of eight in the virus, seems to have an unexpected capacity for sending the body's immune system into overdrive, causing inflammation, hemorrhage and death, the scientists report today in the journal Nature.
Scholar Denied US Visa: The AP reports that Tariq Ramadan, the Swiss-born Muslim theologian refused a visa by the US just days before he was to take up his post at Notre Dame, is reapplying for a new visa. Meanwhile, the NYT featured him on the frontpage in an indepth story called:"Mystery of the Islamic Scholar Who Was Barred by the U.S."
Amendment to the Constitution: More than a year after lawmakers in the House and Senate proposed a constitutional amendment to allow citizens born elsewhere to be president, the Senate Judiciary Committee gave the issue new momentum on Tuesday with a hearing that let proponents argue why the constitutional restriction should be eliminated.
Ancient Chinese Art: An exhibit of rare 2,000-year-old art never seen outside China opens next week at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The 300 works reveal strong influences of ancient neighboring cultures. The groundbreaking exhibit tells the story of Chinese art and culture from the Han to the Tang Dynasty, a period dramatically influenced by massive immigration and trade from northern Asia, according to Phillipe de Montebello, the museum's director.
Chile to Investigate CIA Activities: The lower house of the Chilean Congress on Wednesday announced plans to investigate alleged CIA involvement in Chile in recent decades. In a resolution, the chamber approved the formation of a committee that will try to determine whether the CIA's actions violated Chile's sovereignty.
Re-thinking the Holocaust: Contrary to collective contemporary memory, the genocide of the Holocaust was perpetrated as much in small towns and the countryside as in the sprawling, mechanized death camps of the Third Reich, David Engel, a Holocaust scholar, said last night at the Kimmel Center at New York University.
Pope to Publish Philosophy of History: Pope John Paul, already the most prolific pontiff in history, will publish a new book next year of philosophical conversations on 20th century history, a Vatican official said on Wednesday. The book entitled"Memory and Identity" reproduces a series of transcribed and translated conversations the Polish pope had in his native language with two philosopher friends during the summer of 1993.
Remembering the Free Speech Movement: Reviled at birth, the Free Speech Movement is returning under a crown of glory to its UC Berkeley home this week. More than 50 events are being held to mark the movement's 40th anniversary, including an echo of the captive police-car episode. The week's highlight will be a noon rally Friday atop a police car in Sproul Plaza with former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean among the speakers.
Gandhi: Perhaps no other 20th century public figure is a greater symbol for peace and non-violence than Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Yet, surprisingly enough, he missed out on the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize, despite having been nominated several times and shortlisted thrice, once posthumously. What could be the reason for this odd omission?
Aboriginal Remains Returned: Human remains smuggled out of Australia almost a century ago are today back in that country. Last week, Kimberley aboriginal leaders travelled to Sweden for a handover ceremony and to organise the return of the remains of their ancestors, which have been held in museum vaults for almost a century. The 12 bodies of the dead were collected during a scientific expedition to the Kimberley in 1910 and 11 to collect “artefacts from Stone Age people”. The handover is also significant because Sweden is the first foreign government to unconditionally return indigenous artefacts.
Genghis Khan: Archaeologists have unearthed the site of Genghis Khan's palace and believe the long-sought grave of the 13th century Mongolian warrior is somewhere nearby, the head of the excavation team said Wednesday. A Japanese and Mongolian research team found the complex on a grassy steppe 150 miles east of the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator, said Shinpei Kato, professor emeritus at Tokyo's Kokugakuin University.
Counterintelligence History: A four-volume account of the history and evolution of U.S. counterintelligence that was prepared for the now-defunct National Counterintelligence Center (NACIC) is now available in the public domain and on the web. The encyclopedic 1500 page work begins with an account of counterintelligence (CI) from the American Revolution to World War II, proceeds with a study of CI in World War II, continues with a survey of the post-WWII atom bomb spies up to the latest espionage cases (volume 3), and concludes with a look at current counterintelligence challenges from China, Russia and elsewhere.
Farming/Hunting: Archaeologists have found strong evidence that wheat and barley were refined into cereals 23,000 years ago, suggesting that humans were processing grains long before hunter-gatherer societies developed agriculture. The findings, including the identification of the earliest known oven and hence the oldest evidence of baking, were described in a recent issue of the journal Nature.
Einstein: Next year a global campaign is to be launched to mark Einstein Year. An unprecedented fusillade of shows, exhibitions and products will be unleashed round the world, each aimed at turning the great physicist into one of the sexiest figures of the 20th century. Make way, Che Guevara. Major exhibitions dedicated to the Swiss-born physicist have already opened in the United States, and journals - including the current Scientific American - have dedicated entire issues to the great man's life and works. That soup-strainer moustache and floppy white mane will be hard to avoid in the next few months.
Lincoln: Making Lincoln's achievements - preserving the union and freeing the slaves - more relevant to California will be one of the aims of the 2009 bicentennial celebration of his birth. Helping in that effort will be Larry Burgess, a historian who directs the A.K. Smiley Library and the Lincoln Memorial Shrine in Redlands. The shrine is the largest tribute to the martyred president west of the Mississippi.
Yom Kippur War: Two former Israeli intelligence chiefs are threatening to take each other to court over a security leak related to the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The head of the Mossad at the time of the war, retired Gen. Zvi Zamir, has written to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to request an investigation of suspicions that retired Gen. Eli Zeira, the former head of military intelligence, leaked the identity of the spy who warned Israel of impending war several hours before Egypt and Syria launched a massive two-front attack. Gen. Zeira, in turn, told Israel's Channel Two television that he intended to sue Gen. Zamir for defamation.
Vice-Presidents: When Harry Truman was Franklin Roosevelt's vice president, he was so out of it he didn't even know the United States was working on a new weapon, the atom bomb. All that has changed; vice presidents have become more instrumental and important to presidential administrations.
Richard Nixon: Three pictures of former U.S. president Richard Nixon have been removed from the Norwegian parliament after MPs complained about them."Following an evaluation, it was determined that the piece was unfitting and potentially shocking," Hans Brattestaa, the parliament's secretary general, announced on Monday.
Saddam Hussein, Hitler, and Stalin: U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz compared the crimes of Saddam Hussein to the atrocities of the Nazi and Stalinist eras in a speech in Warsaw on Tuesday."Poland's leadership is marked by courage and belief in freedom and is strengthened by the painful lessons of history," Wolfowitz said."Poles understand threats better than anyone, the consequences of making toothless warnings to brutal tyrants and terrorist regimes. And yes, I do include Saddam Hussein."
Scholar Demands Return of Ethiopian Artifacts: Historian Richard Pankhurst, a leading scholar on Ethiopia, says that British Prime Minister Tony Blair is morally obligated to return to Ethiopia sacred objects and ancient artifacts looted by British troops more than a century ago. British troops took many of the sacred objects and artifacts after annihilating the Ethiopian army at the Battle of Maqdala in 1868. The most important items include a gold crown and chalice belonging to Emperor Tewodros II, some 350 manuscripts, 10 tabots or altar slabs, and religious crosses.
Dam Jeapordizes Archeological Site: A daunting operation to salvage an Achaemenid gorge is being orchestrated in southern Iran in early January 2005 by domestic and foreign archeologists. The 18-km-long Bolaghi gorge is just 4 km away from renowned palaces in Pasargadae, registered on UNESCO’s prestigious list of World Heritage sites. The passageway is believed to have been part of the famed Imperial Route that connected Persepolis to Susa and experts have dug out a sundry of artifacts dating from several millenniums B.C.
Medieval Medicine: A skull belonging to a 40-year-old peasant man, who lived between 960 and 1100AD, is the firmest evidence yet of cranial surgery, say its discoverers. The remains, found in Yorkshire, show the man survived an otherwise fatal blow to the head thanks to surgery.
South Korean Textbook Controversy: The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development is up in arms over a claim by a Grand National Party lawmaker that a high school history textbook contains left-leaning and anti-American contents. During an inspection of the ministry on Monday, Kwon Chul-hyun, a lawmaker of the conservative GNP, claimed that a history textbook published by Kumsung Publishing Co. for teaching Korea’s modern history in high schools is anti-American, pro-North Korean and anti-chaebol.
Draft of Texas Constitution Found: A historian thinks he's stumbled on a key piece of Texas history lost in box labeled"miscellaneous 19th-century papers." The first page of what Jerry Drake, an archivist at the General Land Office, believes is the original draft of the Republic of Texas Constitution is now on display after years of being hidden.
Anne Frank: A bid to secure posthumous Dutch citizenship for Jewish teenage diarist Anne Frank has failed, almost 60 years after her death in a Nazi concentration camp, officials said Sunday.
Strom Thurmond: The Associated Press has reported that U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond was warned by advisers as early as 1970 that racist rhetoric would no longer win elections in South Carolina. Just weeks after receipt of those memos - part of a collection of some 8 million records belonging to the late senator - Thurmond began reworking his image from a staunch segregationist to a racial moderate.
Henry Ford Museum: Which ideas and innovations over the last 75 years have most influenced American life? The Henry Ford, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, is asking Americans to express their views. Beginning Monday, Oct. 5, people can select from a list of 75 ideas and innovations nominated by the institution's experts by logging onto The Henry Ford's Web site or American Online and entering keyword"history." Results of the nationwide poll will be announced Oct. 21.
Iraq: The vision for a democratic Iraq has and still is based on the success of Germany's democratic transition following World War II. The U.S. occupation embraced that model so completely that officials lifted whole passages from Marshall Plan-era documents in designing the future of Iraq - once forgetting, in a section dealing with currency, to change"Reichsmark" to"dinar." The whole while, U.S. officials were comparing events in Iraq side by side, so that in this way, Bremer said, he could"keep track of where we are versus Germany."
Arthur Schlesinger on Bush: Speaking at the 92nd Street Y in New York City Sunday night, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. warned that"if Bush is reelected he will take that as an endorsement of his policies," including the doctrine of preemptive war,"and make likely a preventive war against Iran." He warned that President Bush would also embrace Patriot Act II, which would lead to further limitations on civil liberties.
Plagiarism Charged: Two writers are suing the publishers of"The Da Vinci Code," the biggest-selling adult fiction book of all time, claiming it was copied from their best seller that first appeared more than 20 years ago."The Da Vinci Code," with its plot about a global conspiracy to suppress knowledge of Jesus' marriage, has sold more than 12 million copies and has been translated into 42 languages. Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh claim that Dan Brown, the 39-year-old former English teacher from New Hampshire,"lifted the whole architecture" of the research that they carried out for their non-fiction work,"The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail," which they co-wrote with Henry Lincoln.
Pope Beatifies Austrian WW I Leader: John Paul II put the last Austro-Hungarian emperor on the road to sainthood on Sunday in a solemn beatification ceremony in St. Peter's Square, a move that has sharply divided opinion in Austria. With dozens of members of Europe's royal families in attendance, the pope beatified Emperor Charles I, saying he hoped that the emperor would"serve as an example, especially for those with political responsibilities in Europe today." The pope cited Charles, who assumed the throne in 1916, as a leader who worked for peace."In his eyes, war was something terrible," John Paul said. But others criticized the elevation to the final step before sainthood of the emperor whose troops used poison gas in World War I.
Anti-Lynching Legislation: Senator George Allen says that if the United States is to be successful in promoting freedom around the world, it must acknowledge the"warts" on its own history. So the Virginia Republican has joined with Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat, to co-sponsor a resolution issuing an apology for the Senate's refusal to support anti-lynching legislation to help stem the tide of thousands of racially motivated murders from 1890 to 1964.
Atlantic Monthly Account of Iraqi Antiquities Questioned: McGuire Gibson, a recognized expert on Iraqi antiquities says in a news release ..."The Lauren Sandler piece in the current Atlantic Monthly"The Thieves of Baghdad", judging by the details in the story, is based on one visit to Iraq, apparently in June of 2003. There does not seem to be any reflection of information later than that date...."
Discovery Keeps Human Origin Debate Alive: For decades, Federico Solorzano has gathered old bones from the shores of Mexico's largest lake -- bones he found and bones he was brought, bones of beasts and bones of men. The longtime teacher of anthropology and paleontology was sifting through his collection one day when he noticed some that didn't seem to fit: a mineral-darkened piece of brow ridge bone and a bit of jaw that didn't match any modern skulls. But Solorzano found a perfect fit when he placed the brow against a model of the Old World's Tautavel Man -- member of a species, Homo erectus, that many believe was an ancestor of modern homo sapiens. The catch: Homo erectus is believed to have died out 100,000 to 200,000 years ago -- tens of thousands of years before men are believed to have reached the Americas.
Kissinger/Argentina: New documents reveal ... In June 1976, three months after the military seized power in Buenos Aires, Henry A. Kissinger, then secretary of state, learned that the American ambassador, Robert C. Hill, had just cautioned the country's new government over its wholesale violations of human rights. Mr. Kissinger was unhappy with the warning."In what way is it compatible with my policy?" he asked his top official for Latin America, Harry W. Shlaudeman."It is not," Mr. Shlaudeman replied."How did it happen?" Mr. Kissinger asked."I will make sure it doesn't happen again," Mr. Shlaudeman promised."If that doesn't happen again, something else will," Mr. Kissinger said.
Week of 9-27-04
FBI Files: The FBI must turn over the remaining secret files on Beatle John Lennon to a professor who has waged a more than 20-year legal battle to get the documents, a judge ruled. U.S. District Judge Robert Takasugi rejected government arguments Tuesday that releasing the last 10 pages would pose a national security risk because a foreign government secretly provided the information. The government was not publicly identified. Jonathan Wiener, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, sued the U.S. government for the documents in 1983 under the Freedom of Information Act. He received 248 pages in 1997 as part of a settlement.
Lincoln Memorial: This last week, Washington Post columnist Al Kamen reported on an emerging controversy over the release of a new version of a video presentation at the Lincoln Memorial. According to Kamen, last year, the National Park Service (NPS), under pressure from conservative religious groups, announced that a video presentation shown to visitors at the memorial would be modified to create a more"politically balanced" version. ... Kamen reports that the NPS has now spent almost $200,000 to make two new versions of this video. However, neither version has been released yet. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), an NPS watchdog group, claims that NPS is withholding the release of the new version until after the Presidential election in November to avoid controversy.
Cuban Scholars Denied Visas: All 65 Cuban scholars who had planned to attend an international conference of the Latin American Studies Association next week in Las Vegas were informed on Tuesday that their requests for U.S. visas had been denied.
Halberstam on Dan Rather: Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and best selling author David Halberstam says he is not surprised but disappointed by the recent actions of CBS News and its lead anchor Dan Rather."What they did was very stupid," Halberstam said."But they have been heading in that direction for a long time. I've always been critical of this whole business of star journalism, where you have a big anchor coming on air and acting as a prosecutor with someone else's reporting."
Berkeley Then and Now: Modern campus political activism began at UC Berkeley 40 years ago today. On Oct. 1, 1964, students protesting the noontime arrest of a civil rights activist surrounded a university police car and staged a 32-hour sit-in, an event that not only ignited the Free Speech Movement here but also inspired countless other movements under different names and forms on campuses around the world for years to come. Yet, forty years after a seminal movement was born, much has changed.
Columbus's Remains: Researchers who gleaned DNA from 500-year-old bone slivers said Friday that preliminary data suggests Christopher Columbus might be buried in Spain, rather than a rival tomb in the Dominican Republic, but for now they can't be sure. The team said some DNA samples taken from bones that Spain says are the explorer's matched DNA from a body widely believed to be that of his brother Diego.
Remembering an Architect of Cold War Policy: One of the principal molders of the American posture in the postwar world, Dean Gooderham Acheson, an urbanely elegant, sharp-minded and even sharper-tongued lawyer, helped to create what he called"half a world, a free half" through containment of the Soviet Union by American military power and political alliances. His life and death (on October 13, 1971) are remembered in an article featured by the New York Times.
George Washington: He was first in war and first in peace, but George Washington is barely mentioned in school history books. The first president of the United States is steadily being removed from the nation's schools. Historians and concerned citizens say the victor of Yorktown is disappearing from both the minds and the books of students, leaving a hole in the education of the country's upcoming generations.
2000 Election Discrimination Against Blacks: Two professors at the University of Miami did an extensive analysis of so-called voter errors in Miami-Dade County that has not previously been reported on, and that gives us an even more troubling picture of the derailment of democracy in Florida in the 2000 presidential race than we have had before. Bonnie Levin, a professor of neurology and psychology, and Robert C. Duncan, a professor of epidemiology, found that the instances of voter errors, after taking all relevant variables into account, was much higher - higher than could reasonably have been expected - in predominantly African-American precincts in Miami-Dade, a county that disqualified 27,000 votes. And, peculiarly, there was an especially high amount of over-voting among blacks.
Common Man: Everyone in the world is descended from a single person who lived around 3,500 years ago, according to a new study. Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have worked out that the most recent common ancestor of all six billion people alive today probably dwelt in eastern Asia around 1,415BC.
Whiskey Trail: Americans can now celebrate the history of whiskey in America in patriotic style thanks to the American Whiskey Trail. Plans were released for the trail which goes from the Fraunces Tavern Museum in New York City, where George Washington bade farewell to his troops in 1783, through several museums and plantations in Pennsylvania. It includes distilleries in Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky, and yes, even Mount Vernon, George Washington's home.
Election 2004: Although both President Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry have repeatedly said they have made public their complete military service records, neither presidential candidate has yet permitted independent access to original files held in a high-security vault. The lack of outside verification of the military personnel records of the candidates has made it more difficult for journalists and historians to evaluate their Vietnam War-era service, which has been the subject of lively election-year debate.
Digital History Preservation: The Library of Congress is giving $15 million to eight institutions to preserve a range of electronic material, including Web sites relating to the 2003 California governor's recall election, digital maps, sound recordings and decades' worth of social science data. The grants, to be announced on Thursday, are part of a $100 million multiyear program, established by Congress and administered by the library, aimed at archiving resources that are increasingly born digital - that is, as a Web site or an electronic database.
Digital Denial: A new version of the MyDoom worm uses subject headings that deny the Holocaust ever happened and launches a denial-of-service (DoS) attack against a Web site that dedicates pages examining the motives of deniers such as British writer David Irving. The virus has been designed so that machines infected with the worm will run DoS attacks against the Holocaust History Project Web site.
NYT and History: The NYT announced today that it i streamlining its corrections page. It will now distinguish substantive errors from less substantive ones--ie,"those involving spelling, for example, or dates and historical references."
German A-Bomb Project: The Germans were not actively seeking to build a nuclear bomb as a weapon, Professor John K. Smith of Leigh University (Bethlehem, Pa) said Tuesday."Germany couldn’t build the Atom Bomb in 1942," Smith said."It didn’t have the money or space to build it." His lecture explored the history and myths of technology and was in conjunction with a discussion of a play entitled Copenhagen. The play is a fictional conversation between Niels Bohr, his wife Marguerite, and Werner Heisenberg during World War II.
Slavery Controversy: A Georgia mother wants her state to ban a third-grade history book that largely ignores black slavery, saying only the slaves were brought to help others. Mitchell plans to ask the Georgia Board of Education to ban the book for glossing over slavery and African-American history. Schools have been using the 64-page paperback for about two years to supplement social studies texts.
Gullah Heritage Bill: The U.S. House passed a bill Tuesday that would establish a Gullah/Geechee Heritage Corridor through coastal South Carolina and Georgia and provide $10 million to maintain that culture. The bill is designed to preserve the culture of Gullah/Geechee people, who are descendants of enslaved Africans brought to the South during the Atlantic slave trade.
Mayan Cross: Mayan rebels fighting the Mexican army in the so-called caste war during the mid-1800s revered a wooden cross that gave them battle orders at secret meetings in a church, historians say. The worst of the fighting was from 1848 to 1855 but the Maya, tired of having their territory seized by landowners of European descent, managed to cling to autonomy until 1902 in the last large indigenous rebellion in the Americas.
History Professor Maria Mavroudi Receives MacArthur Fellowship: Maria Mavroudi, a University of California, Berkeley, assistant professor of history and an expert on Greek and Arabic cultural interaction in the Middle Ages, has been awarded a MacArthur"genius" fellowship. Mavroudi is among 23 recipients across the country receiving the prestigious award, which provides fellows with $500,000 over a five-year period. (Click here for a complete listing of all the winners.)
Election 2004: Voters tuning in to the first 2004 presidential debate Thursday may be expecting a freewheeling give-and-take between the candidates, but the occasion will actually be one of the most carefully structured events of the campaign. Such an approach has left some historians wistful for the days when the verbal jousting between candidates took a freer form.
Canada: Historians in Canada are leading a crusade to revive Canada as a country which demonstrates leadership in the world.
US Government Ban: The NYT chides the treasury department for continuing to hamper the free flow of scholarly infomation between the United States and countries like Iran which are subject to sanctions.
Demolition of Najaf: Juan Cole reports that a scholar now living in Iraq says that the old ciy of Najaf is being demolishd."The destruction of Najaf which is now under way is drastic and irreversible. Read the statement by Hussain Al-Shami, the Shi'i waqf [Pious Endowments] head. Clearly, the whole thing was a mere idea two weeks ago, and already demolition has begun. People should at least discuss the rights and wrongs of such decisions. There is no such discussion."
Cheney's Changed View of the Threat Saddam Posed: In an assessment that differs sharply with his view today, Dick Cheney more than a decade ago defended the decision to leave Saddam Hussein in power after the first Gulf War, telling a Seattle audience that capturing Saddam wouldn't be worth additional U.S. casualties or the risk of getting"bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq." The comments Cheney made more than a decade ago in a little-publicized appearance have acquired new relevance as he and Bush run for a second term. A central theme of their campaign has been their unflinching, unchanging approach toward Iraq and the shifting positions offered by Democratic nominee John Kerry. A transcript of the 1992 appearance was tracked down by P-I columnist Joel Connelly."And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth?" Cheney said then in response to a question."And the answer is not very damned many. So I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the president made the decision that we'd achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq."
Wal-Mart and Mexican History: A Wal-Mart subsidiary is building a gigantic store near the ancient ruins of Teotihuacán--which includes a pyramid at the archaeological site 18 miles from Mexico City--and a small group is fighting a battle for what it calls Mexico's landscape and culture.
Mussolini: The last surviving son of Benito Mussolini has disclosed his memoirs on his father, revealing many personal and political insights into the Fascist dictator. 77-year-old Romano Mussolini decided to break his silence over his father’s life in Il Duce, My Father.
CIA Budgets: A newly discovered declassified CIA document, entitled"Cost Reduction Program," lays out the secret budgets of the CIA from 1963 to 1966.
Lewis and Clark Re-Enactors: MSNBC presents a special detailed feature on the 33 men who are trying to follow the same itinerary, and live the same way, as the original explorers of Lewis and Clark's Expedition 200 years ago.
Billy the Kid Update: Law officers in New Mexico have dropped their bid for Billy the Kid's DNA, so the outlaw's body will remain in his grave.
Presidential Health: The health of the President has always been closely tied to the health of the nation. When something does go wrong, most presidents have little time to recover from injuries, improve their health or even mourn for private tragedies. Yet throughout history they have had great political incentive to portray themselves as forever fit and strong, physically and mentally.
Hitler Movie: Der Untergang, The Downfall: Hitler and the End of the Third Reich, the controversial German film describing Hitler's last days will be Germany's entrant in the Oscars competition for best foreign language film.
Flick Art Collection: NYT covers the growing conroversy in Berlin over the decision to feature the art collected by the grandson of a convicted Nazi.
Charles VII's Lover: More than 550 years after her death, historians and scientists will carry out DNA and other tests on Agnes Sorel’s remains in an attempt to determine if she was, indeed, poisoned. Agnes Sorel was the lover of French King Charles VII and died at the age of 28 in 1450. King Charles VII has been credited by some with ending the One Hundred Years' War. His rule, however, was overshadowed by the actions and martyrdom of Joan of Arc.
Taj Mahal: The celebrations of the Taj Mahal come amid controversy among Indian historians about the actual year of the 350th anniversary. While the state government of Uttar Pradesh where the Taj is located says it got its dates right, Indian historians say the festivities are up to a decade too late.
Mona Lisa: For centuries historians have debated Mona Lisa's identity, with theories ranging from being his mother, a self-portrait or even a Florentine prostitute. New research and a newly published book by researcher Giuseppe Pallanti now support a claim first made almost 500 years ago -- that she really existed and that she was the wife of a rich silk merchant.
Taj Mahal: One of the world’s most famous monuments, India’s Taj Mahal, celebrates its 350th birthday today with a cultural extravaganza that hopes to pay a fitting tribute to the historic symbol of love.
Chinese History: The first book recording the general history of the Western Xia Kingdom (1038-1227) will come off press within a year, said Li Fanwen, chief editor of the book,at a seminar held in Yinchuan, capital of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. The book records how the Tanguts, or the Dangxiang people, cameinto being, built the kingdom, were defeated and what happened to them when the kingdom disappeared. It took 13 Western Xia experts eight years to complete the 800,000-character book. The compilation is based on excavations of cultural relics and research results on Western Xia studies in recent years.
Free Blacks: Melvin Patrick Ely, professor of history and black studies at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia says historians well know that antebellum laws and ideology reduced free blacks to an underclass. But in one community, Israel Hill, Virginia, free blacks were still using those laws, and whites were often ignoring ideology, to enable a freer and friendlier cooperation than previously thought.
Pinochet: After lawyers for Gen. Augusto Pinochet, Chile's dictator from 1973 to 1990, failed to stave off an investigating judge's questions, the general was officially interrogated Saturday about his involvement in a coordinated effort by six South American military governments to hunt down and kill exiled political opponents in the 1970's.
Civil War: While local governments often accommodate the replaying of the 19th-century battles and skirmishes, it is rare for them to support them financially. But Jim Campi, policy and communications director for the Civil War Preservation Trust in Washington, and others whose hobbies or professions relate to Civil War history say some of that is changing."We're on the front end of a trend," Mr. Campi said.
Lawrence Tribe Accused of Plagiarism: Harvard constitutional law scholar Laurence H. Tribe ’62 apologized yesterday for not properly crediting another professor’s work in his popular 1985 book God Save This Honorable Court, one day after a conservative political magazine accused him of plagiarism. The Weekly Standard posted an article on its website Saturday charging Tribe with using language that closely mirrors sections of Henry J. Abraham’s 1974 book on Supreme Court appointments, Justices and Presidents. And at one point in his 1985 book, Tribe lifts a 19-word passage verbatim from Abraham’s text.
Spanish Laureate Was Informer: A Nobel-prize winning Spanish author, Camilo Jose Cela, was an informer for the fascist regime of General Franco, according to an eminent historian. Pere Ysas says he has discovered documents proving Cela offered information about his fellow writers to the country's information ministry.
History Channel Grants: The History Channel announced the first year of its Save Our History National Grant Program. This year, $250,000 in grants will be awarded to historical organizations that partner with educators on unique, rewarding projects that help students learn about and appreciate the history of their local communities.
Week of 9-20-04
Election 2004: Douglas Brinkley says the NYT made a mistake in Friday's paper:"A story in the September 24 New York Times leaves the false impression that I think John Kerry was not 'the war hero we thought he was.' Nothing could be further from the truth. He was a great American fighting man in Vietnam and deserved all of his medals. Over the past year I have vigorously defended Kerry's military record and will continue to do so. My comment was meant to be about the political consequences of the anti-Kerry Swift boat attacks vs. the anti-Bush National Guard ones. I was speaking about public perceptions not my personal beliefs." (Click here for a story based on the NYT report to see how the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth reacted to news of Brinkley's alleged apostasy. Click here for the original NYT story. Brinkley's statement crossed the wires at 2:44pm Friday Sept. 24. As of 11:45pm Friday the NYT had not issued a correction.)
Obituary: Ralph Kenneth Andrist, a historian, author and editor who wrote the classic"The Long Death: The Last Days of the Plains Indian," died on Sunday at his home in Lynnwood, Wash. He was 90 and worked in New York for most of his career.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Two Hong Kong professors will see the fruits of their labour realised today with the release of one of the most ambitious publishing projects in history - the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. A total of 50,113 prominent Britons are detailed in the dictionary's 62.5 million words, which can be read online or in 60 printed volumes for GBP7,500 (HK$ 105,000).
Bill Cosby/Slavery Museum: Entertainer Bill Cosby has agreed to donate the proceeds from 10 of his shows to the planned National Slavery Museum in Fredericksburg. Ed Wegel, co-chairman of the museum's capital campaign, said the donation is scheduled to be announced tomorrow night at a private showing of artifacts that will become part of the museum's collection. It represents the first fundraising coup for the project, which will cost an estimated $200 million.
Churchill: Two decades of wrangling by the heirs of Sir Winston Churchill in attempt to capitalise on his legacy have been laid bare in official papers made public for the first time. The collection, comprising some 2,000 boxes of documents, was eventually bought in 1995 with £12 million of National Lottery money amid huge public controversy, not least because by that time Churchill was himself a Tory MP. However, the files show that the archive, which included Sir Winston's own copies of some of his greatest speeches, including his"Finest Hour" speech, could have been acquired for the state 24 years earlier for as little as £100,000.
Lewis and Clark Re-Enactors: A group of 33 men who are re-enacting the expedition of Lewis and Clark were delayed in their endeavor by a group of Native American protestors in South Dakota. The Native Americans say the re-enactors shouldn't be celebrating a journey that marked the beginning of the end for their culture.
Hunley Crewman: Scientists using DNA have positively identified one of the crewmen of the Confederate submarine H-L Hunley. Officials said today they have positively confirmed the identity of crewman Joseph Ridgaway using DNA from a descendent.
Army Military Archives: The Army Heritage and Education Center in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania opened earlier today. The Military History Institute is the Army's archive for historic documents and artifacts.
German Spy: Germany has honoured the 'traitor' spy, Fritz Kolbe, who gave Nazi secrets to America during the Second World War. No other German damaged the Nazi regime to such an extent. Kolbe supplied the Americans with vital information about where the Germans expected the allies to land in Normandy, crucial facts about the Nazi V1 and V2 rockets and Japanese military plans in south-east Asia. After the war, Kolbe was dismissed as a traitor by successive German governments.
Nelson Mandela's Notebooks: Two personal notebooks that belonged to Nelson Mandela have surfaced after a retired South African apartheid agent handed them over in an emotional ceremony of restitution which Mandela said was the signal for a nationwide"recovery of memory". The notebooks will remain private until Mandela has read them. However, the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg yesterday revealed the contents of two pages, dated April 1 1971 and addressed to"My dear Sisi", believed to be a sister.
Holocaust Survivors' Testimonies: Two research centres in the Czech Republic are taking part in a pioneering international project - putting together a digital archive of the testimonies of Holocaust survivors, videotaped by the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation established by the American film director Steven Spielberg.
Scottish History: Nationalists have called for Scottish history to be taught in all primary and secondary schools in Scotland.
Japanese Internment: Six decades after they were forced from their homes on the West Coast and in Hawaii to World War II internment camps in southeast Arkansas, hundreds of former detainees returned to the state for a conference devoted to the long-neglected history of the camps. Returning to Arkansas was an emotional experience for some and an educational experience for others.
Presedential Guard Service: The National Guard Bureau has counted 20 presidents who served in the Guard, state militias, or volunteer state units. Of those presidents, at least 13 served in combat, including such military heroes as George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Theodore Roosevelt. Six citizen soldiers, like Bush, did not see combat and later became president: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James K. Polk, Abraham Lincoln, and Chester A. Arthur. Some saw combat, but others, like Bush, avoided front lines.
National Parks Service: The chief historian of the National Park Service, Dr. Dwight Pitcaithley, said the nation's parks must have something meaningful for everyone and be able to explain their purpose not just historically, but also their current significance.
East Asian History Textbook: The Republic of Korea (RoK), China and Japan have completed compiling a common book on East Asian history for secondary school students in the three countries to use as reference.
History Budgets: The Coalition for History concludes that the Congres seems set to approve budgets for history projects and agencies that" could be a lot worse." Overall, the House took a pragmatic approach to appropriations for next year -- Republicans are generally supporting the president's recommendations for most federal agencies. The Senate, (which is also operating under tight fiscal limitations), overall did a much better job in allocating resources for history and archives programs.
Censorship? Complaints from at least 2 Ohio University professors of history led to changes in an art exhibit that featured anti-war themes. Some now are complaining that this was a form of censorship. Charles C. Alexander, distinguished professor of history, complained about the exhibit's inclusion of a piece depicting President George W. Bush in an unflattering, war-like manner and use of the word"f---" in two other images."However one might feel about President Bush and the war on terror," Alexander wrote,"surely such a display in a facility dedicated to diverse inquiry and balanced learning should have no place in this or any other university library." Historian Alonzo Hamby also complained. He noted that"any First Amendment expert will tell you that the Constitution gives one the right to say just about anything, but not anywhere or any place."
Election 2004: Not since the tumultuous political season of 1968 has the United States seen such a dramatic presidential election, says Bruce Schulman, a CAS history professor and a presidential historian. “The remarkable thing about the 2004 election from a historical standpoint is the way that you have two parties with contrasting positions on issues, contrasting cultural and political philosophies, and that view the other as a real menace to the world and the United States,” he says.
Iraqi Libraries: Two fresh reports detail the extensive damage suffered by the Central Library of Baghdad University and the Central Awqaf Library. Among the losses: 5,000 books in Ottoman script, 45,000 rare books and periodicals.
Flick Art Collection: An art exhibition belonging to the wealthy grandson of a convicted Nazi industrialist has opened amid controversy in Germany.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Running 11 feet along the shelf and weighing in at a healthy defensive end's 280 pounds, the D.N.B.'s 60 volumes contain 60,000 pages and some 60 million words. More than 10,000 contributors have written a total of 54,922 essays on the worthies (as well as the worthless) who make up the fabric of British history.
Chinese Frescoes: Chinese historians and relics experts claim they have discovered pictorial evidence for the study of ancient Chinese sciences and technologies from the frescoes inside the world-renowned Mogao Grottoes of Dunhuang City, in northwest China's Gansu Province. The Mogao Grottoes, also popularly known as the Thousand BuddhaCaves, consist of some 500 man-made caves that have survived some 1,600 years of volatile climate changes and other damage. Dunhuang's frescos, painted on the ceiling and walls of the caves, carry the best preserved trove of Buddhist art in the world.
Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System: The National Park Service (NPS), will host a special event at Ford's Theatre National Historic Site to announce the completion of the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (CWSS) and an information technology and mapping alliance with National Geographic. The event will be held on Monday, Sept. 27, 2004, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. The CWSS System is a database of information about servicemen from both sides during the Civil War. This comprehensive resource holds the service records of 6.3 million soldiers. It includes millions of records that were indexed from the National Archives, lists of regiments from both armies and their histories, and significant Civil War battle histories.
Parris Island Historic Site: Sixteenth century settlement identified as one of South Carolina's 76 national historic landmarks. The same land that French Huguenots defended in the early 1560s is also where American Indians dwelled, Europeans farmed and freed slaves made their home after the Civil War. On Tuesday morning about 40 acres along the Parris Island golf course and Port Royal Sound were officially named a National Historic Landmark.
Election 2004: When John F. Kennedy ran for President in 1960, his Roman Catholic faith was widely viewed as a stumbling block to his campaign. Fast-forward 44 years to the presidential campaign of another Catholic Democrat from Massachusetts, Sen. John Kerry. This time around, the charge is that he is insufficiently loyal to the Catholic Church.
Soviet Repression of Jews: One of the skeletons rattling in the former Soviet Union’s closet was finally put to rest with honors on September 21 — it even happened at a cemetery. A newly unveiled memorial at Moscow’s Donskoye Cemetery commemorates the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. The committee had been created to further Jewish culture in the USSR, but in the 1950s its members, including renowned artists and writers, were eliminated during Stalin’s anti-Semitic campaign. The story of the committee’s end has been unraveled by historians as a stark, chilling testimony of Stalin era horrors.
Obituary: Richard A. Pierce, one of the foremost authorities on Russian Alaska, has died. He was 86. He was considered one of the most prominent scholars in his field — the history of Russia's presence in Alaska, from Russia's first settlement on Kodiak Island in 1784 to the United States' purchase of Alaska in 1867.
Lewis and Clark: If American history west of the Mississippi begins with Lewis and Clark, then the history of the United States seems pretty simple:"Indians owned the West, and then they lost it." History is never so simple. That some of the people Lewis and Clark met had"never seen a white man" did not mean they had not seen change.
Michelangelo's Last Frescoes: The last two frescoes painted by Renaissance master Michelangelo are to be restored to their original brilliance, the director general of the Vatican Museums said on Wednesday. The restorations of the giant The Crucifixion of St. Peter and The Conversion of Paul frescoes, which were completed in 1550 when Michelangelo was 75, are part of a broader effort to clean and restore the Pauline Chapel.
Zinn on Iraq: The controversial historian, Howard Zinn, recently drew a number of parallels between the war in Iraq and previous U.S. conflicts saying people don't see those parallels because much of American history is not taught in schools.
Jefferson's Books: The Thomas Jefferson Foundation has received a grant to create an extensive bibliographical database on the web cataloguing the third president’s libraries estimated at 8,000 titles.
Red Baron: A head wound suffered by the famous German World War I fighter ace, Baron von Richthofen, the year before his death was the underlying reason he was eventually shot down, according to a study by neuroscientists.
John Hope Franklin: John Hope Franklin, a preeminent African American Historian and former chairman of President Bill Clinton's Initiative on Race, spoke at Brown University about the persistence of segregation in America today. He appeared at Brown as part of a series of lectures sponsored by the Univeristy's Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice. The Committee is seeking"to organize academic events and activities that might help the nation and the Brown community think deeply, seriously and rigorously about the questions raised" by slavery and its legacy in the United States.
Iraqi Antiquities: "More than 100 Sumerian cities have been destroyed by the looters since the beginning of the war," says Hamadani, who was appointed at the war's end by the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage in Iraq."It's a disaster that all we are keeping watch on but about which we can do little. We are incapable of stopping the looting. We are five archaeologists, some hundred guards and, occasionally, a couple of policemen - and they are a million armed looters, backed by their tribes and the dealers."
New Indian Museum: The NYT has panned the new Indian Museum, which has just opened on the national Mall in DC:"The museum will advocate not just for artifacts but also for the living cultures that once created them. Most museums invoke the past to give shape to the present; here the interests of the present will be used to shape the past. And that makes all the difference.... [A] great opportunity was missed in this museum."
Historian Apology Requested: David Horowitz is calling on the president of the University of Georgia to apologize to a student who complained that a professor had made biased comments about President Bush in history class:"[Student] Bradley Alexander is under attack from this professor in public forums like the History News Network. He is concerned that his academic career at the University of Georgia, where he is a history major, may be in jeopardy. We urge you to take action in this case to have Professor Morrow apologize to Bradley Alexander and the students in his class. We further urge you to issue a statement that it is university policy that partisan political agendas have no place in an academic classroom."
Far Right Win in East Germany Elections: A day after far-right parties made striking gains in state elections in eastern Germany, political analysts cautioned against drawing parallels to the political extremism of the Weimar Republic. The spectacle of angry and dispossessed voters turning to the extreme right wing, as they did this past weekend, has an obvious historical echo for Germans. But most experts said those parties would find it difficult to replicate their success in western Germany or on a national level.
Francis Fukuyama: Francis Fukuyama has sparked debate by saying that Europeans need to address the issue of growing Muslim populations in their midst and deal with how this is going to change their societies. The historian had said that one of the big differences between America and Europe was that while the United States had staged its great debate on race, Europe hid from dealing upfront with how much Islam it could live with inside its borders.
Internet History: A new portal dedicated to the history of the Internet has been launched at www.nethistory.info. The site, created by Internet expert and historian Ian Peter was developed to build an overview portal for Internet history materials.
Common Culture: At a recent symposium in Berlin, Germany's culture minister said her country's and Eastern Europe's shared cultural identity should be seen as a starting point for improving ties between countries. With the German-Polish relationship recently shaken by calls from both sides for reparations as a result of World War II, the symposium organized by Germany's State Secretary for Media and Culture, Christina Weiss, had a particular urgency.
Obituary: Norman Frank Cantor, a prominent American medievalist whose books, like his classic"Civilization of the Middle Ages," were widely read in the classroom and beyond, died on Saturday at his home in Miami, where he retired four years ago. He was 74 and a former resident of Greenwich Village.
Billy the Kid: Sept. 27 is when the De Baca County District Court in Fort Sumner will decide if Billy the Kid's bones will be allowed to lie at rest.
India History Book that Had Been Withdrawn under Political Pressure: A controversial history book on ancient India that was withdrawn by a state-run education council two years ago is set to see the light of day again. A revised and updated version of"Prarambhik Bharat Ka Parichay" by leading historian R.S. Sharma will be released Sunday by famed academic Irfan Habib. The book was withdrawn from the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) syllabus when the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was in power at the center, reportedly on the ground that it was the work of a Marxist historian. But now Orient Longman is publishing a revised and updated edition of the book, which spans a period from the early ages to the seventh century AD.
National Museum of the American Indian: Early Tuesday morning, 20,000 members of more than 500 Indian tribes from all over the American hemisphere are expected to gather on the Mall to begin a ceremonial march toward the National Museum of the American Indian. But they will not just be celebrating the opening of the Smithsonian's new building. This Native Nations Procession, organized by the museum and forming, perhaps, the largest assembly of America's native peoples in modern times, will also be a self-celebration.
African American Burial Ground: The 282 gravestones of African slaves and their descendants found in a New Port Rhode Island cemetery, most dating to the 18th century, form a collection some historians call unparalleled. They provide a window into the work, faith and families of the period.
Chumash Pictographs: Pictographs have been discovered amongst rock formations n ear Malibu, California. Archeologists say the drawings were made by Chumash Indians, the original settlers of the area, to depict a pivotal event in California history: their encounter with Spanish explorers more than 200 years ago.
CBS Memos: In an enormous blow to its credibility, CBS News on Monday said it had been deliberately misled over the authenticity of documents it aired in a story challenging President Bush's military service."Based on what we now know, CBS News cannot prove that the documents are authentic, which is the only acceptable journalistic standard to justify using them in a report," CBS News said in a statement."We should not have used them. That was a mistake, which we deeply regret," the network said, adding that it had launched an internal investigation of the matter.
Plagiarism: A fine-arts professor at the New School University's Parsons School of Design has resigned after admitting that he copied sections of one of his books from a University of Washington professor's monograph. In his book, Structures of Our Time: Thirty-one Buildings That Changed Modern Life (McGraw-Hill, 2002), Roger Shepherd copied portions of Pietro Belluschi: Modern American Architect (MIT Press, 1999), by Meredith L. Clausen, an architectural-history professor at Washington. The plagiarism, which has been the subject of a copyright dispute between MIT Press and McGraw-Hill, was first made public in a Chronicle article last week (The Chronicle, September 14). McGraw-Hill destroyed all unsold copies of his book last year, according to Mr. Shepherd. (subscribers only)
Rasputin: Rasputin, the Russian monk who became the confidant of Alexandra, the Tsarina, and her husband, Tsar Nicholas II, was killed by a British agent, according to a documentary to be broadcast next month. An investigation into his death in 1916 has concluded that he was murdered not as had been supposed by disaffected Russian aristocrats but by Oswald Rayner, a member of the Secret Intelligence Bureau who was working at the Russian court in St Petersburg.
Cheif Joseph: A century after his death, historians still debate whether Cheif Joseph was a great war chief of the Nez Perce, or simply a leader with diplomatic skills who wanted to be allowed to stay on his traditional homeland.
Slave Quarters: For generations, social theorists have argued about the damage that slavery inflicted - or didn't inflict - upon the African-American family. A new study of evidence from a James River plantation site, however, suggests that the lives of slave families in the Chesapeake Bay region were far more complex than previously believed by voices on both sides of the question.
Preventive War: The decision to go to war is the most fateful one political leaders ever make. At what point does one decide non-military measures for resolving a dispute are exhausted, and that further delay in initiating hostilities is too dangerous? Winston Churchill, who led Britain in its finest hour, understood this tension."Those who are prone...to fight whenever some challenge comes from a foreign Power, have not always been right," he warned in his history of the Second World War."These are the tormenting dilemmas upon which mankind has throughout its history been so frequently impaled."
Warren Commission: A group of historians and researchers marked the 40th anniversary this week of the Warren Commission report by deriding the government's official investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The report, the group said, was so badly botched that most Americans have little confidence in its central conclusion: Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
Obituary: Rona Goffen, a historian of Medieval and Renaissance art whose method paid careful attention to the social and economic context surrounding artists, died on Sept. 8 in Princeton, N.J. She was 60 and lived in Princeton.
Influenza: University of Washington scientists are embarking on a journey that could help save millions of human lives: They are trying to understand how the 1918 influenza virus, which killed more than 30 million, did its lethal work. The UW researchers will infect monkeys with separate genes from the virus and analyze the impact — from damage to lung tissue to how the immune system responds.
Week of 9-13-04
Kerry's Vietnam Record: A searching review by NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof of the records relating to John Kerry's service in Vietnam concludes that he has been the victim of one of the worst smears in American history. He did not spend Christmas 1968 in Cambodia and he was not eager to volunteer for service in Vietnam. But he deserved his medals and the people who served on his boats all agree he acted courageously.
New Swift Boat Ad: A group of Navy Swift boat veterans who oppose Senator John Kerry released a new advertisement questioning his credibility that will run for six days in the swing states of Nevada and New Mexico. The commercial, from Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, contrasts Mr. Kerry speaking in 1971 and this year about his Vietnam War decorations and what he did with them. Snippets of the appearances are shown rapidly, back and forth and back again, as Mr. Kerry seems to say in 1971 that he threw away medals and this year seems to say he threw away ribbons.
Hitler Movie: A film that attempts to"humanise" Adolf Hitler by portraying the Nazi leader during his final 12 desperate days in a bunker beneath the ruins of Berlin has opened in Germany amid huge controversy and claims that the picture was the"worst comedy of the year".
History History History: HISTORY NOW Launched: The Gilder Lehrman Institute has launched HISTORY NOW, a new online journal for history teachers and students. HISTORY NOW will feature articles by noted historians as well as lesson plans, links to related websites, bibliographies, and many other resources. In each issue, the editors will bring together historians, master teachers and archivists to comment on a single historical theme. The first issue of HISTORY NOW discusses the topic of elections. In this issue, Joanne Freeman discusses the contested election of 1800, Liette Gidlow looks at television's effect on the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debates, Steven Mintz examines the history of voting rights, and Ted Widmer reflects on the electoral process from the perspective of Muslim exchange students.
History Budgets: The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a $5 million budget for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) in FY 2005. While this is still fifty percent less than the commission's FY-2004 funding level, nevertheless, NHPRC supporters were elated that the Senate voted to raise the subcommittee recommendation. The president and House had wanted only $3 million.
Unique Civil War Burials?: The little grass plot and low stone markers in the middle of Thomasville's (N.C.) city cemetery has a big claim: Local historians believe that it's the only place in the country where Confederate and Union soldiers were buried side by side in orderly graves. Some national Civil War scholars say that it is too difficult to prove that the plot is unique. But they acknowledge that it is unusual to have a place where enemies are buried next to each other.
Hitler, Germany & Britain: Hitler made an appearance in the mass circulation Bild newspaper, the fourteenth day in a row that the Nazi leader has figured in its columns in what amounts to an unprecedented marketing campaign for an indifferent film about the dying days of the Third Reich. The film Der Untergang (The Downfall) is only now being released in Germany, but already it has been hailed -- almost exclusively by commentators and correspondents who have yet to see the film or read the script -- as a bold break with tradition. It claims to show Hitler for the first time as a human being rather than as a caricatured monster.
Poland/Germany Reparations: The Polish government last night rejected a demand by MPs that it should seek compensation from Germany for its actions during the Second World War. The decision appeared to draw a line under a dispute which has seen increasingly bitter compensation claims between Germans and Poles which have damaged bilateral relations.
Race Conference: A hundred social scientists and geneticists gathered this week in Alexandria to sort out the meaning of race, and didn't, quite. They gave it a game effort. They tackled every thorny question stretching across their academic disciplines, the historians hearing about clusters of genetic alleles and the geneticists hearing about race as a power relationship.
Souvenirs of Buchenwald: In a move that aims to confront the challenge of passing the solemn lessons of the Holocaust on to future generations, the memorial at Buchenwald began working with design students at Bauhaus University in Weimar last spring to create what until now had been taboo: concentration camp souvenirs. A sampling of the results, ranging from small plaques to stationery embedded with tiny pebbles and twigs from the site, are to go on sale at the memorial's gift shop in time for the 60th anniversary of the camp's liberation in April.
Bush and the National Guard: Got proof that President Bush fulfilled his National Guard duties? It could be worth $50,000. Texans for Truth, a Democratic"527" organization that has attacked the president's service record, is offering a reward to anyone who can prove that Bush performed his duties in the Air National Guard between May 1972 and May 1973.
CIA Budgets: Acting Director of Central Intelligence John E. McLaughlin told a federal court this week that releasing the amounts of historical CIA budgets from 1947 through 1970 would compromise intelligence methods. Mr. McLaughlin's statement was presented in opposition to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the Federation of American Scientists.
Japanese Internment: More than a thousand visitors to Little Rock will get an illustrated guide to an important but poorly known time in history when the"Life Interrupted: The Japanese American Experience in World War II Arkansas" conference opens Sept. 23 at the Old Statehouse Convention Center. Three venues are collaborating with the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, to offer eight exhibits that tell the story of the more than 16,000 Americans of Japanese descent who were incarcerated in camps in South Arkansas in the 1940s.
Mesa Verde: The Mesa Verde Cultural and Visitor Center project, currently in its planning stages, is estimated to cost $25 million. It will be paid for with a combination of federal and private funds, as well as tribal and pueblo contributions. It will include a curatorial and research section, which will be the first stage to be built. That's a priority because artifacts are currently deteriorating in a tin shed. The museum and visitor center will be the second stage. Plans are for it to contain not only information and exhibits about the cliff dwellers, but also about the 24 American Indian pueblos and tribes that claim them as their ancestors.
Alexander Hamilton: He has been called the forgotten Founding Father. But this season — 200 years after his fatal duel with Aaron Burr — Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804) has come back to us with a vengeance. This summer alone, there was the reenactment of the July 11 duel in Weehawken, N.J., featuring Burr and Hamilton descendants, as well as a biography by Ron Chernow and the History Channel's"Duel" documentary. Now The New-York Historical Society in Manhattan has launched an exciting exhibit that captures in its sweep and ingenuity the visionary whose advocacy of a viable national economy and an end to slavery foreshadowed corporate, multicultural America.
Howard Zinn: Howard Zinn is the subject of a biographical documentary. Zinn narrates the story of his own life, starting with how he grew up in a working-class tenement, seemingly destined for the same working-class life as everyone around him. But, as he tells it, exposure to a few great books, as well as protest songs like Woody Guthrie's"The Ludlow Massacre," helped kindle a spark in him that still burns.
Holocaust Denier: Controversial British historian David Irving was today refused permission to board a Qantas flight to New Zealand at Los Angeles. Associate Immigration Minister Damien O'Connor said Irving presented himself at the Qantas check-in at Los Angeles and was refused permission to board his flight to New Zealand. The holocaust denier had said he was determined to visit New Zealand this week to speak to the National Press Club despite a government ban.
Korean History Dispute: Historians from Japan, Mongolia, Australia, Russia and the United States have voiced support for Korean scholars’ position that the ancient kingdom of Koguryo is part of Korean history, citing historical records.
Korean History Dispute: The Korean Foreign Ministry said it would ask the Chinese government to correct its latest historical distortion in which the monthly magazine “Chinese Cultural Exchange,” published by a government-affiliated organization, claimed in its September issue that Koguryo was a local ethnic minority government of China.
Hitler: A new film portraying Adolf Hitler as both a delusional madman and an occasionally softer father figure premiered in Germany on Thursday. But it has already triggered a furious public debate about whether it's the right time to break one of the nation's last taboos — showing the Nazi leader as a human being.
African American Studies: In the 1970s, the University of Minnesota’s History of African Peoples course had the largest enrollment of any other course like it in the country."That program today is on life support," said John Wright, assistant professor in the department of African American Studies. The U of M department is not alone in its fight to maintain its program. Declining enrollment in Black studies is a national trend.
Rembrandt: A vision problem just might explain the rich talent of one of history's greatest painters. According to a new report, the renowned Dutch master Rembrandt was walleyed, a condition that possibly boosted his ability to depict a three-dimensional reality on a two-dimensional canvas.
Japan's Bio-Warfare Program During World War II: Yoshio Shinozuka talks about his involvement as a member of Japan’s Unit 731 in northeast China in the 1930s and ’40s, Shinozuka belonged to perhaps the most advanced biological weapons operation of its time. As a teenager, he participated in atrocities—vivisections and other experiments on humans—that for millions of Chinese epitomize Japan’s imperial rampage through Asia.
Korean History Dispute: Chinese scholars, including Sun Jin-ji, chief of the Shenyang East Asia Center who is an advocator of China’s Northeast Asia Project, reconfirmed their distortions of Koguryo history at a international conference held in Seoul on Thursday by saying that Koguryo was part of Chinese history because parts of the kingdom were located on Chinese soil and because the Shilla Kingdom was only able to conquer and unify the Baekje Kingdom.
Mystery Solved: On July 15, 2004, a mystery was finally put to rest when East Carolina University archaeologists identified the remains of a shipwreck that has been below Alaskan waters for 144 years. The identification of Kad'yak--the culmination of years of document compilation, translation from Russian, and proposal writing--was a triumph for those who worked on the discovery and recording of the vessel's remains. The find of Kad'yak is important scientifically, and it is so significant historically that it has already joined the National Register of Historic Places.
Mexican Independence: Throughout Mexico and around the world, many Mexicans joined together, pausing Wednesday to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the national anthem. The burst of patriotism came hours before the annual Grito de Independencia -- shout of independence -- which is held each year on the night before Sept. 16, Mexico's independence day.
Historian Calls for End to Juvenile Death Penalty: On Oct. 13 the U.S. Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments in Roper v. Simmons, a case that could determine the future of the juvenile death penalty in America. Joan Jacobs Brumberg, Cornell professor of history, human development and gender studies, with expertise on the history of American childhood, says the court must -- once and for all -- halt the practice of executing minors."America cannot legitimately hold itself up as a beacon of human rights around the world as long as we continue to execute people for crimes committed as juveniles," she explained.
Alexander the Great/Homosexuality: Robin Lane Fox, an advisor to the new Olivr Stone movie, Alexander says that the movie candidly depicts Alxander's love for other men:"The film aims to show a wider love, from boyhood, between the two, and I find it very touching. Correctly, it also shows a sexual element, this time of pure physical desire, between Alexander and the eunuch Bagoas--again, as direct and indirect evidence supports. But no viewer could also miss the sexual charge of Roxane, the woman whom Alexander marries. By avoiding a one-way male-male love-life, the film captures both the 'homoerotic' flashes and a boyhood relationship--but also makes it an element, not the element, in Alexander's nature and his personal appeal."
Haymarket Square Riot: A statue commemorating the Haymarket bombing was dedicated on Tuesday in Chicago at the site of the attack, which left seven police officers and a number of bystanders dead. Four labor leaders were convicted of murder and hanged, but were later pardoned.
Obituary: James D. Barber, a Duke University political scientist and authority on the American presidential character who predicted the downfall of Richard M. Nixon several years before the fact, died Sunday at his home in Durham, N.C. He was 74.
Californian Missions: A bill to spend $10 million restoring California's aging Spanish missions passed a key Senate committee Wednesday, the final step before going to the full Senate. The California Missions Preservation Act (H. R. 1446) passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee after its author, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, overcame concerns that had held it up.
Bush Guard Record: The suspected source behind the CBS News"60 Minutes II" segment on President Bush's National Guard service has spent the past six years lobbing accusations at Bush and his aides for allegedly tampering with military records. Retired Texas National Guard Lt. Col. Bill Burkett has been identified by Newsweek magazine as a"principle source" for the Sept. 8 segment that showed purported National Guard records casting a negative light on Bush's performance with the Guard in the early 1970s.
Persian Armada: Greek and international experts seeking the remains of a Persian armada that sank in northern Greece 2,500 years ago will press on with the project next year despite drawing a blank this summer, it was announced yesterday.
Battlefield Preservation: A portion of the battlefield where Gen. Robert E. Lee's outnumbered Confederate forces defeated Union soldiers in 1863 will be spared from development under a proposed deal preservationists call a model for other Civil War sites.
American Textbooks: With the shift to presenting history from a multicultural point of view--where all cultures and values, including American, are treated as equally valid--history textbooks that present U.S. history to students in a positive framework are becoming less and less common. When combined with"dumbing down" on writing and skimping on content, the quality of U.S. and world history textbooks has become an issue of major concern to many Americans.
History of Balloting: A new exhibit at the Smithsonian shows that worries about voting security are as old as the republic.
Bush Guard Records: There is some grumbling among Bush loyalists about press spokesman Bartlett's handling of the Guard records; they say he may have drawn extra attention to the matter by sitting on the most recent batch of documents before releasing them publicly. And the newly released documents have refuted two claims Bartlett made in 1999: that Bush was appropriately released from his Texas unit because it had phased out the F-102 jets that he flew, and that Bush transferred to a reserve unit in Boston. The F-102s were still being flown by Bush's unit when he departed, and Bush never signed up with a Boston area unit.
CBS Memos: The secretary for the squadron commander purported to be the author of now-disputed memorandums questioning President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard said Tuesday that she never typed the documents and believed that they are fakes. But she also said they accurately reflect the thoughts of the commander, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, and other memorandums she typed for him about Mr. Bush."The information in them is correct," the woman, Marian Carr Knox, now 86, said in an interview at her home here. Killian's son says her account is wrong. Executives at CBS said Tuesday that they continued to stand by their statements that they believe the documents are authentic, despite the new questions, and concern from others inside the network, and a report on ABC News that two more experts whom CBS News had consulted to authenticate the documents for its report said they had expressed concerns about the documents' authenticity to the network's producers.
Copyright Infringement: MIT PRESS HAS DEMANDED compensation from McGraw-Hill for infringing MIT's copyright on a monograph by Meredith L. Clausen, a professor of architectural history at the University of Washington. Portions of her work are reproduced, without acknowledgment, in a book by Roger Shepherd, a professor of fine arts at the Parsons School of Design, in New York. (Chronicle of Higher Ed subscribers only)
Lewis & Clark: The Lewis and Clark books keep coming, but readers aren't buying.
Historian's Claim Against an Archaeologist: Historian Juliet E.K. Walker, a student of John Hope Franklin, charges that archaeologist Paul Shackel has issued misleading claims about discovering a black township."Sadly, some have suggested that Shackel's presentation of my scholarly research and his usurpation of a black historic topic, that of Free Frank and New Philadelphia, as his own, provides an example of Bill Cosby's 1968 video, Black History: Lost, Stolen or Strayed? In this instance, my concern is not only that of a professional historian who specializes in black history but also that the subject, Free Frank McWorter, who founded the town of New Philadelphia, is my great-great-grandfather. So, not only is Shackel appropriating the history of the first town founded by an African American, he is also appropriating my family history and presenting it, notwithstanding my book, as though he has discovered both New Philadelphia and Free Frank."
Election 2004: A majority of the 113 members of the Nader 2000 Citizens Committee have signed a petition urging Nader supporters in swing states to vote for John Kerry. Signers include: Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Ronnie Dugger, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jim Hightower, Robert McChesney, Studs Terkel and Harvey Wasserman.
Election 2004: Less than 48 hours after Bill Clinton, speaking from his hospital room, advised the politically ailing John Kerry to start talking less about Vietnam and more about health care, seven American marines were blown up outside Fallujah. So much for the pipedream of changing the subject of this election. Vietnam keeps popping out of America's darkest closet not just because Mr. Kerry conspicuously served there and Mr. Bush conspicuously did not, but because of what's happening half a world away in real time: a televised war in Iraq that resembles its Southeast Asian predecessor in its unpopularity, its fictional provocation and its unknown exit strategy.
Election 2004: Presidential debates always put more importance on projecting character than on being right. George W. Bush and John Kerry can both boast of never having lost a debate, though the two candidates rely on strikingly dissimilar sets of skills.
German Intellectuals: Seventy prominent German intellectuals and politicians make a gesture of reconciliation to their Polish neighbours. All the signatories have one thing in common. They, or their parents, originally came from what is now the territory of Poland or the Czech Republic, but were expelled after the Second World War. Millions of ethnic Germans were forced to move westwards, as the map of Europe was redrawn after the war, an episode that continues to create tensions within the region.
Historical Pathology: The mystery of why the Finns - particularly those who live in the eastern province of Savo, close to the border with Russia - are so prone to some of the most lethal disorders of the Western world has been a longstanding conundrum. But it is one that is slowly being solved with the help of a meticulous study of local families, combined with the scientific power provided by the deciphering of the human genome, and of course history.
Jewish American History: A brief outline of Jewish American History from 1654-2000.
Election 2004: Jimmy Carter has blasted Zell Miller as a turncoat Democrat."Great Georgia Democrats who served in the past, including Walter George, Richard Russell, Herman Talmadge and Sam Nunn, disagreed strongly with the policies of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and me, but they remained loyal to the party in which they gained their public office."
The Media: New research by economic historian Claudia Goldin shows that a partisan media was in full flower when the Credit Mobilier scandal burst open in early 1870s. At the time, Ms. Goldin says, only 11% of major newspapers even claimed to be independent.
Arnhem: This week the Netherlands will honor the thousands of mainly British and Polish soldiers who took part in the failed attempt to seize a bridgehead north of the Rhine river near Arnhem between September 17 and 23, 1944, a tragic episode in the Allied advance on Germany.
Star Spangled Banner: The original Star Bangled Banner is in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. That flag might well be in a British war museum, as a trophy of a British Army triumph, had it not been for"The Other Battle of Baltimore" – the Battle of North Point, which is unknown to most Americans.
Strom Thurmond Letters: The carefully worded letters lack anything personal, but they show a lifelong link between the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond and his long-secret biracial daughter, Essie Mae Washington Williams. For all their businesslike tone, the letters show Mr. Thurmond took an interest in Ms. Williams' life and the lives of her children - his grandchildren.
Art Exhibit Explores Revere: A travelling art exhibit now being displayed at the Brandywine River Musuem in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania explores the myth and reality of Paul Revere. The exhibit features more than 50 works by artists and illustrators such as William Robinson Leigh, N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Leonard Everett Fisher and Charles Santore. Through paintings, drawings, illustrations and other media, the exhibit explores the variety of ways Revere has been portrayed, and sometimes lampooned, throughout history.
Charge of Light Brigade: Into the mouth of Hell rode the 600, galloping to certain death on a futile mission. Bound by rigid Victorian codes of obedience, the cavalry of the British Army's Light Brigade were scythed down by artillery at point-blank range, as much the victims of the blundering toffs who led them as of their astonished Russian executioners. Now, as the 150th anniversary of the infamous charge approaches, historians are revising their accounts of what every schoolchild knows was a famous military disaster.
Liberty Flag: When Boston frothed with fury during the 1760s and 1770s, red-blooded residents knew what it meant when the huge red and white flag hung over the towering elm tree at the corner of Essex and Washington Streets. When the"liberty flag" flew, it meant the revolutionary Sons of Liberty were calling for a public meeting. Bostonians flocked to the flag and the tree, where at least once effigies of British tax collectors were hung from its branches. When the British wanted to strike a blow to anti-colonial fervor, they hacked the liberty tree to the ground in 1775 and used it for firewood.
Ken Burns: "Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson," the new Ken Burns documentary will appear on PBS in two parts on January 17 and 18, 2005.
Ogletree Controversy: Is the author really the author? That implicit question is being raised by writers, in and out of academia, about this week's statement that six paragraphs in a new book by Harvard Law School professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr. were accidently transposed from another scholar's book. Ogletree has attributed the error to research assistants involved in the process of drafting and editing the book.
Chinese Pottery: Archaeologists in the northwestern province of Gansu have discovered a 3,000-year-old pot with a design showing a scene of eight horses grazing in Minqin County.
National Museum of the American Indian: Perched between the Capitol and the National Air and Space Museum, NMAI is the newest in the Smithsonian Institution's system of 18 museums and the National Zoo. Its creators hope it will attract as many as 6 million visitors a year. It cost $219 million, almost half of which came from private donations. Expect a departure from the antique museumology of fixed dates and heroes on pedestals. On a 4.5-acre plot, with almost three acres of garden, the Indian touch is everywhere.
Gold Penny: A solid gold one penny coin dating from the ninth century and valued by experts at 220,000 euros ($272,325) has been found by an Englishman walking his dog.
Ogletree Controversy: Professor of Law Charles J. Ogletree Jr. has told The Harvard Crimson that he had not read the passage of Jack Balkin’s book that appears in his own work. An assistant inserted the material into a manuscript and intended for another assistant to summarize the passage, according to Ogletree’s statement. When the draft returned, Ogletree did not realize that it was not his material, he said in the statement. But Ogletree said he was closely involved in most of the drafting of the book due to its personal nature.
Jews in America: Jews ponder the meaning of their experience in America 350 years after the first Jews landed.
Jewish History: In coming months across the United States, which now has about 6 million Jewish residents, the 350th anniversary of the arrival of the first Jewish immigrants to this country is being observed. The Library of Congress is amongst many institutions that will be celebrating the start of Jewish history in the United States.
History Textbook: A professor of native studies in New Brunswick is adding her voice to a chorus of criticism about a school textbook that aboriginal leaders believe got their history wrong. The textbook, which has yet to be published, was developed with help from education departments across Atlantic Canada, including extensive work by education officials on Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.
Arthur Schlesinger: "History is to the nation as memory is to the individual and an individual deprived of memory doesn't know where he's been and where he's going," Arthur Schlesinger says. In his new book entitled War and the Presidency, Schlesinger reviews events from the September 11 attacks to the Iraq war, and writes that unilateralism in foreign affairs, for which President Bush has been strongly criticized, is a tradition dating back to George Washington. He also dismisses wartime unity as a myth, noting that leaders from Lincoln to Truman have been harshly attacked in the midst of military conflict.
History Coalition Action Alert: The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee marked up the FY 2005 Transportation/Treasury spending bill late last week with a level of $3 million for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This represents a $7 million ($300%) cut over the current fiscal year's budget. The Senate action follows the President's recommendation of $3 million, as well as that of the House Appropriations Committee (which also supported the President's request for severely reduced funding). The full Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to mark up TOMORROW -- Tuesday. Calls are needed IMMEDIATELY to Senate Appropriators (especially to Republican members) to raise the funding level for NHPRC.
Election 2004: Although some say what the candidates did during Vietnam"is revealing of Bush's character and Kerry's character, it's not nearly as important as what they've done in their public lives in the last 20 years," says Larry Sabato, a political science prof and and press critic. Howard Kurtz adds:"If journalists devoted the same investigative energy to the candidates' efforts to bolster Medicare and Social Security or deal with the mess in Iraq -- as opposed to precisely what happened on the Bay Hap River in 1969 -- perhaps more people might find campaign coverage compelling."
Japanese Internment Book: Michelle Malkin talk canceled at American University. College Republicans acted at behest of the Bush White House. Says Malkin:"I'm disappointed but not surprised. I feel sorry for the AU students who got bullied by the Bush campaign's control freaks. . . GOP operatives leaned on the kids to put the election over their education. Pathetic." She had planned to attack"Bush brain" Karl Rove and others.
Election 2004: William Safire says that bloggers have discredited the CBS memos concrning Bush's military service. Challenges Dan Rather to request an independent investigation.
Depression Era Deportations: Ignacio Pina was 6 when immigration officers came to his Montana home, held his family behind bars for a week, then herded them onto a train bound for Mexico - a country he and his five siblings had never seen. It was 1931, the first year of a decade long effort to remove Mexicans to free up jobs in a U.S. economy mired in the Great Depression. Estimates of the number of people caught in the raids range from 500,000 to 2 million, with researchers agreeing that they included tens of thousands of legal immigrants, as well as children such as Pina who were born in the United States.
Week of 9-6-04
Election 2004: A former National Guard commander who CBS News said had helped convince it of the authenticity of documents raising new questions about President Bush's military service said on Saturday that he did not believe they were genuine. The commander, Bobby Hodges, said in a telephone interview that network producers had never showed him the documents but had only read them to him over the phone days before they were featured Wednesday in a"60 Minutes" broadcast. After seeing the documents on Friday, Mr. Hodges said, he concluded that they were falsified. The memos indicated that Mr. Bush had failed to take a physical"as ordered." CBS News has stood by its reporting, saying that it obtained the documents through a reliable source.
Baseball: The NYT traces the history of the origins of baseball, noting that the date when it is said to have begun keeps being pushd back.
University of Cambridge: Gillian Evans, who after twenty years as a lecturer in medieval history at the University of Cambridge and a half dozen visits to court finally won her battle and was made professor two years ago, has published an insider's account of the university's politics. The book"lays bare the anger and tensions seething within the ancient university."
Korean History Dispute: KTF, Korea's second-largest mobile phone operator, announced Thursday that it will launch the `"Koguryo charging system" -- allowing its customers to automatically donate money to a fund for securing Koguryo as part of Korean history. This gesture comes amid a growing consensus among Koreans over consolidating efforts into correcting China¡¯s distortion of the history of Koguryo, commonly viewed as one of three kingdoms that later formed modern Korea.
National Musuem of American Indian: When the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian opens Sept. 21, there will be no mistaking it for a holocaust museum. It is too light, too airy, too bright a celebration of a people's cultural bounty to brood about their brush with extinction. And yet, for Suzan Shown Harjo, a founding trustee, this final addition to the hallowed civic green of the National Mall can't help but commemorate the millions of indigenous lives lost since the"discovery" of America in 1492.
History Standards: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) along with co-sponsor Edward Kennedy (D-MA) introduced legislation -- the"American History Achievement Act" -- to require state academic assessments of student achievement in United States history. The bill calls for trial state academic assessments of students' achievement in United States history in grades 8 and 12. These assessments would take place in 10 or more geographically diverse states.
Nixon: The House appropriations committee has approved half a million dollars to help the Nixon library to meet federal standards so that it can join the presidential library system.
Remembering 9-11: For generations, visitors to New York City have headed to Times Square, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. But ever since September 11, 2001, another landmark has been on the must-see list: The site where 2,792 people died in the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Navajo Code Talkers: The first installation of the Code Talker monument was unveiled on Wednesday during the grand opening of the 58th Navajo Nation Fair. The monument is in honor of the Navajo Code Talkers, who are credited with helping to win World War II through the use of the Navajo language.
Election 2004: Why aren't we talking about the Supreme Court this election season? Neither Presidential candidate talks much about the courts. But whoever wins will have a chance to profoundly shape the judicial system.
Viking Update: A long awaited bypass should not be constructed at the expense of the internationally significant archaeological site recently discovered at Woodstown (in Ireland) on the outskirts of the city. That’s the claim of the Socialist Workers Party who are hosting a public meeting in the Granville Hotel, on September 16 at which a campaign will be launched to save the Viking Site. Minister for the Environment, Martin Cullen, is currently awaiting a full report from the National Roads Authority, the National Museum and his own department before making a decision on whether or not to order a full excavation of the site.
Beslan: Witnesses have reported that the hostage takers in Beslan attempted to justify their brutality by claiming it was an act of revenge for the killing by Russian forces of Chechen children. According to Cerwyn Moore, a British academic who has been studying the emergence of female suicide bombers, there is a tradition of this sort of raid in Chechen history."Hostage-taking and blood vendettas are an old phenomenon," he says.
China/Taiwan: The bodies of Chiang Ching-kuo and his father Chiang Kai-shek are finally going to be buried next spring. When Chiang Kai-shek died in 1975, it was widely assumed that he had wanted to be buried someday on the mainland, although he is not known to have left any explicit instructions. His body was embalmed and placed in what is officially still a temporary mausoleum here, and the same was done with his son.
Obituary: Gen. Andi Muhammad Jusuf, a former Indonesian Army chief who played a pivotal role in the rise to power of the former dictator Suharto nearly four decades ago, died on Wednesday in the central city of Makassar. He was 76.
Korea and No Gun Ri: C-Span has held a debate between historian Bob Bateman and the Associated Press reporter who filed the story about the No Gun Ri massacre. The ensuing controversy should have resulted in a bitter debate between Hanley and Bateman, but their debate was rather tame in comparison to the moderator's attacks on Bateman. Callaway showed a very noticeable bias against Bateman that was visible in the tone of his voice as well as the type of questions he asked Bateman. Callaway questions to Bateman resembled more a man on trial for the crimes at No Gun Ri rather than a debate about them.
Unintentional Plagiarism: A recent book by Harvard Law School professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr. includes a six-paragraph passage lifted almost directly from another author's work, Ogletree and the school acknowledged. Ogletree said the inclusion of the passage from a book by Yale Law School professor Jack M. Balkin was the result of editing mistakes in drafts of his book"All Deliberate Speed: Reflections on the First Half-Century of Brown v. Board of Education," published in April, The Boston Globe reported Thursday."I made a serious mistake during the editorial process of completing this book, and delegated too much responsibility to others during the final editing process," Ogletree wrote in a statement posted on the law school Web site last week.Ogletree said that he will face discipline from Harvard, but refused to specify the nature of the discipline. The passage came from Balkin's 2001 book,"What Brown v. Board of Education Should Have Said."
Election 2004: A day after memos emerged suggesting that George W. Bush received favorable treatment when he was in the National Guard during the Vietnam War, the son of Mr. Bush's squadron commander said he doubted the authenticity of some of the memos his father was said to have written.
Zell Miller and History: Who controls the past, George Orwell wrote in"1984," controls the future, and who controls the present controls the past. History, of course, will show pretty much what the historian writing it wants it to. That is why politics is at least one part historiography: a fight for man's memory between competing versions of past events.
Iraq: With the latest spike in violence in Baghdad, more U.S. troops have died since the turnover of power to an interim Iraqi government at the end of June than were killed during the U.S.-led invasion of the country in the spring of 2003.
DNA and the Celts: Celtic nations like Ireland and Scotland have more in common with the Portuguese and Spanish than with"Celts" - the name commonly used for a group of people from ancient Alpine Europe, scientists say."There is a received wisdom that the origin of the people of these islands lie in invasions or migrations... but the affinities don't point eastwards to a shared origin," said Daniel Bradley, co-author of a genetic study into Celtic origins.
Election 2004: President Bush's former sister-in-law denied yesterday that she had given author Kitty Kelley any information about allegations of past drug use by Bush.
Election 2004: Globe Spotlight Team editor Walter Robinson says the timing of the paper's report concluding President Bush didn't fulfill his military obligations had nothing to do with the beginning of the fall campaign or the recent attacks on John Kerry's Vietnam service. Joe Strupp wonders why the story ran now when it refers to documents made public as far back as February."We publish as soon as we have the story, irrespective of what it is," says Robinson."If we had this in June, we would have published in June."
Election 2004: An NBC exec says the White House recently called network news president Neal Shapiro to discourage him from broadcasting interviews with Kitty Kelley about her"Bush Dynasty" book on the"Today'' show and"Hardball With Chris Matthews,'' reports David D. Kirkpatrick. He writes of the book:"Little, if any, of its content is flattering to the [Bush] family."
Court Bars Lawsuit From Proceeding: A federal appeals court denied requests Wednesday to reinstate a lawsuit filed by hundreds of people affected by a race riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the plaintiffs waited too long to sue the city, police and other officials.
Cave-Diving Archaeology: Divers making dangerous probes through underwater caves near the Caribbean coast have discovered what appears to be one of oldest human skeletons in the Americas, archaeologists announced at a seminar that was ending on Friday.
Election 2004: President Bush's Vietnam-era service in the National Guard came under renewed scrutiny on Wednesday as newfound documents emerged from his squadron commander's file that suggested favorable treatment. At the same time, a once powerful Texas Democrat came forward to say that he had"abused my position of power" by helping Mr. Bush and others join the Guard. The documents, obtained by the"60 Minutes" program at CBS News from the personal files of the late Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, Mr. Bush's squadron commander in Texas, suggest that Lieutenant Bush did not meet his performance standards and received favorable treatment.
Holocaust Denial and Free Speech?: British historian David Irving has been called everything from the"greatest historian of World War II" to a"racist falsifier of history." On Friday, the CU community will get to decide for itself, as Irving's reputation will make its way to Boulder, at 7 p.m. in Hellems 252 on the CU-Boulder campus.
Michelangelo's David: Florence is celebrating 500 years since Michelangelo unveiled his masterpiece David at the Palazzo della Signoria. Commemorations include readings at the Palazzo Vecchio of contemporary accounts of the unmasking of the statue, created to symbolise the city’s freedom.
Iraq Museum Update: McGuire Gibson, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, says that the national museum in Baghdad remains closed to the public."They haven't tried to open it. Everything is locked down and nothing will be on display for quite some time."
Election 2004: Newsweek is passing on Kitty Kelley's new book, which alleges drug use by Bush. Editor Mark Whitaker says of Kelley's book,"The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty":"We weren't comfortable with a lot of the reporting. We will write about it if it becomes a phenomenon and looks like it will have some impact on the campaign debate, not to further publicize the reporting in it." Time Managing Editor Jim Kelly hasn't looked at the book yet, but says"you obviously would have to fact-check the hell out of it."
Korea: On Aug. 15, the 59th anniversary of end of Japanese colonial rule here, President Roh Moo Hyun, a liberal, announced an official campaign to identify Koreans who collaborated with the Japanese during the 35-year occupation. By exposing the dubious origins of the privileged class, government supporters argue, South Korea will move toward a more level playing field. But the only victims of the campaign so far have been Uri Party leaders whose fathers were found to have been military policemen during the occupation. Three weeks after Mr. Roh's initial call for a government history project, public enthusiasm is waning."The political community should stop this conflict immediately and take its hands off the task of organizing history," the newspaper Joong Ang Ilbo editorialized."Do we not have a serious economic problem and an unemployment situation to attend to? Let's stop talking about yesterday and start talking about today and tomorrow."
Islam and Indonesia: Malaysian historian Dr Farish A Noor has been encountering the many interpretations of Islam in the world's largest Muslim country. He reflects on the unique influence of Indonesia's history on the development of Islam in its islands and reports on his encounters with members of the population, from students to mystics.
Cars and Civil Rights: The civil rights movement, which began with the Montgomery (Ala.) Bus Boycott, would have been a failure had it not been for the automobile. The boycott's success itself supports that theory.
Asian History Dispute: Recent disputes between Korea, China and Japan over history issues are often called"the history war in Northeast Asia" because many experts here regard them as a precursor of hegemonic competition in the region. Such conflict is expected to continue since nationalistic ideology appears to have become increasingly a reaction to globalization, while the power rearrangement in the Northeast Asia region has gained speed after the end of the Cold War.
9-11: The Have-They-No-Shame Contest for New York Presidential Pretenders was a draw: Rudy Giuliani and George Pataki demonstrated an equal willingness to distort the meaning of the attack on their own city in craven efforts to position themselves for 2008 runs. Giuliani, at least, did it with guile. Could there be a more partisan, false, and reckless rendition of this history than the one offered by the governor whose state was attacked?
Election 2004: U.S. President George W. Bush's lead of as much as 11 points in three polls over Democrat John Kerry is a margin that no presidential challenger has ever overcome. In a Newsweek poll at the close of the Republican National Convention in New York last week, 54 percent of 1,008 registered voters surveyed supported Bush.
Election 2004: After saying for months that all relevant documents about President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard had been made public, the Bush administration released what it called newly found records on Tuesday night showing that Mr. Bush flew 336 hours in a fighter jet and ranked in the middle of his flight training class. The 17 pages of documents, released by the Pentagon, will not resolve the standoff between Mr. Bush and the Democrats, which is about where, when and how often Mr. Bush showed up for National Guard duty in Alabama in 1972 and 1973.
Gandhi: A Hindu-supremacist group has filed a criminal defamation lawsuit against India's minister in charge of education for suggesting that the group was involved in the 1948 assassination of Mohandas K. Gandhi, the revered architect of Indian independence. The group, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, known as the RSS, filed the lawsuit in Haryana State, which borders New Delhi, and has threatened to file similar suits across India, a step that would require the minister to make personal appearances in each court. The minister, Arjun Singh, said last month that if the RSS's"biggest achievement was the killing of Gandhi, then you can expect what national purpose it can serve."
Election 2004: Scholars at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association over the weekend presented papers showing that early registration and same-day registration has not resulted in higher turnout. Two scholars presented a paper that shows that 61% of Nader voters would likely have voted for Gore in Florida in 2000.
Jews in America: Sept. 7 is the 350th anniversary of the arrival of Jews in the New World. Bloggers are celebrating the event.
Japanese Internment: Right-wing pundit and supporter of racial profiling, Michele Malkin, will speak at Berkeley. Syndicated columnist and Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin, author of a provocative new book defending racial profiling and the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II, will bring her conservative crusade to what she views as the citadel of political correctness and sniveling, anti- American leftists. She wants to go"mano-a-mano" against critics of conservative speakers, she told talk-show host Rush Limbaugh on Aug. 20."It will be quite revealing to see how these acolytes in liberal education and liberal arts colleges treat me."
Obituary: John Thomson was Professor of Medieval History at Glasgow and a leading historian of the 15th century. The most important offshoot of Thomson's doctoral work was his book The Later Lollards, 1414-1520 (1965) in which he dealt with the religious dissidents, loosely affiliated to the teachings of the late-14th-century Oxford theologian John Wyclif. The opening sentence explained that, in comparison with the early years of Lollard history and the transition from Lollardy to Protestantism,"the middle period had been left neglected".
Vietnam: An exhibit,"What's Going On? California in the Era of Vietnam," opened late last month at the Oakland Museum of California and is scheduled to run through February before traveling to Los Angeles and Chicago. Five years in the making, it tells the wartime story of California during the 1960's and 70's, ripping at wounds among the state's swelling Vietnamese-American population. The exhibit's content was significantly changed to reflect the complaints and sensitivities of Vietnamese living in California, particularly those from the war's losing side in the south, who feared the displays would give their viewpoint and experiences short shrift. Some 80 percent of the more than one million Vietnamese in the United States came from South Vietnam, the United States' ally.
Viking Discovery: The discovery of a handful of ancient iron nails, a belt buckle and some silver coins in northeast England has sent a thrill through the world of Viking scholarship, hinting strongly that a Norse boat burial site may lie beneath the Yorkshire soil."We may have the opportunity now to find and date, once and for all, England's first Viking boat burial, which would be one of the most significant Viking finds for the British Isles," archaeologist Simon Holmes said Tuesday, as some of the ninth-century artifacts went on display at the Yorkshire Museum.
Historic Buildings: Experts say rapid population growth in the American West has fueled skyrocketing property values that jeopardize historic properties and the region's way of life."We have a responsibility to future generations to save buildings so they can have that physical connection with their history," said Mike Buhler of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Historian?: Austrian historians are ridiculing California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, for telling the Republican convention that he saw Soviet tanks in his homeland as a child and it was a"socialist" country when he left in 1968. In fact, all Austria's chancellors between 1945 and 1970 were conservatives.
U.S. Flag: The mayor of Baltimore has ordered the city to begin flying replicas of the flag of the United States from 1814 to remind visitors that Francis Scott Key wrote the Star-Spangled Banner there.
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