Blogs > HNN > November 1, 8, 2010: Historians Assess Midterm Elections

Nov 7, 2010 10:21 pm


November 1, 8, 2010: Historians Assess Midterm Elections



IN FOCUS: TED SORENSON

  • Theodore Sorensen, top JFK aide, dies at 82 in NY: Theodore C. Sorensen, the studious, star-struck aide to President John F. Kennedy whose crisp, poetic turns of phrase helped idealize and immortalize a tragically brief administration, died Sunday. He was 82. He died at noon at Manhattan's New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center from complications of a stroke, his widow, Gillian Sorensen, said. Sorensen had been in poor health in recent years and a stroke in 2001 left him with such poor eyesight that he was unable to write his memoir,"Counselor," published in 2008. Instead, he had to dictate it to an assistant. President Barack Obama issued a statement saying he was saddened to learn of Sorensen's death.
    "I know his legacy will live on in the words he wrote, the causes he advanced, and the hearts of anyone who is inspired by the promise of a new frontier," Obama said.
    Hours after his death, Gillian Sorensen told The Associated Press that although a first stroke nine years ago robbed him of much of his sight,"he managed to get back up and going." She said he continued to give speeches and traveled, and just two weeks ago, he collaborated on the lyrics to music to be performed in January at the Kennedy Center in Washington — a symphony commemorating a half-century since Kennedy took office."I can really say he lived to be 82 and he lived to the fullest and to the last — with vigor and pleasure and engagement," said Gillian Sorensen, who was at his side to the last."His mind, his memory, his speech were unaffected." Her husband was hospitalized Oct. 22 after a second stroke that was"devastating," she said.... - AP, 10-31-10
  • Theodore C. Sorensen, Kennedy Counselor and Wordsmith, Dies at 82: Theodore C. Sorensen, one of the last living links to John F. Kennedy’s administration, who did much to shape the president’s narrative, image and legacy, died Sunday in Manhattan. He was 82.
    He died in NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital from complications of a stroke he suffered a week ago, his wife, Gillian Sorensen, said. A previous stroke, in 2001, had taken away much of his eyesight, but in its aftermath"he led a very full life, speaking, writing, creating new enterprises and mentoring many young people," she added.
    Mr. Sorensen once said he suspected the headline on his obituary would read:"Theodore Sorenson, Kennedy Speechwriter," misspelling his name and misjudging his work, but he was much more. He was a political strategist and a trusted adviser on everything from election tactics to foreign policy.
    "You need a mind like Sorensen’s around you that’s clicking and clicking all the time," President Kennedy's archrival, Richard M. Nixon, said in 1962. He said Mr. Sorensen had"a rare gift": the knack of finding phrases that penetrated the American psyche.
    He was best known for working with Mr. Kennedy on passages of soaring rhetoric, including the 1961 inaugural address proclaiming that"the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans" and challenging citizens:"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." Mr. Sorensen drew on the Bible, the Gettysburg Address and the words of Thomas Jefferson and Winston Churchill as he helped hone and polish that speech.... - NYT, 10-31-10
  • JFK Adviser Theodore Sorensen (1928-2010): A Remembrance: When I first told my Uncle Ted that I was engaged, he asked without hesitation,"Is she a Democrat?" He was only half joking. It's not that Theodore C. Sorensen, my father's brother and the man known as the"intellectual blood bank" of President John F. Kennedy was an ideologue; he merely believed to his core that the vision of his party was crucial to the future of his family, his country and his world. And well he should — it was he, through his collaboration with Kennedy, that most elegantly and timelessly gave voice to the Democratic ideals that have come to shape modern American politics. The last of the Kennedy old guard, Sorensen was a tireless defender of his legacy. Never, privately or publicly in the years since, did he take credit for the words or actions that made the 35th President an icon of the office. The many accounts of his intimacy with the political, personal and policy decisions of Kennedy's tenure are a testament both to the humility of the man, and his unwavering belief that what he accomplished was far more than professional triumph.... - Time, 10-31-10
  • What Ted Sorensen Taught Me About Writing: He was Kennedy’s celebrated speechwriter, but mere mortals (like me) still find him inspiring. Ted Sorensen was a hero of mine before I knew who he was. Sorensen, who died on Sunday at the age of 82 from complications following a stroke, was the primary speechwriter for John F. Kennedy. He was also an aide, a confidant, an"intellectual blood bank" (as the president once called him)—and a lawyer, a memoirist, a failed Senate candidate, among other things, though history will not remember him for them. It will remember him because he had a hand—impossible to identify, impossible to deny—in some of the most famous speeches in American history.
    I will remember him, though, because of Latin class. We were studying rhetorical devices used in Latin epics and lyric poetry. English examples were discussed:"Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country" (chiasmus)."I speak of peace … I speak of peace … I speak of peace …" (anaphora)."We choose to go to the moon" (assonance). The words came from Kennedy—or his speechwriter, my Latin teacher offhandedly said. The word"speechwriter" itself seemed an example of a rhetorical device, a paradox. Yet the word illuminated what I loved about those lines: they were intended for the ear, not the eye. I knew then that to learn to write, I was going to have to learn to listen.... - Newsweek, 11-2-10

IN FOCUS: HALLOWEEN

  • Nicholas Rogers: The dull-ification of Halloween: Fifteen years ago, a Canadian cultural historian named published an essay in the journal Social History entitled"Halloween in Urban North America: Liminality and Hyperreality." Sound boring? Just the opposite. Rogers, a professor of history at Toronto’s York University, spoke truth to power about All Hallows’ Eve: Stop trying to transform one of the few remaining cultural events that’s actually fun into yet another politically correct, risk-averse, religiously sanitized festival of yawns."Halloween constitutes a time of transition when orthodox social constraints are lifted, a moment of status ambiguity and indeterminacy when ritual subjects can act out their individual or collective fantasies, hopes or anxieties."... - Magic Valley Times-News (10-31-10)
  • Halloween ghost hunters seek old soldiers in Gettysburg: Days before Halloween on a darkened street Dwight Stoutzenberger aimed his digital camera at a wall not far from where a guide was telling ghost stories to a group of tourists. Gettysburg, a historic Civil War town, is famous for ghosts and reportedly haunted sites where uniformed soldiers mysteriously walk through closed doors, or ornaments shift positions on a mantelpiece. As Stoutzenberger scrolled through his photos he found several exposures showing a bright light amid a fuzzy white oval shape apparently hovering near the wall down the street. Tour guide Ann Griffith, who has been doing ghost tours in Gettysburg for 16 years, speculated that it could be an orb -- a point of light that she says is commonly seen around haunted sites.... - Reuters, 10-29-10
  • Is Candy Evil or Just Misunderstood?: FOR Samira Kawash, a writer who lives in Brooklyn, the Jelly Bean Incident provided the spark. Five years ago, her daughter, then 3, was invited to play at the home of a new friend. At snack time, having noted the presence of sugar (in the form of juice boxes and cookies) in the kitchen, Dr. Kawash, then a Rutgers professor, brought out a few jelly beans.... - NYT (10-27-10)

HISTORY NEWS:

  • Scholars Reconsidering Italy’s Treatment of Jews in the Nazi Era: ...[N]ew findings contradict the conventional belief that Italians began to enforce anti-Semitic laws only after German troops occupied the country in 1943, and then reluctantly. In a spate of studies, many of them based on a little-publicized Italian government report commissioned in 1999, researchers have uncovered a vast wartime record detailing a systematic disenfranchisement of Italy’s Jews, beginning in the summer of 1938, shortly before the Kristallnacht attacks in November.... Ilaria Pavan, a scholar at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, said a series of incrementally more onerous laws in 1939 and 1940 revoked peddlers’ permits and shopkeepers’ licenses, and required Jewish owners of businesses — as well as stock or bond holders — to sell those assets to “Aryans.” Bank accounts were ordered turned over to government authorities, ostensibly to prevent the transfer of money out of the country.... - NYT (11-5-10)
  • Righteous Among the Nations: Muslims Who Saved Jews from Holocaust: In 2003, Norman Gershman was looking for some of the righteous. What he found astonished the investment banker-turned-photographer, and led him toward a project now on display in a St. Louis synagogue.... During the years of occupation, 10 times as many Jews streamed into Albania to escape persecution from Poland, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Greece and Italy. Gershman says it was the only country in Europe where the Jewish population grew by the end of the war.... All of them were motivated by an Albanian code of honor called"besa," a concept that can be translated into"keeping the promise," Gershman says. The Albanian villagers were motivated to risk their lives by the simple concept of helping one's neighbor.... Ahmet Karamustafa, professor of history and religious studies at Washington University, said saving a life is a universally acknowledged Muslim value. Protecting a life, Karamustafa said,"has always ranked at the very top of moral and legal categories articulated by legal and theological scholars in Islam."... St. Louis Post-Dispatch (11-1-10)
  • Rise of paganism in Britain linked to discrimination against women, says historian: ...Ronald Hutton, Professor of History at Bristol University, says Paganism is partly a reaction to a perceived discrimination against women, practised by mainstream religions. He says:"It's feminist. Women have an automatic place... and in some areas of Paganism they are actually in charge. And they're working with a goddess or goddesses who are just as powerful as gods, if not more so."... - BBC News (10-30-10)
  • Matthew Hyland: Nazis killed 'good feelings' associated with 3,000-year-old emblem: Matthew Hyland, professor of history at Duquesne University, said the symbol dates to Neolithic times — as far back as 3,000 years — and mainly was a symbol of good luck."Essentially, it's like a good luck charm, sort of a portentous symbol of good feelings," he said. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (10-31-10)
  • Labor law has been 'turned inside out to help the powerful,' James A. Gross says: U.S. labor law"has been turned inside out, protecting the powerful rather than the powerless" in the 75 years since the National Labor Relations Act was enacted, a top labor historian says."And by that standard, it’s a failure," adds James A. Gross of the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Gross was the most provocative of many speakers at the opening Oct. 27 session of a day-and-a-half conference commemorating the 75th anniversary of the NLRA, which President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed on July 5, 1935.... - Workday Minnesota (10-31-10)

OP-EDs:

  • Rick Perlstein: How Obama Enables Rush: We live in a mendocracy. As in: rule by liars. Political scientists are going crazy crunching the numbers to uncover the skeleton key to understanding the Republican victory last Tuesday. - The Daily Beast (11-6-10)
  • Allan Lichtman: The Joyless Election: ...[N]ever before in the history of the United States has such a sweeping victory by one political party elicited so little joy and such minimal expectations. The American voters rejected the leadership of the Democratic Party that controlled the presidency and both Houses of Congress.... Above all, this year voters repudiated the government of the United States. This is the third consecutive election in which the voters ousted the party in power. However, dissatisfaction with government extends more deeply into the American past.... - Gazette.net (MD) (11-5-10)
  • David M. Kennedy: Throwing the Bums Out for 140 Years: SO we have had three"wave" elections in a row: control of both chambers of Congress changed hands in 2006, as did the presidency in 2008, and the House flipped back to Republican domination last week. All this apparently incoherent back-and-forth has left the political class reeling and set the commentariat aflutter. Explanations for our current political volatility abound: toxic partisanship, the ever more fragmented and strident news media, high unemployment, economic upheaval and the clamorous upwelling of inchoate populist angst. But the political instability of our own time pales when compared with the late 19th century. In the Gilded Age the American ship of state pitched and yawed on a howling sea of electoral turbulence. For decades on end,"divided government" was the norm. In only 12 of the 30 years after 1870 did the same party control the House, the Senate and the White House.... - NYT (11-7-10)
  • Daniel K. Williams: A Victory for the Christian Right: Immediately after the 2010 midterm elections, the National Right to Life Committee declared the results a victory for the pro-life cause, claiming that 65 seats in Congress had switched from pro-choice to pro-life. The Family Research Council likewise declared that voters had soundly rejected President Barack Obama’s efforts to allow gays to serve openly in the military. Voters in Iowa recalled three state Supreme Court justices who had ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. Across the nation, Christian conservatives claimed victories for their cultural causes after seeing Tuesday’s election results. Why, then, did most of the media—and the Republican Party leadership—say so little about religion in the election analysis?.... - PBS (11-5-10)
  • Robert Dallek: The Long View of the Tea Party: Regardless of how many seats change hands in the election, one result is already clear: The tea party movement will, for the immediate future, influence the direction of the Republican Party.... - Politico (11-4-10)
  • Alan Brinkley: Obama vs. Tea Party: Think FDR vs. Huey Long: In the aftermath of the massive Democratic losses on Election Day, the tea party movements have proved that their efforts made a significant contribution to the Republican victories. Though only a few true tea party candidates were actually elected — most prominently Rand Paul in Kentucky and Marco Rubio in Florida — there can be no doubt that the movement’s energy and anger were perhaps the crucial factor.... - Politico (11-4-10)
  • Steven M. Gillon: The Lessons of 1994: Democrats are still absorbing the electoral drubbing they suffered at the polls this week. As the New York Times reported, nearly every congressional district in America voted more Republican in 2010 than in 2008. Republicans rode a wave of well-financed and carefully orchestrated (but no less genuine) public anger at a struggling economy that shows little signs of improving. Gleeful conservative pundits are already predicting that the election marked the beginning of the end of the Obama presidency. Dispirited Democrats worry they may be right. But are they?... - Huffington Post (11-4-10)
  • Victor Davis Hanson: America Just Checked into Rehab: On Tuesday, voters rejected President Obama’s attempt to remake America in the image of an imploding Europe — not just by overwhelmingly electing Republican candidates to the House, but by preferring dozens of maverick conservatives who ran against the establishment. Why the near-historic rebuke? Out-of-control spending, unchecked borrowing, vast new entitlements, and unsustainable debt — all at a time of economic stagnation. So what is next? Like the recovering addict who checks himself into rehab, a debt-addicted America just snapped out of its borrowing binge, is waking up with the shakes, and hopes there is still a chance of recovery.... - National Review (11-4-10)

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Stacy Schiff: Femme Fatale: CLEOPATRA A Life"Mostly," Schiff says of"Cleopatra: A Life,""I have restored context." The claim stops sounding humble when we understand what it entails. Although it’s not Schiff’s purpose to present us with a feminist revision of a life plucked from antiquity, in order to “restore” Cleopatra — to see her at all — one must strip away an “encrusted myth” created by those for whom “citing her sexual prowess was evidently less discomfiting than acknowledging her intellectual gifts.” Lucan, Appian, Josephus, Dio, Suetonius, Plutarch — the poets, historians and biographers who initially depicted Cleopatra were mostly Roman and all male, writing, for the most part, a century or more after her death with the intent to portray her reign as little more than a sustained striptease.... - NYT, 11-4-10 - Excerpt - Books of The Times: 'Cleopatra: A Life', 11-2-10
  • Joseph J. Ellis: A World Unto Themselves: FIRST FAMILY Abigail and John That the Adamses succeeded both in helping to shape the American Republic and in securing for themselves a striking measure of domestic bliss was, as Joseph J. Ellis shows in"First Family: Abigail and John," a testament to the exceptional strength and vitality of their marriage. Although beset by myriad"twitches, traumas, throbbings and tribulations" (Ellis’s purple-prosy terms) in politics and at home, John and Abigail remained passionately devoted to each other, to their family and to their country."As I see it," Ellis explains,"Abigail and John have much to teach us about both the reasons for that improbable success called the American Revolution and the equally startling capacity for a man and woman — husband and wife — to sustain their love over a lifetime filled with daunting challenges."
    As one of today’s leading historians of the Revolutionary era (his books include a biography of John Adams, a National Book Award-winning biography of Thomas Jefferson and a Pulitzer Prize-winning group portrait of the founders), Ellis is more qualified than most to tell this engaging tale. Yet his reasons for doing so — and for doing so now — are less clear than his credentials.... - NYT, 11-7-10 - Excerpt
  • TIM REDMAN: Book review: 'Washington: A Life' by Ron Chernow: In times of crisis, nations and religions often return to their origins for guidance. This fine biography represents an attempt to recover those virtues that led to our founding. Nowhere are they better seen than in George Washington. Nearly every adult American carries his portrait with them wherever they go, but the man painted by Gilbert Stuart remains enigmatic. Ron Chernow, a renowned biographer and historian, looks beyond the myths to reveal a man much greater than all of the myths combined. For 20 years, George Washington was America.... - The Dallas Morning News, 11-7-10
  • Engagements With History Punctuate Garry Wills's life: OUTSIDE LOOKING IN Adventures of an Observer"Square,"" colorless,""stodgy,""unthreatening." Those are some of the adjectives that the prolific journalist and historian Garry Wills uses to describe himself in"Outside Looking In," his pointillistic new memoir. Off the page, all those things may (or may not) be true. On it, as countless politicians and writers have learned, having Mr. Wills sternly contemplate your work can be like having the Red Baron on your tail."Unthreatening" is hardly the word. Writing in The New York Review of Books and other journals, he’s sent entire squadrons of shoddy works and ideas down in flames.... - NYT (11-3-10) - Excerpt - Interview
  • Jules Witcover's biography of Joe Biden, reviewed by Matthew Dallek: JOE BIDEN A Life of Trial and Redemption Veteran Washington columnist Jules Witcover has published a biography of Biden that amounts to a celebratory recitation of the major private and public moments of the sitting vice president's life. Biden's rich and sometimes controversial career mirrors the policy achievements and political failures of the Democratic Party in modern times, and"Joe Biden" can also be read as a meditation on his Party's troubled and occasionally triumphant trajectory since the 1960s. WaPo, 11-5-10
  • Stacy Schiff's new biography of"Cleopatra," reviewed by Marie Arana: CLEOPATRA A Life If you think two millennia of dusty research and hoary legend have told us all we need to know about this woman, you're in for a surprise. Stacy Schiff, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of three highly praised biographies -- of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Véra Nabokov and Benjamin Franklin -- has dug through the earliest sources on Cleopatra, sorted through myth and misapprehension, tossed out the chaff of gossip, and delivered up a spirited life.... - WaPo, 11-1-10
  • A new biography of Simon Wiesenthal, by Tom Segev: SIMON WIESENTHAL The Life and Legends Plenty, as it turns out in"Simon Wiesenthal," by Israeli journalist Tom Segev. A columnist for the newspaper Ha'aretz and the author of numerous books, Segev is one of the world's great investigative reporters - in a class with bloodhounds like Seymour Hersh and the late David Halberstam. In this biography, the subject is not only Wiesenthal but the shifting relationship since the end of World War II of American, Israeli and European culture to what is now known as the Holocaust but was never called that in the first two decades after the war. Segev places Wiesenthal's life within a context almost unthinkable to Americans under 50 today, for whom Holocaust memorialization is a given. That the singular fate of European Jews under the Nazis was downplayed for many years after the war and that the U.S. government was none too eager to pursue Nazi war criminals who had taken refuge here is not widely known (even among young Jews). Segev notes that the Holocaust was also"wrapped in silence" in the young state of Israel and that many Israelis who had emigrated to Palestine before the war had denigrated survivors for"remaining in Europe instead and waiting to be slaughtered without doing anything to prevent it."... - WaPo, 11-29-10
  • Review of"OK," a history of a favorite American expression, by Allan Metcalf: OK The Improbable History of America's Greatest Word Probably there are as many theories about the origins of"OK" as there are theorists to expound them, but Allan Metcalf is satisfied that he knows the only one that really holds water. Relying on the work in the early 1960s of a"professor at Columbia University, scholar without equal of American English," Metcalf reports as follows.... - WaP0, 10-29-10
  • James Kloppenberg: In Writings of Obama, a Philosophy Is Unearthed: When the Harvard historian James T. Kloppenberg decided to write about the influences that shaped President Obama’s view of the world, he interviewed the president’s former professors and classmates, combed through his books, essays, and speeches, and even read every article published during the three years Mr. Obama was involved with the Harvard Law Review ("a superb cure for insomnia," Mr. Kloppenberg said). What he did not do was speak to President Obama."He would have had to deny every word," Mr. Kloppenberg said with a smile. The reason, he explained, is his conclusion that President Obama is a true intellectual — a word that is frequently considered an epithet among populists with a robust suspicion of Ivy League elites.... - NYT (10-27-10)

FEATURES:

  • Racism seen in interracial town's fall by historical archaelogist: A 19th-century railroad doomed a black-founded western Illinois town by diverting routes around it, an archaeologist who studied its history says. New Philadelphia, Ill., was"the first town in the United States planned and legally registered by an African- American," writes University of Illinois Professor Chris Fennell in the journal Historical Archaeology.... - UPI (11-1-10)
  • Resourceful Amish adapt as farming declines, says Indiana historian: ...Once known for their strictly agricultural lifestyle and rejection of modernity -- including electricity, cars and telephones -- the Amish increasingly are turning away from the farm, accepting technology and opting for nontraditional jobs, academic researchers and church members say.... The shift from farmer to entrepreneur began decades ago, according to Kraybill and Steven Nolt, a professor of history at Goshen College in Indiana.... - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (11-7-10)

PROFILES:

  • Carlos Eire, Yale historian, comes out with second memoir: Now 59, Eire is not dying, nor does he live in Miami. He is a professor of history and religious studies at Yale University. But he views boarding a KLM flight from Havana to Florida in 1962 as a death — the end of Carlos and his rebirth as Charles, a boy desperate to assimilate into American life.... - Spicezee (11-7-10)

QUOTES:

  • Voters impatient with Washington enabled by technology, says Miami University historian: ...The impatience narrative is compelling because the world is in a constant state of change and the public expects speedy action. Yet lack of patience isn't anything new, says Andrew Cayton, a distinguished professor of history at Miami University. What's new is the ability to grouse about it, en masse and instantly.
    "Now, because of cable TV and phones and the Internet, it's much easier for that to get momentum across a wide group of people," Cayton said. What once might have been tribal or local dissatisfaction now becomes"a global phenomenon, almost overnight." And that hampers public officials' ability to deal with tough issues in a deliberative manner, he says.... - Cleveland Plains Dealer (11-7-10)
  • Tea Party Rooted in Religious Fervor for Constitution, say Norton, Butler, and Greenberg: ..."There's a strong strand of divine-guidance thinking, thinking about American exceptionalism," said Mary Beth Norton, a professor of early American history at Cornell University."People have certainly seen the texts of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence as the equivalent of a secular religion, with the idea then that you can’t challenge these texts."...
    If anything, the Constitution is especially vulnerable to literalism."There is a major translation problem for literalism in relation to Christian doctrine," said Jon Butler, a professor of the history of religion in America at Yale."And there's the matter of the age of the texts. But there is no translation issue with the Constitution, and it’s only a couple of centuries old. So that makes it so much more susceptible. There it is. You can find it on the Internet."
    And from there, it is a short trip indeed to the engaged, enraged Tea Party of 2010, and a campaign that charged Democrats with a kind of Constitutional heresy."The Constitution has always been the trump card, the ultimate political weapon," noted David Greenberg, a professor of history and presidential biographer at Rutgers University."If you don’t like what the other side is doing, you say it’s unconstitutional." NYT (11-5-10)

INTERVIEWS:

  • Q+A: Interview with Professor Simon Schama: Paul Holmes interviews Professor Simon Schama. PAUL Welcome back to Professor Simon Schama, one of the world's most widely read historians. An Englishman who lives in New York, he is Professor of History and the History of Art at Columbia University, he's also a writer and television presenter. He's responsible for the books and the TV series Obama's America and The American Future. Professor Schama is a political commentator for the BBC and CNN, amongst others, and so he's got tremendous insight into President Obama and how and why America voted as it did last week. Obama himself described the Democrats' loss last week as 'a shellacking', so I asked Professor Schama when I spoke to him exactly how big a thumping it was.... - TVNZ (New Zealand) (11-7-10)
  • NYT interviews Garry Wills: As a presidential historian and emeritus professor at Northwestern, you’re well aware that the Democrats are facing the likelihood of an electoral setback this Tuesday. Yet President Obama continues to be the object of scathing criticism among Democrats, including yourself. Why won’t you give him credit for getting things done? He gets things done in a very crippled way. The health care plan and the finance plan — he made so many bargains along the way.... - NYT (10-29-10)

AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

  • Carney, Kara, and Rosomoff to Share 2010 Frederick Douglass Book Prize: Judith Carney, Siddharth Kara, and Richard Rosomoff to Share $25,000 Frederick Douglass Book Prize Judith A. Carney, Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, Siddharth Kara, an anti-slavery researcher and advocate and correspondent for CNN.com, and Richard Nicholas Rosomoff, an independent writer, have been selected as the co-winners of the 2010 Frederick Douglass Book Prize, awarded for the best book written in English on slavery or abolition. Carney and Rosomoff won for their book Inside the Shadow of Slavery: Africa's Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World (University of California Press), and Kara won for his book, Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery (Columbia University Press).
  • Cape Breton University to honour rights icon with named chair: Nova Scotia rights icon Viola Desmond is being honoured by Cape Breton University,+ which is creating a chair in her name — the Viola Desmond chair in social justice. Desmond, a black woman, was convicted in 1946 for sitting in the whites-only section of a movie theatre in New Glasgow. She was pardoned by the province earlier this year. History professor Graham Reynolds will be the first holder of the chair.... CBC News (11-5-10)
  • McGill University Professor Desmond Morton Wins 2010 Pierre Berton Award: Steady scholarship, dry wit and an appetite for public debate are the qualities that have made Professor Desmond Morton this year's winner of the Pierre Berton Award, Canada's History Society announced today. Desmond Morton's incisive analysis and quiet chuckle have raised interest in and knowledge of Canadian history from coast-to-coast.... - Newswire Canada (11-3-10)
  • Pelosi Appoints Dr. Matthew Wasniewski as New House Historian: On October 20, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the appointment of Dr. Matthew Wasniewski as the new Historian of the House of Representatives. Dr. Wasniewski, who currently serves as the historian in the House Clerk’s Office of History and Preservation, received the unanimous recommendation of the House Historian Search Committee appointed by Speaker Pelosi with the input of House Republican Leader John Boehner who concurred on the appointment.... - Lee White at the National Coalition for History (10-22-10)

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • Toronto's 30th anniversary of Holocaust Education Week: The 30th anniversary of Holocaust Education Week will take place in Toronto and the surrounding region, from November 1 to November 9. This year more than 30,000 participants are expected to attend over 150 educational and cultural programmes. The central theme for 2010 is"We Who Survived."... - Jewish Info News (10-24-10)
  • THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY MAKES ITS MOST IMPORTANT COLLECTIONS RELATING TO SLAVERY AVAILABLE ONLINE: Rich trove of material becomes easily accessible at www.nyhistory.org/slaverycollection The New-York Historical Society is proud to announce the launch of a new online portal to nearly 12,000 pages of source materials documenting the history of slavery in the United States, the Atlantic slave trade and the abolitionist movement. Made readily accessible to the general public for the first time at www.nyhistory.org/slaverycollections, these documents from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries represent fourteen of the most important collections in the library's Manuscript Department....
  • " Understanding the Iran-Contra Affairs," is the only comprehensive website on the famous Reagan-era government scandal, which stemmed from the U.S. government’s policies toward two seemingly unrelated countries, Nicaragua and Iran. Despite stated and repeated denials to Congress and to the public, Reagan Administration officials supported the militant contra rebels in Nicaragua and sold arms to a hostile Iranian government. These events have led to questions about the appropriateness of covert operations, congressional oversight, and even the presidential power to pardon.... - irancontra.org
  • Thousands of Studs Terkel interviews going online: The Library of Congress will digitize the Studs Terkel Oral History Archive, according to the agreement, while the museum will retain ownership of the roughly 5,500 interviews in the archive and the copyrights to the content. Project officials expect digitizing the collection to take more than two years.... - NYT, 5-13-10
  • Digital Southern Historical Collection: The 41,626 scans reproduce diaries, letters, business records, and photographs that provide a window into the lives of Americans in the South from the 18th through mid-20th centuries.

SPOTTED:

  • Ripping the USA: Revising History Dismally: It happened in July. A group of 25 selected professor historians met in Hawaii at a workshop sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). They were to present and hear scholarly papers on the history of these United States in World War II. It was to be a high-level intellectual rendering of that war receding now into history.... - American Thinker (11-6-10)
  • Almost 50 history teachers get lesson at Teddy Roosevelt home: "He wasn't just the 26th president of the United States, but a real man with many exciting sides to his life," said Eileen McGaghran, who teaches history at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua."For history teachers, seeing all this, getting this in-depth content, the detail, the stories, will really help in the classroom to get kids' attention. That's what we want." McGaghran was one of close to 50 history teachers from Westchester and Putnam who visited Sagamore Hill on Thursday as part of a special program to breathe life into history for normally classroom-bound teachers, so they can, in turn, excite students about days gone by.... - LoHud.com (11-1-10)
  • Tea Party's impact studied on eve of election: Deputy director Tim Rives put together a program to discuss"The Tea Party and the Future of American Politics.""The Tea Party is one of the most important political developments of modern times," said Karl Wesissenbach, director of the Eisenhower Center, about the forum which is part of the Kansas Town Hall Forum series.... - Abilene Reflector-Chronicle (10-31-10)
  • Jan T. Gross building new history of the Holocaust: The overflow audience at Yad Vashem listens intently to Gross’s lecture, entitled"Opportunistic Killings and Plunder of Jews By Their Neighbors – A Norm or an Exception in German-Occupied Europe?" while distracted by the image.... - Jerusalem Post (10-31-10)

ON TV:

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

BOOKS COMING SOON:

  • Helen J. Burn: Betsy Bonaparte, (Hardcover), November 1, 2010
  • Noah Feldman: Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices, (Hardcover), November 2010
  • Gerald Blaine: The Kennedy Detail: JFK's Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
  • Greg Farrell: Crash of the Titans: Greed, Hubris, the Fall of Merrill Lynch, and the Near-Collapse of Bank of America, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
  • Charles Rappleye: Robert Morris: Financier of the American Revolution, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
  • Karl Rove: Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight, (Paperback), November 2, 2010
  • Charles HRH The Prince of Wales: Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
  • Simon Winchester: Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
  • Steven E. Woodworth: Manifest Destinies: America's Westward Expansion and the Road to the Civil War, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
  • Manning Marable: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, (Hardcover), November 9, 2010
  • Adam Richman: America the Edible: A Hungry History From Sea to Dining Sea, (Hardcover), November 9, 2010
  • Rodney Stark: God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades, (Paperback), November 9, 2010
  • Elizabeth White: The Socialist Alternative to Bolshevik Russia: The Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1917-39, (Hardcover), November 10, 2010
  • G. J. Barker-Benfield: Abigail and John Adams: The Americanization of Sensibility, (Hardcover), November 15, 2010
  • Laura Hillenbrand: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, (Hardcover), November 16, 2010
  • Mike Huckabee: A Simple Christmas: Twelve Stories that Celebrate the True Holiday Spirit, (Hardcover), November 16, 2010
  • Gary Ecelbarger: The Day Dixie Died: The Battle of Atlanta, (Hardcover), November 23, 2010
  • Michael Goldfarb: Emancipation: How Liberating Europe's Jews from the Ghetto Led to Revolution and Renaissance, (Paperback), November 23, 2010
  • Edmund Morris: Colonel Roosevelt, (Hardcover), November 23, 2010
  • Linda Porter: Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, the Last Wife of Henry VIII (First Edition), (Hardcover), November 23, 2010
  • Alison Weir: The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, (Paperback), December 28, 2010
  • Donald Rumsfeld: Known and Unknown: A Memoir, (Hardcover), January 25, 2011

DEPARTED:

  • Susanna Barrows, scholar of modern French history, dies at 65: Susanna I. Barrows, a professor emerita of history at the UC Berkeley, and an authority on modern French history, died at her home in Berkeley on Wednesday, Oct. 27, after a suspected heart attack. She was 65.... - UC Berkeley News (11-2-10)
  • Korean historian and archaelogist who proved Korean Old Stone Age dies: Sohn Pow-key, an archeologist who proved humans were living on the Korean Peninsula during the Paleolithic Age by excavating related artifacts, died in Seoul on Sunday. He was 88.... From 1964 to 1974 when he was professor of history at Yonsei University and head of the university’s museum, Sohn excavated Paleolithic tools at Seokjang-ri in Gongju, South Chungcheong Province.... - Korea Herald (11-1-10)



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