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May 29, 2008 1:21 am

More Noted Things

History Carnival LXV goes up at Progressive Historians on Sunday 1 June. Send nominations of the best of May's history blogging to Jeremy Young at jcyoung84*at*gmail*dot*com or use the form.

Jonathan Rosen,"Return to Paradise," New Yorker, 2 June, celebrates the 400th anniversary of John Milton's birth and the harvest of new work about him.

Scott McLemee,"From Plymouth Rock to Plato's Retreat," IHE, 28 May, considers how a history of sexuality in America ought to look.

"Canada Reopens Its ‘Most Disgraceful' Act," NYT, 28 May, features a new examination of the forced acculturation of Canada's native Americans between the 1870s and the 1970s. Thanks to Manan Ahmed for the tip.

Rick Perlstein's Nixonland is the subject of this week's discussion at TPM Café's Book Club.

Niall Ferguson,"The Jewish Key to Henry Kissinger," TLS, 28 May, reviews Jeremi Suri's Henry Kissinger and the American Century.

Finally, at Outside Report, my virtual son, Chris Richardson, asks three questions:
1. What American President knew the largest number of other American Presidents (who served before or after his own term)?
2. What non-presidential American knew the largest number of American Presidents?
3. What American President knew the fewest other American Presidents?
Chris offers reasonably well-informed tentative answers to the questions, but he'd like to have critical reactions from Cliopatria's readers.

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Richard McAlexander - 5/29/2008

Ferguson is the master of crafting a good read that winds up making no sense.

Ferguson attempts to disarm Kissinger's critics by noting that Christopher Hitchens didn't perform extensive research for his book--a book that first appeared (as two parts) in Harper's magazine. Christopher Hitchens doesn't do research, and I've yet to meet anyone who learned anything from reading Hitchens (of course, you can learn a lot about Hitchens from reading Hitchens.) Ferguson mentions Hersh' well-researched polemic against Kissinger, but fails to discuss any of Hersh's indictments. The comparison to Dulles is silly--Ferguson compares Dulles' biggest failure to Kissinger's more mild endeavors. There aren't many polemics written against John Foster Dulles partly because he died 49 years ago.

I also can't help but chortle when I read Niall Ferguson write that "there is a danger in posing unrealistic counterfactuals." Is Ferguson really going to make the claim that peace could not be had in the Middle East in the 1970s? Is Ferguson going to do Kissinger a favor and fail to mention that Anwar Sadat repeatedly offered an olive branch to Israel and the United States in 1971 in his upcoming biography? Judging from his review, I think Ferguson going to give Kissinger the same treatment he received from the Kalb brothers.

Jeremy Young - 5/29/2008

Five others that come to mind: Strom Thurmond, Carl Hayden, Robert Byrd, Pamela Hamilton Harriman and Billy Graham. I think Alice has them all beat right now, but Graham at least could easily pass her when all is said and done.

I remember reading somewhere that the Guinness Book of Records states that the largest number of Presidents ever assembled in one room was eight -- four past, one present, and three future. Sadly, I don't remember which Presidents they were. One would think that anyone attending that party would have a real jump on the competition. The largest such assemblage in modern times was the 1994 funeral of Richard Nixon, which was attended by all living Presidents at the time.