Originally published 06/27/2013
Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His new book, The Savior Generals, is just out from Bloomsbury Press.By a.d. 200, the Roman Republic was a distant memory. Few citizens of the global Roman Empire even knew of their illustrious ancestors like Scipio or Cicero. Millions no longer spoke Latin. Italian emperors were a rarity. There were no national elections.Yet Rome endured as a global power for three more centuries. What held it together?...As long as the sea was free of pirates, thieves were cleared from the roads, and merchants were allowed to profit, few cared whether the lawless Caracalla or the unhinged Elagabalus was emperor in distant Rome.Something likewise both depressing and encouraging is happening to the United States. Few Americans seem to worry that our present leaders have lied to or misled Congress and the American people without consequences....
Originally published 05/08/2013
Sam Wineburg, Margaret Jacks Professor of Education and (courtesy) History, is the director of the Stanford History Education Group. Their signature project, "Reading Like an Historian," which promotes a secondary school curriculum based around critical engagement with primary sources, recently made the cover of Stanford's alumni magazine:Designed by the Stanford History Education Group under Professor Sam Wineburg, the website offers 87 flexible lesson plans featuring documents from the Library of Congress. Teachers can download the lessons and adapt them for their own purposes, free of charge. Students learn how to examine documents critically, just as historians would, in order to answer intriguing questions: Did Pocahontas really rescue John Smith? Was Abraham Lincoln a racist? Who blinked first in the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Russians or the Americans?Apparently the program has struck a chord. In school districts from red states and blue, New York City and Chicago to Carmel, Calif., history teachers are lining up for workshops on how to use the materials. The website's lessons have been downloaded 800,000 times and spawned a lively online community of history educators grateful for the camaraderie—and often desperate for help.
Originally published 02/11/2013
Richard White, Margaret Byrne Professor of American History at Stanford University, is author, most recently, of Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America.Speaking in New Haven in 1860, Abraham Lincoln told an audience, “I am not ashamed to confess that 25 years ago I was a hired laborer, mauling rails, at work on a flat-boat—just what might happen to any poor man’s son.” After his death, Lincoln’s personal trajectory from log cabin to White House emerged as the ideal American symbol. Anything was possible for those who strived.
Originally published 01/22/2013
Stanford historian Clayborne Carson has been researching and documenting the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. for nearly three decades.From Carson's trip to Washington, D.C., in 1963 to hear King give his famous "I Have a Dream" speech to his personal relationships with members of the King family, Carson's involvement with the American civil rights movement has been much more than an academic pursuit.In 1985, Coretta Scott King asked Carson to edit and publish her late husband's papers. Carson subsequently founded the King Papers Project, which is producing the definitive record of King's writings, from speeches and sermons to personal correspondence and unpublished manuscripts.Drawing from his personal journals and records, Carson offers a personal and candid account of his evolution from political activist into a self-described "activist scholar" in his new book Martin's Dream.In a conversation with Corrie Goldman of the Stanford Humanities Center, Carson talked about the book and his experiences.
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