• Modern History Notes

    by Cliopatria

    Vernon Bogdanor reviews Peter Conrad's Verdi and/or Wagner: Two Men, Two Worlds, Two Centuries for the New Statesman, 5 December.

    Mark Polizzotti, "Patabiographical," bookforum, Dec/Jan, reviews Alastair Brotchie's new biography of the French playwright, Alfred Jarry: A Pataphysical Life.

    Franklin Foer, "Macho Pointy-Head," The Book, 30 December, reviews Daniel Ruddy, ed., Theodore Roosevelt's History of the United States: His Own Words.

  • Boston College (Cont.): See Also

    by Cliopatria

    The legal blog Letters Blogatory has a post (a few days old, but I just noticed it) on the newest development regarding the Boston College subpoena. Blogger Ted Folkman, a lawyer who does this kind of thing for a living, isn't impressed with the latest: "I’ve been wrong before and I’ll be wrong again, but the effort to intervene here seems to me to be clearly unfounded. That’s not to say that I think that BC’s position lacks merit. As I’ve written before, I think the case is up for grabs given the lack of First Circuit precedent cited by the parties."

  • Friday's Notes

    by Cliopatria

    Sophie Roell interviews "Mike Dash on Hidden History," The Browser, 7 December, for his recommendation of five remarkable books illustrating Dash's claim that the most interesting history is textbook-marginal.

    Ingrid D. Rowland, "The Crass, Beautiful Eternal City," NYRB, 22 December, reviews Robert Hughes's Rome: A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History. Tony Perrottet, "The Secret City," Slate, 5-8 December, is a series on secrets of Vatican City.

  • Interred

    by Cliopatria

    The Navy Times notes that Pearl Harbor survivors are returning to their dead shipmates, decades later:

    On Tuesday, seven decades after dozens of fellow sailors were killed when the Utah sank on Dec. 7, 1941, Navy divers took a small urn containing [Graham Soucy's] ashes and put it in a porthole of the ship. The ceremony is one of five memorials being held this week for service members who lived through the assault and want their remains placed in Pearl Harbor, out of pride and affinity for those they left behind.

    I don't know of another battle site where people are returning to be buried, though it's not something I've researched. "Pearl Harbor interment and ash scattering ceremonies began in the late 1980s and started growing in number as more survivors heard about them." Now, the article says, 265 survivors are interred there. In Soucy's case, his ashes were split, with some going to Pearl and some being buried in a plot at home to be shared with his wife. Both family, if of a different sort.

  • Virginia Tech

    by Cliopatria

    WDBJ TV has local livestream news from Blacksburg, Virginia. About noon today, two persons, including a police officer, were killed by an unknown shooter, who remains at large. The campus is on lockdown and final exams are postponed.

  • Left Behind

    by Cliopatria

    George Lakoff isn't a historian. But that excuse only goes so far.

    Lakoff's endlessly simpleminded political noodling disappears whole vast swaths of history, entire conceptual categories, and every thin final molecule of nuance from human existence. His writing couldn't be more of a cartoon if Snoopy showed up and got into a dogfight with the Red Baron. (Is this a Berkeley thing? How can one campus have George Lakoff and John Yoo and Robert Reich? Practical joke, or cosmic accident?) Speaking of cartoons, Lakoff says things about the origins of his political conceptions that no self-aware being could utter without blushing the color of a fire engine.

  • The Facts of Yesterday

    by Cliopatria

    [cross-posted at The Edge of the American West]

    H72273kIt's December 7th, the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Tomorrow will be the 70th anniversary of FDR's speech to Congress, in which the President said:

    Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

    It is a "date which will live in infamy" as Roosevelt said, but not much longer in living memory:

  • Boston College (Cont.): The Inextinguishable Rule of Law*

    by Cliopatria

    (*Knock on Wood)

    Below, a brief filed in federal court today by lawyers for two of Boston College's Belfast Project researchers, who were responsible for conducting oral history interviews with former members of paramilitary organizations in Northern Ireland. The Department of Justice continues to pursue subpoenas for materials from confidential interviews with former members of the Provisional IRA, acting on a request from the government of the United Kingdom (which almost certainly originated in the PSNI). Most recently, the DOJ had asked a judge to refuse to allow BC's researchers to join the discussion before the court. This new brief continues the argument for that intervention, and is important for the claims it makes about the legal rights of individuals following requests made by foreign governments under the terms of mutual legal assistance treaties (MLATs).

  • Strike the Battle Drum of the Great Leap Forward Ever Louder!

    by Cliopatria

    The day after I wrote a post here wondering about the decline of a localist, communitarian left in the United States -- the day after I asked why American progressive political argument is "stuck on massive" -- former SEIU president and Columbia Business School senior fellow Andy Stern has an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal arguing that the U.S. should learn from "China's Superior Economic Model." They have five-year plans! They just released their twelfth central plan for the economy, and the People's Economy is Surging Forward to Eternal Victory As Every Heart Swells With Joy for the Heroic Project of Industrial Development:

  • Military History Carnival #29

    by Cliopatria

    Welcome to the December 1, 2011 edition of the Military History Carnival, covering the last three months of military history web goodness. This is MHC #29. Previous editions can be found here.

    Many thanks to all the nominators. This is the largest MHC in quite a while.



    Scott Manning presents The Strategic Importance of Stirling posted at Historian on the Warpath, saying, "This article looks at the strategic importance of Stirling to understand why Wallace and Murray decided to confront the invading English there in 1297."

  • Douthat & Dallek on JFK

    by Cliopatria


    The New York Times featured an interesting exchange on presidential history between columnist Ross Douthat and historian Robert Dallek. The debate provides a good example of why a columnist might want to avoid taking on a historian of Dallek’s caliber.

    Douthat’s Sunday column identified what he deemed three false pretenses about JFK: (1) thatKennedy was a very good president, and might have been a great one if he’d lived”; (2) that “Kennedy would have kept us out of Vietnam”; and (3) that “Kennedy was a martyr to right-wing unreason.”

    The third pretense is clearly false, though its prevalence is dubious (Douthat cites a recent Frank Rich column) and it’s also clear that Kennedy’s presidency featured a surge of “right-wing unreason,” especially in the South and Southwest. Dallek’s response ignores it, and focuses instead on the first two claims.

  • Small is Horrible

    by Cliopatria

    Wendell Berry is one of the critical figures of the environmentalist left, a fierce critic of the Vietnam War with a long personal history of direct action in environmental causes. A complicated figure, Berry has looked outside the boundaries of a supposedly binary politics, discovering (for example) conservative instincts in the New Left.