Top Young Historians: 38 – David M. Wrobel

Top Young Historians

David M. Wrobel, 42

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Professor of History, University of Nevada Las Vegas.
Area of Research: U.S. West, American Thought and Culture, Late Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century U.S., Historiography.
Education: Ph.D., American Intellectual History, Ohio University, June 1991.
Major Publications: He is the author of Promised Lands: Promotion, Memory and the Creation of the American West (2002) (a finalist for the Spur  Award for Contemporary Western Non-Fiction), The End of American Exceptionalism: Frontier Anxiety from the Old West to the New Deal (1993), along with numerous articles and essays. He is the co-editor of Seeing and Being Seen: Tourism in the American West (2001); and Many Wests: Place, Culture, and Regional Identity (1997); and editor of a Special Issue of The Historian, “;The West Enters the Twenty-First Century: Appraisals on the State of the Field” (Fall 2004).” He is currently working on two book projects Global West, American Frontier: Travelers’ Accounts, 1840-2000 (Calvin Horn Book Series, University of New Mexico Press; manuscript to be submitted in summer 2007), and The Rebirth of American Exceptionalism: The Cold War, the West, and the Frontier Revival (sequel to The End of American Exceptionalism). Also Wrobel is working on a an edited book project Friedrich Gerstäcker’s West: A German Traveler on the Nineteenth-Century American Frontier (for Arthur H. Clark Company and University of Oklahoma Press).
Awards: Wrobel is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including:
Senior Research Fellow in Western History, Beinecke Library and Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers and Borders, Yale University, academic year 2005-2006;
Calvin Horn Lecturer in American Western History and Culture, University of New Mexico, November 2003;
Promised Lands, Promotion, Memory, and the Creation of the American West (2003 Finalist, Spur Award for Contemporary Non-Fiction, Western Writers of America);
Andrew Mellon Fellow, Huntington Library, Summer 2003;
Los Angeles Corral of Westerners’ Fellow, Huntington Library, Summer 2001;
Visiting Scholar, Center of the American West, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1999;
Lindbach Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence, Widener University, 1998;
Cailhouette Fellow, Huntington Library, Summer 1997;
Newberry Library Fellow, Summer 1996;
American Philosophical Society Fellow, Summer 1994;
Baccalaureate Speaker, Hartwick College, May 1994 (chosen by student body);
Mayer Fund Fellow, Huntington Library, Summer 1993;
Haynes Fellow, Huntington Library, Summer 1990.
Additional Info:
Formerly Associate Professor of History (1998-2000); Chair (Fall 1997-Fall 99); Assistant Professor (1994-98), Widener University, Visiting Assistant Professor of History, Hartwick College (1992-94), and Visiting Assistant Professor of History, College of Wooster (1991-92) and Visiting Instructor (1990-91).
Wrobel is the incoming Vice President (beginning 2007) and President Elect (2008) of the American Historical Association’s Pacific Coast Branch, and is currently Chair of the Western History Association’s (WHA) Membership Committee. He has also served as President of Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honor Society (2004-2006), as a member of the Editorial Board of the Pacific Historical Review, and on various other professional nominating, program, book, article, and fellowship prize committees.
A dedicated promoter of partnerships between the academy and the schools, David Wrobel served as Co-Director of an NEH Institute for teachers on the West sponsored by the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado at Boulder (2001); he has been a faculty coordinator and core member for the Center’s Teaching American History (TAH) partnership with the Jefferson County, Colorado public schools since 2001; he co-directed a TAH summer institute on the West in Washoe County, Nevada (2003); and he has participated in the Clark County TAH institute (2005) and the NEH institute on the West for teachers in Laramie, Wyoming (2006).

Personal Anecdote

Since graduate school I’ve taught a wide range of courses including: Early American Thought, Modern American Thought, American thought and Culture in the 1920s and 1930s, and American Thought and Culture in the 1950s and 1960s, several courses on western American history and historiography, period courses on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, US: 1920-1945, and Recent America, historical methodology for undergraduates, the US history survey, and even Colonial and Modern Latin America. I’ve also taught at a wide range of institutions: as a Visiting Assistant Professor at The College of Wooster in Ohio and at Hartwick College in upstate New York, in a tenure-track position at Widener University, and currently at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where I am a Professor in the History Department. I’ve also served as a Visiting Scholar at the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado, Boulder (1999), and as Senior Research Fellow in Western American History at the Beinecke Library and Howard Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers and Borders at Yale University (2005-2006).

The experience of offering a broad array of classes and spending time at very different academic institutions has proven invaluable. The one piece of advice I would offer to young historians in their first academic positions is to pay close attention to the listing of courses. In my second semester at The College of Wooster, back in 1991, I offered a course titled “The American West: Myth and Reality,” which was mis-titled in the Student Course Catalog as “The American West: Myth and Realty.” A single letter can make a real difference. A good number of business and economics majors signed up for the course and were quite disappointed to learn that the course had little to do with real estate values in the West. I suppose there’s some irony in the fact that my second monograph, Promised Lands: Promotion, Memory, and the Creation of the American West (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002), does actually deal quite extensively with methods of land promotion in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Here’s a snippet from Promised Lands that illuminates my efforts to present western promoters and pioneer reminiscers in a more nuanced fashion than has generally been the case:

“The two genres [promotion and reminiscence] could be dismissed as, respectively, Promised  Lands Promotion, Memory, and the Creation of the American West JPGthe lies of unscrupulous salesmen (there were few female booster writers) and the improbable recollections of aging frontiersmen and women—the tale tales of nearly dead white males and females. The promoters could be regarded as the used car dealers of an earlier age, the reminiscers as the unreliable fisherman chroniclers of yesteryear whose fish grow ever larger as time recedes and their stories are retold….But it is important to treat these sources as reflections of the purpose of their creators rather than as accurate descriptions of past places and events….[T]he issue here… is their centrality to the processes by which popular perceptions of the West were constructed, elaborated, disseminated, and sustained.”

I guess I too have become something of a promoter — of historical organizations. My service to the history profession includes a term as President of Phi Alpha Theta, National History Honor Society, Inc. (2004-2006); I am currently Vice-President and President-Elect of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association; and I have just been elected to serve a 3-year term on the Council of the Western History Association, an organization that I also serve in the capacity of Chair of the Membership Committee. I’ve also served on numerous book, article, and fellowship prize committees, and on the Editorial Board of the Pacific Historical Review. These historical organizations that are so vital to the health of the profession are also quite easy to take for granted, and so I would urge young historians to seek service in the organizations in which they are members.

My promotional endeavors also extend to the arena of teacher partnerships. I’m quite heavily involved in building partnerships between college and university teachers and K-12 teachers through NEH and TAH-funded programs. The question I find myself asking again and again is: “Will these partnerships still exist if the TAH funding dries up?” My hope, of course, is that we are building the foundations for healthy long-term collaborative efforts with the school districts that surround our colleges and universities. We are developing Master of Arts in Teaching History programs, conducting summer workshops and institutes, and generally developing a better sense of how we can help K-12 teachers and learn from them.

I’m currently looking forward to my courses on the “Progressive Era” and “Regionalism and the American West” this spring, to my work this summer with the TAH grant in Jefferson County, Colorado (a partnership between the school district and the Center of the American West), to finishing my current book project, “Global West, American Frontier: Travelers’ Accounts, 1840-2000,” and to beginning my new book project, “The Rebirth of American Exceptionalism: The Cold War, the West, and the Frontier Revival” (a sequel of sorts to my first book, The End of American Exceptionalism: Frontier Anxiety from the Old West to the New Deal (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1993).

Quotes

By David M. Wrobel

  • “The great drama of the West became just the first of many stories of national exceptionalism that have sprung up because the nation needed them, and they have proven hard to purge from the national consciousness for the very same reason. We should include among these stories that of the Progressive era as an age of purely altruistically motivated reform, the absolute antithesis of (and corrective to) the Gilded Age; the story of the 1920s as a happy, colorful, carefree interlude; the Great Depression as a triumph of American cooperation, compassion, and perseverance; World War II as “the Good War,” with a wonderfully unified home-front; and the Civil Rights Movement as a great redemptive moment, a triumph of integration marked by a healthy national recognition of the country’s shortcomings in the arena of race. All of these memorable episodes were far messier, their contours less clearly, less dualistically defined, than the national collective memory has imagined. None of them were quite the great morality plays and triumphs of America’s better angels that the nation has remembered them to have been. Within the space of about thirty years, each of these purposeful interpretations of the past came to be questioned by professional historians; but like the story of the West and American exceptionalism, all continue largely intact in the broader public consciousness, despite the weight of scholarly reservations.” — David M. Wrobel, Phi Alpha Theta (National History Honor Society) Presidential Address, “Exceptionalism and Globalism: Travel Writers and the Nineteenth-Century American West,” published in “The Historian,” Vol. 68 (Fall 2006): 431-460, delivered at the Biennial Meeting, January 5, 2006.
  • About David M. Wrobel

  • “A pathbreaking work that enlarges Wrobel’s strong reputation as a superb cultural historian of the American West.” — Richard W. Etulain, author of “Reimagining the Modern American West” reviewing “Promised Lands: Promotion, Memory, and the Creation of the American West”
  • “Original and significant. While it can be considered part of the myth-busting genre, and thus owes an intellectual debt to Limerick’s Legacy of Conquest, among other books, Wrobel’s stands by itself and should appeal to anyone interested in Western history and literature, as well as to a broader audience beyond that. — Walter Nugent, author of “Into the West: The Story of Its People” reviewing “Promised Lands: Promotion, Memory, and the Creation of the American West”
  • “A superb book and terrific reminder that the American West is at once region and many regions, and that it is made up of places imagined, real, remembered, and misremembered—-all of them historically important.” — William Deverell, coeditor of “Metropolis in the Making” reviewing “Promised Lands: Promotion, Memory, and the Creation of the American West”
  • “Wrobel reaches his main goal, to present the very rich literature of boosters and reminiscers, its purposes, and its influence on historical and present perceptions of the West. Promised Lands makes a strong contribution to our knowledge of American western culture. Reading Wrobel’s book was, for me, like a trip to the world of western fairytales and legends, with the conscious thought in mind that at the same time these tales can serve as primary sources for the research on American western identity and can bring us closer to its understanding.” — Justyna Bartkiewicz, George Washington University reviewing “Promised Lands: Promotion, Memory, and the Creation of the American West” in “American Studies International”
  • “I do not know of anyone who has brought together so much material on the popular foreboding over the frontier’s demise. Wrobel uses articles and commentaries from periodicals in the 1870s and 1880s to show both an awareness of the frontier’s significance to a distinctive national character and an uneasiness that this molding influence was about to end. Unlike a lot of writing in intellectual history, his style is accessible to the general reader as well as the specialist.” — Elliott West, author of “Growing Up with the Country: Childhood on the Far-Western Frontier” reviewing “The End of American Exceptionalism: Frontier Anxiety from the Old West to the New Deal”
  • “A lucid and rewarding synthesis of cultural and western history.” — Richard W. Etulain, author of “Writing Western History” reviewing “The End of American Exceptionalism: Frontier Anxiety from the Old West to the New Deal”
  • “A superb and original analysis, rich in interdisciplinary detail.” — Wilbur R. Jacobs, author of “On Turner’s Trail” reviewing “The End of American Exceptionalism: Frontier Anxiety from the Old West to the New Deal”
  • “An excellent book on a big subject, executed with much skill.” — “Western Historical Quarterly” reviewing “The End of American Exceptionalism: Frontier Anxiety from the Old West to the New Deal”
  • “One of the most important books of recent years in the history of American ideas.” — “Journal of Arizona History” reviewing “The End of American Exceptionalism: Frontier Anxiety from the Old West to the New Deal”
  • “An indispensable analysis of an essential part of the national psyche.” — “American Studies” reviewing “The End of American Exceptionalism: Frontier Anxiety from the Old West to the New Deal”
  • “Wrobel writes with clarity and richness and uses abundant examples.” — “Great Plains Quarterly” reviewing “The End of American Exceptionalism: Frontier Anxiety from the Old West to the New Deal”
  • “A stimulating and valuable contribution to American intellectual history and to the history of the American West as well.” — “Nebraska History” reviewing “The End of American Exceptionalism: Frontier Anxiety from the Old West to the New Deal”
  • “A landmark in the debate over the significance of the frontier in American history.” — “Kansas History” reviewing “The End of American Exceptionalism: Frontier Anxiety from the Old West to the New Deal”
  • “Very smart, interesting professor. Great sense of humor. Loved his jokes about the not-so-great French.”… “Excellent instructor, nice guy. Also very funny w/ dry British humor. Dr Wrobel made this class very intersting and fun.”… “Good class, great instructor. Dr Wrobel is funny as hell.” — Anonymous Students
  • Posted on Sunday, December 17, 2006 at 7:39 PM

    History Buzz: December 2006

    History Buzz

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

    Ms. Goodman is the Editor/Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

    December 18, 2006

    HNN STATS THIS WEEK:
    THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:
    • 18/12/1777 – 1st national Thanksgiving Day, commemorating Burgoyne’s surrender
    • 18/12/1787 – New Jersey becomes 3rd state to ratify constitution
    • 18/12/1799 – George Washington’s body interred at Mount Vernon
    • 18/12/1813 – British take Ft Niagara in War of 1812
    • 18/12/1859 – South Carolina declared an “independent commonwealth”
    • 18/12/1862 – Battle at Lexington, Tennessee (Forrest’s Second Raid)
    • 18/12/1865 – 13th Amendment ratified, slavery abolished
    • 18/12/1892 – “Nutcracker Suite,” Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet, premieres
    • 18/12/1915 – Pres Wilson, widowed the year before, marries Edith Bolling Galt
    • 18/12/1966 – Dr Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” airs for 1st time on CBS
    • 19/12/1732 – Benjamin Franklin under the name Richard Saunders begins publication of “Poor Richard’s Almanack”
    • 19/12/1776 – Thomas Paine published his 1st “American Crisis” essay, in which he wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls”
    • 19/12/1777 – Washington settles his troops at Valley Forge, Pa for winter
    • 19/12/1828 – South Carolina declares right of states to nullify federal laws
    • 19/12/1843 – Charles Dickens publishes “A Christmas Carol,” in England
    • 19/12/1861 – Battle of Black Water
    • 19/12/1930 – James Weldon Johnson resigns as executive secretary of NAACP
    • 19/12/1946 – War breaks out in Indochina as Ho Chi Minh attacks French in Hanoi
    • 20/12/1606 – Virginia Company settlers leave London to establish Jamestown Va
    • 20/12/1669 – 1st jury trial in Delaware; Marcus Jacobson condemned for insurrection and sentenced to flogging, branding and slavery
    • 20/12/1803 – Louisiana Purchase formally transferred from France to US for $27M
    • 20/12/1860 – SC votes 169-0 for Ordinace of Secession, 1st state to secede
    • 20/12/1862 – -Jan 3rd] Vicksburg campaign
    • 20/12/1864 – -Dec 27th] Battle of Ft Fisher, NC
    • 20/12/1893 – 1st state anti-lynching statue approved, in Georgia
    • 20/12/1919 – US House of Representatives restricts immigration
    • 20/12/1922 – 14 republics form Union of Soviet Socialistic Republics (USSR)
    • 20/12/1956 – Montgomery, Ala, removed race-based seat assignments on its buses
    • 20/12/1989 – US troops invade Panama and oust Manuel Noriega, but don’t catch him
    • 21/12/1620 – 103 Mayflower pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock [OS=Dec 11]
    • 21/12/1784 – John Jay becomes 1st US secretary of state (foreign affairs)
    • 21/12/1864 – Gen Sherman conquers Savannah
    • 21/12/1866 – Cheyennes, Arapho’s, Sioux, Fetterman Massacre
    • 21/12/1919 – J Edgar Hoover deports anarchists/feminist Emma Goldman to Russia
    • 21/12/1946 – Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life,” premieres
    • 21/12/1954 – Dr Sam Sheppard’s wife Marilyn is murdered (he is accused of crime)
    • 21/12/1962 – US and Cuba accord, releases bay of pigs captive
    • 22/12/1783 – Washington resigns his military commission [or 12-23?]
    • 22/12/1807 – Congress passes Embargo Act, to force peace between Britain and France
    • 22/12/1882 – 1st string of Christmas tree lights created by Thomas Edison
    • 22/12/1941 – Winston Churchill arrives in Washington for a wartime conference
    • 22/12/1943 – WEB Du Bois elected 1st black member, Natl Inst of Arts and Letters
    • 22/12/1980 – Pres-elect Reagan appoints J Kirkpatrick (UN) and James Watt (Interior)
    • 23/12/1776 – Thomas Paine writes “These are the times that try men’s souls”
    • 23/12/1779 – Benedict Arnold court-martialed for improper conduct
    • 23/12/1788 – Maryland votes to cede a 10ý mile area for Dist of Columbia
    • 23/12/1793 – Thomas Jefferson warned of slave revolts in West Indies
    • 23/12/1862 – Union Gen Ben “Beast” Butler is proclaimed a “felon, outlaw and common enemy of mankind” by Jefferson Davis
    • 23/12/1888 – Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh cuts off his left ear
    • 23/12/1913 – President Woodrow Wilson signs Federal Reserve Act into law
    • 23/12/1943 – Gen Montgomery told he is appointed commandant for D-day
    • 23/12/1961 – Fidel Castro announces Cuba will release 1,113 prisoners from failed 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion for $62M worth of food and medical supplies
    • 24/12/1818 – “Silent Night” composed by Franz Joseph Gruber; 1st sung next day
    • 24/12/1851 – Fire devastates Library of Congress in Wash, destroys 35,000 volumes
    • 24/12/1865 – Several Confederate veterans form Ku Klux Klan in Pulaski, Tn
    • 24/12/1935 – National Council of Negro Women forms
    • 24/12/1943 – FDR appoints Gen Eisenhower supreme commander of Allied forces
    • 24/12/1992 – Pres Bush pardons Caspar Weinberger of Iran-contra affair
    • 24/12/1997 – 1st time a Channukah candle is officially lit in Vatican City
    • 25/12/0001 – 1st Christmas, according to calendar-maker Dionysus Exiguus
    • 25/12/0337 – Earliest possible date that Christmas was celebrated on Dec 25th
    • 25/12/0352 – 1st definite date Christmas was celebrated on Dec 25th
    • 25/12/1621 – Gov William Bradford of Plymouth forbids game playing on Christmas
    • 25/12/1651 – Massachusetts General Court ordered a fine (five shillings) for “observing any such day as Christmas”
    • 25/12/1776 – Washington crosses Delaware and surprises and defeats 1,400 Hessians
    • 25/12/1818 – 1st known Christmas carol (“Silent Night, Holy Night”) sung (Austria)
    • 25/12/1837 – Battle of Okeechobee-US forces defeat Seminole Indians
    • 25/12/1862 – 40,000 watch Union army men play baseball at Hilton Head, SC
    • 25/12/1868 – Despite bitter opposition, Pres A Johnson grants unconditional pardon to all persons involved in Southern rebellion (Civil War)
    • 25/12/1896 – “Stars and Stripes Forever” written by John Philip Sousa
    • 25/12/1914 – Legendary/unofficial “Christmas Truce” takes place (Brits and Germans)
    • 25/12/1938 – George Cukor announces Vivien Leigh will play Scarlett O’Hara
    • 25/12/1939 – Montgomery Ward introduces Rudolph the 9th reindeer
    • 25/12/1977 – Israeli PM Menachem Begin meets Egyptian Pres Sadat in Egypt
    • 25/12/1983 – 1st live telecast of Christmas Parade
    • 25/12/1991 – Mikhail Gorbachev formally resigned as Pres of USSR
    BIGGEST STORIES:
    IN THE NEWS:
    REVIEWED AND FIRST CHAPTERS:
    • Robert Kagan: Manifest Destinies DANGEROUS NATIONNYT, 12-17-06
    • Robert Kagan: DANGEROUS NATION, First Chapter – NYT, 12-17-06
    • Ian W. Toll: In Harm’s Way SIX FRIGATES The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. NavyNYT, 12-17-06
    • ROBERT D. RICHARDSON: ‘William James’, First Chapter – NYT, 12-17-06
    • James McPherson: INTO THE WEST From Reconstruction to the Final Days of the American FrontierNYT, 12-17-06
    • Max Boot: Killing Machines WAR MADE NEW Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to TodayNYT, 12-17-06
    • Douglas Brinkley on A.J. Langguth: Manifest Destiny A new look at the conflict with Britain that staked America’s claim to the continent UNION 1812 The Americans Who Fought the Second War of IndependenceWa Po, 12-17-06
    • Judy Daubenmier: Historian explores the landscape of the new media Project RewireAnn Arbor News, MI, 12-18-06
    • David Greenberg: The WSJ Likes His Coolidge – John Derbyshire in the WSJ, 12-13-06
    • Gabor Boritt: Taking on Garry Wills over the Gettysburg Address Harold Holzer in American Heritage, 12-1-06
    OP-ED:
    PROFILED:
    INTERVIEWED:
    FEATURE:
    QUOTED:
    • Allen Weinstein “Arranges for new immigrants to take the oath in front of Bill of Rights”: “It sends chills up my spine. It seems to me there could be no more appropriate setting for the reaffirmation of the values that this country has always lived by and will continue to live by.” – AP, 12-14-06
    SPOTTED & SPEAKING EVENTS CALENDAR:
    • February 14, 2007: Eric Foner, “American Reconstruction (1865-1877)” Time to be announced, McLain Auditorium, MHS – Larchmont Gazette, NY, 11-29-06
    • March 20, 2007: Alan Brinkley, The Harlem Renaissance, Time to be announced, McLain Auditorium, MHS – Larchmont Gazette, NY, 11-29-06
    • Feb. 23 to 25, 2007: John Gillingham: Camden Conference marks its 20th anniversary, Feb. 23 to 25, 2007, at the Camden Opera House – 8-15-06 – Sold-out Camden Conference offers satellite seating at Strand knox.VillageSoup.com, ME, 10-29-06
    HONORED, AWARDED, AND APPOINTED:
    ON TV:
    • C-Span2, Book TV : History on Book TV: Hampton Sides, “Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West”, Sunday, December 17 at 8:00 pm – C-Span2, BookTV
    • C-Span2, Book TV : Public Lives: David Nasaw, Andrew Carnegie, Sunday, December 17 at 10:00 pm – C-Span2, BookTV
    • History Channel: “The Passion: Religion and the Movies,” Sunday, December 17, @ 8pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Beyond The Da Vinci Code :Part 1.,” Sunday, December 17, @ 10pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Modern Marvels :Icebreakers,” Sunday, December 10, @ 11pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Special :The Real Tomb Hunters: Snakes, Curses, and Booby Traps,” Monday, December 18, @ 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Lost Worlds :Jesus’ Jerusalem,” Monday, December 18, @ 10pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Quest for Dragons” Wednesday, December 20, @ 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Modern Marvels :Christmas Tech” Wednesday, December 20, @ 9pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Banned from The Bible,” Thursday, December 21, @ 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Decoding The Past :Resurrection,” Thursday, December 21, @ 5pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “The Christmas Truce,” Thursday, December 21, @ 7pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Decoding The Past :The Spear of Christ,” Thursday, December 21, @ 9pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Christmas Unwrapped: The History of Christmas,” Thursday, December 23 @ 11pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “In Search of Christmas,” Friday, December 22, @ 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “American Eats :Holiday Foods,” Saturday, December 23 @ 5pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Modern Marvels :Toys,” Saturday, December 23 @ 6pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Christmas Unwrapped: The History of Christmas,” Saturday, December 23 @ 7pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Vampires Secrets,” Saturday, December 23, @ 11pm ET/PT
    SELLING BIG (NYT):
    • Nathaniel Philbrick: Mayflower, # 18 – 12-24-06
    • Hampton Sides: BLOOD AND THUNDER An Epic of the American West #23 – 12-24-06
    • Evan Thomas: SEA OF THUNDER, #27 – 12-24-06
    FUTURE RELEASES:
    • Melton A. McLaurin: First black Marines to get scholarly treatment in book The Marines of Montford Point: America’s First Black Marines, Feb. 26, 2007 (University of North Carolina Press) – Wilmington Morning Star, NC, 12-10-06
    • Stella Tillyard: Royal Affair: George III and His Scandalous Siblings (Random House Publishing Group), December 2006
    • Jeremy Black: George III: America’s Last King, (Yale University Press), December 2006
    • Andrew L. Slap: The Doom of Reconstruction: The Liberal Republicans and the Election of 1872, (Fordham University Press), December 2006
    • Gill Bennett: Churchill’s Mystery Man, (Taylor & Francis, Inc.), December 2006
    • David Greenberg: Calvin Coolidge: The 30th President, 1923-1929 (Henry Holt & Company, Incorporated), December 26, 2006
    • James M. McPherson: This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War (Oxford University Press), January 2007
    • Dominic Green: Three Empires on the Nile: The Victorian Jihad, 1869-1898 (Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group), January 2007
    • Geoffrey Roberts: Stalin’s Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953 (Yale University Press), January 2007
    • David A. Bell: The First Total War: Napoleon’s Europe and the Birth of Warfare as We Know It, (Houghton Mifflin Company), January 2007
    • Dinesh D’Souza: Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibilty for 9/11 (Doubleday Publishing), January 16, 2007
    • Edward Luce: In Spite of the Gods: The Rise of Modern India (Doubleday Publishing), January 16, 2007
    • Chalmers Johnson: Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic [American Empire Project], (Henry Holt & Company, Incorporated), February 6, 2007
    • Geoffrey Perret: Commander in Chief: How Truman, Johnson, and Bush Turned a Presidential Power into a Threat to America’s Future (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), February 6, 2007
    • Benton Rain Patterson: With the Heart of a King: Elizabeth I of England, Philip II of Spain, and the Fight for a Nation’s Soul and Crown (St. Martin’s Press), February 6, 2007
    • Andrew Roberts: History of the English-Speaking Peoples since 1900, HarperC
    • ollins Publishers), February 6, 2007
    • Margaret MacMillan: Nixon in China: The Week That Changed the World, (Random House Adult Trade Publishing Group), February 13, 2007
    • John McManus: Alamo in the Ardennes: The Untold Story of the American Soldiers Who Made the Defense of Bastogne Possible, (Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated), March 2007
    DEPARTED:

    Posted on Sunday, December 17, 2006 at 7:36 PM

    December 11, 2006

    HNN STATS THIS WEEK:
    THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:
    • 11/12/1620 – 103 Mayflower pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock (12/21 NS)
    • 11/12/1792 – France’s King Louis XVI went on trial, accused of treason
    • 11/12/1816 – Indiana becomes 19th state
    • 11/12/1901 – Marconi sends 1st transatlantic radio signal, Cornwall to Nfld
    • 11/12/1906 – US president Roosevelt attacks abuses in the Congo
    • 11/12/1909 – Colored moving pictures demonstrated at Madison Square Garden, NYC
    • 11/12/1916 – David Lloyd George forms British war govt
    • 11/12/1917 – 13 black soldiers hanged for alleged participation in Houston riot
    • 11/12/1931 – Brit Statute of Westminster gives complete legislative independence to Canada, Australia, NZ, South Africa, Ireland, Newfoundland
    • 11/12/1936 – King Edward VIII marries Mrs Wallis Simpson; abdicates throne Duke of York becomes King George VI
    • 11/12/1941 – Japanese attack Wake Island (only failed WW II-landing)
    • 11/12/1961 – JFK provides US miltary helicopters and crews to South Vietnam
    • 11/12/1961 – Adolf Eichmann is found guilty of war crimes, in Israel
    • 13/12/1577 – Sir Francis Drake sets sail from England to go around world
    • 13/12/1769 – Dartmouth College in New Hampshire received its charter
    • 13/12/1774 – 1st incident of Revolution-400 attack Ft William and Mary, NH
    • 13/12/1843 – “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens published, 6,000 copies sold
    • 13/12/1862 – Battle of Fredericksburg, VA (Marye’s Heights)
    • 13/12/1903 – Wright Bros make 1st flight at Kittyhawk
    • 13/12/1918 – Wilson, becomes 1st to make a foreign visit as president (France)
    • 13/12/1920 – League of nations establishes Intl Court of Justice in The Hague
    • 13/12/1949 – Knesset votes to transfer Israel’s capital to Jerusalem
    • 13/12/1966 – 1st US bombing of Hanoi
    • 14/12/1774 – Mass militiamen successfully attacked arsenal of Ft William and Mary
    • 14/12/1819 – Alabama admitted to Union as 22nd state
    • 14/12/1863 – Battle of Bean’s Station-Confederacy repulses Union in Tenn
    • 15/12/1791 – Bill of Rights ratified when Virginia gave its approval
    • 15/12/1791 – 1st US law school established at University of Pennsylvania
    • 15/12/1874 – 1st reigning king to visit US (of Hawaii) received by Pres Grant
    • 15/12/1877 – Thomas Edison patents phonograph
    • 15/12/1916 – French defeat Germans in WW I Battle of Verdun
    • 15/12/1938 – Groundbreaking begins for Jefferson Memorial in Wash DC
    • 15/12/1939 – “Gone With the Wind” premieres in Atlanta
    • 15/12/1948 – Former state dept official Alger Hiss indicted in NYC for perjury
    • 15/12/1964 – Canada adopts maple leaf flag
    • 16/12/1431 – King Henry VI of England crowned king of France
    • 16/12/1631 – Mount Vesuvious, Italy erupts, destroys 6 villages and kills 4,000
    • 16/12/1653 – Oliver Cromwell sworn in as English Lord Protector
    • 16/12/1689 – English Parliament adopts Bill of Rights after Glorious Revolution
    • 16/12/1773 – Big tea party in Boston harbor-indians welcome (Boston Tea Party)
    • 16/12/1864 – Battle of Nashville ends after 4400 casualities
    • 16/12/1905 – “Variety,” covering all phases of show business, 1st published
    • 16/12/1944 – Battle of Bulge begins in Belgium
    • 16/12/1950 – Truman proclaims state of emergency against “Communist imperialism”
    • 16/12/1971 – Don McLean’s 8+ minute version of “American Pie” released
    • 16/12/1980 – Pres-elect Reagan announces Alexander Haig as secretary of state
    • 17/12/1728 – Congregation Shearith Israel of NY purchases a lot on Mill Street in lower Manhattan, to build NY’s 1st synagogue
    • 17/12/1777 – George Washingtons army returns to Valley Forge Pa, France recognizes independence of English colonies in America
    • 17/12/1792 – Opening of 1st legislative assembly of Lower Canada in Quebec city
    • 17/12/1798 – 1st impeachment trial against a US senator (Wm Blount, TN) begins
    • 17/12/1862 – Gen US Grant issues order #11, expelling Jews from Tennessee
    • 17/12/1900 – New Ellis Island Immigration station completed costing $1.5 million
    • 17/12/1944 – US Army announces end of excluding Jap-Americans from West Coast
    • 17/12/1975 – Lynette Fromme sentenced to life for attempt on Pres Ford’s life
    • 17/12/1975 – John Paul Stevens appointed to Supreme Court
    ROBERT GATES CONFIRMATION:
    • John Prados: “The danger in the Gates nomination” is that he wasn’t “willing to give the president an objective unbiased view.” – 12-4-06
    • Anna Nelson on Robert Gates Vs. Rumsfeld: “Anyone who runs the CIA, spends his career in the CIA, is discreet.”… “I think it’s not an uncommon thing, for the President to seek out someone they can trust, someone whose loyalty they can be assured of, and who will in fact, help change direction.” – Voice of America, 11-10-06
    BIGGEST STORIES:
    IN THE NEWS:
    REVIEWED AND FIRST CHAPTERS:
    • Victoria Glendinning: The Husband LEONARD WOOLF A BiographyNYT, 12-10-06
    • Victoria Glendinning: LEONARD WOOLF A Biography, First Chapter – NYT, 12-10-06
    • Robin Lane Fox: The Dawn of the West An Oxford scholar brings ancient Greece and Rome back to life THE CLASSICAL WORLD An Epic History From Homer to HadrianWa Po, 12-10-06
    • Deborah Lipstadt on Robert Satloff: The Schindlers of the Middle East Can learning that some Arabs saved Jews from genocide in the 1940s heal wounds today? AMONG THE RIGHTEOUS Lost Stories from the Holocaust’s Long Reach into Arab LandsWa Po, 12-7-06
    • Mark M. Smith: The South Continues to “Make” Race: Will the Supreme Court Follow? A Review of How Race is Made: Slavery, Segregation, and the SensesOpEdNews, PA, 12-10-06
    • John D.W. Guice: Meriwether’s mystery By His Own Hand? The Mysterious Death of Meriwether LewisSunHerald.com, MS, 12-10-06
    • Roger Osborne: Writes a 500 page history of all of civilization – NYT, 12-7-06
    • Grady McWhiney: Capstone to a Prominent Southern Historian’s Career – Barton A. Myers at the website of H-CivilWar, 12-6-06
    OP-ED:
    PROFILED:
    INTERVIEWED:
    • Robert Kagan: Interviewed about his new book, which claims Americans were never isolationists – FrontpageMag.com, 12-8-06
    FEATURE:
    QUOTED:
    • Michael B. Oren quoting Yitzhak Rabin from 1993 on “Israel Is Not Linked to Iraq, Except That It Is”: “He said to the group, ‘Why am I embarking on this, taking a risk of talking to Arafat? The answer is Iran. We have to stabilize our relations with the Arab world in order to deal with the real threat, which is Iran.’ So already then, Israel understood that the peace process with the Palestinians begins with Iran.” – NYT, 12-10-06
    • Ronald Lansing: Oregon’s first full-time judge often was injudicious Orville Pratt – One historian calls him “incurably covetous” and “slippery as a greased eel” – OregonLive.com, OR, 12-10-06
    SPOTTED & SPEAKING EVENTS CALENDAR:
    • December 15, 2006: James and Lois Horton, “Slavery and the Making of America” at 10am, McLain Auditorium, MHS Mamaroneck High School – Larchmont Gazette, NY, 11-29-06
    • February 14, 2007: Eric Foner, “American Reconstruction (1865-1877)” Time to be announced, McLain Auditorium, MHS – Larchmont Gazette, NY, 11-29-06
    • March 20, 2007: Alan Brinkley, The Harlem Renaissance, Time to be announced, McLain Auditorium, MHS – Larchmont Gazette, NY, 11-29-06
    • Feb. 23 to 25, 2007: John Gillingham: Camden Conference marks its 20th anniversary, Feb. 23 to 25, 2007, at the Camden Opera House – 8-15-06 – Sold-out Camden Conference offers satellite seating at Strand knox.VillageSoup.com, ME, 10-29-06
    HONORED, AWARDED, AND APPOINTED:
    ON TV:
    • C-Span2, Book TV : After Words: Larry Kahaner, author of “AK-47: The Weapon That Changed the Face of War,” interviewed by Peter Singer Sunday, December 10 at 9:00 pm – C-Span2, BookTV
    • History Channel: “Alaska: Dangerous Territory,” Sunday, December 10, @ 8pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Modern Marvels :Snow,” Sunday, December 10, @ 10pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Modern Marvels :Icebreakers,” Sunday, December 10, @ 11pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Modern Marvels :Las Vegas,” Monday, December 11, @ 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Lost Worlds :The First Christians,” Monday, December 11, @ 10pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Where Did It Come From? :The Ancient Maya: Power Centers,” Monday, December 11, @ 11pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “The World Trade Center: Rise and Fall of an American Icon,” Tuesday, December 12, @ 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Grounded on 9/11,” Tuesday, December 12, @ 4pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “The Russian Navy,” Tuesday, December 12, @ 8pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Man, Moment, Machine :The Red Baron & The Wings of Death,” Tuesday, December 12, @ 10pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Special :Washington the Warrior” Wednesday, December 13, @ 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Mysteries of the Freemasons :America” Wednesday, December 13, @ 4pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Our Generation :Martin Luther King Assassination,” Thursday, December 14, @ 6pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Engineering An Empire :Britain: Blood and Steel,” Thursday, December 14, @ 8pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Decoding The Past :Secrets of Kabbalah,” Thursday, December 14, @ 9pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Sex in the 20th Century :The Politics of Pleasure,” Thursday, December 14, @ 11pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Godfathers,” Friday, December 14, @ 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Godfathers,” Friday, December 15, @ 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Declassified :Godfathers of Havana” Friday, December 15, @ 4pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Man Moment Machine” Marathon, Saturday, December 16, @ 1-5pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Vietnam: Homecoming,” Saturday, December 16 @ 6:30pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Alaska: Big America.,” Saturday, December 16, @ 10pm ET/PT
    SELLING BIG (NYT):
    • Evan Thomas: SEA OF THUNDER, #20 – 12-17-06
    • Nathaniel Philbrick: Mayflower, #25 – 12-17-06
    • Hampton Sides: BLOOD AND THUNDER An Epic of the American West #34 – 12-17-06
    FUTURE RELEASES:
    • Melton A. McLaurin: First black Marines to get scholarly treatment in book The Marines of Montford Point: America’s First Black Marines, Feb. 26, 2007 (University of North Carolina Press) – Wilmington Morning Star, NC, 12-10-06
    • Stella Tillyard: Royal Affair: George III and His Scandalous Siblings (Random House Publishing Group), December 2006
    • Jeremy Black: George III: America’s Last King, (Yale University Press), December 2006
    • Andrew L. Slap: The Doom of Reconstruction: The Liberal Republicans and the Election of 1872, (Fordham University Press), December 2006
    • Gill Bennett: Churchill’s Mystery Man, (Taylor & Francis, Inc.), December 2006
    • David Greenberg: Calvin Coolidge: The 30th President, 1923-1929 (Henry Holt & Company, Incorporated), December 26, 2006
    • James M. McPherson: This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War (Oxford University Press), January 2007
    • Dominic Green: Three Empires on the Nile: The Victorian Jihad, 1869-1898 (Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group), January 2007
    • Geoffrey Roberts: Stalin’s Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953 (Yale University Press), January 2007
    • David A. Bell: The First Total War: Napoleon’s Europe and the Birth of Warfare as We Know It, (Houghton Mifflin Company), January 2007
    • Dinesh D’Souza: Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibilty for 9/11 (Doubleday Publishing), January 16, 2007
    • Edward Luce: In Spite of the Gods: The Rise of Modern India (Doubleday Publishing), January 16, 2007
    • Chalmers Johnson: Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic [American Empire Project], (Henry Holt & Company, Incorporated), February 6, 2007
    • Geoffrey Perret: Commander in Chief: How Truman, Johnson, and Bush Turned a Presidential Power into a Threat to America’s Future (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), February 6, 2007
    • Benton Rain Patterson: With the Heart of a King: Elizabeth I of England, Philip II of Spain, and the Fight for a Nation’s Soul and Crown (St. Martin’s Press), February 6, 2007
    • Andrew Roberts: History of the English-Speaking Peoples since 1900, HarperCollins Publishers), February 6, 2007
    • Margaret MacMillan: Nixon in China: The Week That Changed the World, (Random House Adult Trade Publishing Group), February 13, 2007
    • John McManus: Alamo in the Ardennes: The Untold Story of the American Soldiers Who Made the Defense of Bastogne Possible, (Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated), March 2007
    DEPARTED:
    • George Tindall: 85, Historian Who Charted the New South, Dies (NYT Obit) – NYT, 12-8-06
    • Papiya Ghosh: Historian and professor of Patna University was brutally stabbed to death – Times of India, 12-4-06

    Posted on Sunday, December 10, 2006 at 6:44 PM

    December 4, 2006

    PEARL HARBOR 65TH ANNIVERSARY:
    RATING PRESIDENT BUSH:
    HNN STATS THIS WEEK:
    THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:
    • 04/12/1563 – Council of Trent holds last session, after 18 years
    • 04/12/1619 – America’s 1st Thanksgiving Day (Va)
    • 04/12/1783 – Gen Washington bids officers farewell at Fraunce’s Tavern, NYC
    • 04/12/1816 – James Monroe (VA), elected 5th pres, defeating Federalist Rufus King
    • 04/12/1833 – American Anti-Slavery Society formed by Arthur Tappan in Phila
    • 04/12/1836 – Whig party holds its 1st national convention, Harrisburg, Pa
    • 04/12/1844 – James K Polk elected 11th president of US
    • 04/12/1851 – Pres Louis Napolean Boaparte forces crush a coup d’etat in France
    • 04/12/1918 – Pres Wilson sails for Versailles Peace Conference in France, 1st chief executive to travel outside US while in office
    • 04/12/1943 – -Dec 6] 2nd conference of Cairo: FDR, Churchill and Turkish pres Inonu
    • 04/12/1943 – -Dec 6] 2nd conference of Cairo: FDR, Churchill and Turkish pres Inonu
    • 04/12/1981 – Pres Reagan allows CIA to engage in domestic counter-intelligence, Executive Order on Intelligence (No 12333)
    • 04/12/1985 – Pres Reagan appoints Vice Adm John Poindexter as security adviser
    • 05/12/1349 – 500 Jews of Nuremberg massacre during Black Death riots
    • 05/12/1496 – Jews are expelled from Portugal by order of King Manuel I
    • 05/12/1792 – George Washington re-elected US pres
    • 05/12/1804 – Thomas Jefferson re-elected US pres/George Clinton vice-pres
    • 05/12/1831 – Former Pres John Q Adams takes his seat as member of House of Reps
    • 05/12/1832 – Andrew Jackson re-elected president of US
    • 05/12/1837 – Uprising under William Lyon Mackenzie in Canada
    • 05/12/1935 – National Council of Negro Women forms by Mary McLeod Bethune (NYC)
    • 05/12/1935 – National Council of Negro Women forms by Mary McLeod Bethune (NYC)
    • 05/12/1955 – Historic bus boycott begins in Montgomery Alabama by Rosa Parks
    • 06/12/1768 – 1st edition of “Encyclopedia Brittanica” published (Scotland)
    • 06/12/1820 – US president James Monroe re-elected
    • 06/12/1849 – Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery in Maryland
    • 06/12/1862 – Pres Lincoln orders hanging of 39 Santee Sioux indians
    • 06/12/1865 – 13th Amendment is ratified, abolishing slavery
    • 06/12/1876 – US Electorial College picks Rep Hayes as pres (although Tilden won)
    • 06/12/1877 – Washington Post publishes 1st edition
    • 06/12/1904 – Theodore Roosevelt confirms Monroe-doctrine (Roosevelt Corollary)
    • 06/12/1923 – 1st presidential address broadcast on radio (Pres Calvin Coolidge)
    • 06/12/1973 – Gerald Ford sworn-in as 1st unelected VP, succeeds Spiro T Agnew
    • 07/12/1787 – Delaware becomes 1st state to ratify constitution
    • 07/12/1808 – James Madison elected US pres/George Clinton vice-pres
    • 07/12/1836 – Martin Van Buren elected 8th president
    • 07/12/1877 – Thomas A Edison demonstrates the gramophone
    • 07/12/1917 – US becomes 13th country to declare war on Austria during World War I
    • 07/12/1941 – Japanese attack Pearl Harbor (a date that will live in infamy)
    • 07/12/1987 – Gorbachev arrives in US for a summit meeting
    • 07/12/1988 – Mikhail Gorbachev cheered by Wall St crowds upon arrival in NYC, Gorbachev announces 10% unilateral Soviet troop reductions at UN
    • 08/12/1776 – George Washington’s retreating army crosses Delaware River from NJ
    • 08/12/1863 – Abraham Lincoln announces plan for Reconstruction of South
    • 08/12/1863 – Pres Lincoln offers amnesty for confederate deserters
    • 08/12/1886 – American Federation of Labor (AFL) formed by 26 craft unions Samuel Gompers elected AFL president
    • 08/12/1987 – President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev sign a treaty eliminating medium range nuclear missiles
    • 09/12/1762 – British parliament accept Treaty of Paris
    • 09/12/1958 – Robert H W Welch Jr and 11 other men meet in Indianapolis to form anti-Communist John Birch Society
    • 09/12/1961 – SS Col Adolf Eichmann found guilty of war crimes in Israel
    • 10/12/1520 – Martin Luther publicly burned papal edict demands he recant
    • 10/12/1864 – General Shermans armies reach Savannah and 12 day siege begins
    • 10/12/1869 – Women suffrage (right to vote) granted in Wyoming Territory (US 1st)
    • 10/12/1898 – Spanish-American War ends; US acquires Philippines, PR and Guam
    • 10/12/1906 – Pres Theodore Roosevelt (1st American) awarded Nobel Peace Prize
    • 10/12/1915 – Pres Woodrow Wilson marries Edith Galt
    • 10/12/1919 – Nobel peace prize awarded to US president Wilson
    • 10/12/1931 – Jane Addams (1st US woman) named co-recipient of Nobel Peace Prize
    • 10/12/1936 – King Edward VIII abdicates throne to marry Mrs Wallis Simpson
    • 10/12/1978 – In Oslo, Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat accept 1978 Nobel Peace Prize
    BIGGEST STORIES:
    • Nathaniel Philbrick: “MAYFLOWER A Story of Courage, Community, and War” Named One of The 10 Best Books of 2006 by NYT – NYT, 12-10-06
    • Robin Lane Fox’s “The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian” and Thomas E. Ricks’ “Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq” Named as part of Wa Po’s Book World’s 10 Best of the Year – Wa Po, 12-3-06
    IN THE NEWS:
    REVIEWED AND FIRST CHAPTERS:
    OP-ED:
    • Charlie Savage: Cheney has storied history behind scenes Since Nixon he has pushed for more executive powers – Boston Globe, 12-3-06
    • Robert N. Proctor: In op ed in the NYT says the tobacco industry has much to fear from the case of the former agent killed by Polonium – NYT op ed page, 12-1-06
    • Thomas Powers: The War Last Time – NYT, 11-30-06
    • Rick Perlstein: Whistling Past Dixie – New Republic, 11-29-06
    • Niall Ferguson: Some civil wars never end – LAT, 11-27-06
    PROFILED:
    INTERVIEWED:
    • Edwin Bearss: Confederate Navy’s New Historical Site Is in England – NPR, 12-3-06
    FEATURE:
    QUOTED:
    • Eric Foner ‘He’s The Worst Ever': “Historians are loath to predict the future. It is impossible to say with certainty how Bush will be ranked in, say, 2050. But somehow, in his first six years in office he has managed to combine the lapses of leadership, misguided policies and abuse of power of his failed predecessors. I think there is no alternative but to rank him as the worst president in U.S. history.” – Wa Po, 12-3-06
    • David Greenberg: What Will History Say? At Least He’s Not Nixon: “Bush has two years left in his presidency and we don’t know what they’ll hold. They may be as dismal as the first six. Future investigations may bear out many people’s worst fears about this administration’s violations of civil liberties. And it’s conceivable that the consequences of the invasion of Iraq may prove more destructive than those of Nixon’s stubborn continuation of the Vietnam War. Should those things happen, Bush will be able to lay a claim to the mantle of U.S. history’s worst president. For now, though, I’m sticking with Dick.” – Wa Po, 12-3-06
    • Douglas Brinkley What Will History Say? Move Over, Hoover: “This last point is crucial. Though Bush may be viewed as a laughingstock, he won’t have the zero-integrity factors that have kept Nixon and Harding at the bottom in the presidential sweepstakes. Oddly, the president whom Bush most reminds me of is Herbert Hoover, whose name is synonymous with failure to respond to the Great Depression. When the stock market collapsed, Hoover, for ideological reasons, did too little. When 9/11 happened, Bush did too much, attacking the wrong country at the wrong time for the wrong reasons. He has joined Hoover as a case study on how not to be president.” – Wa Po, 12-3-06
    • Vincent J. Cannato TIME’S ON HIS SIDE Time’s On His Side: “No one expects historians to be perfectly objective. But history should at least teach us humility. Time will cool today’s political passions. As years pass, more documents will be released, more insights gleaned and the broader picture of this era will be painted. Only then will we begin to see how George W. Bush fares in the pantheon of U.S. presidents. I don’t know how history will judge him. My guess is that, like most presidents, he will bequeath a mixed record. We can debate policies and actions now, but honesty should force us to acknowledge that real judgments will have to wait.” – Wa Po, 12-3-06
    SPOTTED & SPEAKING EVENTS CALENDAR:
    HONORED, AWARDED, AND APPOINTED:
    • The Historians picked by the Atlantic to compile a list of the 100 most influential Americans – Atlantic Monthly, 12-1-06
    • Tim Tyson: Winner of the 2007 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion, given by the university and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary – Durham Herald Sun, NC, 12-2-06
    ON TV:
    • C-Span2, Book TV : Book TV presents After Words: Karen DeYoung, author of “Soldier: The Life of Colin Powell” interviewed by Brigadier General Charles “Casey” Brower, Sunday, December 3 at 6:00 pm and at 9:00 pm – C-Span2, BookTV
    • C-Span2, BookTV: William Daugherty, Executive Secrets: Covert Action and the Presidency Sunday, December 3 at 10:00 pm – C-Span2, BookTV
    • History Channel: “Inside the Volcano,” Sunday, December 3, @ 8pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “American Vesuvius,” Sunday, December 3, @ 10pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Civil War Terror,” Monday, December 4, @ 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Engineering An Empire :The Persians” Monday, December 4, @ 9pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Lost Worlds :Palenque,” Monday, December 4, @ 10pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “The True Story of Alexander the Great,” Tuesday, December 5, @ 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Violent Earth :Little Ice Age: Big Chill,” Tuesday, December 5, @ 8pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “The Lincoln Assassination” Wednesday, December 6, @ 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Wild West Tech :Civil War in the West” Wednesday, December 6, @ 4pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Where Did It Come From? :The Ancient Maya: The Tools of Astronomy” Wednesday, December 6, @ 11pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Tora, Tora, Tora: The Real Story of Pearl Harbor,” Thursday, December 7, @ 5pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Conspiracy? :FDR and Pearl Harbor,” Thursday, December 7, @ 5pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “The Other Tragedy at Pearl Harbor,” Thursday, December 7, @ 6pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Decoding The Past :Seven Wonders of the World,” Thursday, December 7, @ 9pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Shootout :Tet Offensive” Friday, December 8, @ 9pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Shootout” Marathon, Saturday, December 9, @ 1-5pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Inside the Volcano,” Saturday, December 9 @ 5pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Race to the South Pole :Part 2,” Saturday, December 9 @ 8pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Alaska: Big America.,” Saturday, December 9, @ 10pm ET/PT
    SELLING BIG (NYT):
    • Evan Thomas: SEA OF THUNDER, #18 – 12-10-06
    • Thomas E. Ricks: FIASCO The American Military Adventure in Iraq, #26 – 12-10-06
    • Nathaniel Philbrick: Mayflower, #31 – 12-10-06
    • Hampton Sides: BLOOD AND THUNDER An Epic of the American West #34 – 12-10-06
    FUTURE RELEASES:
    • Stella Tillyard: Royal Affair: George III and His Scandalous Siblings (Random House Publishing Group), December 2006
    • Jeremy Black: George III: America’s Last King, (Yale University Press), December 2006
    • Andrew L. Slap: The Doom of Reconstruction: The Liberal Republicans and the Election of 1872, (Fordham University Press), December 2006
    • Gill Bennett: Churchill’s Mystery Man, (Taylor & Francis, Inc.), December 2006
    • David Greenberg: Calvin Coolidge: The 30th President, 1923-1929 (Henry Holt & Company, Incorporated), December 26, 2006
    • James M. McPherson: This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War (Oxford University Press), January 2007
    • Dominic Green: Three Empires on the Nile: The Victorian Jihad, 1869-1898 (Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group), January 2007
    • Geoffrey Roberts: Stalin’s Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953 (Yale University Press), January 2007
    • David A. Bell: The First Total War: Napoleon’s Europe and the Birth of Warfare as We Know It, (Houghton Mifflin Company), January 2007
    • Dinesh D’Souza: Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibilty for 9/11 (Doubleday Publishing), January 16, 2007
    • Edward Luce: In Spite of the Gods: The Rise of Modern India (Doubleday Publishing), January 16, 2007
    • Chalmers Johnson: Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic [American Empire Project], (Henry Holt & Company, Incorporated), February 6, 2007
    • Geoffrey Perret: Commander in Chief: How Truman, Johnson, and Bush Turned a Presidential Power into a Threat to America’s Future (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), February 6, 2007
    • Benton Rain Patterson: With the Heart of a King: Elizabeth I of England, Philip II of Spain, and the Fight for a Nation’s Soul and Crown (St. Martin’s Press), February 6, 2007
    • Andrew Roberts: History of the English-Speaking Peoples since 1900, HarperCollins Publishers), February 6, 2007
    • Margaret MacMillan: Nixon in China: The Week That Changed the World, (Random House Adult Trade Publishing Group), February 13, 2007
    • John McManus: Alamo in the Ardennes: The Untold Story of the American Soldiers Who Made the Defense of Bastogne Possible, (Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated), March 2007
    DEPARTED:

    Posted on Sunday, December 3, 2006 at 7:04 PM

    Top Young Historians: 37 – Saul A. Cornell

    Top Young Historians

    Saul A. Cornell, 45

    Basic Facts

    Teaching Position: Professor of History, Department of History, The Ohio State University.
    Area of Research: American Revolution, the Early Republic, History and Public Policy, and Legal/Constitutional history
    Education: University of Pennsylvania, Ph.D. (1989)
    Major Publications: Cornell is the author of A Well Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America and The Other Founders: Anti-Federalism and the Dissenting Tradition in America, 1788-1828 voted a Choice Outstanding Academic Book for 2001 and winner of the triennial Society of Cincinnati prize for the best work on the Revolutionary era. Saul Cornell JPGHe has also published Whose Right to Bear Arms Did the Second Amendment Protect? Bedford Book’s “Historians At Work” series.
    He is the editor of Retrieving the American Past: Documents and Essays on American History, (Pearson, 1994-2005), and the forthcoming Guns in American Law and Society: An Interdisciplinary Reader (University of Massachusetts Press, forthcoming, 2007) He has written articles in the Journal of American History, American Studies, William and Mary Quarterly, William and Mary Law Review,Constitutional Commentary, and others. His book reviews have appeared in the Journal of the Early Republic, Reviews in American History, and many others.
    Prof. Cornell is currently writing a section of a new textbook, American Visions: A History of the American Nation, (Pearson, under contract, with Ed O’Donnell, and Jennifer Keane).
    Awards: Cornell is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including:
    The Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at the University of Pennsylvania and the Colonial Daughters of Pennsylvania Prize in Early American History.
    Society of the Cincinnati, History Book Prize, Triennial Award for the Best Book on the American Revolutionary Era, (2001); Choice Outstanding Academic Book, (2000) all for The Other Founders: Anti-Federalism and the Dissenting Tradition in America, 1788-1828.
    Joyce Foundation, Second Amendment Center Grant (2003-2006);
    Department of Education, Teaching American History Grant, Historyworks (2002-2005);
    Joyce Foundation Planning Grant, (2001-2002) ;
    Betha Grant, Batelle Memorial Endowment, Ohio Teaching Institute (1999-2000);
    NEH Fellowship, (2003-2004);
    Gilder-Lehrman Fellowship (2002);
    American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) (2001) ;
    Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, Research Fellowship (1998);
    Thomas Jefferson Chair In American Studies, Fulbright Lecturing Award (1995);
    Ohio State University Seed Grant (1994);
    Ohio State University Special Research Assignment (1993);
    Ohio State University Grant-In-Aid (1992);
    NEH Post-Doctoral Fellow, Institute of Early American History and Culture (1989-1991).
    Additional Info:
    Cornell is the Director of the Second Amendment Research Center, John Glenn Institute (2002- Present). Formerly Thomas Jefferson Chair, University of Leiden, The Netherlands (1995)
    Formerly Assistant Professor, Department of History, College of William and Mary (1989-1991).
    Cornell has appeared on C-Span2’s Book TV, NPR and The Newshour with Jim Lehrer on PBS. He is also on the Editorial Board of “American Quarterly.” He has delivered invited lectures at Oxford University, Columbia University, Duke, NYU Law School, UCLA Law School, Stanford Law School, and Vanderbilt University Law School. He has presented papers at meetings of the American Historical Association, the American Society of Legal History, the American Studies Association, the Organization of American Historians, and many others.
    He has a strong interest in teaching with technology. He has written about pedagogical tools in the AHA’s Perspectives and is on the Board of Advisers of Pearson’s website, “The History Place.”

    Personal Anecdote

    No matter what aspect of the gun issue you work on you inevitably run into people with pretty strong feelings. I think it is safe to say that if I had written a history of the 3rd Amendment, I would not get angry e-mails from people with names like “glockboy@gunnet.com” or have bloggers with names like, “geek with an uzi” denounce me as part of some insidious conspiracy. (Don’t these guys know I would never be part of any conspiracy that would have me as a member.)

    One of the most interesting venues to try out the ideas in my new book, A Well Regulated Militia was provided by the NRA Institute for Legislative Action and the Students for the Second Amendment at George Mason Law School (now a wholly owned subsidiary of the NRA.) I was invited to talk at their first ever Firearms Symposium. (I am still waiting for my invitation from the Jews for the Preservation of Firearms symposium: From AKs to AK-47s.) As you might expect the demographic of the GMU event was sort of the opposite of the Berks. (Berkshire Conference of Women’s Historians). Indeed, I recall one person attacking toy stores that refused to stock toy guns. These guys, and it was mostly guys, were not only against gun control, they were against toy gun control.

    I began my talk by describing my situation as akin to that of a priest at his first Bar Mitzvah. Picking up on this theme during the question and answer session one member of the audience wanted to know why Jews were against guns (he obviously had never hung out with the aforementioned Jews for the Preservation of Firearms.) I explained that I did not think religion or ethnicity explained very much about attitudes towards guns. Indeed, I speculated that in Montana, all of the Jews, all six of them, were probably very heavily armed—they would have to be I would think.

    Since the publication of my book I have done a fair number of radio interviews and what is most fascinating about these is the mirror they provide on popular perceptions of history and constitutionalism. Invariably, most callers are ardently pro-gun rights. Pro-gun control people seem to have other things to do with their time and don’t do a lot of talk radio.

    I hope that my new book can help both sides in the debate understand the complex history that has led to our current impasse on this issue. Needless to say I would not urge anyone to venture into this contentious arena unless you have a very good sense of humor—it has proven almost as valuable as the special Kevlar edition of my book.

    Saul Cornell’s Speech– 2005 Firearms Law & Second Amendment Symposium at George Mason University School of Law

    Quotes

    By Saul Cornell

  • “The original understanding of the Second Amendment was neither an individual right of self-defense nor a collective right of the states, but rather a civic right that guaranteed that citizens would be able to keep and bear those arms need to meet their legal obligation to participate in a well-regulated militia. Nothing better captured this constitutional ideal than the minuteman. Citizens had a legal obligation to outfit themselves with a musket at their A Well-Regulated Militia JPG own expense and were expected to turn out at a miute’s notice to defend their community, state, and eventually their nation. The minuteman ideal was far less individualistic than most gun rights people assume, and far more martial in spirit than most gun control advocates realize.Although each side in the modern debate claims to be faithful to the historic Second Amendment, a restoration of its original meaning, re-creating the world of minuteman, would be a nightmare that neither side would welcome. It would certainly involve more instrusive gun regulation, not less. Proponents of gun rights would not relish the idea of mandatory gun registration, nor would they be eager to welcome government officials into their homes to inspect privately owned weapons as they did in Revolutionary days. Gun control advocates might blanch at the notion that all Americans would be required to receive firearms training and would certainly look askance at the idea of requiring all able-bodied citizens to purchase their own military-style assault weapons. Yet if the civic right to bear arms of the Founding were reintroduced, this is exactly what citizens would be obligated to do. A restoration of the original understanding of the Second Amendment would require all these measures and much more. — Saul Cornell in “A Well-Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America”

    About Saul Cornell

  • “Crisply written and vigorously argued, A Well-Regulated Militia advances an often-hackneyed debate by looking beyond the original concerns of the Revolutionary era. Cornell concisely demonstrates why so many of the contemporary fictions swirling around the meaning of this vexed clause depart from its real history.” — Jack Rakove, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Original Meanings,” Coe Professor of History Stanford University reviewing “A Well Regulated Militia”
  • “Anyone interested in how the right to bear arms was thought about in the early republic will need to take this book into account.” — Keith E. Whittington, author of “Constitutional Interpretation,” Professor of Politics, Princeton reviewing “A Well Regulated Militia”
  • “Saul Cornell’s new book is a breath of fresh air in Second Amendment scholarship. Jettisoning the rancorous partisanship and historical distortions of both advocates and opponents of gun control, Cornell recovers the lost civic dimension of the constitutional right to bear arms. The point of departure for any future, historically-informed discussion of this most controversial amendment, A Well-Regulated Militia clears the way for fresh and constructive thinking about the rights and responsibilities of gun ownership in America today.” — Peter S. Onuf, author of “Jefferson’s Empire: The Language of American Nationhood,” Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of History, University of Virginia reviewing “A Well Regulated Militia”
  • “Based on a meticulous review of American history, Saul Cornell shows that both sides of the debate over the Second Amendment are mistaken. The book is a must- read for all interested in the Second Amendment.” — Erwin Chemerinsky, Alston & Bird Professor of Law, Duke University reviewing “A Well Regulated Militia”
  • “Saul Cornell has been, for many years, one of our most thoughtful and provocative commentators on constitutional history in general and the Second Amendment in particular. With this book he establishes himself as one of, if not the leading interpreter of that Amendment, and teaches us valuable lessons not only about gun control and the militia, but about the nature of American Republican government itself.” — Stephen Presser, Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History, Northwestern University reviewing “A Well Regulated Militia”
  • “The work [Cornell] has done . . . is extraordinary and exhausting. All historians of the early republic are in his debt, and they will henceforth turn to The Other Founders as the essential starting point for work on the specific ideas of those who opposed the federal Constitution.” — “Journal of Southern History” reviewing “The Other Founders: Anti-Federalism and the Dissenting Tradition in America, 1788-1828″
  • “This book is profound, persuasive, and a much-needed taxonomy of Anti-Federalism. . . . The Other Founders notably succeeds in clarifying the importance of dissenting texts in American political culture. This highly readable, comprehensive, and original work deserves to be placed alongside The Federalist Papers on Americans’ bookshelves.” — “Historian” reviewing “The Other Founders: Anti-Federalism and the Dissenting Tradition in America, 1788-1828″
  • “Perhaps most impressive is Cornell’s ability to bring to bear on the topic a broad range of secondary sources, both historical and theoretical, and he is particularly able at applying perspectives from contemporary political thought, including recent work on liberalism and republicanism as well as critical theory, reader response theory, and post-structuralist ideas of intertextuality. The result is rewarding: a book that is both good history and good theory, and a treatment of Anti-Federalist thought that is more historically nuanced and more theoretically sophisticated than any we have had before.” — “William and Mary Quarterly” reviewing “The Other Founders: Anti-Federalism and the Dissenting Tradition in America, 1788-1828″
  • Saul Cornell does a terrific job of teasing out the various strands of Constitutional thinking about the right to bear arms. He begins with a plea for Constitutional history, and his essay is rather traditional in its methods, a combination of intellectual and Constitutional history that places the emphasis on contestation rather than consensus. Rather than a new or a new-new political historian, Cornell calls himself a “new constitutional historicist,” a member of a school that believes the search for a single, original meaning of the Constitution or one of its amendments is a fool’s errand. Focusing on the debates in Pennsylvania, Cornell identifies three groups with distinctive views on the right to bear arms. Pennsylvania Federalists considered bearing arms an obligation of citizenship, much like taxation, something a man had to do “in exchange for protection provided by the rule of law” (p. 255). Hence, in form, the right to bear arms was unlike “genuinely individual rights” such as freedom of speech (p. 256). First, the government could not compel a man to speak, but it could compel him to take up arms or serve on a jury….Cornell concludes with a warning about the “dangers of ceding the study of the constitution to lawyers and activists” (p. 267). This is the kind of essay that makes you feel good to be a historian. Jan Lewis reviewing Cornell’s essay in Beyond the Founders, a collection of essays by leading proponents of the newest version of the new political history
  • “Cornell is, with Jack Rakove, one of the two leading interpreters of the Second Amendment. Historian Saul Cornell, who declares that the originalist argument for the individual rights approach is based on a false reading of the legislative history and legal context. Cornell therefore might simply accept Rakove’s modest view of the positive role of the Amendment. However, Cornell also temptingly suggests that some “new paradigm” of Second Amendment scholarship may emerge, one that views the right to bear arms as neither collective nor individual but rather as a “civic right,” in the nature of a civic republican right to be exercised by those “capable of exercising it in a virtuous manner.” There is something ironic about a key part of Cornell’s thesis. In his deft and lawyerly arguments for the originalist collective rights view, Cornell underscores the later eruption of individual rights rhetoric in nineteenth-century state constitutions in order to stress the absence of any such view in 1791 — Stanford Law Professor Robert Weissberg, Edwin Huddleston Professor of Law in a recent review of the state of the scholarly debate on the Second Amendment
  • “Good prof, really knows his stuff and explains it well. Nice and funny guy.” — Anonymous Student
  • Posted on Sunday, December 10, 2006 at 7:29 PM

    Top Young Historians: 36 – Samuel Moyn

    Top Young Historians

    Samuel Moyn, 34

    Basic Facts

    Teaching Position: Associate Professor of History, Columbia University (2006-); Assistant Professor of History (2001-6)
    Area of Research: modern intellectual history, French history, Jewish studies, religious studies, contemporary political theory, history of human rights, history of legal theory
    Education: Ph.D., UC-Berkeley (2000), J.D., Harvard University (2001)
    Major Publications: Moyn is the author of Origins of the Other: Emmanuel Levinas between Revelation and Samuel Moyn JPG Ethics (Cornell, 2005); A Holocaust Controversy: The Treblinka Affair in Postwar France (Brandeis, 2005); (as editor) Pierre Rosanvallon, Democracy Past and Future (Columbia, 2006); numerous articles.
    Moyn in finishing a book about postwar French political theory tentatively entitled A New Theory of Politics: Claude Lefort and Company in Contemporary France (Columbia) and starting a new project on human rights in the recent and contemporary period.
    Awards: Moyn is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including:
    Morris D. Forkosch Prize, “Journal of the History of Ideas,” for best first book of the year in intellectual history, and Koret Foundation Jewish Studies Publication Prize, both for first book.
    National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend;
    Sterling-Currier Fund, Grant for Conference on French Liberalism;
    Columbia University Junior Faculty Development Grant (twice);
    Columbia University Institute for Scholars in Paris Fellowship;
    Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, U.S. Department of Education;
    Gilbert Chinard Prize, Institut Français;
    Phi Beta Kappa Scholarship;
    Berkeley Humanities Research Grant;
    Doreen B. Townsend Center Associate Fellowship (declined);
    Dorot and S.I. Newhouse Foundations Israel Fellowships;
    Benjamin F. Goor Prize in Jewish Studies;
    Center for German and European Studies Predissertation Fellowship;
    Andrew W. Mellon Predissertation Fellowship;
    Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in the Humanistic Studies (declined).
    Additional Info:
    Moyn is on the editorial board of “Ethics and International Affairs.”
    He was the editor of the “Harvard Human Rights Journal.”
    Moyn was Lecturer at Harvard University and was awarded Certificates of Distinction in Teaching, (1999-2001).
    He is a member of the American Historical Association, Association for Jewish Studies, North American Levinas Society, and Society for French Historical Studies.

    Personal Anecdote

    Intellectual historians read books. Of course, they learn to smile and nod when others speak longingly about the treasures of this or that archive. But by and large, I would rather browse in the library stacks or head to the bookstore. I praise those who have a fetish for their documents for their contributions to knowledge – ones that I find as breathtaking and reorienting as the next historian. But I have always told myself that there are enough texts in the library – and they are the really important ones – deserving to be read and reread, interpreted and reinterpreted; and I assumed that their analysis might suffice for a scholarly career. Almost totally, my work has relied upon of published sources that were easily available. I have only ever risked the armchair exoticism of interlibrary loan, never impelled by what Arlette Farge has called the “taste of the archive” for the source, heaped amidst irrelevancies in a remote location, whose discovery will change the interpretation of the past.

    But in a history department, one confesses such a thing only amongst friends or with a hint of shame (or after tenure). And fortunately, I have sought and found recondite documents in various places once or twice after all. The first book I wrote, on the twentieth-century moral philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, included an image of the first page he published after World War II and the Holocaust; its reproduction from a blurry mimeograph, I suppose, was intended to give my reader the impression that there were sources that historians were needed to recover, ones that people outside the discipline might never bother to search after. A version of that premise, after all, explained why I paid most attention to forgotten snippets of writing or unknown features of context throughout my treatment. Still, in spite of what I thought I learned by retrieving such things from yellowing journals and moldering books, I wasn’t convinced of the necessity of going further, of rooting out some truly lost source.

    When I came to write a second little book on Holocaust memory, what started out as a tiny concession to the expectations of the discipline expanded a great deal. After I resolved to approach the subject by examining how people live through controversies about the past, I fixed on the furor set off by the publication of Jean-Francois Steiner’s Treblinka in 1966. Having made it a principle of my method analyze every response I could find, not just the statements of intellectual notables, I found myself disinterring minor newspapers –Yiddish dailies, for instance – and even grubbing in the archives. I realized, in fact, that in this case those hidden sources mattered to me most of all. One essential part of my story became how, at this moment in time, those with most actual experiential authority to speak were marginal to public debate while those with least were central — simply because they happened to be famous for other reasons or were otherwise well-placed to communicate with the public. Most surprisingly, at Yad Vashem in Israel, I stumbled across a long and moving letter that a survivor of the camp in question had drafted when he read the book that purported to be an account of a place he had lived and suffered. He had never sent the letter to the book’s author, however, and so my accidental discovery of its existence in effect allowed me to reconnect with this since disappeared survivor and, finally, to let him be heard. That was the moment when I felt most kinship with other historians and understood why they live the professional lives they do.

    It might seem that the experience would have converted me. But it didn’t. The distaste of the archive persists. Not that I rule out going back if the topics demands it. But in fact, I find that I no longer approach the most elite and textual kind of intellectual history with as fraught a conscience. I confess more unrepentantly that I would still rather read a work of philosophical difficulty or cultural commentary, for my own benefit or as historical evidence. Yet now I know that a historian can be driven, even against initial inclination, to be the kind of student of the past he did not intend at first. For me, this has been one of the most enlightening lessons of the practice of history, and one I hope I am forced to re-learn again and again.

    Quotes

    By Samuel Moyn

  • “[T]he ethical other, I suggest, is a secularized theological concept. The transcendent and humiliating God of a particular moment in European theology became the humiliating and higher other of recent Continental ethical thought. ‘The “new” often consists,’ Origins of the Other JPG Amos Funkenstein once observed, in an aphorism certainly applicable to [Emmanuel] Levinas and the origins of the other, ‘not in the invention of new categories or new figures of thought, but rather in a surprising employment of existing ones.’ The origins of the other occurred, to put the argument of this book in a formula, through the transplantation of theology into phenomenology….
    The revival of interest in religion and ethnicity in the last decades has, in a paradox not yet understood, occurred at the same time of increasing skepticism towards the meaningful integrity and aboriginal coherence of cultural identities of all kinds. This book sides decisively with the skeptical view in presenting the Jewish inheritance Levinas received as too eroded, fragmentary and contested to provide a coherent identity for the philosopher to adopt, and credits him with far more liberty of selection, motivation of interpretation, and creativity of mind in crafting the identity he is often understood to have straightforwardly inhabited. Put more bluntly, in Levinas’s case, as more generally, the rhetoric of finding has to be replaced with the rhetoric of making.” Samuel Moyn in “Origins of the Other”
  • About Samuel Moyn

  • “Make no mistake about it: Samuel Moyn has written a blockbuster book on one of the most pivotal, yet imperfectly understood and little scrutinized figures of twentieth- century European thought, Emmanuel Levinas. Combining erudition of rare depth and scope with uncommon stylistic elegance, Moyn narrates the formation of Levinas’s concept of “the other” as occasioned by the various philosophical, and crucially, theological encounters he made along the way to his mature philosophy of ethics and intersubjectivity. The result is a riveting, highly informative account not only of the intellectual itinerary of Emmanuel Levinas, but also of the principal currents of twentieth-century European thought.” — Nathan Bracher reviewing “Origins of the Other”
  • “Intellectual history at its best should heighten the philosophical drama in a thinker’s work, giving us a deeper appreciation of what is genuinely at stake in it. Samuel Moyn’s study of Levinas does just that. It not only helps us understand why Levinas became such a revered figure in postwar France but also reveals what that reverence obscured—in particular, Levinas’s deep debt to Jewish and, surprisingly, Christian theology. All of which raises important questions about the moral legacy of biblical religion, and how modern philosophy has and hasn’t confronted it.” — Mark Lilla, author of “The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics” reviewing “Origins of the Other”
  • In Origins of the Other, Samuel Moyn not only offers a novel and historically convincing portrait of Levinas that upsets received interpretations but also bridges areas of inquiry that seldom meet. In so doing he gives intellectual historians as well as philosophers a model for considering the complex interplay between historical and philosophical understanding. This is an original and superb book. It will be sure to provoke much debate about Levinas and about a fundamental issue that continues to plague much of contemporary Continental and Anglo-American political and ethical theory: whether it is possible to develop a secular humanism without recourse to theological categories.” — Leora Batnitzky, Princeton University reviewing “Origins of the Other”
  • “Emmanuel Levinas is arguably the most important ethical theorist in all of recent continental philosophy. Yet his historical origins have been poorly understood— until now. Samuel Moyn provides not only a fascinating inquiry into the sources of Levinasian ethics but also a bold and capacious look at the broader, European discourse of ‘the other’ that first emerged from the ferment of interwar philosophical ‘crisis’ among such thinkers as Franz Rosenzweig and Karl Barth. The result is a work of scholarship sober in tone yet scintillating with insight. Moyn has written nothing less than a portrait of European intellectual life in the twentieth century.” — Peter E. Gordon, Harvard University, author of “Rosenzweig and Heidegger: Between Judaism and German Philosophy” reviewing “Origins of the Other”
  • “Refreshingly lucid… One of the virtues of Moyn’s book is that he discovers the origins of Levinas’s notion of Otherness where few before him have thought to look.” — Richard Wolin reviewing “Origins of the Other”
  • “There is no denying Moyn’s philological analysis. … Moyn also provides an exceptionally accessible introduction to the often dense and obscure problems of phenomenology, and to how Levinas and others went about trying to solve them.” — Jay Michaelson reviewing “Origins of the Other”
  • “. . . arresting scholarship . . . Moyn elucidates with compelling clarity and coherence. Alive to historical ironies and penetratingly written, this small, thoughtful book focusing on one moment in French history illuminates very large themes, representing intellectual history at its very best.” — Benny Kraut reviewing “A Holocaust Controversy”
  • “Did Jews go like lambs to the Nazi slaughter? Not those who revolted in the Treblinka death camp in August 1943. In this absorbing and elegant work Samuel Moyn shows how an incendiary book about Treblinka in 1966 transformed Holocaust awareness.” — Robert O. Paxton, author of “Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order” r eviewing “A Holocaust Controversy”
  • “Moyn provides a fascinating micrological study of the heated controversy surrounding J.F. Steiner’s 1966 book Treblinka, a controversy reminiscent of the recent Goldhagen affair. Focusing on he contested distinction between concentration and death camps as well as on the question of Jewish “complicity” in the process of extermination, Moyn’s study becomes the port of entry for an illuminating exploration of still-live issues surrounding the uses and abuses of the Holocaust.” — Dominick LaCapra, author of “History and Memory after Auschwitz” reviewing “A Holocaust Controversy”
  • “I loved both this class and this professor. In my four years at Columbia, I have taken a number of interesting courses, but few have made me think as hard as this one, both inside the class and out. Professor Moyn takes the near-sacred idea of human rights and forces you to consider them as more than just ideals that we all do or should strive to make a reality. Prof. Moyn himself is an entertaining lecturer, without being a showman. He has a dry sense of humor that makes even the dullest material seem interesting. In addition, he manages to impart tons of information without ever losing focus of his main points.”…
    “Samuel Moyn is an amazing professor, a great guy who is extremely friendly and very knowledgeable and willing to work with his students.”…
    “You would be hard pressed to find a better prepared or more engaging teacher at Columbia…Prof Moyn is an excellent teacher–available to students, smart, fair, funny, organized.”…”Moyn is a great lecturer, he’s entertaining and exceptionally brilliant.” — Anonymous Students
  • Posted on Sunday, December 3, 2006 at 7:34 PM

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