History Buzz: December 2009

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 2009: History Buzz Roundup

HISTORY BUZZ:

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

BIGGEST NEWS STORIES: 2009 IN REVIEW

  • Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman “9/11 to climate change: Historians look back on the decade”: “The new century began on a bang, and it was a shot heard ’round the world,” Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, a history professor at San Diego State University, said, speaking of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001… “It’s something that’s really solidified in the past decade,” noted Hoffman, who’s also the author of “In the Lion’s Den: A Novel of the Civil War.” “All kinds of people who were either eager to believe or eager to disbelieve all came to stand at the same spot to realize this is something we have to take seriously.” – AP, 12-7-09
  • Bruce Schulman “9/11 to climate change: Historians look back on the decade”: “People are going to think that 9/11 is a significant historical turning point no matter what happens, because it certainly altered the international order,” said Bruce Schulman, who teaches history at Boston University…. “If in 2004 you told me that in the next election we would elect a black president, I would have said, ‘You’re crazy. That’s not happening maybe for my lifetime,’” Schulman said. “Now…could you imagine that ever again, at least ever again at least in the next 16 or 20 years, we would have two tickets that would be all white males? I don’t think we’ll ever see that again.” AP, 12-7-09
  • Brian Balogh “9/11 to climate change: Historians look back on the decade”: Brian Balogh, a history professor at the University of Virginia, pointed out that 9/11 demonstrated the power of non-state actors and has kept us talking about “homeland security,” a term not widely used before the attacks. Hoffman said 9/11 revealed that the U.S. didn’t have a post-Cold War strategic vision…. Balogh added that the 2000 election contributed to political partisanship because the close race caused each side to use “any weapon in their arsenal.” Nowadays there are fewer political moderates and fewer legislative compromises — a trend exemplified in the current debate over health care reform. Bills emerged from Congress with the support of just one Republican. In the 1960s, Balogh noted, Democrats got more GOP support to pass landmark civil-rights legislation…. “The most dramatic change [of the decade] is, in essence, expecting to have all the information in the world at our fingertips and to be constantly in touch with people whenever we want to be, however we want to be,” said Balogh, who also cohosts a radio show called “BackStory with the American History Guys.” “We’re increasingly connected by what we buy, by what we read, by lifestyles. I think we’re less connected by geography and by our allegiances and attachments to nations.”…. – AP, 12-7-09
  • Julian Zelizer “9/11 to climate change: Historians look back on the decade”: As a result of 9/11, the political polarization was amplified, said Julian Zelizer, a history professor at Princeton University and author of “Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security — From World War II to the War on Terrorism.” Zelizer said he thinks evolving media technology — and the development of the 24/7 news cycle, thanks in part to the rise of Internet blogging and social-networking sites — has helped increase partisan bickering this decade…. – AP, 12-7-09
  • Daryl Michael Scott “9/11 to climate change: Historians look back on the decade”: “Diversity is leading to a different America,” said Daryl Michael Scott, a history professor at Howard University. “African-Americans have been the largest minority in the country since its founding, and I think it takes place within the 2000s, this formal passing of the guard.”… – AP, 12-7-09
  • 100 Notable Books of 2009: The New York Times Book Review selects outstanding works from the last year – NYT, 11-09
  • The 10 Best Books of 2009 By THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW NYT, 12-09
  • The ’00s: Goodbye (at Last) to the Decade From Hell Time, 11-24-09

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

    On This Day in History….

    This Week in History….

  • 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor far from forgotten: Harold O’Connor, 88, was a Navy Fireman First Class on the USS Thornton, a destroyer seaplane tender, in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked. “All the torpedo planes were coming right off our fantail,” O’Connor recalls. “I watched the West Virginia go up from two torpedoes that were dropped. All hell was breaking loose. I saw the bombs that hit the Arizona.”… – USA Today, 12-7-09
  • Historian Finds John Brown’s Link To Vermont: To some – 19th century abolitionist John Brown was a folk hero. To others he was a violent terrorist. To this day Brown is considered one of the more controversial figures of the 1800s. December 2, marks the 150th anniversary of Brown’s execution following his failed raid at Harper’s Ferry Virginia…. – Vermont Public Radio (12-1-09)

IN THE NEWS:

  • House uncovered in Nazareth dating to the time of Jesus: Archaeologists in Israel say they have discovered the remains of a home from the time of Jesus in the heart of Nazareth. The Israeli Antiquities Authority said the find “sheds light on the way of life at the time of Jesus” in the Jewish settlement of Nazareth, where Christians believe Jesus grew up…. – CNN, 12-21-09
  • Stanford technology helps scholars get ‘big picture’ of the Enlightenment – Cynthia L. Haven in the Stanford News (12-17-09)
  • Bill to Increase the NHPRC’s Reauthorization is Derailed in the Senate: What was expected to be a non-controversial committee markup of legislation (S. 2872) to reauthorize the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) resulted instead in the elimination of a proposed significant increase in the Commission’s spending level over the next five years… – Lee White at the website of the National Coalition for History (NCH) (12-18-09)
  • Congress maintaining history budgets – Lee White at the website of the National Coalition for History (NCH) (12-14-09)
  • Historians seek $1.5M for Tecumseh memorial: A group of historians in Thamesville, Ont., say they’ll need $1.5 million to upgrade a memorial for a native American chief who played a key role in the War of 1812…. – CBC News (11-12-09)
  • The John Hope Franklin File: FBI Looked At Esteemed Historian For Communist Ties: The celebrated historian John Hope Franklin was scrutinized by the FBI in the 1960s for supposed links to communists, particularly his opposition to the House Committee on Un-American Activities and his vocal support for W.E.B. Du Bois…. – TPM (Liberal blog) (12-15-09)
  • Stanford history professor questions role of historians as researchers for the defense in such a lawsuit: Four University of Florida graduate students who did research for a tobacco company’s legal defense have been caught in a debate over the role of historians in such cases. The controversy stretches from Gainesville to Palo Alto, Calif., where Stanford University history professor Robert Proctor has publicly identified and criticized historians who work for the tobacco industry. Proctor’s discovery that UF graduate students in history were working for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. attorneys led him to e-mail objections to a UF professor, Betty Smocovitis…. – The Gainesville Sun (12-8-09)
  • A plainer view of our past: Howard Zinn and ‘The People Speak’ TV special – The Philadelphia Inquirer (12-8-09)
  • Maciej Kowalczy: Historian Finds Red Baron’s Death Certificate: A Polish historian says he made a surprising find when poring through World War I archives — the death certificate of Manfred von Richthofen, the German fighter ace known as the “Red Baron.”… – AP (12-7-09)
  • Conservative viewpoint: Doris Kearns Goodwin’s cross into partisan politics – Charlotte Conservative News (12-6-09)
  • Student finds letter ‘a link to Jefferson’: An 1808 letter from Thomas Jefferson turns up during archiving by a University of Delaware graduate student. Student uncovers letter among archives of mementos of elite Delaware family… Thomas Jefferson’s 1808 letter part of archives gift to University of Delaware… “This letter was like a link to Jefferson himself,” student says Library official says, “To hold it in your hands is really quite thrilling”
    In a nondescript conference room tucked inside the library at the University of Delaware, a graduate student found a historian’s equivalent to a needle in a haystack. Amanda Daddona said she discovered a personal letter from Thomas Jefferson amid one of 200 boxes of legal documents, minutes from meetings and day-to-day correspondence of a prominent Delaware family…. – CNN, 12-4-09
  • There has been a rare and surprising archaeological discovery dug up in Tel Dor, Israel: a gemstone engraved with the portrait of Alexander the Great…. – Netscape News
  • Residents, historians work for landmarks in Harlem: Michael Henry Adams, a local historian and graduate of Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, agreed, saying, “Harlem is grossly under-landmarked, and so is every black neighborhood in the city.” He added, “If you look at the Upper East Side and Upper West Side, all the places where the richest people live, there’s the most landmarking.”…. – Columbia Spectator (12-3-09)
  • Joy Damousi: Historian examines the lives of war generation (Australia): A prominent Melbourne academic is researching the impact of memories of WWII in Greece and the Civil War on Greek-Australians…. – Greek Reporter (11-30-09)
  • Historians seeks to capture and preserve 100-year farm heritage: For 100 years Henry Armstrong’s family has farmed the same patch of central Montana land, hanging on through the Depression, low wheat prices and the ever-present risk that the next generation would move on… – Google News (11-27-09)
  • Historians are at war over ‘old-fashioned’ flagship series: TELEVISION historian Neil Oliver has been likened to a “pygmy on a giant’s territory” by a leading academic as the bitter row over the BBC’s flagship A History of Scotland series intensifies…. – The Herald Scotland (11-26-09)

OP-EDs & BLOGS:

  • Vikki Bynum vs. John Stauffer: The debate turns ugly: Professor Stauffer is angry at me; I mean really angry. He’s furious that I don’t think more highly of his and Sally Jenkins’s book, State of Jones, but especially that I have the temerity to publicly say so. To get it all off his chest, he just let off more steam on page 2 of the December 10th issue of the Jones County ReView… – Victoria Bynum at the Renegade South blog (12-10-09)
  • Howard Zinn’s show has been “hyped” says Ron Radosh in a highly critical review… – Historian Ron Radosh at his blog (12-12-09)
  • Historian David Reynolds says Obama should pardon John Brown: IT’S important for Americans to recognize our national heroes, even those who have been despised by history. Take John Brown. Today is the 150th anniversary of Brown’s hanging — the grim punishment for his raid weeks earlier on Harpers Ferry, Va. With a small band of abolitionists, Brown had seized the federal arsenal there and freed slaves in the area. His plan was to flee with them to nearby mountains and provoke rebellions in the South. But he stalled too long in the arsenal and was captured. He was brought to trial in a Virginia court, convicted of treason, murder and inciting an insurrection, and hanged on Dec. 2, 1859…. – NYT (12-1-09)

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Monica’s back – says Clinton lied: Now the first definitive history of the Clinton scandal is about to arrive — and neither man can be completely happy about his portrayal in its pages… “The Death of American Virtue,” due out in February, asserts that Clinton had yet another extramarital affair, with Susan McDougal of Whitewater fame. Also in the book, Monica Lewinsky tells author Ken Gormley that she believes the president lied under oath when he described their encounters…. – Politico, 12-17-09
  • Stein Tonnesson: Norwegian historian writes about war in Vietnam Vietnam 1946VOV News (12-9-09)
  • WSJ book review of Robert E. Sullivan’s “Macaulay: The Tragedy of Power” WSJ (12-7-09)
  • BEVERLY GAGE on John Milton Cooper Jr. “He Was No Wilsonian” WOODROW WILSON A Biography : When historians rank the American presidents, Woodrow Wilson almost always secures a place in the top 10. This seems to be an honor accorded successful wartime leaders; in the last C-Span Presidents Day poll, the highest three spots belonged to Lincoln, Washington and Franklin Roosevelt, two war presidents and a general. Yet compared with the reputations of other members of that august pantheon, Wilson’s lags far behind. George W. Bush was described as “Wilsonian” after 9/11, but that was hardly meant as a compliment. Barack Obama, like Wilson a scholar, political neophyte and Nobel Peace Prize winner, prefers to be compared to Lincoln and the second Roosevelt, or even to Truman and Reagan — practically any other member of the top ranks. Today, the only major public figure who seems to be interested in Wilson is the Fox News host Glenn Beck, who traces the roots of our current “socialist” predicament back to the dark era of Wilsonian income taxes, war propaganda and obscure monetary symbols…. – NYT, 12-13-09
  • Beth Bailey: Historian’s new book considers America’s all-volunteer Army America’s Army: Making the All-Volunteer ForceTemple University (12-3-09)
  • We join a movement in progress: a review of Cynthia Griggs Fleming’s “Yes We Did?’ If Barack Obama’s 2008 election is history’s answer to Martin Luther King’s 46-year-old “I Have a Dream” speech, then African Americans must be on the cusp of . . . what, exactly? In “Yes We Did?” historian Cynthia Griggs Fleming offers an academic overview of the civil rights movement’s triumphant past and uncertain future…. – The Washington Post (12-4-09)
  • Historian’s says Hudson’s ‘did not discover anything’: Four-hundred years ago, Henry Hudson set sail from Europe in an attempt to discover a new route to Asia by heading east. His mission was not successful, but he traveled along what has become the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey. River Edge resident and local historian Kevin Wright explores the quadricentennial of Hudson’s voyage in his new book, “1609: A Country That Was Never Lost: 400th Anniversary of Henry Hudson’s Visit with North Americans of the Middle Atlantic Coast.”… – North Jersey (11-26-09)

PROFILED & FEATURED:

  • Word for Word, First Couplets A History of Odes to the Chief: MUSES Lincoln fares best with poets. Hayes, on the other hand, was remembered for his “unrecorded remarks.”…. – NYT, 12-13-09
  • Vietnam historian Stanley Karnow plans his memoir: Stanley Karnow, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and longtime foreign correspondent, is trying to think of a good title for a planned memoir…. – SF Chronicle (12-8-09)
  • Dusan Batakovic: A Historian of the Present: Dusan Batakovic, 52, a Serbian historian and diplomat, has been handed the most demanding role of his life – to lead the Serbian team at the International Court of Justice in the Hague, in an attempt to dispute the legality of Kosovo’s unilateral proclamation of independence on February 17, 2008… – Balkan Insight (12-7-09)
  • Scholars Nostalgic for the Old South Study the Virtues of Secession, Quietly – The Chronicle of Higher Education (12-6-09)
  • Filmmaker Mike Barber inspired by James Loewen examines ‘White Man’s Burden’ Huffington Post (12-3-09)
  • Horse racing was best before British, says historian: Dr Natalie Zacek, from The University of Manchester says the 1861–1865 Civil War changed American racing forever, by forcing it to modernise using the English model… – The University of Manchester (12-1-09)
  • Historian unearthes Civil War war criminal: Her breath quickened as she caught sight of a name engraved in stone. Could it possibly be him? As Carolyn Stier Ferrell stepped closer, she could see that, yes, she had found her man! At the Odd Fellows Home Cemetery atop Boot Hill in New Providence, Ferrell found the final resting place of Thomas Pratt Turner…. – The Leaf Chronicle (11-29-09)

QUOTED:

  • Ivan the Terrible film ‘slanders Russia’ and should be banned, historian says: Vyacheslav Manyagin has asked Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to outlaw the film, which he claims is an insult to Russian statehood. … “Imagine that they made a film in America about George Washington in which the first US president was portrayed as a bloodthirsty maniac,” Mr Manyagin said. “This film slanders the Russian people and state.”… – Telegraph (UK) (11-28-09)

INTERVIEWED:

  • 20 questions: Historian Thomas Fleming: The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers, historian Thomas Fleming examines the personal lives of six familiar names in history: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Fleming examines how their relationships with their wives and families affected their roles in founding the country. Fleming, an author of numerous books, spoke to The Hill about his latest tome…. – The Hill
  • Barbara Berg: Inequality the new normal, historian says: Women’s rights are under attack, says historian Barbara Berg. Yes, women have made tremendous strides but many of their rights have eroded since feminism’s second wave in the 1970s and 1980s, she writes in her new book, Sexism in America: Alive, Well, and Ruining our Future…. – The Star (12-9-09)
  • Jamie Glazov interview with Victor Davis Hanson: The Palin Wonder – Frontpagemag.com
  • Interview with D.N.Jha, eminent historian: “Historians who come in proximity to power change their secular lines” DWIJENDRA NARAYAN JHA, an eminent historian, has campaigned extensively against the communalisation of history. His book Myth of the Holy Cow,wherein he dispelled popular misconceptions that Muslims introduced beef-eating in India, created ripples in political circles. – Frontline (Volume 26) (12-1-09)

HONORED, AWARDED &APPOINTED:

  • Turkish parliament awards renowned historian: Turkey’s internationally-acclaimed historian Prof. Kemal Karpat has received Turkish parliament’s honorary award…. – World Bulletin (12-9-09)
  • OAH selects new executive director: It is my great pleasure to inform you that the OAH has a new Executive Director. After an extensive process that resulted in 54 applications, Katherine (Kathy) Finley has been selected by the OAH Executive Board at its Fall board meeting…. – Press Release (12-8-09)
  • Mihailo Pantic, Srdjan Pirivatric: Bulgarian president awards Serbian writer and historian: At the awarding ceremony in the Bulgarian Presidency, Pantic was presented with the Holly Brothers Cyril and Methodius award for his contribution to the popularization of the Bulgarian culture in Serbia and promotion of relation between the Bulgarian and Serbian people. Bsanna News (12-4-09)
  • Historian one of 10 human rights award winners (Toronto): Most Torontonians are not familiar with the black experience in Canada, but for Adrienne Shadd, African-Canadian history is in her blood. Shadd is the great-great-grandniece of Mary Ann Shadd Cary, the first black women to publish and edit a newspaper in North America…. – The Toronto Observer (11-26-09)
  • UK diplomat questions post of Jews on Iraq panel: A British diplomat has criticized the appointment of two leading Jewish academics to the UK’s Iraq Inquiry panel, stating it may upset the balance of the inquiry. Sir Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya, told The Independent newspaper this week that the appointment of Sir Martin Gilbert, the renowned Holocaust historian and Winston Churchill biographer, and Sir Lawrence Freedman, professor of war studies and vice-principal of King’s College London, would be seen as “ammunition” that could be used to call the inquiry a “whitewash.”… – The Jerusalem Post (via OpEdNews) (11-25-09)
  • The re-emergence of historian Richard Hofstadter: Hofstadter, who died in 1970, was at one time amongst America’s pre-eminent historians. He documented the evolution of the country’s political culture and its populist underpinnings from the Revolution to the post- Kennedy-assassination era. It’s no surprise that his work is still generally relevant, but his landmark 1964 essay, The Paranoid Style in American Politics, is Cassandra-like in its prescience. – John Moore in the National Post (11-26-09)

SPOTTED:

  • Rebuttal of Decade-Old Accusations Against Researchers Roils Anthropology Meeting Anew: The annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association opened here on Wednesday, and its official theme is “The End/s of Anthropology.” But people here might suspect that one thing will never end: the controversy surrounding Darkness in El Dorado, a 2000 book that accused two prominent scholars of misdeeds in their work with an indigenous community in South America Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon (W.W. Norton), was written by Patrick Tierney… – The Chronicle of Higher Education (12-3-09)
  • Carpentersville students chat with renowned historian Howard Zinn (Illinois): Between preparing for the premiere of his documentary and promoting it with the likes of Matt Damon and Viggo Mortensen, historian and activist Howard Zinn found some time to speak with students at Dundee-Crown High School on Tuesday…. – The Daily Herald (12-2-09)

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • Royal Society papers provide science, history resources: The 350th anniversary of Britain’s Royal Society (making it the world’s oldest scientific institution) will be marked by the release of a vast library of papers online from the likes of Sir Isacc Newton and Benjamin Franklin. This isn’t just science nerd stuff, though. This is a treasure trove of history that is easily connected to modern scientific thought. The library itself can be found at trailblazing.royalsociety.org and is remarkable in its extensiveness… – ZD Net, 11-29-09

ON TV:

  • ‘NOVA’ looks at Japanese midget sub in Pearl Harbor attack: The PBS science series “NOVA” plans to broadcast a documentary presenting evidence that a torpedo fired from a Japanese midget submarine may have struck the USS Oklahoma during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. “Killer Subs in Pearl Harbor” premiers Jan. 5. AP, 12-7-09
  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
  • PBS American Experience: Mondays at 9pm
  • History Channel: Weekly Schedule

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

COMING SOON BOOKS:

  • Anthony Haden-guest: Last Party: Studio 54, Disco, and the Culture of the Night (Paperback), December 8, 2009
  • Len Colodny: The Forty Years War: The Rise and Fall of the Neocons, from Nixon to Obama, December 8, 2009
  • Alice Morse Earle: Child Life in Colonial Times, (Paperback), December 18, 2009
  • C. S. Manegold: Ten Hills Farm: The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North, December 21, 2009
  • A. N. Wilson: Our Times: The Age of Elizabeth II, December 22, 2009
  • Rudy Tomedi: General Matthew Ridgway, December 30, 2009
  • Alison Weir: The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, January 5, 2010

DEPARTED:

  • Yosef H. Yerushalmi, Scholar of Jewish History, Dies at 77: Yosef Haim Yerushalmi, a groundbreaking and wide-ranging scholar of Jewish history whose meditation on the tension between collective memory of a people and the more prosaic factual record of the past influenced a generation of thinkers, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 77 and lived in Manhattan. NYT (12-10-09)
  • Historian Shearer Davis Bowman dies at the age of 60 – Richmond Times-Dispatch (8-12-09)
  • Resolute academic who looked into Switzerland’s soul: Jean-François Bergier remembered – Financial Times (12-5-09)
  • Remembering Jean-François Bergier: Swiss historian: “You have to be responsible for your past,” the Swiss historian Jean-François Bergier once said. And he knew exactly how challenging that could be for his country… – Times Online (11-30-09)
  • Studs Terkel: Democracy Now! Tribute – Democracy Now (11-27-09)

Posted on Monday, December 21, 2009 at 1:56 AM

History Buzz Special: Hanukkah 2009, History & Obama


EVAN VUCCI / Associated Press, Rahm Emanuel is flankedby Rabbi Abraham Shemtov(left) and Rabbi Levi Shemtov.

HANUKKAH 2009:

IN HISTORY NEWS….

  • Chanukah II: Obama’s Revenge: After being assailed for just about every imaginable trivial deviation from Bush-era Chanukah celebrations, the Obama White House not only headed off the critics, the organizers managed to go their predecessors a couple better. First, there was the souvenir program, with its front-page welcome: “The President and Mrs. Obama welcome you to the White House in celebration of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights.”… – JTA, 12-17-09
  • Obama: Hanukkah struggle inspires us: During the ceremony, attended by Jewish community leaders, friends and White House staff, the president promoted ideals of freedom, tolerance and justice. Emphasizing the historical story of Jewish revolt, the president said, “It was more than 2,000 years ago, in the ancient city of Jerusalem, that a small band of believers led by Judah Maccabee rose up and defeated their foreign oppressors – liberating the city and restoring the faith of its people,” according to the White House blog…. – JPost, 12-17-09
  • In the Nation Emanuel lights nation’s menorah: White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel lit the National Menorah yesterday in celebration of Hanukkah. The ceremony marked the 30th anniversary of the first National Menorah lighting in 1979. President Jimmy Carter attended that ceremony…. – Philly Inquirer, 12-14-09
  • Maccabean era correspondence discovered: Some 2,200 years after the Maccabees’ revolt, historians and archaeologists are uncovering new information about their era.
    This year’s biggest discovery is a correspondence between Seleukes IV, whose brother and heir was Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Chanukah story, and one of Seleukes’ chiefs in Judea found on parts of an ancient stele.
    Professor Dov Gera of Ben-Gurion University, who studied the stone’s inscription, said it confirms the account by the Jewish historian Josephus regarding the tightening grip of the Greek-Syrian empire over its subjects’ religious practices.
    “[The text reveals] Seleukes appointed one of the members of his court as an official to oversee worship in the area and equate religious services throughout the empire,” Gera said. “Such an appointment might have been considered by the Jews to be offensive.”… – Jewish Telegraph Agency (12-10-09)
  • A Senator’s Gift to the Jews, Nonreturnable: The canon of Hanukkah songs written by Mormon senators from Utah just got a little bigger. Senator Orrin G. Hatch, a solemn-faced Republican with a soft spot for Jews and a love of Barbra Streisand, has penned a catchy holiday tune, “Eight Days of Hanukkah.” The video was posted Tuesday night on Tablet, an online magazine of Jewish lifestyle and culture, just in time for Hanukkah. NYT, 12-9-09
  • DAVID BROOKS: The Hanukkah Story: Tonight Jewish kids will light the menorah, spin their dreidels and get their presents, but Hanukkah is the most adult of holidays. It commemorates an event in which the good guys did horrible things, the bad guys did good things and in which everybody is flummoxed by insoluble conflicts that remain with us today. It’s a holiday that accurately reflects how politics is, how history is, how life is…. – NYT, 12-10-09

OBAMA WHITE HOUSE & QUOTES

  • President Obama “By Spirit Alone”: It was more than 2,000 years ago, in the ancient city of Jerusalem, that a small band of believers led by Judah Maccabee rose up and defeated their foreign oppressors – liberating the city and restoring the faith of its people.
    And when it came time to rededicate the Temple, the people of Jerusalem witnessed a second miracle: a small amount of oil – enough to light the Temple for a single night – ended up burning for eight. It was a triumph of the few over the many; of right over might; of the light of freedom over the darkness of despair. And ever since that night, in every corner of the world, Jews have lit the Hanukkah candles as symbols of resilience in times of peace, and in times of persecution – in concentration camps and ghettos; war zones and unfamiliar lands. Their light inspires us to hope beyond hope; to believe that miracles are possible even in the darkest of hours.
    It is this message of Hanukkah that speaks to us no matter what faith we practice or what beliefs we cherish. Today, the same yearning for justice that drove the Maccabees so long ago inspires the protestors who march for peace and equality even when they know they will be beaten and arrested for it. It gives hope to the mother fighting to give her child a bright future even in the face of crushing poverty. And it invites all of us to rededicate ourselves to improving the lives of those around us, spreading the light of freedom and tolerance wherever oppression and prejudice exist.
    This is the lesson we remember tonight – that true acts of strength are possible, in the words of the prophet Zechariah, not by might and not by power, but by spirit alone. WH, 12-16-09
  • Statement by President Obama on Hanukkah: Michelle and I send our warmest wishes to all who are celebrating Hanukkah around the world. The Hanukkah story of the Maccabees and the miracles they witnessed reminds us that faith and perseverance are powerful forces that can sustain us in difficult times and help us overcome even the greatest odds.
    Hanukkah is not only a time to celebrate the faith and customs of the Jewish people, but for people of all faiths to celebrate the common aspirations we share. As families, friends and neighbors gather together to kindle the lights, may Hanukkah’s lessons inspire us all to give thanks for the blessings we enjoy, to find light in times of darkness, and to work together for a brighter, more hopeful tomorrow…. – WH, 12-11-09
  • Obama Issues Hanukkah Message in Hebrew: The White House is facing complaints in Israel that its Hanukkah party does not live up to the standards set by President Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush. But with the Jewish festival of lights set to begin at sundown on Friday, President Obama has outdone Mr. Bush in at least one respect – he issued a Hanukkah message in Hebrew.
    The English version of the greeting sends “warmest wishes to all who are celebrating Hanukkah around the world,” from Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle. It recalls the ancient story of the Maccabees, the Jewish rebels who triumphed in battle and rededicated the temple in Jerusalem – a reminder, the message says, that “that faith and perseverance are powerful forces that can sustain us in difficult times and help us overcome even the greatest odds.” Hebrew Message NYT, 12-11-09
  • Israeli President Shimon Peres broadcasts YouTube Chanukah message: “Dear Friends: Yesterday I blessed my Arab citizens because they had their holiday which is called Eid-el Adha, a holiday of good will. Tomorrow, I am going to bless my Christian citizens; they are going to have Christmas. But now, it’s time of Chanukah, our own holiday; full of light, full of optimism, full of hope. Not that everything is so easy and promising, but it’s a clear declaration that finally light will win the day.
    We are going through a difficult period of time. There are many dangers, the Iranians; there are many difficulties, like the negotiations of peace, but I am in charge of optimism. I have the right to be one. Most of the things we have hoped for came true. We continue to hope they will come true as well. We would like to be a contributing people, we can be a contributing people; not only in science and technology, but also in peace and promise. The greatest of them is that all children, ours, the Arabs’, the Christians’ will arrive to a day when their mothers do not have to worry about their safety, which means peace. Light and peace are the two things on which Jewish heritage are based. Thank you. Happy Hanukkah, Chag Chanukah Sameah.” – You Tube
  • A Very Emanuel Chanukah: Rahm Emanuel had a serious message about mutual responsibility to make, in a pithy, punchy speech before he helped light the “national menorah” this evening on the Ellipse in front of the White House. Still, the White House chief of staff being Rahm couldn’t resists a couple of one-liners. Rabbi Levi Shemtov, who directs American Friends of Lubavitch, rushed in a thanks to the performers before calling Emanuel to the stage.
    “The U.S. Air Force Band, the Three Cantors and Dreidl Man,” Emanuel said after taking the microphone, “sounds a little like the title of a Fellini movie.” Emanuel went on to make the lessons of Chanukah a paradigm for the collective responsibility for those not able to defend or care for themselves — Tikkun Olam. “Standing up for what is right, even when it is hard, is not a job for some other people, some other time,” he said. “It is a job for all of us.” And still, expounding on the holiday miracle, he couldn’t resist a dig at his former habitat, Congress. “The oil lasted longer than anyone expected, kind of like the health care debate,” he said… – JTA, 12-13-09

FEATURES

  • CHANUKAH Heroes or rabble-rousers? The real story of the Maccabees: In 165 BCE, a group of warriors led by Judah Maccabee and his band of brothers ushered in a new era in Jewish history when they routed the soldiers of the Greek-Syrian empire and rededicated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. That victory, and the miracle of the menorah that followed, is celebrated every year by Jews around the world at Chanukah. But if the same thing had happened today, would contemporary Jews hail the Maccabees as heroes?
    The place in Jewish history of the Maccabees — a nickname for the first members of the Hasmonean dynasty that ruled an autonomous Jewish kingdom — is much more complex than their popular image might suggest. “Historically it was much more complicated, as there were Jews on both sides,” Jeffrey Rubenstein, professor of Talmud and rabbinics at New York University, said of the Maccabee uprising. “Nowadays, historians look at the conflict more in terms of a civil war than a revolt.”… – JTA, 12-10-09
  • Improving on the Latke: Joan Nathan, a well respected cookbook author and expert in Jewish foods, said she’s not surprised at the widespread resistance to making a traditional treat more healthful. When once asked to come up with baked latkes that tasted as good as fried, she tried. “But I ended up throwing all the recipes in the garbage,” she said.
    Another reason for the fried latke’s persistence: oil isn’t just a cooking ingredient, it’s central to the eight- day celebration of Hanukkah. After winning back their land in battle, the Jews needed to light a menorah as part of a rededication of their Temple. Although they only had enough oil for one day, the oil, miraculously, lasted for eight… – NYT, 12-10-09
  • At Hanukkah, Chefs Make Kitchen Conversions: On holidays like Hanukkah, which begins this year on the night of Dec. 11, gentile chefs with Jewish spouses bring epicurean interpretations to simple dishes, but also enjoy culinary traditions they’ve taken to heart.
    Even since their divorce, the Austrian chef Wolfgang Puck, a Roman Catholic, continues to hold a charity Seder at his restaurant Spago in Los Angeles with his business partner and ex-wife, Barbara Lazaroff, who is Jewish. “The food is so similar,” Mr. Puck said. “My grandmother made potato pancakes, but they were rösti with cooked potatoes and then fried with onions. We had semolina dumplings like matzo balls.”… = NYT, 12-9-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

  • Tevi Troy “Washington Fuss Over White House Hanukkah Party”: In an opinion article published by JTA, the Jewish news agency, Tevi Troy, a former Bush administration liaison to Jewish groups, warned that the Obama White House had given Jewish Americans “a number of reasons to fear that it takes its votes for granted.” Mr. Troy cited as examples the administration’s call for a freeze on Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the decision to honor Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland, who has been accused by some Democratic lawmakers of anti-Israel bias. Mr. Troy said the reduced guest list created “a nagging sense that there may be a studied callousness at work here.” – NYT, 12-11-09
  • Aaron Zelinsky: Judah the Maccabee’s Five Lessons for Barack Obama: Tonight is the first night of Chanukah. Modern celebrants (including Senator Hatch) focus on the miracle of the Menorah, which tradition tells us stayed lit for eight days on a single day’s oil. However, Chanukah is also the political story of a few determined Maccabees leading an uprising against the much stronger Seleucid Empire.
    Though the events Chanukah commemorates took place over 2,000 years ago, the historical story of the Maccabees provides useful lessons for our modern era. From the Seleucids, we see how not to fight a guerilla insurgency. From the Maccabees, we learn how to rally a people and a nation.
    Here are Chanukah’s five geopolitical lessons…. Huffington Post (12-11-09)
  • Gil Troy: This Hannukkah, Let’s Teach Our Children How to Give: For the last few years I have lamented that Jews were preparing to celebrate Hanukkah, our festival of lights, during a particularly dark period. I am happy to say that this year was actually pretty good. Yes, the Iranian nuclear threat – to the United States not just to Israel – still looms. Yes, the crash, recession, and Madoff scheme crushed many individuals – and charitable foundations that do holy work. Yes, the high unemployment rate in the United States is a reminder of the misery many individuals are experiencing even during this holiday season. Yes, Islamic extremists declare war on the West, yet many Westerners, deny and dither, afraid to respond too assertively. And yes, Palestinian rejectionists get a free pass in the world court of public opinion while Israel is condemned for engaging in self-defense…. – 12-11-09
  • Tevi Troy: Op-Ed: Obama must beware of the Chanukah snub: Officials in the Obama administration have decided that they will be cutting the guest list in half for this year’s Chanukah party at the White House. The Jerusalem Post, which first reported this development, suggested that this will be politically harder for Obama the Democrat than it would have been for Bush the Republican. As one of President Bush’s advisers for many of his Chanukah parties, I can assure you that it would not have been easy in the previous White House, either… – JTA, 11-23-09

Posted on Monday, December 14, 2009 at 6:52 AM

December 2009: New Jefferson Letter Found & 2009 in Review

HISTORY BUZZ:

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

BIGGEST NEWS STORIES: 2009 IN REVIEW

  • 100 Notable Books of 2009: The New York Times Book Review selects outstanding works from the last year – NYT, 11-09
  • The 10 Best Books of 2009 By THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW NYT, 12-09
  • The ’00s: Goodbye (at Last) to the Decade From Hell Time, 11-24-09

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

    On This Day in History….

    This Week in History….

  • Historian Finds John Brown’s Link To Vermont: To some – 19th century abolitionist John Brown was a folk hero. To others he was a violent terrorist. To this day Brown is considered one of the more controversial figures of the 1800s. December 2, marks the 150th anniversary of Brown’s execution following his failed raid at Harper’s Ferry Virginia…. – Vermont Public Radio (12-1-09)

IN THE NEWS:

  • Student finds letter ‘a link to Jefferson’: An 1808 letter from Thomas Jefferson turns up during archiving by a University of Delaware graduate student. Student uncovers letter among archives of mementos of elite Delaware family… Thomas Jefferson’s 1808 letter part of archives gift to University of Delaware… “This letter was like a link to Jefferson himself,” student says Library official says, “To hold it in your hands is really quite thrilling”
    In a nondescript conference room tucked inside the library at the University of Delaware, a graduate student found a historian’s equivalent to a needle in a haystack. Amanda Daddona said she discovered a personal letter from Thomas Jefferson amid one of 200 boxes of legal documents, minutes from meetings and day-to-day correspondence of a prominent Delaware family…. – CNN, 12-4-09
  • Residents, historians work for landmarks in Harlem: Michael Henry Adams, a local historian and graduate of Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, agreed, saying, “Harlem is grossly under-landmarked, and so is every black neighborhood in the city.” He added, “If you look at the Upper East Side and Upper West Side, all the places where the richest people live, there’s the most landmarking.”…. – Columbia Spectator (12-3-09)
  • Joy Damousi: Historian examines the lives of war generation (Australia): A prominent Melbourne academic is researching the impact of memories of WWII in Greece and the Civil War on Greek-Australians…. – Greek Reporter (11-30-09)
  • Historians seeks to capture and preserve 100-year farm heritage: For 100 years Henry Armstrong’s family has farmed the same patch of central Montana land, hanging on through the Depression, low wheat prices and the ever-present risk that the next generation would move on… – Google News (11-27-09)
  • Historians are at war over ‘old-fashioned’ flagship series: TELEVISION historian Neil Oliver has been likened to a “pygmy on a giant’s territory” by a leading academic as the bitter row over the BBC’s flagship A History of Scotland series intensifies…. – The Herald Scotland (11-26-09)

OP-EDs & BLOGS:

  • Historian David Reynolds says Obama should pardon John Brown: IT’S important for Americans to recognize our national heroes, even those who have been despised by history. Take John Brown. Today is the 150th anniversary of Brown’s hanging — the grim punishment for his raid weeks earlier on Harpers Ferry, Va. With a small band of abolitionists, Brown had seized the federal arsenal there and freed slaves in the area. His plan was to flee with them to nearby mountains and provoke rebellions in the South. But he stalled too long in the arsenal and was captured. He was brought to trial in a Virginia court, convicted of treason, murder and inciting an insurrection, and hanged on Dec. 2, 1859…. – NYT (12-1-09)

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Beth Bailey: Historian’s new book considers America’s all-volunteer Army America’s Army: Making the All-Volunteer ForceTemple University (12-3-09)
  • We join a movement in progress: a review of Cynthia Griggs Fleming’s “Yes We Did?’ If Barack Obama’s 2008 election is history’s answer to Martin Luther King’s 46-year-old “I Have a Dream” speech, then African Americans must be on the cusp of . . . what, exactly? In “Yes We Did?” historian Cynthia Griggs Fleming offers an academic overview of the civil rights movement’s triumphant past and uncertain future…. – The Washington Post (12-4-09)
  • Historian’s says Hudson’s ‘did not discover anything’: Four-hundred years ago, Henry Hudson set sail from Europe in an attempt to discover a new route to Asia by heading east. His mission was not successful, but he traveled along what has become the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey. River Edge resident and local historian Kevin Wright explores the quadricentennial of Hudson’s voyage in his new book, “1609: A Country That Was Never Lost: 400th Anniversary of Henry Hudson’s Visit with North Americans of the Middle Atlantic Coast.”… – North Jersey (11-26-09)

PROFILED & FEATURED:

  • Horse racing was best before British, says historian: Dr Natalie Zacek, from The University of Manchester says the 1861–1865 Civil War changed American racing forever, by forcing it to modernise using the English model… – The University of Manchester (12-1-09)
  • Historian unearthes Civil War war criminal: Her breath quickened as she caught sight of a name engraved in stone. Could it possibly be him? As Carolyn Stier Ferrell stepped closer, she could see that, yes, she had found her man! At the Odd Fellows Home Cemetery atop Boot Hill in New Providence, Ferrell found the final resting place of Thomas Pratt Turner…. – The Leaf Chronicle (11-29-09)

QUOTED:

  • Ivan the Terrible film ‘slanders Russia’ and should be banned, historian says: Vyacheslav Manyagin has asked Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to outlaw the film, which he claims is an insult to Russian statehood. … “Imagine that they made a film in America about George Washington in which the first US president was portrayed as a bloodthirsty maniac,” Mr Manyagin said. “This film slanders the Russian people and state.”… – Telegraph (UK) (11-28-09)

INTERVIEWED:

  • Interview with D.N.Jha, eminent historian: “Historians who come in proximity to power change their secular lines” DWIJENDRA NARAYAN JHA, an eminent historian, has campaigned extensively against the communalisation of history. His book Myth of the Holy Cow,wherein he dispelled popular misconceptions that Muslims introduced beef-eating in India, created ripples in political circles. – Frontline (Volume 26) (12-1-09)

HONORED, AWARDED &APPOINTED:

  • Mihailo Pantic, Srdjan Pirivatric: Bulgarian president awards Serbian writer and historian: At the awarding ceremony in the Bulgarian Presidency, Pantic was presented with the Holly Brothers Cyril and Methodius award for his contribution to the popularization of the Bulgarian culture in Serbia and promotion of relation between the Bulgarian and Serbian people. Bsanna News (12-4-09)
  • Historian one of 10 human rights award winners (Toronto): Most Torontonians are not familiar with the black experience in Canada, but for Adrienne Shadd, African-Canadian history is in her blood. Shadd is the great-great-grandniece of Mary Ann Shadd Cary, the first black women to publish and edit a newspaper in North America…. – The Toronto Observer (11-26-09)
  • UK diplomat questions post of Jews on Iraq panel: A British diplomat has criticized the appointment of two leading Jewish academics to the UK’s Iraq Inquiry panel, stating it may upset the balance of the inquiry. Sir Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya, told The Independent newspaper this week that the appointment of Sir Martin Gilbert, the renowned Holocaust historian and Winston Churchill biographer, and Sir Lawrence Freedman, professor of war studies and vice-principal of King’s College London, would be seen as “ammunition” that could be used to call the inquiry a “whitewash.”… – The Jerusalem Post (via OpEdNews) (11-25-09)
  • The re-emergence of historian Richard Hofstadter: Hofstadter, who died in 1970, was at one time amongst America’s pre-eminent historians. He documented the evolution of the country’s political culture and its populist underpinnings from the Revolution to the post- Kennedy-assassination era. It’s no surprise that his work is still generally relevant, but his landmark 1964 essay, The Paranoid Style in American Politics, is Cassandra-like in its prescience. – John Moore in the National Post (11-26-09)

SPOTTED:

  • Rebuttal of Decade-Old Accusations Against Researchers Roils Anthropology Meeting Anew: The annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association opened here on Wednesday, and its official theme is “The End/s of Anthropology.” But people here might suspect that one thing will never end: the controversy surrounding Darkness in El Dorado, a 2000 book that accused two prominent scholars of misdeeds in their work with an indigenous community in South America Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon (W.W. Norton), was written by Patrick Tierney… – The Chronicle of Higher Education (12-3-09)
  • Carpentersville students chat with renowned historian Howard Zinn (Illinois): Between preparing for the premiere of his documentary and promoting it with the likes of Matt Damon and Viggo Mortensen, historian and activist Howard Zinn found some time to speak with students at Dundee-Crown High School on Tuesday…. – The Daily Herald (12-2-09)

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • Royal Society papers provide science, history resources: The 350th anniversary of Britain’s Royal Society (making it the world’s oldest scientific institution) will be marked by the release of a vast library of papers online from the likes of Sir Isacc Newton and Benjamin Franklin. This isn’t just science nerd stuff, though. This is a treasure trove of history that is easily connected to modern scientific thought. The library itself can be found at trailblazing.royalsociety.org and is remarkable in its extensiveness… – ZD Net, 11-29-09

ON TV:

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

COMING SOON BOOKS:

  • Anthony Haden-guest: Last Party: Studio 54, Disco, and the Culture of the Night (Paperback), December 8, 2009
  • Len Colodny: The Forty Years War: The Rise and Fall of the Neocons, from Nixon to Obama, December 8, 2009
  • Alice Morse Earle: Child Life in Colonial Times, (Paperback), December 18, 2009
  • C. S. Manegold: Ten Hills Farm: The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North, December 21, 2009
  • A. N. Wilson: Our Times: The Age of Elizabeth II, December 22, 2009
  • Rudy Tomedi: General Matthew Ridgway, December 30, 2009
  • Alison Weir: The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, January 5, 2010

DEPARTED:

  • Remembering Jean-François Bergier: Swiss historian: “You have to be responsible for your past,” the Swiss historian Jean-François Bergier once said. And he knew exactly how challenging that could be for his country… – Times Online (11-30-09)
  • Studs Terkel: Democracy Now! Tribute – Democracy Now (11-27-09)

Posted on Sunday, December 6, 2009 at 6:56 AM

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