History Buzz February 16, 2014: Finalists Announced for 2014 George Washington Book Prize

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Two Univ. of Virginia professors among finalists for George Washington Book Prize

Source: WaPo, 2-16-14

(Courtesy of W.W. Norton) Two professors at the University of Virginia — Alan Taylor and Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy — are among the three finalists for this year’s George Washington Book prize. The $50,000 award, one of the country’s most lucrative literary prizes, recognizes the best new book about early American history….READ MORE

Alan Taylor, “The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832″ (Norton)

Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy, “The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire” (Yale)

Jeffrey L. Pasley, “The First Presidential Contest: 1796 and the Founding of American Democracy” (Kansas)

History Headlines December 22, 2013: John Eisenhower, Military Historian and Son of the President, Dies at 91

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HISTORY MAKING HEADLINES

John Eisenhower, Military Historian and Son of the President, Dies at 91

Source: NYT, 12-22-13

Mr. Eisenhower, the son of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the five-star general turned president, forged his own career in the Army and then chronicled the history of the military in numerous books….READ MORE

History Buzz May 15, 2013: Historian Robert Dallek on President Barack Obama & the 2nd Presidential Term Curse

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Historian Robert Dallek on Obama and the 2nd-term curse

Source: USA Today, 5-15-13

In this episode of Capital Download, This Week with Susan Page, award-winning presidential historian Robert Dallek talks about the difficult week President Obama has faced and how this could be an example of the second-term “curse.

1dallek

Historian Robert Dallek discussed the second-term curse with USA TODAY.(Photo: Garrett Hubbard for USA TODAY)

Is there a second-term curse? Historian Robert Dallek thinks there just might be — and President Obama’s current travails could be the latest example.

“After one party loses two elections in a row, there’s sort of blood in the water,” Dallek said in an interview Wednesday on USA TODAY’s weekly newsmaker video series, Capital Download. “They’re really eager to strike back and reduce the influence, the control of second-term presidents.” What’s more, a president’s shortcomings have had time to surface after four years in office….READ MORE

History Buzz April 15, 2013: Top Young Historian Fredrik Logevall: Cornell History Professor, Wins Pulitzer Prize for Book on Vietnam War

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Fredrik Logevall, Cornell History Professor, Wins Pulitzer Prize for Book on Vietnam War

Source: Cornell Sun, 4-15-13

Top Young Historian Profile, 45: Fredrik Logevall, 2-26-07

Prof. Fredrik Logevall, history,  was “stunned” when he learned Monday that he had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his book, Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam.

“It was a shock to get the news,” said Logevall, who is also the director of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies. ..

Embers of War is a history of the early years in the Vietnam struggle, beginning at the end of World War I and examining the next 40 years in the country’s history, Logevall said. The book is a prequel to Choosing War, Logevall’s Ph.D. dissertation — which was published as a book in 2001 — about heavy U.S. involvement in Vietnam….READ MORE

History Buzz April 15, 2013: 2013 Pulitzer Prizes for Letters, Drama and Music

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History Buzz

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2013 Pulitzer Prizes for Letters, Drama and Music

Source: NYT, 4-15-13

FICTION

ADAM JOHNSON

The Orphan Master’s Son” (Random House)

Finalists Nathan Englander, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank”; Eowyn Ivey, “The Snow Child.”

DRAMA

AYAD AKHTAR

“Disgraced”

Finalists Gina Gionfriddo, “Rapture, Blister, Burn”; Amy Herzog, “4000 Miles.”

HISTORY

FREDRIK LOGEVALL

Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam” (Random House)

Finalists Bernard Bailyn, “The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675; John Fabian Witt, “Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History.”

BIOGRAPHY

TOM REISS

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo” (Crown)

Finalists Michael Gorra, “Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece”; David Nasaw, “The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy.”

POETRY

SHARON OLDS

“Stag’s Leap” (Alfred A. Knopf)

Finalists Jack Gilbert, “Collected Poems”; Bruce Weigl, “The Abundance of Nothing.”

GENERAL NONFICTION

GILBERT KING

“Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America” (Harper)

Finalists Katherine Boo, “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity”; David George Haskell, “The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature.

MUSIC

CAROLINE SHAW

“Partita for 8 Voices” (New Amsterdam Records)

Finalists Aaron Jay Kernis, “Pieces of Winter Sky”; Wadada Leo Smith, “Ten Freedom Summers.”

History Buzz March 8, 2013: Julian Zelizer interviews John Milton Cooper Jr.: Princeton’s Wilson School celebrates centennial of Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration as US president

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Wilson School celebrates centennial of Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration as U.S. president

Source: Woodrow Wilson School Office of Communications, 3-8-13

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson as the 28th President of the United States, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs hosted a conversation with Wilson biographer John Milton Cooper Jr., Class of 1961.

Cooper, author of “Woodrow Wilson: A Biography,” was interviewed Feb. 21 by Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian who is a professor of history and public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School. The event celebrating the centennial of Wilson’s inauguration March 14, 1913, was co-sponsored by the Wilson School and the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum….READ MORE

History Buzz February 28, 2013: Robert Caro Wins National Book Critics Circle 2012 Award for Biography

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Caro wins National Book Critics Circle bio prize

Source: AP, 2-28-13

‘The Passage of Power’

'The Passage of Power'

Random House via Bloomberg

“The Passage of Power,” by Robert A. Caro, who won the National Book Critics Circle’s 2012 award for biography.

Author Robert Caro is again the critics’ choice.

Caro’s fourth Lyndon Baines Johnson book, “The Passage of Power,” won the National Book Critics Circle biography prize on Thursday night. The 77-year-old historian has won virtually every literary honor for his Johnson series, from the Pulitzer Prize to the National Book Award to three prizes from the critics circle, founded in 1974, around the time he started on the LBJ books…..READ MORE

History Buzz February 21, 2013: Robert Caro wins $50,000 American History Book Prize from the New York Historical Society

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Robert Caro wins $50,000 history prize

Source: AP, 2-21-13

  Historian Robert Caro.

Historian Robert Caro

Robert Caro has won yet another literary prize, this one worth $50,000.

The New-York Historical Society announced Thursday that Caro had won its American History Book Prize for the fourth volume of his Lyndon Johnson series, The Passage of Power….READ MORE

History Buzz January 31, 2013: Matt Wasniewski: House of Representatives Historian Launches Website

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History Buzz

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House of Representatives Historian Launches Website

Source: ABC News, 1-31-13

US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives – www.history.house.gov/

Discover the rich heritage of “the People’s House” and its central role in U.S. history since 1789. Explore its unique story and the men and women who have shaped it. Browse its collections. Access historical data and other research resources.

Top Newsmakers Profile: Matthew A. Wasniewski, 10-21-10, by Bonnie K. Goodman 

PHOTO: One of the most innovative and daring politicians of the 20th century was also a triskaidekaphobe. Franklin D. Roosevelt would not travel when the 13th fell on a Friday. Along with Napoleon, J. Paul Getty and Herbert Hoover, he was one of history's

One of the most innovative and daring politicians of the 20th century was also a triskaidekaphobe. Franklin D. Roosevelt would not travel when the 13th fell on a Friday. Along with Napoleon, J. Paul Getty and Herbert Hoover, he was one of history’s great triskaidekaphobes. (FPG/Getty Images)

Looks like the House of Representatives has officially caught up with the times.

Imagine it is Dec. 8, 1941. President Franklin D. Roosevelt has just addressed Congress in order to request declaration of war after Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

Which congressman fought in favor of war and who was vehemently against it?

You don’t need to head to a museum to find out. A new website allows history buffs to hear the arguments and first-hand accounts of these events in the comfort of their own living rooms.

The Office of the House Historian and Clerk of the House’s Office of Art and Archives together launched the website, which provides a roundup on the nearly 11,000 members who’ve served in the House, on Dec. 28. The website contains nearly 1,000 items in its database that consists of everything House-related — from wonky photos to vintage furniture to congressional baseball cards….READ MORE

History Buzz January 20, 2013: David McCullough: Gerald Ford among greatest presidents, famed historian says as Obama inauguration nears

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Gerald Ford among greatest presidents, famed historian says as Obama inauguration nears

Source: MLive, 1-20-13

gerald r. ford.JPGGerald R. Ford announcing the pardon of Richard M Nixon from the Oval Office Sept. 8, 1974. The pardon has led one historian to deem Ford one of the greatest presidents. AP File Photo

The decision by Grand Rapids native and former President Gerald R. Ford to pardon his disgraced predecessor after the Watergate scandal has put him in the pantheon of great presidents.

That’s according to noted historian David McCullough, speaking to CBS News’s Barry Petersen, who cited Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon as “one of the bravest decisions ever” as reason for his claim….READ MORE

History Buzz January 14, 2013: Douglas Brinkley Hails ‘Warm and Engaging’ President Barack Obama

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History Buzz

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Douglas Brinkley Hails ‘Warm and Engaging’ Obama

Source: Newsbusters.org, 1-14-13

After President Obama’s Monday press conference, liberal historian Douglas Brinkley fawned over him on CNN as a “warm and engaging man,” pitted against Republicans who “don’t want to be in a photo-op with him.”

“I don’t think we can blame the President for his style. I think it’s just another part of this terrible political gridlock we have. President Obama is a warm and engaging man,” Brinkley complimented the President. [Video below the break. Audio here.]

Brinkley laughably added that “he [Obama] is plenty friendly to everybody he meets, including reporters.” Did he miss the President’s testy exchange with Major Garrett of CBS News, where Obama lectured Garrett that “This is the United States of America, Major”? Perhaps Obama is “friendly” only to the reporters who don’t ask him tough questions….READ MORE

History Buzz January 3, 2013: Gerda Lerner: Women’s studies pioneer and University of Wisconsin professor emerita, dies at 92

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Gerda Lerner, women’s studies pioneer and UW professor emerita, dies at 92

Source: Wisconsin State Journal, 1-3-13

Gerda Lerner

Gerda Lerner

State Journal archives

“The history of women had been forgotten, oppressed, silenced and marginalized until the last 30 years. I’m one of the people that helped bring that history alive, to point out it was valid and important,” Gerda Lerner said in 2002, five years after this photo was taken. The pioneer of women’s studies died Wednesday night in Madison at age 92.

Enlarge Photo

Long before Gerda Lerner helped redefine the study of history to give women a more prominent place in it and before she established the doctorate program in U.S. women’s history at UW-Madison in the 1980s, she had to live through one of history’s worst horrors and — barely — survive it.

Lerner (then Kronstein), who died Wednesday night in Madison at age 92, spent her 18th birthday in a Nazi jail in Vienna expecting death and being fed food scraps by two gentile cellmates after authorities cut rations to Jews.

“They taught me how to survive,” Lerner told the State Journal in 2001. “Everything I needed to get through the rest of my life I learned in jail in those six weeks.”

Lerner, UW-Madison professor emerita of women’s studies, was able to escape alone to New York in the late 1930s. Decades later she started an academic career as a historian of women who led a movement almost from its infancy, eventually writing 11 books, earning 18 honorary degrees and in 2002 becoming the first woman recipient of the prestigious Bruce Catton Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Historical Writing from the Society of American Historians.

“She’s one of two people from what you might call the eldest generation of this wave of women’s history,” said Linda Gordon, a New York University professor who taught women’s history at UW-Madison with Lerner in the 1980s and 1990s. “She had an enormous influence.”…READ MORE

History Buzz January 3-6, 2013: American Historical Association 127th Annual Meeting in New Orleans Recap: Historians Look Back, and Inward, at Annual Meeting

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127th Annual Meeting

Source: AHA 2013

New Orleans, January 3–6, 2013

2012 Logo

General Information

The 127th annual meeting of the Association will be held January 3–6, 2012, in New Orleans at the New Orleans Marriott and Sheraton New Orleans. With 272 sessions, the program is one of the largest ever assembled by the Program Committee. The AHA has previously met in New Orleans two times, in 1903 and in 1972. More than 1,500 scholars will participate in AHA sessions, and four dozen specialized societies will meet in conjunction with the AHA. William Cronon (Univ. of Wisconsin–Madison) will deliver the presidential address the evening of January 4 during the General Meeting. At the same event, the AHA’s book prizes, the Awards for Scholarly Distinction, and other awards will be announced. Many of the profession’s most distinguished members will be present to deliver papers and more than 1,500 scholars will participate.

Historians Look Back, and Inward, at Annual Meeting

Source: NYT, 1-4-13
 
Sessions at American Historical Association conference look at storytelling, used goods, and the relationship between horses and humans across three continents.

Some 4,000 historians descended on New Orleans on Thursday for the American Historical Association’s four-day annual meeting, replacing the chants of departing Sugar Bowl revelers with more sober talk of job interviews, departmental politics, and — at least in the official panels — the past itself.

As usual, the meeting’s 300-plus sessions touched on contemporary issues like climate change, the 2012 presidential election, and the Arab Spring, along with more purely scholarly topics big (“Horstory: Equines and Humans in Africa, Asia and North America”) and small (“Trash and Treasure: The Significance of Used Goods in America, 1880-1950″). But for many in attendance, the most urgent question was the state of the historical profession itself in an era of budget cuts and declining humanities enrollments….READ MORE

History Buzz March 19, 2012: Geoffrey Parker: Ohio State University professor awarded the Dr. A.H. Heineken Prize for History

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OSU professor awarded top international prize

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, 3-19-12

Ohio State University history professor Geoffrey Parker has been awarded the Dr. A.H. Heineken Prize for History by the 200-year old Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The prize is given biennially to recognize international scholars in five fields who exemplify the highest levels of accomplishment in their areas. Recipients will receive a $150,000 cash award at a special ceremony later this year in Amsterdam. Although several of the past Heineken History Prize winners teach at American universities, Parker is the first Ohio State historian to be selected.

The selection committee cited Parker’s “outstanding scholarship on the social, political and military history of Europe between 1500 and 1650, in particular Spain, Phillip II, and the Dutch revolt; for contributions to military history in general; and for research in the role of climate in world history.”
“This is the sort of honor that, if it comes at all, only comes once,” Parker said. “It’s a particular privilege for me to join my OSU colleague and friend earth scientist Lonnie Thompson, who won a Heineken Prize for his work in environmental sciences back in 2002″
Parker was nominated for the award by history department chairman Peter Hahn, who said Parker has published 36 books, is perhaps the world’s foremost authority on early modern European history, and has an established record of expertise in military history and world history.  “Moreover, he has shaped the minds and won the hearts of thousands of students over his 45 years in the classroom,” Hahn said….READ MORE

History Buzz March 9, 2012: Julian Zelizer: Dual life as scholar, mainstream news pundit

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Zelizer: Dual life as scholar, mainstream news pundit

Source: Daily Princetonian, 3-9-12

Related: Top Newsmakers: This Week… Julian Zelizer: Assessing the Bush Presidency & “Decision Points” in the Media, Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman, HNN, 10-11-10

Photo by Ananda Zhu
History and Wilson School professor Julian Zelizer has appeared 18 times on Bloomberg television in the past month.

Like many American fathers, after Wilson School professor Julian Zelizer wakes up in the morning, he takes his kids to school and then heads to the gym. But instead of watching sports highlights or listening to music while he lifts weights, Zelizer mulls over ideas for his weekly CNN column.

It is rare for professors to appear in mass media as much as Zelizer does. In addition to teaching HIS 583: Readings in American Political History this semester, Zelizer has appeared 18 times on Bloomberg television in the past month. On Sept. 10, he authored a column in The New York Times about the history of one-term presidents. Two days later, he was back in his home outlet, penning away on the political legacy of 9/11.

Throughout his tenure as a professor, Zelizer has made somewhat of a career out of radio, television and opinion political commentaries. He has established his status as a public intellectual in the pundit-dominated world of media.

Zelizer’s commentary focuses on contemporary politics, and he said that he often tries to put current events in historical perspectives for viewers or readers.

“So what’s going on in the elections now? Have we seen some of this before, or what can we learn from the past? That’s usually what people want me for,” Zelizer said.

Zelizer, whose mother Viviana Zelizer is a sociology professor at the University, grew up in what he described as an academic family. During his undergraduate years at Brandeis University, he developed a passion for politics and began to aspire to a career in which he could learn and teach about politics.

According to Zelizer, his first media appearance was a completely chance occurrence. During his first academic job as a professor of history and public policy at SUNY Albany, a local television network reached out to him for comment on the ongoing impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

“One of the local televisions was putting a panel together on the issue on campus, and they invited me to appear,” Zelizer said. “They kept having me back after that.”

The media’s requests for Zelizer to appear continued, and were occasionally beyond the purview of his primary area of expertise. In what he said was “the single outlier” in his long history of political commentary, Zelizer made a series of appearances on the local production of Monday Night Football.

“I was at a restaurant bar, and they were doing a local sports show live,” Zelizer said. “The football host said, ‘Does anyone here like the New York Jets?’ which is my favorite team, and I raised my hand.”

“They had so much fun with the [idea of a] professor who knew so much about football, and for several years I would go every Monday … and [do] these 15-minute clips on the professor taking calls about the NY Jets.”

While he said he remembered the incident, as funny stories, these appearances actually helped solidify his presence as a media mainstay.

As he began making more and more political commentary in the public sphere, Zelizer noticed that his work in the media bolstered his skills as a professor.

“It sometimes helps with my teaching, because when you are on a radio show or write op-ed, there’s a certain amount of clarity you need to achieve,” Zelizer said.

While on the air, he said, he needs to be succinct and cannot expect his audience to be familiar with the issues he is discussing. These skills are transferrable to the classroom.

“When I come into the classroom, it’s helped me to really think through the assumptions I have about what students know and help me be clear on some of the big issues,” Zelizer said.

Additionally, he noted that his weekly column for CNN has helped him get in the habit of writing consistently, which has perhaps made the process of writing eight published books considerably more manageable.

Zelizer’s combination of scholarship and media appearances has produced a synergy effect, according to politics professor Martin Gilens, who is teaching POL 327: Mass Media and American Politics this semester.

“Good scholarship takes substantial time and effort,” Gilens said. “But scholarship in the social sciences and humanities can be strengthened by the discipline of thinking broadly about public issues and about the implications of academic insights for matters of public importance.”

Gilens said that Zelizer’s commentary has provided the public with access to thoughtful, well-informed commentary on the important issues facing the country and the world.

“So much ‘punditry’ these days is ignorant or partisan or both,” Gilens said. “Professor Zelizer’s ability to bring his insights as a political historian to a wider public audience makes an important contribution to the quality of the public debate.”

Zelizer said that he does not have any trouble balancing his public appearances with his teaching and responsibilities at the University. He said he usually teaches courses on subjects that he is working on at the moment and added that he normally teaches three courses a year.

Last semester, Zelizer taught WWS 460: The Great Society and Social Policymaking and WWS 529: Great Leadership in Historical Perspective, a course open to graduate students in the Wilson School about the leadership styles of people who have been successful in politics.

Julia Blount ’12, a history major who has Zelizer as her thesis advisor, said that Zelizer successfully balances his life as an academic and a commentator.

“I don’t think that his involvement in the media has influenced the way he has advised my thesis at all, at least not in terms of the content of the feedback he provides,” Blount said. “It quickly became clear to me that his involvement in the fast-paced world of the media has made him one of the most responsive professors on campus in terms of returning emails … which I really appreciate.”

Another advantage that Zelizer’s public profile brings to the University is a deep Rolodex of public figures who are sometimes difficult to get in contact with. Among the guests Zelizer has helped bring to campus are a filmmaker who made a documentary on AIDS in Africa and the mayor of Philadelphia, who spoke to the campus community about urban politics and poverty.

“It has been effective that I get to bring interesting people for the students to meet,” said Zelizer, who often speaks on campus and in the local community himself, usually about elections or his research.

Zelizer said that his greatest assets are his passion for the subjects he works with and his efficiency in getting work done.

“I like to work in my office,” Zelizer said. “I love to be here. If I have class, I prepare for it. If I’m writing, I work on the book I’m working on a little bit.”

Throughout the process of writing the 300 editorials, 13 books and numerous academic papers he has published during his time as a professor at the University, Zelizer has developed specific writing techniques and strategies.

“Being methodical is a very important strategy,” Zelizer said. “It’s not you sitting on the top of the mountain and it all comes out; you have to sit down and think through what you want to do. Every day, I kind of build this up.”

Though becoming such a visible public figure was something he said he never anticipated, he noted that he is very satisfied with his dual roles as a University professor and public intellectual.

“I feel fortunate to have this job,” Zelizer said. “When I started, I thought [the media] was a one-time thing; I never pursued it. It’s been a pleasure to write. It’s an honor to participate in public life.”

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