History Buzz March 15, 2010: Reagan Fever & Revisiting Richard Hofstader

Reagan Fever & Revisiting Richard Hofstader





  • Conservatives on Texas school board revising curriculum, change history: Dr. McLeroy, addressing the Texas school board (Washington Monthly) The Texas Board of Education has approved a new school curriculum that will put a stamp on history and economics textbooks that will horrify some and be questioned by others…. – Examiner, 3-14-10
  • Larry Schweikart: University of Dayton historian criticizes textbooks for minimizing Reagan: …As for controversy, Professor Larry Schweikart of the University of Dayton, sees plenty in the textbooks he reviews. When vetting a history book, Schweikart first turns to any section discussing President Ronald Reagan. He says what you find there will tell you everything you need to know about whether or not a book is slanted. Schweikart believes that’s how many errors wind up in school textbooks: bias…. – FOX News (3-11-10)
  • Centuries-Old Shipwrecks Found in Baltic Sea: A gas company building an underwater pipeline stumbled upon several wrecks, some dating back 800 years…. A dozen centuries-old shipwrecks dating from medieval times to the world wars have been found. The ships were very well preserved because ship worms that eat wooden wrecks don’t live in the Baltic Sea. Thousands of similar wrecks have previously been found in the Baltic Sea…. – Discovery.com, 3-9-10
  • Jonathan D. Spense: Eminent China Scholar Will Deliver 2010 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities: Jonathan D. Spence, an expert on Chinese history and culture and a professor emeritus at Yale University, will deliver the 2010 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Humanities announced on Monday…. – Chronicle of Higher Education (3-8-10)
  • 45 years after Selma civil rights march, some see ways to go: Robert Powell and Maria Gitin had not seen each other in 45 years until Sunday, more than four decades after they rode a donkey together through rural Wilcox County to register voters. Gitin answered the Rev. Martin Luther King’s call for civil rights workers to come to Alabama after state and local law enforcement officers beat marchers trying to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on March 7, 1965…. – USA Today, 3-7-10
  • Reagan Fever: Ronald Reagan fever has not subsided in the GOP. The most recent flare-up came with the proposal of Congressman Patrick McHenry to replace Ulysses S. Grant with Ronald Reagan on the $50 bill. “President Reagan is indisputably one of the most transformative presidents of the 20th century,” McHenry wrote to his fellow members of Congress. “Like President Roosevelt on the dime and President Kennedy on the half-dollar, President Reagan deserves a place of honor on our nation’s currency.”
    Not exactly. It’s true that Reagan fans have been agitating for some time to memorialize the Gipper in a variety of ways, and, as the renaming of National Airport a few years ago indicates, they’ve been pretty successful. But putting him on the $50 bill doesn’t make much sense. For one thing, it’s unfair to Grant. As UCLA historian Joan Waugh, who has written a history of Grant, observed in the Los Angeles Times, he has gotten a bum historical rap….- National Interest, 3-12-10


  • Tevi Troy: Nerd is another word for smart Republicans have long been viewed as those who get gentleman’s “C” in the national classroom. In fact, it is almost a liberal trope to call Republican presidents “dumb.”
    Democrats, in contrast, are usually cited as the smart ones in American politics….
    But this simplistic analysis of smart Democrats contrasted with dumb Republicans does not fit reality. – Politico, 3-12-10


  • Ellen Fitzpatrick: Dear Mrs. Kennedy Book recalls grief of a nation, one condolence letter at a time: …But at least one of Jane’s notes ended up among the 200,000 pages that were sent to the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, where they sat largely ignored until historian Ellen Fitzpatrick decided to write “Letters to Jackie: Condolences From a Grieving Nation.”
    The book, released last week by HarperCollins, includes more than 200 never-before published letters divided into three categories: vivid recollections of the day Kennedy was killed; letters that express views on society, politics and the presidency, and personal experiences of grief and loss…. – AP, 3-14-10
  • Professor’s book shows delicate relationship between love, honor, and politics: “The Tyranny of Opinion,” written by Pablo Piccato, associate professor of history at Columbia, recounts an 1894 dispute between two politicians over a woman’s love…. – Columbia Spectator, 3-9-10
  • Ken Gormley: Southern Bound: ‘Death of American Virtue’ brings clarity: Good lord, how time marches on. It’s already been over a decade since the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal and the ensuing struggle to impeach President Bill Clinton riveted the nation. And now, in a project begun before the smoke had even cleared, we have a massive (800 pages, counting notes, bibliography and index) new book about the whole mess. Not interested? Think again, for if you have any curiosity about politics and power, “The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr” (Crown, $35) by Ken Gormley provides some much-needed balance and perspective on one of the most distasteful and divisive episodes in modern American history…. – Mobile Press-Register, 3-14-10
  • Anthony Brandt: The Frozen Unknown: THE MAN WHO ATE HIS BOOTS The Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage But the fabled Northwest Passage has returned to the news pages as a warming climate unlocks its deep channels, allowing access to hydrocarbons below the seabed. Anthony Brandt anchors his robust new history, “The Man Who Ate His Boots,” in that modern context…. – NYT, 3-11-10 Excerpt
  • Jonathan Phillips: Butchers and Saints: HOLY WARRIORS A Modern History of the Crusades It’s tempting to dismiss the crusaders’ piety as sheer hypocrisy. In fact, their faith was as pure as their savagery. As Jonathan Phillips observes in his excellent new history — in case we needed reminding at this late date — “faith lies at the heart of holy war.”…. – NYT, 3-11-10 Excerpt


  • Letter from America An Old Essay Used to Explain a New Movement: The name Richard Hofstadter has been summoned up a lot lately in liberal opinion columns and the blogosphere as an eloquent and intellectually impeccable explanation for political developments like the Tea Party movement, the stardom of Sarah Palin, and the claim on right-wing talk radio that Barack Obama is a “socialist,” maybe even a “bolshevik” leading America to ruin. Mr. Hofstadter was the highly respected, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian at Columbia University among whose most famous essays was one called “The Paranoid Style of American Politics,” published in Harper’s Magazine in 1964, which is the piece of writing being cited most often these days…. – NYT, 3-11-10


  • Amy Strebe: US honors pioneering women military pilots: Amy Strebe, a historian and author of “Flying for her Country,” said the tribute came not a moment too soon. “This is the time to do it. In a couple of years they are not going to be with us anymore,” she said. – AFP, 3-10-10


  • Q+A: Interview with historian Simon Schama Dr Simon Schama interviewed by PAUL HOLMES: PAUL So you are anti federation. Obama – let’s talk about Barack Obama, of whom you are a keen student, he’s been President for what nearly a year, just over a year, and on the matter of Obama he’s called off his trip of Asia and I think Melbourne for I think three days, this is because the White House seems to think Simon that he can possibly get his health reform through very shortly. Is he going to be able to do that do you think, realistically.
    SIMON I think he is actually, we’re in act three of Obama actually Paul, I think act one was the extraordinary campaign he ran, the unrealistic expectations that him as some sort of American messiah, someone who’d bring Americans together at a moment of multiple crises. Act two was Obama being so convinced that he could bring Americans into that great national cuddle and getting on as a policy wonk person with the day to day business of governing that he forgot about politics. Act two between Spring and Christmas last year he absolutely lost the political plot, he lost all the toughness which is there underneath the rather philosophical lofty nice guy. Act three he’s decided to be much more of a fighter, and the business of health care reform is he’s using a process called reconciliation, which is sort of the opposite of what it sounds. It is a way to use the budgetary process to get through pieces of legislation that don’t require a super majority of filibuster proof majority, just a simple majority. It was thought to be so-called nuclear option, something that could blow back in political disadvantage, but George Bush used it to enact taxcuts and that takes away an issue from the Republicans, he’s gonna use that for health care reform, and he’s gonna use it for financial regulation reform, and my bet is even though Republicans think it will polarise the country more, the country will actually be grateful for seeing a tougher more decisive President…. – TV New Zealand, 3-14-10


  • Janet Gezari: Professor´s fellowship fosters Euro-American relations at the American Academy in Berlin: There is no typical day for Professor Janet Gezari at the American Academy in Berlin, where she is spending the semester as the Siemens Fellow. One minute she’ll be dining with a famous opera director or visiting the Federal President’s office, and deeply engaged in her research or exploring the sites of Berlin in the next. “This is a remarkable opportunity for me,” Gezari, the Lucy Marsh Haskell ’19 Professor of English, said. “In addition to ideal conditions for working, I have the opportunity to get to know Berlin and Berliners.”…. – Connecticut College, 3-12-10
  • Joseph Bergin: Manchester historian honoured A University of Manchester historian has received one of the Europe’s oldest and most important history prizes: Professor Joseph Bergin was given the prize this month from the French Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres for his book Church, society and religious change in France 1580-1730. It recognizes the most important works published on the history of France, and is rarely given to non-French language publications. “It is a great honour to receive this award, and recognition that this book is now regarded as most comprehensive account written in any language – French included – of the subject and period,” said Professor Bergin… – Manchester News, 3-11-10


  • Bernard Bailyn: Pulitzer Prize-Winner Offers Lesson in History: Bernard Bailyn, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning historian,and professor of early American history at Harvard University, treated an intimate audience gathered in Fulton Hall Tuesday evening to an unconventional lecture on the context and piecemeal construction of the American Constitution. “I am very much interested in the contingencies, accidents, personalities, and timing that play into the outcome of historical events,” Bailyn said in his introduction. Bailyn said that the writing and interpretation of the American Constitution was the “perfect example” of the outcome of such a strange mixture of factors, pointing out what he described as the numerous Constitutional accidents, compromises, and contingencies that undermine the modern-day sense of the document’s inevitability…. – BC’s The Heights, 3-11-10


  • Donald L. Miller: HBO sought Easton professor’s expertise for ‘The Pacific’ war series HBO’s ‘THE PACIFIC’: A simple question from his 6-year-old granddaughter inspired Easton historian Donald L. Miller to start writing about World War II. Miller, a Lafayette College history professor, has since written three books on the history of World War II. That led him to his latest project, as historical consultant and a writer for HBO’s ”The Pacific.” The 10-part miniseries on the U.S. Marine Corps’ World War II campaign in the Pacific begins airing at 9 tonight. Its producers include Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg…. – Morning Call, 3-14-10
  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
  • PBS American Experience: Mondays at 9pm
  • History Channel: Weekly Schedule



  • Nicholas Schou: Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love, and Acid to the World, (Hardcover) March 16, 2010
  • Timothy M. Gay: Satch, Dizzy, and Rapid Robert: The Wild Saga of Interracial Baseball Before Jackie Robinson, (Hardcover) March 16, 2010
  • Miranda Carter: George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I, (Hardcover) March 23, 2010
  • John W. Steinberg: All the Tsar’s Men: Russia’s General Staff and the Fate of the Empire, 1898-1914, (Hardcover) April 1, 2010
  • Simon Dixon: Catherine the Great, (Paperback) April 6, 2010
  • J. Todd Moye: Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, (Hardcover) April 12, 2010
  • Seth G. Jones: In the Graveyard of Empires: America’s War in Afghanistan (Paperback) April 12, 2010
  • Nick Bunker: Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History, (Hardcover) April 13, 2010
  • Dominic Lieven: Russia Against Napoleon: The True Story of the Campaigns of War and Peace, (Hardcover), April 15, 2010
  • Timothy J. Henderson: The Mexican Wars for Independence, (Paperback) April 13, 2010
  • Hampton Sides: Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin, (Hardcover) April 27, 2010
  • Max Hastings: Winston’s War: Churchill, 1940-1945, (Hardcover) April 27, 2010
  • Bradley Gottfried: The Maps of Gettysburg: An Atlas of the Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 – July 13, 1863, (Hardcover) April 19, 2010
  • Kelly Hart: The Mistresses of Henry VIII, (Paperback) May 1, 2010
  • Mark Puls: Henry Knox: Visionary General of the American Revolution, (Paperback) May 11, 2010


  • Professor Jack Pole’s reassessment of American ‘exceptionalism’: Professor Jack Pole, the historian who died on January 30 aged 87, was a pioneering figure in the study of American political culture whose challenge to the notion of American “exceptionalism” ignited a debate that has yet to burn out…. – Telegraph (UK), 3-13-10
  • Richard Stites, Historian of Russian Culture, Dies at 78: Richard Stites, who opened up new territory for historians with a landmark work on the Russian women’s movement and in numerous articles and books on Russian and Soviet mass culture, died on Sunday in Helsinki, where he was doing research. He was 78 and lived in Washington. The cause was complications from cancer, his son Andrei said…. – NYT (3-13-10)
  • Thomas Garden Barnes, Berkeley professor and advocate of Canadian history, dies at 80: UC Berkeley history and law professor emeritus Thomas Garden Barnes, who was known as an erudite academe of English, French, American and Canadian law and history, died Tuesday. He was 80…. – The Daily Californian (3-11-10)
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