June 15, 2004

History links of the day

Last weekend I came home to Boston for a week, mainly to do some research in the Harvard libraries. That's cut down on my blogging time, but I'll be posting more soon. Until I do, here are some more links:

  • In the new Washington Monthly, Benjamin Wallace-Wells profiles Niall Ferguson, everyone's favorite conservative Scottish historian. In another Monthly article, Adam Clymer reviews Joel Achenbach's new book on George Washington.
  • In American Heritage, Joshua Zeitz argues that a key to understanding the current plight of the Democrats is to understand the divisions that plagued the party at its 1964 convention.
  • Yesterday's New York Times features this fascinating article, which discusses the discovery of two first-person narratives written by freed slaves. As the article points out, these narratives " speak to a lively debate in recent slavery studies: to what degree did Lincoln emancipate the slaves, and to what degree were they already emancipating themselves as the war ravaged the South?"
  • In The American Scientist, Anthony Grafton reviews David Christian's recent attempt to write an introduction to "big history" and discusses the relationship between history and science. A physicist named Shawn Carlson, meanwhile, reviews several recent books on Benjamin Franklin's science.
  • The Washington Post discusses how George Washington's home at Mount Vernon is being updated for the times. (I wish the article had discussed whether the changes are for the best: do visitors to Mount Vernon really need to see "a Hollywood-style film about George Washington, a multimedia presentation of the crossing of the Delaware River that includes snow falling on visitors, and new displays for the rhinestone shoe buckles he wore at his inauguration, his ceremonial sword and his famous false teeth"?)
  • Slate discusses why Soviet wrestlers are mourning the death of Ronald Reagan.
  • What happened to a missing Diego Rivera mural depicting Mao and Stalin? The Seattle Times reports.
  • What lessons should Russia teach us about Iraq? The Gadflyer reports.
  • Reading several recent posts by Josh Marshall, I've been reminded of just how much America has changed since 1960. Until recently, John Kerry's Catholic faith was barely noticed by the press--a stark contrast with John F. Kennedy's 1960 campaign. (That's changed now that the voting records of Catholic politicians have become increasingly prominent, and now that George W. Bush has begun talking U.S. politics with the pope.) In 1960, Kennedy had to fend off charges that he'd be an unthinking supporter of the pope; in 2004, Kerry has needed to fight off accusations that he's been unsufficiently supportive of Catholic doctrine. Finally, as Marshall points out, Kennedy "had to foreswear that he'd follow the instructions of the Pope in his decisions of governance. Today we have a Protestant born-again [president] who tries to enlist the Pope to intervene in an American election."

On an unrelated note, I was weirdly intrigued by Chris Suellentrop's Slate assessment of Jim Davis, the creator of Garfield. It's a fairly convincing account of how one of the least amusing comic strips around became a marketing juggernaut.

Posted by Ed at June 15, 2004 12:21 PM
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