History

Johnsonian gleanings

Featured image I think we have a bone to pick with Google, but I am grateful for the Google doodle reminding us that today is the anniversary of the birth of Samuel Johnson. On the occasion of the 300th anniversary last year, Alan Jacobs offered the fine Books & Culture tribute “Man of sorrow.” I awakened to Johnson under the tutelage of Professor Jeffrey Hart, who required us to absorb Johnson’s great »

Why were we in Vietnam?

Featured image One of my daughters made it to the finals of the Minnesota History Day competition at the University of Minnesota in the winter of 1999. Her presentation was devoted to William Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of blood. It wasn’t a sexy subject, but I thought her presentation at least had the virtue of accuracy. I spent the whole day with her as she made it from the initial round »

Three Cheers for Imperialism

Featured image It stands to reason that any academic who stands up for old fashioned imperialism is asking for it. Last week, Third World Quarterly (does that just sound like the best name ever?) published “The Case for Colonialism,” by Prof. Bruce Gilley of Portland State University. Now, I’m thinking that the good Prof. Gilley must go around in disguise in Portland, or perhaps he is punking everybody. Just take in the »

Coates Versus Douglass

Featured image Ta-Nehesi Coates has a new essay out about Trump that is generating a lot of buzz, entitled “The First White President.” Here are a couple of excerpts about what he has to say about Trump: He is preeminently the white man’s President, entirely devoted to the welfare of white men. He is ready and willing at any time during the first year of his administration to deny, postpone, and sacrifice »

A day to be proud…

Featured image I first wrote about Rick Rescorla in 2003 after finishing James Stewart’s Heart of a Soldier, the book based on Stewart’s New Yorker article “The real heroes are dead.” (“The real heroes are dead” is what Rescorla would say in response to recognition of his heroism on the battlefield in Vietnam.) It’s a good book that touches on profound themes in a thought-provoking way: life and death, love and friendship, »

Can the left do without identity politics?

Featured image Anis Shivani argues in Slate that it’s time for the left to give up on identity politics because this approach is dragging down the progressive agenda. He acknowledges, however, that it’s too late for such a change of course. I agree. It would take decades for decades worth of indoctrination to be undone. I also question Shivani’s premise to this extent: it may well be that, for all of its »

Romanticizing the Detroit riots

Featured image This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the Detroit riots of 1967. Michael Barone reminds us that the rioting went on for six nights, with some 2,500 stores looted and burnt, some 400 families displaced, and property damage estimated at around $300 million in 2017 dollars. Forty-three people, many of them innocent bystanders, were killed. More than 1,000 people were wounded. Even so, the riots were always going to be »

Terry McAuliffe changes his tune on statues

Featured image Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is a slippery customer. In 2015, McAuliffe favored keeping Virginia’s monuments to Confederate leaders, arguing that “these are part of our heritage.” “Leave the statues and those things alone,” he told MSNBC. But just two years later, McAuliffe supports local governments that want to take statues of Robert E. Lee and others down. How does he explain this shift? He did so yesterday by telling Jake »

Statue of Limitations (2)

Featured image Further to my comments the other day about the issues emerging from Charlottesville, a few more observations and interrogatories: It is understandable that Democrats would be agitating to remove Confederate-honoring statues. After all, it is their history that they need to make go away. You know, things like this: I won’t vouch for the accuracy of the histogram below (after all, it was produced by a hate group, the Southern »

Trump defends monuments to Confederates

Featured image Today, President Trump tweeted: Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. I disagree that taking down statues of and monuments to Confederate generals and soldiers rips apart the history and culture of our country. Our history doesn’t change when a monument is removed. And how we view history inevitably changes from generation to generation, »

What was Dunkirk?

Featured image Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk is the blockbuster film depicting the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from France over four days in late May 1940. British, French and Canadian troops had been cut off by the German Army. In his history of the war, Gerhard Weinberg writes that “it looked as if Great Britain would lose nearly its whole army including the professional officers who would be »

Statues of Limitation

Featured image So we seem to be on our way to tearing down every statue related to the Democratic Party’s largest achievement in American history—the Confederate States of America. Funny how the Confederate battle flag, and now statues, didn’t start to come down until Republicans became ascendant in southern states. Democrats who had a monopoly grip on the South for decades had lots of time to take these steps, but didn’t. You’d »

A monument falls in Durham

Featured image The crazed left has an uncontrollable urge not just to vent, but to destroy. The latest manifestation is the destruction in Durham, North Carolina of a monument to Confederate soldiers (“the boys who wore gray”). I have no problem with removing monuments to Confederate generals and soldiers if that’s what the public wants. The monuments were erected because those in control of the political process at the time considered them »

Thomas Jefferson: Useful again, for a few days

Featured image Charlottesville, scene of a hate rally and of awful violence this weekend, was the home town of Thomas Jefferson. Virginia’s liberal governor Terry McAuliffe was among those who invoked Jefferson when condemning the alt-right. McAuliffe said: Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you. You pretend that you are patriots, but you are anything but a patriot. You want to talk about patriots, talk about »

Never enough, Yale edition

Featured image Wherever craven liberal authorities hold sway, the quest to bring our past into conformity with the wave of our totalitarian leftist future continues with token resistance, it any at all. Yale University presents a useful case in point. At NRO Kyle Smith notes that “Yale’s determination to take a giant jar of Wite-Out to history has reached a new level of fatuousness.” Smith points to the Yale Alumni Magazine report »

The Story Behind the Roto-Broil 400

Featured image Burnt Toast is a podcast about food. I normally wouldn’t hear it, but my wife urged me to listen to this episode. Burnt Toast had done a podcast on the Roto-Broil 400, one of the premier kitchen devices of the early 1960s. The Roto-Broil remains a cult item that is still in use in some homes. After that podcast, the producer received a message that led to a follow-up, which »

“Would I have done the same?”

Featured image Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin made a big impact on me. The subject of Larson’s book is the American ambassador to Germany, William Dodd, and his daughter, Martha, from the time Dodd was offered the ambassador’s job by President Roosevelt in 1933 to the Night of the Long Knives in May 1934. Dodd was something like Roosevelt’s fourth choice »