History

The Ken Burns version

Featured image Having lived through the period of maximum American participation in the Vietnam War as an interested observer and antiwar protester, I have come to doubt much of what I believed to be true at the time. For example, I took at face value the pseudo scholarly 1967 account of The United States in Vietnam by George M. Kahin and John W. Lewis. Kahin and Lewis asserted that the conflict was »

Leo Baeck, Berlin, 1935

Featured image Jews begin the observance of Yom Kippur at sundown tonight with the Kol Nidre prayer service. A couple of years ago a Christian friend asked to join us at the service we attend. During the service she pointed in our prayer book to an adaptation of the prayer composed by the reformist German Rabbi Leo Baeck for delivery in German synagogues during the Kol Nidre service on October 10, 1935. »

Hillary, Bunny, and John Edwards

Featured image Many decades ago, what is now the Style Section of the Washington Post was called the Women’s Page (or Pages, I don’t remember which). I never read the Women’s Page, but a bit of gossip in today’s paper strikes me as perfect grist for that mill. To be fair, it also relates to style, or the lack thereof. The Post tells us, per a new book, that heiress Bunny Mellon »

Boo, Hiss

Featured image Michael Walsh likes to say of the left, “They never stop; they never sleep; they never quit.” Which is why Michael advises that our constant disposition should always be: crush the left. A small but telling case in point is Alger Hiss. Is there anyone still around who thinks he wasn’t guilty of being an agent of Soviet influence, if not much worse? You’d have thought that Allen Weinstein’s Perjury »

If you liked Ike

Featured image Dwight Eisenhower was one of the greatest Americans of the twentieth century. As Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, he led the United States to victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. As president of the United States, he presided over a period of normalcy and peace with many accomplishments that benefited the country. A memorial is to be erected on the mall in Washington, DC, in his honor. »

Ken Burns’s “The Vietnam War”

Featured image Mark Moyar is the historian and author of Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War 1954-1965, the revisionist history of the Vietnam war as well as other important books. Mark is director of the Project on Military and Diplomatic History at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). There is no one whose opinion of the 10-part, 18-hour PBS documentary history of the war by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick I »

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 »