Saturday, August 04, 2007

Some links that might interest you all:

Robert Kagan, "End of Dreams, Return of History," from Policy Review is first rate.

Thomas West and William Schambra, "The Progressive Movement and the Transformation of American Politics," is provocative.

The H-Diplo roundtable on Geoffrey Roberts, Stalin's Wars, has some great moments.

And this BBC interview with three American generals about Iraq is very interesting.

Finally, Richard Pells makes the argument that American historians are not familiar with and do not write about American high and pop culture. Two points here. First, Pells knows Charles Alexander, so it is silly that he does not mention Alexander's Here the Country Lies: Nationalism and the Arts in Twentieth Century America. Second, beyond Alexander, I'm struggling to figure out how Pells got it in his head that American historians do not know or write about culture. Give me an hour and I'll find you more than the 50 books by historians that deal with culture. For example, here is a sampling of titles from historians that deal with high and pop culture (usually relating to memory) from a quick perusal of the footnotes to a couple of things I've written (note that several of them are anthologies, meaning that multiple historians contributed to the work):

1. Alice Fahs and Joan Waugh, eds., The Memory of the Civil War in American Culture.
2. Jim Cullen, The Civil War in Popular Culture: A Reusable Past
3. David Blight, Race and Reunion
4. G. Kurt Piehler, Remembering War the American Way
5. Peter Novick, The Holocaust in American Life
6. Lary May's books (although he might technically be an American studies guy, he's pretty clearly a historian)
7. John Whiteclay Chambers II and David Culbert, eds., World War II, Film, and History
8. William C. Davis, The Cause Lost: Myths and Realities of the Confederacy
9. John Bodnar, “Saving Private Ryan and Postwar Memory in America,” American Historical Review, 106 (June 2001), 805-817
10. Michael Sherry, In the Shadow of War: The United States since the 1930s

Like I say, this is just a partial list based on a quick look at some footnotes I already had. But it does indicate something: there are countless studies by historians that incorporate cultural issues into larger studies. For example, I know that Zane Grey and Edgar Rice Burroughs were two of the best-selling authors of the 1920s because of Glen Jeansonne, Transformation and Reaction, because my friend Derek used that book in writing a lecture he gave to a U.S. survey in the very first course I TA'ed for in grad school. That is not an indication of the weakness of the influence of cultural studies on the historical field, but rather that it has been fully accepted as relevant and important. Indeed, I had to cull my list down because many of the authors were technically in American studies departments or had American studies degrees, but if Pells is right, then it sure seems odd that I, a political and military historian, had the list in the first place.

Big surprise. On another note, due to circumstances that are mostly out of my control, I'm going to have to severely ramp down on the blogging for the forseeable future. I have the best intentions, but time is not on my side right now. So I will write where and when I can, but I can't promise anything solid or steady.

However. I do want to say thank you to everyone for their kind words of congratulations about the new addition to the family. That's right, on July 20, we welcomed another baby into the household, only this one is a bit different from the others. That's right folks, now I can say I make boys and girl(s)!

Say hello to Mariana Violet:

That's all for now. I'll be around from time to time. Later.