I apologize for being a bit late to the party, but if you haven’t already read David Grann’s reported essay in this week’s New Yorker, you really should. Grann looks at the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, a man executed by the State of Texas in 2004, though he very well may have been innocent. It’s a beautifully reported and written piece, and one of the most terrifying explorations of the state’s power that I’ve read in many years. Seriously, set aside an hour or so — it’s a long article, and you almost certainly won’t be able to stop once you start — and begin reading.
(The title of the post, by the way, is a quote from Sandra Day O’Connor.)
In the comments on this post, people got to wondering: who was the first African American to grace the cover of Time? The answer, TF Smith suggests, was Walter White, then head of the NAACP, on the cover of the January 24, 1938 issue. It’s an interesting image for a host of reasons, I think, not least color: White’s, I mean. But I’m especially fascinated by the painting of an in-progress lynching that appears in the background. Kevin points out, in the comments of the aforementioned post, that, “The NAACP in 1938 was pressing hard for the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill, so it was no accident that White (or the editors) pressed for the image.” No doubt that’s right. Still, I’m surprised that Time ran that cover. So if anyone knows more of the back story here, please post a comment. Thanks.
CAVEAT EMPTOR: THE CLIP IS GRUESOME AND NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. THINK TWICE BEFORE CLICKING.
When I teach my seminar on monuments, museums, and memorials, I typically cover the Enola Gay controversy. But one of the challenges I face is getting my students to look “beneath the mushroom cloud” (borrowing a phrase from John Dower). So, given that it’s the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima (see here for contemporary coverage), I thought I’d mention that I once juxtaposed Barefoot Gen with the bombing scene from Above and Beyond as a way of accomplishing this goal. This approach has its share of problems, unfortunately, and since I’ll be teaching the course again in the fall, I’d be eager to hear other ideas.
By the way, Barefoot Gen is fascinating for a variety of …
It goes without saying—or should—that Spencer Ackerman is a national treasure. I never comment over there because of one of the folks who does, but Spencer damn near tops my increasingly shorter list of essential morning reads. That said, on those days I don’t have time to read in the mornings, I don’t—because I can’t—read him at all. My brain translates this:
And I just can’t sleep once I’ve see that.
(This is less of a post and more of a frank admission of admiration. If all his peers had half his tenacity, DeLong could excise one loathsome category from his site.)
… there is something wrong with a culture in which a McNamara is feted for his “guts” while George McGovern and Gene McCarthy, who opposed McNamara’s mistakes, are regarded as nobodies. In one of the uglier passages of In Retrospect, McNamara sneers at the antiwar protesters who marched on the Pentagon in 1967. If they had been more “disciplined”…
Ars Technica has a post summarizing Kodak’s decision to end sales of Kodachrome after 74 years because, basically, “not enough people are shooting KODACHROME for us to continue offering it.” In 1935 the film offered casual photographers the ability to take snapshots in color—to indulge that “twinge in your heart more powerful than memory alone,” as Don Draper says; it “takes us to a place where we ache to go again.” (more…)
. . . BURNING SHIT DOWN, which must be why neither the Los Angeles Timesnor Twitter will load. I admit that watching the social media site come into its own in response to an international crisis makes me wonder whether I ought to be a little less cynical of the political power of new media and the political engagement of the online generati—what?
Forty-one years ago today, James Earl Ray shot Martin Luther King, Jr. dead on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. To memorialize this grim anniversary, LIFE has released a gallery of photographs taken at the Lorraine on April 4, 1968 and the following day. For some reason, the second and ninth pictures (of the Lorraine’s sign and of the contents of Dr. King’s briefcase) hit me the hardest. Perhaps it’s the juxtaposition of that Americana and American history (the images of the blood-soaked balcony and of Dr. King’s friends and colleagues from the SCLC mourning his loss) that’s so affecting. I honestly don’t know.
Of all the things I’ve read about Lincoln recently, this very moving something-or-other is among my favorites. The idea that a person unfamiliar with Lincoln might meet and then find herself falling in love with him warms my heart.
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This blog is a blog about history, Yiddishkeit, and the Muppets, neither exclusively nor necessarily in that order. And as William Gibson said about this very blog (no, really), “History can save your ass.” Yiddishkeit and the Muppets are just extras.
is the associate director of the Cornell in Washington program and a senior lecturer at Cornell University. He teaches courses on European history, modern military history, guerrilla war, and the role of popular will in waging war.
is a professor of history at UC Davis. He is the author of A River and Its City: The Nature of Landscape in New Orleans, which won the Abbott Lowell Cummings Prize in 2004, and his new book, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek, will be published by Harvard University Press in fall 2012.
is a professor of history at UC Davis. She is the author of Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11 (Oxford, 2009); Red Spy Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth Bentley (North Carolina, 2002); and Challenging the Secret Government: The Post-Watergate Investigations of the CIA and FBI (North Carolina, 1996).