What We’re Reading: May 1, 2008 Edition

On this May Day edition of “What We’re Reading,” we start off with a link to Zachary Schrag’s article on IRBs, which examines “how talking became human subjects research.” Then, we turn to kids these days: how they’re being taught history and how they’re affected by growing up in a digital world. Also included are articles about secret wartime refugees, content versus design in history web sites, an excellent work of nonfiction (that unfortunately turns out to be based on fiction), and a move to open Brazilian archives. Finally, we link to a review essay in the New Yorker on the Greek historian, Herodotus.

  • Schrag on How Talking Became Human Subjects Research
    Zachary Schrag, whose advice and good counsel on issues related to institutional review board policies have been invaluable to us, just had a terrific article accepted for publication by the Journal of Policy History. A draft is available online for review and comment: "How Talking Became Human Subjects Research: The Federal Regulation of the Social Sciences, 1965-1991”.
  • Kids’ History
    Mark Bauerlein, and English professor at Emory and a blogger at the Chronicle of Higher Ed unloads on faddishness and relativism in the teaching of history. But be sure to read Sam Wineburg’s article “Goodbye, Columbus“– a longer version of the USA Today article that Bauerlein refers to in his post.
  • The Anthropology of Digital Natives
    This Library of Congress webcast presents speaker Edith Ackerman examining how youth today, who have grown up in a digital world, “think, learn, and play.”
  • Historian Exposes Secret Wartime Refugees
    Historian Luc Van Dongen talks about his work in assessing Switzerland’s admission of morally dubious refugees during World War II –Nazis, Italian fascists, and Vichy French.
  • Flash Over Substance: The National Archives Experience
    Last week we blogged about the “Best of the Web” awards, and noted a National Archives site that received an award. Larry Cebula at Northwest History takes a closer look at the site and questions whether it sacrifices content over design.
  • Find of Sun King’s secret diaries sounded almost too good to be true. And it was …
    This article from The Guardian examines author Veronica Buckley’s new biography of Louis XIV’s mistress, and the hoops her publisher must jump through now that it’s been revealed her primary source was actually a work of fiction.
  • Never Forget, Never Forgive: Open the Archives of the Brazilian Military Dictatorship Now
    This initiative, reported at the Dissenting Historian blog, aims to open up the archives of the Brazilian military dictatorship. For related issues, see past AHA president Barbara Weinstein’s column in the March 2007 issue of Perspectives on History.
  • Arms and the Man
    In a long but brilliantly lucid and entertainingly instructive review essay in the April 28, 2008, issue of the New Yorker, Daniel Mendelsohn, the Charles Ranlett Flint Professor of the Humanities at Bard College, finds and summarizes for us the vivid resonances for our times in the multivolume study of the Greco-Persian Wars by the Greek historian, Herodotus. Nearly 2,500 years before the present, Herodotus told a story, that in its postmodernist narrative (as Mendelsohn calls it) described, among other things, how absolute power can corrupt and reap catastrophe for even the greatest state. If in the subsequent centuries, people have learned nothing from Herodotus, it is their fault, asserts Mendelsohn.

Contributors: Elisabeth Grant, Pillarisetti Sudhir, and Robert Townsend.

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