What We’re Reading: October 18, 2012

Today’s What We’re Reading features readings related to Decision 2012, a defense of the adjective, and historian T.J. Stiles challenges the History Channel’s “The Men Who Built America.”

Decision 2012

AHA Roundtable: The Presidential Debate of October 16, 2012
With the firm belief that we best understand the present when we more fully comprehend the past, the AHA is continuing its series of Roundtables on the presidential debates of 2012. In this week’s forum, we feature Edward J. Blum, Robin Einhorn, Patty Limerick, Daniel Rodgers, and Jonathan Zimmerman. For even more historians’ commentary on the debates, visit the History News Network’s forum, here.

How to Debate: Lessons from History
The New York Times runs a graphic on what works and what doesn’t in presidential debates.

Politics around Benghazi Tragedy Distract Us from Bigger Issues in Middle East
Jonathan Zimmerman reflects on his own experiences in Iran in 1970 and reminds us: “America’s enemies as well as our partners in the Middle East also look backward, into history, and we would be wise to do the same.”

Stray Thoughts on History and Politics
Ben Alpers has written a piece for the U.S. Intellectual History blog about how historians’ political understandings inform their interpretations of the past, using the examples of the recently deceased Eugene Genovese and Henry May.

On the Stump: Classic Photos from the Campaign Trail
Life magazine features a slideshow of classic photos from the campaign trail, including candid shots of  Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon.

Writing and Publishing

Open Review: A Study of Contexts and Practices
From MediaCommons: “In April 2011, MediaCommons and NYU Press jointly received a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a year-long study of open review practices and possibilities. The document that follows is a draft of the white paper that will serve as the grant’s primary outcome.”

The Dead Are Real
Larissa Macfarquhar for the New Yorker discusses Hilary Mantel’s approach to writing historical fiction.

A Short Defense of Literary Excess
A defense of the baroque style of writing that embraces the extra adjective.

History in the News

My Face, Not My Show: History Channel’s “The Men Who Built America”
Historian T.J. Stiles takes aim at the creators of “The Men Who Built America” in his blog.  He writes, “It invented events wholesale, and sold them as fact. I had the impression that the producers read my book (and viewed my lengthy interview), and decided to present the opposite. That’s one reason why I’m so alarmed.”

The Greek Phalanx and Its Influence Over Politics in Archaic Greece
At Mike Anderson’s Ancient History Blog: “Lost in the military view of the Phalanx, however, is the impact it had on the development of the Greek political system.”

Blood of the Martyrs
Alan Baumler, at Frog in a Well, reflects on Jackie Chan’s film 1911: “Part of the problem was that Jackie Chan is apparently continuing his campaign to become a Chinese icon acceptable to Beijing.”

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