Today we’re starting a new weekly feature on AHA Today that will highlight articles and blog posts that may be of interest to historians. Check out the articles below and find out what we’re reading.
In the Shadow of Horror, SS Guardians Frolic
This article from the New York Times describes 116 photographs of Auschwitz SS officers donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The photos are unique because they show the officers in their free time, rather than working in the death camp.
In this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education, Richard Pells (a historian at the University of Texas at Austin) charges, “The vast majority of American historians no longer regard American culture—whether high culture or mainstream popular culture—as an essential area of study.” It’s an interesting article, and the Chronicle reports that it is among the most e-mailed for the week, but I think it should be read with considerable caution.
His timeline for cultural history’s decline and fall—placing cultural history’s golden age in the 1960s, with the fall starting sometime in the 1980s—is sure to surprise anyone who has taken a historiography class in the past 15 years.
Harvard University professor of psychology Daniel Gilbert recently published Stumbling on Happiness, an informative look at how the human brain works, or, more specifically, how well (or rather, poorly) the brain predicts which future occurrences will make us happy. Since its hardcover release in May 2006, the book has been a strong seller due to its fascinating topic, strong and accessible writing, and quirky (frequently goofball) examples used to illustrate difficult points of human psychology. The book is scheduled to be released in paperback this week.
Today’s New York Times Arts section featured an article about Saad Eskander, a librarian and archivist in Iraq. His fascinating online diary entries, hosted by the British Library, “detail the daily hurdles of keeping Iraq’s central library open, preserving the surviving archives and books and, oh yes, staying alive.” Read the whole article, “Baghdad Day to Day: Librarian’s Journal,” on the New York Times web site.