Smithsonian’s slave ship; retrogression in US history; Netanyahu backs down on Holocaust claims; Lafayette vs Hamilton; current politicians & KKK; the (far) west in the Civil War

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Over the weekend, 60 Minutes did a story on the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is now under construction in Washington. It focused on their successful attempt to find a slave trade ship and its relics. Did you miss this excellent piece? Well, here ya go.

Is America in the middle of another Gilded Age that has undone much of the progress of the 20th century? A new book out by Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore and Thomas J. Sugrue makes this case. I’ll reserve comment until I read the book, but this is an interesting essay about it from Slate.

So Netanyahu finally decided to back down from his attempt to place substantial blame for the Holocaust on Palestinians. Good move.

Interesting interview today from Smithsonian with Sarah Vowell, author of a new book about the Revolution from the perspective of the Marquis de Lafayette. I am a big fan of Lafayette (who isn’t?) so I was drawn to this piece because of its title, “Why LaFayette is still America’s best friend.” But there are a lot of interesting bits in here about an array of things, such as the movie Dazed and Confused and Broadway’s Hamilton, American exceptionalism, and the fallacy of the belief in a “golden age” past. Some of the author’s thoughts are nonsense (such as the statement that “by 1824, the Civil War is pretty much a foregone conclusion,” or that history books and their footnotes create a “stench” that good writers should eschew) but the interview does make me want to buy the book now.

Whoah. Who knows if this is accurate or not, but if it is, it’ll be a big bombshell. Many prominent politicians are being outed as members of the KKK.

Today the Civil War Monitor continues the new format of its “Behind the Lines” video interviews with a good one with Megan Kate Nelson. She discusses the question of why the west has gotten short shrift in Civil War historiography (and by that she means the FAR west), making a good case for why that theater was important and why historians should do more with it. Check it out:

And lastly, here’s a nice story about some solid historical research by a member of the Library of Virginia’s staff, uncovering the identity of a WWI soldier depicted in one of their portrait paintings. (Interesting piece, and another good example that there is more that you can do with historical training than just become a boring professor).

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