Funny dissertation acknowledgments 2007 dodge
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In late I was approached by Scott McConnell, editor of The American Conservative TAC , who told me that his small magazine was on the verge of closing without a large financial infusion. Although Saddam Hussein clearly had no connection to the attacks, his status as a possible regional rival to Israel had established him as their top target, and they soon began beating the drums for war, with America finally launching its disastrous invasion in February March My title was purely a nominal one, and over the next few years, aside from writing additional checks my only involvement usually amounted to a five-minute phone call each Monday morning to see how things were going.
About a year after I began supporting the magazine, McConnell informed me that a major crisis was brewing. In desperation, McConnell had decided to protect his publication by soliciting a very hostile review by conservative historian John Lukacs, which would thereby insulate TAC from the looming disaster. I told him that the Buchanan book certainly sounded rather ridiculous and his own defensive strategy a pretty reasonable one, and I quickly returned to the problems I faced in my own all-consuming software project.
After my friends at TAC had raved about its brilliance, I decided to read it for myself, and was greatly disappointed.
Rhetoric and Composition/Print version
So under the circumstances, I was hardly surprised that the same author was now publishing some equally silly book about World War II, perhaps causing severe problems for his erstwhile TAC colleagues. Mainstream publications had largely ignored the book, but it seemed to receive enormous praise from alternative writers, some of whom fiercely denounced TAC for having attacked it.
Indeed, the response was so extremely one-sided that when McConnell discovered that a totally obscure blogger somewhere had agreed with his own negative appraisal, he immediately circulated those remarks in a desperate attempt at vindication.
Longtime TAC contributors whose knowledge of history I much respected, including Eric Margolis and William Lind , had praised the book, so my curiosity finally got the better of me and I decided to order a copy and read it for myself. I was quite surprised to discover a work very different from what I had expected. The first part of his volume provided what I had always considered the standard view of the First World War. In his account of events, Buchanan explained how the complex network of interlocking alliances had led to a giant conflagration even though none of the existing leaders had actually sought that outcome: a huge European powder-keg had been ignited by the spark of an assassination in Sarajevo.
But although his narrative was what I expected, he provided a wealth of interesting details previously unknown to me. Moreover, a secret military agreement between Britain and France had been a crucial factor in the unintended escalation, and even so, nearly half the British Cabinet had come close to resigning in opposition to the declaration of war against Germany, a possibility that which would have probably led to a short and limited conflict confined to the Continent.
However, the bulk of the book focused on the events leading up to the Second World War, and this was the portion that had inspired such horror in McConnell and his colleagues. Buchanan described the outrageous provisions of the Treaty of Versailles imposed upon a prostrate Germany, and the determination of all subsequent German leaders to redress it.
But whereas his democratic Weimar predecessors had failed, Hitler had managed to succeed, largely through bluff, while also annexing German Austria and the German Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia, in both cases with the overwhelming support of their populations.
Buchanan documented this controversial thesis by drawing heavily upon numerous statements by leading contemporary political figures, mostly British, as well as the conclusions of highly-respected mainstream historians. The widespread later claim that Hitler sought to conquer the world was totally absurd, and the German leader had actually made every effort to avoid war with Britain or France.
As a Harvard freshman, I had taken an introductory history course, and one of the primary required texts on World War II had been that of A.
Taylor, a renowned Oxford University historian. But although my knowledge of Churchill was far too scanty to render a verdict, the case he made for the prosecution seemed reasonably strong. The Neocons already hated Buchanan and since they notoriously worshiped Churchill as a cartoon super-hero, any firestorm of criticism from those quarters would hardly be surprising.
But the book overall seemed a very solid and interesting history, the best work by Buchanan that I had ever read, and I gently gave my favorable assessment to McConnell, who was obviously rather disappointed. Not long afterward, he decided to relinquish his role as TAC editor to Kara Hopkins, his longtime deputy, and the wave of vilification he had recently endured from many of his erstwhile Buchananite allies surely must have contributed to this.
I found it just as masterful and persuasive as I had back in my college dorm room days, and the glowing cover-blurbs suggested some of the immediate acclaim the work had received. Perhaps the retaliation that he encountered led him to better understand part of that puzzle. Taylor was hardly alone in suffering such retribution. Indeed, as I have gradually discovered over the last decade or so, his fate seems to have been an exceptionally mild one, with his great existing stature partially insulating him from the backlash following his objective analysis of the historical facts.
And such extremely serious professional consequences were especially common on our side of the Atlantic, where many of the victims lost their long-held media or academic positions, and permanently vanished from public view during the years around World War II.
And during this process, I was repeatedly surprised to come across individuals whose enormous presence clearly marked them as among the leading public intellectuals of their day, but who had later disappeared so completely that I had scarcely ever been aware of their existence.
I gradually began to recognize that our own history had been marked by an ideological Great Purge just as significant if less sanguinary than its Soviet counterpart. The parallels seemed eerie :. I sometimes imagined myself a little like an earnest young Soviet researcher of the s who began digging into the musty files of long-forgotten Kremlin archives and made some stunning discoveries.
Trotsky was apparently not the notorious Nazi spy and traitor portrayed in all the textbooks, but instead had been the right-hand man of the sainted Lenin himself during the glorious days of the great Bolshevik Revolution, and for some years afterward had remained in the topmost ranks of the Party elite. And who were these other figures—Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Rykov—who also spent those early years at the very top of the Communist hierarchy? In history courses, they had barely rated a few mentions, as minor Capitalist agents who were quickly unmasked and paid for their treachery with their lives.
How could the great Lenin, father of the Revolution, have been such an idiot to have surrounded himself almost exclusively with traitors and spies? But unlike their Stalinist analogs from a couple of years earlier, the American victims who disappeared around were neither shot nor Gulaged, but merely excluded from the mainstream media that defines our reality, thereby being blotted out from our memory so that future generations gradually forgot that they had ever lived.
Flynn , probably almost unknown today but whose stature had once been enormous. As I wrote last year:. So imagine my surprise at discovering that throughout the s he had been one of the single most influential liberal voices in American society, a writer on economics and politics whose status may have roughly approximated that of Paul Krugman, though with a strong muck-raking tinge.
A few years ago, I happened to mention his name to a well-read and committed liberal born in the s, and she unsurprisingly drew a complete blank, but wondered if he might have been a little like Walter Lippmann , the very famous columnist of that era. When I checked, I saw that across the hundreds of periodicals in my archiving system, there were just 23 articles by Lippmann from the s but fully by Flynn.
An even stronger American parallel to Taylor was that of historian Harry Elmer Barnes, a figure almost unknown to me, but in his day an academic of great influence and stature:. And his professional stature was demonstrated by his thirty-five or more books, many of them influential academic volumes, along with his numerous articles in The American Historical Review , Political Science Quarterly , and other leading journals.
A few years ago I happened to mention Barnes to an eminent American academic scholar whose general focus in political science and foreign policy was quite similar, and yet the name meant nothing.
The book itself was dedicated to the memory of his friend, historian Charles A. Since the early years of the 20th century, Beard had ranked as an intellectual figure of the greatest stature and influence, co-founder of The New School in New York and serving terms as president of both The American Historical Association and The American Political Science Association. As a leading supporter of the New Deal economic policies, he was overwhelmingly lauded for his views.
Prior to its publication, his byline had regularly run in our most influential national magazines such as The Atlantic Monthly and Harpers. But afterward, his writing was almost entirely confined to small circulation newsletters and periodicals, appealing to narrow conservative or libertarian audiences. In these days of the Internet, anyone can easily establish a website to publish his views, thus making them immediately available to everyone in the world.
Social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter can bring interesting or controversial material to the attention of millions with just a couple of mouse-clicks, completely bypassing the need for the support of establishmentarian intermediaries.
It is easy for us to forget just how extremely challenging the dissemination of dissenting ideas remained back in the days of print, paper, and ink, and recognize that an individual purged from his regular outlet might require many years to regain any significant foothold for the distribution of his work.
British writers had faced similar ideological perils year before A. Taylor ventured into those troubled waters, as a distinguished British naval historian discovered in :. The author of Unconditional Hatred was Captain Russell Grenfell, a British naval officer who had served with distinction in the First World War, and later helped direct the Royal Navy Staff College, while publishing six highly-regarded books on naval strategy and serving as the Naval Correspondent of the Daily Telegraph.
Grenfell recognized that great quantities of extreme propaganda almost inevitably accompany any major war, but with several years having passed since the close of hostilities, he was growing concerned that unless an antidote were soon widely applied, the lingering poison of such wartime exaggerations might threaten the future peace of Europe. His considerable historical erudition and his reserved academic tone shine through in this fascinating volume, which focuses primarily upon the events of the two world wars, but often contains digressions into the Napoleonic conflicts or even earlier ones.
Among other matters, he reports with considerable disapproval that leading British newspapers had carried headlined articles about the horrific tortures that were being inflicted upon German prisoners at war crimes trials in order to coerce all sorts of dubious confessions out of them.
He also states that in those same British papers had reported the absolutely exemplary behavior of German soldiers toward French civilians, though after terroristic attacks by Communist underground forces provoked reprisals, relations often grew much worse.
Most importantly, he points out that the huge Allied strategic bombing campaign against French cities and industry had killed huge numbers of civilians, probably far more than had ever died at German hands, and thereby provoked a great deal of hatred as an inevitable consequence.
At Normandy he and other British officers had been warned to remain very cautious among any French civilians they encountered for fear they might be subject to deadly attacks. The Devin-Adair jacket-flap notes that no British publisher was willing to accept the manuscript, and when the book appeared no major American reviewer recognized its existence.
Even more ominously, Grenfell is described as having been hard at work on a sequel when he suddenly died in of unknown causes, and his lengthy obituary in the London Times gives his age as On French matters, Grenfell provides several extended references to a book entitled France: The Tragic Years, by Sisley Huddleston, an author totally unfamiliar to me, and this whet my curiosity.
As with so many other writers, after World War II his American publisher necessarily became Devin-Adair, which released a posthumous edition of his book.
Ambassador William Bullitt being one of his oldest friends. Petain achieved this result, and another near-unanimous vote of the French parliament then authorized him to negotiate a full peace treaty with Germany, which certainly placed his political actions on the strongest possible legal basis.
At that point, almost everyone in Europe believed that the war was essentially over, with Britain soon to make peace. Charles de Gaulle, deserted from the army and fled abroad, declaring that they intended to continue the war indefinitely, but they initially attracted minimal support or attention. This incident was not entirely dissimilar to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the following year, and rankled the French for many years to come.
Huddleston then spends much of the book discussing the complex French politics of the next few years, as the war unexpectedly continued, with Russia and America eventually joining the Allied cause, greatly raising the odds against a German victory.
During this period, the French political and military leadership performed a difficult balancing act, resisting German demands on some points and acquiescing to them on others, while the internal Resistance movement gradually grew, attacking German soldiers and provoking harsh German reprisals. Given my lack of expertise, I cannot really judge the accuracy of his political narrative, but it seems quite realistic and plausible to me, though specialists might surely find fault.
And at that point, enormous bloodshed soon began, by far the worst wave of extra-judicial killings in all of French history. Another factor was that many of the Communists who had fought in the Spanish Civil War, including thousands of the members of the International Brigades, had fled to France after their military defeat in , and now often took the lead in enacting vengeance against the same sort of conservative forces who had previously vanquished them in their own country.
Although Huddleston himself was an elderly, quite distinguished international journalist with very highly placed American friends, and he had performed some minor services on behalf of the Resistance leadership, he and his wife narrowly escaped summary execution during that period, and he provides a collection of the numerous stories he heard of less fortunate victims.
These days Wikipedia constitutes the congealed distillation of our Official Truth, and its entry on those events puts the death toll at barely one-tenth the figures quoted by Huddleston, but I find him a far more credible source. We may easily imagine that some prominent and highly-regarded individual at the peak of his career and public influence might suddenly take leave of his senses and begin promoting eccentric and erroneous theories, thereby ensuring his downfall.
Under such circumstances, his claims may be treated with great skepticism and perhaps simply disregarded. But when the number of such very reputable yet contrary voices becomes sufficiently large and the claims they make seem generally consistent with each other, we can no longer casually dismiss their critiques.
Their committed stance on these controversial matters had proved fatal to their continued public standing, and although they must have recognized these likely consequences, they nonetheless followed that path, even going to the trouble of writing lengthy books presenting their views, and seeking out some publisher somewhere who was willing to release these.
John T. A decade or two later, renowned historian A. Taylor reaffirmed this same basic narrative, and was purged from Oxford as a consequence.
I find it very difficult to explain the behavior of all these individuals unless they were presenting a truthful account. If a ruling political establishment and its media organs offer lavish rewards of funding, promotion, and public acclaim to those who endorse its party-line propaganda while casting into outer darkness those who dissent, the pronouncements of the former should be viewed with considerable suspicion.
A climate of serious intellectual repression greatly complicates our ability to uncover the events of the past. Under normal circumstances, competing claims can be weighed in the give-and-take of public or scholarly debate, but this obviously becomes impossible if the subjects being discussed are forbidden ones.
Moreover, writers of history are human beings, and if they have been purged from their prestigious positions, blacklisted from public venues, and even cast into poverty, we should hardly be surprised if they sometimes grow angry and bitter at their fate, perhaps reacting in ways that their enemies may later use to attack their credibility.
Taylor lost his Oxford post for publishing his honest analysis of the origins of World War II, but his enormous previous stature and the widespread acclaim his book had received seemed to protect him from further damage, and the work itself soon became recognized as a great classic, remaining permanently in print and later gracing the required reading lists of our most elite universities.
However, others who delved into those same troubled waters were much less fortunate. Hoggan had earned his Ph.
William Langer, one of the towering figures in that field, and his maiden work The Forced War was a direct outgrowth of his doctoral dissertation. As a junior academic, Hoggan was quite vulnerable to the enormous pressure and opprobrium he surely must have faced.