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jerryking : harry_truman   2

David McCullough’s History Lessons
April 14, 2017 | WSJ | By Alexandra Wolfe.

David McCullough thinks that the country isn’t in such bad shape. It’s all relative, says the 83-year-old historian and author of such books as the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographies “Truman” (1992) and “John Adams” (2001). He points to the Civil War, for instance, when the country lost 2% of its population—that would be more than six million people today—or the flu pandemic of 1918, when more than 500,000 Americans died. “Imagine that on the nightly news,” he says.

History gives us a sense of proportion, he says: “It’s an antidote to a lot of unfortunately human trends like self-importance and self-pity.”.....see history “as an aid to navigation in such troubled, uncertain times,”.....[McCullough] thought back to something that the playwright and novelist Thornton Wilder had said while a fellow at Yale during Mr. McCullough’s undergraduate days. When Wilder heard a good story and wished to see it on the stage, he wrote the play himself. When he wanted to read a book about an interesting event, he wrote it himself.....Even today, Mr. McCullough doesn’t use a computer for research or writing. He still goes to libraries and archives to find primary sources and writes on a typewriter. ...History, he adds, is “often boiled down to statistics and dates and quotations that make it extremely boring.” The key to generating interest, he says, is for professors and teachers to frame history as stories about people.
archives  authors  biographies  Civil_War  contextual  David_McCullough  DIY  flu_outbreaks  Harry_Truman  historians  history  John_Adams  libraries  self-importance  self-pity  sense_of_proportion  storytelling  Pulitzer_Prize 
april 2017 by jerryking
The Revolt of the Weak - NYTimes.com
SEPT. 1, 2014 | NYT | By DAVID BROOKS.

there are certain unconscious habits and norms of restraint that undergird civilization. These habits and norms are now being challenged by a coalition of the unsuccessful.

What we’re seeing around the world is a revolt of the weak. There are certain weak movements and nations, beset by internal contradictions, that can’t compete if they play by the normal rules of civilization. Therefore, they are conspiring to blow up the rule book.....People who conduct foreign policy live today under the shadow of the postwar era. People instinctively understand that just after World War II, Harry Truman, George Marshall, Dean Acheson and others did something remarkable. They stepped outside the immediate crush of events and constructed a context in which people would live for the next several decades.

Some of the problems they faced did not seem gigantic: how to prevent a Communist insurgency from taking over a semi-failed government in Greece. But they understood that by projecting American power into Greece, they would be establishing certain norms and creating a framework for civilization.
Vladimir_Putin  Henry_Kissinger  George_Marshall  Harry_Truman  David_Brooks  ISIS  rogue_actors  U.S.foreign_policy  post-WWII  Dean_Acheson  diplomacy  asymmetrical  APNSA 
september 2014 by jerryking

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