Thursday, January 31, 2008

The best of New York

We've talked a lot about the virtues of New York City this past week, but there is one institution that stands out in terms of its accessibility, its value and...PRICE. It's the Astor family's greatest gift to their city and the world, the New York Public Library. You can read a rundown of what's up this month here, after which you can pay a personal virtual visit and get CATNYP(!) here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

January 30, l972-2008

Today is the 36th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Londonderry, northern Ireland. On that day, a mass march for civil rights in the Bogside, or Catholic section of the city, turned into blood-soaked mayhem as British army paras, or special forces opened fire on the march, killing l4 people. There are varying explanations of what happened that day, including allegations that IRA members were present and fired on the soldiers, but it seems clear that the soldiers were pumped up and determined to "teach those Fenians a lesson," in the words of one commander. Several of those murdered were l8 or under, including Jack Duddy, a promising boxer who hoped for a spot on the Irish Olympic team. He became the symbol of the horror of that day, as a priest and several marchers tried to carry him to safety.

I first learned of this incident in global studies class--one actually relevant moment in an otherwise forgettable course-- leafing through the pages of Life magazine. I wondered how this could happen in one of the cradles of western Civilization, British soldiers shooting down their fellow citizens, some roughly my own age, on a sunny weekend day. With time and some reading, you come to a more nuanced understanding of these kinds of incidents, but the sight of l3 coffins in the church where the mass funeral was held is something I can never forget. I saw it first in that life magazine, then was lucky enough to get to the Bogside Inn in Derry, where there is an entire wall dedicated to pictures of the march, then the mayhem, funeral and burials.

Fortunately, Londonderry is peaceful today, thanks to the passage of time, people's impatience with the "fanatics hijacking our lives" and the dedicated negotiators of the Good Friday peace agreement. But it can only be bittersweet for people who lost loved ones on that day, like Jack Duddy's sister, who laments that "all I can do for him now, on holidays, is bring him a fresh bouquet of flowers in the cemetery."

The image you see above is of the mortally wounded Jackie Duddy and the people who tried to get him some help. The priest you see is Fr. Daly, who later went on to become the bishop of Derry. The photograph is mine, but the mural is the work of the Kelly brothers, who call themselves the Bogside artists. All credit to them and their wonderful story of the northern Irish conflict in murals throughout the Bogside, or Catholic neighborhood of Derry. PLEASE go visit their official site and inspect their work. If you are in Londonderry, you can knock on the door of their studio, located just in back of the Bogside Inn, and if they are there, they will greet you warmly.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is a smart man--he's a billionaire turnaround specialist and Olympic mastermind--but he has some work to do on the world map. On a recent campaign stop, he was heard to declare, "America faces competition from countries like Asia and India."

Ouch. This reminds me of President Bush's confusion of Slovenia with Slovakia...these Republican candidates need to step it up a notch, as they say, if they want to spin the globe in the Oval Office.

Our luck has run out

It appears that the weather is not going to cooperate in giving us another Snow Day, so I'll see you tomorrow at the usual time. History 469 will not meet tomorrow, but MONDAY...I had planned on meeting Monday(the snow day) and so agreed to a lunch beforehand. MONDAY for 469, TOMORROW, WEDNESDAY, for everyone else. C U then...

Monday, January 28, 2008

No class anywhere!

NO CLASSES PERIOD AT WSU TRI-CITIES! Take your snow day and use it productively(lol!). See you Wednesday.


Like the headline says...NO CLASS TODAY in HISTORY 425, 469 or 450!! The roads between here and Tri-Cities are dreadful, and the roads around Tri-Cities look terrible, so let's do us all a favor and NOT RISK COMING OUT IN IT. We are to be plagued with high winds today anyway, making driving still more hazardous.

See you WEDNESDAY the 31st as usual...get out and play in the snow. We've got almost a foot of it here, so there will be a lot to play in...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Are you a good citizen?

If you weren't taxed enough by the previous quiz, here's some questions applicants for US citizenship must answer correctly in order to proceed to the swearing-in ceremony. I did okay, so I think I will be allowed to retain my residence in the country, but there are some traps for the unwary and uncertain.

So how did you do?

Friday, January 25, 2008


As is their wont, the editors of the London Independent newspaper made me think today, with their list of twenty things everyone should know. This is not academic knowledge at all, it is everything from how to change a tire( tyre, in Londonese)to the basics of conducting a background information(?!). Go and check yourself. I admit to some serious deficiencies in my basic life skills, starting with the background check...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Don't forget, we will NOT have class in History 425 tomorrow, Wednesday, 1-23. I will be regaling the Richland Kiwanians as the featured entertainment.

History 469 and 450 will meet, as scheduled. The Kiwanians go back to work or retirement promptly at 1 pm...

History 425 WILL meet on Friday, 1-25, as usual, l2:10.

Quiz on this information to follow(NOT!)...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A new contender

A propos of last year's contest in this space for Foreign Leader past or present with the most exotic name, e.g. Megawatti Bambang of Indonesia...there's a new entrant. The new President of the Turkmens is...Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov, who recently replaced the immortal Saparmurat Niyazov, the self-styled "Father of all Turkmen" who named all the days of the week after himself, and some of the months of the year as well. President Berdymukhamedov--just try saying that three times quickly!-- has already reversed "Father's" decision to disallow circuses and opera(no word yet on returning the names of the days of the week), so he's on his way to a different place on the political landscape of Turkmenistan, but he's certainly got a name reminiscent of his illustrious precedessor.

A toast to the Turkmens and their new Leader!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Food geography--Italia

One of the great things about travel and geography is getting to know the various regions of a given country. Italy has a lot of them, and each has made its own distinctive contribution to the great cause of Italian cuisine. Liguria is in the northwest of the country, next door to France--Europeans know it as the Italian Riveria, because it's located on the Ligurian sea(the Grant's tomb part of the post, in case you missed it).

Its culinary signatures are its fish soup--cioppino--basil and(surprise!)pesto. Ligurians use pesto the way the rest of the Italy uses marinara is the standard topping. You can make yourself a quick introduction to Ligurian Italia by making this dish, the recipe for which is here:

Penne with pesto, green beans and potatoes

I standard-sized package of pesto, which you can buy at a good grocery or Italian food store. If you want to make your own, there are thousands of good recipes on the web…you’ll need fresh basil, extra-virgin olive oil, pecorino-romano cheese and salt


1/2 lb small red potatoes, peeled and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick
1/2 lb young, slender green beans, stem ends trimmed
1 lb penne, ziti or trenette pasta
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temp

Bring a large pot 3/4 full of water to a rolling boil and add about 2 tablespoons salt. Add potatoes and green beans and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes and beans to a large, warmed serving bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with aluminum foil to keep the veggies warm.

Bring the water back to a rolling boil, add the penne, stir well, and cook, stirring occasionally(about l0 minutes), until al dente. Scoop out and reserve about 2 ladlesfull of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.

Add the drained pasta to the vegetables and then add the pesto. Stir and toss until the pasta and veggies are evenly coated with the sauce, adjusting with some of the cooking water if necessary. Add the butter and toss to coat evenly. Serve at once….

If you want more on Ligurian food and/or info on Italian cuisine from all the regions of the country, you can't do better than this site

A City in (Current)History, 2008

My oldest pal--we've known each other since the age of six months, so i'm told--wrote this about an incident that happened yesterday near her workplace on Capitol Hill, DC:

"It's a beautiful day in my neighborhood, a beautiful day in my neighborhood, won't you be my neighbor?

Well maybe not yesterday afternoon. One of those days we have in DC from time to time when something just a little bit odd pops out. In this case, it was a guy walking down the street with a loaded shotgun, a samurai sword and a bag that was found filled with gunpowder. He was walking down the street near my office, heading towards the capital. It's the sort of thing that sooner or later does draw attention, and he was stopped by the Capitol Police who arrested him and then sent a robot bomb detecting unit over to his car to blow up a suspicious package or two there.

Of course it is the sort of thing that does cause the streets to close down and police to swarm a bit, so people coming back from lunch to their offices (this happened around 1pm) get not only a floor show, but the fun of trying to find a new way to get back to their office because they can't cross one of the police lines."

That's one of the endearing features of both Washington and New York--both cities are nutcase magnets. Eccentrics are drawn there, especially to New York, like moths to light. One prefers the nonlethal eccentrics, of course, over the ones with shotguns and samurai swords, but it's difficult to sort them out...generally speaking, long live cities!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Your almighty 425 tier III...

Without further ado, the instructions for 425 tier III:

History 425—City in History—Writing Assignment 2008

This is a Tier III course, which brings with it a substantial, as in 5-7 page, writing assignment. What you will do is this: first, assume you are a professional researcher. You have been asked to do a profile of a city OUTSIDE NORTH AMERICA that will be of interest to businesspeople preparing to live and do business overseas. You will proceed as follows:

A) Choose a city outside north America that interests you. If you’ve always been interested in London, for example, this is your chance to get to know it better, a lot better, for CREDIT.

b) START READING about your city. If there is a “biography,” a contemporary portrait of a city like Alastair Horne’s Seven Ages of Paris, read it. Then begin a search for related articles and books. You will be doing the bulk of your reading from newspapers and magazines, most likely, such as the London Times or Le Figaro for a city like Paris, or the International Herald Tribune, or Time or Newsweek or National Geographic. Travel books and magazines can be of help too. Lots of cities have websites, too, and you should consult those. You’ll be expected to read 2-3 articles per week about your city or events in it, writing and filing away a summary of each article as you go along(for a total of about l6-20 summaries). In mid-April, you will stop reading and prepare to write the profile based on your findings. Everyone needs to keep track of his/her reading, documenting it all along, establishing a “paper trail,” so to speak.

c) Once you are prepared to write the profile, you should do three things: one, give your businessperson an idea of how history and/or geography has shaped this city. New York is New York in part because of its geography; what major factor(s) made London/Paris/Brussels/Rio/Cape Town/Chennai what it is today? Secondly, what is a/the major preoccupation of this city at this point in time? One obvious example is London, shaken as it has been by terrorist incidents and plots. Finally, what should a foreigner know about this city’s business climate? What kinds of initiatives and proposals would have the best chance of succeeding? How is the cost of living?

D) Hand in the paper, your summaries and articles(your paper trail, in other words)on the designated day in mid-April. You should be finished with it before finals…


Continuing the thread about geography, and more particularly geography and politics, there is a great link for you to explore
here. It's the Department of History at the United States Military Academy, and they have done a great service in putting hundreds of maps online, a lot of them dealing(for some strange reason)with this country's wars, but many of them historical, e.g. Europe in l922. On the table of contents, look for the section "Our Atlases" and click.

I've already used the site many times, and I never even had to stand at attention. Go Army!!


Geographymania is the short-answer portion of the GEO midterm for 450. Even if you won't be doing these for credit, test cheating, now!

History 450…in addition to identifying countries and caps and a few other features, you will be asked SOME of the following short-answer questions on the upcoming GEO midterm…as usual, prepare ALL of them unless you are a betting man/woman.

What European regional capital is known as “Titanic town?”

Match the European country with its homegrown alcoholic beverage: Calvados, ouzo, shlivovitz, palinka, Bushmills, Pilsner, Dom Perignon

What central. European country is home to the Lippizaner stud farm?

Where is Dracula's castle? Name the country AND region

What French city was seat of the Papacy for a time a few centuries ago?

Which central European country is famous for gulyas and paprika?

What east European city is the location of the Lenin ship
Yard, famous for its role in the l980s? What country was it in before l945?

What defines the states we know as the “Baltics” and the “Balkans”? Name two Baltic and Balkan states.

What country’s capital has been the head of two major religious empires?

Where is the home base of the Ibizian hound, one of the biggest, skinniest dogs you will find? How about the celebrated hunting dog known as the “Kurzhaar?”

What accounts for both French and German being heard on the streets of the eastern French city of Strasbourg?

What city is considered the birthplace of the Beatles?

Identify the countries to which these Olympic cities belong: Turin , Lillehammer, Athens, Grenoble, Sarajevo, Munich, Barcelona, St. Moritz

Which city is lucky enough to have Schipol as its airport, one of the most user-friendly in the world?

For which southeast European country is the region of Kosovo the cradle of civilization?

Cartographic confusion: What are these cities called today, and where are they? Koloszvar, Caporetto, Breslau, Take one of them and explain how its name got changed.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Geo quiz prep

All the Europe since l945 students are now or will be very familiar with the following's the map on which the geo midterm will be based, at least in part. It won't be just countries and capitals--there will be some short-answer questions--but filling this out correctly will be a good first step in the gradual reduction of your geographic illiteracy...

More on "The Jewish Americans"

If you're interested in the PBS series I referenced below, "The Jewish-Americans," you can access the website and accompanying resources here. PBS always sets up a website with all kinds of extras for people interested in a given program, so it's worth a look.

Must-see TV

The coming week features two PBS offerings that promise to be worth your time. First is the American Experience, by definition a must, featuring yet another look at the JFK assassination and Lee Harvey Oswald's role in it. I doubt this round will clear up the controversy that still continues to swirl around that tragic incident, but AE always has an interesting take on whatever it chooses to highlight.

Then Wednesday, KTNW will air part II of the excellent series "The Jewish Americans." Part I covered the Jewish experience in America from the arrival of the first Spanish and Portuguese Jews--the first Shearith Israel congregants in New York City--to the beginnings of the 20th century. Part II deals with the emergence of anti-Semitism in America after the turn of the century, an unhappy period to be sure, but a matter of record. This is a terrific program that should be of interest especially to City in History students, since so much of the Jewish experience in America is centered in the five boroughs of New York City.

Of course, if you want to take a break from history and politics, TCM and TVLand continue to make available the old favorites, e.g. Gone with the Wind, Andy Griffith, The Addams Family, Leave it to Beaver, etc. etc. I've almost always got something like that on, as background noise...the soundtracks of our lives, or something like that.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Merry Russian Christmas!

As some of you know, Russians actually get a double dose of Christmas and New Year's, because the Russian Orthodox Church continues to use the Julian calendar, while the society at large follows the Gregorian, as we do here. Many Russians celebrated western Christmas on December 25; now they get their second, as today is Russian Orthodox Christmas. Hooray! Three Cheers! Here is another picture-perfect church to help us mark the occasion, St. Anna-on-the Corner, Moscow.


...and 425, City in History. I think that's it...i HOPE I only have 3 classes this term!

History 425
City in History
Spring ‘08
B. Farley

A fatal moment for Budapest and Hungary—the Trianon Treaty of l920.

First things first: My office is 207J in the west building. You can call me at the office(372-7357), or you can EMAIL me at OR I will always try to get back to you by the next day if at all possible. You can also call me at my ancestral estate in Pendleton, Oregon(541-276-6962). In any case, feel free to get in touch. I don’t bite and at least some people feel that my other habits are satisfactory.
My office hours face-to-face are 4-5:30 pm, Mondays and Wednesdays and whenever else you can catch me on campus. Virtual office hours are 24/7—you can email me anytime and I will try to get back to you as soon as possible, preferably by the next day.

Students with Disabilities: Accommodations are available for students with a documented disability. See Cherish Tijerna, Disability Resources Coordinator, as soon as possible to seek information or to qualify for accommodations. To make an appointment, please call 372-7352. In other words, if you have a learning disability, people and resources are available to help you.

The lowdown: Welcome to History 425, City in History. This is a course that can be done two ways, either concentrating on the role of the city in history or the role of history in a given city. I’m a fan of historical travel, so I lean to the latter rather than the former. This term, we will do an overview of four cities—New York, Budapest, Londonderry and Belfast—and focus on one or two defining events, events that shaped or made that city what it is today. In the case of New York, the Triangle Shirtwaist fire and 9-11 are an obvious touchstone; for Budapest, the ordeal of World War II and then the l956 revolution against Soviet control are both key moments in its evolution. In Londonderry and Belfast, the long-running conflict between Catholic and Protestant citizens of northern(British)Ireland has literally shaped Londonderry and divided Belfast into ethnic enclaves worthy of Iraq. We will read about, and discuss all these places and the force(s)that shaped them in the modern age.
We will have three texts this term: for New York City, City in the Sky, a history of the World Trade Center, whose demise at the hands of the cavemen ushered in the world we now inhabit. The two buildings were always, to put it mildly, star-crossed. For Londonderry and Belfast, John Conroy, Belfast Diary. John Conroy was a Chicago Tribune correspondent who volunteered to live in “The Falls,” the main Catholic neighborhood, for 8 months in the contentious year l980-81. Conroy lived in Belfast, but what he experiences was not much different than what you would’ve found in Londonderry. Then, Michael Korda’s book on the Hungarian revolution against Soviet power, which took place 62 years ago this August. 1956 was the key event in Budapest and Hungarian history in the 20th century, and Journey to a Revolution is a timely look at how the revolution affects the city 60 years later.

Evaluation: We will have two exams, one midterm and one final. Each will be worth 25%. This being a capstone course, you will also have a substantial writing assignment, which I will describe for you in the coming days.

Course objectives: To get to know three major world cities/capitals and how recent history has affected them. To look beyond the buildings and boulevards and learn something of how the history of their respective countries is or is not reflected in them. To think about what makes a great city. To become convinced of the virtues of visiting cities as certified residents of very small towns…


Part I : New York, New York

The beginnings—New Amsterdam, then New York

Revolutionary war and the making of Big Money in New York

The immigrant city

Catastrophe no. 1: Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

The vertical city, the city in the sky

The twin towers

Catastrophe no. 2: September 11, 2001 and the future of New York

Required readings: City in the Sky: Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center. All.
Recommended readings: Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It’s kind of a kids’ book—I read it in 7th grade—but it gives all readers a real flavor of what life was like in Irish/immigrant New York circa l900. It is not a work of glowing nostalgia; it has the ring of authenticity and truth. Bernard Malamud, who died recently, wrote many works chronicling Jewish life in New York, such as The Chosen. Very worthwhile. Also, David Halberstam, Firehouse, one of the best books about 9-11, profiling the ten firefighters lost from the house closest to Halberstam’s home on the upper West Side
Recommended films: Where do you start? King Kong, Midnight Cowboy, Out-of-Towners, Odd Couple, Moscow on the Hudson, Radio Days (actually, almost anything starring Woody Allen), Once Upon a Time in America, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull (almost anything starring Robert DeNiro, who owns an expensive restaurant in lower Manhattan), The Apartment, Breakfast at Tiffany’s…and the list goes on.

First exam after conclusion of New York

Part II: Buda-Pest, tale of two cities

Buda-Pest, capital of the heart of Europe

How Buda-Pest became Budapest

Hungary and Budapest’s Golden Age

World War I and the tragedy of the Trianon Treaty

World War II and the destruction of the Hungarian Jews

Exit Nazis, enter Russians

1956: Budapest fights back

Budapest in the new Europe

Required readings: Korda, Journey to a Revolution, all.
Recommended readings: The Budapest Sun, English-language newspaper for Budapest. It isn’t a great source of hard news, but it does have interesting feature articles about the city and its culture.
Recommended film: “Sunshine,” starring Ralph Fiennes. Four generations of a Hungarian Jewish family, set in Budapest, and widely available in video stores here.

Part III: Londonderry and Belfast, cities shaped by war

Origins of Catholic and Protestant conflict

1968: beginnings of the Troubles

London-Derry, divided city in a divided country

Belfast, “Titanic town” and ethnic enclaves

1972: Bloody Sunday, Bloody Friday

Evolution of the Troubles

Londonderry and Belfast, a decade after Good Friday

Required readings: Conroy, Belfast Diary, all
Recommended readings: Eamonn McCann, War and an Irish Town, about life in Londonderry as a Catholic; Geoffrey Beattie, Protestant Boy, the life and education of a Protestant youth from Belfast.
Recommended films: “Michael Collins,” with Liam Neeson; “Patriot Games,” with Harrison Ford. Both deal with the Irish Republican Army and the Catholic perspective on the struggles; both are excellent.

Paper due date TBA before dead week. Second exam during finals week.

History 469, the writin' class

Continuing with the drumroll accompaniment, 469...

History 469
Seminar in History
WSUTC spring ’08
B. Farley

Essential details: Office is 207j on faculty row in WEST bldg; tel. 372-7357(office), 541-276-6962(ancestral estate). Emails, You can now send to either or both emails because I can actually view and read attachments now on the school email. Wonders truly never cease.
Office hours face-to-face this term are 4-5:30 pm, Mondays and Wednesdays. In addition, on days we are not meeting as a group, which is most of the second part of the term and some days before, you all have first priority. VIRTUAL OFFICE HOURS are 24/7 on email. I will always try to get back to you at least by the next day.

Students with Disabilities: Accommodations are available for students with a documented disability. See Cherish Tijerna, Disability Resources Coordinator, as soon as possible to seek information or to qualify for accommodations. To make an appointment, please call 372-7352. Translation from Officialspeak: If you have a learning disability, people and resources are available to help you.

Introduction: Welcome to History 469, Seminar in History. This is the place where you will get the opportunity to produce a nice piece of historical research and writing, something which you have hopefully been preparing since History 300, the pre-requisite for this course. That is your major assignment, to research and write a 10-15 page paper on a topic of your choosing in 20th century European and American history. This will be something that you can present with confidence to a potential employer, or as a writing sample for graduate or professional school.
What we will do in this course is a) meet Mondays and some Wednesdays during the first few weeks of the semester. During that time, we will cover the essentials of bringing your original idea or the one you developed earlier to fruition—finding and/or refining a topic, how to find and use sources, how to evaluate and present information from sources, bias and how to avoid or minimize it, and generally the dos and don’ts of writing about history. The main point about that last matter is: be honest, and avoid trying for spectacular or controversial findings. Your task is to determine what happened with/to your subject, wherever that might lead you.
Also during this first few weeks, you will be reading ONE REALLY, REALLY FINE piece of work in American history: Doris Kearns Goodwin’s OUTSTANDING book on Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt during World War II, No Ordinary Time. I want you to read this first because she uses a diversity of sources to maximum advantage and makes them work for her. This book is serious and substantive, yet full of humanity and telling anecdotes. DKG is an ordinary mortal who produced this wonderful portrait; YOU are an ordinary mortal capable of doing the same thing. Oh, and did I mention that you will have an in-class quiz on this book in mid-February?
The second part of the course consists of your producing your DKG-style work, doing your research, putting the paper together and making sure the product meets standards of excellence in terms of diversity of sources, writing and editing. We will do that part together as well, face-to-face and in cyberspace. After we finish the in-class part of the course, I will be in the office during the class period exclusively to talk with anyone who has a question or an issue. In any case, you will turn in to me a rough draft by March 31, I will return it to you with comments, and you will then return to me a finished product by April l6.
In between, you have an excellent resource in the Marius book on how to conduct research in and write history. You also have first priority in the office and on email…I’m basically available at any time to help with ideas, editing, and whatever issues come up during the “birth” of this paper.

NB: Please stop by my blog,, periodically, for updates, announcements and between-classes happenings.

January 7-9: Course Introduction: types of history AND how to choose and/or refine a topic you have already chosen.
Your task: Produce a topic, presented in a coherent paragraph, by January l4. Read 2 chapters of Marius, also 2 chapters of Goodwin

January 14-16: Discussion of paper topics. Then: types of sources and how to use them
Your task: Investigate all possible primary sources accessible in this area and make a list of secondary sources. Continue with Marius and Goodwin.

January 22: NO CLASS this week. Searching for and getting what you need
Your task: Start gathering your sources. Continue with Marius and Goodwin.

January 29: Nuts and bolts of writing, part I: organization and note-taking
Finish Marius and Goodwin

February 7: Nuts and bolts of writing, part I: editing and annotating
Continue with Goodwin.

February l1-13: History on film, TBA

February 21-23: NO CLASS February 21, Prexies’ Day; QUIZ on DKG on February 23.
Your task: Read, make notes and WRITE SOMETHING EVERY DAY for the next couple of months. If you do those things, the paper will materialize.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Back by popular(?!)demand...

SYLLABI, '08 editions. First up is History 450, Europe since l945...

History 450—Europe since ‘45
Spring ‘08

Contact Info: 207j West Building/372-7357(office), 541-276-6962(home). Face-to-face office hours: Monday-Wednesday, 4-5:30 pm and by appointment, Virtual office hours 24/7 via email, or Email was made for me—I don’t like talking on the phone and I always try to answer any communiqué I get that same day. Please feel free to get in touch anytime.

Make it a point to visit the class blog at for updates, syllabi, test questions and miscellaneous information and opinion. If you’ve forgotten or lost something, you can find it here, and you are always welcome to leave comments, using your real name or a pseudonym…

The Lowdown

Well, we’re back to contemplating Modern Europe, or Europe since l945, again. I was not sure what to do about this period in 2005, and I am no more so in 2008. Europe is allegedly united, but divided into more and less “established” camps of states. It supposedly saw the light and renounced war and violence after the horror of the Holocaust, yet was wracked by some of the worst genocide and ethnic cleansing of the century in the territories of the former Yugoslavia in the l990s. It touts itself as modern, tolerant and accepting, yet is continually threatened, and sometimes hit, by alienated young men who have embraced militant Islam. There is no grand national narrative, no unifying theme, that we can lean on in studying the modern history of this region. Therefore, we will look at several episodes in the period that seem to be particularly interesting and/or enlightening, and hope for the best. The first will be the uniting, then division, then reconstruction of postwar Europe, followed by the rise of anticolonialism, with particular emphasis on France and its desperate attempts to hold on to Algeria, Tunisia and Indochina. Then we will examine the Year That Was in Europe as well as America—l968—because we “celebrate” its 40th anniversary this year. The development of a vicious, prolonged conflict between Protestants and Catholics in northern Ireland comes next, and then the story behind the reunification of Europe in l989, the year that everything seemed to become possible.
Since we will be concentrating on four or five key episodes in European history, it seems reasonable to work in some crucial films highlighting some singular aspect of each. Besides, I like film, and Europeans do a great job on them. The first will be the newly relevant “Battle of Algiers,” to accompany the Alastair Horne classic. Next comes “Oratorio for Prague,” a film that began to chronicle the miraculous “Prague Spring” of l968, but ended up being shut down by invading Soviet forces sent to crush it.
“Bloody Sunday,” a re-creation of the worst day of the northern Irish conflict, will be the third offering. Closing out the term will be “Goodbye, Lenin,” an hilarious comment on the end of Communist Europe.


The readings pretty much go chronologically, and as usual, we were limited to what is in print at the moment. Still, the books are pretty good. We begin with the text, Felix Gilbert’s End of the European Era, l890-present. I’m not sure the European era is actually over, but he covers the events between l945 and now very well. I actually have read that book, a TEXT, several times. Alastair Horne’s classic study of the French struggle with its Algerian colony comes next. This book has new relevance in light of the US war in Iraq, since both US and French officials used torture on insurgents, a very controversial development. Heda Kovaly’s memoir, Under a Cruel Star, demonstrates how cruel and unforgiving the Communist regimes were, and how dreadful it was to get Communism as soon as the Nazis were vanquished. With respect to the Irish conflict, one highlight is the determination of a group of Catholic prisoners outside Belfast to resist being categorized as common criminals. They believed they were POLITICAL PRISONERS, not criminals, and deserved to be treated as such. The difference between them and a lot of ordinary mortals is that they were willing to die the most gruesome death in order to dramatize their convictions. The “Hunger Strikers” of l980-81 are the subject of David Beresford’s Ten Men Dead. Whether or not you agree with their ideas, you will be stunned by their resolve. Finally, Timothy Garton Ash’s modern classic, The Magic Lantern, so called since it was thought at the time that only magic, or supernatural forces, could put an end to Soviet domination in eastern Europe. As it happened, it wasn’t magic at all, it was a man named Gorbachev, but there certainly was an otherworldly quality to the events of l989, which united Europe after 50 years of division.


Modern Europe is an M class, meaning writing across the curriculum, It is impractical for everyone to write a term paper, so we will resort to an old warhorse: the semester-long reading and writing assignment(40%). One thing we WON’T probably get to is the dramatic expansion of the European Union that we witnessed in 2003 and continue to watch as the 21st century continues. Thus, YOU will cover this for yourself. You will select one of the countries admitted in 2004(Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia)OR one of the countries now seeking and/or preparing for admission(Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria, Turkey), seek out 1-3 articles per week dealing with that country. You can select articles that reflect a sort of general acquaintance, or narrow your focus to something specific, like the economy, tourism, political challenges, minority rights issues, etc. You will summarize each article in a paragraph or two, then store the summaries in a folder. About two weeks before the end of the semester, you will write a 3-5 page paper summarizing your findings for a business that is seeking to establish itself there. What are the most important current issues with which these business people should be familiar as they move into the country? Both your summaries AND your final paper will form the basis for your grade on this part of the course, since this is a “writing across the curriculum” offering.
The writing exercise will be worth 40% of the final grade. Other than that, we’ll have a geography midterm, for 20%, a regular midterm(20%) and a final, or second midterm(20%).


Part I, l945-53: Victory, Unity, Recovery, Division, Confrontation

Background to l945

The “big three” and planning for the postwar: two Europes??

Europe and the Marshall Plan: Recovery, retribution, reconquest

The Berlin crisis

Two postwars

Readings: Gilbert, beginnings to chapter 12; start Horne, Savage War of Peace
Recommended readings: Norman Naimark, Russians in Germany, l945-49; Anthony Beevor, Paris after the Liberation, l945-49.
Recommended film: “Judgment at Nuremberg.”

GEOGRAPHY midterm after this section(!). Yes, you will finally have to learn the map of Europe, with all those brand-new countries in it, like Slovenia…or is it SLOVAKIA?!

Part II, The l950s: Reaction/revolt

The east in crisis: Berlin, Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin

The west in crisis: France and the “colonial wars:” Indochina, Algeria, Tunisia

Featured film: “The Battle of Algiers(l956).”

Readings: Gilbert, chapters 13-14; Horne, all
Recommended readings: Roy Medvedev, Khrushchev: a Biography. Bernard Fall, Street without Joy, Hell in a Very Small Place; Robert Dallek, JFK: An Unfinished Life(new bio of President Kennedy).
Recommended films: “Indochine,” starring Catherine De Neuve

Garden-variety midterm exam after this section…

Part III: l968, the Year that Rocked the World

The USA: reversals, riots, bloody murder

The French crisis

The Czechoslovak l960s and the Prague Spring, January-August l968

Featured film: “Oratorio for Prague(l968).”

Readings: Gilbert, ch. 14; Kovaly, Under a Cruel Star, all.
Recommended readings: William Shawcross, Dubcek; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., RFK: His Life and Times; James Simon Kunen, The Strawberry Statement: Notes of a College Revolutionary; David Maraniss, They Marched into Sunlight

Part IV: The “Troubles” in Ireland

Prelude to a crisis: Catholics and Protestants in northern Ireland to l967

Catholics and the “Civil Rights movement,” l968-69

“Battle of the Bogside” and the coming of the British Army

Playing hardball with the British: Bobby Sands and the Irish hunger strikers

The road to Good Friday

Featured film: “Bloody Sunday(2003).”

Readings: Beresford, Ten Men Dead, all.
Recommended readings: John Conroy, Belfast Diary; Tim Pat Coogan, On the Blanket.

Part V: Europe re-uniting, l985-89

Ferment in the east: Gorbachev, Reagan and nuclear Europe

Gorbachev and the “satellites”

The “Sinatra doctrine.”

The end of the Berlin wall and the “German problem.”

Featured film: “Goodbye, Lenin(2003)!”

Readings: Gilbert, chapters 16-17; Garton Ash, The Magic Lantern, all.
Recommended readings: : David Remnick, Lenin’s Tomb: the Last Days of the Soviet Empire; Slavenka Drakulic, How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed.

Final exam-- second midterm, actually-- at the scheduled time