“Revising” history? A new historical marker for Sherman’s March

A new historical marker has gone up in Atlanta, and it is raising questions about historical “revisionism” and how events in the past– especially destructive and emotionally-fraught events, such as Sherman’s March to the Sea– how remembered and memorialized, how they are — literally– set in stone for the future.  ALTJPATLANTA1-articleLarge

“There’s still a strong resentment for what happened and how it happened and for Sherman himself,” Dr. James C. Cobb said. “They want to whitewash everything and make it so much nicer than it was. It wasn’t nice. War isn’t.

“You all the time run into college kids who don’t know which side Sherman was on — and their parents and certainly their grandparents would be aghast to know that. It’s not just a matter of education. It’s a matter of being the blank slate that younger generations present for revision or education that older generations don’t because they’re steeped in the mythology of their ancestors.”

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A Weapon Seen as Too Horrible, Even in War

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A Weapon Seen as Too Horrible, Even in War – NYTimes.com.

As America and the president and Congress debate the reaction to Syria’s use of chemical weapons, this is a particularly timely example of the “uses of the past”– on the history and legacy of chemical warfare, with special attention to its horrific use during World War I.

Gas attacks are not pretty–not in Syria, not on the battlefields of Europe in 1918-19.  The use of chlorine gas by Germans against their enemies was widely condemned, and remains one of the most enduring memories of World War I.

 

 

Photography and the Vietnam War

An article in today’s Times about a new interest in the photography of the Vietnam War, through a new book and exhibitions.  We could note here, too, that the photograph here– soldiers in a jungle clearing near Hue, in April 1968– is one of the key images in The 1968 Exhibit, which just closed in Philadelphia and is on its way to the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis (opens October 5, 2013).

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“Now, amid a flurry of anniversary commemorations of that tumultuous era and a surge of interest in war photography, The A.P. has, for the first time, culled its estimated 25,000 Vietnam photographs and reprinted some 250 in a book, “Vietnam: The Real War,” with an introduction by Pete Hamill, to be published by Abrams on Oct. 1.”

Rape by American Soldiers in World War II France – NYTimes.com

An astounding new book about American soldiers in France during World War II– and their record of sexual assault.

This falls firmly under the heading of “revisionist” history, and it’s interesting how much of the article deals with past readings of this material.

 

Rape by American Soldiers in World War II France – NYTimes.com.