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Bernie’s Cold War: To Yaroslavl with Love

Last week, amid the upheaval in the Democratic primaries, the New York Times published a piece on the 1988 efforts of then-mayor Bernie Sanders to establish Burlington as a sister city to Yaroslavl in the Soviet Union. The headline, “As Bernie Sanders Pushed for Closer Ties, Soviet Union Spotted Opportunity,” sounds sinister, but the article […]... Read More
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A Terrible Beauty: Patrick Radden Keefe’s Say Nothing

When I think of the Troubles, I remember the summer I spent abroad in Ireland. I think about visiting Belfast, where we went forth from the world-class Titanic Museum to explore streets filled with murals, flags, and “peace walls” still dividing Catholics and Protestants. I think of the walking tour we took in Derry, the […]... Read More
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An Evolving Institution: John Groom’s Crippleage and the Interwar Years

Two years ago, I stumbled across an advertisement while reading Headway, the monthly bulletin of Britain’s League of Nations Union. It was an intentionally striking and provocative image featuring a silhouette of a young woman with the following caption: This is Helen . . . She paints beautiful flowers. We cannot show her full portrait. […]... Read More
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Judging the Past: The Historian as Ethicist

As I was reading Alexander Watson’s Ring of Steel for an upcoming Concerning History Book Club post, I was struck by how easily perspective can be lost when dealing with subjects that we find morally unacceptable. Ring of Steel offers a different portrait of the war than most English-language accounts. Early on, Watson argues that […]... Read More

Constructing the Ivory Tower: Julie Reuben’s Making of the Modern University

Among its critics within and beyond the Ivory Tower, academia carries a reputation for looking critically at anything except itself. That criticism isn’t always fair, but it’s also not unfounded. When I recently read The Making of the Modern University by Julie Reuben, I found the account to be an important corrective to academia’s problem of not knowing its own history. Even though I have an interest in this history and have come across parts of it before, I was surprised at how wrong I was in my understanding of the history of higher ed, and especially the transformations it underwent between the mid-1800s and the mid-2000s.... Read More
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What is Leadership? What was Leadership?

In a Readers Digest article written during his retirement, Dwight Eisenhower ruminated about the characteristics of leadership. Beyond a certain “X Factor” that he chose to leave to psychologists to explain, Eisenhower identified selfless dedication, courage and conviction, fortitude, humility, thorough homework, and the power of persuasion. President Eisenhower was hardly the first person to […]... Read More