Tuesday, April 27, 2010
History is the lie we all agree to
On his show the other night Bill Maher ran through a list Dwight D. Eisenhower's accomplishments as president of the United States, everything from imagining and building the freeways to his famous falling out with (and warnings about) the military-industrialist complex. He was making the point that Ike was one of the few presidents we've ever had who was willing to say fuck you and get something done, pissing off both sides if he needed to. He wasn't perfect but he was a giant compared to the presidents of the last half of the century and the first decade of this one.
Actually my favorite Ike story is when (according to famous left journalist Murray Kempton (whom Ike enjoyed--they kidded each other all the time and sometimes drank together)...when Ike was in the hotel room at the GOP convention of 52 trying to decide who his running mate should be somebody said "Ike, How about Dick Nixon?" According to the story (and God please say it's true) Ike looked up and said `Who's' Nick Dixon?'" Ike was a Dem but they wanted Adlai Stevenson. Good call.
When Voltaire said "History is the lie we all agree to" he sure wasn't exaggerating. This story is distressing in many ways and is becoming more and more familiar to those of us who have grown leery of certain historians.
From The Guardian UK
Band Of Brothers author accused of fabrication for Eisenhower biography
US academic world shocked as respected historian is said to have 'made up' meetings with 34th US president
His book Band of Brothers – which chronicled the exploits of one company of US airborne troops in second world war Europe – was turned into a highly praised TV series.
But now American historian Professor Stephen Ambrose, who was President Dwight D Eisenhower's official biographer and wrote or edited more than a dozen books about him, is embroiled in a posthumous controversy. It is alleged that he invented many meetings he claimed to have had with Eisenhower, and even fabricated entire interviews with him. The revelations have sent shock waves through the scholarly community in the United States.
The books written by Ambrose, who died in 2002, brought him popular acclaim, and director Steven Spielberg used him as a military adviser on his 1998 Oscar-winning film Saving Private Ryan. Band of Brothers became a cultural milestone when it was turned into a TV series on which Ambrose was a producer. It was hailed for educating an entire generation about the sacrifices of their forefathers. But it appears that Ambrose indulged in some sort of fantasy about the extent of his relationship with Eisenhower. In TV interviews, he claimed to have spent "hundreds and hundreds of hours" with the former president. He even once said he would spend two days a week working with Eisenhower in his office.
However, recently studied records of Eisenhower's meetings contradict the notion that the pair had any lengthy face-to-face contact. "I think five hours [in total] is a generous estimation of the actual time they spent together. I personally would push it back to less than two or three," said Tim Rives, deputy director of the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas.
for the rest go here: