But let’s be honest, it’s impossible to study the past without feeling something. Confusion, fascination, excitement—this is what motivates historians to spend their days poring over obscure manuscripts.
Could Alvarenga really have drifted for 8000 miles from Mexico to the Ebon atoll in the Marshall Islands? If we look into the history of the great Pacific Ocean, we find several stories of survival that suggest Alvarenga is not telling the truth.
In the study of history, it’s easy to fall back on national identities: “Irish music,” an “English accent,” “American Exceptionalism” are just a few examples. But a closer examination of the local cultures—music, dialects, history—that exist within nations demonstrates how misleading those generalizations can be. Just look through one of the British Library’s “Sound Maps” and you’ll be convinced.
My mother, Rae Straw, and her friend Pam had an odd assignment in 1979 for two travel agents from Houston: selling the Soviet Union to American tourists. For travel agents, such familiarization or “FAM” trips were a regular occurrence, but going to the Soviet Union during the preparations for the 1980 Moscow Olympics was a unique experience.
How to Cook and Eat in Chinese was the earliest popular, English-language guide to Chinese cooking. First published in 1945 and reprinted several times, it remains in wide use today.
Does history offer lessons for the present? Skeptics about the possibility of drawing meaningful, specific, and persuasive lessons from history may be strengthened in their views by the two documents below.
by Julia Gossard and Shaherzad Ahmadi
Last week scholars from around the world gathered at the UT Institute for Historical Studies for a conference on Chinese diaspora and the Cold War. The conference was organized by UT historian Madeline Hsu and her colleagues in Hong Kong and the US. You can read a summary of the research they presented here.
In the months following his resounding electoral triumph over Barry Goldwater in November 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson made momentous decisions to escalate U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. Most consequentially, he ordered the bombing of North Vietnam: first retaliatory strikes following a National Liberation Front attack on the U.S.
What might a future national monument to the Iraq war look like? This month marks 10 years since that conflict began on March 20, 2003. From a decade on, we can only begin to see how future historians and future generations will interpret the war and what questions they will ask. For now, Americans seem inclined to put it behind them.