Sunday, June 19, 2011

Giverny notecards - my picture from Monet's water garden

I love turning my photos into notecards.  It's a drag that Shutterfly doesn't let you put a photo credit on the back, though --might as well get them pre-printed from the store.

5x7 Folded Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Conservative Historians

One thing I like about right-wing historians of the Ashbrook Institute/Claremont/Naval War College variety is that they take ideas seriously. Fashionably-trained historians avidly collect ideas like trading cards or shiny objects in a jackdaw’s nest; they are excited by their novelty or rarity but basically unconcerned about their content or, God forbid, their "truth." That is someone else's department, and it's not a department they ever plan to visit.  Conservative historians, on the contrary, are as excited about the big ideas--human nature, the best form of government, the balance of liberty and order, and so on—as bright eighth graders, and that’s a compliment. It does tend to make their solutions to current problems simplistic and dogmatic; not that the up-to-date solutions are proving any more successful.  I wonder, as well, whether these thinking conservatives’ dogmatism does not result in part from the unwillingness, or inability, of the orthodox historical establishment to engage with them seriously on an equal level. 

What makes me think about this subject is a book I just borrowed from the UConn library called Enlightened Republicanism: A Study in Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia.  It's by David Tucker, whose bio describes him as "an associate professor in the Department of Defense Analysis and codirector of the Center on Terrorism and Irregular Warfare at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California."  His other books are on U.S. special ops forces and confronting unconventional warfare.  His book on Notes is one of the clearest, most insightful, and least tendentious analyses of the subject I have read.  It has the drawback (not rare in such studies, I'm afraid) of having virtually nothing to say about Jefferson's racist and irrational pronouncements in Query 14; but it is nonetheless one of the most useful works I have consulted in writing my article on Jefferson.