Monthly Archives: March 2014

Thoughtful?

Janet Napolitano eschews the Oxford comma, a sin for which I cannot forgive her, but at least she holds views on online education that are relatively sane:

“It’s not a silver bullet, the way it was originally portrayed to be. It’s a lot harder than it looks, and by the way if you do it right it doesn’t save all that much money, because you still have to have an opportunity for students to interact with either a teaching assistant or an assistant professor or a professor at some level.”

She also notes that preparing online classes costs money and suggests that high-achieving students, who tend to do well regardless of the circumstances in which they’re taught, benefit the most from online education. Which is to say, she’s familiarized herself with the (admittedly as-yet not definitive) literature on the subject. Coupled with her insistence that UC faculty wear TSA uniforms, I’m liking her more and more.

The paper of record.

Given that the Times has now printed this announcement, I suppose I have to accept that my book has actually been awarded the Bancroft Prize, that, in other words, this isn’t all some elaborate hoax. I mean, when has the Times ever been wrong about any matter of great import? (I’m not even going to bother linking to Judith Miller, because that would be overkill.)

Honestly, I’m not sure what to say about any of this. I’m very pleased, of course, and very confused and more than a little embarrassed. I’m gratified to be sharing the award with Ira Katznelson, who’s a giant in the field and who has long been one of my intellectual heroes.

Most of all, though, I’m grateful to the many people who helped me along the way: friends and colleagues who read draft after draft of the manuscript, warning me away from errors and steering me toward productive lines of inquiry; generous archivists and other historians, who often shared fruitful sources with me; funders and employers, who provided the resources necessary to complete a project as sweeping as A Misplaced Massacre; the many folks who agreed to sit for interviews, including National Park Service personnel, local landowners, and Sand Creek descendants, all of whom took real risks in speaking with me on the record; everyone at Harvard University Press, and especially my stalwart editor, Kathleen McDermott, who allowed me to take the time I needed to write the book I wanted to write; and most of all, the members of my family, who brought me enough joy that I was able to spend years thinking and writing about an event as sad and terrible as Sand Creek.

Writing a book is almost always a team effort, and never more so than in this case.

More crowdsourced history.

Jonathan and I are struggling with how to depict the spread of slavery in the early nineteenth century. If you check out the page below (it’s clickable), you’ll see what we’ve got so far.

slavery page

The problem, as we see it, is that the image we’ve used, which is intended to evoke the classic drawing of the slave ship Brookes, might look to some readers like a board game. And if that’s the case, then the expansion of slavey will look like the slaves are winning.

If you have any ideas for how we can fix this, please let me know.