Heather Cox Richardson has her own YouTube channel now. She’s continuing with the Facebook chats (and in her History and Politics chat she explains why) and then posting them onto You Tube. Her History and Politics Chat of 26 May 2020 looks at the influence of the ‘Spanish’ flu on the November 1918 election (she doesn’t think it had that much influence); the question of whether Ford was right to pardon Nixon (she says no because it was a precedent for presidents being above the law- although she does note that Ford also pardoned ‘draft-dodgers’ who had fled to Canada, so it was supposed to be a ‘pardons for everyone’ gesture; and she finished off talking about propaganda.
The History and Politics Chat of 9 June 2020answered three questions 1. What happened to the Baby Boomers? Why didn’t they have more effect on society? (Her answer: after Goldwater’s defeat, the Movement Conservatives moved into more bread-and-butter local elected positions – school boards, text book boards etc- and exerted their influence on day-to-day life). 2. The creation of Washington D.C. (not very interesting for an Australian listener) 3. Why does Mitch McConnell have so much power in the Senate? (Because the Senate Republicans keep supporting him). And she finished off describing what a ‘doglicker’ was.
Her History Chat of 28 May is a break between her most recent book How the South Won the Civil War and her previous book about the history of the Republican Party. In this episode she looks at a letter purported to have been written by Jourdan Anderson to his former slave owner Col. P. H. Anderson on August 7, 1865. This was after Lincoln had been assassinated but before Congress reconvened. She reads the letter, then deconstructs it as a historian does. It’s a good example of historic method.
The Documentary (BBC) has been running its Lockdown series, but this is the last one. This seems strange given that the trajectory of the pandemic is still unknown. With the Lockdown series, they invite ordinary people to upload a recording via their phones, talking about how the lockdown has affected their day-to-day life. This episode Lockdown Tales from Panama and Brazil actually has input from more countries than these two, including Rwanda, Australia and America. In the American one, the caller is going to resist any further restrictions as an infringement on his constitutional rights. I wanted to kick him.
Another episode In my present isolation takes a very old-fashioned approach of asking six writers on different continents to physically write a chain letter, adding their own perspectives to what has been written previously. As you might expect, it’s beautifully expressed and it makes you regret even more that the art of letter writing has been replaced by emails and Twitter.
Start the Week (BBC) had an interesting discussion on a program called Our Coercive Politics, featuring David Runciman, presenter of a 12 part podcast series Talking Politics: History of Ideas and Ute Frevert, the author of The Politics of Humiliation: A Modern History (which sounds really interesting). The discussion ranges across the power of the state during the covid pandemic; Hobbes, Gandhi and Fanon; the power of humiliation; and George Floyd.
Outlook (BBC World) If you’re a millionaire who has climbed the highest peak on all the continents, done Antarctica etc. etc. what’s left to do? Go in a one-man submersible to the deepest part of the five oceans. That’s why Victor did in Voyage to the bitter deep. And what did they find there? The Titanic, and plastic.
Saturday Extra with Geraldine Doogue usually has some good segments. This old one How do we view James Cook 250 years later features historians John Gascoigne (writer of many works about navigation and the Enlightenment), Mark McKenna (recent Quarterly Essay: Moment of Truth: History and Australia’s Future) and Alison Page, artist, creative, Councillor at the National Maritime Museum and Chair of the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence. They mentioned a book very much championed by the right (i.e. foreword by John Howard; praised by Keith Windschuttle; featured at the Sydney Institute) called Lying for the Admiralty by Margaret Cameron-Ash. In it, she argues that Cook didn’t miss Sydney Cove at all, but instead was following secret Admiralty orders to keep quiet about important discoveries for fear that the French would settle there instead. I haven’t heard of this book, or any academic response to it.
Rear Vision Here I was, thinking that it was a new program-1929 Revisited– but instead it was first broadcast on 27 April 2008, after the GFC. Still, listening to the gyrations of the stock market on the news each night, inexplicably rising in the midst of Covid-19, it’s sobering to see that in the months leading up to October-November 1929, the share market was bobbing around then too.
My understanding is that McConnell sits on an enormous pot of re-election funds which he distributes and withholds at will.
Captain Cook hikes to Sydney Harbour
How do we view James Cook 250 years later? Answer: seek out good, original research such as that provided in “Lying for the Admiralty”.
For instance, how do we explain the fact that Arthur Phillip had prior knowledge of the “several islands” in Sydney Harbour? Most historians sweep this problem under the carpet because it seems impossible to explain, which is a great loss for history-lovers. Luckily, three historians have highlighted the problem.
The first was George Barton, elder brother of our first Prime Minister, Edmond Barton. His explanation was that Phillip was mistakenly thinking of Port Stephens. But this doesn’t work, because Phillip knew the islands were much closer to Botany Bay than Port Stephens is.
The second was Professor Alan Frost who suggested that someone had spotted the islands from the deck of the Endeavour as she sailed past Sydney Heads. However, this doesn’t work either, because you can’t see ‘round corners.
The third person to tackle the problem is me. After dismissing drones and helicopters, I bribed a friend to shinny up the mast of the tall ship, James Craig, when it was off The Gap, but he saw nothing. Then, when I was attending the Moonlight Cinema in Sydney’s Centennial Park, I realized that Cook had walked overland from Botany Bay to Port Jackson, as hundreds of bushwalkers do every year.
Of course, there is other supporting evidence that Cook saw Sydney Harbour, including Cook’s failure to investigate any other sub-tropical inlet on the coast, plus an excess of blather over substance in his Journal for the week he spent in Botany Bay. But the most intriguing evidence is Arthur Phillip’s memo, written in 1787.
“Lying for the Admiralty” went into reprint within 12 months of publication.
The book has been widely praised:
‘the most significant contribution to Cook studies since Beaglehole’s edition of the journals’: Paul Brunton, Emeritus Curator, State Library of NSW
‘turns history on its head’: Dr. Nigel Erskine, Head of Research, Australian National Maritime Museum
Thank you for your blog.
Author of “Lying for the Admiralty: Captain Cook’s Endeavour Voyage”
Rosenberg Publishing, 2018, 2019.