Huck Finn

scrittori e scritture; libri e riviste; racconti e raccontati


The New York Review of Books: The Blood Lust of Identity Identity is a bloody business. Religion, nationality, or race may not be the primary causes of war and mass murder. These are more likely to be tyranny, or greed for territory, wealth, and power. But "identity" is what gets the blood boiling, what makes people do unspeakable things to their neighbors. It is the fuel used by agitators to set whole countries on fire. When the world is reduced to a battle between "us and them," Germans and Jews, Hindus and Muslims, Catholics and Protestants, Hutus and Tutsis, only mass murder will do, for "we" can only survive if "they" are slaughtered. Before we kill them, "they" must be stripped of our common humanity, by humiliating them, degrading them, and giving them numbers instead of names.


The New York Review of Books: Bad for the Jews
The Popes Against the Jews: The Vatican's Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism
by David I. Kertzer
Knopf, 355 pp., $27.95
Five years ago David Kertzer wrote a well-received book about the kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, a six-year-old Jewish boy in Bologna who, in 1858, was taken from his family with the approval of Pope Pius IX on the grounds that he had been baptized by a Catholic house servant.[*] For historians of the papacy that was a bad moment in the reign of Pius IX. David Kertzer's account of it showed how strong secular opposition could be used by a conservative pope to vindicate a defiant and politically damaging position in the name of what he considered to be higher, Christian truth.
This led Kertzer to undertake research into the history of Jews in Rome during the last decades of the Rome ghetto, which ended when the Piedmontese army occupied Rome in September 1870 and the Papal States were no more. Kertzer's work convinced him that history concentrates too narrowly on the pope's record between 1939 and 1945. He believed that anti-Jewish prejudice among Christians was a necessary background for the Holocaust and that the Vatican bore a heavy responsibility for this prejudice. Hence he continued his studies into the modern age, the years between 1870 and the early years of World War II.


Goodwin, it will be recalled, has been locked into the pillory by journalistic moralists for what might be called questionable practices. Goodwin grinds out books the way Oscar Mayer grinds out wieners, though apparently with rather less attention to what manner of offal might end up inside. It was discovered last month, as a byproduct of the witch hunt that exposed Stephen E. Ambrose's penchant for using the words of other writers in his own texts without pausing to give the original authors due credit, that Goodwin has been guilty of what looks for all the world like exactly the same thing.
There are any number of good old-fashioned words for what this certainly seems to be, but the one that was most commonly used until recent vintage brought things up to date was "plagiarize." The ever-helpful and pithy Mr. Webster defines it as: "to steal and pass off as one's own (the ideas or words of another); use (a created production) without crediting the source . . .; to commit literary theft: present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source." But Goodwin, in fessing up to her transgressions, said they were "absolutely not" plagiarism. Instead, she said, she had "borrowed" phrases and passages and facts from Lynne McTaggart (author of "Kathleen Kennedy: Her Life and Times") and others in her own book "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys."
Whether this is in truth.

Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | The re-vision thing
The re-vision thing

Why are contemporary biographers and historians so afraid of footnotes?
Kathryn Hughes
Sunday February 17, 2002
The Observer