Sifting the Ashes of Counterinsurgency: The Role of America’s Phoenix Program in the Vietnam War

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Fifty years ago the North Vietnamese launched the Tet Offensive, a multi-pronged military campaign that underscored South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu’s inability to protect his country’s urban areas from attack.

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Although the assaults were eventually repulsed, the heightened focus on the defense of South Vietnamese cities exposed rural areas to greater infiltration by the National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) cadre, consisting of civilians and paramilitary personnel collaborating with the communist North.

America formalized the Phoenix Program in 1967 as a means of addressing just this eventuality. Through a melding of rural development with intelligence gathering and targeted detention and killing of suspected Viet Cong, they hoped to turn the tide of the war to the South and democracy.

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Sifting the Ashes of Counterinsurgency: The Role of America’s Phoenix Program in the Vietnam War

Better Learning, Better Classrooms: Why Newspapers Matter

rapt.jpgAlmost every week I’m asked, “How can we use historical newspapers to teach undergraduates?”

Great question!

Mostly it’s faculty who come to me asking for this advice, but librarians wonder about this, too.

Faculty (mostly professors of history, politics, government, and cultural studies) want to be sure their students have an experience in which they truly “touch history.” There’s also a strong desire to have students work directly with primary sources and draw their own conclusions from the materials they encounter. The objective is to instill knowledge, understanding, and critical-thinking skills. That’s a formula, they all agree, for student success.

Historical newspapers, including Readex’s own America's Historical Newspapers, hit the target in every respect. Here are just a few of the ways:

► Students cannot truly understand an event in America’s past without seeing firsthand and in real-time what people said about it. Newspapers are the only certain vehicle for this.

►Newspapers capture “the voice of the moment,” unprocessed, unfiltered, direct, and raw. Students instantly grasp this fact, which drives interest and excitement. Sometimes it even leads to great student papers and presentations!

►Newspapers offer multiple points of view, often across a time span of many days or months or years. They fit perfectly with assignments that require pro-and-con analysis. They also fit perfectly with assignments that ask students to synthesize multiple arguments across time. Newspapers provide most—and sometimes all—of the material a student needs.

Better Learning, Better Classrooms: Why Newspapers Matter

Lithographs, Life Studies and Pen-Pictures: Rare 19th-Century Visual Representations of the American Civil War

The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society now includes two little-known works filled with compelling pictorial representations of the war and its troops.  Also newly digitized this month is a heavily illustrated account of the March through Georgia.


Album of the Campaign of 1861 in Western Virginia (1862)

This rare volume includes 20 detailed lithographs by illustrator J. Nep Roesler who served with the 47th Ohio Volunteers. Other than a title under each print, there is no text. 

 

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Lithographs, Life Studies and Pen-Pictures: Rare 19th-Century Visual Representations of the American Civil War

Readex collection wins a Choice 2017 Outstanding Academic Title award!

The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society has been a named a 2017 Outstanding Academic Title by Choice, the review publication of the American College & Research Libraries division of ALA. The award is for excellence in presentation and scholarship, the significance of its contribution to the field, its originality and value as an essential treatment of its subject, and significance in building undergraduate collections.

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The award is based on Choice’s review of The American Slavery Collection, which appeared in its August 2017 issue.  Here’s an excerpt:

The American Slavery Collection…comprises more than 3,500 works held by the American Antiquarian Society among its vast collection of material….These credentials tell researchers that they are accessing the finest in peer-reviewed or expert-selected material. A number of developments in the study of popular culture in the last decade, including the intractable plague of racism still afflicting society, have again popularized the examination of slavery and leading students and scholars worldwide to pursue the truth about this ‘peculiar institution.’ Primary sources are always the most reliable for understanding the root causes of issues, and this new digital collection offers such resources as captivity narratives, memoirs, newspapers, photographs, pamphlets, and graphic materials.

Readex collection wins a Choice 2017 Outstanding Academic Title award!

If a Tree Falls in the Demilitarized Zone: Operation Paul Bunyan Pits a Poplar against Pyongyang

The “Bridge of No Return” doesn’t look like much today: four waist-high blue bollards at the eastern end stand guard over grass growing through the cracked roadway. A weathered sign reads, “Military Demarcation Line” in English and Korean. The bridge’s railings are surely inadequate to prevent some desperate soul from leaping into the shallow river below. At the western end a low concrete wall hints that the last pedestrian or vehicle passed over the span long ago.

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As often happens in real estate, location is everything. This bridge spans the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) in Panmunjom, the United Nations Joint Security Area between North and South Korea, in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The DMZ is a heavily fortified and closely monitored strip of land 151 miles long and 2.5 miles wide that approximates the 38th parallel of latitude. The MDL represents the cease-fire line of a war that has been unresolved since 1953. Those who were repatriated across this bridge acknowledged that they could never go back whence they came; theirs was a one-way trip.

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In 1993, protected by a heavily armed Secret Service escort, President Bill Clinton walked over this bridge to within about ten feet of the MDL, scrutinized all the while by North Korean soldiers armed with AK-47s. Obviously President Clinton lived to record this excursion in his memoirs, but on August 18, 1976, two American servicemen supervising a landscaping detail nearby were not so fortunate.

If a Tree Falls in the Demilitarized Zone: Operation Paul Bunyan Pits a Poplar against Pyongyang

Announcing the Readex 2018 ALA Midwinter Breakfast—‘Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears: Setting the Record Straight’

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On Sunday, February 11, Readex will host a special breakfast presentation titled, “Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears: Setting the Record Straight.” An open discussion will follow the talk by Daniel Feller, a professor of history and one of the nation’s leading authorities on Andrew Jackson.

About the Presentation

insetpic-jackson2.jpgPresident Andrew Jackson's Indian removal policy is today the single greatest stain on his once heroic reputation. As many of us were taught, Jackson was an Indian-hater who drove the Cherokees and other Indians from their ancestral homes, producing the infamous Trail of Tears on which many thousands died. When the Supreme Court tried to stop him, he nakedly defied its order, saying “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it.”

But, as often happens in history, what everyone knows may not be exactly true. What really happened, what alternatives were available, and how much of the blame should Jackson bear? In this presentation, Daniel Feller, Professor of History and Editor/Director of The Papers of Andrew Jackson at the University of Tennessee, strikes beneath the surface of this well-known tale to reassess the historical facts of Indian removal and to consider their implications.

About the Speaker

Announcing the Readex 2018 ALA Midwinter Breakfast—‘Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears: Setting the Record Straight’

Modern Research: A Conversation with Professor Paul Finkelman [VIDEO]

Readex had the opportunity to sit down with Paul Finkelman, a leading authority on American legal history, race relations and religious freedom, to discuss the importance of primary documents in his work as a scholar and professor. Finkelman-book cover.jpgNow the President of Gratz College, Finkelman has taught law and history courses at more than a dozen intuitions. He is the author or editor of more than fifty books, including Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court, which will be published this month by Harvard University Press. 

In our discussion, Finkelman compared his work flow to that of scholars in decades past, noting how the online availability of primary sources not only fosters faster work, but also unlocks new findings in ways never before possible. Watch the highlights of our interview to learn how digital resources like the U.S. Congressional Serial Set and American Pamphlets can help students discover historical connections and energize their research.

 

 

Contact us for more information about Readex digital collections for classroom and research use

Modern Research: A Conversation with Professor Paul Finkelman [VIDEO]

Pre-occupations: Cold War Commonalities between the Soviet Union and the United States

Occupation can be a state of mind as much as a physical presence, and we have both in this month’s highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1994.

The star of the show is undoubtedly the travelogue of two Soviet journalists exploring America in 1972. We also have more sober assessments of chemical and nuclear weapons, and a guidebook on eliminating Islamic religious belief. Fifty years later, with North Korea testing ever more potent missiles, and a contentious ban on Muslims traveling to the United States, these concerns still seem ripped from the headlines in 2017.


Soviet Correspondents Report Motor Trip Through the United States

Pravda (Truth); Komsomol’skaya Pravda (Komsomol Truth), Moscow, March-June 1973

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Two Soviet journalists drive over 15,000 kilometers in six weeks, coast-to-coast through 27 states, in a brand-new, brown Ford Gran Torino with New York plates. Seat belts and speed limits are a mystery to them. Kentucky Fried Chicken is fascinating. They were living the dream, and through it all they seemed to like us, even as they’re handed their first-ever medical bill (“Appendicitis always picks the wrong time.”). But back to the dream.

They handle guns in Santa Fe, and they find themselves looking down the barrel of a Texas highway patrolman’s pistol. They visit an adult novelty shop, and the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. The Russian woman who sees them off on their escapade implores them, “Children, please be good...” To make sure they are, at one point they’re tailed by their own countrymen.

Pre-occupations: Cold War Commonalities between the Soviet Union and the United States

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