World History


“One Lousy Sheep”: The 1958 Soviet Denunciation of Nobel Prize Winner Boris Pasternak

In an article in the June 30, 2014, edition of the Washington Post, columnist and editorial page editor Fred Hiatt discusses the harsh denunciation of Boris Pasternak in a 1958 speech. The criticism of Pasternak as a pig occurred toward the end of a long and turgid oration on the subject of the Komsomol’s glorious history and mission by its director, Vladimir Semichastny, who later came to head the KGB. 

The attack on Pasternak, who a week earlier had been named the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature for his novel Doctor Zhivago, was, as Hiatt notes, partially dictated by Nikita Khrushchev himself.  That Oct. 29, 1958, speech was broadcast on the Soviet Home Service, translated by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), and published the following day in the FBIS Daily Report. An excerpt from the 18-page FBIS translation appears below:

However, as the Russian saying goes: “Even in a good flock there may be one lousy sheep” (parshyvaya outsa). We have such a lousy sheep in our socialist society in the person of Pasternak, who has written his slanderous, so-called novel.  He has gladdened our enemies so much that they have bestowed on him—disregarding of course the artistic merits of his trashy book—a Nobel Prize. We have masters of writing, whose works are uncontestable in their artistic merit, but their authors have not been awarded a Noble (sic) Prize. However, for slander, for libelling the Soviet system, socialism, and Marxism, Pasternak has been awarded the Nobel Prize.

“One Lousy Sheep”: The 1958 Soviet Denunciation of Nobel Prize Winner Boris Pasternak

The Father of Brazilian Soccer: Searching for Charles Miller in Latin American Newspapers

As a rising global power, Brazil has received a large share of international news coverage during the past few years. Now with the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicking off this month, the media spotlight has returned to the world’s fifth largest country, a land where soccer is the most popular sport and whose national team has won the most World Cup titles.

But where does all this football talent come from? How and why did soccer—or futebol as it is known there—become Brazil’s top sport? Although the full story of Brazil’s infatuation with football remains unclear, Miller’s major role in fostering interest is supported by a search of Latin American Newspapers, Series 1 and 2, 1805-1922.

The Father of Brazilian Soccer: Searching for Charles Miller in Latin American Newspapers

Latin America, Illuminated: Four Research Collections

Reflecting the diversity of Latin American and Caribbean studies today, here are four research collections spanning three centuries of regional history, issues and events.

Caribbean Newspapers, Series 1, 1718-1876: From the American Antiquarian Society
Featuring more than 140 searchable newspapers from 22 islands, this collection chronicles the region’s evolution across two centuries through eyewitness reporting, editorials, legislative information, letters, poetry, advertisements, obituaries and other news items.
 
Latin American Newspapers, Series 1 and 2, 1805-1922
Created in partnership with the Center for Research Libraries, these two series provide access to more than 280 newspapers published between 1805 and 1922 from more than 20 countries in the region, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile and more than a dozen others.
 
Foreign Broadcast Information Services (FBIS) Daily Reports: Latin America, 1974-1996
This U.S. intelligence archive provides firsthand perspectives on world history, governments and politics, capturing and translating reports of events as they occurred.  The Latin American module is an indispensable source for insights into decades of turbulent regional history.
 
Access Latin America

Latin America, Illuminated: Four Research Collections

Just published—The Readex Report: November 2013

IN THIS ISSUE: A pensive primer on the teaching of history research classes, a mysterious presidential embargo exemption sparks envy and anger, and a gifted group of Chinese students succumbs to Western ways.

Librarians and History Instruction: Getting the Most Out of the One-shot Session
By Alexandra Simons, History, Political Science, and Government Documents Librarian, University of Houston

Just published—The Readex Report: November 2013

November News History: A Short Quiz

This month we offer a short news quiz, which focuses on five historical events that took place between 1811 and 1922, all during the month of November.

Can you answer four or more of these five multiple-choice questions correctly and get a passing grade? All of the answers can be found in America's Historical Newspapers, as can be seen upon completion.

Try the Readex quiz today.  

November News History: A Short Quiz

The Chairman Goes for a Swim

It was worldwide news when Chairman Mao Tse-tung, “the great leader of the Chinese people,” went for a swim in the Yangtze River on July 16, 1966. According to Peking NCNA International Service in English on July 25, 1966, as captured by the U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service for dissemination to American leaders, he “was relaxed and easy… braving winds and waves. He stayed in the water a full 65 minutes, covering a total distance of almost 15 kilometers.” (That’s slightly over nine miles, for those less familiar with the metric system.)

In June of 1956 Chairman Mao had come to Wuhan and swum across the river three times. He “later wrote the poem full of brilliancy and boldness: ‘Swimming—To the Melody Shui Tiao Ke Tou.’ In his latest swim, too, as he put it in this poem, ‘I care not that the wind blows and the waves beat; it is better than idly strolling in a courtyard.’”

The Chairman Goes for a Swim

We Come from a Land Down Under: Australia’s Thrilling Victory in the 1983 America’s Cup

Our guest blogger is Louise Paolacci, Director, Bezi Publishing Services Pty Ltd, Australia

This September marks the 30th anniversary of Australia’s momentous victory in the America’s Cup yacht race. Australia II was the first foreign challenger to win the coveted trophy, breaking 132 years of U.S. domination.

The rivalry between the New York Yacht Club’s Liberty and the Royal Perth Yacht Club’s Australia II was the subject of feverish media attention throughout the summer of 1983, as captured in Readex’s 20th-Century American Newspapers.

From the outset, Australia II was viewed as one of the favorites among the foreign challengers to win the race.

We Come from a Land Down Under: Australia’s Thrilling Victory in the 1983 America’s Cup

Ascending the World’s Tallest Mountain: The View from America’s Historical Newspapers and the World Newspaper Archive

Ascents of Everest are now so numerous they often don’t make the news anymore, unless there is a devastating loss of life, a brawl among Sherpas and climbers or a race between octogenarians to become the mountain’s oldest successful climber. Yet from early attempts in the 1920s until the triumphant expedition in 1953, attempts at Everest were widely covered. The exotic nature of the quest meant that newspapers could combine graphics and photography in the layout of their pages, as will be seen in the articles below. 

Everest was named after a former British colonial official, though the mountain had local names, including the Tibetan Chomolunga. Since both Nepal and Tibet had closed their borders to foreigners, the British didn’t know the native names. They did know it was the tallest mountain in the Himalayas, from surveying it from afar, and the tallest in the world. They also knew that only a highly organized team could conquer it. In fact, before the first attempt in the 1920s, there was actually an expedition to survey the area and plan a later attempt at the summit. 

These first two excerpts come from the World Newspaper Archive: South Asian Newspapers; the rest are from America’s Historical Newspapers. 

From The Leader of Allahabad, India, on 15 January 1921:

Ascending the World’s Tallest Mountain: The View from America’s Historical Newspapers and the World Newspaper Archive

Celebrating Victory: The End of World War II as Seen in America's Historical Newspapers

On May 8, 1945, the United States and Europe celebrated VE day, or Victory in Europe day. The war in Europe had lasted for six years, claiming the lives of over sixty million people. After Adolf Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945, during the Battle of Berlin, the surrender of Germany was authorized by his successor, Karl Dönitz. On May 7,1945, Dönitz and the German High Command declared Germany’s unconditional surrender. News that the Europe war had ended was published that same day in many American newspapers, although the official announcement was made on May 8, when the surrender document was ratified.

Church bells rang and the streets resounded with singing and cheering. People flooded to places like Trafalgar Square in London and Times Square in New York City to celebrate, as reported in these papers on May 7:

Celebrating Victory: The End of World War II as Seen in America's Historical Newspapers

The Rite of Spring: As Seen in America’s Historical Newspapers

On May 29, 1913, at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris, a dance and orchestral performance was given that has reverberated throughout the American art world for the past 100 years. Ballet Russes, the ballet company founded and directed by Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev, performed a dance choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky to an orchestral piece composed by Igor Stravinsky. That performance, The Rite of Spring, portrayed a pagan Russian celebration of spring which culminated in the sacrifice of a young girl chosen to dance to her death.

Nijinsky’s choreography departed from the contemporary idea of ballet by incorporating pigeon-toed, knock-kneed, repetitive, stamping and jumping. If that wasn’t disconcerting enough, Stravinsky’s dissonant music, with its powerful, pulsating, irregular rhythm, was.  Confronted by this combination of the primitive and the modern, which confounded current ideas of beauty, many in the audience jeered and hissed.  

The Rite of Spring: As Seen in America’s Historical Newspapers

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