The former Manhattan borough historian admires the enormously accomplished, nearly forgotten, 19th-century New Yorker Andrew H. Green: “He is often compared to Robert Moses. In a favorable way.” To be fair, so is my cat, who’s destroyed only my sofa but no entire neighborhood.
“The best future for the United States belongs to people who can appreciate both the Declaration of Independence and Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech,” says Manhattan’s borough historian and professor emeritus at Rutgers. “And leaders who’ve actually read both,” he did not add.
To this historian, the story of the New York City Fire Department is the story of New York City. “It’s not just throwing the wet stuff on the red stuff; it’s the other aspects that really are fascinating.” Presented with the New York City Fire Museum.
As a scholar of 18th-century literature, this Rutgers professor wants to pin down what actually occurred, but certain facts remain stubbornly elusive. Does it drive him nuts? “Some things from 350 years ago just aren’t going to be known, and I think I can live with that.” It’s almost Zen.
“Many people think that the big words are the big part of the dictionary,” says this lexicographer, “but it’s the little words that are so full of life and variation and complexity,” We talk about “go” and more as Person Place Thing becomes Word Word Word.
“It’s grand, it’s palatial, it’s beautiful,” says the anthropologist-in-residence for the NY Department of Sanitation about a garage. She is happy in her work. A scholar looks at what we throw away and what it says about us. Presented with the Sanitation Foundation. Music: John Sherman. Photo: Harry Wilks.
Esteemed as both a scholar and an activist, she’s spent nearly ninety years working for social justice, if you count her first few years, and I do: when she was four, she had a clear (and unpopular) position on the Soviet-Finnish war. She’s since revised it. Continuous rethinking—the mark of the true intellectual.
He did much of the research for What it Took to Win: a History of the Democratic Party, in the Manuscript Reading Room at the Library of Congress. “I don’t believe in heaven, but, if there’s a heaven for historians, this would be right in the center of it.” Plus some thoughts on the late Richard Hofstadter …
The Wall Street Journal’s language columnist plays with our format, offering Word Word Word – and more elegantly still, the same word for each segment: orange. Then he makes a painful disclosure: “I myself am color-blind, and so I’m not completely attuned to all the nuances of it.” Hey, Beethoven was deaf, and he got the …
An esteemed historian (This Republic of Suffering) and president emeritus of Harvard, she suggests that the widespread misuse of “disinterested” to mean “uninterested” rather than “objective” reflects a broad undervaluing of objectivity, open-mindedness, and intellectual honesty. Seldom has so bleak an insight given me such delight.
The author of How to be a Stoic describes that philosophy’s central precept: “We should live according to nature.” Happily, this demands less involvement with squirrels than you might think. A conversation at the Society for Ethical Culture, with music from David Gracia, Margaret Determann, and Barbara Carlsen.
Holland’s seventeenth-century emphasis on trade rather than conquest helped build a culture of tolerance: everybody’s money is good. The author of The Island at the Center of the World offers a sort of moral defense of capitalism in a conversation at the Fraunces Tavern Museum: look out the window and see what he’s describing. Music from …