Weekend Reading

Posted on September 22, 2012 by

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This week: the 150th anniversary of Antietam; the challenges of preserving year-old tweets and 3000 year old mummies; a table runner inspired by one of Europe’s most famous works of art; and the making of a dictator.

• Guess what material Cambridge University engineering students decided to use to restore a 3000-year old case for an Egyptian mummy. Did you guess “Legos”? Then you’re right. Or lying.

Dead soldiers at Antietam

Confederate and Union dead near the Dunker Church at Antietam – Wikimedia

• You have to go to France to see the original Bayeux Tapestry, but a 30 foot long table runner inspired by it is as close as the National Museum of American History.

• Last Monday marked the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam (here’s a nice summary from historian Rick Beard), which resulted in nearly 23,000 casualties altogether. Learn more about the significance of Sept. 17, 1862 (and its relationship to the Emancipation Proclamation, issued in preliminary from 150 years ago today) from historians Robert Emmett Curran (on the human cost of emancipation), Nicole Etcheson (on one Indiana regiment’s experience of the battle), Heather Cox Richardson (on Antietam as a watershed in how we image war), and Thomas Kidd (on how Abraham Lincoln — “our most religiously articulate president” — took the result of the battle as “an indication of divine will” and decided to emancipate slaves in the rebelling states).

• The pervasiveness of death because of battles like Antietam became the subject of a captivating book by historian and Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering, which then inspired the newest episode of the PBS series American Experience, reviewed here by Civil War historian Kevin Levin.

• Did you know that over 160,000 South Asians died during World War I? Learn more about their stories at this website, hosted by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. (H/T Ghosts of 1914)

• An interview with historian David Lesch about Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, once seen as a reformer and now better known for slaughtering his own people.

• One of the challenges of doing history in the digital age: trying to archive social media as documents of events like Arab Spring has so far been a losing battle.

• There’s also bad news on the preserving historical evidence front if you’re interested in studying the history of the state of Georgia.

• But if you’ve always wanted to search an online archive of TV news from years gone by… Well, your dream is coming true.

Posted in: Weekend Reading