On Sunday, November 3, 1985 at 9:00PM, I sat down to watch an ABC Novel for Television of the adaptation of John Jakes’ North and South.
North and South told the story of George Hazard (James Read) and Orry Main (Patrick Swayze), two young men from the north and south respectively who meet approximately twenty years before the Civil War, attend the military academy at West Point and develop a life-long friendship that is tested due to the changing climate of the country and their differences because of their individual beliefs and values from how they were raised. The Hazards are a prosperous iron works owning family from Lehigh Station Pennsylvania while The Mains are wealthy cotton planters living on the Mont Royal Plantation of South Carolina. Although southern son Orry believes that industry is the way to the south’s successful future, he won’t turn against his upbringing even when it causes numerous estrangements between he and George throughout the miniseries. George’s sister Virgilia (Kirstie Alley) is an abolitionist, whose constant preaching and crime of helping slave Grady (Georg Stanford Brown) escape his bondage is responsible for one of these rifts.
Orry’s sister Brett (Genie Francis) marries George’s brother Billy (John Stockwell) cementing the two families while scheming and jealous sister Ashton (Terri Garber) plots to destroy the couple. But Ashton is just one of the individuals plotting a Main/Hazard destruction. West Point nemesis Elkahah Bent (Philip Casnoff) nurtures a dangerous hatred against Orry and George from wrong doings he reasons in his sick mind that they have done to him. George falls in love and marries feisty Irish lass Constance Flynn (Wendy Kilbourne) while Orry’s romance with Madeline Fabray (Lesley-Anne Down) is interrupted by her father Nicholas who tricks his daughter into marrying the much older Justin Lamotte (David Carradine), who turns out to be a cruel, abusive husband instead of a loving one.
The splendor of this television production as well as its powerful acting and story has endeared fans of North and South for over three decades. When the miniseries first aired, I was a twenty year old history buff with an interest in the Civil War which started at the age of ten when I had seen Gone With The Wind for the first time. But whereas Gone With The Wind painted people from the north as “dirty Yankees,” North and South showed the mistakes of both sides through the eyes of the Mains and Hazards. North and South filmed on locations throughout the south and featured an all-star cast including such classic Hollywood names as Elizabeth Taylor and Gene Kelly. It’s interesting to think now that the bulk of the story rested in the hands of two relatively unknown actors at the time, James Read and Patrick Swayze as Orry and George. It was their amazing portrayals that sold the Main/Hazard friendship.
North and South was followed by a sequel, North and South:Book II in 1986 and a third (though less popular) reprise Heaven and Hell: North and South Book III in 1994.
I’m proud to say that the television masterpiece that is North and South is my favorite movie of all time and every time I watch it, it is a magical experience that takes me back to the happier days of my youth.
There are certain assumptions one can make, with a high degree of certainty, regarding Grover Furr’s Khrushchev Lied. The first is that, had Furr written a similar book in any area of historical specialization other than Soviet-era studies, Khrushchev Lied would be immediately hailed as a work of major significance. Had Furr succeeded in proving that Thomas More’s biography of Richard III was pure invention and that, far from being Shakespeare’s resentful deformed villain, Richard was a kindly and benevolent monarch; or had Furr demonstrated that Tacitus consciously twisted his account of the Julio-Claudians in order to willfully defame the first Roman emperors; had Furr, in short, managed to definitively prove that a major historical source, one on which the interpretation of an entire epoch is often based, was fraudulent, Furr and his book would have been catapulted to the center of scholarly debate. There would have been workshops and symposia; indeed, a special issue of the American Historical Review would have likely been printed, featuring essays arguing pro and con Furr’s findings. Needless to say, that has not been the case, for the simple reason that Furr’s book deals with Soviet history, specifically with the history of the Stalin period; and here different rules apply.
Despite the advance praise for Khrushchev Lied offered by Soviet-era specialists such as Robert Thurston and Lars Lih, one searches in vain for any scholarly journal reviewing the book. Indeed, aside from comments posted on online political blogs, of both Left and Right, it would appear that the historical profession has chosen to ignore Khrushchev Lied. This is the second assumption one could have safely made. Khrushchev Lied directly challenges the anti-communist, Cold War paradigm still dominant in academia. Not only that, Furr manages to demonstrate that one of the essential documents on which that paradigm rests is a tissue of lies. Not only historical interpretations are at risk here, but academic reputations, and entire careers as well. Thus, a conspiracy of silence has descended on a book that merits the widest possible readership and discussion.
Again, in and of itself, this is nothing new. Baldly put, any book that presents a positive interpretation of the Stalin period or that disputes the conventional wisdom that the Soviet head of state was a blood-soaked megalomaniac will have a difficult time finding a publisher. This is not to say that there have not been a number of non-paradigmatic studies of the Stain era published. Books by Getty and Kirkpatrick, to cite just two authors, have put a dent in the dominant view of Stalin and his government held in academia. However, there is a question of balance and accessibility. For example, in the years since the collapse of the USSR, there has been a tidal wave of studies of the Stalin years published in Russia. Some of these studies are critical of Soviet policy during that period, others praise those same policies. Interestingly, none of the those supportive of the Stalin regime are translated into English; while a number of Russian works hostile to Stalin or the Soviet experience of the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s have been issued by major American publishers.
Of all the recent reassessments of Soviet history, Grover Furr’s Khrushchev Lied strikes at the very heart of Cold War history, Nikita Khrushchev’s famed “Secret Speech” to the 20th Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Presented to a closed session of the Party Congress on 25 February, 1956, Khrushchev’s speech, putatively, denounced Stalin’s many “crimes” and lay bare the former Soviet leader’s reign of error and terror. Khrushchev’s denunciations of Stalin caused a crisis in the world communist movement, providing, as it seemed to, an “insider’s” confirmation of all the worst accusations raised by anti-communists for decades. An immediate result of Khrushchev’s efforts was the political isolation of his opponents within the Soviet Communist Party, Molotov, Malenkov, Kaganovich, etc., who still upheld Stalin’s legacy. A longer-term consequence was a split within international communism, with those who seemingly defended Stalin, led by Albania and China, breaking with the Soviet Union and those parties worldwide which hewed to the new Soviet line. Furthermore, the “Secret Speech” became a cornerstone of modern history, and the main documentary buttress for anti-Stalin interpretations of Soviet history and politics.
Furr set for himself the task of examining each and every one of the accusations Khrushchev leveled at Stalin (and Beria as well) and examining, point by point, their veracity or falsity. The conclusion he came to is evident in the title of the book. Furr divides Khrushchev’s charges into nine general categories, ranging from “Lenin’s Testament” to Stalin’s supposed complicity in the Kirov assassination, to Stalin’s supposed mismanagement of the Soviet war effort in World War II to Stalin’s last years when he, according to Khrushchev, was planning a major purge of his oldest associates and collaborators. In determining his findings, Furr based himself exclusively on primary sources and archival materials, many of which he has scanned and uploaded for public review at http://chss.montclair.edu/english/furr/research/kl/bibliography.html.
The essence of Furr’s investigation is the claim that not one accusation leveled by Khrushchev against Stalin and Beria is true. Not one. Indeed, Furr becomes the accuser, in turn, and charges Khrushchev with consciously and maliciously warping the truth about Stalin for political gain. Furr provides a mountain of documentation refuting Khrushchev. So much so, that, in fact, this becomes the book’s main shortcoming. Furr is so painstaking and meticulous in marshalling his evidence that the reader is often numbed by the sheer volume of documents, quotes, and citations he provides. This is not a book for the casual reader or for anyone not versed in Soviet history. However, despite its non-reception in professional historical circles, Khrushchev Lied is an essential work of Soviet history. Moreover, it is a work that not merely solidly proves its premise; but one that stands out as a courageous effort to restore historical truth and balance.
Khrushchev Lied is solid in its research, thorough in its method and scope, sound in its judgments and conclusions, and deserving of the highest praise. It is a book every serious student of Soviet history and politics must read and grapple with. It is, in a word, a major contribution to historical science.
An Auburn University aerospace engineering doctoral student has received the Zonta International Amelia Earhart Fellowship, becoming one of only 30 recipients worldwide for the 2020-21 academic year. The $10,000 fellowship will support Yaeji Kim in her pursuit of a doctorate degree, studying how gravitational tides affect the behavior of asteroids that would closely approach Earth.
“The purpose of this fellowship is to help women have access to resources and have representation in decision-making positions in the space science fields,” Kim said. “I believe there are still some people who have stereotypes toward women engineers. This fellowship proves that I am doing well as a woman engineer in my research and encourages me continue to work hard to achieve my desires.”
Kim decided to pursue her graduate work at Auburn after earning her undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering from Korea Aerospace University.
“When I was an undergraduate, I was working on a small satellite project and I searched many papers related to my work. One of the papers I read was written by Auburn University professors so that’s how I first learned of the work happening here at Auburn,” she said. “When I was searching for graduate schools I was again interested in Auburn University because I felt like it was a very research-oriented school and has a good faculty. That’s why I decided to do my graduate work here.”
Kim is advised by Masatoshi Hirabayashi, assistant professor in aerospace engineering. Hirabayashi noted the potential impact that Kim’s award might have on Auburn University’s aerospace engineering program.
“It is substantial that she will receive the Amelia Earhart Fellowship this year. The graduate program in aerospace engineering at Auburn has been growing rapidly over the last few years. Particularly, we have been emphasizing education to develop leadership from diverse communities as the most critical element of our graduate program,” he said. “I hope that Yaeji’s achievement will promote the participation of women in our program to learn skills and knowledge that will enable them to become leaders in aerospace engineering.”
The Zonta International Amelia Earhart Fellowship was established in 1938 in honor of aviatrix Amelia Earhart, a member of the Zonta community before her untimely death. The fellowship aims to “empower women through encouragement and financial support of women pursuing a Ph.D./doctoral degree conducting research applied to aerospace engineering or space sciences,” according to the Zonta International website.
“There is no specific word to describe how I feel to have received this award. I just hope to encourage more students at Auburn to reach for what they really desire,” she said. “There are so many talented students in aerospace engineering here so I just want to encourage them to face their challenges and work toward their goals.”
Upon completing her doctorate, Kim plans to pursue a career at a space agency where she can apply her research.
“I want to go into industry and contribute to developing the space sciences,” she said. “I hope to confidently lead a project, working on space exploration missions, as a woman space engineer and scientist one day.”