Archive for December, 2008

Evaluation of Sources (and then Ambrose)

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Part C – Evaluation of Sources

John Lewis Gaddis’ “We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War history”, is the latest in a series of books focused on the Cold War from this celebrated historian.  Previously the Distinguished Professor of History at Ohio University and now the Robert Lovett Professor of history at Yale, regularly called on by the likes of CNN for comentary, his credentials could hardly be better.  This particular book, published in 1997, took advantage of the opening of the Soviet Archives, shedding new light on many events, including the coup in Czechoslovakia, heretofor clouded in mystery.  That all said though professor Gaddis himself admits that he did not (unfortunately) “(slog) dutifully through the archives in Moscow, Warsaw, Prague, Berlin, Budapest, Bejing, Hanoi and Havana…”(viii) but admits that he relied heavilly on the work and scholarship of others translating those sources.  What sources were left untranslated we will never know, but regardless his expertise judges that enough is here to be meaningful if not comprehensive.

OK gang thats one source.  Follow my lead.  Stop describing sources.  Stop telling me what is NOT in the source.  This section of the IA is not your oportunity to rant about how little you could find.  Avoid big blanket statements , “he is an American and therefor biased” that could be said with equal emptiness about any American author.  In fact I would encourage you to not use the word “bias” at all in part C.  Do like the above for two sources.  If you can’t, then find another source that you CAN more thouroughly evaluate.

For Ambrose focus on Berlin, the Mid-east and McCarthy (not MacArthur).  The assumptions, “the arrogance of power”, that lead into the deepening of the Cold War.