Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Jon Wiener

Jon Wiener is a contributing editor to The Nation magazine and teaches 20th century US history at the University of California – Irvine. He sued the FBI for their files on John Lennon — the story is told in his book Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files and at the website www.LennonFBIfiles.com. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court before most of the outstanding issues were settled in 1997.

Wiener's latest book is How We Forgot the Cold War: A Historical Journey across America.

A few weeks ago I asked the author about what he was reading.  His reply.
I’m still thinking about how we remember the Cold War. The new book by Kristen Iversen, Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats, is an unforgettable work that brings together the personal and the political in the story of a little-known disaster at a plutonium factory west of Denver.

One of the highlights of my history grad seminar is Emily Rosenberg’s book A Date Which Will Live. It shows how the memory of Pearl Harbor has changed over the decades: in the seventies, fear of Japanese economic power led to talk about “an economic Pearl Harbor,” and of course 9/11 was “the Pearl Harbor of the 21st century.” Most amazing, on the tenth anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1951, there were no public ceremonies of remembrance at all – because we needed Japan’s support in our war in Korea.

I’m also reading Erika Doss’s Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America, which looks at just how feverish and intense our culture of commemoration has become. Kirk Savage’s Monument Wars uncovers the shift in Washington DC from heroic statues to spaces of experience, especially in Washington, D.C. It's also a gorgeously illustrated and produced book. And I’ve been re-reading Nixonland by Rick Perlstein–vivid, intense, thick description of politics in my youth.
Visit Jon Wiener's website.

--Marshal Zeringue