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February 24, 1989 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-02-24

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Barbara Tuchman: Libertarian And Historian

a proud Jewess. In its totality, therefore,
she was the humanist in the American
Editor Emeritus
and Jewish sense who was an active
or some 40 years, when there was
Basic proof of this was provided
search for an authority to discuss when she acted courageously on a mat-
the major international occur- ter that related comparably with the
rences, my advice always was, "Try to Vietnam agonies. It was in the 1967
secure the great lady of our time in Middle East crisis when there was a
literature, Barbara Tuchman." I corn- threat to deny freedom of the seas to
mence my personal tribute to this Israel in the Aqaba case. Then, in a let-
remarkable lady in this fashion to in- ter published in the New York Times
dicate that this eminent author, who (May 20, 1967) she declared:
died Feb. 5 at the age of 77, had
This is — or should be — an
remarkable scholastic records as a self-
not a Jewish, issue. It
taught historian for two generations.
is the American reputation that
Her accomplishments were unlimited
is at stake. If the United States
and as guides to whoever may emulate
in this crisis fails to support its
her record are most valuable.
stated position, because of in-
There are numerous factors in her
volvement in Vietnam, then the
life to be remembered.
uneasy rationale — called
There are the family backgrounds
"resistance to aggression" — of
— the Wertheimers and the Morgen-
battle over there collapses
thaus — and they are temptations for
hollowly and publicly.
biographers and bibliographers.
While we claim to fight for it
The American dedication in her
Far East, it is nullified in
career is in the historical studies which
East, closer to home.
have made her works inerasable. Link-
the land
ed with them is the idealism of citizen-
ship that made her exemplary.
Her Jewish devotions gave her
tradition to which we and the
noteworthy status and led her to a role
other Western nations belong
of strong defensiveness not only for
and which, presumably, we
Israel but also for Zionism.
As such it seems to me
There was fearlessness in the treat-
that its integrity and
ment of her family. The great lady she
not to say its survival,
was, she was never lacking in respect.
concern of ours than
Therefore, when the famous in her fami-
Vietnam .. .
ly failed to go along positively on
given to her views
measures like Zionism, she was never
abusive but always reserved the right becomes apparent in the fact that this
to differ and to advocate even an un- letter also appeared verbatim on June
popular cause as Zionism was for Henry 1, 1967 in the New York Herald Tribune.
It was one of her many defensive
Morgenthau the elder.
There was something more vital in acts in Israel's behalf.
This recollection about one of the
her activities. She was a proud Jewess.
She refused to submit to dangers to many Barbara Tuchman defensive ser-
Jewish causes. She was unlike the vices is especially timely in this critical
many Jewish writers and artists who period for Israel and Jewry. It emphasiz-
are popular in public acclaim and ed the need for the courageous among
seldom speak out in defense of Israel, our authors and the eminent in the
Zionism and the Jewish quests for world of art to speak out when an unin-
justice. She always spoke fearlessly as formed and regrettable element in the



Barbara Tuchman

media keeps stabbing in the back and
adding curses to the very existence of
Israel. The proof of such prejudice is in
several of the recent editorials in the
Free Press. In every instance the writer
of those biased intepretations of current
events keeps harping on the glory of the
rock-hurlers without a semblance of
compassion for those who defend their
own and their people's lives.
Hopefully, the notables in our
midst, Christians and Jews, will speak
out in condemnation of attempts by the
misinformed to drag our morality into
the gutter.
About the glorious Barbara
She was the daughter of Maurice
Wertheim, who was an investment
banker and who gained wide recogni-
tion as an art collector and philan-
thropist. He was a president of the
American Jewish Committee.
His mother, Alma A. Morgenthau
Wertheim, was the sister of Henry
Morgenthau Jr., who was secretary of
the treasury in the administration of

President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The
added recognition is the role of her
grandfather Henry Morgenthau Sr.,
who was U.S. ambassador to Turkey as
an appointee of President Woodrow
Wilson and had an important role on
behalf of the U.S. in exposing the
atrocities against Armenians by Ot-
toman Turkey.
Thus, her family background gave
her deep knowledge of American, world
and Jewish developments.
She knew about her grandfather's
anti or non-Zionist views and he knew
that she differed with him without
disrespect but vigorously.
It was my privilege to read and to
review Barbara Tuchman's books. We
communicated with regard to some of
our views in her writings and on
Zionism. I wrote extensively on her im-
portant Bible and Sword. My Commen-
tary column in the issue of May 25,
1956, was devoted to that important
work which, regrettably, has not receiv-
ed enough space in the numerous
obituaries devoted to her, her literary
classics and her many civic
Added interest must be given to Bi-
ble and Sword. When I also was in-
spired to write about it extensively, in
my special article in The Jewish News
issue of June 28, 1968. That article has
special relevance to our present time
and I share portions of it again with my
Barbara W. Tuchman,
already noted for her brilliant
analyses of world affairs, has
produced a great work in her Bi-
ble and Sword in which she
presents a thorough review of
"England and Palestine from
the Bronze Age to Balfour."
This outstanding study,
published by Funk and
Wagnalls is a major work. It is
of special merit for our time,
since it not only presents a
history of British interests in

Continued on Page 36

Frank Angelo Among Noted Journalists


rank Angelo is an unforgettable
name in American journalism.
He was omitted from my recollec-
tions in the Feb. 10 issue. Nevertheless,

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Vol. XCIV No 26


February 24, 1989


he is tops in the creative ranks and his
name will ever arouse admiration.
There must be a few other names to
be remembered. Frank Angelo rates
As managing editor of the Detroit
Free Press he honored me with a special
assignment — to cover for his
newspaper the Eichmann trial in
Harry Golden, who authored the
famous Only in America among his
many books, shared that Jerusalem
assignment with me.
Frank Angelo published several
dozen of my other reports from Israel.
They were the contents of a special com-
bined Jewish News-Free Press pamphlet
of 48 pages.
In the Detroit Jewish community,
Frank Angelo was very often among the
most distinguished of guests. He gave

encouragement to numerous Jewish
movements, was a supporter of the
Zionist cause in its early stages and
later in its fulfillment as Israel. He gave
encouragement to the Israel Bonds
There are scores of associates with
Frank in important commitments to
social services and they surely join with
me to wish him the best of health and
recovery from his recent illnesses.
An item of special community in-
terest is the memory of the Detroit
News Library which had a significant
journalist aspect.
George B. Catlin, Detroit News
librarian from 1917 until the early
1930s, had a scholarly aspect which
became a journalistic devotion. It was
my privilege to benefit from him and to
cooperate with him in the acquisition
of Jewish-content books for the.

newspaper's reference library. I recall
especially that when he purchased the
two-volume History of Zionism by
Nahum Sokolow he also bought a set for
me for the special price of $7.50 for
Then came the librarianship of Lee
A White — the A without a period,
which I explained in my earlier column
about the Detroit journalists. White
was followed by Frances E. Curtis.
For a number of years Julia Wine,
a charming Detroiter who was active in
Jewish women's movements here and
was a member of a prominent Detroit
Jewish family in the 1920s and 1930s,
was associate librarian of the Detroit
Such are among the historic records
called to mind by the JOA-Joint Opera-
tion Agreement — currently under

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