Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Blog LXXI (71): The AHA is Here: Day 4

Sunday, January 9: the last day of the AHA conference.

It snowed through the night. A lot more snow on the ground.

Another early morning workout. The hotel fitness center was full of historians.

I was at the book display when it opened at 9 a.m. Actually was there ten minutes before and spent some time chatting with people from my session. There was a nice crowd of people waiting to get in and I was joking that was like the mad dash of the brides when Filene’s Basement has their yearly bridal sale. That is an exaggeration, but it looked like it a little. I was one of the worst. I spent two hours in the ballroom and got book after book after book. I started acquiring books on the first day of the conference, but Sunday morning was the big day. One of the major reasons I go to the AHA is to acquire books at a steep discount. The book sellers go to the meeting for two reasons. They want their products to be adopted in courses, which is why they give texts to faculty at a huge discount. The main reason booksellers are at the meeting is to meet with authors and potential authors.

All told I spent roughly $200 and walked away with 75 books. That came down to $2.60 per book. If I bought all these books at a Barnes & Noble I would have paid $2200. Now, not all of these books were for me. Fifteen are books that I acquired for review in Presidential Studies Quarterly, where I am one of the book review editors.

After finishing with the book fair, I went to a session entitled: “The Public’s ‘Need to Know’ and National Security.” It was interesting session on the standing of the Foreign Relations of the United States series, a historical editing project the Historian’s Office at the State Department is responsible for producing. The FRUS series started in 1861 and is very important to diplomatic historians. The session was broadcast live on C-Span. Some of the stuff that got discussed was not new, but some of it was quite interesting. The recent Wikileaks incident was a topic. The consensus of the panel was that the information that was released was fairly insignificant. The exact word used was "chatter." Mitch Lerner of The Ohio State University gave a talk on a survey he did of diplomatic historians and their opinions on the state of the FRUS series. I was one of the people that Lerner contacted, and in the question/answer session I asked about the perception in the profession about the current quality of the series. It was a really good session, and a good way to end the AHA conference.

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