From the Letters to the Editor column in the April 1998 Perspectives

Too Much Negativism?

Keith L. Miller, April 1998

To the Editor:

I enjoyed Morey Rothberg's article, "History in the Public Arena: The AHA and the Smithsonian" in the January 1998 Perspectives. I think, however, something needs to be added concerning the Enola Gay controversy. Too many professional historians are losing touch with the American people. Veterans groups, for instance, had a right to be upset with the Enola Gay exhibition. No one, I think, would deny that many Americans would have died in an invasion of Japan. Certainly the atomic bomb was a terrible weapon, but it did end the war.

Can we not as professional historians tell the story of America in balanced terms without so much negativism? After all, could America have lasted this long if its development had been as negative as some historians suggest? I have found a real success story with my specialty on American petroleum history, a much neglected subject among historians. The public is interested in history, but I think it is tired of the oftentimes critical stance of so many professional historians who do not endeavor to give a balanced interpretation.

—Keith L. Miller, Philadelphia