Heller, Henry 1938–

views updated

Heller, Henry 1938–

PERSONAL:

Born July 17, 1938, in New York, NY; children: four. Education: University of Michigan, B.A., 1959; Cornell University, Ph.D., 1969.

ADDRESSES:

Office—History Department, University of Manitoba, 403 Fletcher Argue Bldg., Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 5V5, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Historian, educator, and writer. University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada, lecturer, 1963-66, assistant professor, 1966-69, associate professor, 1969-79, and professor of history, 1979—.

MEMBER:

Canadian Catholic Historical Society (vice president, 1969), Canadian Historical Association, American Historical Association, Renaissance Society of America, American Society of Reformation Research.

WRITINGS:

(Editor) Guillaume Briçonnet and Marguerite d'Angoulême, Correspondance, 1521-1524, annotated by Christine Martineau and Michel Veissière, Droz (Geneva, Switzerland), 1971.

The Conquest of Poverty: The Calvinist Revolt in Sixteenth Century France, E.J. Brill (Leiden, Netherlands), 1986.

Iron and Blood: Civil Wars in Sixteenth-Century France, McGill-Queen's University Press (Buffalo, NY), 1991.

Labour, Science, and Technology in France, 1500-1620, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1996.

Anti-Italianism in Sixteenth-Century France, University of Toronto Press (Buffalo, NY), 2003.

The Bourgeois Revolution in France, 1789-1815, Berghahn Books (New York, NY), 2006.

The Cold War and the New Imperialism: A Global History, 1945-2005, Monthly Review Press (New York, NY), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

Henry Heller is a historian whose primary interests are the French Renaissance and Reformation, as well as early modern Europe. The author is known for going against many established interpretations of history and has written extensively on these topics, including in his 1991 book, Iron and Blood: Civil Wars in Sixteenth-Century France. In this book, Heller focuses on how the civil wars in France in the late sixteenth century resulted from social tension increasing over decades. He goes on to explain how these wars were primarily the result of hostilities between nobles and commoners over economic issues. David Potter wrote in the English Historical Review that the book "raises anew some important problems."

Labour, Science, and Technology in France, 1500-1620 is a detailed study that challenges the dominant approach to the history of early modern France, namely the Annales school of history that emphasizes long-term economic and cultural forces. In his reexamination of sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century France, the author discusses his view that the era was influenced by a surprising degree of technological, scientific, and economic innovation. Heller also presents his argument against the prevailing idea that the period's religious conflicts should be studied and understood primarily in relation to religious issues of the day. "One of the book's great strengths is its presentation and deep analysis of a number of 16th century texts," stated Cynthia M. Truant in Labor History. Penelope Gouk commented in the English Historical Review: "Regardless of whether readers fully agree with this attack, Heller's demonstration of the relationship between economic growth, technological innovation and religious and scientific ideology in sixteenth-century Paris certainly forces a reconsideration of prevailing historical assumptions."

Anti-Italianism in Sixteenth-Century France examines a xenophobia directed toward Italians residing in France during the rule of the Valois and Bourbon monarchs in the sixteenth century. Heller explores how the economic power of Italian merchants, bankers, and ecclesiastics resulted in a hostile reaction from many French people, primarily humanists, lawyers, and nobles. According to the author, this hostility spread to the Huguenots and the urban Catholic population.

"In showing just how ubiquitous anti-Italian sentiments were in France in the second half of the sixteenth century, Heller does force us to re-examine a number of assumptions about French political culture," wrote Hilary J. Bernstein in the Canadian Journal of History. For example, the author presents his belief that there is an essential continuity between this xenophobia and those that animated the French national experience in later times. Heller argues that the rise of the central state altered how the French looked at who should or should not be a member of their community. He analyzes these constructions of identity and explores their impact on politics and society.

In a review of Anti-Italianism in Sixteenth-Century France for the Catholic Historical Review, Mack P. Holt noted: "Heller provides a great service in examining the anti-Italian literature of the sixteenth century in all its many guises, and he is especially good in demonstrating how much it contributed to evolving French notions of national sentiment and racism in the period." Frederic J. Baumgartner wrote in Renaissance Quarterly, "Based on an impressive range of primary sources, especially those in the archives in Lyons, the book has important insights into the French economy, fiscal and political systems, and the French people's self-understanding in the sixteenth century. It is also a major contribution to the study of ethnic relations in general."

In his 2006 book, The Cold War and the New Imperialism: A Global History, 1945-2005, Heller outlines the massive changes that occurred in global politics, economics, and society during the specified period. He also clarifies and addresses the dilemmas of the present. "With the publication of The Cold War and the New Imperialism, the Left can thank Henry Heller for returning fire with a critical eye and deadly historical accuracy," wrote Simon Black in Canadian Dimension. "Heller has done us the service of providing a much-needed (critical) history of the origins of the new imperialism."

Drawing from a wide range of resources and writing for the general reader, Heller focuses on the larger pattern of events as he writes of the beginnings of the U.S. empire in postwar settlement and the Cold War system. He also discusses decolonization, national liberation movements, 1960s upheavals, and the global economic crisis. These and other issues are presented as part of the American neoliberal revolution in American government. "In sum, Heller has managed to extract from sixty years of chaotic history the most pertinent developments in politics and economics and relate them to the resurgence of U.S. imperialism in the post-Cold War era," Black concluded.

The author begins by discussing the period at the end of World War II when the war itself mobilized the political and social aspirations of millions. He describes how the contest for global dominance between the United States and the Soviet Union drew in the entire world and how the global order was shaken by revolutions in China, Cuba, Vietnam, and elsewhere. In his examination of the world's economics, Heller describes how the capitalist market overwhelmed social institutions that have given meaning to human existence for centuries. These changes, he argues, have created political, economic, and financial hegemony problems for the United States.

In The Bourgeois Revolution in France, 1789-1815, the author goes against the dominant revisionist interpretation of the French Revolution, which sees the revolution as a cultural and ideological conflict primarily fostered by intellectuals and extremists. Instead, Heller reasserts the view that the revolution was a capitalist bourgeois revolt. Using Marxist theories of transition from feudalism to capitalism and the latest historical scholarship, Heller challenges the main arguments and contentions of the revisionist school while presenting a narrative of the causes and unfolding of the revolution.

In a review of The Bourgeois Revolution in France, 1789-1815 for the Canadian Journal of History, Jeremy Hayhoe stated, "Henry Heller's goal in this book is to challenge the revisionist vision of the Revolution, going much further than historians who have recently suggested that the Revolution may indeed have had social origins." Hayhoe also commented: "Heller attempts to demonstrate that the French Revolution was both bourgeois and capitalist, and that revisionism is the Cold War version of a reactionary analysis that stretches back to Edmund Burke."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Annales historiques de la Revolution Française, January-March, 2008, Julien Louvrier, review of The Bourgeois Revolution in France, 1789-1815, p. 220.

American Historical Review, October, 1987, William Monter, review of The Conquest of Poverty: The Calvinist Revolt in Sixteenth Century France, p. 967; February, 1992, James R. Farr, review of Iron and Blood: Civil Wars in Sixteenth-Century France, p. 213; December, 1997, William Beik, review of Labour, Science, and Technology in France, 1500-1620, p. 1492; April, 2004, Robert M. Kingdon, review of Anti-Italianism in Sixteenth-Century France, p. 626.

Canadian Book Review Annual, annual, 2003, Leonard Adams, review of Anti-Italianism in Sixteenth-Century France, p. 292.

Canadian Dimension, September-October, 2007, Simon Black, "Plotting against History," p. 56.

Canadian Journal of History, December, 1991, Peter Sahlins, review of Iron and Blood, p. 502; August, 2004, Hilary J. Bernstein, review of Anti-Italianism in Sixteenth-Century France, p. 345; spring-summer, 2007, Jeremy Hayhoe, review of The Bourgeois Revolution in France, 1789-1815, p. 112.

Catholic Historical Review, January, 1992, Barbara Diefendorf, review of Iron and Blood, p. 116; April, 2004, Mack P. Holt, review of Anti-Italianism in Sixteenth-Century France, p. 319.

Choice, November, 1996, review of Labour, Science, and Technology in France, 1500-1620, p. 518; November, 2003, Frederic J. Baumgartner, review of Anti-Italianism in Sixteenth-Century France, p. 612.

Economic History Review, February, 1997, Christine Macleod, review of Labour, Science, and Technology in France, 1500-1620, p. 190.

English Historical Review, April, 1989, N.M. Sutherland, review of The Conquest of Poverty, p. 479; June, 1994, David Potter, review of Iron and Blood, p. 716; November, 1997, Penelope Gouk, review of Labour, Science, and Technology in France, 1500-1620, p. 1268; June, 2007, William Doyle, review of The Bourgeois Revolution in France, 1789-1815, p. 837.

European History Quarterly, October, 1992, J.H.M. Salmon, review of Iron and Blood, p. 635.

French Historical Studies, fall, 1993, Mack P. Holt, review of Iron and Blood, p. 524.

Historical Journal, September, 1994, David Parrott, review of Iron and Blood, p. 669.

History: Review of New Books, fall, 2003, Francis X. Hartigan, review of Anti-Italianism in Sixteenth-Century France, p. 24.

History: The Journal of the Historical Association, June, 1992, Penny Roberts, review of Iron and Blood, p. 304.

International History Review, March, 2004, Michael Wolfe, review of Anti-Italianism in Sixteenth-Century France, p. 115.

Internet Bookwatch, March, 2007, review of The Cold War and the New Imperialism: A Global History, 1945-2005.

Isis, June, 1997, Alex Keller, review of Labour, Science, and Technology in France, 1500-1620, p. 332.

Journal of Economic History, September, 1998, James B. Collins, review of Labour, Science, and Technology in France, 1500-1620, p. 886; December, 1998, James B. Collins, review of Labour, Science, and Technology in France, 1500-1620, p. 1132.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History, summer, 1993, Kristen B. Neuschel, review of Iron and Blood, p. 136; summer, 1997, Philip Benedict, review of Labour, Science, and Technology in France, 1500-1620, p. 106.

Journal of Modern History, September, 1990, Philip Benedict, review of The Conquest of Poverty, p. 598; summer, 1993, Raymond Mentzer, review of Iron and Blood, p. 619; September 1, 1998, Ken Alder, review of Labour, Science, and Technology in France, 1500-1620, p. 691.

Labor History, August, 1999, Cynthia M. Truant, review of Labour, Science, and Technology in France, 1500-1620, p. 415.

Queen's Quarterly, winter, 1991, review of Iron and Blood, p. 964.

Reference & Research Book News, February, 2004, review of Anti-Italianism in Sixteenth-Century France, p. 35; August, 2006, review of The Bourgeois Revolution in France, 1789-1815; February, 2007, review of The Cold War and the New Imperialism.

Renaissance Quarterly, spring, 1998, Pamela O. Long, review of Labour, Science, and Technology in France, 1500-1620, p. 233; summer, 2004, Frederic J. Baumgartner, review of Anti-Italianism in Sixteenth-Century France, p. 638.

Sixteenth Century Journal, spring, 1993, James East-gate Brink, review of Iron and Blood, p. 189; June 22, 1997, Raymond A. Mentzer, review of Labour, Science, and Technology in France, 1500-1620, p. 525; fall, 2004, David Potter, review of Anti-Italianism in Sixteenth-Century France, p. 948.

Social History, May, 1995, M. Greengrass, review of Iron and Blood, pp. 268-269.

Technology and Culture, April 1, 1998, M. Henninger-Voss, review of Labour, Science, and Technology in France, 1500-1620, p. 322.

ONLINE

Monthly Review Press,http://www.monthlyreview.org/ (June 15, 2008), brief profile of author.

University of Manitoba, History Department Web site,http://www.umanitoba.ca/faculties/arts/history/ (June 15, 2008), faculty profile of author.