Plus: Pearl Harbor and propaganda |

December 08, 2016

By Lily Rothman

This week has been a big one for us here at TIME: on Wednesday, we announced that Donald Trump is 2016’s Person of the Year—the figure who has been the most influential, for better or worse, over the course of the year. We’ve been selecting a person of the year every year since Charles Lindbergh got the title for 1927, but the announcement is always cause for debate and questions.

Here’s a handy guide to everything you need to know about the selection process, but this year was also ripe for a very specific question: does winning a U.S. presidential election automatically make someone the Person of the Year?

The short answer: no. I looked back at all the election years since we started, and found that election winners only earned the cover of that issue roughly half the time. Interestingly, and perhaps not coincidentally as the global power of the U.S. president has grown, in recent decades the President-elect has received the title in almost every case. You can see all of my findings here and check out the rest of the Person of the Year package.

Here's more of the history that made news this week:

How John Glenn Became an Astronaut

The history-making pilot, astronaut and Senator has died at 95. This is the story of how he first got to space

Powerful Stories of the Japanese-American Children Who Witnessed Pearl Harbor

"What I saw is still imprinted on my mind"

10 Historians Pick the Best History Books of 2016

From early Latin literature to an obituary for the E.U., ten historians recommend their best reads.

This Is What Eleanor Roosevelt Said After Pearl Harbor

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt addressed the American people about the attack on Pearl Harbor before her husband did on her weekly radio program, Over Our Coffee Cups. Here's what she told America's women.

It's Been 10 Years Since You Were TIME's Person of the Year

And you've had a good decade


The Jan. 2, 1928, cover of TIME

The First Person of the Year

“Grumblers wondered if interest accruing to the national welfare by his flights is worth the calamitous crash of principal which would accompany his death. Col. Lindbergh is the most cherished citizen since Theodore Roosevelt. Thought they: 'He is worth keeping.' One way to keep him is to keep him on the ground. Others argued savagely that Lindbergh must fly for his life in the public eye; heroes age swiftly when seated at office desks; argued that by his very nature he must fly.” (Jan. 2, 1928)

Read the full story

TIME, 1989

Donald Trump’s First TIME Cover

“And now there is another meeting to go to in Atlantic City, and a limousine is waiting at the door to race to the gleaming black helicopter waiting at the pier, and another reporter wants a ride to take a look at the Trump empire, and that will create more publicity about the emperor's grand plans and grander dreams, and so once again it's up, up and away, out over the choppy waves of the vast harbor, and up into the windy sky that seems to promise so much.” (Jan. 16, 1989)

Read the full story

Dec. 8, 1967

Today in 1967: The New Cinema

“Hollywood was once described as the only asylum run by its inmates. It was the town where, as George Jean Nathan said, 'ten million dollars' worth of machinery functions elaborately to put skin on baloney.' There is still plenty of machinery out there putting skin on baloney. But the most important fact about the screen in 1967 is that Hollywood has at long last become part of what the French film journal Cahiers du Cinema calls 'the furious springtime of world cinema,' and is producing a new kind of movie.” (Dec. 1, 1975)

Read the full story


What’s in a Name Rebecca Onion at Slate has a smart overview of the latest step in the ongoing discussion of how to deal with historical figures whose legacies are no longer deemed worthy of the honors they once claimed: Yale’s new policy on how and whether to rename buildings.

A Feast of a Life A fascinating obituary: Peng Chang-kuei, the inventor of General Tso’s chicken, as remembered by William Grimes at the New York Times.

Disaster, Drawn Another interesting one from the Times, courtesy of Keith Williams, is this graphic retelling of the 1956 shipping-complex explosion that injured about 250 people.

Measuring Fear The Roper Center at Cornell is a treasure trove of historical polling data, and in this blog post they take a look at how the nation felt right after the attack on Pearl Harbor—when, contrary to what you may expect, Americans still said they were more afraid of Germany than Japan.

Family Ties Warren Blumenfeld at the Good Men Project sees the story of Mussolini’s son-in-law as a cautionary tale for the Trump administration.

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