Plus: Jerusalem and Pearl Harbor |

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December 07, 2017

By Lily Rothman

This week, TIME unveiled the Person of the Year for 2017: the silence breakers. As Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal wrote, the women (and men) who spoke up about sexual assault were chosen for “giving voice to open secrets, for moving whisper networks onto social networks, for pushing us all to stop accepting the unacceptable.”

This is not the first time since the franchise launched with Charles Lindbergh as 1927’s Man of the Year that the editors have decided that the most influential figure of the year is not an individual but rather a group. The first time that happened was with 1950’s symbolic selection of “the American fighting-man,” and it has been the case several times since. (Perhaps most notably considering this week’s news, the 1975 selection was a group of American women.) These choices often capture a moment when a cultural change seems to surge forward all at once, driven by the force of many people acting together rather than one “great man” who controls the story.

As the editors wrote when explaining their 1966 choice of Americans under 25, “occasionally no one person seems to dominate current history as much as the embodiment of a group.”

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

HISTORY ON TIME.COM
‘There’s a Bond Between Us’

A 104-year-old Pearl Harbor veteran reflects on the 76th anniversary of the attack

The 1995 Law Behind President Trump's Plan for Jerusalem

"The city's status has been an open question for decades"

Masterpiece Cakeshop Isn't the First to Bake Meaning Into Cakes

Wedding cakes, now the subject of a Supreme Court case, have been meaningful since Ancient Rome

When Canada Tried to Solve Filmmaking's Gender Problem

A look back at a Canadian experiment from the '70s might hold a possible answer for the post-Weinstein world

Witnessing the First Self-Sustained Nuclear Chain Reaction

Read an excerpt from 'The Last Man Who Knew Everything: The Life and Times of Enrico Fermi, Father of the Nuclear Age'

FROM THE TIME VAULT

Dec. 7, 1981, cover of TIME

Today in 1981: Crazy Over Cats

“Garfield and his top-selling feline pals are but one example of the cat boom in the U.S., which now goes well beyond book and comic pages. There is, for example, Cats, an opulent, energetic rock musical adapted from T.S. Eliot's volume of poems Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. The production has been a smash hit in London for nine months and will stalk onto Broadway early next year. Signature lines of kitty sheets, towels, ceramic cat planters, calendars, mugs, watches, umbrellas, T shirts, sweatshirts, stationery and housewares move swiftly at gift stores and specialty shops like Purrfection in New York and the Cat House in Los Angeles.” (Dec. 7, 1981)

Read the full story

Dec. 2, 1991

Pearl Harbor Anniversary

“This was the moment that changed Americans from a nation of provincial innocents, not only ignorant of the great world but proud of their ignorance, into a nation that would often have to bear the burdens of rescuing that world. The same cataclysm also changed the Japanese from a people trying to find their place on the rim of the great world into a nation that would eventually redefine that world and place itself at the very center. The surprise, when it first exploded over Pearl Harbor, was shattering, and everyone who experienced it can still remember what was going on when the news interrupted that quiet Sunday: the Washington Redskins playing the Philadelphia Eagles, Arthur Rubinstein as soloist in the New York Philharmonic broadcast, or just a visit with friends.” (Dec. 2, 1991)

Read the full story

The Jan. 2, 1928, cover of TIME

The First Person of the Year

“To date he has flown to France; Belgium; England; Mexico; Canada in the interests (his) of aviation progress and the interests (governmental) of international good will. In his own writings last week he pointed out the risks of flying over lonely Central American mountains. Remarked dissenters: ‘How much more lonely are the wastes of the Pacific; jungles below the Equator; tropic waterways of the East over which he must fly if his portfolio of Ambassador of Good Will is permanent.’ 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." (Jan. 2, 1928)

Read the full story

HIGHLIGHTS FROM AROUND THE WEB

Digital divide For The Atlantic, Alexis C. Madrigal considers the implications of a buzzy paper by Clifford Lynch, the director of the Coalition for Networked Information, and whether future historians will ever be able to really understand our online lives.

In their own words In an ambitious project for the Washington Post, Dan Lamothe uses a trove of personal letters to tell the story of World War II through one family’s eyes.

Printed matter Clio Chang, at the website Splinter, looks at what we can learn from a radical Asian American newspaper that ran in the early 1970s but has since been largely forgotten.

City story As President Trump’s declarations about Jerusalem continue to make news, a team at the New York Times presents a thorough guide to the modern history of conflict in the city.

History hub Dan Snow, a BBC history presenter, has recently launched HistoryHit.TV, this subscription-based history video and audio service.

 
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