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E. BRADFORD BURNS:
OBITUARY AND DISCUSSION
(8-16 January 1996)


H-LatAm
Item number 2019
Mon, 08 Jan 1996 16:44:04 +0000 (GMT)
OBIT: E. Bradford Burns, 1932-1995

Neteros:

I thought you should know of the passing of a giant in the field of Latin America history. Here is his obituary from Saturday's (January 6, 1996) Los Angeles Times. (Submitted by Steven C. Williams, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles):

Bradford Burns, prolific author of 150 books on Latin America and a popular UCLA history professor for nearly three decades, has died. He was 63.

Burns, who had retired from UCLA in 1993, died Dec. 19 of liver cancer in his Hollywood Hills home, UCLA spokesmen said Friday.

An expert on Brazil and Nicaragua, Burns was singled out for public rebuke by former President Ronald Reagan for his 1987 book _At War in Nicaragua: The Reagan Doctrine and the Politics of Nostalgia_.

After Reagan's comments won the historian nationwide publicity, including an appearance on "Nightline," Burns typically shrugged off the attention as his "15 minutes of fame."

Born in Muscatine, Iowa, Burns earned his degreees at the University of Iowa and Tulane and Columbia universities. He began teaching at Rutgers and the State University of New York at Buffalo.

He joined UCLA's history department in 1964 and wrote his first book two years later, _The Unwritten Alliance: Rio Branco and Brazilian-American Relations_. The book earned the Bolton Prize and Brazil's honorary designation in the Order of Rio Branco.

The historian's last published book was in 1991, _Patriarch and Folk: The Emergence of Nicaragua, 1798-1858_. He had recently completed a history of Iowa, _Kinship With the Land_, which will be published later this year.

From 1979 to 1983, Burns served as the first dean of the honors division of the UCLA College of Letters and Science.

Burns is survived by his mother, Wanda Schwandke Burns; his sister, Karen Burns Kenny; and his longtime companion, David Aguayo.

Two memorial services are planned. The first will be at 3pm on Feb. 4 in the Cathedral Center of St. Paul, 840 Echo Park Ave., Los Angeles. The second is on Feb. 5 at 5pm in the UCLA Faculty Center.

Steven C. Williams
Hollywood, CA
la_nomad@lainet.com


H-LatAm
Item number 2028
Tue, 9 Jan 1996 20:39:35 CST
QUERY: E. Bradford Burns

Professor Burns was indeed a great man and personally a role model both as a teacher and a human being but was he truly as prolific as to have written one hundred and fifty boos as the L.A. Times obit states?

I would love to hear more details about his fifteen minute brush with fame and Reagan

Dennis Kortheuer (dkortheu@ea.oac.uci.edu)


H-LatAm
Item number 2031
Wed, 10 Jan 1996 08:54:19 CST
REPLY:E.Bradford Burns,Sandinistas,and misprints

There obviously seems to have been a misprint regarding Burns' publication totals. The Times reported he had published over 150 books. It should read he had over 150 publications which, of course, includes numerous small articles.

One of those small articles was published in the mid-1980s for a tiny journal that leaned favorably to the Sandinistas. I can't recall the journal or the article (maybe someone else knows), but Burns used the occasion to show how the Sandinista regime had improved basic quality of life standards including child mortality, education, etc., since taking power. But because of the Contra war supported pig-headedly by the Reagan administration, those improvements were quickly lost as the Sandinistas channeled precious human resources to their war efforts to battle the Contras. Burns made a fairly innocuous argument, but someone in the Reagan Whitehouse brought attention to the article (funny what those fellas read in their spare time, huh?) and Reagan himself cited it as proof that gullible college students were being brainwashed by some propagandist at UCLA. As a grad student working for Burns, it was all very laughable me (except that people were dying in Nicaragua while the Reaganites perpetrated the Big Lie about the dangers of this "Revolution without Boarders"). Burns often joked with me that thousands of pages of publications never netted him the attention which a five page knock-off article gave him. Thus, his 15 minutes of fame. Maybe we should all be so lucky.

I am searching my files now for a small op-ed piece Burns wrote for the now-defunct Herald Examiner where Burns talked about his run-in with Reagan. If I find it, I'll send it to the group.

By the way, about two months later (as I recall) Burns was invited to the Whitehouse to meet Brazilian VIPs who were in Washington. Nobody seemed to remember Burns' transgressions. Obviously, in Reagan's fantasy cold war world, the right hand lost track of the left.

Steven Williams
Loyola Marymount
la_nomad@lainet.com


H-LatAm
Item number 2033
Wed, 10 Jan 1996 09:09:08 CST
REPLY: E. Bradford Burns

Although I didn't study with him and met him only two or three times, Brad Burns influenced me greatly through his books, and still does. I have used his History of Brazil for over twenty years as a text, and recently returned to his Concise Interpretive History of Latin America for my survey with excellent results.

In 1987, I was asked to write in support of his nomination, at UCLA, for the position of "scholar and teacher of great distinction." At that time his bibliography of published works (articles, books, and other) stood at 96, so I imagine that the Times meant 150 publications of all sorts, not books.

In my view, Brad was one of a small number of North Americans doing Latin American history at the very pinnacle of our profession.

Darrell Levi
Professor
Florida State University
dlevi@mailer.fsu.edu


H-LatAm
Item number 2034
Tue, 09 Jan 1996 00:57:26 -0600 (CST)
RESPONSE: E. Bradford Burns

In addition to his scholarly achievements Brad Burns was a gentle and caring man. He was a person you could turn to in difficult times and find supportive and caring advice. His students loved him and he held the respect of his colleagues. He lived a good and full life even though he was taken from us far too soon. His favorite story concerned Frank Tannenbaum for whom Brad served as a Teaching Assistant at Columbia. One day after class a breathless first year grad student approached them after class and asked Professor Tannenbaum if he had read the wonderful book the student was carrying. Brad sensed that Frank had not read the book, but, ever nimble, Tannebaum replied "I don't read books, I write them!" The poor chap slinked away and they never saw him again. Brad vowed he would never do that to a student and he never did. Indeed, he always had time for us and loved to talk history or just kid around. He never talked about himself. He was modest, fair and considerate. He really liked people and he especially empathized with the downtrodden and the poor. I will not meet the like of him again.

From: JHart@UH.EDU


H-LatAm
Item number 2037
Wed, 10 Jan 1996 14:48:33 CST
"Me and the Prez" by E. Bradford Burns (1932-1995)

In the wake of his death, I thought it appropriate to transcribe an op-ed piece written by Brad Burns. The following was published in that most scholarly of journals, the L.A. Weekly of March 28, 1985. I think it captures Burns at his best: self-effacing and full of common sense, yet critical to the point of being openly confrontational and ideological. It is also clear that he maintained a special relationship with his students. From this, you'll get a pretty good idea why he gained such great popularity and esteem in his large undergraduate introduction to Latin America courses. Also, Burns clears up his publication record (hint: it falls a little short of 150 books).

"Me and the Prez" by E. Bradford Burns

Andy Warhol was right. In a lifetime, each of us will be a star for 15 minutes. My 15 minutes unexpectedly arrived a week and a half ago. My agent was none other than that grand old showman himself, Ronald Reagan, who made me a star over a press luncheon in Washington. We haven't met, but we know each other.

I catapulted to fame during office hours at UCLA, where for 17 quiet, uneventful years I've taught Latin American history. At about noon, the phone interrupted my routines. An enterprising reporter from _USA Today_ had sniffed me out to ask what I thought of President Reagan's excoriating critique of my editorial on Nicaragua. Said editorial had appeared in the pages of _Nicaraguan Perspectives_, circulation 5,000.

The news wires soon put the story in my hand. It began well. The prez spoke of a "prominent" UCLA professor. I puffed up. What professor wouldn't like to be called "prominent" by the president? So far, so good.

But then my eyes fell on the charges he hurled against me. The president declared I was guilty of making propaganda and disbursing "disinformation," activities favorable to the Nicaraguans, "them," not "us." I could see the flag waving. I was nothing less than a dupe of the Sandinistas, the Great Communicator seemed to think.

But imagine being called a "disinformer" by the very guy who assured us for a full week in November, 1984, that Soviet MIGs were on their way to Nicaragua, before saying "never mind." The one who constantly refers to plane-, train-, and boatloads of guns making their way from Nicaragua to El Salvador but can't seem to find any evidence of them. Recently, he asked us to believe that Nicaraguan soldiers masquerade as contras in order to "murder and mutilate" fellow Nicaraguans, thus exculpating the contras of a long and well-documented record of brutalities against civilians.

The master disinformer himself had accused me of plying his trade. I quaked in my professional shoes. Certainly the jig was up. Everyone would conclude, "It takes one to know one" and my credibility would vanish: guilt by association.

I rushed to my files. Where was that editorial I'd written a year before? What the devil had I said to arouse the ire of the world's most powerful man? And if the label of "disinformer" wasn't enough, the president of the United States had also invoked the Almighty against me. "God help" my students, he had commanded. Furthermore, he promised to pray for them. I faced the wrath of God and president, surely a formidable duo. Where was that editorial?

Once found and nervously read, the editorial seemed to make three points--logical ones, I concluded with not a small degree of self-indulgent satisfaction. Naturally, being a historian, I wrapped my comments snugly in historical perspective. Reagan invoked God; I summoned up the past.

First, I had pointed out that officers of Somoza's discredited National Guard occupy 46 or the top 48 command positions of the contra forces. As "freedom fighters" they commit the same atrocities with which they terrorized Nicaragua for 46 bloody years under the Somoza dynasty. Secondly, the editorial had emphasized that the contras never have bothered to define a program for the development of Nicaragua. We taxpayers are signing checks for big bucks without knowing precisely what we are supposed to get for our money. Thirdly, I had cautioned that the people of Nicaragua are unlikely to rise up against their government since the revolution has delivered on its promises to provide access for the majority to health care, education and land reform. Were these banalities news to Ronnie? He obviously didn't like them being said.

By this time the phone was ringing off the hook. Journalists had tracked me down in the sanctity of my study. Events pushed me into phase two: the realization that I had an unparalleled opportunity to speak to my fellow Californians and, as it was turning out, to the nation at large.

Radio stations from across the land--New York, St. Louis, San Francisco--called to record my reaction. And I gave it to them. My home became a TV studio as channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 11 and 13 caught the professor expounding his ideas. Cable News picked up the footage to spread those ideas nationally. Offers arrived to write articles.

My nine books on Latin America might have been read over the years by 10,000 or 20,000 people. (Authors like to think big.) Now, thanks to a 500-word essay, I had millions of people listening. Maybe Ronnie wasn't such a bad guy after all. He had single-handedly propelled me into a highly visible platform from which I could address a mass audience.

Ah, Andy, you were right. Realizing my 15 minutes were ticking away rapidly, I spoke feverishly. There would be no rest, not during those heady hours--and there wasn't any.

Calls came and notes arrived from neighbors, colleagues, friends, students, and a surprising number of people I didn't know who wished me well. Even a spray of flowers arrived, proclaiming, "You hit the jackpot!"

More prayers entered the picture. One caller identified himself as the president of the Southern California Ecumenical Council and stated, "You know, I'm something of a specialist on prayer myself, and I want you to know that I, too, am praying for your students. I pray that they will continue to learn the truth." Gosh, I thought, if nothing else these students are going to be well-protected by prayer, and just as final exams were approaching.

When I walked into my classroom on Thursday, a round of applause from those students greeted me. I interpreted it as a vote of confidence. One of the warmest sensation I've ever felt swept through me. Our relationship remained intact. Whatever mind-boggling powers the president possessed, he didn't have the power to destroy the fragile chemistry in the classroom. Yet one more prayer was offered up. One of my students wrote in the UCLA _Daily Bruin_, "As a citizen, I ask God to help President Reagan; Professor Burns' students are doing fine." I agree. They are fine. Perhaps they were enjoying their sudden fame as much as I savored mine.

I experienced at least one other satisfaction. On Tuesday, Reagan labeled my warning of the strong Somoza presence among the contras and of the sterility of their ideas as "disinformation." On Wednesday, his administration announced that the contras had to jettison the Somoza connection and proclaim a meaningful democratic program for the future. Of course I attribute Wednesday's announcement to my editorial. During a restless night, the commander-in-chief obviously had thought it over, decided I was right, and resolved to take some action. Surely my editorial contributed to a change of history, albeit a small one. I wonder if Ron will telephone to thank me.

Wistfully I glance at the phone. It stares back mutely. It is Friday, and I sit alone in my study. In the quietude, the academic environment inexcorably closes it. Life has returned to the prosaic. The Washington carnival has moved on.

Silence pervades. Can I beat the odds set by Andy Warhol? Can I achieve another moment of stardom? I resolve to send the president a copy of my next op-ed piece on Nicaragua. It's worth a try.

Submitted by Steven C. Williams
Loyola Marymount University
la_nomad@lainet.com


H-LatAm
Item number 2042
Wed, 10 Jan 1996 19:14:06 CST
REPLY: E. Bradford Burns

In response to Steven C. Williams' request, I submit the following recollection of Bradford Burns. I thought it might be of interest to others on the net as well.

I am delighted to have the opportunity to share my thoughts on my old friend and professor Brad Burns. We go back a long way, to Columbia University in fact, where he was a professor of Latin American history beginning in the fall semester of 1967 (the obituary didn't mention this). I was then in my second year of M.A. studies in the Anthropology Department and Latin American Studies Program, and with much dread I signed up for a required course in Latin American history. Brad was the professor, and from his very first lecture I was hooked, eventually changing my field of study to get a Ph.D. in history.

Brad was a consummate teacher. Even in a large survey course you could tell he had complete mastery of the subject, and a relaxed, informal style of lecturing which put everyone at ease. The following year Brad became my principal advisor as I decided to pursue an advanced degree in Latin American history, with his strong encouragement. Brad always assumed that a student had to be guided, even at the graduate level; this was not out of arrogance, but from a commitment to teaching. I remember my small cohort of graduate seminar students being shepherded onto an uptown subway and taken to the Hispanic Society, lest we not avail ourselves of that excellent facility on our own. Then there was the time he literally led us across campus to the reference room at Butler Library, where he familiarized us with every last Latin American bibliography of bibliographies there was at the school.

He often held class in his apartment, especially in those tumultuous days of the Spring of 1968. Incidentally, my recollection (and this will be surprising to some) was that Brad was not very political in those days. He used to liken himself to Emperor Pedro II who, according to Brad, wanted nothing more than to be a teacher. He did give great classes at home, acting as host as well as teacher. The apartment was always tidy, and I recall a proudly displayed photographic portrait of him in his Navy uniform. In fact, the last time I met with him, at the last AHA meeting in New York, he recalled his Navy experience as I regaled him with stories of my midshipmen students.

But what I remember most clearly about Brad was the lessons he taught us about teaching, scholarship and professionalism in general. He told us it wasn't necessary to undertake a project which was "unusual" or especially difficult in order to make a name for oneself. Rather, he said, pick a topic that is more easily researched and impress people with the depth of your coverage. In the same breath he cautioned us that no matter how long and diligently we pursued our dissertation research something would always turn up that somehow we had not managed to find. Forget about it, was his advice. When one ran out of ideas he recommended reshuffling note cards (seems rather quaint now), and inevitably another paper topic would suggest itself. This last bit has worked a number of times for me, and probably for others as well.

I was devastated when Brad left Columbia, but he never forgot me. I knew I could always turn to him for advice, a reference, or even to talk long distance whenever I felt like it. I meant to write all this to Brad long ago and thank him for being the most important inspiration in my professional life, but like so many other things, I never had the time to commit my thoughts to paper. I am grateful for the invitation to do so now.

Roberta M. Delson
Department of Humanities
U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
Kings Point, NY 11024
RMDLC%CUNYVM@UICVM.CC.UIC.EDU


H-LatAm
Item number 2050
Thu, 11 Jan 1996 15:08:49 CST
REPLY: E. Bradford Burns

In 1985, when I was in the Latin American Studies program at UCLA, I was trying to decide which of my fields to pursue in a doctoral program: history, political science, or sociology. I went to my mentor in each field and asked why he had chosen that discipline. Brad Burns stretched out his long arms and said, "Because history is everything!" It was Brad's contagious enthusiasm that won me over, and it would not be the first time during the years we worked together.

Over coffee at LuValle, Brad counseled me about my initial preference for research over teaching. "Go ahead," he said, "write your books. They'll reach a small audience. But if you want to change the world, you get a room full of 18-year-olds, and you turn their heads around." And I watched him do it, literally and figuratively. When Brad lectured, striding off the stage and up and down the aisles of the hall, no one dozed. Heads turned, following his every move and absorbing his every word.

More than one of us became historians and teachers because of him. He was a role model as a prolific and highly readable scholar and a brilliant lecturer who managed it all while still having time for the long line of students waiting outside his door. And he did it all with seeming ease and great grace.

He accepted each of his many awards and accolades with customary humility. When singled out for condemnation by the Reagan administration, he good naturedly told his History of Brazil class, "I'm sure you're glad to know as the mid-term examination approaches that the president is praying for you."

One of the greatest gifts he gave me as a graduate student was to encourage me to disagree with him. He said the job of each new generation of historians was to challenge those who came before, and he meant it. His students were not taught to simply echo his views. He took great pride and pleasure in the accomplishments of his students and went the extra mile to help us--for example, not just arranging for a student to speak at a conference, but finding the funding to make it happen.

Brad Burns was the kind of professor who is not just respected by his students but is adored. He was brilliant, famous, yet totally human: Many of us will most fondly remember him chasing his errant dog, Chula, in Bunche Hall.

I miss him.

Julie A. Charlip
Whitman College
charlija@whitman.edu


H-LatAm
Item number 2054
Fri, 12 Jan 1996 13:02:52 CST
REPLY: E. Bradford Burns

In response to your call for testimonials about Brad Burns, I thought I would provide you with a historical document, that is, the text of a letter I wrote over eight years ago when Brad was being considered by UCLA "for advancement to one of the higher steps of the Professorship which is reserved `for scholars and teachers of great distinction'." The addressee is now, of course, the president-elect of the AHA.

October 23, 1987

Professor Joyce Appleby
Chair, Department of History
U.C.L.A.
Los Angeles, CA 90024-1402

Dear Professor Appleby:

It is a pleasure and an honor to respond to your request of October 12 for an assessment of Professor E. Bradford Burns' contributions as a scholar and a teacher of Latin American history.

Although Professor Burns and I have met at conferences and correspond occasionally, I know him primarily through his writings. As a graduate student at Yale from 1969 to 1974 and continuing as a professor of Latin American history at Florida State University since then, I have read most of Professor Burns' books and several of his articles. I have used his History of Brazil as a required text for 13 years and regard it as the best single-volume treatment of the subject in English. Many students over the years have enjoyed the book as well. I have also used Burns' Latin America: A Concise Interpretive History in my survey of South American history on several occasions with excellent results.

As his extensive bibliography attests, Professor Burns' scholarship is highly original and deeply significant. Originality and significance are criteria used in the section of the Bolton Prize, awarded by the AHA's Conference on Latin American history for his first book, The Unwritten Alliance (1966). His Documentary History of Brazil (1967) made an excellent collection of sources available in Englsih for the first time. The translated, edited, and introduced work, Perspectives on Brazilian History (1967) brought to a wider audience the views of several prominent Brazilian historians. Nationalism in Brazil (1968) was a pioneering treatment of fundamental importance to the understanding of modern Brazil, with relevance to the study of Latin American nationalism more generally. Latin American Cinema (1975) helped to open the significant new area of historical film studeies of Latin America. In Poverty of Progress (1980) Professor Burns contributed a major, suggestive critical analysis of nineteenth-century Latin American notions of "progress," which has significant implications for the study of history itself and for twentieth-century concepts of "development." At War with Nicaragua (1987) is a highly useful, sound, scholarly analysis of a contemporary crisis in United States foreign policy and tragedy for the Nicaraguan people.

Professor Burns has, as you know, been a witty and gracious defender of academic freedom during a time when some political authorities are hostile to historical studies which challenge their geopolitical dogmas. Those of us who have witnessed his efforts on behalf of our profession stand a bit taller and are strengthened in our resolve to pursue the truth, thanks to Brad.

Professor Burns enjoys an absolutely first-rank standing among historians of Latin America, both in this country and in Latin America itself. Indeed, I cannot think of any Latin Americanists in this country more distinguished than he. There are several reasons for this. Burns has mastered perhaps the most difficult task for a North American historian of Latin America: achieving sympathy for and identification with the epic frustrations, aspirations, and struggles of the people of the region without losing his scholarly detachment and objectivity. He has stimulated and enriched the exchange of views across the yawning gulf which separates the two Americas. His multiple interests--Brazil, Central America, and Latin America at large; historical synthesis and interpretation; intellectual and literary history; historiography; problems of progress, modernization, and development; film in history; the teaching of history; and the nettle of United States-Latin America relations--articulate a diverse but coherent vision ranging from popular culture to foreign policy. Personally, I became an admirer of Professor Burns not through any extended personal exposure, but through the sheer thoroughness, rationality, explanatory power, and humanity of his writings. He is a model from which many scholarls from first-year students to experienced professors have profited.

Four days before your letter came, I received an advance copy of my new book, The Prados of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Its acknowledgments include the following:

The writings of E. Bradford Burns have profoundly influenced my views of Brazilian and Latin American history.

In my volume, I cite six of Professor Burns' books.

The originality, significance and influence of Professor Burns' work, his standing with his colleagues in Latin American history, his defense of academic freeedom, and his contribution to an enlightened understanding of Latin America's complex, dynamic reality certainly merit his being recognized by your university as a scholar and teacher of great distinction.

Sincerely yours,

Darrell E. Levi

As an addendum, a great way to honor Brad's memory would be for his publishers and the appropriate scholars to arrange, in due course, for updated editions of A History of Brazil and Latin America: A Concise Interpretive History.

Darrell E. Levi
dlevi@mailer.fsu.edu


H-LatAm
Item number 2069
Mon, 15 Jan 1996 11:15:59 CST
Memories of Brad Burns

I remember Brad as one generous with his time, happy to share his insights on teaching and on what worked in the classroom with a novice teacher as she set off for her first visiting appointment. I had not studied with Brad while at UCLA--I focused on Spanish America, and was particularly grounded in the colonial era--so when I took a position that entailed the teaching of modern Latin America I felt rather apprehensive. Fellow graduate students urged me to chat with Brad, so with some trepidation I approached his office in the Honors program, and was delighted to find that he welcomed me warmly, eager to hear about the position I was about to assume, full of suggestions for different books and different themes to flesh out in a course of the type I was to teach. An honors conference took him to Boise midway through the semester I was there, and I was able to share with him the progress of my course, and to thank him for his encouragement and advice.

I have frequently used his books in my courses--POVERTY AND PROGRESS, AT WAR WITH NICARAGUA--always with great success. As a teacher and as a scholar he had few rivals, and I am indebted to him for his mentoring. I feel fortunate to have had the occasion to know him. He will be sorely missed.

Leslie S. Offutt
Associate Professor of History
Director, Latin American Studies Program
Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY
offutt@vassar.edu


H-LatAm
Item number 2075
Mon, 15 Jan 1996 19:20:22 CST
REPLY: E. Bradford Burns

Dear Friends,

Many years ago Brad asked me to write a letter of recommendation for him as he was being considered for tenure. I wrote much of what has appeared about him already. A truly splendid person - teacher and scholar.

Once he asked me to give a lecture for him on a special aspect of Brazilian history ( the 1930 revolution) but Columbia was shut down by student protest and we held the class in his apartment. Getting to his place was like going through a war zone. But I do remember the feeling that students had for him - this was not expressed in words but in the way he was treated and the give take that took place,. An the amazement that he did not stay at Columbia but went west where he felt he would be happier.

This all must have been in the 1960's

best

Jordan Young
Professor Emeritus in Residence
Pace University , New York , New York
JordanYong@aol.com


H-LatAm
Item number 2078
Tue, 16 Jan 1996 08:29:08 CST
REPLY: E. Bradford Burns

I would like to add my voice to those remembering Brad Burns. I first met Brad when he came to the University of Kansas in 1976 to give a lecture. I was a first-year grad student, and I was immediately impressed that he was so friendly and generous with his time, not only with me, but with other students as well.

In the fall of 1977 I entered the doctoral program in Latin American history at UCLA principally because I hoped to work with Brad. During my four years in the program I came to know Brad well, and to admire his vision both in his teaching and his writing.

In my 25 years in a wide variety of academic settings, I have never seen anyone who was a better teacher. He was a master of the art of teaching the large undergraduate survey. As one of his teaching assistents, I used to sit in class (350-400 students) and marvel at his technique, his use of every inch of the classroom, and his ability to make each lecture fresh and exciting, even when he had given the same lecture many times. Had he not been an academic he would have had a successful career on the stage. I can still hear his booming voice rising and falling with dramatic emphasis.

What I have most admired about Brad was his ability to seek the "big picture". He was a man with a large vision. In an era when Latin Americanists increasingly specialize and carve out their little piece of turf, Brad never lost sight of larger issues, of what all the research was for. Early in his career this meant putting out a series of general volumes on Brazil, then on film and history, and finally on the meaning of "progress" in nineteenth-century Latin America. Although I often disagreed with Brad's conclusions, I always admired his ability to make us rethink old arguments and received wisdom.

Brad refused to get lost in arcane academic pursuits because he cared deeply about people, and he believed that ultimately the point of doing Latin American history was to seek a better understanding of Latin Americans, something that would benefit all of us in the Americas.

We have lost a great teacher.

Marshall C. Eakin
Department of History
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, Tennessee 37235
eakinxmc@ctrvax.vanderbilt.edu


H-LatAm
Item number 2141
Thu, 25 Jan 1996 20:56:01 -0500 (EST)
E. Bradford Burns

I would like to add some words of remembrance about Brad Burns. I was one of the first people to know him as a teacher since I was a member of his first class on Brazilian history during Fall semester 1963 at the State University of New York at Buffalo. As a fairly new graduate student, I was captivated by the breadth of coverage-- not just the usual political narrative but also the history of Brazilian music, art, architecture. He was the first person I met who used Portuguese. I recall one ugly incident at the university that semester. The old House Committee on Un-American Activities was investigating "Communism" on campus. The BUFFALO EVENING NEWS published a full page of letters about HUAC; Brad wrote the ONLY letter opposing the investigation. Later, after serving on my M.A. thesis committee-- probably his first-- he was instrumental in steering me toward Tulane for my doctorate. Most people forget that Brad's M.A. was from Tulane; his thesis was in Guatemalan history. During the tumultous spring of 1969, Brad came down from Columbia University to speak at West Georgia College on "The African Contribution to Brazilian Culture." As I prepare these thoughts, my own students in a U.S. survey are writing an essay on the African and Native American impact in NORTH America. One of Brad's perhaps lesser-known books, "Eadweard Muybridge in Guatemala, 1975: The Photographer as Social Reformer" (1986) was in keeping with his promotion of the visual side of history, also reflected in his innovative course using films about Latin America. I am sure that his biography of Rio-Branco influenced me later to assist with the editing of the "Biographical Dictionary of Modern Peace Leaders." I believe that the thing which saddens me most about his passing is the fact that we won't be seeing many more books and articles with his wonderful writing style.

Bob Claxton
West Georgia College
bclaxton@westga.edu


H-LatAm
Thu, 29 Feb 1996 00:16:39 -0400 (EDT)
E. Bradford Burns

Some academics don't like meetings, and others do research only because it's required; some hate large lecture classes while others find undergraduates boring. I will tell you a secret about Mr. Burns--an open secret that was known to all of his graduate students: Mr. Burns didn't like graduate students. It wasn't anything personal but, he said, grad students were jaded and cynical, and he much preferred the fresh, unsullied minds of the undergraduates.

He even enjoyed the 400-student survey class: He was truly in his element in the lecture halls, strolling up and down the aisles, gently teasing an answer out of the students, his long arms and hands gracefully making a point, his booming voice intoning, "Young people...!" They, the undergraduates who would go out into the world through many professional avenues, were, for those 50 minutes, three times a week, his canvas, his blank slate. His classes were never confined to the seemingly endless political upheavals in Latin America, but were enlivened by his keen understanding of literature, painting and film.

Coming to UCLA today, I can't imagine visiting the fifth floor of Bunche Hall without hearing Mr. Burns' deep-voiced, languid laughter, without seeing him surrounded by adoring undergraduates, or perhaps watching him chase his rambunctious dog Chula down the hallway.

Despite his ease among undergraduates, he was also formal in an old-fashioned way. He was unconcerned by the stereotypic characterization of him by President Reagan, who would have had you think he was a wild-eyed radical in sixties garb: He wore his thinning hair cropped close, and he always wore a conservative tie with a crisp white shirt. He was a very making a point, his booming voice intoning, "Young people...!" They, the undergraduates who would go out into the world through many professional avenues, were, for those 50 minutes, three times a week, his canvas, his blank slate. His classes were never confined to the seemingly endless political upheavals in Latin America, but were enlivened by his keen understanding of literature, painting and film.

Coming to UCLA today, I can't imagine visiting the fifth floor of Bunche Hall without hearing Mr. Burns' deep-voiced, languid laughter, without seeing him surrounded by adoring undergraduates, or perhaps watching him chase his rambunctious dog Chula down the hallway.

Despite his ease among undergraduates, he was also formal in an old-fashioned way. He was unconcerned by the stereotypic characterization of him by President Reagan, who would have had you think he was a wild-eyed radical in sixties garb: He wore his thinning hair cropped close, and he always wore a conservative tie with a crisp white shirt. He was a very

He once told me, with a twinkle in his eye, that Perloff Hall was named for a retired professor and he thought it was a GRAND idea to name campus buildings for emeritii professors. I realize that nowadays it is fashionable to name buildings for major donors, but perhaps an exception could be made in this case, for no one cared more for teaching and undergraduates than did E. Bradford Burns.



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