C. Michael McAdams (1947-2010)
In Memory of a Sincere Croatian Friend
Charles Michael McAdams, a historian, journalist, and true American friend of Croats passed away on October 29, 2010 in Sacramento, California. He was not known in Croatia until the fall of Yugoslavia, but his name was very familiar among Croats around the world long before those great historical changes occurred. He was not only known to us but became a fellow-member in our fight for freedom.
McAdams was born on May 8, 1947 in an American Marine base in California, where his father was an officer. He also served in the Marines, but he was more interested in books than in a military career, and after completing his military duty, he studied and graduated with a diploma in Historical Studies at the University of the Pacific, a well-known private university in California. After that, he received his Master’s degree at the Jesuit run John Carroll University in Cleveland, where he also received a Certificate in Soviet and Eastern European Studies. He continued his education taking classes in Advanced Studies of Comparative Politics and Ideologies at the University of Colorado and at the University of San Francisco. After completing his coursework for the Doctorate in Education, McAdams became a regional director of the Sacramento campus of the University of San Francisco in 1979 — where he would remain until his retirement in the year 2000.
There is an old proverb that says that true friendships are not chosen, but simply happen. The same could be said of McAdams and his friendship with Croats. Namely, he is of Scottish-Jewish background and a Protestant by religion. He first heard about Croatia as a child because he was a stamp collector, and Croatian stamps came into his hands. But, when as a student, he began reading history books and listening to professors, he realized that everything he read and heard about Croats was negative. It was precisely the constant demonization of the Croats that made McAdams want to explore further and find out whether this was just a fog of deception as being presented by those who advocated the status quo or perhaps the laziness of researchers and professors who, instead of searching for the truth, kept repeating old clichés, or, if perhaps it really was all true. McAdams did not believe that history was really that black and white, and he wanted to dive deeper into Croatia’s past. Then a chance meeting happened that would define his future academic career.
Namely, sometime prior to completing his studies, McAdams found himself on California Street in San Francisco. He walked past a European car dealership and noticed a small Croatian flag on one of the cars. He walked in and asked if any Croats worked there, wanting to make contact with Croats in the city. He asked that question precisely to a Croat, Mr. Zvonko Pribanic, a well-known Croatian in California. With that chance meeting, a lasting friendship with Zvonko and the Croats “happened.” In his search for truth, McAdams came into contact with people whose only wish was that the truth about Croats be told, and a real alliance was born. As Michael read more and researched the “other side,” he found out that what was being said about Croats was a myth and not reality. He then decided not only to find the truth but also to share it with others.
To better acquaint himself with Croatian history, McAdams continued his graduate studies at John Carroll University in Cleveland, where his mentor was Prof. George J. Prpić, and where he met and collaborated with other Croatian academicians in America. Upon returning to California, Michael became active among the local Croats there, and among other activities, he became one of the founders of the Croatian Information Service in 1974. The other founders were Petar Radielović, Zvonko Pribanić, and Damir Radoš. From then until the end of his life, McAdams did not cease to explain to Americans and others who the Croats really are and what they want. He wrote numerous books and booklets, a number of contributions in almanacs, and more than one hundred articles. One of his most popular books, Croatia, Myth & Reality, was translated into Croatian (Hrvatska – mit i istina) and other languages, and saw three English editions (1992, 1994, and 1997). He held many lectures, participated in seminars and appeared in TV and radio broadcasts. For years, McAdams prepared and led a segment called “Moments in Croatian History” on the weekly Croatian radio program in California. He was a member of the Association for Croatian Studies, Croatian Academy of America, Croatian-Latin American Institute, Croatian Scholarship Fund, and others. He was a guest lecturer at many universities in America, Australia, and in Croatia after its independence. For his services to the Croats, President Franjo Tudjman awarded him the Order of Danica Hrvatska with the image of Marko Marulić.
McAdams would often jump into “hot” subjects which certainly did not help him in his career, but as a true American marine, he did not give in to fear. He was not only of the belief that Croats had the right to freedom and independence, but he also enthusiastically joined that struggle. Many people were bothered by McAdams because they could not label him as an “Ustasha” child, a frustrated emigrant, or a mercenary. He openly and loudly spoke his thoughts and opinions, and did not ask for anything, and that gave him the moral strength to face the guardians and propagators of historical myths. McAdams could have (as many others did) followed the line of lesser effort, and he could have repeated what was written in many books, but he found the courage to research “the other side” of history. He never regretted that he “wandered” into Croatian history or for being among Croats. With his work he aided in lifting the fog over Croatian history in America and beyond, and by doing so he also aided in the fight for Croatian independence.
Many thanks to Michael for his sincere friendship to us who knew him and collaborated with him, and to Croatia and the Croats. The search for historical truth carried him to the Croats, and may eternal Truth be the reward for his inexhaustible work and great love for the Croats in America and their homeland.
Dr. Ante Čuvalo