Category Archives: History

Black Lives Matter: Billie Holiday’s song ‘Strange Fruit’

Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” is now recognized as one of the greatest recordings of all time, being named to the Songs of the Century list by the National Endowment of the Arts. But this powerfully mournful song was almost never … Continue reading

Posted in History, Politics, Review | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: William Ryan ~ The Holy Thief (2010)

The death of Phillip Kerr left a hole in my reading of historical novels. His principal character, Bernie Gunther,1 a Berlin policeman becomes embedded in the Nazi regime whilst maintaining his integrity (sort of). Ryan’s Moscow Noir novels are set … Continue reading

Posted in Economics, History, Politics | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Royal Navy Punishments in the 18th Century

“…naval authorities sought to attain social control by normalizing flogging as a form of deterrent punishment….[captains] were permitted to flog at their own discretion.”1 Shipboard punishments were inflicted by captains who had absolute authority. Only a sentence of capital punishment … Continue reading

Posted in History | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Black Lives Matter: Jesse Owens Olympic Champion 1936

Jesse Owens on the podium after winning a gold medal at the 1936 Summer Olympics. A month after the Olympic Games, Owens told a crowd, “Hitler didn’t snub me—it was [Roosevelt] who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send me … Continue reading

Posted in History, Politics, Sport | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The problem of being a dictator

In the span of a couple of weeks, Vladimir Putin….managed to revitalize NATO, unify a splintered West, turn Ukraine’s little-known president into a global hero, wreck Russia’s economy, and solidify his legacy as a murderous war criminal. How did he … Continue reading

Posted in History, Politics, War | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Viet Thanh Nguyen ~ The Sympathizer (2015)

This superb book won the USA’s Pulitzer Prize. Nguyen is brilliant and the real thing: a great author. Opening sentences are important, I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces.1 The unnamed hero/anti-hero is a … Continue reading

Posted in History, Literature, Politics, Review, War | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Who was Oliver Cromwell?

He was courageous, devout, resolute, principled, intelligent, eloquent, able, adaptable and dedicated, but also self-seeking, unscrupulous, dishonest, manipulative, vindictive and bloodthirsty: definitely not somebody to be simply taken at his word. Ronald Hutton The Making of Oliver Cromwell p338

Posted in History | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Woody Guthrie discovers Catholic hypocrisy

“Son, I have been in this service [Roman Catholic priest] all my life. I have seen to it that thousands of men just like you got to work for a meal. But, right at this moment, there is no kind … Continue reading

Posted in Economics, History, Literature, Religion | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Definition of a Puritan

…..someone who worries that somebody, somewhere might be enjoying themselves.

Posted in History, Humour, quips | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Queen Victoria and Childbirth

Queen Victoria, 1837-1901, had nine children and numerous grand-children.1 The 19th century was an era of large families but many babies didn’t survive into adulthood. Childbirth was dangerous for both mother and child. Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, wanted her to … Continue reading

Posted in education, Health, History, Technology | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment