Category Archives: History

Book Review: Volker Kutscher ~ The Fatherland Files (2019) (Translator Niall Sellar)

Fans of Philip Kerr and his wonderful series featuring Berlin policeman Bernie Gunter will warm to this German version. The book reeks of authenticity in its depiction of pre-Nazi Berlin and the insidious take-over of the police by them. The … Continue reading

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Black Lives Matter: Miles Davis 1959: New York City

Background Miles Davis was a jazz superstar. In this encounter, with a red neck policeman in New York City, it made no difference. All that mattered was white supremacy and the power of the badge. The officer wasn’t sacked for … Continue reading

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A Good Nazi: Denmark 1943

On September 28, 1943, a high-level Nazi attaché serving in Copenhagen, Denmark wrote these words in his diary as he made the boldest decision of his entire life. Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz had served the Third Reich in its occupation of … Continue reading

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Reasons to vote Conservative

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Anthony Eden’s Mental Map: the Suez Canal Débâcle, 1956

Napoleon commented, “to understand the man you have to know what was happening in the world when he was twenty.1 Background As a young officer, Eden aged 18, led troops in the battle of the Somme, 1916. This vicious battle … Continue reading

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The pacifist and the soldier: Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein

Bertrand Russell had been jailed for his anti-war activities but his close intellectual friend Ludwig Wittgenstein was in the Austrian army as a private soldier. By March 1919 Russell had been released but Wittgenstein was still in a prisoner of … Continue reading

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The Political Education of Cassius Clay

Cassius Clay lived in segregated Kentucky during his boyhood. Segregation is, quite simply, institutional racism. He became Olympic champion in 1960 in Rome aged 18, where he defeated white men. On his return, the grim reality of segregated Kentucky became … Continue reading

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Married Women’s Property Act, 1870: Britain’s first ‘Feminist’ legislation

“…a woman, on marrying, relinquished her personal property—moveable property such as money, stocks, furniture, and livestock— to her husband’s ownership; by law he was permitted to dispose of it at will at any time in the marriage and could even … Continue reading

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The Unflappable Harold MacMillan: Athens 1944

“MacMillan seems to have taken the daily risks with a mixture of unflappability and almost enjoyment. He and the Ambassador insisted, as a matter of principle, on using the official study, remarking in his memoirs only that ‘bullets came through … Continue reading

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Victor Hugo on Sewage

Violating every rule of narrative, Hugo interrupts the climax of his great novel Les Misérables (1862) to hector the reader for fifteen pages about the Parisian sewer system. The city’s sewers discharged vast quantities of excrement into rivers, which carried … Continue reading

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