Tag: History

The Boundary Between East and West?


What is the dividing line between East and West? Where does the Western World end and the Orient begin?

“Adriatic: A Concert of Civilizations at the End of the Modern Age,” by Robert D. Kaplan, asserts the Adriatic Sea forms the dividing line. Kaplan explores the role played by the Adriatic from ancient times through the present day, examining its role as an interface between east and west.

“Adriatic” is part travelogue, part history, and part personal reminisce. Starting in Rimini, Italy, Kaplan takes readers around the Adriatic, working his way around the coast to Corfu in Greece. He stops at Ravenna, Venice, Trieste, two cities in Slovenia, four cities in Croatia, two each in Montenegro and Albania, before arriving at Corfu.

Ignoring the Rules 2.0


We just moved.  I’m in a new neighborhood, a new town, same state – thank God (for Gov. DeSantis).  It’s a 55+ community because me, my husband and our cat are over 55.  He picked the community – when we cashed out in spades selling our old house, and our real estate agent told us about our current town.  We like it here, but it’s been less than two weeks.  There’s construction – because half the country is moving to Florida –  and older folks.

I have nothing against grey hair and golf carts.  Personally, I like Ultress and Preference by L’Oréal – it does wonders, but that’s just me. The next-door neighbor brought us a triple chocolate cake.  He has brown hair and two adorable pooches. They gave us a snapshot of the nearby neighbors and I was impressed.

They seem to jump in and do projects – scarfing up free lumber from the dumpsters and building things as needed, including a ramp for a disabled neighbor and insulating garages from the Florida heat.  Older people know how to build things and how to budget.  They bike, kayak, walk, and hike, we noticed. The amenities center had a lively water volleyball game taking place when I visited, an outdoor painting class, and bocce ball and tennis games in action.

The Oldest Language Art Examined


Poetry is the oldest of the language arts. It predated literacy. Its cadence, rhythm, and rhyme allowed complex things to be remembered.  When literacy emerged, the earliest literature recorded was poetry.  Today prose has displaced poetry from primacy, yet poems remain important.

“A Little History of Poetry,” by John Carey is exactly what its title promises – a short history of poetry, written for a general audience.

Carey starts at the beginning. He opens the book with a discussion of the oldest recorded poem, “The Epic of Gilgamesh.” Written over 4,000 years ago it was preserved on clay tablets. He ends it with poets of the 21st century, many as unknown to today’s general public as Gilgamesh. Along the way and in between he makes a brief stop examining virtually every type of poetry and their poets.

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We know it all. At least, we think we do. It doesn’t take long for most people to render an opinion on a topic, no matter how complex. Often we’ll latch onto the first impression presented to us – a shocking video, the latest news item circulating on social media, a provocative image. It makes […]

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Our Real Russia Problem


Steven Hayward, writing over at Power Line, offers a concise, incisive explanation of our real Russia problem. A month ago, I wrote about Vladimir Putin’s vision of history and argued that he is not properly understood when we sling terms around like “thug.” Instead, I argued that we can only really understand Putin and his Russia properly if we understand him to be in the long line of Russian tzars (czars). I consider myself in good company with Steven Hayward extending the point to our chattering and governing elite.

As I wrote:

‘US History Can Be Fun’: How I Learned to Stop Boredom and Love the Past


Raised the son of a social studies teacher who farmed in his spare time, I disliked both laboring in the fields and studying history. Nothing could be drier than the San Joaquin Valley in the summer, except the textbooks that I later learned were written by students of the scholars under whose names they appeared. Some academician garnered some coin through the surely resentful labor of his or her teaching assistants. Sludge by drudges with grudges, I figure.

Then, somewhere in elementary school, Corinne Forsee appeared. That is to say, my dad let me read his copy of Corinne’s U.S. History Can Be Fun. Corinne was a teacher at Clinton High School in Clinton, IA. Corinne apparently had mercy on her poor charges, and, reckoning that if a teacher can’t stomach a textbook it is likely her pupils can’t either, assembled 231 pages (246 with index) of quirky, sometimes humorous, sometimes trivial information about our nation’s history. J. Weston Walch (which to this day produces educational resources) published the book in 1956.

Silent No More


If you were beaten and bullied as a child, if you lived for nine years in constant fear of being tortured or killed, if you and your family fled your home, losing everything, and were forced to live in a tent, would you call yourself ‘lucky’?

I used to be somewhat ambivalent about the “celebration” of Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27; in one sense, I felt it was important to remind the world that six million Jews and six million other folks were killed by the Nazis and their enablers. The phrase, “Never Forget” is embedded in my psyche. On the other hand, I wonder if this particular memorial day serves as a devastating reminder to many people—survivors and their families–who want to forget that horrific time. And ironically, I also wonder if it is an irritant to those people who experience resentment or even hatred toward the Jews, exacerbating their negative perspective.

Still, Abraham Pizam is the man described at the beginning of this post by a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel. Today he is the founding dean of UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management. He survived the Holocaust and gave a presentation at the January 27 event about his own experience. It was the first time he had spoken publicly about the Holocaust. Here’s a report on part of what he shared:

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“Don’t You Want to be on The Right Side of History?!” Such a warning is given to anyone who would dare stand in the way of current cultural narratives. The story being told could be political, sexual, racial, or social. But be assured, whatever the objective, some group thinks they know what is best now, […]

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Come Thou Long Expected Jesus


We do it once a year. Decorations go up. Trees are sold. Families gather. Schools close. Carols are sung. Gifts are given. Christmas is a season that sparks great joy. Each person, each group may celebrate the season for different reasons, but our Hebraic-Christian view of Christmas looks in two directions.

Initially, we look back at all the First Testament prophets who looked ahead. Hundreds of prophecies anticipating a prophet, a priest, a king, a messiah, a savior, were all fulfilled at Jesus’ birth. Additionally, we look ahead with the First and Second Testament prophets and apostles to the promise of a renovated world; a world where suffering and sin will cease, a world where Jesus rules eternally.

Both the history and the hope of Jesus’ first and second arrivals is well summarized by Charles Wesley’s hymn “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.” I believe the hymn expresses our earnest hope based on the facts of history: the surety of Jesus and His soon return.

Who Shot First at Jamestown?


My family descended en masse on Virginia this fall. You see, my cousin had had her first child, and while we missed out on the baby stage (there was this disease; you may have heard of it), the collected aunts were determined to get at this boy while he was still cute. So we converged on Williamsburg, Virginia. While we were there, we stopped to see the sights.

At the Jamestown settlement museum, the group stopped to watch an introductory video history. “You’re a history buff,” they said to me. “You know all this already, but the rest of us would like a chance to catch up.” Despite my prodigious memory for trivia, it had been mumblety years since my high school AP history class, and so I was glad to catch up with the rest of them. One scene in particular described the start of conflict between the Native Americans[1] and the English settlers. The movie was vague as to the question of who started it, blaming cultural misunderstandings. It showed an Indian grabbing the hilt of an unsuspecting Englishman’s sheathed sword. This led to a fight, and the movie went on to describe the war between the settlers and the locals.

Victor Davis Hanson joins Brian Anderson to discuss the ancient and modern history of citizenship, the hollowing out of civic duty in today’s U.S., and the irresponsibility of American elites. His new book, The Dying Citizen, is out now.

Find the transcript of this conversation and more at City Journal.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with David Reynolds, a Distinguished Professor of English and History at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the author of Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times, selected as one of the Top Ten Books of the Year by The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Professor Reynolds shares what teachers and students alike should know about the culture of Civil War America, primary education in that era, and the wide variety of influences on Lincoln’s thinking and leadership. They delve into the most bitterly contentious political topics of Lincoln’s time, including slavery, states’ rights, trade tariffs, and women’s rights, and how the 16th president addressed the nation’s many political divisions. They also explore how Lincoln used his rustic image to shape his public persona and appeal to voters; and how he marshaled his rhetorical talent, invoking biblical language and the ideals of the American founding, to win the war, preserve the Union, and ultimately abolish slavery. Professor Reynolds concludes with a reading from his biography.

Stories of the WeekWashington Post columnist Jay Mathews recognizes the work of Will Fitzhugh, founder of The Concord Review, to encourage students’ interest in historical fiction and reward long-form research and writing. A new project of the Teagle Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities promises to restore the humanities in undergraduate education.

Quote of the Day: The Tragedy of Liberty


There are those who assert that revolution has swept the United States. That is not true. But there are some who are trying to bring it about. At least they are following the vocal technique which has led elsewhere to the tragedy of Liberty. Their slogans; their promise of Utopia; their denunciation of individual wickednesses as if these were the wards of Liberty; their misrepresentation  of deep-seated causes; their will to destruction of confidence and consequent disorganization in order to justify action; their stirring of class feeling and hatred; their will to clip and atrophy the legislative arm; their resentment of critic; their chatter of boycott, of threat and of force—all are typical enough of the methods of more violent action.

— Herbert Hoover, “The Challenge to Liberty”

Book Review: Roger Scruton’s ‘Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition’


Published in 2017, a little over two years before his death, this I think was Roger Scruton’s last published work devoted to conservatism proper.  He has written other books on music and art, albeit as seen through a conservative lens, but their primary focus was aesthetic and not civic. Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition summarizes a great career of a man who has lived his life in the public square with a particular philosophy that runs against the current of contemporary ethos.  Roger Scruton (1944-2020) was a conservative in the paleo-conservative sense, not some neoconservative rebranding of once Liberal thought. He is British, though has had a voice in European and American conservative circles, a professor of philosophy, has published over 50 books on a wide range of subjects, and for almost twenty years was chief editor at the conservative quarterly, The Salisbury Review.  Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Scruton helped establish underground academic networks in communist-controlled countries.

This is an excellent and concise book on the history of modern conservatism by an author who lived through most of the debates of the last fifty years.  When Scruton identifies modern conservatism, he says it is “a product of the Enlightenment,” although acknowledging that conservatism dates back in every era of history.  Conservatism for Scruton is a set of customs, values, and institutions built by a community over time that have proven to sustain, preserve and “ensure [the] community’s long-term survival” and that give it a sense of identity and unity.  Conservatism in the modern sense is a counter to the Liberal emphasis of reshaping society as radical individualism that rose out of the Enlightenment.  “Tradition,” as Scruton observes from Edmund Burke, “is a form of knowledge.”

Scruton walks us through the philosophical ideas that have shaped conservatism going back to Edmund Burke, who argued against a notion of society as a “social contract” (from Jean-Jacques Rousseau) but as a “shared inheritance for the sake of which we learn to circumscribe our demands, to see our own place in things as part of a continuous chain of giving and receiving, and to recognize that the good things we inherit are not ours to spoil but ours to safeguard for our dependents” (p. 45).  Indeed I never signed a social contract but I was certainly born into a shared inheritance.

Howard Husock joins Brian Anderson to discuss the problems with urban renewal, exclusionary zoning, and public housing. Husock’s forthcoming book, The Poor Side of Town: And Why We Need It, is a history of housing policy in America.

Find the transcript of this conversation and more at City Journal.

‘You Can’t Land Here!’


Douglas C-54 Skymaster.

Captain John “Jack” Rayca couldn’t believe his ears. The war in Europe was nearly over. He’d been flying various multi-engine planes throughout the war including the twin-engine C-46 Commando, the twin C-47 Skytrain, and now later in the war, the big C-54 Douglas Skymaster with its four Pratt & Whitney R-2000-9 Twin Wasp 14-cylinder radial engines that put out 1,100 hp each. The Skymasters were long haulers and heavy lifters for their day, able to go 4,000 miles with 28,000 lbs. of payload. Their maximum takeoff weight was an impressive 36.5 tons.

Captain Rayca and his crew flew new replacement bombers and cargo to Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and even India. On their return trips to the states they often carried wounded servicemen. Today was one of those flights. He and his crew had a load of wounded and war weary pilots and yet the Army Major in charge of the airport’s military operations had just said “…you can’t land here”.

The Oklahoma Panhandle: Creating and Settling No Man’s Land


I grew up in the small town of Optima, OK, which had 92 people, in the heart of No Man’s Land, the Oklahoma Panhandle. I’ve become curious how my home region became No Man’s Land, so I did some research. It turned out to be a story of how a series of unrelated decisions by the federal government, foreign governments, and American politicians affected a largely unsettled portion of North America and accidentally formed the land in which I grew up. Here is the story of each of the four borders of the rectangular Oklahoma Panhandle.

Source: http://www.emersonkent.com/images/us_expansion_1820_adams_onis.jpg

Quote of the Day: Why is History Important?


It is beneficial that the next generation learns about the past for the same reasons that it is important that you remember your childhood.  The quintessential question of “what next!”  How will we as a society go into the future without knowledge of the past? If we don’t know what we, as Americans, are, how will we know what we will become?–Miss Peachy

The above was my 13-year-old granddaughter’s spontaneous written response to a question on a pop quiz given by her teacher on the first day of eighth-grade classes.  It was the first in-person instruction she’d attended in about 18 months.

She can’t have been entirely gruntled by the experience, as at some point during that first day, she sent her mother the following text: