Tag: History

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I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review appears Sunday. When it appears, I post the previous week’s review on Ricochet. More

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A Historical Primer on Modern Oregon Politics So in the “What’s Happening in Your State” post, Troy asked if electing a Republican was possible again, considering that our last Republican Senator, Gordon Smith, left the office only six years ago. I gave as brief an answer as I could within 200 characters, but I think […]

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Some Ricochet members have expressed interest in astronomy and others in games, so I thought y’all might be interested in this brief interview concerning the environmental art of the upcoming game Destiny. The story takes an old sci-fi trope about alien technology miraculously accelerating humanity’s capacity for space travel and planetary settlement. Bungie’s artists, hoping […]

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Book Review: Warships of the Great Lakes

 

American History textbooks rarely spend much time on the Great Lakes; their importance as the barrier between the original thirteen colonies and French Canada — and later the barrier between the United States and British Canada — is seldom mentioned, nor is their roll in the calculations of power and trade in the early American interior given its just due. If the lakes are even mentioned, it is only to note that Commodore Perry won a famous battle and secured the lakes for us in the War of 1812. Theyrarely discuss is just why securing the lakes was vital, which is exactly what Warships of the Great Lakes: 1754 – 1834 by Robert Malcomson does so well.

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 12.23.17 AMThere were only three main arteries into the American interior in colonial times: up the Mississippi River, up the Saint Lawrence River, or overland through the Appalachians. The latter option was treacherous for lack of roads, while the other two were under French control. The Saint Lawrence drains Lake Ontario and the other lakes beyond, but also drains — by way of navigable feeder rivers — Lake Champlain which, in turn, gives access to the interior of upstate New York and New England. The Great Lakes, however, allow access to the entire interior of North America as far as the Mississippi.

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Who Were You Named After, And What Has That Meant In Your Life?

 

I was named after my father. He was named after his uncle. His uncle was a Redemptorist Priest, a member of one of the Teaching and Missionary Orders. When my uncle, who was also a Redemptorist Priest, and as far as I could tell a very effective Missionary who impacted a lot of lives in Puerto Rico, died, he was buried in the same Redemptorist graveyard near Albany. We looked for, and found, Uncle Ed’s grave.

I share a name with a lot of English kings, both Normans and Anglo-Saxon. In fact, I have a Silver Penny (not a minor sum when it was minted) from the reign of Edward I (“Longshanks”). Longshanks is particularly interesting. He tried to be a Lawgiver, but suffered from much of the impetuousness of the Angevins. He was also very devoted to his wife, and I have read that she help keep his worse impulses in line.

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That was fun, Mark. Now let’s be serious. In just a short few years in the 1970s, a handful of American oil companies invested over 8 billion dollars to construct a pipeline that spanned 800 miles across the mountains and permafrost of Alaska. Men braved winters that reached 60 degrees below zero and welded from […]

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This vacation was a near thing, it very nearly did not happen, and it ended far too soon under the cloud of family tragedy. Daughter 1 had a planned visit to Great Grandma for several weeks, Daughter 2 had dance tryouts in June, choreography boot camp in July, and practices starting in early August. Throw […]

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Totalitarian Democracies and Cloistered Kings

 

shutterstock_141024430When President George W. Bush and many others were trumpeting the need for democracy throughout the world, some conservatives were keen to remind us that “democratic” is only an adjective in the USA’s formal identity as a democratic republic. The noun — the republic — is primary. Still, it has become normal to cite democracy as the fundamental principle on which any free society is built.

Yet, as has become increasingly evident in Western governments, democracy and the totalitarian impulse are not mutually exclusive. Expansion and centralization of power seem to be the natural inclination of any government, regardless of how that power is derived. The emergence of the nanny state in America did not slow with the Amendment affording citizens the direct election of Senators or with improved communication between voters and representatives.

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How Do You Teach the Warts of American History?

 

trailoftears-432x330The United States has its fair share of skeletons in the closet. Racist, imperialist, sexist skeletons. While conservatives may be annoyed at how much liberals like to harp on (and occasionally exaggerate) those particular stories, they are still historical facts — and conservatives aren’t scared of facts.

Here’s my question: what is the right way to teach the “unsavory” parts of American history? There has to be a way to avoid the two extremes of stupidity: on one hand, the “God’s Chosen Nation” model, in which George Washington is practically canonized and no one who carries the stars and stripes can ever do wrong. And, on the other hand, the cesspool of self-loathing that liberals seem to prefer, in which we belabor every injustice ever perpetrated in this country and George Washington gets less coverage than Squanto.

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Not a Good Week for Hillary Clinton

 

HillFirst, there was this. Then, there was the fact that Diane Sawyer of all people laid into Clinton over Benghazi (which, lest you forget, is not a scandal, so don’t worry your pretty little heads about it, darlings). And then, there is the fact that her book . . . well . . . isn’t so good:

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton’s new memoir “Hard Choices” officially launches Tuesday morning, but it’s already being savaged by critics for being overly cautious and, as a result, uninteresting.

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An abundance of WWII documentaries in recent decades have left many feeling like we’ve seen and heard it all. Admittedly, it’s a huge subject with incalculable perspectives and considerations. I could only guess until recently why the Army had my grandfather stationed in India, an area completely overlooked by both high school history professors and […]

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. . . for one of my fictional characters who lived in the early Eighteenth Century. I need a real noblewoman, preferably Danish, who was born around 1698, so I start cruising through the years in the Danish version of Wikipedia. Wikipedia depends heavily on volunteers to provide content, and there are many more English-speaking […]

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I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review appears Sunday. When it appears, I post the previous week’s review on Ricochet. More

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This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

To Forget the Past……

 

zan01s-683x640My Grandfather hated Arabs and Muslims. He was a lay preacher in East Africa and revered in the local community as one of the first to become “educated” (read: literate). An amateur historian, the “old man,” as he was affectionately known, was remarkably long-lived as well. He was old enough to have spent his childhood with people who had experienced the ravages of the Arab slave trade firsthand.

Whilst he was alive, he loved to have his grandchildren and great-grandchildren seated around him as he recited the oral history of his clan and the events of the past. Nothing, not even British colonialism, scarred his memory as much as his family and clan’s personal experiences with Africa’s least taught and longest lasting blight. For 1,400 years, Arabs and their African cohorts (Muslims all) enslaved an estimated 30-50 million people, transporting them across the Sahara or up the East African coast with a death rate in transit of about 80%. Yes, you read that right. Those 30-50 million people are perhaps only 20% of the poor souls rounded up by Arab Muslim slavers. To put this into some sort of perspective, we might do a compare and contrast with the Transatlantic slave trade, which is the basis of the current “Check your privilege” re-education being foisted on white youth throughout the Western world.

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I noticed recently that since 1980 presidential cycles have seemed to follow a couple of particular patterns: A one-term disappointment (Carter/Bush41) is defeated by a candidate who would go on to become one of the most popular presidents in living memory (Reagan/Clinton.) Said popular president defeats an establishment (in the non-pejorative sense of the word) […]

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Wealth As a Means to an End—Amity Shlaes

 

These days, even conservatives think class warfare works. That’s the takeaway from a spate of conferences on the topic of wealth distribution that have been taking place across the country lately. It’s also the takeaway from Mary Kissel’s excellent recent video interview with Charles Murray for the Wall Street Journal. In the video, Murray cautions that class warriors succeeded in part because the American “upper class has given them a wide open target.” Murray continues with a warning about display of wealth: “it’s an American tradition that you don’t get too big for your britches once you get rich.”

Sort of. Conspicuous modesty is not an American tradition. It’s a Protestant tradition. That wealthy Americans tend to become Protestant once they are wealthy is a second tradition. Here Murray is remembering history selectively.

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In my pleasure reading I’ve been on something of a Near Eastern History binge, having recently finished both of Robert Lacey’s books on Saudi Arabia, Lord Kinross’s history of the Ottoman Empire, Michael Oren’s book on the Six Day War, and Tom Holland’s account of the origins of Islam. (This may sound like a lot, […]

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Fighting Oppression vs. Fighting for Home

 

In his book Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg touches on the widespread sympathy for fascism and communism in the United States in the years leading to World War II. Many others have written on the subject.

It only now occurred to me that many of “the Greatest Generation” who were sent to fight the Nazis, Mussolini’s fascists and the Soviets might have been supporters of those regimes before the war. Is there any history of this?

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Obama and Britain in the 1930s, or, Obama Equals Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain — Tabula Rasa

 

One of the endlessly interesting exercises of the last five years has been the serial attempt to find historical parallels to the disaster that is the Obama Administration. Among the most prominent are the bumbling Carter Administration, the cynicism and dishonesty of the Clinton and Nixon Administrations, and the nanny state expansions perpetrated in the Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson Administrations.

I would like to suggest a new analogue, this one based on the Obama Administration’s unerringly consistent fecklessness in foreign policy combined with its attempts to diminish American military power by dramatically cutting military budgets (all while China dramatically expands and Russia continues to think the term “Russian Empire” is not purely historical).

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