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 normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday. More

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More Golf Ball than Moonscape: The Red Zone in France

 

Serving in Bavaria during the last years of the Cold War, the battalion’s officers took a bus trip to Verdun, for a professional development weekend. The terrain, even in 1988, was a stark, silent testament to the horror that reigned between trenches in the Great War. Moonscape? Try golf ball, for the ubiquity and closeness of deep dimples in the ground. Thirty more years have not erased the scars.

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Summer Reading: What’s In Your Tote?

 

I just finished reading Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. I picked it up for 50 cents this past spring at our local library sale. The movie, touted a “chick flick,” is no comparison to this fascinating book.

Frances Mayes is an extraordinary writer because she writes what she thinks and sees – no filters. You can see, taste, and smell the Italian countryside, and many times cringe, with what it’s like to rescue a 300-year-old piece of abandoned foreign history, and rescue a life. Her love of cooking and great recipes make you want to run to the nearest farmer’s market for fresh peaches, crisp fragrant herbs like basil scattered across mozzarella and drizzled with oil from just pressed olives, and roasted hazelnuts.

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Quote of the Day: History

 

“History isn’t just the story of bad people doing bad things. It’s quite as much a story of people trying to do good things. But somehow, something goes wrong.”  – C.S. Lewis

I have been writing about history for over two decades. This quote summarizes most of my writing in three short sentences. That is one reason why — absent Progressive airbrushing of history — C.S. Lewis will be remembered centuries after I am forgotten.

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As someone who spends countless hours staring at nineteenth-century property maps and combing through old county histories, I encounter a lot of names. Hundreds upon hundreds of names — family names, given names, middle names, and nicknames. The variety, even in a place as insular and “unworldly” as pre-World War I Ohio, is almost infinite. […]

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Engineering Failures: St. Francis Dam

 
St. Francis Dam nearly full.

I’ve been fascinated by the St. Francis Dam failure since I first found out about it. For those who are unaware of or who’ve forgotten about it, the St Francis Dam failure, which occurred in 1928, was the greatest civil engineering failure in the United States in the 20th century (the Johnstown Flood killed many more people, but it took place in 1889), and except for the San Francisco Earthquake, caused more deaths than any other event in California history. Until recently, however, it was relatively hard to find much information on the topic. There was a book about the disaster by a local retired rancher, Charles Outland, who had been a high school senior in Santa Paula at the time the St Francis flood waters raged through town, which was published in the early 1960’s, but that was about it. Since then a couple more books have been published and an engineering professor who has extensively studied the failure and developed a detailed analysis thereof has written and given talks on the subject so that it’s now possible to flesh out the subject in great detail (I’ll provide links to the books at the end of this article; all other links will be in the text). The most interesting aspect of the story to me, however, is the way in which this event touches on and impacts so many other stories.

Los Angeles Aqueduct

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Quote of the Day: Late Bloomers

 

The costume of women should be suited to her wants and necessities. It should conduce at once to her health, comfort, and usefulness; and, while it should not fail also to conduce to her personal adornment, it should make that end of secondary importance.

The author of these words, Amelia Jenks Bloomer was born two hundred years ago, on May 27, 1818. After a modest upbringing and a few years spent as a governess, she married attorney Dexter Bloomer, and moved from her native New York to Iowa, where she wrote for several newspapers before starting her own periodical, exclusively for women. The Lily was intended for distribution among the members of another of Amelia’s pet projects, the Seneca Falls Ladies Temperance Society, and was

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Book Review: ‘Ignition!’ Explores the ‘Golden Age’ of Rocketry

 

Today, rocket science commonly refers to anything dealing with space. Originally, it meant rocket design, especially fuel development. “Ignition!: An Informal History of Liquid Propellants,” by John D. Clark, harks back to those day. While informal, it is a comprehensive account of rocket fuel development.

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The temples of Cambodia are more than just Angkor Wat and that other one with the giant faces. An acquaintance, who just got back from a visit a few weeks ago, said he thought there was just two or three until his driver pulled out a map of Angkor and asked which one he wanted […]

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Words: The Power and the Glory

 

The church of my childhood was St. Mary’s, Handsworth, just outside Birmingham, in England. Although I probably attended services there only a few dozen times, while we stayed with Granny and Grandpa during my father’s infrequent “leave” periods from the Colonial Service in Nigeria, it was a bulwark of stability in my life.

Like the thousands of churches dotting the English landscape, St. Mary’s has had a presence on its site since the time of William the Conqueror, with the first known building being erected in about 1150. There are still a few surviving Norman bits in the current church, most of which dates from the mid-sixteenth century. It’s a cool, quiet church on a busy road with a terribly neglected churchyard, and memorials inside to Matthew Bolton, James Watt and William Murdoch–memorials and connections which have led to its being known as the Cathedral of the Industrial Revolution.

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Book Review: A Little History of Archaeology

 

Archaeology is the study of the history of mankind through examining its artifacts. “A Little History of Archaeology,” by Brian Fagan is the study of archaeology through examining its artifacts. The book is part of Yale University Press’s “A Little History” series. It examines different topics in a short and readable, yet comprehensive manner.

In this book, Fagan, an internationally recognized archaeologist, puts archaeology under the microscope. In 40 brief chapters he takes readers through archaeology’s past, going from the dawn of archaeology through to the present.

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I wrote this column about Paul Ryan’s retirement for USA Today, and C-SPAN was nice enough to have me on this morning to talk about it. An excerpt: More

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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 normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday. More

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On this day (variously given as March 20 and March 21, and making the usual allowances for the Julian Calendar discrepancy), 605 years ago, Henry of Monmouth, Prince of Wales, became King Henry V of England. And it’s a jolly good thing, too. More

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Totalitarianism demands, in fact, the continuous alteration of the past, and in the long run probably demands a disbelief in the very existence of objective truth. – George Orwell This is the close of a longer quote, which in its entirety reads: More

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Member Post

 

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 normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review on Ricochet on the following Sunday. More

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Direction by Nicolai Fuglsig Screenplay by Ted Tally and Peter Craig Based on Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rose to Victory in Afghanistan “Let’s get this war started.” – CWO Hal Spencer More

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Member Post

 

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 normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review on Ricochet on the following Sunday. More

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The Beginning and the End of History

 

One of the most cogent observations that Rush Limbaugh ever made is the axiom that “most people believe history began the day they were born.” As a nation, we have become more and more historically illiterate. The native-born voters that will be eligible to go to the polls for the first time ever this fall will be the first born in the 2000s and the 2020 election will see the ascension of the 21st-century voter. These people will vote with little understanding of their country’s history beyond the idea that it was racist, misogynistic and a backwater of religious nuttery.

With George W. Bush having left office when they were 8- to 10-years old, they will have little practical first-hand knowledge of any president other than Mssrs. Obama and Trump. They will never personally know a combatant of the two World Wars. For them, real fascism will be what the radical left tells them it is. They will never know anyone, as I did in my youth, with an inventory number tattooed on their forearm, a “souvenir” of days in one of Hitler’s death camps.

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Book Review: A Look into Sam Houston’s Life and Legacy

 

Ron Rozelle is a Texas treasure. What he writes is worth reading. Exiled: The Last Days of Sam Houston, by Rozelle, continues his string of books worth reading.

It is a biography of the father of Texas. Most biographers concentrate on Houston’s early career, especially the period where he led the Texian Army or served as the first president of the Republic of Texas. Rozelle uses a different tactic. This book focuses on the end of Houston’s public life, as Texas’ first US senator and as governor of the state of Texas.

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