The failure of an American president to compromise

Woodrow Wilson failed to accept the limitations and checks explicit in the American democratic system

The failure of an American president to compromiseWhen the Paris Peace Conference opened on Jan. 18, 1919, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson seemed to be at the top of his game. America’s entry had played a critical role in ending the First World War and Wilson’s famous Fourteen Points were acclaimed as the blueprint for a just settlement and a future world where…

Power of the Catholic church can tear down walls – even along borders

History shows again and again that the church can mobilize an unstoppable force driven by a desire for love and peace

Power of the Catholic church can tear down walls – even along bordersAs tensions mount in the United States over whether a wall should be built along the Mexican border, little has been written about a force that could well become the determining factor on the issue. Despite its own struggles and coverups, the Catholic church has shown itself to be an insurmountable force when it fully…

Endeavour’s voyage of enlightenment added a hemisphere to the world

And, according to author Peter Moore, the endeavour attitude is characterized by dreaming of our better angels, not by acquiring more stuff

Endeavour’s voyage of enlightenment added a hemisphere to the worldMy daughter choreographs reading that plays to my whimsical non-fiction interests through Christmas gifts of books. This year, I carefully opened a beribboned volume by British author Peter Moore entitled Endeavour: The Ship and Attitude that Changed the World (2018). Right away, I recognized Endeavour as James Cook’s ship on his first epic voyage of discovery…

Alexander the Great, son of a god or mentally ill?

With ambitions far beyond what you’d expect from a rip-and-run raider, he apparently believed he was more than a mere mortal

Alexander the Great, son of a god or mentally ill?In the summer of 1956, my father took myself and my younger brother to see Richard Burton play the title role of Alexander the Great. It wasn’t my father’s idea. Alerted by a Dell Comics adaptation, I’d made a pitch for educational value. The movie was, in retrospect, something of a clunker. Replete with blonde…

Climate change conformity may well bury the truth

The large mass of scientific opinion tends to keep individual scientists in a conforming orbit. But what of the dissenting views?

Climate change conformity may well bury the truthGalileo wrote, “In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.” The problem is the ideas and clout of that thousand make that single individual a rare and unappreciated gem. Copernicus defied thousands, if not millions, when he dared suggest the Earth was not the…

The first rock ’n’ roll Christmas

That a guy nicknamed Elvis the Pelvis had tackled sacred songs was offensive and sacrilegious to many. But it was perfect marketing

The first rock ’n’ roll ChristmasTeenagers in the 1950s couldn’t escape the music of their parents. Despite radio’s new-fangled Top 40 and the attendant infiltration of rock ’n’ roll, the sounds of the past were all around. This was particularly the case for Christmas songs. But things began to change in late October 1957, thanks to Elvis Presley announcing the…

Why Santa Claus matters, regardless of your faith

If we share peace and goodwill with others, we find them growing within us. If we share kindness, we become more kind

Why Santa Claus matters, regardless of your faithThough it’s technically the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ for Christians, many traditions merge to form what we call Christmas. Some traditions are indeed Christian but others aren’t. Some date from eras before Jesus was born and some are more recent. One of the most endearing today is that of Santa Claus, the…

Brexit drama has historical echoes

The battle over Brexit isn’t the equivalent of the Second World War, but the outcome is shaping up to be a disaster on its own terms

Brexit drama has historical echoesFor sheer drama – or maybe that should be melodrama – Brexit’s unfolding twists and turns are hard to beat. If you’d scripted a fictional narrative along these lines, you’d be liable to criticism for one flight of fancy too many. British Prime Minister Theresa May’s last-minute decision to postpone a parliamentary vote on her…

The political fragility of George H.W. Bush

The late U.S. president had an authenticity problem that would never quite go away

The political fragility of George H.W. BushMy first awareness of George H.W. Bush dates to the 1970 U.S. midterm elections. He was running for a Senate seat in Texas but – in an era when memories of the Civil War still made statewide office a steep climb for Republicans – he was decisively beaten by Democrat Lloyd Bentsen. Bush died on…

TV’s Vikings is good fun and semi-reasonable history

But large-scale medieval violence and plundering wasn’t uniquely Viking – not by a long stretch

TV’s Vikings is good fun and semi-reasonable historyVikings returns to TV screens on Nov. 28, courtesy of the History Channel. The Canadian-Irish co-production will embark on the second half of its fifth season and there’ll be more to come after that. If you like historical drama with interesting characters and plenty of action, this is good news. Vikings’ storyline is inspired by…

The first recorded strike occurred in Egypt in 1152 BC

During the reign of Pharaoh Rameses III, a small group of Egyptian royal tomb workers did the unthinkable

The first recorded strike occurred in Egypt in 1152 BCIn the seventh month of the 29th year of the reign of Pharaoh Rameses III – a date we know as November, 1152 BC – a small group of Egyptian royal tomb workers did the unthinkable. Fed up with shortages in the food rations that were their pay, they went on strike. Their extraordinary actions…

Harold Macmillan and the fickleness of history

The onetime British PM’s apparent affable, avuncular nature masked a lethal ruthlessness

Harold Macmillan and the fickleness of historyHarold Macmillan, the onetime British prime minister, popped into mind a few days ago. Watching the problems in extricating the United Kingdom from the European Union reminded me that a humiliating failure to secure entry to that same entity’s predecessor was one of the things that drove Macmillan from office. Macmillan (1894-1986) was prime minister…

The arc of the moral universe will bend toward justice

Amidst acts of nationalism and racism, it can be difficult to see the fundamental goodness of humanity – but it’s there

The arc of the moral universe will bend toward justiceNov. 9 marked 80 years since Kristallnacht, loosely translated as “the Night of the Broken Glass.” On this horrendous night, rampaging Nazis destroyed Jewish businesses, synagogues, homes and other properties in what was then German territory. There were many deaths and arrests of innocent people in this precursor to the Holocaust. It would nice to…

Bad news makes headlines, good acts make humanity

For all the advances in the last century, a legacy of wars, gulags and holocausts remind us that things were never good

Bad news makes headlines, good acts make humanityThe news is usually bad. And right now, things look dire. So I don’t blame my friends and colleagues who have stopped reading the morning newspaper. Shutting the drapes on the storm raging can return a sense of normalcy to the breakfast table. As somebody who can’t stop reading the news, I can say that…

Was the Armistice of 1918 a triumph or tragedy? 

The 1918 Armistice was an enormous historical blunder that led to the greatest tragedy experienced in modern times

Was the Armistice of 1918 a triumph or tragedy? By Stanley Taube and Michael Taube for Troy Media This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, millions of people worldwide will commemorate the signing of the Armistice. Wreaths will be laid, church bells will ring far…
1 2 3 7