Shedding the destructive legacy of the baby boomers

Someone said, ‘Greed is good’ and we repeated it. But the only thing that matters when you die is your legacy

Shedding the destructive legacy of the baby boomersI have to apologize to the youth of the world for the state we find ourselves in. Yes, great things have happened in my lifetime. We watched the fall of the Berlin Wall and we have taken some steps in the progress of human rights. But the legacy of the baby boomer generation leaves little…

Was Oliver Cromwell the Great Satan?

Some historians argue that the reality is more nuanced than the legend and that he played a significant role in the creation of modern England

Was Oliver Cromwell the Great Satan?When last week’s column referred to Oliver Cromwell as the “Great Satan,” my tongue was in my cheek. But many people do think of him in those terms. So let’s take a look at the man, his works and his historical reputation. Cromwell (1599 to 1658) rose to prominence during the 1640s. Starting as a…

Julius Caesar’s assassins paid the price

Some died in battle, some by suicide, and at least one after being tortured then beheaded

Julius Caesar’s assassins paid the priceEnglish author Peter Stothard’s latest book is called The Last Assassin: The Hunt for the Killers of Julius Caesar. I’ve only seen reviews but it looks like a good read. Growing up in 1950s Ireland, Caesar was one of those ancient figures who loomed large. Part of this was no more than the schoolboy’s normal…

Memories of Walter Reuther, an American labour giant

Reuther had his finger in everything from labour negotiations to legislation to civil rights to election campaigns

Memories of Walter Reuther, an American labour giantAmity Shlaes’ Great Society is a chronicle of the United States in the mid-20th century. And reading it reminded me of Walter Reuther, a once famous name I’d almost forgotten. Reuther was a hugely influential player in organized labour and Democratic politics. With the United Auto Workers (UAW) as his power base, he had his…

Will the 2020 presidential election be a rerun of 1980?

Like Jimmy Carter in 1980, Donald Trump is an incumbent who needs to raise doubts about his rival

Will the 2020 presidential election be a rerun of 1980?William A. Galston writes a weekly column for the Wall Street Journal. He’s partisan – a liberal Democrat – but invariably worth reading. Once you know where he’s coming from, you can apply the appropriate filters. And there’s often a significant element of plausibility in his analysis. Galston’s first September column lays out his take…

The origins of the IT revolution

A recent discovery links ancient Greece with the contemporary computer, the IT revolution and our digital lifestyle

The origins of the IT revolutionAncient Greece has endowed us with many significant accomplishments of human endeavour. It has created a monumental footprint and an inspiring legacy in a diverse range of human accomplishments. The ancient Greeks are widely acclaimed for their path-breaking contributions to science, mathematics, democracy, architecture and literature. What’s especially remarkable about these contributions is their lasting…

The past isn’t a script set down in stone

Vandalizing public spaces under the delusion that such acts make yesterday a better today is sad-sack politics that fosters democratic weakness

The past isn’t a script set down in stoneFor her book Talking Stones: The Politics of Memorialization in Post-Conflict Northern Ireland, Elisabetta Viggiani mapped 157 publicly visible sites of Troubles commemoration in Belfast. Broken down, the city’s memorials alone offer a ratio of one wall plaque, garden, public tableau or statue for every 25 of the 4,000 or so people killed by the…

The power life of a medieval heiress

The combination of Isabel de Clare’s inherited wealth and William Marshal’s earned status made for a fortuitous pairing

The power life of a medieval heiressThe teenage Isabel de Clare was a desirable prize in the late 12th century marriage market. As the heiress to substantial lands in Ireland, Wales, England and Normandy, she had much to offer. Both sides of her pedigree contributed to this inheritance. Isabel’s father was Richard de Clare, popularly known as Strongbow. He came from…

The 1960 Olympics were spectacular in more ways than one

Wilma Rudolph, Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), Peter Snell and Herb Elliott were the brightest stars in Rome

The 1960 Olympics were spectacular in more ways than oneSixty years ago this week, the Summer Olympics kicked off. From Aug. 25 to Sept. 11, Rome was the centre of international sporting attention as athletes from more than 80 countries competed for glory. And there was more happening than athletic competition. The Second World War had only concluded 15 years previously and the selection…

Canadian Museum for Human Rights must rediscover its mission

In order to promote respect for others, and to encourage reflection and dialogue, the museum needs to clean up its own house

Canadian Museum for Human Rights must rediscover its missionThe Canadian Museum for Human Rights has made news around the world for all the wrong reasons. It has been derelict in its mission and mandate. The museum has been accused of maintaining a poisoned work environment that practices racism, discrimination, a lack of gender equity and inclusion. In November 2007, I was selected by…

Was Beethoven Black?

A Twitter meme reveals more about race and music than the composer’s origins. Social media trend is a new twist on a century-old question

Was Beethoven Black?The year 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth, and in mid-June this year, he started trending on Twitter. Perhaps it wasn’t so strange that Beethoven was popping up on social media platforms, but what was unusual and certainly unforeseen: the claim that “Beethoven was Black.” Where did this idea come from?…

The Congo’s great liberation turned into abject failure

How great plans quickly descended into decades of dictatorship, corruption, kleptocracy and violence

The Congo’s great liberation turned into abject failureThe year 1960 was auspicious for European decolonization of Africa. In rapid succession, no fewer than 17 countries became independent. One of them was the Central African territory previously known as the Belgian Congo. June 30 was its magic date. And given its vast natural resources, some people had high hopes. Alas, things quickly turned…

The building of the Atomic Bomb Part 4

Until his death in 1970, Maj. Gen. Leslie R. Groves never had a single regret about the lives that were lost as a result of the Manhattan Project

The building of the Atomic Bomb Part 4Right up until practically the last minute, only an elite few knew about the building, testing and ultimate plans to drop the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. When the "gadget" was about to be tested, Maj. Gen. Leslie R. Groves – who ran the project from its inception – tried to explain it as the…

Louis Riel’s trial continues 135 years later

Riel's transformation from rebel traitor to cultural icon hasn't come without backlash, says U of A professor

Louis Riel’s trial continues 135 years laterOne hundred and thirty-five years ago on July 20, Canada put Louis Riel on trial for high treason for precipitating the North West Resistance (traditionally called the North West Rebellion in mainstream settler history). Today, Riel is considered one of Canada’s most popular figures, easily eclipsing the country’s founding prime minister and his nemesis, John A. Macdonald. The political metamorphosis of Riel illustrates…

The building of the Atomic Bomb Part 3

The majority of people who worked on the Manhattan Project were only told what they needed to know to do their jobs

The building of the Atomic Bomb Part 3While Oak Ridge, Tenn., would make U-235, the fuel for the Hiroshima atomic bomb, Maj. Gen. Leslie R. Groves looked for a site in the West that was far from population centres. It also needed a generous supply of electricity to run the bomb factories and water to cool the reactors. Hanford, Wash., downriver from…
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