Trigger Warning: History fans may experience multiple geekgasms

August 25, 2015

satire cat with popcorn

I predict I’m going to be spending a lot more time on YouTube in the days to come:

LONDON — The Associated Press and British Movietone, one of the world’s most comprehensive newsreel archives, are together bringing more than 1 million minutes of digitized film footage to YouTube. Showcasing the moments, people and events that shape the world, it will be the largest upload of historical news content on the video-sharing platform to date.

The two channels will act as a view-on-demand visual encyclopedia, offering a unique perspective on the most significant moments of modern history. Available for all to explore, the channels will also be powerful educational tools and a source of inspiration for history enthusiasts and documentary filmmakers.

The YouTube channels will include more than 550,000 video stories dating from 1895 to the present day. For example, viewers can see video from the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, exclusive footage of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, Marilyn Monroe captured on film in London in the 1950s and Twiggy modeling the fashions of the 1960s.

 

I’ve only spent a few minutes browsing, and already I’ve found such gems as Mussolini promising peace in 1936 (if you listen carefully, you can almost hear Vladimir Putin) and silent footage from Pearl Harbor the day of the attack.

For fans of both history and 1950s-era “atomic horror” science fiction movies, here’s a treat: British Movietone footage of atomic bomb tests in Nevada, including the first film I’ve ever seen of an aerial bombing of a test site. Not sure what the opening shot of an accident aboard a carrier is there for, though:

No wonder Nevada looks the way it does…

Enjoy!

 


(Video) What does it mean to be on the “Wrong Side of History”

August 24, 2015

For Praeger University, conservative columnist and author Jonah Goldberg takes a look at one of President Obama and the Left’s favorite expressions, “the wrong side of History,” and exposes it for what it is: a pseudo-scientific intellectual club carved from the tree of Marxism and meant to stifle debate and silence criticism.

If you want to look into this in more depth, Goldberg’s recent book “The Tyranny of Clichés” is invaluable.


100 Years Ago: The First Allied Victory of World War I

August 19, 2015

Phineas Fahrquar:

Nice post by Mr. Schindler about a forgotten 101-year old battle in World War I. My recent reading has me convinced that the Austro-Hungarian high command was headed by lobotomy survivors.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

[This is the beginning of a new blog series, 100 Years Ago, I’ll be posting to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.]

Exactly a century ago today, on 19 August 1914, Austria-Hungary suffered a shocking battlefield defeat at the hands of Serbia, delivering the Allies their first victory of the Great War. This unexpected defeat occurred in the mountains of northwest Serbia, with Austro-Hungarians forces sent back into Bosnia in a ragtag state after suffering a sharp local setback that quickly unraveled the entire Habsburg invasion of Serbia.

Vienna invaded “Dog Serbia” in mid-August to avenge the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Belgrade-backed assassins in Sarajevo on 28 June. Although Austro-Hungarian intelligence did not have a complete picture of the background to the assassination — there remain unanswered questions even today — they knew enough that it was time to settle accounts with troublesome little Serbia…

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(Video) Was slavery the cause of the Civil War?

August 10, 2015

civil war blue grey

That’s always an intriguing question for those interested in the US Civil War and US History in general: why did such a promising young nation tear itself apart in a conflict that cost perhaps more than 800,000 lives? (1) Aside from slavery, proffered explanations include economic and other regional differences between North and South; discriminatory tariffs (from the Southern point of view) and unfair internal improvements; and federal violations of the Constitution against “states’ rights.”

But, to this armchair historian, these and other reasons never felt sufficient to justify the turmoil of the late 1850s and the carnage of 1861-1865. For me, at least, it always comes back to slavery, that “peculiar institution” about which northerners and southerners held increasingly mutually exclusive opinions.

In the video below from Prager University, Colonel Ty Seidule, head of the Department of History at West Point, makes the argument that the war was about slavery, period:

And I agree with him. Col. Seidule refers a couple of times to the secession declarations of the southern states, asserting that each one (2) wrapped its arguments around the core of preserving slavery. And historian William C. Davis in his history of the Confederacy, “Look Away,” marshals strong evidence that the Confederate constitutional convention, held at Montgomery, Alabama, focused on the need to preserve and expand slavery. Finally, there’s this from the famous “Cornerstone Speech” of CSA Vice President Alexander Stephens:

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

Seems pretty clear, no?

Davis and many, many others saw slavery as an existential sine qua non for the new nation. If the United States was conceived in liberty and was unimaginable without it, the Confederate States and Southern society were founded on the bedrock of human bondage — and were equally inconceivable without it. With their very reason for existence threatened, secession and civil war became almost inevitable. Without slavery, there would likely have been no Republican Party committed to abolition, nor any reason to secede on the election of Lincoln.

Anyway, this isn’t meant to bash modern Southerners, and I recognize the sore spot created by the anti-Southern bigotry that grew rife after the massacre in Charleston and the nonsense over the CSA flag. It annoyed me, too.

But I think honesty and a sober assessment of the historical evidence requires a recognition of the truth.

Slavery was at the root of the Civil War.

PS: Sorry there were no posts the last few days. It turned into a busy, busy Friday and weekend.

Footnotes:
(1) Consensus estimates of total casualties hover around 600,000, but recent research indicates the toll of dead and wounded may well have been much higher.
(2) Unless I misheard him, the Colonel is wrong in this assertion. Several of the secession declarations make no mention of slavery — Florida’s, for example. But many do at length, and I think this shows the importance of slavery to the new nation overall.


Happy Fourth of July!

July 4, 2015

independence day patriots

It’s Independence Day here in the US, in which we celebrate our break with the British Empire. We’re 239 years old and, despite what some sanctimonious Lefty scolds might think, I think we’ve done pretty darned good. We’re not without our problems or faults, some of them serious, but I continue to believe America is exceptional among the nations of the world and that we are indeed a force for good. If you’re looking for some good Independence Day reading, there’s always the Declaration of Independence itself. Think of it as a short ideological summation of who and why we are.

Then there’s the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which function as a citizen’s “owner’s manual.” And yes, to those of you in other countries raising an eyebrow about now, we do tend to place those documents on a pedestal. You have to admit, however, they’ve worked well for over two centuries. How many republics and constitutions has France had in that time?

Gosh, it’s become quiet…. Winking

By the way, at The Federalist, John Daniel Davidson asks us to consider how the Declaration’s list of King George’s offenses against the (then English) constitutional order and the rights of the American people might well also apply to President Obama.

A lot’s been written around the Web about today on the meaning of Independence day, so I’ll spare you my musings. Instead, I want to leave you with the thoughts of historian Victor Davis Hanson (1) who, writing in National Review in 2008 (2) at a time of growing national discord, wanted to remind us that things often had been much worse and that, on that 4th of July six years ago, we could use a little perspective:

On this troubled Fourth we still should remember this is not 1776 when
New York was in British hands and Americans in retreat across the
state. It is not 1814 when the British burned Washington and the entire
system of national credit collapsed — or July 4, 1863 when Americans
awoke to news that 8,000 Americans had just been killed at Gettysburg.


We are not in 1932 when unemployment was still over 20 percent of the
work force, and industrial production was less than half of what it had
been just three years earlier, or July, 1942, when tens of thousands of
American were dying in convoys and B-17s, and on islands of the Pacific
in an existential war against Germany, Japan, and Italy.

Thank
God it is not mid-summer 1950, when Seoul was overrun and arriving
American troops were overwhelmed by Communist forces as they rushed in
to save a crumbling South Korea. We are not in 1968 when the country
was torn apart by the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin
Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and the riots at the Democratic
convention in Chicago. And we are not even in the waning days of 1979,
a year in which the American embassy was seized in Tehran and hostages
taken, the Soviets were invading Afghanistan, thousands were still
being murdered in Cambodia, Communism was on the march in Central
America, and our president was blaming our near 6-percent unemployment,
8-percent inflation, 15-percent interest rates, and weakening
international profile on our own collective “malaise.”

We
live in the most prosperous and most free years of a wonderful
republic, and can easily rectify our present crises that are largely of
our own making and a result of the stupefying effects of our
unprecedented wealth and leisure. Instead of endless recriminations and
self-pity — of anger that our past was merely good rather than perfect
as we now demand — we need to give thanks this Fourth of July to our
ancestors who created our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and suffered
miseries beyond our comprehension as they bequeathed to us most of the
present wealth, leisure, and freedom we take for granted.

Still holds true, I think.

Happy 4th of July, folks. Enjoy the hot dogs and fireworks.  smiley us flag

RELATED: Also from 2008, a love-letter to America. There is a point of view that sees the American Revolution as a second English Civil War. It’s an opinion with some merit, I think, given that the Patriots saw themselves as defenders of rights granted under the Bill of Rights of 1689. Continuing that theme at National Review, Daniel Hannan, a British MEP who’s more of a Patriot than many Americans I know these days, writes about the meaning of the forgotten flag of the American Revolution. Also at NR, British emigrant to America Charles Cooke considers the civil war of 1776. Cooke’s articles should be on your must-reading list. On American exceptionalism, Jonah Goldberg looks at how progressives really resent it. Finally, Salena Zito takes us to where independence began.

Footnotes:
(1) aka, my spiritual leader
(2) Sorry, the old link is broken, and National Review can’t be bothered to provide a searchable archive. Bad show, NR, bad show. Update: Found a re-posting. Do read it all.


D-day: storming the castle

June 6, 2015

(Note: This is a re-posting and slight editing of a post I put up every D-Day.)

Seventy-one years ago today, American, British, Canadian, French, and Polish soldiers charged the gates of Hell — and won:

Black Five put up an excellent roundup of D-Day posts from many blogs a few years ago. It’s still worth reviewing. And have a look at this entry for a photo essay on D-Day.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson reflects on D-Day at 70:

Seventy years ago this June 6, the Americans, British, and Canadians stormed the beaches of Normandy in the largest amphibious invasion of Europe since the Persian king Xerxes invaded Greece in 480 b.c.

About 160,000 troops landed on five Normandy beaches and linked up with airborne troops in a masterly display of planning and courage. Within a month, almost a million Allied troops had landed in France and were heading eastward toward the German border. Within eleven months the war with Germany was over.

(…)

D-Day ushered in the end of the Third Reich. It was the most brilliantly conducted invasion in military history, and probably no one but a unique generation of British, Canadians, and Americans could have pulled it off.

Read the rest. While giving the Russians their due, he puts their contribution in perspective.

RELATED: The Daily Mail tells the story of one Medal of Honor winner who still wonders how he survived Normandy.

UPDATE: In today’s newsletter, Real Clear Politics quotes the prayer FDR read when announcing the invasion to the nation:

“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity,” the president said while the outcome of the battle was still in doubt.

“They will need Thy blessings,” FDR continued. “Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph…”

Imagine a president saying something like that nowadays; the Left would have a fit.

But, forget them. Today’s a day to remember genuine heroes and thank Divine Providence we had such men on our side.

UPDATE 06/06/2013: This is a real president commemorating D-Day:


That Terrible Tuchman Woman

May 12, 2015

Phineas Fahrquar:

I’ve always loved History (in fact, I was once working toward a PhD in it) and, as an impressionable high school freshman way back when, Tuchman’s Guns of August made quite an impression on me. That was then, this is now, and Mr. Schindler provides a searing critique of “Guns…” and a short list of much better books on the events of 1914. If you’ve an interest in World War I or just in good history writing in general, this is worth reading.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

Since one of the hats I wear is that of a military historian specializing in World War One, I regularly get asked questions about reading suggestions. With the centenary of that awful conflict upon us, people want to know more and that’s a great thing. The origins of the war and how it all unfolded so terribly in 1914 are understandably a topic of high interest, and at least once as week, often online, I get asked about one book in particular.

That book is Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August, which for more than a half-century has been a popular and widely cited work by the public about the disastrous events of the summer of 1914 that transformed a Balkan terrorist act into a continent-wide (and later nearly world-wide) conflict. The Guns of August was a huge best-seller, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1963, and still retains the…

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