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Posts Tagged ‘history’

HBO’s magnificent screen portrait of John Adams and his fellows at a time when they were ‘winging it’—as historian David McCullough has it in HBO’s online site for the show—is simply brilliant film-making. It should be viewed in every classroom of the nation from which this reviewer ponders the deeply moving experience of having done so in his living room.

Adams was the kind of politician—he would have hated the word and the notion to which it refers—for which the most secular among us should urgently pray. He had no stomach for the thing and only wanted to return to spread his best manure-soil mix on his beloved New England farm. Principled, articulate, and stubborn, he learned in the earnest fray of the revolutionary years the art of intelligent compromise. Paul Giamatti never lets us look away from the pain it caused him to lead, nor to easily evade the burden of historical gratitude that we owe to him, to his wife and family, and to those who labored beside them in the birth pangs of a nation. (more…)

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The Israeli swagger that became a regional pose following the military victories of 1948 and 1967 quickly became a limp following near defeat at the hands of Egypt and Syria in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Howard Bloom’s appropriately-titled chronicle of that October surprise reads like a novel, complete with an amorous young couple whose honeymoon was rudely interrupted by the outbreak of hostilities and a mysterious double agent called ‘the In-Law’. Yet the events he describes were all too real. (more…)

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This troubling book by a prolific scholar of empire dissects the American version of that phenomenon in eight well-researched chapters and a conclusion. Ominously, his first four chapters are grouped under the title ‘Rise’ and the last four under ‘Fall?’. Ferguson’s personal interest in empire and his unusually positive appreciation of its role in human history is best understood by first reading Empire. The rise and demise of the British world order and the lessons for global power.
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Rags to riches tales are an American phenomenon. From inside the system, it is easy to think that a lot of hard work, a good idea, and a little luck are all it takes for the down-and-out to pull themselves up any number of ladders, and that this is obvious everywhere. You only have to live beyond these shores for a little while to realize that this scenario is a quintessential chunk of Americana. Class, rigid economies, and 7th-grade decisions for a trade or university are strong brakes on the possibilities of moving up or even, for that matter, sideways. (more…)

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No human being alive today knows Britain’s legendary lion of a Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, than Martin Gilbert.

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No human being alive today knows Britain’s legendary lion of a Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, better than Martin Gilbert.

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It is poignantly fitting that the man who directed Schindler’s List should book-end that tale of Jewish pain with Munich, a film that tells another side of this people’s struggle to survive in a period when the Jews have a state and the ability to answer with something more than simple suffering. (more…)

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