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  • Review: Freedoms Fliers by J. Todd Moye April 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Freedoms Fliers by J. Todd Moye

    Wars have the habit of shaking up the social order in a way that a hoary old conservative like Beachcombing finds rather disturbing. Children join militias: think the moving photographs of fourteen and fifteen year German ‘soldiers’ guarding the Atlantic wall or ‘that scene’ in Doctor Zhivago. Gender relations are bent in knots: women are […]

    Did Christ Exist? April 14, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Did Christ Exist?

    Beach should start this piece with a disclaimer: he is not a Christian – ‘not that there is anything wrong with that’ – and is unlikely to ever become one. And with this bit of initial hand-wringing out of the way on to today’s question, provoked by some recent internet articles, did Jesus exist? Well, […]

    Singing Enemy Songs: Lili Marleen April 13, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Singing Enemy Songs: Lili Marleen

    One of the most moving moments in cinema is the extraordinary ending of Kubrick’s Paths of Glory. A young German girl is pulled in front of a crowd of French soldiers and forced to sing. The poilu mock her but as she nervously begins  the mood changes. The soldiers join in and drown her anxious, […]

    The Irish Invade Canada April 12, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Irish Invade Canada

    Beachcombing used to run a series of tags on weird wars and he thought that he would resurrect these with references to one of strangest invasions in world history. 11 June 1866 between 600 and 800 Irish Fenians based in the United States declared war on the British Empire with its population running to hundreds […]

    A Witch’s Secret Letter April 11, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    A Witch's Secret Letter

    This is perhaps the most extraordinary ‘witch’ source of them all. In 1628 Johannes Junius, aged fifty five, burgomaster of Bamberg was taken in by the local authorities as a witch. After days of interrogation he writes a secret letter to his daughter explaining his decision to confess to witchcraft. Here is the voice of the victim that […]

    Frau Feie and Jousting April 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Frau Feie and Jousting

    Another book from the burning libraries file, this time from thirteenth-century Saxony. The book is, as the burning library tag suggests, lost but we learn something of its subject matter from a surviving town chronicle. In 1281-1282 Magdeburg decided to hold a jousting tournament with an unusual prize: a woman. Now it must be remembered […]

    Force Feeding Queens April 9, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Force Feeding Queens

    One of Beach’s most able students this term did a paper on ‘cultural variance in female beauty’: the fact that what makes a woman attractive varies from society to society. This is rarely truer than with weight. After all, here should we trust the modern American model of the waspish, almost boyish woman or the […]

    How Many Burnt in the Burning Years? April 8, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    How Many Burnt in the Burning Years?

    Beachcombing has made fun in the past of historians and numbers: be they numbers for the population of Britain in Roman times or numbers of prisoners taken by the barbary pirates. Most historical numbers are simply partial facts or very partial facts multiplied by guesses. A classic example of this are the numbers of ‘witches’ […]

    Suicide and Historical Loopholes April 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Suicide and Historical Loopholes

    Suicide has proved abhorrent to most spiritual traditions. Certainly, the great monotheistic religions and most of the far Eastern religions have condemned ‘self-murder’: cue lots of pulpit bashing and descriptions of hell or unpleasant reincarnations. This begs the question though of what you can do if you live in 500 BC or 500 AD or […]

    The Gospel of the Witches: Missing or Faked? April 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Gospel of the Witches: Missing or Faked?

    Beach is not waving but drowning in the flood of work, but the summer is coming closer and – oh wonderful – closer. Soon he’ll be able to settle down to four months of light teaching and heavy research. Most of the cherry-blossom time will be given over to fairies. However, Beach has also been […]

    John Lukacs: The Legacy of the Second World War April 5, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    John Lukacs: The Legacy of the Second World War

    John Lukacs’s The Legacy of the Second World War is, like most books by that brilliant and maverick historian, a bit of a mess. The chapter headings say it all. Chapter One, ‘Seventy Years Later’ and Chapter Two ‘the Place of the Second World War’ can pass muster. However, then everything is thrown off kilter. […]

    Bullwhips and Brown Belts: Beach’s Style Guide April 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Bullwhips and Brown Belts: Beach's Style Guide

    Beachcombing recently stumbled on an unconventional online guide to being a good writer. Advice ranged from the sensible ‘be honest’, to the silly ‘drink coffee’, to the frankly bizarre ‘have a huge bowel movement each day’. It was entertaining but left Beach no closer to Evelyn Waugh and Walt Whitman. In fact, it left Beach […]

    Icelandic Penis Collections, Gnome Sanctuaries and Other Unusual Museums April 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Icelandic Penis Collections, Gnome Sanctuaries and Other Unusual Museums

    Beachcombing was in his early teens on holiday in Cornwall when he went to the Gnome Museum. There was a very likeable hippy in her early forties (?) who ran the place and showed Beach and family around a couple of rooms and the garden where she had ‘seen’ the gnomes: there had been some […]

    The Republic of New Afrika April 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Republic of New Afrika

    The Forgotten Kingdoms series continues with an interesting and ultimately bloody recent experiment in nationhood: the Republic of New Afrika [sic]. Created 31 March 1968 the RNA was a post Malcolm-X attempt to create a homeland for Afro-Americans who could not be, the founders believed, represented or protected by the US government. The brain-child of […]

    Beachcombed 22 April 1, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
    Beachcombed 22

    Dear Reader, The Beachcombed post is normally the moment when Beachcombing takes pause. Today, however, there is simply no time. Mrs B is back, but until Easter there is no danger of things slackening. Perhaps by then we’ll have an aupair? So enjoy the following ten thousand best words from readers’ emails from this month. […]

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