jump to navigation
  • Two Centuries of Historical Memory? December 11, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Two Centuries of Historical Memory?

    In the 1980s Beach read an article on Ronald Reagan that described the then President (born in 1911) talking to veterans of Gettysburg as a child. It was a spark on kindling for the historic imagination. Here is a striking nineteenth-century equivalent that has given Beach much pleasure today. It was recorded in 1851 in […]

    A Canadian Fear Census December 10, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    A Canadian Fear Census

    John Widdowson is one of our finest British folklorists and some of his most interesting work has been on how to scare the living bejesus out of ten year olds. Indeed, his first book had the winsome name If You Don’t Be Good and describes how parents, in the 1960s and 1970s, in Newfoundland (Canada), […]

    Magic Ritual Disaster, 1983 December 8, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Magic Ritual Disaster, 1983

    Greystone was a converted manor house in Wiltshire (UK) that Gareth Knight (pictured), perhaps the most celebrated post-war British ritualist, used for his magic. From 1977 to 1983 a series of rituals were carried out by Gareth to connect the upper with the lower world: the aim was to bring earth and the underworld back […]

    A Fourteen-Year Second World War?! November 29, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Fourteen-Year Second World War?!

    Strangehistory recently featured the longest European war of the twentieth century, that between Greece and Albania (1940-1987). While looking at this Beach was intrigued, nay amazed by the true duration of the Second World War. In fact, this morning his room has taken on a strange orange sheen. For example, how long was Britain at […]

    Tony Judt: A Reluctant Historian? November 28, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Tony Judt: A Reluctant Historian?

    Tony Judt wrote twelve fine history books* before his untimely death in 2010, one of them ‘the unmatched and perhaps unmatchable’ (Snyder) Postwar (2005). When he died, after a courageous fight with an impossible illness, eulogiums rained down. But there was a minority opinion that Judt was something less than a new Gibbon. Dylan Riley wrote […]

    Ritual Murders in Nyasaland November 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Ritual Murders in Nyasaland

    The following was a written answer given in a written exchange in the British parliament 13 March 1962. At this date Nyasaland (aka Malawi) was a British territory and would be for another two years. (In the postwar period the British government was often put under pressure over the question of responsibility for colonial possessions […]

    Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft November 23, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Persuasions of the Witch's Craft

    ***Thanks to Stephen D for bringing this book to my attention*** Most anthropologists choose an exotic destination and then head off to live with the Kwang or the Baiga for a couple of years, subsequently using the material they gather there for their doctorates. In the 1980s Tanya Marie Luhrmann, instead, headed from Cambridge in […]

    Dealing with Double Agents The British Way November 21, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Dealing with Double Agents The British Way

    From the 1920s to the 1940s Britain had perhaps the best spy agencies in the world: this was particularly true of its foreign spy agency, SIS or MI6. Ian Fleming, Graham Greene and even John Le Carré’s fiction carry the distilled essence (albeit sometimes shifted to later times) of British triumph against Nazi Germany, Imperial […]

    Review: A Trojan Feast November 19, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: A Trojan Feast

    Now here’s an easy question on mythology. Tomorrow at noon you will be taken off to the infernal regions by an underworld spirit. You have twenty four hours to prep from the seventy or eighty volumes of mythology on your shelves. What one lesson do you bring away from your reading before you are taken below? It’s […]

    Improving the Twentieth Century November 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Improving the Twentieth Century

    The IEA, one of Britain’s most serious think tanks, has recently published a list, a very stimulating list, of the thirteen great economic mistakes in British economic policy in the last century. All this got Beach thinking about the great mistakes in public policy generally since 1900. Here is a very limited list of points […]

    Clearing Minefields with Human Beings November 13, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Clearing Minefields with Human Beings

    So a hundred infantry have to get across a field to their objective and safety, only they know that the field has been planted with mines. How do you clear the field? The simplest (and most horrible) thing to do would be to send your troops forward down a plotted route with gaps of ten […]

    Review: The Truth about Donald McCormick? November 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: The Truth about Donald McCormick?

    Hayek: A Collaborative Biography: Part III Fraud, Fascism, and Free Market Religion (ed) Robert Leeson What in God’s name…!?! This is a website which prides itself on investigating the seedy and bizarre in history. So why bother with reviewing volume three in a series of six on Friedrich von Hayek, an Austrian economist who died […]

    The Longest Modern War: The Greco-Albanian War 1940-1987 November 4, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Longest Modern War: The Greco-Albanian War 1940-1987

    The longest war between states in modern history? Well, Wikipedia has a page and there are several freelance attempts to elevate this or that conflict to the most protracted, but what about the Greek-Albanian war of 1940-1987? Albania, in 1940, was an Italian satrapy and in October of that year when the Italians decided to […]

    Murder, McCormick, Murray and the Witches October 27, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Murder, McCormick, Murray and the Witches

    In 1968 Donald McCormick published  Murder by Witchcraft (Arrow Books), it was one of about forty books that he wrote (under his own name or that of ‘Richard Deacon’) and it was, like many, perhaps all of the others, shot through with falsehoods and lies. Beach has examined Donald’s porkies on Jack the Ripper and on Madoc […]

    Historians Predict the Past: An Academic Urban Legend? October 25, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Historians Predict the Past: An Academic Urban Legend?

    Here is a nice passage from Tony Judt’s Postwar (2005), a wonderful book if you’ve not yet had a chance. Unlike memory, which confirms and reinforces itself, history contributes to the disenchantment of the world. Most of what it has to offer is discomforting, even disruptive – which is why it is not always politically […]

    Page 2 of 5012345...102030...Last »