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  • The Moro Séance #1: The Background March 10, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Moro Séance #1: The Background

    On 16 March 1978 the Rome commando of the Red Brigade carried out a deadly and efficient attack on a leading Christian Democrat politician Aldo Moro. They murdered five bodyguards on the spot and carried Moro into a two month captivity that would end with this death in the boot of a car. The Moro […]

    Ergot Madness in Historians March 7, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Ergot Madness in Historians

    Ergot is a fungus that grows on some crops, particularly rye, and is most common in northern temporal climes. When ingested by humans or animals it can cause hallucinations, temporary neurological disorders and circulation difficulties including burning limbs and, in serious cases, gangrene: there are records of peasants who lost all four limbs to ergot poisoning […]

    Killer Cameras March 2, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Killer Cameras

    When many years ago Beach travelled in Sub-Saharan Africa he was warned by anxious parents, and relatives not to take photographs of the natives. They might believe that their soul had been taken. Where does this idea come from? And did anyone anywhere ever actually believe it? Well, a run through sources suggests that the […]

    Thoughts on Poltergeists from Harry Price February 27, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Thoughts on Poltergeists from Harry Price

    What do poltergeists like? Or, in more scientific terms, in what kind of environment do poltergeist phenomenon take place? Here is Harry Price, one of the most famous ghost hunters, with his views. Beach quotes this paragraph as part of a quest to understand what poltergeist phenomenon are. Price has the virtue here of concentrating […]

    Photo: The Four (and Ciano) at Munich February 26, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Photo: The Four (and Ciano) at Munich

    One of the great twentieth-century photographs. The four men who dominate Europe in late September 1938 stand side by side. On the left, looking as if he has an umbrella up his bottom, there is Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister and pioneer of Britain’s disastrous experiment with appeasement. Connoisseurs of the British national character will […]

    Wrong Place Stories February 23, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Wrong Place Stories

    In 1975 Jeremy Thorpe, the then leader of the British Liberal Party, lost his head. After a homosexual affair had gone wrong – and in a period where this would have lost him his job and his name – he had a friend, telephone a ‘heavy’, Andrew Newton, to go and threaten his ex-boyfriend, Norman […]

    Witches and Paganists: In Search of a Term February 22, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Witches and Paganists: In Search of a Term

    A terminological problem that readers might be able to help with: drbeachcombing At yahoo DOT com. Historians of witchcraft break down into two categories. The vast majority believe that the witch craze was essentially all a horrible misunderstanding and that the men and women found guilty of crimes were innocents. A small minority, but not […]

    Tony Judt’s Lost Classic February 20, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Tony Judt's Lost Classic

    Invisible books are, as long time readers of this blog will know, books that have never existed save in the imagination. Beach has offered, over the years, many such invisible titles, most dreamt up or taken from books (where there are shelves and shelves of these non-existent volumes). However, a new sub-category of invisible book […]

    Poetic Justice and Four British Traitors February 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Poetic Justice and Four British Traitors

    The second in our Poetic Justice series (covered Molotov in Mongolia a year ago) is dedicated to George Blake, Donald MacClean, Kim Philby and Guy Burgess. Beach has treated these sorry four briefly on another occasion: Dealing with Double Agents. But for the uninitiated all were British spies whose night job was to work for […]

    Review: Return to Magonia February 17, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: Return to Magonia

    This review should begin with an important caveat. The author loathes UFOs, aliens and Close Encounters of the Third Kind: mosquito smudges on the window of our existence. Yet the book pictured above, which details a series of mysterious objects in the sky (and near to the earth) from 1662 to 1947, gripped and impressed […]

    The Last Crusade, 1996-1999 February 16, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    The Last Crusade, 1996-1999

    Beach is always curious about the present’s manipulation of the past and there are few subjects that have been manipulated more than the Crusades. Those men and women who set off towards the Holy Land, in 1095 have been cast in almost every imaginable role in the last two hundred years. They have been made into […]

    Last King Killing February 12, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Last King Killing

    Armchair anthropologists (such as this blogger) often thrill over the stories of mutilated and better still murdered kings and the rituals described by Frazer and his heirs in the tropics and reconstructed (ahem imagined) in European history. The king is the land, and as he becomes old and frail he must be sacrificed so life […]

    Worst Career: the Knocker Up February 9, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Worst Career: the Knocker Up

    He knocks at doors wheer new-born babs Hev kaled him throo t’ black heawrs o’ dark; He knocks wheer deoth stalks in an’ grabs, Or age hes thrown fooak eawt o’ wark. He knows heaw mony raps ‘ll rouse Young lusty Dick, or sleepy Nan. He knocks ’em eawt o’ t’ second snooze, ‘Rat-tat, rat-tat, […]

    History by Kilowat: Humanity Glimpsed from Space January 27, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    History by Kilowat: Humanity Glimpsed from Space

    ‘The first day or so we all pointed to our countries. The third or fourth day we were pointing to our continents. By the fifth day, we were aware of only one Earth.’ Sultan bin Salman Al-Saud These sentiments do Sultan bin Salman credit, but the earth at night is rather less democratic than the […]

    Film, History and Memory January 23, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Film, History and Memory

    ***Dedicated to David*** In a recent reflection about the way we remember the past, this blogger made the case that after about two hundred years we cease to ‘own’ history. ‘For Beach Waterloo seems, somehow, ‘present’. Anything before that date seems, meanwhile, completely out of reach, as if the historical imagination falls down into a […]

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