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  • Index Biography #28: Prize a book March 31, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Index Biography #28: Prize a book

    ***James H was one of three with the correct answer, but the first…*** The Index Biography is a new form of biography pioneered by this blog and introduced in a previous post. The creator must find a biography of a famous individual from history, they must turn to the index and write down eight peripheral facts […]

    Image: Hitler Bows to Hindenburg March 25, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Hitler Bows to Hindenburg

    Two of the most important men in twentieth-century German history stand on the steps of Potsdam Garrison Church, 21 March 1933. On the right one of the great generals of the First World War, Paul von Hindenburg, in full Imperial uniform with the Prussian Pickelhaube. Hindenburg was, of course, the victor of Tannenberg, a decisive, […]

    Review Theory of Irony: How Jesus Led to Moon Golf March 18, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Review Theory of Irony: How Jesus Led to Moon Golf

    A subtitle like How Jesus Led to Moon Golf promises a swish historical read. Beach immediately, in fact, thought of some of Graeme Donald’s history writing and books like Mussolini’s Barber and other stories of the unknown players who made history happen. This proved naïve. Mussolini’s Barber offers some cute episodes from recent history and Graeme […]

    The Moro Séance #3: The Explanation March 12, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Moro Séance #3: The Explanation

    There has been much theorizing about what really happened at the séance. Let’s review the possibilities. The first possibility is that the séance never took place; that it was a simple legal strategy to give information to the police without having to actually implicate anyone or explain where that information came from. The second possibility […]

    The Moro Séance #2: The Protagonists March 11, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Moro Séance #2: The Protagonists

    In the previous post Beach introduced the Moro Seance. Here instead let’s go into more detail about the actors around the table. There were, by most accounts, twelve people including girlfriends, in the house that day but three names stand out: Romano Prodi, Mario Baldassarri and Alberto Clò. The three names were all economics professors […]

    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 […]

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