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  • Last Axe Decapitations in the West October 21, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Last Axe Decapitations in the West

    A description this morning from one of Beachcombing’s books of the season Charles Duff’s A Handbook on Hanging, reviewed in September. To make sense of what follows it should be remembered that Germany had inherited from Prussia beheading as a form of capital punishment. Of course, France too favoured decapitation but employed the more lithe and winsome […]

    Getting the Future Wrong: Book titles October 20, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Getting the Future Wrong: Book titles

    Beachcombing is in disgrace this morning. Friends of his from Britain, Pascal and Pascal’s wife Small Coloured Thing have been planning a jaunt over to Italy and Beachcombing’s home there. This was a cause of great celebration two weeks ago when the holiday was agreed upon. But then Beachcombing was so overwhelmed by mid-term exams […]

    Image: Dancing to Save the World October 18, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Dancing to Save the World

    Mirella over at History and Women has the happy phrase, ‘Wordless Wednesday’, for her regular posts with images. And this ‘wordless’ approach is certainly the sensible one. But Beachcombing gets worryingly loquacious when powerful pictures come up and today is going to be no exception. The photograph above was one of a series of the […]

    Review: After the Funeral – the Posthumous Adventures of Famous Corpses October 17, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Review: After the Funeral - the Posthumous Adventures of Famous Corpses

    Beachcombing has been spending a tense evening debating with Mrs B over their choice of Au Pair – God help the poor girl! And it is with some relief that he now escapes to the computer to write up his first review in a month. Of course, it is not that there are no good […]

    Druidic Ravens at the Tower of London? October 10, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Druidic Ravens at the Tower of London?

    Beachcombing got an email this week from a Canadian history student. ‘Seeing as you seem to have knowledge of historical things quite off the beaten track I thought I’d seek some historic tourism advice. I’m a Canadian history student and over Christmas I’ll be travelling to London. I plan on a doing a couple of […]

    Politicians and Maps October 9, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Politicians and Maps

    As Beachcombing explained in a previous post it has been a difficult week. And yet his attempt to shrug off the blues with an unfortunate Mayan sacrificial victim yesterday backfired – he had bad dreams. Here then is a further attempt moving on from Mesoamerican pain to political stupidity. And as there is so much stupidity out […]

    Germans Pay for the Sins of Their Great, Great, Great Grandfathers October 6, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Germans Pay for the Sins of Their Great, Great, Great Grandfathers

    Beachcombing often misses major historical anniversaries on his blog or only cottons on a couple of days too late. Certainly he is off in raising the white flag to celebrate the last German payment of First World War reparations. For, yes, so it was that, on Sunday, 3rd October 2010, the German government put its […]

    Image: Comrade Lenin in Antarctica October 4, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Comrade Lenin in Antarctica

    It was a dull weekend and so Beachcombing is going to give himself a pick-me-up this Monday morning with one of his favourite sports – making fun of the Soviet Union. And what better way to do it than with this fabulous photograph of the southern pole of inaccessibility, the point in Antarctica furthest from […]

    Those Nice Austro-Hungarian Machine Gunners October 2, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Those Nice Austro-Hungarian Machine Gunners

    Beachcombing recently found himself marveling over a passage in Mark Thompson’s The White War on Italy’s dreadful First World War campaigns. Italy it must be remembered was fighting, for the most part, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Peacock Imperial Throne of central Europe. Another kind of collusion was so rare that very few instances were recorded […]

    The Table Leg that Changed History (Kind Of) September 29, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Table Leg that Changed History (Kind Of)

    Beachcombing knows that estimates of the number of serious assassination attempts against Hitler vary from ten to twenty. However, the only one of these attacks that actually drew Adolf’s blood was the last, Claus von Stauffenberg’s gutsy solo effort towards the end of the war. In fact, on three different occasions – 11, 15 and 18 July […]

    Image: They Can Because They Think They Can September 27, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: They Can Because They Think They Can

    As his final tribute to the RAF on the seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Britain, Beachcombing offers this remarkable photograph from 19 Squadron. 19 Squadron had fought over Dunkirk and spent the Battle of Britain in the front line at Duxford: the legless and incorrigible Douglas Bader was one of her pilots as was […]

    Garibaldi’s Worst Hours September 24, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Garibaldi's Worst Hours

    Giuseppe Garibaldi had been, in the late 1830s, an insurgent in Brazil: think Che Guevara with a good barber and bourgeoise decency. He had played the rhetorician who talked up Italian irregulars as they retreated from Rome in 1849: ‘Where we are Rome will be!’ He was the genius general who, in 1860, conquered half the peninsula […]

    A Kingdom in a London Hotel Room September 22, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Kingdom in a London Hotel Room

    Over the last weeks Beachcombing has offered a collection of posts from his Forgotten Kingdoms file. And he thought that today he would add to this with the smallest recognised state known to him: Suite 212 at Claridge’s. First a little background. Claridge’s has long had a reputation as the most exclusive London hotel. And […]

    Baron Munchhausen and Jack the Ripper September 21, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Baron Munchhausen and Jack the Ripper

    Beachcombing has long had a secret nemesis: Donald McCormick aka Richard Deacon, a British author. McCormick (1911-1998) wrote entertainingly on a bewildering series of topics including the Hell Fire Club, Mossad, Ian Fleming, the Kempa Tai and the death of Kitchener. Many of these books included doubtful elements: extremely valuable sources that no one else had ever […]

    The Cornbeef Sandwich that Almost Destroyed a Spacecraft… September 20, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Cornbeef Sandwich that Almost Destroyed a Spacecraft...

    Today astronauts have it easy when it comes to lunchtime.  They open  their MandMs or unpack a fabulous meal whipped up down at ground control – in 2006 celebrity chef, Rachael Ray even prepared them Swedish meatballs. Then there are the views… Life doesn’t really get much better. But ‘back in the day’ when the […]

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