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  • The Parrots of the Atures November 2, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Parrots of the Atures

      Since beginning this blog five months ago Beachcombing has noticed a monotonous pattern. He takes out a long-treasured fragment of bizarre history, all fired up to write a cracking whiz-bang post. And then, when he comes to triple-check the facts, he discovers that the event never happened – that it was based on a misunderstanding […]

    The Made-Up Battle of Karánsebes October 28, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Made-Up Battle of Karánsebes

    Wishing to distract himself from various home traumas Beachcombing thought that he would write today on one of his favourite ‘cobbler’ (tosh, nonsense) reports of all time: the Battle of Karansebes (Karánsebes for the minority who like accents on their conflicts). Here’s the game-plan. Beachcombing will start with the facts, move on to the legend […]

    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 […]

    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 […]

    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 Dual Death of Harold II August 16, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Dual Death of Harold II

    Beachcombing had an argument at dinner tonight about the Battle of Hastings and the fate of the Anglo-Saxon battle leader Harold (c. 1022-1066) and wants to get rid of his angst. Hastings, 1066, was, of course, the battle with which British history begins (or, according to a minority opinion, ends). William soon to be Conqueror (aka […]

    A Hitlerian Invisible Library August 9, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Hitlerian Invisible Library

                Many documents went missing as the Third Reich came crashing down in flames in 1945, documents that would be of the greatest interest to historians today. What, for example, would a modern museum pay for Hitler’s letters to Eva Braun or his letters, for that matter, to Himmler. Millions […]

    Bat-men and New York, 1835 July 31, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Bat-men and New York, 1835

                    Beachcombing alluded in a recent post to the danger of misinformation in a world that had less instantaneous communications than our own. After all, if Beachcombing flies from London to Washington DC today and asserts, on arrival, that the French island of Corsica has sunk beneath the […]

    Mongol elephants in America? July 22, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Mongol elephants in America?

    For the second article of Elephant Week Beachcombing thought that he would introduce one of his favourite early nineteenth-century books. Just let the title wash over you… John Ranking’s Historical researches on the conquest of Peru, Mexico, Bogota, Natchez, and Talomeco in the thirteenth century by the Mongols, accompanied with elephants: and the local agreement of […]

    Genocide on the Isle of Wight? July 13, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Genocide on the Isle of Wight?

                Beachcombing has noted before the refusal of archaeologists to face up to some of the bloodier customs of our ancestors. And what better example of this than the way that most archaeologists looking away on coming across any evidence of mass killings or human sacrifice in Dark Age Britain? Indeed, despite there being […]

    Did Hitler and Lenin Play Chess Together in 1909? July 5, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Did Hitler and Lenin Play Chess Together in 1909?

    Chess is sometimes called the ‘Game of Kings’. In modern times, at least, it would be truer though to call it the ‘Game of Dictators’. Such unsavoury individuals as Lenin, Napoleon, Fidel Castro, Colonel Gadaffi and the appalling Che Guevara – coming soon to a dress or a tee-shirt near you – all enjoyed the […]

    Oft hung John Lee and an urban legend June 30, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Oft hung John Lee and an urban legend

                        Beachcombing has recently had a bit of a thing about human sacrifice and capital punishment. But it is. he promises, a passing phase and has now reached its climax with a reading of Mike Holgate and Ian David Waugh’s superb The Man They Could Not Hang: The True Story of […]

    Hitler’s Class-Mate June 10, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Hitler’s Class-Mate

            Beachcombing has five files on Hitler and will soon have to start on a sixth. The moustached one was, after all, a whirlpool in history dragging the strange, coincidental, bizarre and outrageous into his cursed depths. A favourite curiosity is examined in Kimberley Cornish’s  The Jew of Linz: Wittgenstein, Hitler and […]

    Victorian sewer pigs June 7, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian sewer pigs

              Beachcombing has a natural and commendable enmity towards sociology. Sociologists are the foes of history and must be resisted on the beaches, in the city and in the hills. (It does not help that his father-in-law is of that profession.) But he finds some of the nineteenth-century proto-sociologists intriguing and […]

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