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The Good Friday Agreement, Teletext and an Anonymous Phone-Caller October 21, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
The Good Friday Agreement, Teletext and an Anonymous Phone-Caller

The Good Friday Agreement – and we’ll come back to that name in a minute – was signed 10 April 1998. It was the single most important step in the winding down of the low grade civil war that had marred the province since the late 1960s and that cost over three thousand lives in […]

The Moment the Cold War Ended (according to Anthony Robbins!) October 3, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
The Moment the Cold War Ended (according to Anthony Robbins!)

  ***Thanks to SM!*** Anthony Robbins is a well meaning and (for tens of thousands of people) effective life-style coach. In his voluminous tapes, cds and books he includes endless anecdotes about his meetings with the great and the good of the earth. There is an element of name-dropping in some of this but SM […]

Juliana Jumps April 8, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Juliana Jumps

In 1119, a woman jumped off a castle wall, in Normandy, and, against the odds, escaped from her father who intended to kill her. However, before we get to this noble’s life-saving acrobatics some background and be warned as most things to do with the Normans it is complicated and bloody. Juliana of Fontevrault was […]

Desperate Men: 490 BC June 17, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Desperate Men: 490 BC

The Battle of Marathon is one of those events that has been so polished by historians and lyricists that it has become a mirror held up to every age which has cared to look into it. But behind the bumph and the pumph there remains a very real mystery. How did a (then) obscure Greek […]

Image: Princip’s Conscience February 2, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Image: Princip's Conscience

Beach has several things on his conscience. Aged eight he clumsily trod on a frog breaking its back bone; last summer he accidentally killed a baby adder while trying to get it out of the garden; and then there was a very painful split with a girl who deserved better a decade ago, sorry E. […]

Napoleon in a Pot January 16, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Napoleon in a Pot

Anyone who love history has a little black list of people they would have gladly have seen choked at birth: Hitler, Ida Amin, Verdi… Fairly close to the top of Beachcombing’s is that jumped-up world destroyer Napoleon Bonaparte, a man who ‘could by industrious valour climb/ To ruin the work of time/ And cast the […]

Israel Saved by the Soviets in 1973? January 13, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Israel Saved by the Soviets in 1973?

In 1948, 1967 and 1973 Israel fought wars that could conceivably have seen the destruction not only of the Israeli state but also of the Jewish community in Palestine. None of these wars came closer to Arab success than the last, the Yom Kippur war. Egypt and Syria (with Iraqi backing) managed to achieve almost […]

Review: Five Days in London December 19, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Review: Five Days in London

John Lukacs, Five Days in London, May 1940 (1999) has a simple thesis. The United Kingdom could not have defeated Hitler alone, but she could have lost the war before the Soviet Union and the USA entered as Allies. And she never came nearer to this, according to Lukacs, than 24-28 May 1940 – the […]

Gunfire in Notre Dame November 9, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Gunfire in Notre Dame

A wibt (wish I’d been there) moment in a snatch of about five minutes as Mrs B is still far away from home and Beachcombing has to undertake full babysitting duties for his two terrifying daughters. 26 August 1944, after four long years of Nazi occupation, Paris is liberated by Allied troops and marching into […]

Julian in the Desert May 6, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Julian in the Desert

Beachcombing finished his last exam yesterday and, with the exceptions of the long and frankly tedious work of correction, term is now all but over. Hurrah! Hurrah! By way of celebration Beachcombing thought that he would visit this morning one of his favourite hinge moments. The death of Julian the Apostate and with him the […]

Martin Luther and the Fire from Heaven December 29, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Martin Luther and the Fire from Heaven

  Beachcombing has looked before at hinge moments – moments where a simple incident changes history; moments which, had they not happened, would have resulted in a quite different world. Beachcombing thought that, in this spirit, he would today visit Mansfeld, Germany 2 July, 1502 where a young student, Martin Luther, is out walking. Luther’s great fortune […]

Saint Patrick’s Sinning Past December 17, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Saint Patrick's Sinning Past

Most saints begin life as, well, saints. They help their parents with chores; they annoy more normal brothers and sisters; and they make discreet enquiries into career prospects for monks and nuns. However, there are some – Beachcombing likes to think of them as ‘the rogues’ – who have more colourful pasts. Typically these men […]

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 […]

24 August 1940: The Night That Hitler Lost The War August 24, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
24 August 1940: The Night That Hitler Lost The War

                        The answer to the question of when the Third Reich doomed itself to extinction depends naturally on whom you ask. Some will tell you Germany’s failure to secure the Mediterranean in 1942 was crucial. Others will point to the invasion of the Soviet Union […]

A Head Turn that Ruined the Twentieth Century July 14, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
A Head Turn that Ruined the Twentieth Century

                    If you want to rewrite the history of Western Europe in the 1920s then you could do a lot worse than get rid of ‘the Roman Lawmaker’, Benito Mussolini. Just imagine – as Beachcombing has often done – the overweight dictator dropping dead in 1926, ‘Year […]

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