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  • Self-Immolation Duc-Style May 20, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Self-Immolation Duc-Style

    When Beachcombing first courted Mrs B he used to play elaborate ‘wind-ups’, trying to convince his darling of the impossible. Perhaps his favourite was the time he ‘explained’ how the widow of an Indian immigrant in Britain had decided to burn herself suttee-style on the funeral pyre of her husband, in Parliament Square. There had, […]

    Crowds #1: And so it begins… Images from 1914 March 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Crowds #1: And so it begins... Images from 1914

      [students in Berlin, off to enlist] Beachcombing has recently become interested in crowd photography: large groups of people, preferably in rather strange or extreme situations. And as part of this ‘project’ he started collecting photographs from perhaps the dizziest month in western history: August 1914. The war is just beginning and young and not […]

    Stalin Suffering the Children March 18, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Stalin Suffering the Children

    This image of Uncle Joe with a young girl understandably became famous. It shows the softer side of one of the most prolific murderers of all time: something useful in a society that was based on a cult of said murderer. And interestingly this is not just a chance photographic moment: the kind that make […]

    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. […]

    The Family that Commits Suicide Together… August 22, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Family that Commits Suicide Together...

    ***This is an image post, but as the image involves three dead people it is hidden below*** Germans led the suicide stakes in Second-World-War Europe. Whether it be Captain Langsdorff lying on his ensign and blowing his brains out; Rommel deciding to save his family by taking poison; the desperate Leonidas kamikaze pilots; or Himmler […]

    Torturing Guy June 21, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Torturing Guy

    At present, the Beachcombing family are under assault from a group of teenage toughs who have taken to ringing their bell in the evening and running off into the dark. Of course, the sensible thing would be to ignore the little idiots and hope that their antics don’t wake up the children. But Beachcombing never […]

    Maximilian’s Shirt June 3, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Maximilian's Shirt

    ‘Emperor’ Maximilian was a scion of the Hapsburg dynasty who was parachuted into Mexico (1864) as Imperial Ruler in the Old World’s last concerted attempt to meddle in the Americas. Maximilian was not quite the patsy though that many in Europe and  monarchists of Mexico had hoped. He was one of those men who had […]

    Stealing Swords in the Congo April 26, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Stealing Swords in the Congo

      This post is dedicated to Ricardo R. whose father was there in Kinshasa on the day This famous image from the camera of Robert Lebeck is much anthologized as the ‘ African moment’. A gutsy young Congolese has jogged along the limousine of King Baudouin of Belgium and the Belgian Congo as then was. […]

    Best of Enemies April 2, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Best of Enemies

    Beachcombing is always going on about how he is looking for historic pictures, especially of the lesser known kind. He was most excited then when a correspondent recently opened up a raw and largely unmined vein: what Beachcombing will call ‘the best of enemies picture’.  Foes brought together after the event… Ok three rules. 1) Photographs […]

    Image: Murder Inc March 15, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Murder Inc

    This picture is taken from David King’s brilliant The Commissar Vanishes (another post, another day) and shows the 228 men and women (this online version is cropped) who ran the prosecutor’s office of the Supreme Soviet. Their task was to break the ideological enemies of the regime, understood not, of course, as enemies of communism, but […]

    Image: Napoleon’s Lost Sword February 2, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Image: Napoleon's Lost Sword

      This image is unfortunately not a photograph, but German text-book fodder from the early part of the nineteenth century. Yet it captures perfectly one of the most painful encounters in modern history. 2 September 1870 the French army, goaded foolishly into a war with little Prussia, surrendered at Sedan and the balance of power […]

    Image: Holy Adowa! January 22, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Image: Holy Adowa!

    Memo to any budding generals: never invade Russia in the winter, never start a land war in Asia and, most relevant for today, never presume to colonise Ethiopia…Italy unfortunately never learnt this lesson. In 1935 the Italian invasion would mark the beginning of the end for Mussolini’s regime. While in 1896 an Italian attack ended in […]

    Image: Cow Sheds and Massacres January 11, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Cow Sheds and Massacres

    Beachcombing has had the novel experience, in these days of premature babies, of watching lots of history documentaries. It is one of the few things that you can do while syringe feeding a fifteen-day-old tot and hoping that she will sleep. After years of staying away from television, he’s been treated to a lot of sub-standard stuff, but […]

    Image: Executing Christ January 3, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Executing Christ

                              The Spanish Civil War… the junction of the twentieth century. Often sold as the beginning of the Second World War it was, in reality, the last blast of an older nineteenth-century battle, the battle between left and right. Once Barcelona had fallen […]

    Image: Omagh Ground Zero December 23, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Omagh Ground Zero

    Beachcombing has had to miss writing a serious post today because of the arrival of his second-born at the local hospital. He thought that, in lieu of that ‘serious post’, he would offer instead this extraordinary photo from Omagh in Northern Ireland 1997 – a celebration of what it means to eat, breathe and read good books. The […]

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