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  • Intuition and Espionage September 4, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Intuition and Espionage

    A nice story about intuition and intelligence work. Aldrich Ames was a CIA operative and a schmuck. Starting in 1985 through 1993, when he was finally arrested, Ames gave Russian intelligence information in exchange for bags of cash. In short, a number of assets were executed and imprisoned in the Soviet Union so Ames could […]

    Immortals: Napoleonic Warrior in Russia August 16, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Uncategorized
    Immortals: Napoleonic Warrior in Russia

    Beach has previously enjoyed ‘immortals’ fictional and factional characters who have lived through an improbable number of generations. Here is a likely sounding tale from 30 Jun 1894 (Dundee Eve Tele). A man, who was born 1768, and preserves unimpaired memory, and who was, moreover, in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, has a good […]

    Post Mortem Lynching August 12, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Post Mortem Lynching

    This story came out of the Russian countryside in 1890. It should be remembered that this was a period when Russia was cast as an eastern ‘Ireland’ the butt of ‘civilised’ Britain’s jokes. In other words, take with a pinch of salt until a Russian source is found. Can anyone help: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT […]

    Tenth-Century Sasquatch? July 3, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Tenth-Century Sasquatch?

    ***Thanks to Ed, an old friend of this blog, for sending this in and making the sasquatch connection*** Do we have evidence from the Urals for a Sasquatch like figure in the tenth century? No one seems to have made this connection before but consider the passage charitably before we drag out the sledge hammer […]

    Weird Wars: Lost Maps, Lost Plans June 29, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Weird Wars: Lost Maps, Lost Plans

    You’ve all had that awful sinking feeling. You’ve prepared your masterful attack with a vast army across the entire front and then some fool goes and misplaces the map: and next thing you know the scrap of paper ends up in the hands of your opposite number, in the enemy  high command. There must be […]

    The Republic of the Seven Islands April 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Republic of the Seven Islands

    A thalassocracy is a sea power, a realm built around the sea. The word is sometimes used to refer to maritime superpowers, like the British and French empires, but is more typically employed for chains of islands governed by a single king or council. Historical examples include Tondo; or some of the Viking polities from […]

    Did the Russians Off Archduke Ferdinand?! January 13, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Did the Russians Off Archduke Ferdinand?!

    There follows that rarest of things. A credible conspiracy theory. Our two heroes are Dragutin Dimitrijević (aka Apis, obit 1917) Chief of Serb Military Intelligence and Viktor Artamonov (obit 1942), a Russian military liaison officer in Serbia. Apis is remembered by history as the organizer of Archduke Ferdinand’s assassination and the organizer of the Black […]

    Foreign Swindles in the Nineteenth Century September 29, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Foreign Swindles in the Nineteenth Century

    More in our swindlers series. Bread Trick: X in Russia goes to a jewelers and gets 4000  roubles worth of goods. He can only pay 500 but asks the owner (the victim) to come to the bank for the rest. At the bank he reminds the banker that they had spoken before and says ‘can […]

    Killed by a Watermelon? Royal Iranian Caprices… June 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Killed by a Watermelon? Royal Iranian Caprices...

    Even by the standards of oriental despots Mohammad Khan Qajar was a pretty nasty piece of work. He had himself survived as a young man because the then ruler of Persia had decided only to castrate MKQ instead of having him killed, a decision he would soon regret. MKQ was not apparently a sadist. But […]

    The Rudest Diplomatic Letter Ever Written? May 10, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Rudest Diplomatic Letter Ever Written?

      ***Thanks to Chris from Haunted Ohio Books for putting me onto this story*** There are many uncertainties about the letters that follow, so let’s give the orthodox version, then the letters themselves and move on from there. In the 1670s the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire in cooperation with the Khan of the Crimea […]

    He Was My Emperor! March 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    He Was My Emperor!

    Field Marshal Gustav Mannerheim was the man who created (once) and then saved Finland (twice). First, he commanded the White insurrection against the Reds in Helsinki in 1918 leading the country to independence from Russia (which was becoming the USSR). Second, he commanded the Finnish army in the Winter War, and third, he commanded the same army in […]

    Tears and Bows: WW1 Ambassadors and Declarations of War March 4, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Tears and Bows: WW1 Ambassadors and Declarations of War

    A recent post looked at the tensions created by ambassadors declaring war in WW2. Today, instead, some descriptions of declarations of war from World War 1. The initial impression is that there was more formality and more old world charm. Some of the ambassadors may have believed they would be back in their host capitals by […]

    Seven German Mistakes that Lost the Great War January 10, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Seven German Mistakes that Lost the Great War

    Germany went to war in August 1914 to bloody Russia, put Britain back in its place and break France’s back. Looking at their war record, after a century, what is striking is just how close Germany came to achieving at least a relative victory. Yet Germany’s leadership was not up to the job: this is clearer […]

    Devil on the Trans-Siberian Railway December 8, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Devil on the Trans-Siberian Railway

    Beach has previously celebrated strange railway superstition stories, the simple and unsurprising fact that innocent peoples faced with long lines of track and steam behemoths running across country naturally mixed up science and superstition and interpreted the train as a demon or bogey. Most strikingly there is the fate of the Plains Indians in their battle with […]

    The Poison Duel 4#: The Medical Origins of the Poison Duel? September 23, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Poison Duel 4#: The Medical Origins of the Poison Duel?

    The earliest nineteenth-century poison duel seems to have been that almost fought in 1821 in Virginia. However, there are pre-nineteenth-century records and strangely they concern doctors. The earliest record anywhere that Beach has been able to dig up was an alleged reference in the Iranian poet Nizami (obit 1209). Nizami in one poem (Treasury of […]

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