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  • Last of the British? September 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Last of the British?

    There are sixty million Britons, yet if you go house to house through England, Wales, Scotland and the six counties you will find that relatively few people actually define themselves in this way. If a family from Glasgow, Cardiff or Sheffield turn up in a French hotel they will probably write (under nationality) respectively: ‘Scottish’, […]

    Review: The Holocaust in the Soviet Union September 13, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: The Holocaust in the Soviet Union

    Books on the holocaust have, broadly speaking, two choices. They can either focus on the big picture and describe the liquidation of an entire people from this or that national territory, or they can focus on an individual, family or a village and concentrate, instead, on the micro-tragedies: an excellent example of the latter is […]

    The Other Dream Team: Basketball and the Baltic August 23, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Other Dream Team: Basketball and the Baltic

    The Other Dream Team is the best history documentary Beach has watched since starting this blog four years ago. As it doesn’t seem to have the fame that it deserves here’s a shout out: even the almost ahistorical Mrs B. was moved. Some background. Lithuania is a small Baltic State of three million that has […]

    Hidden Flags August 12, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Hidden Flags

    There’s a scene in that very good Powell and Pressburger film One of Our Aircraft is Missing (1942), where downed British pilots in occupied Holland establish the loyalty of their hosts through a trick commode. A line of orange flowers (the Dutch colour) leads to a swing picture that reveals a disguised portrait of the […]

    The Singing War July 25, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Singing War

    Revolutions are normally violent affairs. Popular anger leads to stupid and brutal acts. The French Revolution might stand as the archetype here with nice ideas thrashing out of control: liberty, fraternity and equality turning all too quickly into horror, fratricide and indiscriminate killing. But there are a select group of revolutions where a determined population […]

    Neo-Pagan Partisans May 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Neo-Pagan Partisans

    Ask a well-read person today about neo-paganism and many will identify it as something that came out of flower power in the late 1960s. However, this is not, for the most part, true. Neo-pagans were actually around before the Great War and in some incarnations neo-paganism can be traced back to late nineteenth-century eccentrics, such […]

    Totalitarian Leaders, Urban Legends and Motorbikes March 29, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Totalitarian Leaders, Urban Legends and Motorbikes

    Totalitarian states put their leaders at the very heart of civic life as symbol and reality of fascism/Nazism/communism (or whatever other nightmare a country has fallen into). One of the consequences of the popular focus on the duce/fuhrer/stalin is that the individual citizen comes to feel a special warmth for the head that they might […]

    Molotov, Poetic Justice and Outer Mongolia March 13, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Molotov, Poetic Justice and Outer Mongolia

    There is always some fun seeing people placed in hells of their own making, hells that they amply deserve. Of course, there is the whole ‘live by the sword, die by the sword’ thing: Samuel K. Doe, president of Liberia being tortured to death on celluloid; Gaddafi meeting his end in a culvert (‘God forbids […]

    The Pope and His Tanks January 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Pope and His Tanks

    If you open a book of memorable quotations you will find bon mots and phrases that have been validated by time. You will also often find controversy as to where these sentences come from and because they belong to a given people or nation or, indeed, all of humanity they are altered and reascribed. Beach […]

    The Venkov Lenin: the Bizarre Fate of a Communist Era Statue January 9, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Venkov Lenin: the Bizarre Fate of a Communist Era Statue

    Picture borrowed from Vacilando, a useful source for information on Lewis Carpenter There are some great stories about Lenin statues and busts, including Lenin in Antarctica, a post featured on this blog a couple of years ago. For now though let’s turn to one of the most travelled of all the statues of the man […]

    The Gannet Club: Parachuteless in WW2 December 14, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Gannet Club: Parachuteless in WW2

    Jumping out of a plane without a parachute is never a good idea. But it is striking that some individuals walk away, or more likely are carried away, with a few token broken bones and a story to dine out on for the rest of their lives. Most modern examples are of parachutists who have […]

    Jokes From World War 2 October 28, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Jokes From World War 2

    Unlike our previous post on jokes about the World Wars here are a series of jokes from world war two. Beach can’t guarantee that every single one came from the the period between Sept 1939 and the summer of 1945, but they have a contemporary feel. Here are his favourites. Note a factory worker, Marianne […]

    Twelve Best History Montages October 13, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Twelve Best History Montages

    By history montage we refer to short length runs of images and film available on youtube often with attractive music in the background. They are typically put together by amateurs and their productions standards and their production values can be a little shaky. However, often late in the evening or when he wants his daughters […]

    Totalitarian Bizarreness August 29, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Totalitarian Bizarreness

    Beach isn’t a big fan of totalitarian regimes, but in the defence of those sorry little (and occasionally big) regimes they do make for bizarre news stories. For example, the rumour is just coming in, via South Korea, that the Great Leader in the north has wiped out much of NK’s pop singing community. Among […]

    Forgotten Kingdoms: The Gagauz and Identity Problems July 24, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Forgotten Kingdoms: The Gagauz and Identity Problems

    Eastern Europe is full of unexpected populations. But few are as fun as the Gagauz,  a proud and ancient people, based in what is today southern Moldova. Of course, most modern westerners have never heard of Moldova – historically part of Romania – let alone that country’s tiny minority in the south. But the Gagauz […]

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