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  • Fat Boy Blusters October 23, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Fat Boy Blusters

    The US bombing of Hiroshima went off, in operational terms, flawlessly. The bombing of Nagasaki was a different matter. For one thing, Nagasaki was not even the target: Fat Man was supposed to have been dropped on nearby Kokura but smoke from a conventional raid obscured the bombing run. Everything that could go wrong on […]

    Simon Bolivar Meets Ferdinand at Sport October 13, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Simon Bolivar Meets Ferdinand at Sport

    Simon Bolivar was a Venezuelan troublemaker who would lead the Spanish Americas to freedom. Ferdinand VII was the cretinous Spanish monarch who would allow this to happen. What Beach had not known until recently was that Bolivar and Ferdinand actually met as boys in 1800 in extraordinary circumstances. Bolivar (right) was seventeen; Ferdinand (left) was sixteen. […]

    Maria Screams September 13, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Maria Screams

    A WIBT moment from early nineteenth-century Portugal. Thousands of well dressed but harassed men and women are milling and pushing in Lisbon harbor before a score of great British and Portuguese ships. The tense silence is suddenly broken as a piercing scream begins from behind. The woman’s voice, from a royal carriage is continual. Maria […]

    70 Million Dead in One Second September 8, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    70 Million Dead in One Second

    The year is 1908. You are walking through a jungle territory in southeastern Cameroon in central Africa when you hear the sickening smack of the machete on flesh. Expecting the worst you emerge, your rifle half lifted, but see only a local hunter with a kill. He has taken a chimp in a trap and […]

    St Thomas and the Meretrix April 12, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    St Thomas and the Meretrix

    This is one of the great scenes from Catholic hagiography. St Thomas of Aquinas has just been kidnapped by his own family and locked up in a room with a naked woman. OK, yes, yes, we can backpedal a moment…. Thomas was born to a noble Campanian clan and as a younger son, the youngest […]

    Immortal Meals #24: Jaén’s Eggfight August 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Immortal Meals #24: Jaén's Eggfight

    Jaén in Andalucia (Spain) is a town with its roots in Spain’s troubled late middle ages, half Arab, half Christian. Jaén also stars in a wonderful book by one of our greatest living medievalists Teofilo ‘God’ Ruiz now at UCLA. In City and Spectacle, Ruiz describes life in fifteenth-century Jaén in terms of the shows, […]

    Emperor Stars in Anti-Colonial Play June 20, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Emperor Stars in Anti-Colonial Play

    Puyu (obit 1967) has gone down in history as the last Chinese emperor, not including of course Mao and his successors, and what a life he had. Brought up in the Forbidden Palace he was perhaps the most spoilt boy in the world: having servants beaten for a whim; this perhaps made up for the […]

    A City Without Buildings: Themistocles Before Salamis May 13, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    A City Without Buildings: Themistocles Before Salamis

    A WIBT (Wish I’d Been There) episode from the wars between Greece and Persia in 480/479. The Athenians, save some brave warriors who attempted to defend, futilely the Acropolis, have fled from their city. The unstoppable Persian army has fired the temples and the holy places of Athena: and the Persian fleet has moved down […]

    Pheidippides: The Greek Who Met A God April 13, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Pheidippides: The Greek Who Met A God

    Pheidippides enters the history book because he could run fast and far, and because in 490 BC, with angry Persian immortals just outside their walls, the Athenians decided that they needed help. They looked for assistance in the most violent of all Greek polis, the Spartans to the south. Sparta, though, stood 150 miles from Athens […]

    Lenin Meets the Bandits April 9, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Lenin Meets the Bandits

    19 January 1919, a wonderful moment where Lenin almost got offed by the forces he had created. On this day, Lenin, Chabanov, his bodyguard, and Maria, Lenin’s sister were driving with bourgeos ostentation on the outskirts of Moscow. At a railway bridge they were stopped, however, by three armed men, that Lenin and Chabanov assumed were […]

    Dreadful Homecoming, Italy 1944 March 23, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Dreadful Homecoming, Italy 1944

    Sometimes when you read descriptions from history, something snags on your imagination and you can’t get loose: in fact the wool on your mental pullover starts to unravel… Sometimes it is hard to explain why. But for what it is worth here is a scene from history that could have featured as a vignette in […]

    Goodbye Constantinople February 7, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Goodbye Constantinople

      ***Some might like to listen to the very topical Strange History theme song while reading this, thanks to Chris S for the tip*** The night of 28 May 1453 the Emperor of Byzantine, Constantine, ‘the eleventh of his name’, went for a ride with his friend, George Sphrantzes, on the city walls of Constantinople, […]

    Forgot the Damn Suicide Pills! January 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Forgot the Damn Suicide Pills!

    Perhaps you need a British sense of humour, but this scene had Beach smiling more than potential death scenes normally do. It is D-Day and General Donovan (pictured) and Colonel David Bruce the narrator have to undertake a special mission in the French interior just off the D-Day beaches (they have been landed at Utah), […]

    When Churchill Came Within Twenty Yards of Hitler November 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    When Churchill Came Within Twenty Yards of Hitler

    Historians have made a great deal between that all-too often drunk British genius Churchill and his abstemious German rival, the murderous Hitler. The two gradually came to loathe each other. Hitler loved to blame Churchill for many of the disasters of the war (sometimes correctly); while Churchill went on the record as saying that when […]

    Anne Boleyn Loses It October 16, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Anne Boleyn Loses It

    Anne Boleyn was, of course, the second wife of Henry VIII, who ended her short life with French steel interposing between her chin and her shoulders, 19 May 1536. Her execution came after a travesty of a trial in which she was found guilty of high treason against the king (a man of unusual psychology): she […]

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