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  • Binoculars, Wanted Posters and Green Dresses: Irish-British Relations Post Independence December 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Binoculars, Wanted Posters and Green Dresses: Irish-British Relations Post Independence

    By the end of 1916 the British establishment and the establishment in waiting of a future Irish state had come to loathe each other. The cause for this was not only the long history of rebellion and suppression (‘Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag…’), nor was it just the fighting of the Easter […]

    The Rights and Wrongs of Killing Mussolini December 11, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Rights and Wrongs of Killing Mussolini

    After Beach’s recent blog on Mussolini’s death several emails about not so much the circumstances as the justification for killing the Fascist leader. The official version of the story claims that the Allies wanted Mussolini for themselves but that the partisans and particularly the Communist partisans had decided to do away with Mussolini as a […]

    The King and Country Debate: Oxford 1933 December 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The King and Country Debate: Oxford 1933

    It is remembered as ‘the King and Country Debate’, the most famous student debate in history. 9 February 1933 Oxford Union (the students of Oxford University in contentious mode) undertook to discuss the proposal ‘that this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country’. The expectations were that the proposal would be brushed […]

    The Joys of Historical Ignorance November 9, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    The Joys of Historical Ignorance

    For a student from the west the basic sign of historical literacy is whether or not you can put the following periods in their correct order: antiquity, ‘dark ages’, middle ages, renaissance and modernity. Beach has the privilege of teaching perhaps two hundred American students a year and probably ten percent would be capable of […]

    Image: Old New Meets New Old January 17, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Old New Meets New Old

    ***Flu day*** Queen Elizabeth is fifty-seven years older than she was when the photograph above was taken (4 April 1955): Churchill, meanwhile, has been in the grave for forty seven years. However, this image has an energy that altogether belies its age. After all, here, in a single snap, are the two most important Britons […]

    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 […]

    Finishing Horace and Whittier in WW2 November 3, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary

    Today’s post represents a definite minority interest: poems being started by someone and finished by someone else in the Second World War. (Sorry).  Take the extraordinary exchange between the German general Heinrich Kreipe (obit 1976) and a young British major Patrick Leigh Fermor (obit 2011) [pictured centre and right] late one night in Crete in […]

    Immortal Meals 6#: Arguments at Tehran October 19, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Immortal Meals 6#: Arguments at Tehran

    WIBT (Wish I’d been there)  moments from the Big Three Conference at Tehran in 1943 are so numerous that a casual reader would be spoilt for choice: Marshal Voroshilov dropping the Sword of Stalingrad at the worst possible moment in the ceremonials; German intelligence’s attempts to kill Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin; agreement on the United […]

    In the Margins September 20, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    In the Margins

    Marginalia: things scribbled in margins. There is a lot to be said for this form of literature that, to date, has been little studied: there are only a handful of books including Robin Alston’s Books with Manuscript: A Short Title Catalogue of Books with Manuscript Notes in the British Library (1994) and Henry Richards Luard’s […]

    Strange Speeches July 11, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Strange Speeches

    Beachcombing got an email last night from inspired speeches, a new website [now defunct!] dedicated to gathering, well, inspired speeches. His correspondent asked for suggestions for notable discourses from the past. And Beachcombing made the terrible mistake of opening said email at midnight. The result? Beach did not sleep until dawn, tossing and turning, as […]

    Churchill buries Chamberlain June 14, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Churchill buries Chamberlain

    In winning the Nobel Prize for literature Winston Churchill was placed among writers of the calibre of Thomas Mann, W.B. Yeats and Rudyard Kipling. This is probably – as Churchill was the first to admit – to overstate his talents as an author: there is something to Evelyn Waugh’s bitchy description of Churchill’s ‘pseudo-Augustan prose’. […]

    Churchill’s Dream August 27, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Churchill’s Dream

                                            Beachcombing wanted to offer today an obscure bit of Churchilliana, ‘The Dream’, that, incredibly, has never been published on the internet. Whether or not it is the best thing that Churchill ever wrote is to […]