European History

The London Cage

Helen Fry— Writing the history of spies, espionage and the intelligence services, especially MI6 or the CIA, poses its own particular challenges. Secret intelligence organisations are shrouded in myth and mystery, often self-created, and that attracts a certain public curiosity. How far historians can reconstruct the full truth is an

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Leon Trotsky, a Hundred Years After the Russian Revolution

Joshua Rubenstein— The romantic figure of Leon Trotsky, a man who helped lead the Bolsheviks to power a hundred years ago and then came to embody defiance of Joseph Stalin, continues to haunt our imagination. He joined the Bolsheviks as an outspoken teenager, then endured arrest and Siberian exile before

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Æthelred, the Unready?

Levi Roach— Æthelred initially identified himself and his counsellors as the guilty parties and set about remedying his ways, restoring church lands, promoting new figures, fostering reform and making amends. This also coincided with his reconciliation with his mother, who was to remain his guiding hand till her death (999

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Caged lies and Truth drugs

Helen Fry— The allegations of brutality at the London Cage are shocking enough, but evidence emerges to reveal for the first time in this book that Colonel Scotland apparently sanctioned the use of ‘truth drugs’ on his prisoners. Clearly, this needs to be placed in the broader context of the

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The New Biography of a Dictator

Oleg V. Khlevniuk; Translated by Nora Seligman Favorov— Over his seventy-four-year life, the Soviet dictator fought through a stormy historical landscape to become an important factor in events not only in Russia, but also the world. Among scholars, there is more agreement than controversy on the historical and ideational antecedents

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Expansionist Propaganda in World War I Germany

Tim Grady— Davis Trietsch and Julius Friedrich Lehmann made for an unlikely pair. Trietsch, a well-known German-Jewish statistician, journalist and sometime editor, spent many years living in New York, before returning to Berlin at the turn of the century. He was also an active Zionist, a regular visitor to Palestine

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Who is David?

David Wolpe— We wish our heroes to be attractively flawed: brave but heedless, good but confused, wise yet inexplicably sad. A minor crack in character makes the vessel seem that much more precious. Still, while acknowledging the complexity behind the clarity of Lincoln, or the darkness that lurked beneath Churchill’s

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The Downfall of Hitler’s Soldiers

Ben H. Shepard— The answer to the question of why the German army fought on as long as it did was an answer that evolved and changed during the war’s final two years. By February 1943, and by the summer of 1943 at the very latest, the great majority of officers and

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The Historical Assault on the Language of the Deaf

Gerald Shea— Noam Chomsky, giving a lecture in Chicago in 1965, mistakenly defined language as “a specific sound-to-meaning correspondence.” When asked where this left the signed languages of the Deaf, Chomsky revised his definition on the spot, calling language a specific signal to meaning correspondence. The distinction was important, for it was

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Ep. 33 – Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli, and the Great Stink of 1858

The summer of 1858 was hot and stinky in London and filled with stories and scandals.