European History

My First Vampire

Nick Groom — The first vampire I met was in Soho, old Soho. It was probably autumn, it was certainly dark, and the streets were oddly quiet. I’d been in the London Library all day, reading Neo-Platonic treatises by Iamblichus and Pseudo-Dionysius. The daemonic was still on my mind when

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1919: A Poilu Comes Home

Edward M. Strauss— Mobilized in August 1914 at age 35, infantry Corporal Louis Barthas spent almost four years in the trenches. After his health collapsed in early 1918 he served in rear echelons, guarding German POW’s and training young French conscripts in Brittany. He remained in uniform after the November

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Who Was King Arthur?

Nicholas J. Higham— Chapter 56 of the History of the Britons, written in North Wales in 829-30, presented Arthur as a warrior who, with divine aid, led the Britons to victory against the Saxon (i.e. English) invaders.   ‘Then in those days Arthur fought with the kings of the Britons against

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Reconstructing Seapower

Andrew Lambert— In the late 1880s, American strategist and historian Alfred Thayer Mahan coined the term “sea power” by purposefully splitting the word “seapower,” a direct translation of the Greek thalassokratia, to sustain his agenda. The Greek word had been used by Herodotus and Thucydides to describe states which were

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Armistice Attire

Guy Cuthbertson— When the fighting on the Western Front ended on November 11, 1918, and people celebrated wildly back at home, unusual outfits featured prominently in those celebrations. Flags became clothing, and there was plenty of improvised fancy dress. Adults and children dressed as the Kaiser, for instance, or students

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How an Epic Painting Became a Monumental Flop: The Perils of Art and Politics

Katie Hornstein — Powerful rulers have always relied on visual images to bolster their standing and seek public support for their military endeavors.  While these sorts of images can be broadly understood as propaganda, the question of their effectiveness as art in the service of power is anything but assured,

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European Couples: Mussolini and Hitler

Christian Goeschel— On July 20, 1944, a bomb exploded in the Wolf’s Lair, Adolf Hitler’s East Prussian Headquarters. The Nazi leader survived. Hours later, he received Benito Mussolini. This would be the final encounter between Mussolini and Hitler, leaders of Europe’s most significant fascist dictatorships. It took place almost exactly

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How Do You Talk to a Russian Gangster?

Mark Galeotti— He was quite the most charming contract killer with whom one could imagine having a drink. But nonetheless, for all his cheerful Chechen twinkle, and the ritualised North Caucasus courtesy which meant we had to argue fiercely over the right to pay the bill, even though we both

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American and Israeli Jews Tell Different Truths About the Holocaust

Hannah Pollin-Galay— “The End of the Jewish People is Here.” This is not a headline from the 1940’s but from June 2018. It appeared as one of many articles reporting on a survey conducted by the American Jewish Committee, which polled American and Israeli Jews on a range of contemporary

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Political Cartoons in the Digital Age

David Francis Taylor— In 2004 Morten Morland published a cartoon in the Times that took aim at Anglo-American attempts to broker peace between Israel and Palestine. He did so by adapting a much older image: James Gillray’s “Sin, Death, and the Devil” of 1792. Gillray’s caricature responded to the sacking

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