Category Archives: History

September 21, 2017

Victor Davis Hanson – How a Border War in Europe Led to WWII (Video)

Victor Davis Hanson, the Wayne and Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History at Hillsdale College, is also a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a professor of classics emeritus at California State University, Fresno. Dr. Hanson earned his B.A. at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his Ph.D. in classics from Stanford University. In 2007, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal, and in 2008, he received the Bradley Prize.

The WWII Invasion Russia Forgets And Poland Mourns (Video)

Under a recently passed law, Russia’s supreme court convicted a blogger last year for claiming that the Soviet Union invaded Poland, setting a legal precedent for jailing anyone who does so.

Poland marked a date over the weekend it considers instrumental in the stamping out of its independence after World War II at the hands of its neighbor, Russia. The weekend anniversary marks the surprise Soviet assault into Poland, which had come under attack by Germany only weeks before.

However, despite Moscow’s own annual and bombastic World War II commemorations, most Russians today do not know or believe it happened.

President Andrzej Duda lead a wreath-laying ceremony in Warsaw on Sunday, dedicated to the thousands of Poles, killed by the Soviet assault from the east, only weeks after the Nazi army attacked Poland from the west.

In a now infamous secret pact, Berlin and Moscow had agreed to split their mutual neighbor without declaring war on one another—a relationship that lasted almost two years, until German troops took the Soviet Union by surprise, attacking east.

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September 19, 2017

Archaeologists Search Ancient Pyramid for Clues to Maya Underworld

Archaeologists deploy innovative technology to discover what lies within and below ancient Maya ruins.

t the spring and fall equinoxes, the setting sun casts serpent-like shadows along the northern stairs of El Castillo, or “the castle.” Built more than a thousand years ago by the ancient Maya, the pyramid towers 100 feet over the ruins of Chichén Itzá, a World Heritage site and popular tourist destination on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Adventurers and archaeologists have explored the ruins for more than a century, but mysteries endure. Is there a watery labyrinth beneath the great pyramid, as local legends hint? Are there hidden chambers in the heart of the monument, as some archaeologists suspect?

Seeking clues, a multidisciplinary team of scientists and engineers is launching the first comprehensive investigation of Chichén Itzá in 50 years.

“Something on this scale has never been attempted, but we’re confident that it will help us understand this site in a way that wasn’t possible before,” says Guillermo de Anda, an underwater archaeologist with Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History and director of the Great Maya Aquifer Project. “With this data, I believe we will conclusively find out if the local legends of an elaborate underworld are true.”

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September 15, 2017

The Impossible War (Audio)

A Conversation with Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Ken Burns and Lynn Novick about their latest film, The Vietnam War.

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick are two of the most accomplished documentary filmmakers of our time. Their work includes The Civil War, Jazz, Baseball, The War, along with many other acclaimed films. Their most recent project is the ten-part, 18-hour documentary series, The Vietnam War, which tells the epic story of one of the most consequential, divisive, and controversial events in American history. Ten years in the making, the series includes rarely seen and digitally re-mastered archival footage from sources around the globe, photographs taken by some of the most celebrated photojournalists of the 20th Century, historic television broadcasts, evocative home movies, and secret audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations. The Vietnam War also features more than 100 iconic musical recordings from greatest artists of the era.

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September 14, 2017

The Tragedy of Exercise Tiger: A Training Mission That Left More GIs Dead Than Utah Beach

The official death toll of Exercise Tiger was 749 men, which is more than perished at the hands of the real enemy during the Utah beach landings. It was the worst loss of life since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.

Exercise Tiger is one of Britain’s most harrowing wartime secrets. It involved the slaughter of young American soldiers on the shores of a Devon beach.

At the time the incident was hastily covered up, and the bodies of the GIs who were killed were buried in complete secrecy.

If Allied high command wanted to use Exercise Tiger to give their soldiers a taste of what they would experience during the D-Day landings, they cut far too close to the core. The sea ran red with their blood as corpses bobbed in the surf.

Officially, the deaths were attributed to a surprise attack launched by German E-boats the day after the exercises. The authorities have never acknowledged what happened on Slapton Sands on April 27, 1944, although as time has passed information about the tragedy has become more widespread.

The whole point of the exercise was to make the dress rehearsal as realistic as possible. Dummy enemy positions were built alongside concrete pillboxes. There were 30 men in each assault team armed with flamethrowers, bazookas, machine guns, and mortars.

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September 12, 2017

If You Live in Freedom, Thank the British Empire (Video)

Was the British Empire a good or bad thing for the world? To put it another way, is freedom a good or bad thing for the world? Historian and author H.W. Crocker III explains why we may want to rethink the British Empire’s bad rap.

The ACLU’s untold Stalinist heritage

Foster was a key figure in the early years of the American communist movement who belonged to the ACLU’s National Committee in the 1920s, according to FBI documents. He later wrote a book titled “Toward Soviet America” in 1932 and also testified under oath before Congress that he opposed American democracy.

Noted author Paul Kengor has unearthed declassified letters and other documents in the Soviet Comintern archives linking early leaders of the ACLU with the Communist Party.

Kengor found a May 23, 1931 letter in the archives signed by ACLU founder Roger Baldwin, written on ACLU stationery, to then American Communist Party Chairman William Z. Foster asking him to help ACLU Chairman Harry Ward with his then-upcoming trip to Stalin’s Russia.

The letter suggests Ward intended to visit the Soviet Union to find “evidence from Soviet Russia” that would undermine the capitalist profit motive.

Baldwin wrote the letter at a time when Stalin was deporting 1.8 million Ukrainian peasants to Siberia under his policy of the forced collectivization of agriculture, which resulted in the deaths of up to 10 million Ukrainians in the two years that followed.

The Ukrainian government considers this to have been an act of genocide.

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Time travel with viruses

Viral infections leave trace information in our tissues. Researchers can read it like a history book extending from mediaeval smallpox epidemics to ancient Egypt.

Virologist Mari Toppinen began her journey through history at a lecture on identifying war dead, focusing on corpses left on the Russian side of the border after the war between Finland and the Soviet Union. The dead have been transported to Finland for identification, beginning in 1992.

“I was listening to professor of forensic medicine, Antti Sajantila, and I started wondering if the bones on the former battlefield could have signs of parvovirus, which was one of the research topics of our group,” Toppinen says. “During the infection, the parvovirus multiplies specifically in the bone marrow.”

The parvovirus causes a common, typically harmless disease known as fifth disease, which is characterised by an intense red rash. Scientists at the Department of Virology in the Academic Medical Center Helsinki place a special significance on it: It was while studying the very parvovirus that they found what a fascinating compendium of information viruses can leave in the tissues of their hosts during their visit.

Toppinen and her colleagues joined forces with forensic scientists, and found parvovirus DNA in the bones. “We analysed 106 of the war dead. Approximately every other individual had traces of the virus, despite the bones being exposed to UV radiation and the acidic earth.”

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September 10, 2017

Life on the Edge: 8 Harrowing Tales from the American Frontier

The founding and development of the United States of America certainly didn’t happen overnight, nor did it occur without bloodshed and sacrifice. From the earliest settlers struggling in virgin forests, to the audacious pioneers that relentlessly marched westward across the Great Plains, dangers lurked around every corner. As time went on, most Americans increasingly settled for the relative safety of eastern towns and cities. For a bold few, however, the call of the unknown was irresistible. These frontiersmen and pioneers traveled a dangerous path, literally walking a fine line somewhere between life and death. What follows are some of their stories.

Trapper Survives Grizzly Bear Attack, Crawls Back to Civilization

Our first story is a familiar one, partly due to the success of the 2015 film, The Revenant. It’s a semi-biographical work in which Leonardo DiCaprio portrays the nineteenth-century American frontiersman, Hugh Glass. The explorer’s story has been retold many times over the years. Several literary tales, television episodes, and film adaptations preceded the 2015 movie, variously recounting his gruesome ordeal with differing degrees of accuracy. In a nutshell, Glass managed to fend off a vicious grizzly bear attack, while guiding an expedition through the wilderness. Gravely wounded and left for dead, the resolute frontiersman crawled 250 miles back to civilization, miraculously surviving the entire ordeal.

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September 9, 2017

The Myth of the Noble Savage – Stefan Molyneux (Video)

Are we better in a state of nature, before authority brings down the hammer on “misbehavior”? Do you ever yearn for a simple life, deep in the woods, free of social constraints? What do you think would happen to us all in the absence of the rule of law? Would we learn to cooperate, or end up fighting endlessly? Dr. Duke Pesta joins Stefan Molyneux to discuss the ancient idea of an earthly paradise that existed before the fall of man. What was it really like? Better, or worse? Where would you prefer to live?