Every nation has, in its collective psyche, a special place for its bloodiest war: a place warmed with intense emotions and turbulent with unresolved—probably unresolvable—controversies. For Americans that place is occupied by the Civil War, the 150th anniversary of whose ending in April 1865 we have just gotten through commemorating. I have the Civil War... Read More
All proper congratulations to David Cameron, elected last week as Prime Minister of Britain on the Conservative Party ticket. I can’t say I repose any great hopes that Cameron will actually conserve anything; but then, Britain’s not my country, so the stakes for me are merely tribal (the Anglosphere), civilizational (the West), and sentimental (I... Read More
Who was the great villain of the 20th century—the person most to blame for the evils of those decades? The stock answer is the person whose name is an anagram of “HEIL! OLD FART.” I disagree. It seems to me the title properly belongs to Lenin, the guy who really got the totalitarian ball rolling.... Read More
I have been reading Paul Johnson’s new short biography of Dwight Eisenhower. This fulfills a long-standing intention of the feebler kind—a velleity, Bill Buckley would have said. Thus: In his 1983 book Modern Times, Paul Johnson made a point of talking up U.S. presidents then regarded by orthodox historians as second-rate or worse: Harding, Coolidge,... Read More
I have taken another trip on my syllogismobile to an alternate universe. Among the artifacts I brought back with me was A.J. Braithwaite’s History of Britain (2011 edition), a standard text for British schoolchildren in that universe. The following extracts are from the final chapter, titled “Britain since 1945.” Britain and Ireland became Soviet satellites... Read More
The myth of the rational actor.
I was in England for Remembrance Sunday this year. The wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph was very moving. I had forgotten how much emotion the British invest in this and how high a proportion is imaginatively keyed to WWI. Remembrance Sunday is defined to be the Sunday closest to Armistice Day, November 11, when the... Read More
Nathan Bedford Forrest remembered.
Here is a thing that happened in the Civil War. If you know your Civil War minutiae, it’ll be familiar to you, in which case I beg your pardon. I can’t resist a good story. A young lieutenant of the war angered his general by abandoning two artillery pieces to the enemy. The general ordered... Read More
What a lot there is to know about the War Between the States!
Talk about biting off more than you can chew! Since taking up the Civil War (War Between the States, War of Northern Aggression, whatever) as a part-time study, I’ve been getting emails from friends and readers asking me what I’ve learned. The main thing I’ve learned is how impossibly much there is to learn. Goodness,... Read More
Margaret Thatcher had some direct impact on my life in three ways that I can recall. One. In January 1979, four months before she assumed office as prime minister, I left England for a trip to the Far East. I was quite affluent at the time (sigh…) and was planning a long nonworking stay out... Read More
One set of lectures and I'm hooked.
Growing up in England, one didn’t hear much about the American Civil War. England’s own Civil War loomed larger in our education and imaginations, though it had been fought two centuries earlier than the American conflict. A key battle in our Civil War took place a dozen miles from my hometown. As school kids, we... Read More
Chronicles of wasted time.
It’s a slow news week and I’m temporarily out of outrageous opinions, so here are my recollections of being down and out in Southeast Asia in 1972. Apologies to George Orwell, with whom I am not attempting to compete. I would not dare. It took me three months—late June to late September—of pick-up work teaching... Read More
Much to the consternation of Western intellectuals and journalists, Hungary’s government sponsors a House of Terror in Budapest which dares to devote attention to not only Nazi crimes, but also Stalinist ones. Ever since the ascendance of the “antifascist” (read: neo-Stalinist plus PC) persuasion in our “liberal democracies,” it has become gauche and somehow even... Read More
A vastly underexplored topic is the British government’s role in greasing the skids for World War I. Until recently it was hard to find scholars who would dispute the culturally comfortable judgment that “authoritarian Germany” unleashed the Great War out of militaristic arrogance. Supposedly the British only got involved after the Germans recklessly violated Belgian... Read More
Political correctness has permeated the historian’s craft to such a degree that honest historians must reinvent the wheel. PC has infected German history in particular. The doctrine of German “collective guilt” is often held as a precondition for German good behavior. Established historians in the US, England, and especially Germany must assume their subjects’ general... Read More
In what may be described as the Dell comic-book version of “the Civil War’s true beginning,” Allen C. Guelzo, seated as Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era at Gettysburg College (I’ll bet my hat that the neocons are paying for this oddly named chair), explains in the New York Post what really... Read More
"Minister Farrakhan" to you.
That's how things went in old New England, according to David Hackett Fischer in Albion's Seed. I can relate, having just watched Louis Farrakhan's address to the Nation of Islam Savior's Day conference on February 27. Farrakhan was speaking to an audience of 18,000 followers in Rosemont, Illinois. The full video of the speech is... Read More
Steve Sailer's interpretation of Tarantino and his latest flick Inglorious Basterds coincided with that of my older son, who discussed Tarantino's work with me last night over the phone. Like Steve, Joe viewed the subject matter of Tarantino's latest blood-and-guts spectacle as more of the same violence and cynicism that one encounters in all of... Read More
Watching the Door, by Kevin Myers
The recent killings in Northern Ireland have everybody over there wondering whether this is a dying sputter of republican terrorism, or the beginning of a new round of "Troubles." Two British soldiers were killed on the evening of March 7, when they went to the gate of their compound to accept an ordered-in pizza delivery.... Read More
Richard Spencer has furnished a detailed report of NRO's discussion of Buchanan's grievous errors about the Second World War. With due respect to Richard, from the standpoint of those doing the shunning, it does not seem to have been an oversight to keep Pat from participating. The author of the book at issue does not... Read More
The latest issue of The American Conservative (July 14) includes a provocative symposium on whether World War II should be considered “the good war” and, no less significant, whether Winston Churchill deserves the adulation that the media have accorded him as “man of the century.” The contributions are all well documented and boldly framed, and... Read More
The following is the first installment in a three-part critical symposium on Patrick Buchanan’s Churchill, Hitler, and the “Unnecessary War.” It is not surprising that Pat Buchanan’s new book, exploring the collapse of the British Empire and the connection of that disaster to England’s involvement in two world wars, should have received a strong endorsement... Read More
What follows are a few brief responses to the often informative comments generated by my comments on the “Nazi” Stauffenberg. Never would I deny that the opponents of the Nazi regime were limited to the July 20 conspirators. The activities of the Weisse Rose, a group of anti-Nazi students in Munich who were executed in... Read More
Every now and then I am forced to retch with disgust as I read some choice slander in the neoconservative press. Such a reaction occurred recently while I was looking at a picture of Tom Cruise in the New York Post. Cruise was dressed in a German Wehrmacht uniform and obviously shown in his cinematic... Read More
Although Sid Cundiff in a recent blog praises me as someone who recognizes “shades of grey,” I may be losing that capacity when it comes to certain neoconservative journalists. In an article for the Canadian National Post, which was also published on NRO (November 11, 2007), David Frum bewails the fact that Canadians are not... Read More
I’ve just finished two books written by promising young scholars, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution by Kevin A. C. Gutzman and 33 Questions about American History You’re Not Supposed to Ask by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. Neither of the authors seems interested in sounding like the staff of the Republican National Committee or... Read More