Archive for the ‘History’ Category

A review of “TJ’s War”, a biography of a World War Two secret agent by his son Ian Maclean

March 15th, 2023 by Roger Darlington

In the Second World War, Scottish Highlander Thomas John Maclean – known to his comrades as TJ – almost accidentally found himself recruited as a secret agent in MI6 which resulted in immensely challenging operations in the United States, Norway, Italy and Germany. For such a young man (he was only 19 at the start […]

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A review of the 2018 Battle of Britain film “Hurricane”

December 7th, 2022 by Roger Darlington

What “Dark Blue World” in 2001 did for Czechoslovaks in the wartime Royal Air Force, “Hurricane” – which had different titles in Poland and the USA – in 2018 did for Polish pilots in the RAF, namely paid tribute to brave men who left their Nazi-controlled nations to fight for liberty but were subsequently erased […]

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A review of the important book of world history: “Guns, Germs And Steel” by Jared Diamond

October 8th, 2022 by Roger Darlington

Diamond is professor of geography at the University of California Los Angeles and he is a noted polymath who won a Pulitzer Prize for this outstanding work first published in 1997. I read a 20th anniversary edition with a new afterword and by then the book was an established classic. It is a hugely ambitious […]

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How strong is China’s claim to Taiwan? And what about Mongolia?

August 6th, 2022 by Roger Darlington

Taiwan has been settled for at least 25,000 years. Ancestors of Taiwanese indigenous peoples settled the island around 6,000 years ago. In the 17th century, large-scale Han Chinese immigration to western Taiwan began under a Dutch colony and continued under the Kingdom of Tungning. The island was annexed in 1683 by the Qing dynasty of […]

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A review of ”The Yugoslav Wars Of The 1990s” by Catherine Baker before I return to the Balkans

May 4th, 2022 by Roger Darlington

Baker is Lecturer in 20th Century History at the University of Hull and her book is one of a series called Studies In European History published by Macmillan Education. It is, therefore, aimed at history students and consequently it is brief (164 pages) and balanced and it is written in an academic style with a […]

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A review of a war film with a difference: “The Forgotten Battle”

April 12th, 2022 by Roger Darlington

There have, of course, been numerous films about the Second World War, but this 2020 offering is a bit different: the conflict in question was in The Netherlands, it is a Dutch production, and it is the first Dutch film from Netflix.  Inspired by true events, this is a portrayal of the Battle of Scheldt […]

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A review of “Operation Finale”, a film on the abduction of Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann

April 6th, 2022 by Roger Darlington

I was 13 when, in 1961, the Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann – a major architect of the Holocaust – was tried in Israel and I remember reading about the proceedings in the newspaper. This 2018 film is largely about the operation, conducted by agents of Mossad and Shin Bet, to abduct Eichmann from his home […]

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Have you ever visited – or wanted to visit – the Peruvian site of Machu Picchu?

April 4th, 2022 by Roger Darlington

Well, as this recent article explains, a new academic paper argues that, since its rediscovery in 1911, the site has been known by the wrong name. A Peruvian historian and a leading US archaeologist argue that the UNESCO world heritage site was known by its Inca inhabitants as Huayna Picchu – the name of a […]

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A review of a history of Ukraine: “Borderland” by Anna Reid

April 1st, 2022 by Roger Darlington

On 24 February 2022, Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale Russian invasion of the independent state of Ukraine and immediately I was keen to learn more about the history of the country being violated. I was pleased to find this work which is immensely informative and very accessible. “Borderland” was first published in 1997 and republished […]

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Who was responsible for those famous Odessa Steps?

March 18th, 2022 by Roger Darlington

As the Russian invaders of Ukraine pose to attack the port of Odessa, a film enthusiast like me cannot help recalling the dramatic Odessa Steps sequence in the 1925 film “The Battleship Potemkin” famously directed by Sergei Eisenstein. Indeed this sequence inspired a similar conflict on long steps in the final scenes of the 1987 […]

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