Archive for the ‘History’ Category


Ever heard of the cockleshell heroes?

January 24th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

In 1955, there was a British film called “The Cockleshell Heroes” which told the story of a daring British commando raid of 1942 when 10 men attempted to sink ships in the port of Bordeaux in German-occupied France. Six ships were damaged as a result of the mission, but only two of the 10 commandos survived. I […]

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A review of the 1928 film classic “October 1917”

January 3rd, 2018 by Roger Darlington

This is the black & white silent movie, written and directed by Grigoriy Aleksandrov and Sergei Eisenstein, which was produced to mark the tenth anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia and covers the dramatic events of February to November 1917. Famously it was created on such a grand scale – many scenes were shot […]

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So who exactly was Alexander Hamilton?

December 23rd, 2017 by Roger Darlington

This week, the multi-award-winning American musical “Hamilton” finally opened in London. But, until the success of the show on Broadway, most non-Americans knew nothing about Hamilton and I suspect that many Americans were not as familiar with his achievements as they should have been. I’ve just watched a recording of a two-hour American-made documentary on […]

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What images come to mind when you think of the Holocaust?

December 14th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

In this short article, my good friend Art Shostak writes: “For more than 70 years, [the] narrative has been flawed by overreliance on the horror story of the Shoah, a painful focus on atrocious acts perpetrators committed against victims. At the same time, little or no attention has been paid to its inseparable counterpart, what I […]

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The centenary of the largest man-made non-nuclear explosion

December 6th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

The Halifax Explosion was a maritime disaster in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, on the morning of 6 December 1917. SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship laden with high explosives, collided with the Norwegian vessel SS Imo in the Narrows, a strait connecting the upper Halifax Harbour to Bedford Basin. A fire on board the French […]

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A review of the remarkable documentary “Naples ’44”

November 29th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

On Sunday evening, BBC Four broadcast an 80-minute documentary entitled “Naples ’44: A Wartime Diary” [if you’re in Britain, you can find it on iPlayer].  I recorded it and watched it last night and I’m still haunted by it. The documentary has a powerful personal resonance for me because my Italian mother was born in […]

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Word of the day: decimation

November 24th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

In current usage, the word decimation has come to mean something approaching annihilation achieved by one force against an opposing force. In fact, the term originally meant the death of ‘only’ one in ten of a group and was actually a punishment imposed by the Roman army on its own soldiers for an assumed lack […]

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Who would want to be Prime Minister of Lebanon?

November 5th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

It is disturbing news that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri has resigned, saying in a televised broadcast from Saudi Arabia that he feared for his life. Hariri’s father, former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, was assassinated in 2005. In 2011, I visited Lebanon (having previously toured Syria). During the trip, I read a fascinating book called “Beware Of […]

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The centenary of the Balfour Declaration

November 3rd, 2017 by Roger Darlington

This week has marked the centenary of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 which led to the creation of Israel in 1948. The letter stated: “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, […]

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In praise of the 10-part television series on “The Vietnam War”

November 1st, 2017 by Roger Darlington

Over the past few weeks, I’ve watched recordings of every episode of a new 10-part American television series titled simply “The Vietnam War”. The script was written by Geoffrey C. Ward and narrated by Peter Coyote with direction by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. In the USA, the series was broadcast by PBS while, here in the UK, […]

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