Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Ever heard of the Thucydides’ Trap?

December 2nd, 2021 by Roger Darlington

In foreign policy discussions, this is a deadly trap first identified by the ancient Greek historian Thucydides. As he explained, “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” The term was popularised by American political scientist Graham T. Allison to describe an apparent tendency towards war when an […]

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How did Bletchley Park break Nazi Germany’s Enigma code?

November 6th, 2021 by Roger Darlington

I’ve read the novel “Enigma” written by Robert Harris [my review here]; I’ve seen the film directed by Michael Apsted [my review here]; and this weekend, I visited Bletchley Park where a British team built on the work of Poles to break the Enigma code used by the German army, navy and air force during […]

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As we debate the admission of Afghan refugees, I’m reminded of the Evian Conference of 1938

August 18th, 2021 by Roger Darlington

The Évian Conference was convened 6–15 July 1938 at Évian-les-Bains, France, to address the problem of German and Austrian Jewish refugees wishing to flee persecution by Nazi Germany. It was the initiative of United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt who perhaps hoped to obtain commitments from some of the invited nations to accept more refugees, although he took pains to avoid stating […]

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Ever heard of Sobibor?

August 16th, 2021 by Roger Darlington

Sobibor was a Nazi concentration camp in German-occupied Poland where, on 14 October 1943, there was a mass break-out of the 600 prisoners, some 300 managing to escape but only around 60 succeeding in avoiding recapture. This remarkable story is told in a 1987 film with a cast including Alan Arkin and Rutger Hauer which […]

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Have you ever heard of a place called Arthurdale?

July 21st, 2021 by Roger Darlington

I hadn’t – but I’ve been watching the excellent 2014 PBS America television series “The Roosevelts” and I was fascinated by the reference to the experiment in community living called Arthurdale. The Wikipedia page on the subject states: Arthurdale is an unincorporated community in Preston County, West Virginia, United States. It was built in 1933, at the height of the Depression as […]

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A review of “V2”, the latest novel by Robert Harris

July 20th, 2021 by Roger Darlington

This is my seventh novel by Harris (he has written 14). He is never going to win the Booker or the Pulitzer, but he is a consummate storyteller whose forte is to set a fictional personal tale against a backdrop of actual historical events. In this case, the story takes place over five days at the end […]

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Now I have written two books: a biography and a collection of short stories

June 26th, 2021 by Roger Darlington

In 1985, I wrote the biography of the Czech Flight Lieutenant Karel Kuttelwascher who was the RAF’s greatest night intruder ace of the Second World War. It was republished in 2017. It is titled “Night Hawk”. I never thought that I would write another book. But now I have collated 31 short stories that I […]

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Which was the largest empire in world history?

June 21st, 2021 by Roger Darlington

For many years, I’ve enjoyed doing regular courses at London’s City Literary Institute. For a year and a half now, all those courses have had to be online because of the covid crisis. Currently I’m doing a nine-week course in world history delivered by the Danish historian Martin Jorgensen. This week’s session included discussion of […]

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A review of “The History Of The World In Bite-Sized Chunks” by Emma Marriott

June 5th, 2021 by Roger Darlington

In terms of ‘punch per page’, this is a winner: nearly 5,000 years of world history in less than 200 pages with every sentence offering information. Yet, for all its conciseness, it covers a great deal in an accessible manner, so that it can be read from beginning to end and/or used as a reference […]

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Was Napoleon a hero or a villain?

May 5th, 2021 by Roger Darlington

If you’ve ever visited Paris, you might have been to Les Invalides and see the tomb of Napoleon. I have never seen a more majestic resting place. But, if you’ve ever visited London, you might have used Waterloo Station or crossed Waterloo Bridge. Both commemorate the final defeat of Napoleon in 1815. Today is the […]

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