Archive for the ‘History’ Category


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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When did Ukraine come under Russian control and who was responsible for this?

March 16th, 2022 by Roger Darlington

The short answers are January 1654 and Bordan Khmelnytsky. Khmelnytsky was the leader of the Hetmanate Cossacks who led a successful uprising against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth of which Ukraine was then a part. At the small town of Pereiaslav, he signed an agreement that, in return for allegiance to the Russian Tsar, the Cossack Hetmanate […]

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A review of the 2020 film “Quo Vadis, Aida?” about the massacre at Srebrenica

March 10th, 2022 by Roger Darlington

The break-up of the former Yugoslavia led to a number of brutal conflicts of which the worst was the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1992-1996 – a country which I visited in 2007. Hollywood has shown no interest in this war but there was a British-made film in 1997 called “Welcome To Sarajevo” about the four-year […]

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A review of the history book “On The Cusp” by David Kynaston

March 9th, 2022 by Roger Darlington

Distinguished British historian David Kynaston has embarked on a formidable project to produce a post-war history of the country under the banner “Tales Of A New Jerusalem” which will eventually cover the period 1945-1979. The distinctive style of this historical record is his use of contemporary records such as diaries, letters, and news reports. By […]

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Have you heard of the “bald-hairy” joke in Russian political discourse?

March 3rd, 2022 by Roger Darlington

“Bald-hairy” is a common joke in Russian political discourse, referring to the empirical rule of the state leaders’ succession defined as a change of a bald or balding leader to a hairy one and vice versa. This consistent pattern can be traced back to as early as 1825, when Nicholas I succeeded his late brother Alexander as the […]

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