7 months ago

The famous dictionary that threw out the rules of grammar

My mother went ballistic when Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language appeared in 1961. She’d taught English for a time during the Depression. Then, there was a right way and a wrong way to express yourself. Rules were rules—and English teachers knew exactly what they were. But even back then the linguists […]

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7 months ago

A scholar of Right-Wing politics dissects the Trump coalition

Here’s America’s leading scholar of Right-Wing politics with an up-to-the-minute analysis of the contending forces that have seized hold of the Republican Party. Because, as UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Rosenthal explains in Empire of Resentment, conservatism comes in many flavors, of which the following are the most prominent: Neoliberalism advocates letting free-market capitalism loose on the […]

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7 months ago

British interference in American politics in WWII

In The Splendid and the Vile, a moving and revealing account of Winston Churchill’s leadership during the Blitz, Erik Larson makes much of the Prime Minister’s dogged campaign to persuade Franklin Roosevelt to drag the United States into the defense of Britain. Historians concur that Churchill’s influence on the President played a major role in […]

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8 months ago

A female WWII spy led thousands against the Nazis

Recent years have seen a flood of new books belatedly highlighting the role of women in espionage in World War II. Despite rampant sexism and misogyny, women did indeed fill vital roles as spies and analysts in intelligence-gathering as well as partisan activities behind enemy lines. And few women played as prominent a part as […]

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8 months ago

This thrilling account of the early auto industry sets the record straight on Henry Ford

At first, before Henry Ford, before the twentieth century, the automobile was not a sure thing. In fact, it was a downright nuisance. For starters, they couldn’t agree on what to call it. A “road machine?” “Automotor horse?” “Buggyaut?” “Horseless carriage?” They didn’t know what fuel to use. Steam? Kerosene? Coal gas? Electricity? Maybe gasoline? […]

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8 months ago

How German radar technology helped Britain win World War II

Military historians tend to agree that radar played a singularly important role in the Allied victory in World War II, arguably greater than the decoding of the German Enigma codes (and certainly greater than the atomic bomb, which only ended the war). But British and American sources tend to disagree on where the critical advances […]

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9 months ago

A brilliant account of the 1918 flu epidemic

A century ago a pandemic disease far more lethal than COVID-19 killed an estimated fifty to one hundred million people around the world—as many as one out of every twenty people then alive. The 1918 flu epidemic erupted during a war that had already killed tens of millions and at a time when medical science […]

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9 months ago

Racism still kills

Fear and violence directed against “the other” are as old as humanity itself. Antisemitism with its two thousand-year-old history may be the most ancient large-scale manifestation of “otherism” in a form widely recognized today. And racism, as we know it in the West, appears to have originated in the fifteenth century when Portuguese raiders first […]

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9 months ago

A true-life account of a spectacular WWII prison camp rescue

Early in 1945, as the Nazi regime began to crumble and American soldiers, marines, and sailors relentlessly pushed ever closer toward the Japanese home islands, two thousand civilian prisoners of war, mostly Americans, suffered indescribable deprivation at the hands of a sadistic prison camp commander, deep in a Philippine jungle. Their story—and that of their […]

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