History

Avner Cohen provides a great summary of writing history (here under the particular limitations of studying Israel’s nuclear arsenal): The narrative I offer, then, is by nature incomplete and interpretative. Like all narratives, it is not written from God’s-eye view; rather, it is a story told through incomplete human and archival sources. Cohen, Avner. “Before […]

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The scope of the Israeli request for French technological assistance, the details of which Shimon Peres spelled out in Paris in 1956/1957, was tantamount to a national proliferation commitment. Enough is now known about the extent of the Dimona deal to appreciate how determined Ben-Gurion was to pursue it. The Dimona nuclear complex was designed […]

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Because of its restrained and historically accurate storytelling, Bridge of Spies is one of my favourite films. Looking for something a bit meatier than podcasts to listen to on my exercise walks, I am trying out an Audible account with James Donovan’s Strangers on a Bridge: The Case of Colonel Abel. It’s the perfect kind […]

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A very good blog post on what to expect from a PhD program (and especially what the university itself won’t tell you): So You Want To Go To Grad School (in the Academic Humanities)? Two paragraphs which are especially informative for people who don’t have recent personal experience in a PhD program: The most important […]

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I have heard the theory that every time we remember something it is influenced by our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs at the time of remembering. That implies that the memories we think most about are the ones that have been most distorted from their original form. An exaggerated version is in effect for stories recounted […]

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On a global level, bin Laden’s 9/11 attacks set the course of U.S. foreign policy for the first two decades of the twenty-first century and reshaped the Muslim world in ways that bin Laden certainly didn’t intend and that few could have predicted in the immediate aftermath. The Authorization for Use of Military Force, which […]

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It’s worth mentioning here that there is simply no evidence for the common myth that bin Laden and his Afghan Arabs were supported by the CIA financially. Nor is there any evidence that CIA officials at any level met with bin Laden or anyone in his circle. Yet the notion that bin Laden was a […]

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There’s a voguish argument that in an era of easy information availability there is less cause to have any substantial body of knowledge memorized. I have seen articles arguing that the crucial cognitive skills for young people today are the ability to find what they are looking for, given access to the internet. I think […]

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Researching social movements — where relevant information is often on social media, or the websites of NGOs, universities, or corporations that reorganize them frequently — link rot is an acute problem. Increasingly, the default way to let a reader see the source you’re referencing is to provide an internet hyperlink, and yet there is no […]

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In Rhodes’ energy history I came across an interesting parallel with the 1988 STS-27 and 2003 STS-107 space shuttle missions, in which the national security payload and secrecy in the first mission may have prevented lessons from being learned which might have helped avert the subsequent disaster. Specifically, the STS-27 mission was launching a classified […]

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