History

Americans probably drank more in the nineteenth century than they had in the preceding century, and drunkenness was widespread. In reaction, by midcentury the temperance movement had become strong, much more pervasive than the movements for either blacks’ or women’s rights. Many advocates of temperance did not support blacks’ or women’s rights, but both abolitionists […]

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The Distant Early Warning line (“Fides Contentio Sapienta”) is part of Canada’s cold war legacy. The DEWLine website has a lot of information on the history of these RADAR sites, how they operated, and who was involved.

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Daniel Ellsberg was recently on the CBC’s The Current, talking about his book The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.

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The fact is that the estimate of fatalities, in terms of what was calculated at that time—even before the discovery of nuclear winter—was a fantastic underestimate. More than forty years later, Dr. Lynn Eden, a scholar at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, revealed in Whole World on Fire the bizarre fact that the […]

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The basic elements of American readiness for nuclear war remain today what they were almost sixty years ago: Thousands of nuclear weapons remain on hair-trigger alert, aimed mainly at Russian military targets including command and control, many in or near cities. The declared official rationale for such a system has always been primarily the supposed […]

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Truth’s warning that if American women did not get the vote now [in 1866] along with black men, it would be hard to raise the issue of the vote for women later, proved to be prescient, for it was not until 1920 that women finally got the vote nationwide. Meanwhile it was becoming painfully apparent […]

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Then they led him out again, trying to get him near a mockup of a Mercury capsule, where the television networks had set up cameras and tremendous lights. The reporters and photographers surged forward again, yammering, yelling, exploding more camera lights, shoving, groaning, cursing—the usual yahoo sprawl, in short—and the animal came unglued again, ready […]

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With the decline of archaic magic, the belief in single combat began to die out. The development of the modern, highly organized army and the concept of “total war” seemed to bury it forever. But then an extraordinary thing happened: the atomic bomb was invented, with the result that the concept of total war was […]

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More fighter pilots died in automobiles than in airplanes. Fortunately, there was always some kindly soul up the chain to certify the papers “line of duty,” so that the widow could get a better break on the insurance. That was okay and only proper because somehow the system itself had long ago said Skol! and […]

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I’m surprised I have never mentioned Dan Carlin’s historical podcasts here yet. I got a lot out of “Blueprint for Armageddon“, his six-part history of WWI (source of this account). Listening to his thoroughly-researched and passionately-delivered work has led me back to a number of books by serious historians as well as primary accounts. Those […]

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