What we get wrong about the Islamic empire and crusader armies

Author Steve Tibble’s message is that much of the crusader narrative is simplistic caricature. But it can’t erase facts

What we get wrong about the Islamic empire and crusader armiesAs imperial enterprises went, it was a stunning performance. Coming from apparently nowhere, an extensive Islamic empire was born in the century following the Prophet Muhammad’s 632 death. Arab armies swept out of the remote Arabian peninsula to conquer the Middle East and North Africa, subsequently crossing the straits of Gibraltar to Spain and establishing…

Napoleon was a bitter man in his final years

He bitterly resented his exile to St. Helena, blaming it all on Wellington

Napoleon was a bitter man in his final yearsA childhood history book included a reproduction of Jacques-Louis David’s famous portrait of Napoleon crossing the Alps. It’s an idealized representation, not a realistic one. Mounted on a rearing Marengo – his grey Arabian stallion – the man who became emperor of the French and conqueror of Europe gives off an invincible vibe. Two recent…

What you see with Joe Biden is what you get

Author Jon Meacham’s most important insights about U.S. politics and the presidency are intertwined with the current officeholder

What you see with Joe Biden is what you getJon Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and historian. He’s been an executive editor/vice-president at Random House, has worked for the Chattanooga Times, Time and Newsweek, and written for the New York Times Book Review, Washington Post and other publications. Several of Meacham’s books, including American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House (2009), Thomas…

Is Canada on a well-worn path to destruction?

There are surprising commonalities in the rise and fall of 11 historic empires. Canada is on the same path

Is Canada on a well-worn path to destruction?Could Canada soon meet its end, given its many divides and increasing public debt? If Sir John Glubb is right, the answer is yes. Glubb’s 1976 work, The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival, found surprising commonalities in the rise and fall of 11 historic empires. Although they spanned 3,000 years and varied geography,…

Silent Witness of a Holocaust Suitcase

A Canadian family helped solve the mystery of a teenage girl’s life and death at Auschwitz

Silent Witness of a Holocaust SuitcaseHana Brady could be another Anne Frank except she did not leave a diary. But the suitcase that 13-year-old left behind when she died in a gas chamber at Auschwitz concentration camp continues to teach millions of children around the world the importance of respect, empathy and compassion. It bears silent witness to the agony…

A revisionist history of who won the U.S. Civil War

A controversial new book maintains that the North may have won the war, but the South won the battle of ideas

A revisionist history of who won the U.S. Civil WarThis month’s holiday celebration, much like the year in general, is one that the annals of history will always remember. For my last column of 2020, let’s explore some historical analysis that few would ever recall. Who won the American Civil War? The correct response would be: the North, Union, Union Army and/or Army of…

Adolf Hitler’s fateful mistake

If Hitler had declared war on Japan in support of the U.S., he might have kept the U.S. out of the European war. And that would have changed history

Adolf Hitler’s fateful mistakeAdolf Hitler began 1941 in a commanding position. He had 10 European conquests under his belt and just one active foe – beleaguered Britain and the members of the Commonwealth, like Canada. But by year-end, he’d added the Soviet Union and the United States to his slate of antagonists. And the declaration of war against…

Julius Caesar’s assassins paid the price

Some died in battle, some by suicide, and at least one after being tortured then beheaded

Julius Caesar’s assassins paid the priceEnglish author Peter Stothard’s latest book is called The Last Assassin: The Hunt for the Killers of Julius Caesar. I’ve only seen reviews but it looks like a good read. Growing up in 1950s Ireland, Caesar was one of those ancient figures who loomed large. Part of this was no more than the schoolboy’s normal…

The Congo’s great liberation turned into abject failure

How great plans quickly descended into decades of dictatorship, corruption, kleptocracy and violence

The Congo’s great liberation turned into abject failureThe year 1960 was auspicious for European decolonization of Africa. In rapid succession, no fewer than 17 countries became independent. One of them was the Central African territory previously known as the Belgian Congo. June 30 was its magic date. And given its vast natural resources, some people had high hopes. Alas, things quickly turned…
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