The ghost of a “Camelot” inauguration

Fifty-six years after John F. Kennedy took the oath of office, his words and deeds still inspire and move people – well, most of them

The ghost of a “Camelot” inaugurationAs Donald Trump’s inauguration looms, many people of a certain age will cast back to another winter day years ago. On Jan. 19, 1961, John F. Kennedy took the oath of office in a cold, snowy Washington and millions of people were inspired to believe that all would be well with the world. The extent…

The complicated secret life of Charles Lindbergh

Aviation hero, outcast, tragic victim and serial philanderer – an American icon's strange and storied tale

The complicated secret life of Charles LindberghWhen Japan attacked Pearl Harbour 75 years ago this month, it propelled an ambivalent United States into the Second World War. And it ended Charles Lindbergh’s role as a public policy advocate. Lindbergh (1902-1974) was a genuine American folk hero. Nicknamed Lucky Lindy and The Lone Eagle, he captured the public's imagination in May 1927…

King Edward’s sorry path to abdication

Scandalous episode that rocked U.K. seems unbelievable today

King Edward’s sorry path to abdicationThe details seem quaint now, but in December 1936 – just 80 years ago – the big news concerned the abdication of King Edward VIII. And what makes the affair incomprehensible to modern sensibilities is that it was driven by his choice of a bride. Neither of the starring players could be described as being…

Finding meaning through the eyes of a survivor

Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl helps students embrace some of life's most fundamental lessons

Finding meaning through the eyes of a survivorOften when we make concessions for others, we create great moments for ourselves. As a teacher, I'm always open to expanding and improving my program. For years, I've studied the Holocaust as part of my Social Justice 12 course. This year, I gave my students more choice in studying the topic. It resulted in me…

Death of a tyrant

The best assessment of Castro came from his daughter Alina who, when told he was a dictator, replied: “Strictly speaking, Fidel is a tyrant”

Death of a tyrantI never liked Fidel Castro. Not even a little bit. Part of my aversion had to do with a general antipathy towards 20th century dictators, especially charismatic ones. They were, after all, the most dangerous. Intelligent people who waxed apoplectic over the alleged authoritarian tendencies of Stephen Harper and wet the bed over the prospect…

A rebellion’s autopsy: from heady hope to harsh reality

The Hungarian Revolution, 60 years later, carries some stark lessons about rebellion and the difficulty dealing with a refugee surge

A rebellion’s autopsy: from heady hope to harsh realityI was a 12-year-old Dublin schoolboy when the Hungarian Revolution erupted in the late autumn of 1956. One of Dublin's evening papers led with the headline “Blood flows freely in burning city.” We found this very exciting. In the pre-television age, our schoolboy impressions were based on newspaper reports and photos, radio bulletins and cinema…

October 1066 changed England forever

The Norman Conquest annihilated England’s ruling class, physically and genetically

October 1066 changed England foreverEnglish history was fundamentally changed within a period of three weeks in the autumn of 1066. Two battles – Stamford Bridge on September 25 and Hastings on October 14 – swept away the English ruling class while simultaneously shifting the country’s external orientation from Scandinavia to France. In retrospect, it was a development waiting to…

JFK and Reagan more alike than you’d think

Kennedy and Reagan have assumed sainthood status for their polarized parties and claiming continuity between them strikes many as rank heresy

JFK and Reagan more alike than you’d thinkA new book – JFK and the Reagan Revolution – says John F. Kennedy was the true inspiration for Ronald Reagan’s economic policies. The two men, the authors claim, were committed to pursuing economic growth via a policy mix emphasizing reduced taxes and sound money management. And the tax reduction aspect set them apart from the American…

Leadership amid the flames of the Great Fire of London

Charles II's leadership during the Great fire of London was the kind of performance that gives kings a good name

Leadership amid the flames of the Great Fire of LondonIn the early hours of Sept. 2, 1666, 350 years ago, the Great Fire of London ignited in a baker’s shop in a little street called Pudding Lane. It spread havoc over the next four days, laying waste to the old walled city at the centre of London. By the time the fire was extinguished,…

‘Radical Joe’ Chamberlain inspires new British PM

The new British prime minister is apparently an admirer of the Victorian-era urban reforming Radical Joe

‘Radical Joe’ Chamberlain inspires new British PMThink of the name Chamberlain and the person who springs to mind is the hapless Neville Chamberlain, the man who is – perhaps unfairly – remembered as the appeaser of Adolf Hitler. But he wasn’t the first Chamberlain to make his mark on British politics. A generation earlier, Neville’s father cast a long shadow. Joseph…
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