Tag: History

Jeanne Darc

Was she the craziest woman in history? Either way, she became one of those symbols people twist and turn in an effort to bring meaning to whatever absorbs and excites them. Her actual history is a mass of contradictions, none of it reliable. She was—and still is—whoever and whatever anyone wanted her to be.

Vin Rouge

How can so many French men and women—statistically speaking, of course—eat all that stinky cheese and goose liver without all the heart attacks of our odor-free, foie-free American ecosystem? The answer has to be… Vin rouge!

Magyars

The Magyars who overran the Carpathian Basin and settled in Budapest around the first millennium were fast, brutal, clever, smallish raiders on light horses with minimal armor whose use of the latest technology–spurs–allowed them to plunder and outmaneuver enemies as far away as the Iberian peninsula.

The Raj

The loss of India was in effect the end of the British Empire. And all it took to terminate three centuries of worldwide expansion by one of the greatest military and industrial powers in history was one very smart, determined, and, above all, patient old man in a homespun dhoti.

Armistice Day

I remember an evening sitting through one of those ghastly, self-righteous arguments about the Vietnam War that seemed to plague any attempt at serious conversation in the 1970s. The wild-eyed beard next to me showed no interest whatsoever and seemed to regard all the hot air as little […]

Glasgow

When you come to Glasgow, you might wonder at Saint Paul’s assertion that, “the wages of sin is death”—and not because of the famously gloomy weather or the dreary, coal-stained sandstone of the buildings. Nor because of the crime, violence, and drug addiction that have afflicted the less […]

East Boston

We were recently surprised to learn that the East Boston Immigration Station had been demolished. Billed on its opening in 1920 as Boston’s Ellis Island, the hideous yellow box wedged into Logan Airport at the tip of Jeffries Point in Boston Harbor processed around twenty-three thousand immigrants before […]

Stambul

For someone brought up on Christian churches, East or West, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, or Protestant, the simplicity of the great Islamic mosques of Istanbul can be both over- and underwhelming. We’re reminded of a church across Market Street in San Francisco, where the saints’ statues crowd the aisles […]

Saint Andrews

The sunrise is the same, and the bunkers on the 17thhole look as fearsome as ever, but otherwise, there isn’t much to recall from journeys with my mother to the Old Course in Saint Andrews.