Archives For history

thucydidesJust about every day, I hear something on the news or Facebook, or in conversation that leads me to think, Wait a minute. Don’t you remember that….” whatever. And being a history enthusiast, even with all the faults and biases of historians (like Thucydides), I always like to replay in my mind the historical events I can remember that bring better understanding and, I hope, wisdom to my interpretations and imagined solutions to the problems and crises of the day. For people reading the same news who don’t know or remember the history, I feel sadness, and for the media, exasperation that they seem satisfied to spew headlines and leads that excite and feed our anxiety but fail to place today’s tragedies in context. We are left to cower, fume, and worry instead of pause, ponder, and prepare to be watchful for other news that might help us discern a trend, plan a response, or take an action that would get us engaged.

But, hey, the news is a business and not a public service, or charity, or “helping institution.” It’s on us to seek out the context and understand how this latest detail fits in a bigger picture (which they all do). Or cower.

Catastrophe

07/16/2014 — Leave a comment

Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated on June 28, 1914. A month later, no one was at war. A month after that, 20,000+ were being killed in a single day on battlefields in Europe. By the end of 1914, France alone had suffered one million casualties (killed, wounded, missing, or captured) in the first five months of World War I.

Today, we can do a better job of heading off the kind of all-in response that resulted in those casualties, and the many more to come. But we could also generate one million casualties in seconds rather than months.

Looking at the events during that first month after the assassination, with the delays in communication, the misunderstood messages, the complexities of world politics, and the pent up demand for war among the leaders of many countries, it seems inconceivable that today, with our instantaneous information networks, our simpler balance of power scenario, and our ability to react in a fraction of the time it took to do anything in 1914, we could see anything like the run-up to WWI.

But can we be sure?

Check out the NY Times WWI site. Fantastic.

51V4VhwLlBL._SL500_AA300_PIaudible,BottomRight,13,73_AA300_I haven’t seen The Monuments Men movie yet, but I will. I did just see the feature on CBS Sunday Morning and have been following the various interviews with the movie’s stars on Letterman.

Several years ago, a rich Texan named Robert Edsel got interested and then got really interested in the story of the actual “Monuments Men” from World War II. Continue Reading…