Friday, February 27, 2015

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb #25

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb is a round-up of brand spankin' new history articles, selected by yours truly. Click on the link to be directed to the home site where you can read a professional being professional in their entirety.

What the Greatest Musicians In History Look Like Now at BuzzFeed
Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, Bach included. This is totally pointless, but hilarious. What BuzzFeed does best.

The decision to republish Mein Kampf in Germany for the first time in 75 years is understandably controversial. However, the challenge of reading Mein Kampf in hindsight is to try to understand how something so obviously wrong and so clearly the product of a broken, third-rate mind could bring about the Götterdämmerung of Europe. I would love to read this.

An 1899 film showing a rather gory surgical procedure has been confirmed as being the oldest known surviving film of a surgery, as well as the oldest known film showing the use of anesthesia.

What Your History Class Won't Tell You About Why Americans Headed West at BuzzFeed
Manifest destiny but also the pursuit of gigantic sloths. Bigger-than-horses-sloths.

In spite of eyewitness testimony and official records, rumors have persisted that the famous gunslinger Billy the Kid was not killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in 1881 but escaped to live a long life. Fed up with the doubts about Billy the Kid’s demise, a historian has petitioned a New Mexico court to create a death certificate for the notorious outlaw.

Though popular scientific wisdom has long blamed the black rat for carrying plague-infected fleas to Europe, a team of researchers now claims that blame may have been misplaced.

Women today are nearly always required to identify themselves as ‘Miss’, ‘Mrs’ or ‘Ms’. But it’s little known that these titles all derive from the same word: mistress.

Current mood: babies by Van Gogh.

CT scans and endoscopy of a 1,000-year-old Buddha statue from China have revealed a mummified body thought to belong to the Buddhist master Liuquan of the Chinese Meditation School.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oscars Lowdown 2015

It's Oscars day people! *runs headfirst into a door. This year, half of the movies nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award are based on true stories throughout history. Here's a list of the nominees. May the best film win. (As last year proved, it will not)

A look at the fictional contenders:
Birdman: Pretty damn good movie with a plot that was interesting and imaginative. This movie appears to be filmed in a single shot which was neat, but can also give you bouts of anxiety. Although it's not my favorite of the Best Picture nominees, it is the only one I would watch more than once. 4/5 stars

Boyhood: Remember how in Little Women grownup-Amy-actress was so physically different from little Kirsten Dunst that you wished she would have just died when she fell through that thin ice? To avoid that type of casting disappointment, this movie was filmed over a period of 11 years so that you could slowly see Ethan Hawke's gray hair accumulating. This film didn't really have anything going on. It slogs along to a shitty soundtrack, as the boring kid grows up to look like a hipster Peter Dinklage. It was kind of blah. 3/5 stars

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Not Wes Anderson's best. Not his worst. 3/5 stars

Whiplash: So good. I recommend this to everyone. Maybe because I was in high school band, maybe because I wasn't. 4/5 stars

A look at the historical contenders:
Image sources: Washington Post and Hollywood Reporter

American Sniper: Based on the memoir by United States Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, American Sniper is about the "deadliest marksman in U.S. military history" and his multiple tours to Iraq. This movie had a lot of missed opportunities. It didn't portray love, terror, PTSD, or grief all that well. And the ending (the scene that could have been the most powerful in the movie) happened off camera. 2/5 stars
Image sources: The Independent and Collider

The Imitation Game: Based on the biography of Alan Turing, the cryptanalyst who helped solve Germany's Enigma code during World War II and who was later prosecuted for homosexuality. Interesting story, lackluster movie. Yawn. 2/5 stars
Image sources: Finding Dulcinea and Madame Noire

Selma: This movie is based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery, Alabama voting rights marches led by prominent members of the African-American civil rights movement. I mean, this movie was fine. It was kind of drab, and certain dialogue scenes were extended for way longer than they should have been. I tuned out often. 2/5 stars
Image sources: Mirror and Collider

The Theory of Everything: Adapted from Jane Hawking's memoir, The Theory of Everything deals with Stephen Hawking and Jane's relationship, his diagnosis of motor neuron disease, and his success in physics. Fuckin loved it. I don't know how I loved a romantic drama with physics-talk, but I did. 5/5 stars

I haven't seen Wild, Still Alice, or Into the Woods because I can't find them anywhere on the internet haven't been able to make it to the theatre. So, my picks for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress exclude the nominees starring in those movies.

Best Picture: Birdman
Best Actor: Eddie Redmayne
Best Actress: Felicity Jones, but only because I haven't seen Still Alice
Best Supporting Actress: I hope they all lose
Best Supporting Actor: JK Simmons, but goddamn it, I love Edward Norton

Friday, February 20, 2015

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb #24

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb is a round-up of brand spankin' new history articles, selected by yours truly. Click on the link to be directed to the home site where you can read a professional being professional in their entirety.

How air conditioning helped Ronald Reagan become president at History Extra
Best-selling author Steven Johnson tells BBC History Magazine about the weird and wonderful revelations that feature in his new show, How We Got To Now, including how air conditioning helped the election of Ronald Reagan as American president…

Instead, they want to create their own curriculum that would include speeches by Reagan and Bush, as well as the 10 Commandments.

Vote for this year's History Hot 100 at History Extra
BBC History Magazine wants to know which figures in history you’re most interested in at the moment – whether it’s someone you’re reading about, the subject of a recent television or radio programme, or perhaps someone you’re studying. To take part, simply visit – where you can get nominating.

Disney creates fictional worlds for their princesses to live in, drawing on historical and mythical inspiration to create beautiful fairy tales. BuzzFeed wondered what the princesses would’ve looked like if they’d existed in the real world, so they used context clues from the films to determine, as specifically as possible, the time and location of each Disney princess’s story.

Three shrines, dating back about 3,300 years, have been discovered within a hilltop fortress in Armenia. Local rulers at the time likely used the shrines for divination, a practice aimed at predicting the future.

Seventy years ago, U.S. Marines stormed the beaches of the craggy, bombed-out island of Iwo Jima. The island’s Japanese defenders had entrenched themselves in a honeycombed network of caves, tunnels, pillboxes and spider holes, and U.S. forces would spend the next several weeks advancing inch by bloody inch across unforgiving terrain. When the fighting finally ended in late-March, nearly 7,000 Marines and some 21,000 Japanese troops lay dead.

When farmers digging a well in 1974 discovered the Terracotta Army, commissioned by China’s first emperor two millennia ago, the sheer numbers were staggering: an estimated 7,000 soldiers, plus horses and chariots. But it’s the huge variety of facial features and expressions that still puzzle scholars. Were standard parts fit together in a Mr. Potato Head approach or was each warrior sculpted to be unique, perhaps a facsimile of an actual person?

With concerns about infectious disease in the news, a look back at history's most famous carrier.

How scientists used CCTV technology to reveal what Anne Boleyn really looked like at Telegraph
CCTV technology reveals a painting previously thought by some to be Jane Seymour, is actually a genuine painting of Anne Boleyn.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Giveaway: The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Here is your exclusive chance to win a copy of the new release, The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan, hot off the Minotaur Books press. 

"Often cited as the U.N.’s greatest failure in modern history, the Serbian/Croatia-Bosnian conflict, with its ethnic cleansing, mass and pointless slaughter of men, children, and women, the rape camps and other acts of torture and cultural destruction of a people sets the background for this thrilling and thought provoking investigative novel." -

Despite their many differences, Detective Rachel Getty trusts her boss, Esa Khattak, implicitly. But she’s still uneasy at Khattak’s tight-lipped secrecy when he asks her to look into Christopher Drayton’s death. Drayton’s apparently accidental fall from a cliff doesn’t seem to warrant a police investigation, particularly not from Rachel and Khattak’s team, which handles minority-sensitive cases. But when she learns that Drayton may have been living under an assumed name, Rachel begins to understand why Khattak is tip-toeing around this case. It soon comes to light that Drayton may have been a war criminal with ties to the Srebrenica massacre of 1995.

If that’s true, any number of people might have had reason to help Drayton to his death, and a murder investigation could have far-reaching ripples throughout the community. But as Rachel and Khattak dig deeper into the life and death of Christopher Drayton, every question seems to lead only to more questions, with no easy answers. Had the specters of Srebrenica returned to haunt Drayton at the end, or had he been keeping secrets of an entirely different nature? Or, after all, did a man just fall to his death from the Bluffs?

In her spellbinding debut, Ausma Zehanat Khan has written a complex and provocative story of loss, redemption, and the cost of justice that will linger with readers long after turning the final page.

I have one hardcover copy of The Unquiet Dead up for grabs. To enter, please complete the form below. Winner will be notified and contacted via email within 24 hours after contest ends.

Sorry, this contest is now closed. Thanks to all who entered. Check back for more giveaways soon.

Terms & Conditions
  • Competition open to residents of the US only
  • No P.O. Boxes
  • Must be 18 years of age or older. This is a book about the Bosnian War, people. Brutal stuff
  • Winner will be chosen at random from correct entries
  • No cash alternative
  • Competition closes Friday, February 20th, 2015 at 11:59pm

Friday, February 13, 2015

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb #23

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb is a round-up of brand spankin' new history articles, selected by yours truly. Click on the link to be directed to the home site where you can read a professional being professional in their entirety.

Ten Fascinating Presidential Facts to Impress on President's Day at Smithsonian
Nothing will impress people more than your presidential knowledge.

Richard III Killed by Sword Thrust Upwards Into Neck at Discovery
King Richard III was killed by a sword thrust from the base of the neck all the way up into his head, according to researchers at the University of Leicester who have located a major injury in the interior surface of the skull.

Found in one of the Diros caves in southern Greece, the prehistoric remains were positioned curled into the fetal position. Although the pair was originally found in 2014 by a team of archaeologists and speleologists, the Greek Ministry of Culture announced the results of DNA and radio carbon tests on Thursday, just in time for Valentine’s Day. Nothing says 'I love you' like a dead couple.

As author Brian Abrams details in his new book, “Party Like a President,” many a president has enjoyed a stiff drink after a long day at the Oval Office. On Presidents’ Day, learn more about the boozy history of some of America’s chief executives. Nothing honors dead presidents more than examining their drinking problems.

History is full of extraordinary twosomes – some are remembered for their long-lasting romances, while others are defined by their tragic downfalls. Here, History Extra rounds up seven of the most memorable couples in history, as voted for by its readers. (Antony and Cleopatra, not Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton obviously)

Illegal metal-detecting at Hadrian’s Wall is wrecking part of the country’s cultural heritage, landowners, police and experts have said. Areas close to the 1,900-year-old world heritage site have been targeted in a crime known as nighthawking. Turf has been pulled up and searchers have raked through the dirt to steal items that may have been hidden since Roman times.

A century ago on February 12, 1915, dignitaries commemorated the 106th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth by laying the cornerstone of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The neoclassical monument designed by Henry Bacon has become an iconic piece of architecture, but had one of the designs from the other competing architect been selected, the familiar Lincoln Memorial would have looked different—like in the form of a ziggurat, Mayan temple or Egyptian pyramid. I can't imagine why these were rejected.