Stalin, Hitler and the fatal mistakes of Operation Barbarossa

Stalin never lost his penchant for executing his officers. In the catastrophic early days of the German invasion, he shot eight generals

Stalin, Hitler and the fatal mistakes of Operation BarbarossaAdolf Hitler launched the German invasion of the Soviet Union – Operation Barbarossa – in the early hours of June 22, 1941. Initially, it looked like a triumph. The Soviets were caught flatfooted and German troops advanced 480 km into Soviet territory within the first week. It looked like an eastern version of the blitzkrieg…

J.F.K. dug a deep hole in his relationship with Khrushchev

Because of the Bay of Pigs disaster, Khrushchev pegged Kennedy as a pushover

J.F.K. dug a deep hole in his relationship with KhrushchevThings didn’t go well when U.S. President John F. Kennedy met with Soviet First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev in June 1961. Or at least they didn’t from Kennedy’s perspective. Speaking to American journalist James Reston after the Vienna summit’s second and final day, Kennedy described it as the “roughest thing in my life.” Khrushchev, he said,…

TV series shines a light on Norway and its war

As historically-inspired dramas go, the eight-part PBS series Atlantic Crossing is unusually authentic

TV series shines a light on Norway and its warWe’ve just finished watching the eight-part PBS series Atlantic Crossing. It’s an excellent drama that shines a light on an interesting aspect of Norway’s Second World War experience. The main focus is on the relationship between Crown Princess Martha of Norway and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In addition to his own anti-Nazi leanings, Roosevelt…

Is Scotland poised to push forward with separation?

Recent election results provided a comfortable majority for parties committed to a second referendum on Scottish independence

Is Scotland poised to push forward with separation?An early May column took an advance look at the May 6 elections in the United Kingdom. Now that the results are in and the dust has settled, let’s review what actually happened. And of even greater import, let’s consider where things might go from here. There were two topics of particular interest in the…

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…

Will the tide turn on Scottish independence after May 6 election?

If Brexit has put wind in Scottish nationalist sails, it has also upped the complexity. Pulling off a successful secession has gotten tougher

Will the tide turn on Scottish independence after May 6 election?May 6 will be an interesting day for anyone following politics in the United Kingdom. Along with various local council votes, there’ll be an election for all 129 seats in the Scottish Parliament and a byelection for the vacant Westminster seat in Hartlepool. The results of the last two will be keenly watched. There’s not…

If China invades, will Taiwan be on its own?

China insists that unification with Taiwan is non-negotiable. If it can’t be achieved peacefully, it’ll be done militarily

If China invades, will Taiwan be on its own?Taiwan – an island off the southern coast of China – is home to over 23 million people. It’s also a prosperous democracy, albeit one that’s become something of a diplomatic outcast. The island came into China’s political orbit during the 17th century and was formally annexed in 1683. The origins of the major Chinese…

The Bay of Pigs fiasco upended J.F.K.’s presidential honeymoon

In his first serious foreign policy test in 1961, the new American president flunked badly. He was in way over his head

The Bay of Pigs fiasco upended J.F.K.’s presidential honeymoonThings were going swimmingly for U.S. President John F. Kennedy immediately following his January 1961 inauguration. Despite being elected by a mere whisker, his approval ratings were stratospheric and much of the media was in love with him. It was as if he was a political superman. Then came the fiasco at the Bay of…

A glimpse at Larry McMurtry’s prodigious, resonant output

A glimpse at Larry McMurtry’s prodigious, resonant outputLarry McMurtry, who died recently aged 84, was an American writer and a prodigious worker. Beginning in 1961, he produced dozens of books, plus various screenplays for movies and television. Sometimes the screenplays were adaptations of his own literary output and sometimes they weren’t. McMurtry was born in rural Texas in 1936. And while it…

Taking the temperature of U.S. Republicans

2024 Republican nomination will be a prize worth winning. Not an automatic ticket to the White House but more than a consolation prize

Taking the temperature of U.S. RepublicansAn interesting new American poll, conducted by the firm Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, surveyed Republican voters to ascertain what they want from their party going forward. Bottom line: They still like Donald Trump – a lot. The poll’s analysis sees the Republicans as consisting of five separate tribes, four of which are well disposed towards…
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