What rides should they have at Napoleonland?

French history buffs are planning their own theme park to compete with Disneyland, and honour France’s best known soldier.  Napoleonland will bring history to life, in ways that could even make fans of “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Killer” blush with embarrassment.

Et alors, can pure amusement be educational?  It worked for King Arthur’s Labyrinth in Wales, and that’s History.  Or, it’s a story.

So why not have Napoleonland!

If they do it though, better do it right.  Here’s some rides we’d like to see at Napoleonland: Continue reading What rides should they have at Napoleonland?

What is the secret of success?

painting of Admiral Nelson contemplating what to do next.
Lord Nelson in the cabin of the Victory, by Charles Lucy

Eisenhower once said that if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. Yet, biographers of Napoleon seem to quote Cromwell in saying that those men who go farthest, don’t have a plan.

There are so many other secrets put forward. But one seems consistent. Continue reading What is the secret of success?

When the athlete was anonymous and there were no sports pages

two congressmen fighting with sticks, one kicking the other in the knee.  Meanwhile others look on, including one man in a comfortable seat and another who looks to be cheering.  An old sketch
“Congressional Pugilists” 1798

While Prince William, and most of the media, followed the European cup, Kate Middleton went to the theatre instead.  Sports are big news today, and almost every top athlete is a household name.  Things weren’t always that way.

In June of 1812, a man from the county of Somerset came up with a challenge.  He bet 500 guineaus that he could walk 1000 miles in as many hours. Continue reading When the athlete was anonymous and there were no sports pages

“Land of Laughter”: British and American views of Burma, 1812-2012

When we read about Burma in history books, we read about war.  However, the first representatives of the English speaking nations to that part of the world were Baptist missionaries who saw Burma as “the land of laughter.” Continue reading “Land of Laughter”: British and American views of Burma, 1812-2012

History ‘is boring’, says bestselling historical novelist

A man yawning on a bench as an old lady tries to interest him in a game of table tennis
A Dismal Outlook by Ehrhart

The Times asked historical novelist Philippa Gregory why British school children stop studying history the moment they have that choice.

Like one third of all British 13-year-olds, Ms. Gregory chose to stop studying history at GCSE level.   It was as if her teachers ‘sat down and said “What’s the most boring thing you can possibly study to put people off studying history forever.”‘ Continue reading History ‘is boring’, says bestselling historical novelist

Five insults that went out with the eighties

Woman helping soldiers load cannons
A Soldier’s Wife at Fort Niagra (during the War of 1812) by T. Walker

 

Some people will point to “progress” and show how technology (or legislation) has made certain jobs obsolete.

Me, I prefer to have a positive outlook, and see how the number of insults people throw at each other has diminished since the Reagan/Thatcher/Gorbechev era.  So, here’s a list of five insults that were prevalent during the 1980’s, but no longer seem to mean anything.

Keep your day job.
The other day I read the words “choose another profession” on a writing networking group.  In the same context, I think that writer would have once said “Keep your day job.”  Continue reading Five insults that went out with the eighties

Two hundred years and 127,000 American Missionaries later

February 19th, 1812, a man named Adoniram Judson sailed from Salem harbor in Massachusetts to India, and eventually to Burma.  This trip was once called “the most important event of the nineteenth century.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if you never heard of Ann and Adoniram Judson.   I hadn’t either, until I looked at old lists of significant dates and events. Continue reading Two hundred years and 127,000 American Missionaries later

Madison’s act of belevolence: the Venezuela Earthquake and 200 years of American foreign aid.

James Madison is often quoted as having been against hand-outs,

“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”*

Although these probably weren’t James Madison’s exact words, Congressman Madison probably said something similar.

Portrait of James Madison
Portrait of James Madison

Continue reading Madison’s act of belevolence: the Venezuela Earthquake and 200 years of American foreign aid.

The sentence for the pamphlet

Daniel Isaac Eaton waited in Newgate prison to find out what his fate would be.

Before Eaton could be convicted, a Mr. Prince Smith filed an affidavit in Eaton’s defense.

In addition to other words of common sense, Mr. Prince Smith told the court that “It was quite impossible to maintain the fear of God by force; and religion ceased to be the fear of God when it became the fear of man.” Continue reading The sentence for the pamphlet

Dusseldorf’s Breidenbacher Hof is 200 years old, or is it?

In 1812, a luxurious hotel was opened in Dusseldorf by the name of Breidenbacher Hof.  Once the most expensive hotel in Germany, it is still among the best known hotels in the world. Continue reading Dusseldorf’s Breidenbacher Hof is 200 years old, or is it?