Once upon a time: Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories. by Simon Winchester
"Variably genial, cautionary, lyrical, admonitory, terrifying, horrifying and inspiring…A lifetime of thought, travel, reading, imagination and memory inform this affecting account." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Hunting Che: PART 1 of 2: How a U.S. Special Forces Team Helped Capture the World's Most Famous Revolutionary by Mitch Weiss and Kevin Maurer
The hunt for Ernesto “Che” Guevera was one of the first successful U.S. Special Forces missions in history. Using government reports and documents, as well as eyewitness accounts, Hunting Che tells the untold story of how the infamous revolutionary was captured—a mission later duplicated in Afghanistan and Iraq.
As one of the architects of the Cuban Revolution, Guevera had become famous for supporting and organizing similar insurgencies in Africa and Latin America. When he turned his attention to Bolivia in 1967, the Pentagon made a decision: Che had to be stopped.
Major Ralph “Pappy” Shelton was called upon to lead the mission. Much was unknown about Che’s force in Bolivia, and the stakes were high. With a handpicked team of Green Berets, Shelton turned Bolivian peasants into a trained fighting and intelligence-gathering force.
Hunting Che follows Shelton’s American team and the newly formed Bolivian Rangers through the hunt to Che’s eventual capture and execution. With the White House and the Pentagon monitoring every move, Shelton and his team helped prevent another Communist threat from taking root in the West.
Origins of the American Civil War. PART 2 of 8.A Self-Made Man: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln Vol. I, 1809 - 1849 by Sidney Blumenthal.
Modern Information Warfare Requires New Intelligence Discipline
By Robert Kozloski, RealClearDefense: “The United States has been under attack from foreign entities for years, and the national security enterprise has failed to adapt its outdated practices to new threats, particularly those below the threshold of war.”
Again and again and again:The Master Switch: PART 1 of 2: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires. by Tim Wu
It is easy to forget that every development in the history of the American information industry–from the telephone to radio to film–once existed in an open and chaotic marketplace inhabited by entrepreneurs and utopians, just as the Internet does today. Each of these, however, grew to be dominated by a monopolist or cartel. In this pathbreaking book, Tim Wu asks: will the Internet follow the same fate? Could the Web–the entire flow of American information–come to be ruled by a corporate leviathan in possession of "the master switch"?
Done her wrong: The Murder of Jim Fisk for the Love of Josie Mansfield: A Tragedy of the Gilded Age(American Portraits) by H. W. Brands
Even before he was shot dead on the stairway of the tony Grand Central Hotel in 1872, financier James “Jubilee Jim” Fisk, Jr., was a notorious New York City figure. From his audacious attempt to corner the gold market in 1869 to his battle for control of the geographically crucial Erie Railroad, Fisk was a flamboyant exemplar of a new financial era marked by volatile fortunes and unprecedented greed and corruption. But it was his scandalously open affair with a showgirl named Josie Mansfield that ultimately led to his demise.
They didn’t hang her: Axis Sally: The American Voice of Nazi Germany. by Richard Lucas
One of the most notorious Americans of the twentieth century was a failed Broadway actress turned radio announcer named Mildred Gillars (1900–1988), better known to American GIs as “Axis Sally.” Despite the richness of her life story, there has never been a full-length biography of the ambitious, star-struck Ohio girl who evolved into a reviled disseminator of Nazi propaganda. At the outbreak of war in September 1939, Mildred had been living in Germany for five years. Hoping to marry, she chose to remain in the Nazi-run state even as the last Americans departed for home. In 1940, she was hired by the German overseas radio, where she evolved from a simple disc jockey and announcer to a master propagandist.
Under the tutelage of her married lover, Max Otto Koischwitz, Gillars became the personification of Nazi propaganda to the American GI. Spicing her broadcasts with music, Mildred used her soothing voice to taunt Allied troops about the supposed infidelities of their wives and girlfriends back home, as well as the horrible deaths they were likely to meet on the battlefield. Supported by German military intelligence, she was able to convey personal greetings to individual US units, creating an eerie foreboding among troops who realized the Germans knew who and where they were. After broadcasting for Berlin up to the very end of the war, Gillars tried but failed to pose as a refugee, but was captured by US authorities.
Her 1949 trial for treason captured the attention and raw emotion of a nation fresh from the horrors of the Second World War. Gillars’s twelve-year imprisonment and life on parole, including a stay in a convent, is a remarkable story of a woman who attempts to rebuild her life in the country she betrayed. Written by Richard Lucas, a freelance writer and lifelong shortwave radio enthusiast, Axis Sally: The American Voice of Nazi Germany is the first thoroughly documented look at this mythologized figure of World War II.
Long arm of justice: Chasing Shadows: PART 1 of 2: A Special Agent's Lifelong Hunt to Bring a Cold War Assassin to Justice by Fred Burton and John R. Bruning
On a warm Saturday night in July 1973 in Bethesda Maryland, a gunman stepped out from behind a tree and fired five point-blank shots into Joe Alon, an unassuming Israeli Air Force pilot and family man. Alon's sixteen-year-old neighbor, Fred Burton, was deeply shocked by this crime that rocked his sleepy suburban neighborhood. As it turned out, Alon wasn't just a pilot—he was a high-ranking military official and with intelligence ties. The assassin was never found and the case was closed. In 2007, Fred Burton—who had since become a State Department counterterrorism special agent—reopened the case. Here, in Chasing Shadows, Burton spins a gripping tale of the secret agents, double dealings, terrorists and heroes he encounters he chases leads around the globe in an effort to solve this decades-old murder. From swirling dogfights over Egypt and Hanoi to gun battles on the streets of Beirut, this action-packed thriller looks in the dark heart of the Cold War to show power is uses, misused, and sold to the most convenient bidder.
China's Surveillance State Should Scare Everyone
by Anna Rose Mitchell, Larry Diamond via Defense One
The country is perfecting a vast network of digital espionage as a means of social control—with implications for democracies worldwide.
Qing Dynasty in U.S. Grant's America: Fortunate Sons: The 120 Chinese Boys Who Came to America, Went to School, and Revolutionized an Ancient Civilization. by Liel Leibovitz and Matthew Miller
"With its surging storyline, extraordinary events, and depth of character, this gripping tale of 120 Chinese boys sent to America…reads more like a novel than an obscure slice of history." ―Publishers Weekly, starred review
In 1872, China―ravaged by poverty, population growth, and aggressive European armies―sent 120 boys to America to learn the secrets of Western innovation. They studied at New England’s finest schools and were driven by a desire for progress and reform. When anti-Chinese fervor forced them back home, the young men had to overcome a suspicious imperial court and a country deeply resistant to change in technology and culture. Fortunate Sons tells a remarkable story, weaving together the dramas of personal lives with the fascinating tale of a nation’s endeavor to become a world power.
The location of Alexander the Great's tomb is an enduring mystery. Shortly after Alexander's death in Babylon, the possession of his body became a subject of negotiations between Perdiccas, Ptolemy I Soter, and Seleucus I Nicator. According to Nicholas J. Saunders, while Babylon was the "obvious site" for Alexander's resting place, some favored interring the ruler in the Argead burial at Aegae, modern Vergina. Aegae was one of the two originally proposed resting places, according to Saunders, the other being Siwa Oasis and in 321 BC Perdiccas presumably chose Aegae. The body, however, was hijacked en route by Ptolemy I Soter. According to Pausanias and the contemporary Parian Chronicle records for the years 321–320 BC, Ptolemy initially buried Alexander in Memphis. In the late 4th or early 3rd century BC, during the early Ptolemaic dynasty, Alexander's body was transferred from Memphis to Alexandria, where it was reburied. )
Searching for Alexander's grave: Ghost on the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great and the Bloody Fight for His Empire by James Romm
When Alexander the Great died at the age of thirty-two, his empire stretched from the Adriatic Sea in the west all the way to modern-day India in the east. In an unusual compromise, his two heirs—a mentally damaged half brother, Philip III, and an infant son, Alexander IV, born after his death—were jointly granted the kingship.
But six of Alexander’s Macedonian generals, spurred by their own thirst for power and the legend that Alexander bequeathed his rule “to the strongest,” fought to gain supremacy. Perhaps their most fascinating and conniving adversary was Alexander’s former Greek secretary, Eumenes, now a general himself, who would be the determining factor in the precarious fortunes of the royal family. James Romm, professor of classics at Bard College, brings to life the cutthroat competition and the struggle for control of the Greek world’s greatest empire.
Where is Alexander's grave? Alexander the Great by Philip Freeman.
In the first authoritative biography of Alexander the Great written for a general audience in a generation, classicist and historian Philip Freeman tells the remarkable life of the great conqueror.
The celebrated Macedonian king has been one of the most enduring figures in history. He was a general of such skill and renown that for two thousand years other great leaders studied his strategy and tactics, from Hannibal to Napoleon, with countless more in between. He flashed across the sky of history like a comet, glowing brightly and burning out quickly: crowned at age nineteen, dead by thirty-two. He established the greatest empire of the ancient world; Greek coins and statues are found as far east as Afghanistan. Our interest in him has never faded.
Alexander was born into the royal family of Macedonia, the kingdom that would soon rule over Greece. Tutored as a boy by Aristotle, Alexander had an inquisitive mind that would serve him well when he faced formidable obstacles during his military campaigns. Shortly after taking command of the army, he launched an invasion of the Persian empire, and continued his conquests as far south as the deserts of Egypt and as far east as the mountains of present-day Pakistan and the plains of India. Alexander spent nearly all his adult life away from his homeland, and he and his men helped spread the Greek language throughout western Asia, where it would become the lingua franca of the ancient world. Within a short time after Alexander’s death in Baghdad, his empire began to fracture. Best known among his successors are the Ptolemies of Egypt, whose empire lasted until Cleopatra.
In his lively and authoritative biography of Alexander, classical scholar and historian Philip Freeman describes Alexander’s astonishing achievements and provides insight into the mercurial character of the great conqueror. Alexander could be petty and magnanimous, cruel and merciful, impulsive and farsighted. Above all, he was ferociously, intensely competitive and could not tolerate losing—which he rarely did. As Freeman explains, without Alexander, the influence of Greece on the ancient world would surely not have been as great as it was, even if his motivation was not to spread Greek culture for beneficial purposes but instead to unify his empire. Only a handful of people have influenced history as Alexander did, which is why he continues to fascinate us.
The tragedy of outliving peace of mind: James Madison. by Richard Brookhiser.
James Madison led one of the most influential and prolific lives in American history, and his story—although all too often overshadowed by his more celebrated contemporaries—is integral to that of the nation.
Madison helped to shape our country as perhaps no other Founder: collaborating on the Federalist Papers and the Bill of Rights, resisting government overreach by assembling one of the nation's first political parties (the Republicans, who became today's Democrats), and taking to the battlefield during the War of 1812, becoming the last president to lead troops in combat.
In this penetrating biography, eminent historian Richard Brookhiser presents a vivid portrait of the “Father of the Constitution,” an accomplished yet humble statesman who nourished Americans' fledgling liberty and vigorously defended the laws that have preserved it to this day.
Greg Weiner on
and the United Nations
When Nikki Haley stood before the U.N. General Assembly and rebuked it for condemning America's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, many were put in mind of the career and rhetoric of her predecessor at Turtle Bay, Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Moynihan was a strong opponent of the infamous resolution equating Zionism with racism, and in 1981, he penned "Joining the Jackals," blasting the Carter Administration's failure to stand up for Israel at the United Nations. In this podcast, political scientist Greg Weiner joins Jonathan Silver to take a look at Moynihan's essay and explore what this Cold War liberal can teach us about how America can protect its allies, interests, and moral prerogatives within the global community.
Time Runs Out
Henry Luce and his empire belonged to another country, another era.
Terrorists exploit informal money-transfer networks, known as “hawala networks,” to circumvent institutionalized banking sstems and covertly move money. The U.S. has managed to unearth and even sanction some of these networks, but terrorists continue to use them to finance their operations, especially in countries with poor-to-nonexistent banking networks and underdeveloped law enforcement and legal systems.
Modi’s disappointing budget
Sadanand Dhume | The Wall Street Journal
India shows its fiscal colors: Red
Derek Scissors | AEIdeas
Modi govt chooses rhetoric over substance in Kashmir
The situation in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), which has faced a 28-year-old armed insurgency, is progressively getting worse. But New Delhi, it seems, is caught up with rhetoric over substance. Though there has been a steady drumbeat of bombastic and optimistic statements on J&K by Home Minister Rajnath Singh over the past year, reality is far from good in the Kashmir Valley. Numbers do not often tell the whole story, but they...
India’s Naga insurgency battles neoliberal capitalism
The Naga insurgency is sometimes described as the longest-running in India. It has defied solution since 1947, despite two peace accords. Now the principal insurgent group, with which the government of India has been engaged in talks since 1997, the National Socialist Council of Nagalim’s Isak-Muivah NSCN(IM) faction, seems to be running out of patience. It has demanded the postponement of elections to the Nagaland State Assembly, scheduled for February 27, until there is a final...
Kingdom come: Millenarianism’s deadly allure, from Lenin to ISIS
Leon Aron | New York Review of Books
Border Walls, Battles, And Ghosts: The Mexican-American War's Lasting Legacy
by Ralph Peters via Military History in the News
One hundred and seventy years ago, on February 2, 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo expanded the territory of the United States by over 500,000 square miles, not only making it inevitable that we would become a Pacific power, but setting the stage for what may be the most complex border relationship between any two nations. The treaty formally ended our War with Mexico, but accelerated our headlong plunge toward the Civil War, intensifying the debate over the geographical expansion of slavery into our newly acquired territories.
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