The great events of Western history almost always revolve around a revolution or a great war, where the nation, or even the West as a whole, comes out the other side as something radically different. The most obvious recent example is the first half of the 20th century, where Europe went in as a collection of empires and kingdoms and emerged as a collection of vassal states. Wars and revolutions are more often than not the result of a slow build up of pressure, like two tectonic plates bumping into one another.
The resulting earthquake reconfigured the map of Europe, not just geographically, but culturally and spiritually. The European culture of the 19th century was obliterated and replaced by a bland servitude culture. The impact of those two industrial wars was so immense that even today, Europe is afraid to stand up for itself in the face of a migrant onslaught. Anything that smacks of nationalism sends chills up the spines of Europe’s elite, as they remain in the shadow of the great wars of the last century.
One way to approach history is to treat the wars and revolutions like hubs from which radiate out spokes of history. Some spokes extend into the past, reaching back to antecedents that led up to the great event. The Great War, for example, was in no small part the result of the unification of Germany. Other spokes head of laterally, setting off events in other countries. The French Revolution, for example, had a great influence on the Bolsheviks, who studied the Jacobins and built on their tactics.
The first big upheaval on the list is the English Civil War. Most everyone knows about Oliver Cromwell, but the consequences of the war between the Roundheads and Cavaliers is still with us, particularly in America. One of the more popular recent books is from Peter Ackroyd, Rebellion: The History of England from James I to the Glorious Revolution. For those with short attention spans, this booklet is actually a pretty good summary. If you like podcasts, Mike Duncan’s Revolutions Podcast is a good choice.
The key figure is Oliver Cromwell. He is a remarkable guy in many ways, but for Americans he casts a particularly long shadow. That’s because his spiritual followers landed in New England. The reason the University of Virginia has a Cavalier as its mascot is because of the English Civil War. Oliver Cromwell and the Rule of the Puritans in England is a pretty good treatment. If you are really serious about knowing the mind of Cromwell, then you can read his collected letters and speeches.
That brings us to the American Revolutionary War. The challenge here is in finding books that are not myth making or nonsense histories. One way around this is to focus on the key people and read biographies of them. It’s hard to write historical figures into the modern narrative, because historians tend to be covetous of the figures they have studied and they are quick to criticize attempts to remake historical figures. Plus, seeing the event through the eyes of the participants adds another perspective.
James Madison and the Making of America is a great place to start. Ben Franklin’s autobiography is a must read. Of course, Thomas Paine’s writings are also a must read because they were instrumental in two great revolutions. John Adams is a giant from the period. Of course, Thomas Jefferson is another giant. An interesting book on two critical figures is Adopted Son: Washington, Lafayette, and the Friendship that Saved the Revolution. The serendipitous combination of Lafayette and Washington is a great story.
Interestingly, several of the key figures in the American Revolution played key roles in the next great upheaval in the West, the French Revolution. This is a huge topic with libraries full of books on it. For a straightforward chronology of events, a book from 25 years ago is a good choice. Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution. It’s a little dry, but it covers the basics without a lot of gratuitous commentary. Another older book is The Oxford History of the French Revolution. There’s also a short version.
Again, reading about the people is a great way to get a feel for these important events and no one is more associated with the French Revolution than Maximilian Robespierre. Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution is a good study of the guy who was arguably the West’s first fanatic. The second political fanatic would then be Jean Paul Marat. There are not a lot of good biographies of Marat. This is the only one I know of, but you can probably learn enough about him from general histories of the revolution.
Yes, Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France is a must read.
The next big event, particularly for Americans, is the American Civil War. Readers of this blog will know that the long shadow of this war is a regular topic on the Dissident Right. Like the American Revolution, the volume of books on the topic is endless. The thing to keep in mind is that history is written by the victors, so, many books on the subject are really about modern topics. The go to source therefore is Shelby Foote and his three volume series on the Civil War. It’s long, but it covers everything and it is easy to read.
The official history is that the Civil War was about slavery and the North was forced to go to war in order to end it, but history is written by the victors. The root cause was mostly the abolitionist movement. For a view of the abolitionists, from the Left, Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War is a good book written by and for the Progressive audience. Modern historians blame the never ending trouble with race on the failure of Reconstruction. Eric Foner’s Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution is probably the best modern book on the topic.
Finally, the last big event to cast a shadow on our age is the Russian Revolution. This is a funny one because in the fullness of time, the Bolshevik Revolution may fade away as a seminal event in Western history. Communism is dead and the Cold War is over, but understanding the Cold War, and its warping effect on the West, starts with knowing about the Soviets. A good book from twenty years ago is A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution: 1891-1924. It’s 800 pages, but it covers everything.
I remember you started this series by suggesting a basic familiarity with numbers and statistics. How about adding some suggested readings in math and science?
The best way to understand the South and Southerners before and during the The War Between the States is the biography of Robert E. Lee written by Douglas Southall Freeman. It won the 1936 Pulitzer Prize and is still considered one of the greatest American biographies of all time… http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/e/gazetteer/people/robert_e_lee/frerel/home.html
There’s another really good source on the History of the West but it’s not a book. All this talk about Revolution reminded me of it. It’s a series documentary called “Industrial Revelations” by the BBC. It really ties together how the Industrial Revolution fed itself. One technology feeding another and another. Each accelerating each other at the same time. It’s on YouTube. I there’s 4 main shows and one I believe was added later. They’re not too long and quite entertaining I don’t think anyone would regret the time watching them. The first below.
Two more titles:
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. Many people have their one book they go constantly go back to, whether that be the Bible, Sun Tzu, The Prince, Thucydides, etc. This is mine. People are crazy. They are even crazier in large groups. This book is also critical to understanding how modern financial markets developed.
The other is titled The Land of Prester John and is an account of the Portuguese interventions in Ethiopia in the 1500’s. It is in the public domain and available in several formats on the webz.
A summary: A nation at the height of its power decides to help out a backward nation threatened by Islamic fanatics. Even though the powerful nation believed that it shared many values and interests with the backward nation, it really didn’t. After many lives lost and treasure squandered, nothing comes of it. If only the neocons had read this first.
Once again, great post. I’ve reserved the only two books you recommended that my library has. I’ve also shamelessly posted this on my blog. Also going to post a link on gab.ai.
So much history to learn from. Is it only Americans who widely use the phrase by Santana about “Those refusing to learn from history being doomed to repeat it?” Not that we are so great either given our record of politicians getting us into wars and such without regard to past consequences and costs, but there seems to be a much larger disparity (at least from my perspective) of people in Europe not applying lessons from history, or being afraid to confront such.
Any comments from our well read and traveled members of this esteemed crowd?
Thanks again Zman for a great contribution to further history studies.
I think you might be right on that first point. Obviously I can’t preclude there being examples, but I don’t think I have ever seen many, or any, references to Santayana in European writings. If he’s being used, I haven’t been seeing it these many years so perhaps he is just less common.
I have found him cited almost exclusively by American, and a few British, conservatives. Sometimes liberals but he has become a more-favoured-by-the right kind of guy. The old National Review writers were big citers of his aphorism. Probably the current stable could too, but they’re all less historically minded.
But I caution you against the assumption that Euros don’t learn lessons from history. They would retort that the opposite is true. They just learned different lessons from different problems. And given their particular goals and values, they’re right. They have learned some of the forces that caused the things they most fear, and they are acting to prevent those fears form coming true. That in doing so they will seek destruction in other ways may trouble some of them, but they still have those paramount fears. And many of them probably figure that what they have created is still better.
It doesn’t mean I don’t hate them. But we need to be wary of mistaking choice for error.
Thanks Random_Observer for the feedback. And thanks for noting my misspelling of Santayana! My goof!
I was always a skeptic of the EU concept and still am. It is an idea still in it’s infancy and it is having pains and should be in an neo-natal ICU. I never gave it much credence because of the sheer division between all the peoples, and the long and sordid histories of conquest, death and destruction between them all. Add to that mix the rise and fall of the various “empires” be they Dutch, Spanish, French, British, Prussian, whatever, and you have a mix that should have any sane person on guard against being ruled by any group of “unknown” elites. And I haven’t even included the Czarist types, Mediterraneans, or Asians yet!
The Europeans just seem to be waking up but too many seem resigned, if I can use that word, to whatever fate brings them. It is as if they do not feel they have any control over their destiny, and that seems a shame to me.
Many Americans are just waking up also and following the lead of GB with Brexit, as are other regions of the world, but Europe in general seems stubbornly stuck in a mindset that completely ignores history. Yes, they may have their historical “take-aways” but sometimes people learn or are taught the wrong things. I think that America’s foundation of people coming together “E Pluibus Unum” is the strength that Europe lacks. Even though that strength has been under attack for many decades, there still exists enough to be aware of and heed Santayana’s words, and do something about it.
My take on the Americans vs. the Europeans is that the U.S. pursued a specific identity in its educational and cultural institutions for a long period of time, between the end of the Civil War and the 1960s. The Frontier mentality, the pride in its political system and its people, the architecture, the ships, trains, trucks and cars, the big cities and the rural farming ideal. The whole cultural package was allowed to blossom and evolve over the decades. Perhaps as a lesson from the Civil War, for the culture either to get its act together, or to fade away. One can take in all of the original Disneyland attractions in 1956 and see the American identity. It all blew up, beginning in the ’60s, and we are now sliding down the slippery slope. Europe lost its ideals and identity somewhat in 1870, fully in 1914, and again in 1939. They started down that bad path earlier, with more destruction and fratricide between brother nations. Indeed, Europe learned the wrong lesson, that cultural differences and identities lead to war. They are looking for a way out, but in all the wrong places, from a traditional American point of view. The EU is not a confederation, respectful of its member countries, but rather a dictatorship, intent on obliterating all cultural identity and cues, outside of museums and tourist attractions. We in the U.S. appear to be next on the agenda.
Re: “The impact of those two industrial wars was so immense that even today, Europe is afraid to stand up for itself in the face of a migrant onslaught. Anything that smacks of nationalism sends chills up the spines of Europe’s elite, as they remain in the shadow of the great wars of the last century.”
You are only telling half the story. Many of Europe elites are complicit in the de facto invasion now underway. Angela Merkel comes to mind and there are others as well – especially at the European Union. The history of this betrayal is both fascinating and horrible at the same time.
An Austrian-born diplomat named Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi (1894- 1972) was one of the first proponents of a united Europe. In 1922, with Archduke Otto von Hapsburg, he co-founded the Pan-European Union, an early attempt at unifying the continent. Among the earliest financial backers of the movement were Baron Louis Rothschild, who – in 1924 – put Coudenhove-Kalergi in contact with Max Warburg – a member of another influential and powerful banking dynasty who offered to fund the PEU.
What later became known as the Coudenhove-Kalergi Plan is first-mentioned in 1925 in the book, “Practical Idealism” (Praktischer Idealismus), in which Coudenhove-Kalergi wrote, “The man of the future will be of mixed race. Today’s races and classes will gradually disappear owing to the vanishing of space, time, and prejudice. The Eurasian-Negroid race of the future, similar in its appearance to the Ancient Egyptians, will replace the diversity of peoples with a diversity of individuals.”
Today – the “Coudenhove-Kalergi European Prize” is awarded every two years to the European leaders who best-promote the ideals of the man for whom it is named. Two recent winners – both members of the Bilderberg Club – were none other than Angela Merkel and Herman Van Rompuy.
The ideas of Coudenhove-Kalergi can be traced directly to the founding of the modern European Union and the agenda of the “New World Order” globalists.
Europe’s elites have deliberately thrown open the gates to their civilization and invited the third world inside – in particular the Muslims, who are seen as a useful took by which to further fragment and – it is hoped – destroy the remaining vestiges of old Europe. The violence and chaos being brought to Europe’s shores by the soldiers of Allah are also seen as a means by which the “new Europe” is to be created out of the ashes of the old.
So, you see – the utopian (or should we say “dystopian”) ideals of the Coudenhove-Kalergi Plan amount to the same old collectivist, totalitarian wine stored in a new bottle.
I’ve seen a few historians say that the French Revolution was the beginning of nationalism. RR Palmer wrote a couple of books on the revolutions in America and France as part of a great change in thinking and culture in what he called Atlantic civilization. When I look in the indexes of the two books I have written by him ( The Age of Democratic Revolution, and The World of the French Revolution) the word “nationalism” doesn’t even appear. I’m wondering if the idea was so taboo after the second world war that authors may have been afraid to use it.
I would classify that vintage as “vinegar” myself.
Anyone who calls out the villainous Count deserves an upvote.
I’d be willing to support a united Europe or a Western empire, just not any kind of empire or unity these people would build. I’d need to see the source code before voting in favour.
Well, I simply have to do it. I know it’s crude but it’s necessary.
There, I feel much better now. Oh and read; The Real Lincoln by Thomas DiLorenzo
A little crude, but OK by me.
We must look very, very carefully at the historical figures we were taught to adulate in our schools, in our youth. The schools were already seriously socialist institutions enmoled by loQ fellow traveling losers.
The very fact that I was taught that Lincoln was a bloody saint makes me suspicious, so I’ll have a look at the DiLorenzo book.
I prefer Heinlein’s idea of long curves in the guiding ideas, philosophies, habits and fads of the human race as described by Potiphar Breen in “The year of the Jackpot”.
I used to like his idea that peoples or nations sometimes descend into madness. He described the USA in the period of “The Crazy Years”. Then I realized that we humans are always crazy in some way and we are always in some form of crazy years, so there is nothing special about these days.
I look forward to this weekends pronunciamentos from various LGBT++ nutjobs on AGW++. I recommend the Guardian website to all.
I agree with Saml Adams that Grant and Sherman’s memoirs are must reads.
While 1848 doesn’t reasonate with Americans, I recommend The Communist Manifesto to get a taste.
Lenin’s “de-classified” letters, published after the Soviet collapse, are important (I think Pipes was the editor).
Julian Corbett is important for understanding how the British really won the the world. And why they lost it.
A good biography of Bismarck… can’t remember which one I read.
I will try to think of some more when I get home and can look at my bookcase.
I had a college professor who started his survey history course with the statement that the world can be divided into two eras, one before 1848, and the current (enlightened, in his opinion) one that started in 1848. I came, over time, to understand why he might think so. I found his outlook quite useful in my understanding of how the history professors would camouflage argument as exposition.
There were a lot of butthurt European intellectuals after 1848. They spent the next 70 years marinating in their resentment, then screwed it all up after the Great War.
I think you should start with the Myth of the Roman Empire. The time when all of Europe, all the Known World was united in prosperity and peace, from Hadrian’s Wall in the Northwest to the banks of the Euphrates in the east. Of course that was total fiction, ignoring all the assorted barbarians beyond “The Civilized World” and all the recurrent civil struggles within. But that was the myth believed by Charlemagne/Karl der Grosse, when he tried tdo recreate it in 800 AD. And Europe has been trying to reestablish the One World Order ever since, in one form or another. And as then, we try to ignore the hostile vision of the Caliphate and the totally inscrutable vision of the Central Kingdom.
You’re entirely right at the macro level- the establishment of the universal state that absorbs all others, at least regionally, usually eventually transmutes war into a conflict among factions for power over said state, or wars of rebellion and reunification, or other lines of civil or social war. Plus there still can be unpacified borders.
But they aren’t without benefits. The Chinese, Romans, and Indians would be able to tell of it. The advent of Empire reduces the frequency of all the smaller wars among states now that those states are gone, eliminates the sporadic big ones, and the civil wars occur at less frequency than the interstate wars at least until the empire falters. The Chinese repeated that pattern many times.
The Roman Empire succeeded a political space in the Mediterranean world that had featured many wars great and small, including some regions at near constant war. The Greek peninsula had had their modest city wars punctuated by the great Peloponnesian War, the many and much larger wars of Alexander’s successors. The Near East had long been a region of frequent war until a period of relative peace under Persian rule, with modest civil wars. The period after Alexander saw over 200 years of nearly constant war in the space between the Mediterranean and the Tigris/Euphrates. It got carved up between Rome and revived Persia, meaning 700 years of border conflict, but away from the border both greater Syria and Mesopotamia saw much longer periods of peace under that dual empire arrangement than the period after Alexander. Rome’s rule in the western Mediterranean was preceded by its own 3 huge wars with Carthage, as well as frequent local conflicts among the various peoples.
It wasn’t perfect, and those eventual civil wars and rebellions happened, but in the roughly 200 years from Augustus to the death of Commodus, war was a mostly frontier phenomenon for Rome. There was the unpleasantness over the throne after the death of Nero, but by the standards of Rome’s republican wars or conquest or civil wars, or the standards of a later empire, this conflict was brief and modest.
In the end, it always comes down to who owns that empire when it forms.
You are quite right. Within limits size has an advantage, there is the Goldilocks Principle – neither too big nor too small, but just right.
Idea: a study of the French Revolution’s beginnings as a struggle between the bureaucracy/nobility/deep state and a new head of state who genuinely had the national interest at heart, but also had a strong personality combined with a relative lack of development of the art of political compromise.
Along with your idea goes a book by Adam Zamoyski titled “Phantom Terror”. Though it is mostly focused on the period after the French Revolution, it describes, in exhaustive detail, the methods and pervasiveness of government spying on their own people in Europe, during the first half of the 19th century. The sheer scope and pervasiveness of the monitoring has to be read to be believed. The FBI/CIA/NSA stuff is nothing new at all, only the methods have evolved. The web is so much more efficient.
The true nature of every revolutionary is only revealed in governance. He is a bureaucrat.
“…with a relative lack of development of the art of political compromise.”
I see what you are trying to do there, but it exposes your ignorance of the political process involved in developing real estate.
As I have posited before: TRUMP learned more about politics (and thus the art of political compromise) doing his first real estate development in NYC, than most politicians learn in a lifetime! It makes a Yuuuge difference for your learning curve when you have real skin in the game.
Just an idea. I wasn’t trying to do anything. More proTrump than you I’d guess.
Transferrence along these lines is what happens when people write history.
In the past the take on the French Revolution has been that the king was necessarily part of the establishment because he was the head of the government. Because of Trump we now know that this assumption does not have to be true. If one were going to try to write something along these lines, one has to come up with a plausible scenario. That’s what I was doing.
Read anything by McCoullough, and “The First American”, a Franklin bio by HW Brands is outstanding. I couldn’t put it down.
Also, it’s not a book, but I think Ken Burns’ “Civil War” documentary is mandatory knowledge, not just essential. Foote’s books fill in the more granular details.
I thought about recommending the Ken Burns shows, but he is a such a horrible human being, I just can’t do it.
I got about 10 minutes into his “The Roosevelts” and had to turn it off. Mrs. Dutch would not have appreciated a flat screen with a hole in it.
Wheeew! That was torture, wasn’t it? I could only watch the first 5 minutes and then peeked in on occasion later on, as the spousal unit watched, to confirm my detestation!
The thing about Ken Burns is that there isn’t any subject on American History that he touches that doesn’t come down to; “Oh my God! The poor Negroes!”.
Many years later, a much older Judy Garland commented when asked (for the millionth time) about “Wizard of OZ”; “Frankly darling I’ve got rainbows up the ass!”.
For me it’s the same thing with ‘The poor Negroes’.
hahaha! Well, I make my kids watch it.
I know Burns a bit. Not a bad guy on a personal level, and very generous with his time in ways that are not known to the public. He is an unreconstructed moonbat though, and OBSESSED with race. Said obsession diminishes all his projects. For my money Brooklyn Bridge is his best.
I used to enjoy pointing out that Ken Burns, the self-righteous race monger, moved to one of the whitest places on earth. His town has exactly 5 black people. If you are tempted to think they are on the high school basketball team, not, they are not. The local high school has zero black kids. ZERO!
Went an essentially all-white college, too
Wow! Burns got him bunches and bunches of white guilt! Black hooker in his younger days?
On the Civil War, I found Goodheart’s 1861: The Civil War Awakening to be a very good read.
Mary Chesnut’s diary is also very enlightening form the Southern point of view. Her husband James Chesnut was a Senator from South Carolina before it seceded, became a general in the Confederate Army and personal aide to Jefferson Davis. Not your average “little wife”, she was an astute observer who has left an important record.
Mr. Z: What’s your take on Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson? I thought it very readable but it immediately jumped to mind when you mentioned history books as treatments of of modern topics.
MacPherson’s is one of the best single volume treatments out there, particularly in laying out context and looking at oft ignored aspects (e.g. the impact of communicable diseases on the troops (my own gg grandfather nearly died of measles in Kentucky in early 1862). I’d use it as a path to more specialized books on topics that interest you.
Not just communicable diseases. Read “1491” and “1493” to learn of the impact that vector-borne diseases had upon all manner of historical events. Patriot malaria-carrying mosquitoes had as much to do with the British defeat at Yorktown, as the French fleet did!
I have no read it, mostly because I’m skeptical of anything that claims the Civil War was about airy concepts like freedom or liberty. I’ll note that I could be all wrong on this as I have not read that book. I’m just pointing out my own prejudice.
Lincoln himself saw the Kansas-Nebraska act as the turning point where conflict was inevitable. That’s when the guarantee that the divide between slave and free states would be respected was rescinded. Then the final blow to co-existence was the Dredd Scott case followed by the fugitive slave act. As we see today, a political faction accustomed to being the elite continued to stubbornly overextend even when their time was past leading to complete disaster.
I give credit to Jeff Davis though for tipping things over the edge. He knew that enthusiasm for an actual shooting war was ephemeral and might lose his cause to public apathy if he waited. So he ordered Beauregard to fire on Fort Sumter in a cynical ploy to get more states behind him. From there, it finally spun out of control.
If you have to choose between Schama and Doyle on the French Revolution , choose Doyle. Problem is there are tons of cheap used Schamas out there in the used books stores. You’ll have to order Doyle.
There are a lot of FR books out there. One that I consider to have great insight is Tocqueville: The Old Regime and the Revolution, usually The Ancien Regime and the Revolution.
I still read a lot of the old Marxist authors on it because of their sense of timing of the events and the fact that they give insights as to why certain things had certain effects. When I read Georges Lefebvre I can hardly see any economic determinism. It’s as though he ignores his own theory to tell the history. It is in his paragraphs of analysis that you note him forcing abstractions onto facts and being totally anachronistic.
It is also interesting to read the revisionist stuff where the Marxist interpretation was gradually being refuted and disposed of. The English historians are best for this, but I would exclude Schama from the group. It is obvious to me that he resents the fact that the Marxist interpretation was debunked.
I always enjoyed Schama’s style in the presentation of history, but he has really gone ’round the bend in the way he interjects his opinions into the mix. His “France” tome has been kicking around the house for a while, precisely because it was everywhere at the library book sales for 50 cents. You get what you pay for, I guess.
Schama’s History of Britain tv series some years ago was good, but even though modest he injected some contemporary political sensibilities into it.
OTOH, its was gorgeously produced and made excellent use of settings, light, colour and visual metaphors. On that latter, to really enjoy the show you have to enjoy things like the use of symbolic images- things like shots of eagles in flight from darkened castles when discussing the reign of Henry II. If you like that sort of thing, it’s the sort of thing you’ll like. I enjoyed it immensely.
Oliver Cromwell and the events after the English Civil War always fascinated me. They fought and eventually executed a tyrannical king – all good.
Then Parliament wrestled with constitutions – first a Commonwealth then a Protectorate – even offered Cromwell the crown. A year after his death Parliament was negotiating the restoration of the crown. That always seemed plain crazy to me that after all that bloodshed, the English decided to return to a king (with greatly reduced authority) rather than forming a lasting republic.
I know it’s because I viewing the events through the lens of my education and experience. I still believe one visionary man in that time could have tipped the scales very differently then – and it would have changed everything a century later when the colonists got restless.
I can’t speak for a hypothetical 17th century version of myself, but I don’t think I’d have much cared for Cromwell’s republic.
They never figured out separation or really any other limitation of powers, centralized power, the original parliament that fought the war refused to dissolve itself for many years and seek reelection, at one point imposed military rule on the countryside, kept purging rival political/religious factions from parliament using troops, often led by officers from different army factions. Eventually deposed the Long Parliament and ‘elected’ new ones under a couple of new constitutions. And in the end the Army was the only real power other than Cromwell personally. And of course Cromwell was not Washington and not in Washington’s circumstances. He died in harness and the best they could do was install his son. At least Cromwell laughed derisively at the thought of actually calling himself King. I like to think he at least once said something like the line they gave Richard Harris- “Did we overthrow this King only to steal his Crown?”
That, and all the enforced Puritanism. Yuck.
I agree. On the other hand, installing the son of the King who was such an asshole they reluctantly cut off his head seems like at least as bad an option.
All this war and destruction – to get Charles II? Really?
My English ancestor, a cousin of OC, was one of the regicides who signed the death warrant for Charles I. The Anglo-Catholic Church considers him a demi-saint, last I heard. The re-installed Stuart Kings Charles II and James II had to abjure that they ruled by Divine Right, and so on with the British monarchy down thru the years.The Russian Orthodox Church believes that Czar Nicholas II and his family, murdered by the Bolsheviks almost a century ago, were martyred, i.e. so they are considered to be saints, too, I guess. Their tombs in St. Petersburg are now crowded with visitors. I wonder if there will be some sort of commemorative event next year honoring their memory.
Russians need to come to grips with the fact that they allowed the millions of murders of their countrymen to take place. It’s not enough to blame the Bolsheviks, just as the Germans can’t pin every evil done in their country on Hitler.
Somewhere in Canada there is at least one Anglican Church called “King Charles the Martyr”. I’ll bet there are a few such in the Anglican Communion.
Well, do have to hand it to those who left in the Great Migration to colonies…they watched and learned. “Cromwell” took great liberties with historical fact, but my favorite Harris line was his retort to Charles’ dismissal of democracy. “It is the ordinary people that would most readily lay down their lives in defense of your realm, it simply that being “ordinary” they would prefer to be asked rather than told”
Near as I can tell, most English subjects of the day were observers to what was going on, and not participants. I suspect that the people of the outlying areas had little knowledge of what was going on in the corridors of power, especially as they happened. Most likely what they did learn was well after the fact. The point is that most citizens or subjects are not actors, then or now, but strictly observers who are vulnerable to the effects of these actions, without having much, if any, say in them. To our Founding Fathers’ credit, they tried to diffuse political power and institutionally block concentrations of political power, but the rest of us are still minimally involved actors in the play, even today.
Have always been a fan of Carlyle’s treatment of the French Revolution. Though history is usually written by victors, Grant’s Memoirs provide an unusually candid view into his thinking and if you read them along with Sherman’s, both provide some of the best insights into how the Civil War became the first “total” war. Have always been a fan of Ambrose Bierce and no reading of the Civil War would be complete without reading his “Tales of War” collection of short stories. His Ohio regiment often fought in the same battles as my g-g-grandfather’s Indiana regiment and comparing his accounts to my grandfather’s memoirs through stories like “Killed at Resaca” and “One of the Missing” gave a much deeper view of horrors and absurdities that he experienced. For those interested in how the American view and approach to armed conflict developed from our Cromwellian and Cavalier roots, Russell Weigley’s “American Way of War” is an easy read and provides context around how the American approach to armed conflict differs from that of Europe.
BBC The Great War is a good choice
A popular intellectual game is to imagine you have time travel (and a gun) and can go back in history to kill one person and thus alter the subsequent movement of events. It is easy to imagine too your choice is the one person who with your own hindsight was eventually to ruinso much for so many.
My target would be the driver of Franz Ferdinand’s car in Sarajevo who inadvertently played his part in the prolonged war of 1914-1945, or perhaps better the person who failed to tell the driver the day’s itinerary had changed. Getting rid of either of them might have prevented the wrong turning being taken and allowing Princip to get a clear shot.
On such turnings you could say history revolves. Other targets welcome.
Serendipity plays a huge role. I’m rather fond of stories where events conspire to change the course of history. It is often the little things that have a big impact. Year ago there was a television program from the BBC called Connections. It tied together a half dozen seemingly unrelated events to show how they came together to result in some important event downstream.
For the record, I’d go back in time and shoot Teddy Roosevelt.
Holy cow! Z, are you a time traveler?
Somebody did that. It didn’t work! These columns are depressing. I consider myself reasonably well read, and along you come to make me feel guilty- both with books I didn’t know about, and books I know I should have read but haven’t. Still, Foote’s been on my list for a while, maybe I’ll get to him this summer Oh well, it’s a great weeekend- two Catholic schools got knocked out of the MN state high school tournament, and the 2017 All Hockey Hair Team will be announced on Sunday! Happy days!
And for the record, I’m aware that weekend only has 3 ‘e’s
Why TDR? Because his backing Taft and then forming the bull moose party to bury Taft out of spite lead directly to Woodrow Wilson?
I consider him the father of the welfare state. Our first big government president.
Woodrow Wilson might be a better choice; when he started as the President of Princeton. Easier target, perhaps more influential.
Saker posted an interesting take in which between what he and you wrote Zman, you both bring up a really insightful points with immense ramifications about the political class destroying the very thing that enabled them to have power.
Where destroying that illusion of voting and “representation government” of the people is self defeating. There’s a number of obvious possible things going on.
They are a crazy group of maniacs who are blind to the consequences.
They are being deliberate and it doesn’t matter because the alternatives are attractive in some way.
They understand the illusion has worn out it’s usefulness and have a plan or intent, to go to the next level of dictatorship and believe they can survive the consequences.
They are having an internal class conflict, their movers, shakers and old order are in disarray, factions are developing within the party with conflicting agenda’s.
They are faced with developments from outside their oligarchy they are ill suited and or equipped to deal effectively with, hence the old order is crumbling under the weight of insurgent actions from a total outsider in the form of Donald Trump and his administration, along with a growing grass roots rejection, defiance and resistance of a body of dirt people that has grown into a plurality that has reached a level of preference that endows grass roots movements with undeniable power to overcome the power of real politick.
Or they could just simply be a group of bad corrupt lowlife criminal actors, where nothing is new but the exposure of the truth that without the cover of their lickspittle handmaidens of lies and subterfuge of the fake media, the charade is over and we are looking at what they truly are, essentially wealthy criminal anarchists who game a system totally to enrich themselves at the dirt peoples expense where the only rule is there are no rules but power unto them and the rest of us can eat shit.
Where the struggle is they have reached such a level of illegitimacy, the effort to survive that illegitimacy daily dictates and consumes every action to the exclusion of everything else.
Or, and this is my favorite, we are looking TSHTF in the eye, where this is the consequential first true stages that are on the brink of snowballing into the EOTWAWKI.
After all, considering how power is structured from the top down inside out the end of America politically as we know it could very well begin from the top down inside out. Seems common sense to me, as it is about power, and power of the political class is top down-inside out, us dirt people are not involved in that power structure except maybe tacitly or incidentally, we certainly have no direct personal or direct inside influence.
But the effects of the rejection of the status quo in the form of the Great Fuck You on November 8th, is akin to the black Swan event the political class never saw coming and believed it would never have to face never mind have contingencies in place to deal with it.
link to Saker’s piece:
Connections is great. If you liked Connections you would like “Industrial Relevations” I linked too.
That’s true if one subscribes to the idea that great men define history. The other way to look at it is that history will find its way, and the names, dates, and places will fill in the gaps as we go. A current example that we are living through is whether Trump is changing the arc of our history, or whether he is the change agent in place for where we would be headed in any case. The argument and its two sides have been out there for millennia, so I do not expect any definitive answer to be forthcoming.
As noted alt-historian Kenneth Hite will say about all such time travel excursions, “Have you tried killing Woodrow Wilson?” It’s what the Time Police say when everything is snarled beyond recognition; it’s their version of saying, ‘Have you tried turning it off and on?”
Sheesh! Whole lotta hate for Wilson; all of it well-deserved!
If an excuse is all that was required to set the tinder alight, they would have found one sooner or later. If a systemic vulnerability exists, just a matter of time until the perfect storm arises.
@UKer- Mohammed. Yeah I’d have to say Mohammed. That big white gorgeous towel would really stand out nicely from 9 paces to 900 yards. “relax, breathe easy, focus, exhale and squeeze gently……”
Wilson and Roosevelt are way too late. You shoot Luther or Rousseau.
Communism is dead? Leninism is dead, but the virus is alive and thriving in a far more clever form.