September 2013

History on Display: The Gettysburg Cyclorama

September 27, 2013

Cycloramas were the I-Max of the nineteenth century. Viewers stood in the center of a specially constructed auditorium, surrounded by a huge cylindrical oil painting of an exciting historic event or dramatic scene. Sometimes the exhibit included music or a narration of the events. With or without a soundtrack, when you went to see a […]

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Protection Against More than Just the Cold

September 24, 2013

When we think about quilting, we tend to think about hand-crafted patchwork coverlets and puffy down coats. We don’t think about armor. But in fact, quilted armor played an important role in European warfare from the time of the Crusades through the sixteenth century. The most simple form of quilted armor, the jack, was simple […]

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Realpolitik In Ancient India

September 20, 2013

Renaissance Italy had Machiavelli. Nineteenth century Prussia had Otto von Bismarck. Ancient India had the Arthashastra*–a political manual attributed to Kautilya, chief minister to India’s first emperor, Chandragupta Maurya , in the fourth century BCE.** Kautilya described his subject as the science of being a king, which he summarizes as “the acquisition of what is […]

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The Nazi and the Psychiatrist

September 17, 2013

I’ve been looking forward to reading Jack El-Hai’s The Nazi and the Psychiatrist ever since I heard him talk about it at a conference in April. Now that I’ve seen the book trailer, I’m even more excited about it. Take a peek: http:// [If you subscribe to History in the Margins by e-mail, you probably […]

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Wastrels and Fallen Women

September 13, 2013

Last week I reviewed Nicola Phillips’ The Profligate Son. I immediately heard back from a regular reader of History in the Margins who likes to keep me on my toes.* He asked: “How comes it’s always a guy that is a wastrel? Are there no Regency or Victorian ‘ladies’ that are wastrels?” Not wanting to […]

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What Day Is It?

September 10, 2013

Last week a friend of mine pointed out that Rosh Hashanah comes early this year. She went on to bemoan the fact that the first day of Hanukkah falls on the day before Thanksgiving*: a result of the disjunction between a lunar and solar calendar over the long haul.** The discussion reminded me of a […]

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Word With A Past: Parchment

September 6, 2013

For hundreds of years papyrus was the principal material on which books (or at least hand-copied scrolls) were written. Since it could only be made from the pith of freshly harvested papyrus reeds, native to the Nile valley, Egypt had a monopoly on the product–and a potential monopoly on the written word. In the second […]

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The Profligate Son

September 3, 2013

From Jane Austen’s Wickham through Charles Dicken’s array of extravagant cads to the latest Regency romance, the dissipated wastrel who throws away his family fortune, or at least his good name, is a familiar character to anyone who reads novels written (or set) in Britain in the first half of the nineteenth century. They drink, […]

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