Imperialism

History On Display: Amazing Grace, the Musical

October 18, 2014

Earlier this week, My Own True Love and I took a chance on the “pre-Broadway world premier” of a musical by a new composer/playwright based on the historical story of John Newton (1725-1807), the slave trader turned Anglican minister and abolitionist who wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace”.  At a minimum, we knew there would be […]

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Shin-kickers From History: Dr. B. R. Ambedkar–Untouchable, Reformer, Founding Father

October 3, 2014

Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar (1891-1956) was one of the great men of the twentieth century, though he is virtually unknown in the west. Untouchable Ambedkar was born into the “untouchable” caste of Mahars in the Indian state of Maharashtra. At the time, untouchables suffered under legal restrictions that made the Jim Crow laws of the […]

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Jezebel or Joan of Arc?

September 2, 2014

In June, 1857, Lakshmi Bai, the Rani of Jhansi, belatedly committed herself and her kingdom to the revolt variously known as the Indian Mutiny, the Sepoy Rebellion, or the First Indian War of Independence. A Break in Tradition The rani had long-standing grievances against the British. She was the widow of Gangadhar Rao Niwalkar, ruler […]

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Whose Remembrance?

August 16, 2014

A few statistics from the Imperial War Museum in London make it clear that the First World War was a global war in more than one sense: Roughly 1.5 million soldiers from British India served in the war; 80,000 lost their lives. Many of them fought in the trenches on the Western Front–if you don’t […]

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Gandhi Before India

April 29, 2014

The first volume of what may well be the definitive biography of Mohandas Gandhi, Ramachandra Guha’s Gandhi Before India covers the years from Gandhi’s birth in 1869 through his departure from South Africa in July, 1914. Biographers have often treated Gandhi’s earlier life– especially his two decades working in South Africa–as a  little more than […]

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The Other American Colonies

April 8, 2014

I struggled to come up with a title for this post that was not United States-centric*–a fact which pretty much sums up the topic at hand. For most Americans** the grade school version of history that we carry in our heads jumps from Columbus in 1492 straight to the arrival of the Puritans in Massachusetts […]

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The Black Hole of Calcutta

March 18, 2014

In mid-eighteenth century India, power was up for grabs. The Mughal dynasty was in decay. Smaller regional powers flourished. European trading companies, which held their trading privileges at the discretion of Indian rulers, were constantly looking for a way to get an edge. The British and French East India Companies, in particular, maintained private armies […]

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Introducing Flat Arthur, aka His Grace the Duke of Wellington

March 12, 2014

Several weeks ago, fellow Historical Novel Society member Cora Lee shared an idea that she’d been having fun with for a few months and asked if any of us would like to play along. She took the idea of “Flat Stanley” and gave it a historical twist, creating “Flat Arthur”– a two dimensional version of […]

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Re-Run: Cowboys and Indians, North African Style

March 4, 2014

Unlikely though it seems, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the French Foreign Legion over the last week. I bet most of you have a few stock images of the Foreign Legion in your heads: men fleeing from their past into the desert and anonymity, absinthe, burning sands and blazing sun, those funny […]

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Re-Run: Word With A Past–Maffick

February 28, 2014

The Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) started badly from the British point of view. British troops, supposedly the best trained and best equipped in the world, suffered a series of humiliating defeats at the hands of Boer farmers. (Anyone else hear echoes of another colonial war that pitted farmers against British regulars?) The only bright spot […]

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