World War II

Counting The Fallen

June 23, 2015

The size of the armies and the number of the casualties in a given war, or even individual battle, is always a difficult discussion for historians. When dealing with pre-modern sources of any kind, historians are cautious about accepting contemporary estimates.* The assumption is that at best the writer of the source did not have […]

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Ballpoint–The Tale of a Tool

May 9, 2015

Like many readers, writers, and scholars, I am an unashamed office supply junkie. I trail through my local Office Depot with the same delight I accord to grocery shopping* and only slightly less fascination than I feel in my local independent bookstore. (Go Seminary Co-op!) I like my pens to have a fine-point and my […]

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A Good Place to Hide

May 1, 2015

In A Good Place To Hide: How One French Village Saved Thousands of Lives During World War II, Peter Grose describes how a population with its own experience of religious persecution and two charismatic pastors with unlikely international connections turned isolated community in the upper Loire Valley into a haven for Jews and other refugees […]

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Word With a Past: Genocide

December 9, 2014

Genocide as an activity is probably as old as the concepts of “us” and “them”. Genocide as a word is relatively new, coined by Polish-Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin in 1944, several years before the world knew about the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps As a result of studying the history of anti-Semitic pogroms in […]

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Stalingrad

November 21, 2014

The Pritzker Military Library offers a smaller event alongside its On War symposium: a chance for a limited number of people to meet with the winner of the year’s lifetime achievement award to discuss one of his books.  Last year I wasn’t bright enough to sign up. This year I didn’t hesitate.  The chance to […]

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When Paris Went Dark

September 19, 2014

When Nazi troops marched into Paris in June, 1940, the city surrendered without firing a shot.* In When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation, 1940-1944 , historian Ronald C. Rosbottom explores face-to-face interactions between occupiers and occupied, the effect of the Occupation on daily life in Paris, its psychological and emotional […]

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History on Display: Railroaders

May 14, 2014

What with one thing and another,* My Own True Love and I haven’t made it to many museums in the last few months. Last week we made an exception. The current exhibit at the Chicago Historical Society Chicago History Museum looked too good to miss. Some of our favorite things– history, art, and railroads–together in […]

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Foyle’s War

March 31, 2014

History buff-ery can lead you to unexpected places. Recently it’s led My Own True Love and I to our living room in front of the television, where we are totally absorbed in the BBC television series Foyle’s War.* It’s a police procedural set during World War II in the town of Hastings** on the southeast […]

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Blood Royal: A Medieval CSI Team In Action

March 15, 2014

In Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris, medievalist Eric Jager returns to the world of medieval true crime stories that he popularized in The Last Duel. On a cold night in November, 1407, a band of masked men assassinated Louis of Orleans, the powerful and unpopular brother of the […]

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Plane Spotting

December 4, 2013

Like anyone who has spent time hanging around the British or American homefronts of World War II, I am familiar with the concept of plane spotting.* Plane spotters were trained to look at planes on the horizon and  ask “How many?” “Where are they headed?” “Are they ours or the enemy’s?” It never dawned on […]

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