A Interview with Steve Kemper About A Labyrinth of Kingdoms

July 3, 2012

Sometimes a book grabs you by the throat and won’t let you put it down. I recently experienced that with Steve Kemper’s A Labyrinth of KIngdoms: 10,000 Miles Through Islamic Africa. I got so wrapped up in the story that I broke my long-standing rule about traveling with hardcover books because I wanted to finish […]

Read the full article →

Genghis Khan Revisited

June 26, 2012

First a little bit of business. Last week I announced that I was giving away a copy of this book: .   As promised, this morning My Own True Love drew a name out of my favorite summer hat.  The winner is Jessica, who blogs about books at Quirky Bookworm. Send me an e-mail with […]

Read the full article →

Déjà Vu All Over Again: Back to Afghanistan

March 14, 2012

A while back I blogged about Great Britain’s first disastrous attempt to invade Afghanistan. That post barely scratched the surface of the story, so I was delighted when Shelf Awareness sent me Diana Preston’s The Dark Defile:: Britain’s Catastrophic Invasion of Afghanistan, 1838-1842 to review. In The Dark Defile,  Preston tells the story of Great […]

Read the full article →

Prince Henry, the So-Called Navigator

March 7, 2012

I’ve been thinking about Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal today, and re-reading bits of Peter Russell’s excellent biography,  Prince Henry “the Navigator”: A Life You remember Prince Henry.  He’s the first in a series of names that you learned in grade school:  Prince Henry the Navigator, Columbus, Dias, Magellan–maybe Henry Hudson if your teacher […]

Read the full article →

Déjà Vu All Over Again: Drug Wars

January 17, 2012

A growing number of addicts.  A ruthless business cartel.  A country determined to close its borders to imported drugs.  Violence and corruption in major cities.  Sound familiar? Welcome to the Opium War of 1839. In the late eighteenth century, opium was a key element in the British East India Company’s business plan.  The company grew […]

Read the full article →

Splitting the Difference

September 30, 2011

“Split the difference” is My Own True Love’s favorite way to solve a difference of opinion.  It’s a pretty effective tactic when you’re negotiating a contract, eyeing the last piece of pie, or deciding what time you need to leave the house to catch a 6:00 AM flight.  Win-win. When it comes to settling geopolitical […]

Read the full article →

Who made the map of the modern Middle East?

September 23, 2011

The simple answer is:  Great Britain.  You want the long version? In The Makers of the Modern Middle East   historians T.G. Fraser, Andrew Mango, and Robert McNamara tell the story of how today’s Middle East was created from the remains of the Ottoman Empire during the peace negotiations at the end of the First World […]

Read the full article →

Déjà Vu All Over Again?: Attack on the British Garrison in Kabul, 1879

September 21, 2011

As I believe I’ve mentioned before, the British government in India was always paranoid about the possibility of Russian influence on the northern border of Afghanistan.  (Some of the most paranoid even thought the Russians were behind the Indian Mutiny of 1857. *) In 1878, the amir of Afghanistan pushed British buttons when he accepted […]

Read the full article →

White Gold: Sugar in the New World

September 1, 2011

In The Sugar Barons: Family, Corruption, Empire, and War in the West Indies Matthew Parker, author of Panama Fever and Monte Cassino: The Hardest Fought Battle of World War II, uses the rise and fall of the sugar dynasties of the West Indies as a framework for the intertwined histories of sugar, slavery, the industrial […]

Read the full article →

History on Display: Tipu’s Tiger

August 9, 2011

“Tipu’s Tiger” is one of the most popular exhibits at the Victoria and Albert Museum.  For generations, British school children and American tourists have lined up to watch the large mechanical tiger maul a fallen British gentleman.   Today the toy is too fragile to operate, but once upon a time the tiger roared and its […]

Read the full article →