Tag Archives: history

The mobster story

The mobster story


The “mob” –often called “the Mafia” –achieved mythic status in America thanks to movies, books, and the FBI. No expert on the mafia, I have in mind a rather simplistic Mafia business model –how it came about, how it grew, how it exploited “niche marketing”. It’s origins are usually traced to mid-nineteenth Century Sicily.

What Cleopatra has to do with Cleopatra’s Needle?

What Cleopatra has to do with Cleopatra’s Needle?

It has nothing to do with Cleopatra. The needle which is one of a pair (the other one now being in New York), was commissioned by Pharaoh Tuthmosis III, 1,400 years before Cleopatra was born.

The battle of Wagram – Napoleon’s last victory

The battle of Wagram – Napoleon’s last victory

Around 9PM on the evening of 4th July 1809 several hundred French  infantrymen embarked in a flotilla of small boats and began to make their way across the broad river Danube. Rain was falling in torrents, but this was doubtless a great relief to the troops: together with the gathering dusk, the weather served to shield them, as they supposed, from the guns of a powerful army that had but weeks before inflicted a heavy defeat upon their standards.

Templars on trial

Templars on trial

The Order of the Temple was a religious-military institution founded by a group of warriors in Jerusalem in the decades following the First Crusade of 1097-99. The group first received royal and church approval in 1120, and papal authorisation in January 1129. They protected Christian pilgrims on the roads to the pilgrimage sites around Jerusalem and also helped to defend the territories that the First Crusade had conquered.

Book review: The Pleasures of the Imagination by John Brewer

Book review: The Pleasures of the Imagination by John Brewer

John Brewer’s The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century documents the 18th century creating of “high culture”.  However, this creation is not reported as a formal aesthetic decision, supervised by an aloof elite of aristocrats and dilettantes.