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The Strange Longevity and Disappearance of the Habsburgs’ Patchwork Empire

The great modern European empires we read about in our history books are gone. British, French, German, Italian, and Russian imperial ambitions all collapsed, in turn, over the various disasters which befell their empires during the course of the twentieth century, suffering from two world wars, occupations, revolutions, and the ever-blowing, seemingly inevitable winds of […]... Read More
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Cutting through Muddled Memory: Murray Pittock’s Culloden

A few months ago, I delved into the history of the Jacobite Rising of 1745 through Jacqueline Rider’s Jacobites (reviewed here). My quest for greater knowledge was more than sated, though it came with a deluge of minute detail. Curious whether I could find a more engaging narrative of the ‘45, I recently turned to Murray Pittock’s installment on Culloden in Oxford University Press’s Great Battles series. A short work of barely more than one hundred and fifty pages, Culloden unfortunately flew wide of my mark, yet surprised me in the best of ways.... Read More
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Investing in Young People: The Last Best Hope for a Progressive World?

When President Obama gave his farewell address on January 10, 2017, he took on the momentous task of consoling supporters crushed by the results of the 2016 election. Despite his own frustration and disappointment, Obama did his best to strike a positive note: That’s why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this […]... Read More
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Gut-wrenching Tragedy: Terry George’s The Promise (2017)

Certain battlegrounds swirl around the memory of particular historical periods and events. The most contentious here in the United States is the manufactured controversy over the causes and legacies of the American Civil War. Another, in much the same vein of implausibility, is Turkey’s denial of the genocide of the Armenian people pursued by the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. The 2017 film The Promise, starring Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale, thus grabbed my attention well before its release for its intent to cast a glaring spotlight on the atrocities committed by Turkish forces as well as showcase some of the leisurely splendor of Constantinople (Instanbul) in those final hoary days before the world was lit aflame. Much to my chagrin, however, I was only recently able to give this film my attention.... Read More
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Sweet, Sweet Nostalgia: Reaction and “Reform” throughout History

“Make America Great Again.” These four words have become one of the most infamous phrases in the English language since the successful presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, and with good reason. How do we define great? Who thought things were great? If we aren’t great now, when were we great, and when did we stop being so? Far from originating with Trump, this idea, that somehow the United States has lost its way from the glory of its just-out-of-reach past, has taken hold in the psyche of certain disaffected sections of its population. Though this reactionary sentiment may sound dissonant to the modern ear, it actually fits quite smoothly into a much longer historical tradition of cloaking nostalgic navel-gazing in terms of reform and progress.... Read More