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An Era Too Far? Capturing the Ancient World on Film

I love the ancient world. More specifically, I love studying western Eurasia anytime before AD 500. This was my original, grade school love affair with the past, and while my interests later diversified and I sought degrees in modern history, the ancient past has never lost my attention (leading me to remark to one professor at Gettysburg that I "dabble in archaeology," much to his amusement). One result of this, as you might expect and surmise from many of my reviews here on Concerning History, is a deep and abiding affection for 'swords-and-sandals' movies. I listen to a fair number of movie and entertainment news podcasts, and I couldn't help but notice an absence of these kinds of movies in recent years. This post was originally intended to be my musings on the cause of that absence, but I quickly realized that I was wrong; there wasn't an absence of swords-and-sandals movies per se; there just weren't any I liked.... Read More

Constructing the Ivory Tower: Julie Reuben’s Making of the Modern University

Among its critics within and beyond the Ivory Tower, academia carries a reputation for looking critically at anything except itself. That criticism isn’t always fair, but it’s also not unfounded. When I recently read The Making of the Modern University by Julie Reuben, I found the account to be an important corrective to academia’s problem of not knowing its own history. Even though I have an interest in this history and have come across parts of it before, I was surprised at how wrong I was in my understanding of the history of higher ed, and especially the transformations it underwent between the mid-1800s and the mid-2000s.... Read More
King in the North

A Hoard of Knowledge: Max Adams’ King in the North

I was first introduced to the writings of Max Adams through In the Land of Giants, which Kevin and I will hopefully get around to hosting a book club discussion on one of these days. Enchanted by Adams’ compelling prose, especially as it described the elusive world of early medieval Britain, I decided to look up his other works and start from the beginning. That beginning was The King in the North: The Life and Times of Oswald of Northumbria, and Adams did not disappoint with his study of this great Christian martyr and Anglo-Saxon warrior king.... Read More
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What is Leadership? What was Leadership?

In a Readers Digest article written during his retirement, Dwight Eisenhower ruminated about the characteristics of leadership. Beyond a certain “X Factor” that he chose to leave to psychologists to explain, Eisenhower identified selfless dedication, courage and conviction, fortitude, humility, thorough homework, and the power of persuasion. President Eisenhower was hardly the first person to […]... Read More