I love conversing with people who know history and are sparkling, highly opinionated storytellers. Often these are foreigners or emigrants speaking about their country. They're unafraid to draw sharp, outspoken conclusions that frame major situations (e.g. that some leader was an incompetent fool or that an accident of geography is what will ensure conflict between two groups continues). What are some book equivalents of that conversational experience? They can be on any period or region. I do not want a magisterial treatise. I want a keen-eyed, slicing talk with someone really well-informed and cynical over several drinks who's gonna say what's what.
My favorite part of museums these days are the visible storage units. My favorite part of natural history museums are old-fashioned drawers filled with air-tight cases. I want to know more about the history and practice of storing/preserving art objects, paintings, sculpture, textiles, etc. What books/websites should I be reading to find out more? The more weirdly medium specific and detailed the better. Strange anecdotes very much welcome.
What, exactly, was a Lonely Hearts' Club? Was it a personals ad service? A "marriage bureau" such as one still sees in societies where arranged marriage is common? An actual club of people that would put on events? All of the above? [more inside]
I'm trying to write a sort of walking tour of the Southwark/Borough area in London (UK). I need help resources for information on buildings/history of the area and stories tied to that place or its people. Preferably things which are freely available online. More specific details inside. [more inside]
I'm craving a particular subtype of historical novel: the kind that posits a dimly-remembered reality behind a famous myth/legend/story, sort of filling it out and extrapolating the details into realism. My favorite of this kind is Mary Renault's "The King Must Die" about Theseus (also the sequel). I also enjoyed "Eaters of the Dead", about the events of 'Beowulf'. But what are some other good ones you can recommend? More examples and specifics inside! [more inside]
How did people commit suicide in the US in the 1930s? Does it make a difference if it's a female? [more inside]
I'm researching my Irish ancestry and am befuddled by inconsistent birth dates. When I compare my ancestors' Irish baptism records (baptisms being close after birth) to their much later American records, the birth dates almost never match up, being sometimes up to six years apart. [more inside]
What are some subtle or lesser-known examples of current-day real-world USA being a dystopia? [more inside]
I'm new to history as a field of study, and I chose World War 1 as a place to start. Having finished reading several books on the topic, I'm ready to move past World War 1 for now. My first instinct was to dive into the seemingly infinite pool of literature that is World War 2, but I'm not sure if I'd be doing the 20th century justice by skipping the intervening years. Essentially, I'm looking for a book that covers the period between the World Wars. Ideally, this book would focus on Europe but touch on at least some of the rest of the world. Bonus points if this book is available as an audiobook.
Coincidence or something real? Two "relatives" have contacted me with a similar story: born to teenage mothers in Indianapolis in the 1960s or 1970s. Was there a home for unwed mothers there? [more inside]
Having a little trouble finding the source for this quote. Believe it was Reagan. who said "Of all the imperfect forms of government, our is the best man has so far come up with."
"Massive resistance" was a shameful state effort from 1956-1959 to cancel out the Brown v. Board decision. Virginia's Harry Byrd launched it, but the courts ultimately killed it off. I've heard that there was [at least one] petition or letter circulated in opposition to it, but can't find any mention of it. It would have been remarkable in the climate of the time, because signers would surely have lost their jobs. I checked several relevant websites, including that of the Southern Historical Association, but nothing even close. Is anyone familiar enough with the details of this sad chapter to have heard of such an effort?
What did the bloodletters of olden times do with the blood they collected? Presumably it was disposed of, but how? [more inside]
I want to write about obscure and little known gin cocktails, ideally ones with fun stories attached or a vintage pedigree . What are your favorite obscure gin cocktails? The more outlandish and exotic the better.
Recommendations for a recent popular history of Alta California before the American annexation? [more inside]
I like reading Reddit's /bestof comments and have been following for a while. However, the /bestof page only keeps a month or so of history. Is there a way to find every comment that's ever been bestof'd?
I've heard stories from time to time about stiff penalties for distributing maps of cities, because in times of war, the enemy could use them as intelligence. Obviously, not contemporary stories, now that most everything is mapped a million different ways. I've heard it was true for Japan in WW2, but don't know. [more inside]
What was the first message sent by the Soviet Union over the infamous 1960s "hotline"? [more inside]
What resources might be recommended for tracking down info about an NYC criminal trial from the summer of 1917? Do you think the court transcript might somehow be available?
I am not sure I recall the details correctly, but I am amused by a news story in my memory. I think my memory is accurate, so here goes. A police officer is testifying in court about his (commercial and sexual) relationship with a prostitute, with whom he had sex in the course of an anti-prostitution sting. The officer is questioned by opposing counsel about whether he climaxed. He explains that he did, but that he didn't take any pleasure in it. Can you give me a link to this news story or tell me where I read it?
I just finished reading Zealot, by Reza Aslan, and I found it to be a fascinating book. I'm looking for similar books! [more inside]
I'm looking for historical cases in which a neighboring country has intervened militarily in a domestic conflict to support one side, ostensibly at its invitation. [more inside]
Alan Watts, in some of his lectures, tells stories of the experiences of Zen teachers and their students- a sort of mystic, mythic history from ages past. Are there books of these sorts of legends? [more inside]
I spent about five years compiling a technology timeline. It started as a class project and grew into an obsession. For a while, I was making an enormous number of Wikipedia contributions. After a while, I started posting my work to my blog . Then, I started writing "This Day in History" columns for a few paying venues. It's actually grown well beyond what's currently available on my blog. The problem is that I've grown bored of pouring time into the project. [more inside]
I'm looking for an objective history of the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina (preferably in book form, but I'll take on-line sources where appropriate) if such a thing exists. Everything I've been able to find so far is pushing an agenda and I would like to find a source of real information that strips away all of the political baggage. [more inside]
Does anyone know of any good podcasts or audio books covering viking history, Norse mythology or both? I'd very much like to learn about Vikings through my ears. Bonus points for series rather than one offs.
What's the best history book on the immediate aftermath of Columbus' discoveries in Europe? Looking for something that covers, say, the first 50-100 years after the discovery of the New World, and discusses what was found out & when and how people reacted. [more inside]
I wrote a lengthy scholarly article last year, put a preprint of it on my university's institutional repository, and thought no more about it. In January this year, a British journalist published a piece of popular military history with a major British trade press that appears to contain about 6 pages of very, very close summary and paraphrase of my article. What to do? [more inside]
My son has recently gotten interested in history. He's been asking a lot of questions. I paid attention in high school, took some history classes in college, and read some history in spare time. So, I can often provide a halfway decent answer to his questions. However, I really didn't know what to say when he asked me this weekend why WWI started and what the war was "about". I said some vauge things about Archiduke Ferdinand and pre-exsiting tensions and alliances. I am sure, based on his past behavior, he wasn't satisfied and will ask again. I'd like to do better next time. I've read books on this topic, but don't know how to distill them into an answer. What would you recommend saying? I want to help him understand what happened, at least to the level he can appreciate at this age, while avoiding the sort of pat explanations that might make the war seem sensible or noble.
Due to some personal motivations, I've been reading a lot about paranoia lately and most of the delusions I hear about involve modern technology, ie. wire taps, hidden cameras, etc. What are some examples of paranoid delusions before that technology existed?
In general, which elementary school grades cover prehistory? American colonial history?
My buddy posted a link to this awesome digital collection of acquaintance cards from the 1870s on Facebook recently and we've been trying to figure out what the phrase "when are you going to pay the old lady for your last week's washing," which is printed on a couple of the cards, is referring to. [more inside]
Does anyone know what the last segregated event was in the US ? I'm curious about "major events", say around 10,000 people. [more inside]
Books on Judaism and Hebrew? [more inside]
I'm working on an architectural research project on late gothic Germanic churches (from about 1500-1650), and feel hamstrung by my ignorance of the cultures and economies in which the architecture was produced. [more inside]
I'm asking specifically for nostalgia for a time before you were born, i.e. the Blitz parties/40s tea dances that have big in the UK for the past decade, or the popularity of Speakeasy-themed bars in the US. I'm thinking of nights that require you to dress in theme specifically and celebrate that time. [more inside]
I feel like high school Canadian history class, which was mostly a list of wars, sort of killed any interest in history that I may have had. Please recommend me some European/world/ancient history documentaries that will change my mind! [more inside]
I'm currently enrolled in a History Ph.D. program and will be eligible to leave with an MA in a couple of months. I've applied to finish my doctorate elsewhere, but, given some recent developments in my department, have decided that I would really rather leave after my MA regardless of whether I get in elsewhere this cycle. Help me brainstorm options. [more inside]
I've recently developed an interest in ancient history (yes, the recent history-related posts on the blue may have helped) and am looking for good books on the subject that I can buy/check out from the library. I'm particularity interested in technological and cultural histories of major ancient civilizations. [more inside]
Is there a list of important historical events which are now regarded (by at least a majority of historians) as true/accurate, which are or were recently regarded as fringe theories, hoaxes, or legends, or which are viewed as unimportant and given short shrift in US / western public school curricula and popular narratives? Links to lists or individual items appreciated. Thanks!
What good articles have you read about the Great Recession? I'm particularly interested in resources that help explain the causes, effects and responses to the recent Recession. Bonus if the article/video/infographic/etc. helps explain how the causes, effects, or responses are similar to or different than the causes/effects/responses to the Great Depression. [more inside]
Alright, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up! Great resources on the early history of Hollywood? [more inside]
I'm a grad student in conservation biology who has always had a strong interest in conservation issues. However, I feel like the technical side of my education is much stronger than the philosophical side, and I want to restore that balance. Who should I read, what resources should I look into, what organizations or publications are out there that will help me gain a deeper understanding of the philosophical, historical, and cultural components of environmentalism? [more inside]
I'm trying to learn more about the history of the bombing of Dresden, and am looking for the most reliable (yet accessible) source. [more inside]
This is driving me crazy...it was a very readable book that described several (eleven?) American historical disasters, including I think the S.S. Sultana tragedy. (Or, some other steamship fire.) [more inside]
I'm interested in tea and its history, especially its role in global trade and conflict. Are there any great nonfiction books that cover the subject without focusing exclusively on a certain time period or location? [more inside]
I was thinking back to high school, when I spent hours browsing archives such as the Jargon File, the d20 SRD, and bash.org. Of course, these are just scratching the surface - I read pages and pages of D+D files, funny anecdotes, and interesting stories on personal sites. I miss the magic of diving into a site like that - any recommendations?
Baa Baa Blacksheep, Twinkle Twinkle, and the alphabet song are all the same tune. How is it that one song has been used for three well known songs? What are some other examples of songs being the exact same tune but with totally different lyrics? (I'll accept rip off/coincidence type things like Born This Way/Express Yourself, but I'm looking more for examples where the identical-song-different-lyrics thing was deliberate and done knowingly.)
I'm looking for any pointers to articles, books, or information about the history of pre-modern, non-Western thought about the possibility of extraterrestrial life. (To be clear, I'm not looking for anything about "ancient astronauts" or whether the ancient Egyptians were guided by aliens or anything like that.) [more inside]
I would like to harvest file-system activity from my operating system on an ongoing basis so that in the future I can look back on the data to see what files I was working on at a given time. I'm using windows 7. Basically something like the web history in a browser, but for my local files and applications. [more inside]