How bad was the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918?

Yes it was a terrible tragedy, but many locales had much worse events fairly recently: Between 1917 and 1918 New York City’s crude mortality rate increased by 3.173 deaths per 1000 persons.  While tragic, the hollow circles in Figure 1 depict 12 other years where the year-over-year increase in mortality exceeded the magnitude of the […]

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The lost colony of Roanoke was never lost, rather it integrated with Native Americans

The English colonists who settled the so-called Lost Colony before disappearing from history simply went to live with their native friends — the Croatoans of Hatteras, according to a new book. “They were never lost,” said Scott Dawson, who has researched records and dug up artifacts where the colonists lived with the Indians in the […]

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Claims about Richard Wagner

The truth is that Wagner’s popularity was already in relative decline during the Weimar Republic and simply fell further, more quickly, under the Nazis.  During the last years of the Kaiser’s Germany (and despite the cost and privation of the First World War), the Master’s works were still hugely popular, accounting for over eighteen per […]

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Three areas where you never run out of great books to read

Those three areas are: 1. The history of the British Isles 2. The history of the Jews, and 3. The history of World War II Each area has attracted remarkable talent, mostly in English I should add, and you can always read yet another great book in these areas, even if you already have consumed […]

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Claims about Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir

Viking society wasn’t homogeneous. They had dealings with many different cultures and they lived in varied environments, from Danish and Swedish pasture to the sub-Arctic tundra of Norway and Iceland. In the early 11th century the best-travelled woman in the world must have been Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir, whose remarkable journeys demonstrate the great distances the Vikings covered. […]

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*Missing: The Need for Closure after the Great War*

That is the new and excellent book by Richard Van Emden, and it covers how the British bureaucracy handled the reporting and identification of soldier corpses during and after the First World War.  Here is the author’s summary: Here is the story of the army’s hunt for legions of missing men.  How were they sought?  […]

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Why was modernism for so long so inexhaustibly creative?

Piet Mondrian moved to Hampstead on 20 September and lived in a studio opposite Ben [Nicholson] and Barbara [Hepworth] for almost two years.  Mondrian’s studio in Paris had become a kind of pilgrimage site for modern artists across Europe in the 1930s.  With no means of viewing art unless it was exhibited, the way to […]

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That was then, this is now, micro-states and empires edition

Monaco was granted sovereignty in the 1860s by Emperor Napoleon III of France, deposed a few years later. San Marino received its independence from the Roman Empire in the 4th Century, while Andorra was split off from the long forgotten Kingdom of Aragon in the 13th century. None of these great potentates would ever have […]

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That was then, this is now, Chinese bond edition

In chess, new context empowers previously redundant pieces. And one such piece could turn out to be some $1tn-plus (when compound interest is accounted for) of yet-to-be-cancelled pre-People’s Republic of China debt ranging from the Hukuang Railways Sinking Fund Gold Loan of 1911 and the Reorganisation Gold Loan of 1913, to the so-called Liberty Bonds of 1937. […]

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My Conversation with Nathan Nunn

Here is the transcript, audio, and video.  Here is part of the summary: Nathan joined Tyler for a conversation about which African countries a theory of persistence would lead him to bet on, why so many Africans live in harder to settle areas, his predictions for the effects of Chinese development on East Africa, why […]

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