Echoes of Mayerling: The Unlikely Career of Countess Marie Larisch

by Greg King and Penny Wilson

By 1918, the Austro-Hungarian and the German Empires had collapsed into nothingness.  Imperial families were stripped of their titles and relegated to the status of citizen; their laws and traditions were wiped away and—absent the suffocating censorship of their former rulers—artists, musicians, playwrights, and writers burst forth with a wave of creativity as they explored previously banned historical and cultural subjects.  At the same time, attracted by the combination of this immediate post-war artistic excitement and middle Europe’s gorgeous scenery, motion-picture companies descended on the larger cities, including Munich in the former kingdom of Bavaria.

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Posted in Modern History

The Mafia’s President: Nixon and the Mob

by Don Fulsom

Unbeknownst to most people even now, the election of 1968 placed the patron saint of the Mafia in the White House. In other words, Richard Nixon would go on to not only lead a criminal presidency; he would be totally indebted to our nation’s top mobsters.

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Posted in Contemporary History

The Mayflower Compact

by Rebecca Fraser

Although the Mayflower’s crew were experienced sailors—Captain Jones had spent a lifetime transporting wine, while the two pilots or mates, John Clarke and Robert Coppin, had previously been to Virginia and New England—Jones had never travelled beyond Europe and he became alarmed by the huge waves, roaring breakers and shoals between Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. Instead of continuing south towards Virginia, he decided it was safer to turn the ship around and sail back up the coast to Cape Cod. Where Provincetown now stands on a slender peninsula curved around like a lobster claw, the Mayflower made anchor at sunrise on 11 November 1620, after just over two months at sea.

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Posted in Modern History

Women Writers as Scolds, Again

by Jeff Biggers

Brand her a “common scold.”

That, in a nutshell, has been the “enough already” sentiment cast at Hillary Clinton’s new memoir, What Happened, by everyone from late night TV hosts to newspaper columnists. An ancient common-law crime applicable only to women, “common scold” once referred to “angry” and “troublesome” females who supposedly sought to “break the public peace, increase discord, and become a public nuisance.” Communis rixatrix, as a federal judge explained in 1829, “for our law-latin confines it to the feminine gender.” Two centuries ago, the court was bound to “inflict the punishment of ducking” in a river on a common scold.

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Posted in Contemporary History, Modern History

The Story of the Real Ichabod Crane

by Philip Jett

“It was the very witching time of night that Ichabod, heavy-hearted and crestfallen, pursued his travel homeward. . . ” In Washington Irving’s 1820 classic short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the principal character (with a head still on his shoulders) was Ichabod Crane, an itinerant schoolmaster, whose physical description has been seared into our memories since childhood:

He was tall and exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, and feet that might have served for shovels. His head was small, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snipe nose . . . To see him striding along on a windy day, with his clothes bagging and fluttering about him, one might have mistaken him for some scarecrow eloped from a cornfield.

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Posted in Contemporary History, Military History

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