D-Day: What Was Operation Tarbrush X?

Invasion of Normand

by Giles Milton

General Eisenhower and the architects of D-Day knew that the Allied landings would only be successful if they had up-to-the-minute information about the German coastal defenses.

They already had French spies working on their behalf—and we’ll get to more of this a little later—but they also needed to smuggle daring agents across to the beaches of Normandy in order to undertake close inspections of the enemy fortifications.

It was not for the faint-hearted. It was highly dangerous, with the certainty of death at the hands of the Gestapo, if captured. So who on earth would volunteer for such work?

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Posted in Military History, Modern History

A Family Memoir of War Across Three Continents

by Mieke Eerkens

Internment Camp Lampersari, Semarang, Dutch East Indies, December 28, 1942

Authority in Lampersari is established immediately. As they enter the camp, some women are pulled from the line and their suitcases opened to be searched for contraband: money, Dutch or English printed material, radios, and more. Sjeffie, now eleven years old, watches wide-eyed as the Japanese officers hit mothers with their batons to make them move when they get off the trucks. They shout orders in a language none of the prisoners understand, and when these orders aren’t followed, the flat ends of their sabers come down hard on whomever they happen to reach, sometimes splitting flesh and drawing blood. It’s a new violence for most of these children, and a cacophony of cries adds to the chaos. Luckily, Sjeffie’s  mother is  toward the back of the group of arriving prisoners and escapes injury, though  later in the year she  will not be so lucky, and her children will have to watch her being beaten to the ground  because she  doesn’t notice an officer approaching and therefore fails to bow to him in time.

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Posted in Modern History

“A Declaration” that Changed the Course of History

by Rick Atkinson

The fateful news traveled swiftly on the post road from Philadelphia, covering more than ninety miles and crossing five rivers in just a couple of days. Precise copies were then made of the thirteen-hundred-word broadside, titled “A Declaration,” that arrived at the Mortier mansion headquarters, and by Tuesday, July 9, General Washington was ready for every soldier in his command to hear what Congress had to say. In his orders that morning, after affirming thirty-nine lashes for two convicted deserters, he instructed the army to assemble at six p.m. on various parade grounds, from Governors Island to King’s Bridge. Each brigade major would then read—“with an audible voice”—the proclamation intended to transform a squalid family brawl into a cause as ambitious and righteous as any in human history.

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Posted in Military History

Lyndon Johnson: The Making of a Politician

by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Updated for 2019 with a new foreword from the author, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream is an extraordinary and insightful biography of the former president. This book traces the 36th president’s life from childhood up to his early days in politics, and from his leadership of the Senate to his presidency, analyzing his dramatic years in the White House—including both his historic domestic triumphs and his failures in Vietnam. Keep reading for an excerpt.

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Posted in Modern History

The Golden Age of the Pullman Car

by Jack Kelly

2019 marks the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. When builders pounded the golden spike at Promontory Point, Utah, on May 10, 1869, they opened a new era in transportation. But long train trips required innovations in passenger cars. Sleeping cars operated by the Pullman Palace Car Company solved a problem and influenced American taste for decades to come.

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Posted in Modern History

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