Kissinger’s Shadow: A Q&A with Author Greg Grandin

Kissinger's Shadow

Q. Kissinger is frequently called a “realist,” but you disagree. How so?

There are lots of ways to define political “realism,” but at its heart is the idea that “reality” is objective and observable – that one’s interests and power are knowable. Kissinger is often associated with this worldview but the truth is, he believed in none of it. He didn’t (and still doesn’t, since his philosophy has been fairly consistent from his 1950 Harvard undergraduate thesis to his most recent book, World Order) believe human beings have access to “reality.” As he put it in 1950, “every man in a certain sense creates his picture of the world.” Read more ›

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Posted in Modern History

The End of Memory: Understanding the Spread Alzheimer’s

End of Memory

by Jay Ingram

Chapter 10 – A Deadly Progression

The prospect of slowing, interrupting or even stopping the disease seems daunting, but there might be a window of opportunity: How does the spread of the disease actually take place? Is it some kind of unfortunate coincidence whereby adjacent cells spontaneously begin to break down independently of each other—the result of a general environmental crisis in which they are embedded? Or do the crucial disease elements, the predecessors of plaques and tangles (or whatever they are), actually move from cell to cell, leaving a trail of destruction behind them? If the latter is the case (and the evidence supporting this theory is increasing), an opportunity does exist. Wherever you find traffic, there is the opportunity for roadblocks. Read more ›

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Posted in Contemporary History

The Heart Healers: Saving Men at the D-Day Beach Landings

Heart Healers ; D-D Landings

by James S. Forrester, M.D.

Chapter 2 – “What Man Meant for Evil, God Meant for Good”

In June 1944 at the D-Day beach landings, Dwight Harken was brought a dying soldier with a gaping injury to his sternum and ribs. The heart’s right ventricle lies directly behind the sternum, Nature’s impenetrable bony shield. Ancients saw Nature’s logic. The word sternum descends from the Greek word sternon, meaning a soldier’s breastplate. As his assistants used retractors to widen Harken’s field of view within the chest cavity, he saw shrapnel had penetrated the right ventricle. Read more ›

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Posted in Modern History

Hitler’s Art Thief – Hildebrand Gurlitt, the Nazis, and the Looting of Europe’s Treasures

Hitler's Art Thief - Hildebrand Gurlitt

by Susan Ronald

When I stepped into a large, Swiss bank vault in 1998 in my previous life as an investment banker, I had no idea that I would see a tiny portion of one of the greatest private looted art hoards of World War II. Hildebrand Gurlitt, one of Hitler’s four horsemen of the art apocalypse wrought on Europe’s museums and citizenry, had magically gone unnoticed by the world at large. Yet he succeeded in running rings round the Monuments Men and Hitler alike. It seems odd to me now that I knew some fifteen years before the news broke that Gurlitt had squirreled away tens of thousands of works of looted art into Swiss vaults and other hiding places. It was only in the writing of the book that I discovered he not only hid his own ill-gotten gains but also those of the Nazi elite. Read more ›

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Posted in Military History, Modern History

Ivory Vikings: Go Berserk in 5 Easy Lessons

Ivory Vikings

by Nancy Marie Brown

1. Take off your shirt.

“Berserk” comes from an Old Norse word meaning “bare-shirt” or, maybe, “bear-shirt.” Snorri Sturluson, the 13th-century Icelander who is our main source of Viking lore, isn’t clear (maybe on purpose). In his Edda, Snorri defines berserks as warriors dedicated to the Norse god Odin. Immune to fire and iron, berserks “wore no armor.” Read more ›

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Posted in Medieval History