The 18th-Century Politics of Santa Claus in America

by Judith Flanders

Instead of deriving from folklore, or quaint colonial customs, or religion, the American emergence of Santa Claus was rooted in late-eighteenth-century politics, in the formation of clubs and societies based around ethnic or cultural groups, which came together to promote themselves and their fellow immigrants: a St Andrew’s Society for Scots immigrants, St David’s for the Welsh, St Patrick and St George for the Irish and the English. In 1786 a mostly Irish group called itself the Sons of St Tammany. (Tamanend had been a Lenni-Lenape chief when European colonists first established Philadelphia, so the choice of name was a jab at the British.)

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Posted in Modern History

Paris Abandoned: The Realities of Armistice During World War II

by Anne Sebba

Slowly, the terms of the armistice began to sink in. The French had to pay for the 300,000-strong German Army of Occupation, amounting to twenty million Reichsmarks per day, paid at the artificial exchange rate. This was fifty times the actual costs of the occupation garrison. The French government was also made responsible for preventing citizens from fleeing into exile. Germany took almost two million French soldiers as prisoners of war – one of whom was Jean Herz, son of Bernard – and sent them to work in Germany. In Paris itself it took little time for new, bold black German signage to appear, with enormous swastikas displayed on the grand boulevards as well as flying from key public buildings such as the Chambre des Députés and the Sénat. On the streets German soldiers patrolling with bulldogs replaced elegant ladies window-shopping with poodles, while the best hotels and houses were swiftly requisitioned and thousands of hotel and restaurant staff were suddenly required to serve Germans.

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Posted in Modern History

The History behind the Mystery: Death in St. Petersburg

by Tasha Alexander

While the principal characters in Death in St. Petersburg are fictional, there are a handful in supporting roles (beyond Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra) who were real.

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Posted in Modern History

Owen Boyd’s Escape From Vincigliata Castle

Owen Boyd

by Mark Felton

John Leeming reflected on the journey that had landed him unexpectedly in the hands of the enemy. They had taken off from RAF Stradishall near Haverhill in Suffolk on 19 November 1940 bound for Cairo via the airfield at Luqa in Malta. Once in Egypt, the 51-year-old Owen Boyd was to assume deputy command of Allied air forces under Air Chief Marshal Longmore. The appointment of the energetic Owen Boyd to the Middle East came at a time when Britain was struggling to maintain its position in Egypt against a huge Italian assault. Read more ›

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Posted in Contemporary History, Military History

The True Story of Marine Special Operations Team 8222

by Michael Golembesky

The unforgiving Afghan winter has settled upon the twenty-two men of Marine Special Operations Team 8222, call sign Dagger 22, in the remote and hostile river valley of Bala Murghab, Afghanistan. The Taliban fighters in the region would have liked nothing more than to once again go dormant and rest until the new spring fighting season began. No chance of that—this winter would be different…

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Posted in Military History, Modern History
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