From Grace Kelly’s Wedding to a Women’s Shelter: A Woman’s Search for the Truth

by Nyna Giles and Eve Claxton

Nyna Giles was picking up groceries at the supermarket one day when she looked down and saw the headline on the cover of a tabloid: “Former Bridesmaid of Princess Grace Lives in Homeless Shelter.” Nyna was stunned, shocked to see her family’s private ordeal made so public—the woman mentioned on that cover, Carolyn Scott Reybold, was her mother.

Nyna’s childhood had been spent in doctor’s offices. Too ill, she was told, to go to school like other children, she spent nearly every waking moment at her mother’s side at their isolated Long Island estate or on trips into the city to see the ballet. The doctors couldn’t tell her what was wrong, but as Nyna grew up, her mother, who’d always seemed fragile, became more and more distant. Now Nyna was forced to confront an agonizing realization: she barely knew the woman on the magazine in front of her.

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Posted in Modern History

A Kidnapped Boy Becomes a Patron Saint

by Philip Jett

“My name is Patrick… I was taken prisoner. I was about sixteen… I was taken into captivity in Ireland, along with thousands of others,” Saint Patrick revealed in two letters written in the fifth century called Saint Patrick’s Confessio.

Did you know that Saint Patrick was born outside Ireland with a name other than Patrick, and he professed to be an atheist in his youth? What’s more, he likely would not have become a saint nor have a day for us to celebrate if he had not been kidnapped.

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Posted in Ancient & Medieval History

Dictators, the Books They Wrote, and Other Catastrophes of Literacy

by Daniel Kalder

Since the days of the Roman Empire dictators have written books. But in the twentieth-century, despots enjoyed unprecedented print runs to (literally) captive audiences. The titans of the genre—Stalin, Mussolini, and Khomeini among them—produced theoretical works, spiritual manifestos, poetry, memoirs, and even the occasional romance novel and established a literary tradition of boundless tedium that continues to this day.

How did the production of literature become central to the running of regimes? What do these books reveal about the dictatorial soul? And how can books and literacy, most often viewed as inherently positive, cause immense and lasting harm? Putting daunting research to revelatory use, Daniel Kalder asks and brilliantly answers these questions in his new book The Infernal Library.

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Posted in Modern History

Operation Chaos: An Untold Cold War Story

by Matthew Sweet

Stockholm, 1968. A thousand American deserters and draft-resisters are arriving to escape the war in Vietnam. They’re young, they’re radical, and they want to start a revolution. Some of them even want to take the fight to America. The Swedes treat them like pop stars—but the CIA is determined to stop all that.

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Posted in Modern History

The Secret Life of Suzanne Valadon

by Catherine Hewitt

In the 1880s, Suzanne Valadon was considered the Impressionists’ most beautiful model. But behind her captivating façade lay a closely-guarded secret. Suzanne was born into poverty in rural France, before her mother fled the provinces, taking her to Montmartre. There, as a teenager, Suzanne began posing for—and having affairs with—some of the age’s most renowned painters. Then Renoir caught her indulging in a passion she had been trying to conceal: the model was herself a talented artist.

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Posted in Modern History
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