Historical Figures

Nelson Mandela: My Prisoner, My Friend


by Christo Brand

My entire relationship with Nelson Mandela was instinctive. I never worked out or tried to analyse the dynamics of being the prison warder in charge of his daily life for 12 years, and his close friend for … Read the article

My Time On the Set With Marlene Dietrich


by Rory MacLean

Why are we drawn to certain cities? Perhaps because of a story read in childhood. Or a chance teenage meeting. Or maybe simply because the place touches us, embodying in its tribes, towers and history an aspect … Read the article

The Truth about Lincoln’s Beard

Abraham Lincoln

By Daniel Stashower

My son’s history teacher thinks I’m spreading lies.

To be fair, he was wonderfully polite about it. “I read your book,” he told me, standing by the punch bowl at Back to School night. “That story about … Read the article

The Many Names of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

By Rod Green

There can’t be many people who have never heard the name Nelson Mandela. His has become a household name, a name respected by everyone everywhere, from grandmothers to schoolchildren. Not so many people would recognize his other … Read the article

Napoleon: Son of the Revolution


By Alan Forrest


Napoleon’s rise owed everything to the French Revolution, to its ideals of liberty and equality, the meritocracy that lay at its roots, and the huge institutional changes that it wrought. Without the events of 1789, France would … Read the article

Kurt Vonnegut and the Dresden Bombings

By Charles J. Shields

The winter weather in Dresden lifted abruptly on Shrove Tuesday, February 13, 1945, ushering in a hint of spring. On this last day before the beginning of Lent, small children begged to be allowed to wear … Read the article