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Writer & Historian

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Musings

The Post – A Film Review

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January 31, 2018
The Post – A Film Review

Steven Spielberg is the quintessential Hollywood movie director. He’s often too patriotic for my liking – Saving Private Ryan comes to mind – but sometimes he chooses topics that go beyond patriotism to real cinematic studies of historic events. The Post, about the risky publication of the Pentagon Papers, is one of those. It...
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American Expansionism Under Polk – A Book Review

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January 30, 2018
American Expansionism Under Polk – A Book Review

American expansionism is an ever-present threat in many parts of the world. Wherever, the United States has chosen to impose its democracy on a country in conflict, those populations suffer horribly. One of the early examples came in the form of the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, revisited in Peter Guardino’s The Dead March (Harvard,...
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A Funeral in Sweet Home – A Personal Reflection

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January 27, 2018

I attended a funeral a while ago. No one I knew. A friend of my wife’s family. A disabled woman. Fifty-three years old. In her fifty-fourth year, as we say. Fifty-three orbits round the sun and Lynette was gone. Cremated. A family memory of both loss and some relief. Lynette left several stuffed animals...
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Critics Misjudge Vietnam War Series – A Film Review

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January 9, 2018
Critics Misjudge Vietnam War Series – A Film Review

The other day a friend at the gym mentioned that he had been watching the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick documentary The Vietnam War. “I was on the wrong side,” he concluded repeating a phrase heard in the film. “We didn’t know what we were fighting for and they had everything to fight for.” Not all...
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Vietnam War Truths vs. Iraq War Propaganda

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January 9, 2018
Vietnam War Truths  vs. Iraq War Propaganda

America is a confusing place to live at the best of times, but in Trump times it gets even more puzzling. Are we really back to Cold War nuclear arms rattling? Are the top generals serious about reviving the notion of a winnable nuclear war? Are we any safer in this Twitter-riddled circus than...
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Hip Capitalist Journalism – A Book Review

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December 25, 2017
Hip Capitalist Journalism – A Book Review

I just resurfaced from reading 500 pages of a new biography on Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner. It’s called Sticky Fingers and my fingers are definitely feeling sticky. In fact, I feel icky all over after learning who Wenner has been all these years: unpleasant, greedy, boastful, untrustworthy, a cheat, and it goes on...
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City Slicker Goes Under Ground – A Coal Mine Article

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December 5, 2017
City Slicker Goes Under Ground – A Coal Mine Article

Twenty years ago, I found myself in a coal mine two kilometers under the Atlantic Ocean in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Recently I was reminded of the experience and the article I wrote about it. The Cape Breton Post reprinted the piece under the headline “City Slicker Goes Under Ground.” The article begins as...
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History Quiz Time!

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October 21, 2017

A friend recently suggested to a group of history lovers that they guess when the following statement was made and who made it. Here’s the statement: “When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be...
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History Quiz Answer

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October 21, 2017

Deuteronomy 20, 10-16 is the source. Moses and Joshua are the authors. The passage dates back to the 15th century BC.
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A Long Journey Ends…A New Journey Begins

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October 8, 2017
A Long Journey Ends…A New Journey Begins

As the late Tom Petty sang, “I won’t back down.” I started working on my PhD in history as I neared retirement in 2008, so I had to take that line pretty seriously. Truthfully, at times I was ready to back down. But in fits and starts – and with plenty of encouragement from family and...
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Books