In 1939, on the eve of World War Two, three school girls Margaret, Mary and Katherine were evacuated from London; their destination was "The Kilns" in Risinghurst, [the home of C.S. Lewis] three miles east of Oxford city centre.
The School Girls, the Dark Lord and the WardrobeThat house was owned by a fellow of Magdalene College, Jack Lewis. Shortly after their arrival, he sketched out a few thoughts in his diary: "This book [the Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe] is about four children whose names were Ann, Martin, Rose and Peter. But it is most about Peter who was the youngest. They all had to go away from London suddenly because of Air Raids, and because Father, who was in the Army, had gone off to the War and Mother was doing some kind of war work. They were sent to stay with a kind of relation of Mother's who was a very old professor who lived all by himself in the country".
The high fantasy concept of that book had been forming for over twenty-five years. Because at the age of just sixteen, he had sketched out a mental picture of a faun [Tumnus] "carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood" meeting Lucy, a character he now connected with one of his young guests.
At one desperate impasse when solo efforts to develop the novel were failing abysmally , Lewis had turned to an academic colleague. John Tolkien had also made no progress whatsoever in developing an initially promising concept ("In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit"). Realising that their authoring skills were woefully inferior to their powers of grand envisioning, they embarked about the failed collaborative project The Witch, the Hobbit and the Wardrobe. That was during the early days of the General Strike, a transformative milestone event which would change both of their lives.
Because Tolkien soon drifted off into the fringe of right wing politics. The financial crisis brought him to power as the head of an artistic-political movement. His demagogic leadership was one of the chief reasons why Margaret, Mary and Katherine had been sent out of harm's way before the air raid sirens started. And the glimmer of the spark of an idea for a new central character in the Lewisian imagination: a Dark Lord arising in Narnia.
In 31 BC, on this day the decisive confrontation of the Final War of the Roman Republic was fought on the Ionian Sea at the Battle of Actium.
Battle of ActiumThe combatants were the combined forces of Mark Antony and Queen Cleopatra VII of Ptolemaic Egypt (pictured) set against a fleet commanded by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa on behalf of Gaius Octavius Thurinus. The allied victory at Actium marked a defeat for both Octavius and Cleopatra.
The undisputed victor was Anthony who went on to win the war, and as the first emperor, ruled both the Roman world and also Egypt from Rome.
Very much the junior partner in political and military terms, Egypt needed a powerful Roman army to keep Cleopatra on the throne. The alliance did not survive the Final War of the Roman Republic and in despair, Cleopatra killed herself by inducing an Egyptian cobra to bite her.
In 1945, the formal cessation of hostilities in World War Two was marked on this day by the counter-signature of the Treaty of Tokyo by US Secretary of State James F. Byrnes and Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu.
Genzai Bakudan Part 2The Allied delegation had arrived onboard the USS Missouri, the American battleship named after the home state of the absent US President. Because Harry S. Truman had followed diplomatic protocol, opting out of attendance after Emperor Hirohito had declined to attend, instead both chose to send a high-ranking representative.
Of course if the Imperial Japanese Navy had succeeded in destroying the US Pacific Fleet with its experimental nuclear weapons, then the USS Missouri would also have been missing. Because less than three weeks before, both Governments had conducted demonstration detonations of their respective atomic bombs. Although the US programme was far more technologically advanced, Allied Scientists had been fooled into believing that Japan had sufficient capability to turn an Allied Invasion into a military disaster.
In a key note speech he delivered at the ceremony, Allied Supreme Commander Douglas McArthur spoke of the development in apocalyptic terms: "Men since the beginning of time have sought peace.... Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. We have had our last chance. If we do not now devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door".
Inside of five years, that prediction would be put to the severest test (as would any doubt that conventional warfare had been superseded by atomic weapons). As the UN Supreme Commander in Korea, MacArthur would lead an international force which included troops from Imperial Japan. Facing defeat at the hands of the Chinese Communists, a desperate MacArthur would request authorisation for the detonation of thirty to fifty nuclear weapons on Chinese Military bases in Manchuria. There could be "No Substitute for Victory" warned Brass Hat.
In 1859, even with the grand instruments of their day, the scientists of Old could barely describe the Charge that wiped out much of life on Earth. According to papers scavenged in Old libraries and laboratories, the Charge was a "geomagnetic storm" that started on August 28.
Solar Storm Brings Apocalypse Most of the world saw the beginning of the Charge as a thing of beauty. The auroras shone brightly, almost to be seen by day in the north. At night, they shone as far south as America, Japan, and even to the Caribbean. Many people thought it was early dawn, but Kew Observatory's magnetograph recorded that something was tampering with the magnetic fields of Earth.
A new story by Jeff ProvinePapers from a man called Richard Carrington suggested that it was the Sun that caused the Charge, spitting off a kind of "solar flare", an enormous arch of fire that flew out of our star and toward the Earth. He had watched as sunspots and smaller flares boiled from the angry core. Even a great mind like his did not know why.
Telegraph systems were the messengers of our doom. Sparks began to leap from wires and pylons, shooting electricity where there should have been none. Machines became so hot that paper caught fire around them. Even when disconnected, telegraphs typed out nonsense messages, almost as if they were warnings.
Survivors of the Charge say that they felt the air become prickly with static electricity. The sky began to turn red, and the day became hotter than imaginable. People took shelter underground, but only those deep enough in ravines and mines would survive. Judging from census records that escaped the fires of the Charge, some 99% of the human race was dead by the third of September.
Humanity reemerged around mining centers such as California, West Virginia & Pennsylvania, the North of England, Germany, South Africa, China, and Chile. Over the past 150 years, we have repopulated, but few imagine a day when we will match the greatness of civilization, technology, and learning like the Days of Old. For now, as it has been since the Charge, we continue to scavenge what resources we can from Old and feed ourselves with what remains of Mother Nature.
In 1974, the KGB underwent a massive shakeup in its top echelons as agency chief Yuri Andropov and his five most senior deputies, along with the KGB's London station chief and western European regional director of operations, were all fired for their respective roles in the chain of events leading to the assassination of Harold Wilson and the subsequent collapse of the agency's spy network in Britain.
KGB Shake-up by Chris OakleyPost-Cold War historians would cite the shakeup as the beginning of the end for the KGB; the loss of so many experienced executives, with the collapse of Soviet intel operations in the UK, would compromise Soviet covert activities in the West to such a degree that Reagan administration CIA director William Casey would later compare the KGB to "a truck with three flat tires and both headlights broken".
The shakeup also seriously disrupted KGB efforts to combat foreign espionage on Soviet soil - and last but not least, it effectively ended Andropov's political career. Before the Wilson fiasco Andropov had been one of the most powerful men in the Kremlin and was considered in some circles a possible successor to CPSU general secretary Leonid Brezhnev; after his firing, however, Andropov would effectively become persona non grata in Moscow. His dismissal is thought to have been a factor in his death from cirrhosis in 1979 at the age of 65.
In 1956, the Sunday edition of the New York Times headlined the release of the so-called "Inga-Binga letters" between Democratic vice-presidential nominee John F. Kennedy and Inga Arvad.
President Warren, Part 2The letters, which established a romantic link between Kennedy and Arvad dating to his service in the Navy during World War II, were politically devastating, for Arvad, a newspaper reporter and aspiring movie star, was suspected by the FBI of spying for Hitler. Although the charges were never proven, they would cast a shadow over her professional life - and with the release of the letters, over Kennedy's as well. The young senator, whose political career had been helped by his status as a war hero as well as his personal charisma and vast family fortune, would prove unable to shake the suspicion that he had been played for a patsy by an agent of the Third Reich because he had been unable to, as Lyndon Johnson privately put it, "keep it in his pants" with her. Kennedy, who had been considered a future presidential prospect, was now damaged goods.
The Arvad scandal would prove crippling for Kennedy's political patron President Adlai Stevenson as well. Already hurt in the South by his reluctant decision to drop Vice-President John J. Sparkman from the '56 ticket - a decision Sparkman had essentially forced on him through the Alabaman's increasingly public opposition to the President's liberal policies on civil rights - he now found himself battered in the Northeast and Midwest. In November, Republican William F. Knowland would win the presidency with 296 electoral votes.
Stevenson would subsequently earn a kind of redemption as an elder statesman, and would be returned to the Illinois governor's mansion by the voters in 1964.. Kennedy would be less fortunate: in 1958, he would narrowly lose to Boston lawyer Vincent J. Celeste. He would never again hold public office, though he remained active politically until his death from complications of Addison?s disease in 1979.
Over the years, there would be considerable speculation as to the source of the Times story which derailed the then-promising young senator's career. One popular notion fingered labor boss James Hoffa of the Teamsters, with whom Kennedy had begun to feud while in the Senate. Another suggested the source was FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, known for collecting damaging and salacious material on political figures. No completely certain proof of either claim, or any other, would ever be found.
In 1945, wisely disregarding the howling protests of the French Union, US President John Nance Garner recognised the Sovereign Nation of Vietnam just one hour after the new Head of State Nguyen Ai Qoc (pictured) issued a declaration of independence in Saigon. Assisting imperialists to put down revolts in former colonies was not only un-American, said Garner, it was surely the quickest route to fast-tracking nations into the Communist World.
A show case for democracyDetermined to honour the "Atlantic Charter" commitments to indigenous peoples in the defeated British and French Empires, Garner recognised the sign of respect that President Qoc was signalling to the United States. Because the Declaration of Independence was broadly similiar to the infant American nation's own announcement to the Imperialists in 1776.
More than that, President Qoc, and his talened military commander Vo Nguyen Giap had been formidable foes in the recent struggle against the Japanese. So much so, that when Operation Deer Team parachuted into a jungle headquarters at Tan Trao north of Hanoi in July they found copies of the American Declaration of Independence and Constitution on the walls and a framed picture of George Washington on the desk. Because the seven OSS men led by Major Allison Kent Thomas were on a mission to help a band of two hundred eilte guerrillas fight the Japanese yet they soon discovered that their leader was seriously ill from malaria, dysentary and other tropical diseases. After administering quinine and sulfa drugs, the team medic and an officer of the Chase Manhattan Bank Paul Hoagland soon exclaimed that "this man doesn't have long for this world".
By the time Qoc had made a full recovery, the Japanese had surrendered and - thanks to the American solidiers - he was fit and well enough to led a hundred thousand man demonstration of nationalism through the streets of Saigon.
In Washington, a new Cold War logic had set in. The philosophy was that any country that didn't join the United States and the Western World was a gain for the Soviets and communism. And Garner was wise enough to see the value of keeping onboard the determined Vietnamese who had a endured a two thousand year struggle for independence. Consequently his strategy of exporting democracy would win the day, the inherently negative policy of containment favoured by the State Department would be wisely disregarded.
In 1969, fan pressure forces NBC to renew Star Trek for a fourth season, in spite of its low ratings. They move it from the Friday night "death slot" they had placed it in to a more congenial Thursday at 7PM, and, to their great surprise, the series shots up in the ratings.
Fourth Season of Star Trek by Robbie TaylorThe fourth season is greeted by fans as the show's best yet, and it climbs from the cellar of the Nielson's to the #4 spot. Advertising picks up on the show, and NBC gives it a 5th season.
The show hits its stride as critics come aboard, hailing the writing and acting on the series, and Star Trek spends most of season five as the number 1 show on television. Although its creator, Gene Roddenberry, had planned to end the series after 5 years, and even had the show's intro state that the Enterprise was on a "5-year mission," he was easily convinced to extend that to six, seven and then eight. William Shatner's opening lines were changed from a 5-year mission to "continuing mission".
NBC was more than willing to renew the series for ninth season, but stars William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, James Doohan and others were ready to move on to other projects. They did reunite for several feature films later on, and George Takei's character Sulu was given his own spinoff series, "Excelsior", in 1976.
In 1666, London's Pudding Street erupts in flames after a small fire that started in King Charles II's baker's house finds London to be one huge mass of tinder. The conflagration overwhelms the merchants who come to fight it, and when it reaches Thames Street, becomes a raging inferno that cannot be doused.
Great Fire destroys London by Robbie TaylorUnable to stop it, the city's people flee as quickly as they can, but most don't run quickly enough.
Virtually the entire city is reduced to ashes when the flame finally burns out four days later, and half of its inhabitants, including King Charles II himself, lie dead in the rubble. Charles' brother James assumes the throne of England and moves the capitol to Windsor. A half-hearted attempt is made to rebuild London, but it never gains any ground, and the city that once stood as a Roman outpost and became a symbol of a great nation blows away on the winds of time.
In 1968, defeated Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Strom Thurmond announces he will remain in the race, as the candidate of the newly-formed American Independent Party. Georgia governor Marvin Griffin will serve as his running-mate.The all-Southern ticket will capitalize on lingering resentment in the South over President Kennedy's use of federal troops to quell the widespread anti-integration violence of October 1962.
All-Southern ticket by Eric LippsIt will draw heavily from conservative Southerners who have become alienated from the Democratic Party but who cannot forgive the Republicans for being the party which presided over the defeat of the Confederacy, the abolition of slavery, and Reconstruction. These will include Governor Griffin's supporters, who had re-elected him in a landslide in 1962 following his narrow victory over the more liberal Carl E. Sanders in that year's Democratic primary.
In 1951, on this day the momentum in Syria's war with Israel shifted dramatically in the Israelis' favor as Israeli air force fighter squadrons mounted a surprising bombing raid on Syrian army positions in the Golan Heights and knocked out several key artillery positions.
In 2003, Jacob Sheridan and 20 of Australia's elite forces leave for Antarctica again, bearing a machine he has developed. Livinia Nixon comes out of her coma, and nearly breaks free from the restraints on her hospital bed.
In 2004, President Gore declares martial law across the U.S. in order to regain some control over the country. Many nations are performing similar actions as they struggle to quell the fear that has blanketed the earth after the announcement that Elders, aliens from a galactic civilization, have been discovered behind the unrest in China.
In 1996, Dr. Melvin Courtney and Professor Malcolm Thomas try another set of controls in the object at Edwards Air Force base in California. With a hideous speed, they find themselves hurtling into the sky. Before they can stop the object, they have broken through the atmosphere and are in orbit over the earth.
In 1959, Huan Yue is finally persuaded to leave Li Huang-Sen's side and get some rest herself; she has been at his bedside since he slipped into a coma the previous day. While walking on the deck of the ship she is sailing on, she feels something call to her, and looks out over the ocean. A man seems to be standing on the water, beckoning her to come to him. She turns away and runs back to Li's bed.
On this day in 1971, the British royal family fled to Balmoral Castle in Scotland after riots devastated half of London.
On this day in 1983, Charles Barkley officially enrolled at the University of Alabama.
On this day in 1944, the Red Army accepted the surrender of the last remaining German troops in Warsaw.
On this day in 1953, NATO ground troops began deploying along the border between West and East Germany in anticipation of a possible Soviet attack. That same day the US Congress passed a resolution authorizing President Harry S. Truman to use force against the Soviet Union and China if either nation attacked American forces overseas.
|Harry S. Truman|
On this day in 1939, Xavier March, now seventeen, enlisted in the German navy and began U-boat training.
In 1787, the U.S. Constitution is passed in Congress. It will now be sent to the individual state legislatures for ratification, and will be considered to be in effect for all thirteen states once the legislatures of nine of them, a two-thirds majority, have approved it. Its provision for a lifetime presidency proves contentious. Over the next several years, to alleviate concerns about the rise of an American monarchy, Congress will pass a series of amendments to the original constitution guaranteeing various rights to individuals. This set of amendments will come to be known as the Bill of Rights.
In 1945, Ho Chi Minh, leader of the Vietnamese guerilla force that had successfully fought against the Japanese occupation of the French colony, declares Vietnam independent as Japan formally surrenders. Although the French are extremely reluctant to give up the jewel of Indochina, pressure from the other Allies leads them to recognize the new situation in Vietnam. A grateful Minh leads Vietnam to much closer ties to the west than other communist nations, which spares the Vietnamese from such difficulties as the Koreans during their civil war in the '50s.
In 784 AUC, the Egyptian/Roman forces of Marc Antony and Cleopatra clashed with Roman ruler Octavian at Actium in Greece. Although he had many brilliant commanders, Octavian?s men were only able to hold the line against Marc Antony. The bloody battle convinced the two sides to maintain an uneasy truce, with Marc Antony and Cleopatra ruling the eastern half of the Roman Empire and Octavian in control of the west.
In 1991, Dean Martin's 26th Muscular Dystophy Telethon raises over $45 million; "Dean's Kids" get that much closer to a cure. One of the highlights of this Telethon was Martin's reunion with his old partner, Jerry Lewis.
In 1973, John R. R. Tolkien, renowned English scholar at Oxford, dies at the age of 73. Professor Tolkien's rendition of the classic tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight inspired a phenomenal resurgence of interest in the Arthurian legends.
In 1944, Senator Prescott Bush of Connecticut loses his son George in World War II. The younger Bush's plane was hit by German fire and went down, with Bush heroically attempting a crash landing in order to save his crew.
In 1863, Human League founder Lyle Fitz-Warren is killed during a fight with a British Terrorism Unit. Fitz-Warren had been holed up in an Islington flat with 4 other League members; when the BTU arrived to arrest him, they tripped several traps the Human League had placed in the building, killing a dozen bystanders and BTU members. The fight to get Fitz-Warren lasted over 7 hours.
In 1666, the great city of London was destroyed by 5 days of uncontrollable fire. Tens of thousands of people died in the fires, and the city itself was leveled. Pope Charles declared it the work of Protestant heretics, and orchestrated a massacre of thousands of Protestants in southern England.
In Hellenic Year 3271, Phidippides of Athens, running from Marathon to seek aid from Sparta against the Persians, collapsed and died at Sparta's gates before he could deliver his message. The Persians overran Hellas as a consequence.
In 1973, the scholarly giant of modern England, John R. R. Tolkien died in Bournemouth, England. His escapist fantasy writing enabled him to release the combat tension suffered as a Second Lieutenant in 1916. "To the Firstborn the world grew old and grey. In that time the last of the Nolder set sail from the Havens and left Middle-earth for ever. [Tolkien] took the the ship ..
Until the seas of the Bent World fell away beneath it, and the winds of the round sky troubled it no more, and borne upon the high airs above the midst of the world it passed into the Ancient West, and an end was come for the Elder of story and of song". ~ Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
In 1189, Richard I of England (a.k.a. Richard "the Lionhearted") was crowned at Westminster. Just three years later, he was elected the King of Jerusalem. Alongside Philip II of France, he embarked on the Third and ultimately successful Crusade which restored the Holy Land to Christendom on 28 April 1192.
In 1945, US President Harry S Truman says he will join the stuggle vs Hitler on the side of the USSR. Meanwhile, it is feared that all but a handful of European Jews have been mass murdered. Several thousand are believed to be hiding in Northern Russia.
In 1945, following Victory in Japan Day, US President Harry S Truman announced support for the Soviet Union in its continued struggle with Nazi Germany.
the first Franco-Prussian War reaches an unexpected conclusion at the Battle of Sedan
. French forces take Kaiser Wilhelm I and 150,000 of his soldiers prisoner as the German nation is strangled at birth. In a famous picture of Napoleon III having a conversation with Bismarck after being captured in the Battle of Sedan, the Iron Chancellor indicated that he had serious doubts about the future and stability of the recently-founded German empire
. However, he had no doubt that in the future, more robust attempts would be made, Prussian militarism could not be denied.
a small fire was extinguished at the bakery of Thomas Farriner in Pudding Lane shortly after midnight on Sunday, 2 September. Historians disagree as to whether a great fire of London could have played a part in preventing future pandemics. The Great Plague epidemic of 1665 is believed to have killed a sixth of London's inhabitants, or 80,000 people, and it is sometimes suggested, given the fact that plague epidemics recurred in London after the fire, that a Great Fire could actually have saved lives in the long run by burning down so much unsanitary housing with the accompanying rats and their fleas (which transmitted the plague). However, there was no great fire, and London was devastated by the Second Year of the Plague in 1667 as described by Robert Silverberg in his history epic The Gate of the Worlds
In 330 BC, the Macedonian Army crossed the border into neighboroughing Scythia in pursuit of the defeated Persian Emperor Darius III.
King Alexander III of Macedon perishes in his Scythian MisadventureIt was a deadly trap set by Darius who knew fulll well that the overbold Alexander (pictured) would encounter precisely the same difficulties that made Scythia so problematic for his own army. Because the Macedonian's limited mounted forces were quite simply no match for a fully mobile nation. Rather they were unable to pull off the same flanking movements that they had in sedentary near eastern battles, and their highly trained Macedonian and Greek foot soldiers were massacred by the Scythians.
Darius then returned and set about raising a fresh Army to retake Persia, however his authority had been broken at Gaugamela. Instead he was succeeded by a relative, the prominent satrap of Bactria known as Bessus who would rule as Artaxerxes V, King of Asia.
In 1939, in a declaration from Buckingham Palace on this day, the Commander in Chief of the British Armed Forces King Edward VIII announced that the German invasion of Poland would not trigger a military response.
Buckingham Palace DeclarationEven though he had been drafting a declaration of war, the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was forced to back down because the armed forces of Britain and its Empire swear their loyalty to the Crown and not the Government.
From an amoral operational perspective, it was a moot point because of course intervention would have been hopeless; Poland fell in a matter of weeks, and the Germans began their plan their invasion of the common enemy, Russia. With their foreign policies finally in broad alignment - and perhaps more importantly the Nazi Military Machine pointing in the opposite direction - the British and German Governments began engineering collaboration first on jet engines, and then atomic bomb. This initiative was complemented by a very generous lend lease programme under which the German Government purchased heavy bombers built in England. Despite this support Victory in Russia Day was not declared until 1950, by which time the Axis Powers were of course massively in debt to London.
In 2004, U.S. Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, responding to questions posed to him at a West Coast campaign stop earlier that afternoon, told the New York Times one of his first official acts if he were elected president would be to sign an executive order instructing the Central Intelligence Agency to declassify and release all pertinent files regarding alleged ties between the agency's Eastern European branch and the rogue MI-6 operatives responsible for the assassination of British prime minister Harold Wilson thirty years earlier.
Wilson InquiryBut two days after the Times interview Kerry's opponent, incumbent president George W. Bush, beat him to the punch by directing CIA chief George Tenet to make the agency's Wilson assassination files public and launch an internal inquiry to determine just how closely the CIA's Eastern European branch had been working with Oarsman and the other conspirators in the Wilson assassination plot. That inquiry would later lead to the arrest of dozens of active and retired CIA personnel who would be prosecuted by the Justice Department under the administration of Bush's successor, Barack Obama.
In 2006, Mark Almond wrote in the Daily Mail ~ Held up by a Secret Service bodyguard in his dying moments after being shot in the stomach, this is President Bush being assassinated.
The Assassination of George W. BushThe American leader is surrounded by a crowd of panicking onlookers just seconds after being gunned down by a Syrian-born U.S. citizen outside a Chicago hotel.
But this shocking image, created by putting the President's face onto an actor with digital wizardry, is part of a new British drama for Channel Four about the War on Terror.
In Death Of A President, which has caused outrage in America and will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival this month, the shooting is a starting point for a fictional documentary about what happened next. So what would happen if President Bush was assassinated?
An article by Mark AlmondHere, a historian looks to the future ? and imagines the terrifying consequences. BEFORE that fateful day ? November 9, 2006 ? historians liked to say the world could never again lurch into global crisis because of one man's death, as it had in 1914 when Austria's Archduke Franz Ferdinand was murdered in Sarajevo, sparking World War I.
The assassination of John Kennedy at the height of the Cold War hadn't led to Armageddon in 1963, so why should things spiral out of control now if a president was murdered? That confident view was shattered as global communications networks froze from overload while transmitting round the world the picture of the 43rd President of the United States slumping forward after being fatally shot in the stomach.
The murder of George W. Bush set off a global crisis with which we still live today, ten years after he was killed.
Of course, in retrospect, we historians could see it all coming. In the summer of 2006, there had been the "proxy war" between America and Iran fought out in Lebanon between their two regional allies, Israel and Hezbollah. That war ended badly for Israel and emboldened Iran to defy the United Nations and, more to the point, the United States over its nuclear ambitions.
George W. Bush's hopes of bringing "peace through democracy" to the Middle East after his invasion of Iraq had already worn thin by autumn 2006. Anti-war demonstrations had become more numerous and security tightened everywhere.
The crude dum-dum bullet fired into the President's stomach that November day caused fatal bleeding and the media were reporting the suspected assassin's details within minutes.
Few people in America needed to know more than that the suspected killer of their President was Syrian-born. As the spotlight of blame focused on Syria, regarded by Americans as Iran's poodle, the Iranian Foreign Ministry didn't help its cause by issuing a perfunctory statement expressing regret that the President had "died in a violent manner" and hoping that the American people would soon choose a new one who would be more peace-loving.
It outraged Americans and George W's mother Barbara was overheard at the state funeral telling Cherie Blair: "It was like what you say to the maid when her dog gets run over. Get a new one, dear, you'll get over it".
The American public wasn't interested in the formal regrets from Damascus and Tehran. Television coverage showed scenes of jubilation on the streets of Syrian and Iranian cities.
The new President, speaking from a secure location" soon nicknamed Bunker One, announced that 'those who celebrate death will learn to taste it soon enough'. Dick Cheney appeared unfazed by the day's gruesome events.
While America closed ranks and mourned, across the Islamic world Bush's death was greeted with outpourings of joy. American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan got into firefights with local militias shooting in the air. Saddam's trial was suspended as the defendants hugged each other in the dock.
But what hurt Americans most was the Europeans' lack of grief. Officially, Europe, from Brussels to Berlin and Paris, expressed sorrow and outrage, and President Chirac led the EU mourners in Washington.
But there was nothing like the sadness which greeted Kennedy's murder four decades earlier.
Despite Britain's own experience of Islamic terrorism, the public response to the murder of the American president here was muted, at best ? and in some quarters, not all Muslim, it was joyful.
The Independent newspaper published its obituary with a front-page collage under the headline "Latest victim of war on terror".
A passport-style photograph of the late President was put in alphabetical order between a Marine sergeant, George Urban Bush, killed in Iraq the day before and an Air Force pilot, Ryan Caldwell, killed in a helicopter crash near Kabul on the same day the President was shot.
The BBC played a montage of Bush's malapropisms from 'Don't mis-underestimate me' to 'The nostalgia for my administration will only begin after it's over'.
The book of condolence at the U.S. embassy in London was thin, though the ambassador diplomatically put the short queue waiting to sign down to "fear of a terrorist attack".
At home and abroad, the gloating over Bush's death soon gave way to a sober realisation that he had actually been a check on Dick Cheney's ruthless way of defending America from enemies at home or abroad.
Executive orders authorising detention without trial of citizens as well as aliens suspected of "terrorist affiliations" and closing America's borders were signed off with astonishing alacrity, as were military plans to strike regimes that had celebrated Bush's death.
Syria was attacked, but Iran bore the brunt. Mass strikes by bombers and cruise missiles knocked out any capacity Iran had for making modern weapons, let alone nuclear bombs, but at a huge price. A country of 70million cowered under the shadow of burning oil wells and the pollution from devastated petro-chemical plants.
Fighting Iran turned out to be much bloodier than the blitzkrieg against Saddam's Iraq.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards had learned the lessons of Hezbollah's war with Israel. They avoided head-on confrontation with the U.S. Army's armoured columns. Ambush and sabotage were their weapons.
A grim war went on year after year in the lunar landscape which was much of Iran. As America struggled to find a replacement for the Ayatollahs' regime, even the willing support of Iranian ?migr?s from America wanting to wipe away the stain of the assassin's crime could not build a stable pro-U.S. government in Tehran.
In Britain, America's strike against Iran set off protests from East London to Yorkshire. Islamic radicals declared emirates in Blackburn and Bradford. Petrol bombs flew as the police tried to restore order.
Tony Blair decided he couldn't retire in a crisis. Instead David Cameron's Tories joined him in a National Government as endemic disorder in some urban areas was compounded by a dramatic increase in attacks on British troops in Basra and in parts of Afghanistan.
When Tony Blair stepped down in 2009 to join President Cheney's Anti-Assassination Commission, it was David Cameron who won the election, attacking Gordon Brown as out of touch with a world in crisis.
Oil prices went on climbing steadily, and no one needs reminding that petrol today is still ?3 a litre here and that David Cameron's 'green is the colour of national security' government only lets you buy 30 litres a week.
But for America, it was crises closer to home following George Bush's murder that shaped events.
Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon 'Those who celebrate death will learn to taste it soon enough' A grim war went on year after year in Iran seemed rejuvenated.
Even as U.S. planes and cruise missiles struck at targets across Iran, American naval power went into action against Iran's ally Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela. A wave of protests swept Latin America. Chaos engulfed much of Mexico, sending waves of refugees north to the American border.
US troops tried to keep them out and 'suspect types' were shipped to Guantanamo Bay for screening.
The Guantanamo Bay camp was enlarged to accommodate the internees. Castro's regime protested. The ailing Fidel wasn't really in charge any more and his brother, Raul, tried to boost his own public image by organising a mass march to the U.S. base.
Whatever the younger Castro meant to happen, the carefully orchestrated crowds began to pull at the fences around the camp and then to try to climb it.
What happened next is disputed. The U.S. Marines guarding the camp claimed Cuban secret policemen shot at the people trying to climb into the base to stop them escaping from communism. The Cuban authorities said their security forces opened fire to defend the protesters, who were being attacked by the Yankee soldiers. Soon 113 people, including women and children, were dead.
The "Guantanamo Massacre" provoked outrage in Havana. Cheney told Rumsfeld to "swat" Castro's regime once and for all. Another war of liberation broke out.
The backlash from these attempts to resolve America's foreign problems with decisive military strikes overshadowed the domestic impact of Bush's death. Iranian and Arab Americans weathered the wave of revenge pogroms set off by the assassination, but the bureaucracy of Homeland Security extended its surveillance over them, and pretty well anyone else.
Cheney's re-election campaign in 2008 was conducted in a virtual state of emergency, with him addressing the Republican convention by 3D video link from a secure location. The mood of ongoing crisis, combined with the choice of Jeb Bush as his Vice President, widely seen in America as a tribute to the slain President, ensured him a landslide.
For a man with a history of heart problems, Cheney's survival for almost ten years as president during what the New York Times called "Our Time of Troubles" was remarkable.
"I thrive on crisis," Cheney explained, "it was peace that got me tense". Occasionally he was short of breath, but Cheney even turned this to his advantage. Images of President Cheney in a wheelchair at Thanksgiving 2010 were carefully choreographed to recall Franklin Roosevelt in charge of the war effort 70 years earlier.
Despite the mayhem since Bush's murder, most Americans had preferred to stick by Dick Cheney. His no-nonsense manner reassured, even as crises kept recurring.
For an embattled America and its allies, this endless war, with its relentless suicide bombings, anarchy in countries all over the globe and brutal reprisals, became known as a "clash of civilisations". But how much worthy of the name civilisation remained to be defended?
In 1980, on this dark day in Northern Ontario, brother Terry Fox entered the final phase in the "Marathon of Hope", his cross-Canada run to raise money and awareness for cancer research. The road in Thunder Bay was lined with people shouting, "Don't give up, you can make it!" words that spurred him and lifted his spirits.
A meteor shining in the darkest nightWhilst he was suffering terribly, he knew how to cope with pain, running through it as he always had before; he had simply keep going until the pain went away. For three and a half thousand miles, from St John's, Newfoundland, Canada's eastern most city on the shore of the Atlantic, he had run through six provinces and now was two-thirds of the way home. He had run close to a marathon a day, for one hundred forty-three days. No mean achievement for an able-bodied runner, an extraordinary feat for an amputee. Terry's left leg was strong and muscular. His right was a mere stump fitted with an artificial limb made of fibreglass and steel. He had lost the leg to cancer when he was eighteen.
The next Terry Fox Run was held the following September. More than three hundred thousand people walked or ran or cycled, raising $3.5 million for cancer research. And three years later, he ran the marathon at the seventh Paralympic Games in New York City. "Terry Fox embodies what we hope to achieve. He's an incredible athlete, he's a hero"During the Gold Medal award ceremony, he announced plans for a new cross-America run in 1985.
Reading of Terry's goals, Four Seasons' President, Isadore Sharp, was also caught up in the dream of the "Marathon of Hope". He pledged $10,000 to the marathon and challenged 999 other Canadian corporations to do the same. "Terry Fox is like a meteor passing in the sky, one whose light travels beyond our view, yet still shines in the darkest night" said Sharp.
The thirtieth annual run is set for September 19, 2010. Since 1981, $550 million has been raised by 35 million participants in more than 40 countries around the world who have laced up for the event.
In 1969, an attempted coup in Libya failed to unseat the monarchy of King Idris I. Many of the coup plotters and their supporters were killed or imprisoned. One who was not was Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi, who escaped into exile in Syria, where he was sheltered by the Baathist regime of Hafez el-Assad.
Failed Coup in LibyaFrom his sanctuary in Damascus, the exiled Qaddafi would gradually establish a network of terrorist connections extending from the Palestinian Liberation Organization to the IRA. This network would become infamous for attacks on civilian targets, including the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am 747, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, with the loss of all on board, and a similar attack on French UTA DC-10 over Niger in which 170 people died. U.S. attempts to pressure the Assad regime to surrender Qaddafi for trial met with no success; neither did repeated attempts at the terrorist leader's assassination by Israel's Mossad.
A new story by Eric LippsQaddafi was finally captured while trying to flee during the U.S. invasion of Syria which followed that nation's 1999 attack on Israel, which has featured an unsuccessful attempt to use a nuclear device purchased from Pakistan. The device failed to achieve a nuclear explosion, but its conventional explosive trigger scattered lethal plutonium over a small area along the Israeli border. It was Qaddafi's attempt at a nuclear attack rather than a purely conventional one which would produce the firestorm of public outrage which would force President Clinton to take military action.
At Qaddafi's trial before the international Court of Justice in The Hague, it would be revealed that the Libyan had been instrumental in persuading Assad to obtain the nuclear device and carry out the attack. Assad himself would not be tried, having disappeared during the invasion; persistent rumors had him locked away in some secret U.S. or Israeli prison, but no proof of this would emerge.
By 1870, the Franco-Prussian war had gone as a disaster for the French. Prussia and its allies in the North German Confederation as well as Baden, Bavaria, and Wurttenberg had been hardened in the Austro-Prussian War a few years before while French troops were newly recruited. The most seasoned troops to be had were newly defeated and expelled from ambitions of empire in Mexico.
Trench Warfare at Sedan BeginsAfter the diplomatic fiasco of the Ems Dispatch being given to the press with what appeared as King Wilhelm insulting French demands, the French had to save face in a Europe that was leaving them behind. Napoleon III had begun the war with an incursion into the Rhineland, but the Germans countered with three massive armies marching into the north of France.
A new story by Jeff ProvineBattles were nearly continual defeats for France at Wissembourg, Wörth, and Mars-la-Tour. Gravelotte had been a victory, but the Prussians out-maneuvered the army and began the Siege of Metz. Approximately 190,000 French troops were pinned within German lines, and their attempt at breaking out by Noisseville did not seem promising. Instead, Napoleon III ordered Marshal MacMahon to lift the siege with the 120,000 men of the Army of Chãlons. The emperor accompanied the army, which was quickly pursued by the Prussian Third Army, itself accompanied by King Wilhelm as well as Chancellor Otto von Bismark.
The two armies met at Beaumont-en-Argonne, which became another defeat for France, losing 5,000 men and 40 cannon. They withdrew to Sedan, where the Germans again encircled them. Napoleon III (pictured) found his army meant to lift a siege under siege itself.
He had been warned not to try the Prussians in the open field, where their modern army could routinely outflank the French; Napoleon had ignored the advice. His initial reaction was to return to battle and break the siege with an advance, but he was stopped by a thought of his uncle, the first emperor Napoleon. Napoleon I had won his desperate victories being expert in artillery, the new weapon of the day. While French rifles were superior to those of the Germans, the Krupp-made artillery routinely served as the basis for French defeat. War had changed, a thing he had seen with Crimea and other engagements. Napoleon decided that instead of simply leading his troops in a charge to break out, it was time to find a new way to fight.
Just after midnight on September 1, Napoleon gathered several young commanders who had worked their way up through the ranks, just like his uncle. Taking their advice, he gave the order to organize thick battlements to avoid the German artillery and rely on the superior French rifle. By two in the morning, the sounds of shovels digging trenches rang through Sedan.
Bavarian General Baron von der Tann attacked across the river on pontoon bridges, leading to the first engagements. The French held their ground, and more brigades surged into the half-prepared earthworks. Fighting continued on into the morning, even though the Germans were unable to bring up their artillery. Marshall MacMahon was wounded, passing command to General August Ducrot, who followed Napoleon's order to dig in. By the time German artillery arrived at nine o'clock with additional Prussian troops, the French were holding ground in long trenches outside of the town and harsh urban warfare in the southern quarter.
By nightfall, the Prussians ended their advances. They had tried to break past the French defenses, but it only led to the deaths of hundreds of troops. Even with artillery, the Prussians could not advance except under fire of their own guns. That night, Wilhelm ordered more assaults, but each resulted in French driving their opponents back across the field. Where the Germans nearly broke through, French cavalry was quick to reinforce, and reserves followed soon behind.
In the morning, it became clear that the siege was a stalemate. Battles at Metz were similar, and Napoleon's order to dig in followed suit there. Bismark became increasingly agitated, worried that the larger nation of France would regroup if the war stretched longer than a few month. He pleaded with Wilhelm to break the siege and head toward Paris, forcing the French back into the open field where they could be again defeated. After three days of inconsequential assaults and counter-assaults, Wilhelm ordered Field Marshall Moltke to withdraw.
When the siege lifted, the French began to pursue the Germans as they disengaged, but artillery kept the French from carrying out a rout. For the rest of September, the Germans would carry out maneuvers in the north of France, but each would be blocked by French. As the fall turned to winter, the Germans arranged their own lines and dug trenches. Through the winter, only minor engagements would follow, and, in the spring, the war would return as the Germans made pushes toward Paris. By this time, the French had improved their artillery and continued trench defense. When the German allies of Prussia began to question the leading state, Bismark suggested a peace treaty be formed. Wilhelm agreed and sent notice to Napoleon, who received them at Versailles.
The terms of the Treaty of Versailles 1871 practically set back political powers to what they were the year before, except that Prussia would pay war indemnities. While the war was essentially a draw, the plan of a unified Germany had been halted. Bismark had suggested that Germany be a united nation-state by the treaty, but Napoleon refused to recognize such a move by Prussia. With the return to Prussia, Bismark dedicated the rest of his diplomatic career to the unification of German, though he was only able to solidify rule for Wilhelm in what had been the North German Confederation. Luitpold, the Prince Regent of Bavaria, led the states disgusted with the Prussian failure to defeat France in creating the South German Confederation. Meanwhile, the French Empire would continue as Napoleon IV succeeded his father in 1873, whose dying words were, "We were brave at Sedan.
In 1890, Bismark was fired by the new king, Wilhelm II, and German diplomacy fell to war over trade disputes. Even while Bismark was forced out of office, his legacy continued: a military machine developed with the intent of breaking trench defenses. The "kampfwagen" ("battle wagon") was an armored motorized transport powered by steam. In the German Civil War, Prussian kampfwagene stormed Bavaria and finally united the Germans under Wilhelm's rule as a "Kaiser".
International spirits frowned upon the war as well as the growing strength of a new power in central Europe. The Kaiser's government tried to find allies where it could, eventually taking up agreements with Italy, another young European state, and Austria-Hungary, which recognized the importance of empire. The French and the Russians had a long-standing alliance, as did Russia and Britain. With nationalistic furor, it was only a matter of time before war broke out, which it did in 1904 when Bavarian rebels were pursued into France, breaking German military jurisdiction. When France counter-invaded, Europe erupted into the Great War.
New diesel-powered kampfwagene stormed France, conquering Paris in a matter of weeks. The French Empire disintegrated, and Russia sued for peace as it was losing another war against the Japanese. With the upper-hand, Wilhelm gave demands the Czar could not meet, and Russia descended into civil war in 1905. Continuing war with Britain, the Germans were unable to defeat the military might of the British Navy, featuring its new massive Dreadnaught class of destroyer. Peace was mediated by American president Theodore Roosevelt in 1907.
With great gains seized from the French, whose republic evolved into a fascist supremacist socialism, and Russia, which became a loose confederation ruled by the Duma of Boyars, Germany took its place as the principle power of Europe, continuing the grand tradition of European emperors controlling vast lands across the world.
In 1969, military forces in Libya loyal to the nation's ruler, King Idris I (pictured), thwarted an attempted coup by a cabal of army officers driven by a stridently anti-Western ideology mixing Islam, nationalism and socialism.
Libyan Coup Foiled by Eric LippsAmong the officers involved in the coup was a colonel named Muammar al-Qaddafi. Col. Qaddafi would never face trial, however, having been shot and fatally wounded in the final confrontation between the would-be revolutionaries and the King's forces. Following his death, a minor personality cult would grow up around him among student leftists, just as had happened with Cuba's Che Guevara.
In 1928, the first man to achieve Nirvana in recorded history is born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Robert Pirsig studied the classical Greek works for many years before turning to the east and studying the works of the Zen masters. In 1960, he spent several days in a meditative state that his wife mistook for catatonia - she even went so far as to try to have him committed to a mental institution.
Church of Quality Founded by Robbie TaylorWhen the police came for him, he roused himself and spoke to them in perfectly lucid speech, convincing them that he was all right. He then spoke for several hours to his wife, who had been on the verge of divorcing him, and she saw that something special had happened to him. Pirsig soon began lecturing on Nirvana to the student body at the University of Chicago, where he was a graduate student at the time. His lectures drew dozens, then hundreds of students, teachers and curious onlookers, and had to be moved outside because U of C had no rooms large enough to contain all those who wished to hear Pirsig. As those who heard him speak spread news of his philosophy around the country, Pirsig was asked to speak at other places, and soon was in demand everywhere. His invocations of a life based on Quality stirred the American soul, and by 1970, his followers numbered in the millions. He was assassinated that year by a fanatical follower of the Reverend Billy Graham, who felt that Pirsig was the Anti-Christ. His movement lives on, though, and the Church of Quality is one of the largest in the country today.
In 1807, former US Vice-President Aaron Burr flees the young country he helped to found in order to escape conviction on charges of treason. Burr, along with a few hundred followers, establishes his own republic in the former French protectorate of Louisiana. He names himself president, but acts much more like a king. Many Americans who had been on the Tory side of the revolution, on hearing of Burr's new Gloriana, immigrated.
Gloriana by Robbie TaylorAlthough never large, Gloriana proved to be a thorn in the underside of the American nation as it tried to spread west, constantly harassing the Americans who attempted to settle in the Louisiana Purchase or move through it to Mexico and parts west. In 1823, President James Monroe decided that he could not leave office without handling "this minuscule king, this traitor, Aaron Burr," and asked for a declaration of war against Gloriana from Congress. The declaration passed swiftly, and Americans across the east coast signed up for the attack on Gloriana. Burr, seeing what was coming, tried to ask Mexico and the native nations around him for aid, but they all refused. The summer of 1823 saw the first border clash between Glorianans and Americans, and the Americans won handily. They pushed on swiftly, and the warm weather of south Louisiana allowed them to keep moving through winter and seize Burr's capitol of New Orleans. Burr himself fled and tried to rally what few Glorianans remained loyal to him at Natchitoches, but a disaffected Glorianan shot him on the way, putting an end to the small nation forever. By the time spring arrived in Louisiana, all the Glorianans had been repatriated into the US, and Burr's legacy was utterly destroyed.
In 1981, the first architect of the Third Reich, Albert Speer died on this day in London, England. In close collaboration with his confidant and architect of choice, Adolf Hitler cast his megalomania in concrete by radically reshaping the Berlin citys center.Architect of World Capital Germania, Albert Speer, dies in London
His dystopian World Capital Germania, in the Fuehrer's own words, would "Only be comparable with ancient Egypt, Babylon or Rome.
What is London, what is Paris by comparison!"
Speer's plans included the construction of two main boulevards, 120 meters (131 yards) wide and running cross-shaped through the city, lined with a number of gigantic buildings, halls, squares and triumphal arcs.
Critics have argued that Berlin's historical center was forever destroyed. The building that best illustrates Hitler's megalomania is the so-called Volkshalle (People's Hall). Around 320 meters (350 yards) in height and covered with a giant dome, it is the largest domed building in the world - able to accommodate 180,000 people at once. The Brandenburg Gate and even the Parliamentary Building look insignificantly tiny next to the enormous proportions of the People's Hall. The building's size has actually led to certain problems: With all 180,000 seats occupied, the condensed breath of the people accumulates in the dome and causes a rainfall.
In 2004, world-wide riots break out as news of the possible Elder presence in China spreads around the globe. Many governments are simply overwhelmed by the unrest; Thailand, The Philippines, much of northern Africa, large sections of the American west and most of Central Europe fall victim to the chaos.
In 1959, Li Huang-Sen spends a restless day aboard the ship carrying himself and his lover, Huan Yue to Canada. He spots something in the water several times, but is unable to determine what it is. He throws open his mind and tells it to let him be; he is then mentally attacked and falls into a coma.
In 1928, Robert Pirsig was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The first Westerner to achieve Nirvana, Pirsig's accomplishment was noted in the Zen journal Snowflake, but western doctors merely thought that Pirsig was mad, and killed his body with electro-shock treatments. His spirit, already gone, remained at peace.
In 1995, Dr. Melvin Courtney's expedition enters the Chimanimani National Park in Zimbabwe. The expedition is looking for evidence of ancient human settlements in the area. In the middle of the day, a rare earthquake shakes the area and uproots several ancient trees.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.