In 1952, on this day the headquarters of the United Nations was completed in Detroit's Belle-Isle.
Haunting RuinAlthough Detroit was the fourth biggest city in the United States, it had widely been considered an outside choice for the home of the UN with New York City, Washington D.C. and San Francisco (where the founding agreement had been signed) ahead in the order of preference. Even the old League of Nations building in Geneva was under consideration. But the imagination of the local promoters had inspired members of the U.N. Interim Site committee. They had resisted the temptation to build a white elephant in affluent New York, recognizing the inherent danger of building a palace of developed nation affluence.
Free of historical baggage attached to other rival cities such as Philadelphia, the symbolism of having the UN located on an international border was quite compelling, especially since Belle Isle had been made an international stateless zone . And of course there was a strong economic case too, because of the advocacy of the common man who had fought in the recent conflict. Despite the thriving automobile industry, the City lacked certain aspects of infrastructure only having transportation routes into the US and Canada. Therefore the decision to choose Detroit could be justified on the basis of post-war regeneration, a signature note for the newly founded organization. As a result, a major superblock project was begun.
And of course another compelling reason arose a decade later, when Manhattan Island was destroyed during the limited nuclear exchange at the climax to the Cuba War. Because the peace settlement that swiftly followed was worked out in detail on Belle-Isle. Tragically, the logic of the critics who feared that a Detroit-based HQ would become a "haunting ruin" had been turned on its head.
In 1864, on this day Otto von Bismarck was relieved of his duties as the Minister President (Ministerpräsident) by the newly crowned King of Prussia, Frederick III.
Kaiser Wilhelm I of Prussia dies earlierBecause during his two years of service he had shamelessly manipulated his father Wilhelm I. He had in fact established a thoroughly abusive relationship with the old man that permitted him to pursue a belligerent course of action that failed to survive the change of regime. Instead of union through Prussian aggression, common sense prevailed, and the North German Confederation was allowed to peacefully absorb most of the South German States.
Prior to his elevation, he had been the Prussian ambassador to St Petersburg and for nearly a decade before that served as Prussia's ambassador to the German Confederation. He took charge at a time when relations among the Great Powers - Great Britain, France, Austria and Russia - had been shattered by the Crimean War of 1854-55 and the Italian War of 1859. Had William I lived beyond his three score years and ten, then perhaps Bismarck might well have been given the opportunity he craved, the creation by force of a German Empire as the dominant power in Europe. This is a companion article to the Otto von Bismarck dies earlier blog post.
It is 1936, and Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin is threatening to resign if King Edward VIII insists on marrying Mrs. Simpson, a divorced American.
Happy Endings Part 6
Edward VIII and Wallace SimpsonThe King tells his Prime Minister to resign and be damned, then promptly marries his sweetheart.
Baldwin had been planning to sell airplane engines to the Germans, but this project came to a screaming halt when he left office. His replacement, Neville Chamberlain, saw the need to rearm England (rather than Germany) and desperately calls on his countrymen to do just that .. aided by his staunch ally, Winston Churchill. When the German Fuhrer invites Chamberlain to the Munich Conference two years later, the Prime Minister curtly refuses to attend. Even without him, Hitler invades Czechoslovakia, but England is ready to fight him.
Edward had expressed admiration for Hitler before, but at his Prime Minister's directions he avoids doing so again. Instead, he focuses on helping the unemployed, just as he had done before meeting Mrs. Simpson. So now the nation is united behind King Edward and Queen Wallis, and he rallies his people with the King's Speech: "For the second time in most of our lives, we are at war".
In 1946, having updated the narrative of Fellowship of the Ring such that Gandalf meets Frodo earlier at Bree (instead of later at Rivendell) and subsequently perishes in the defence of the Hobbit at the Ford of Bruinen, J.R. R. Tolkien set about writing the Wizard out of "The Bridge of Khazad-dum" scene.
Wizard! Part 2
LOTR, the Kick Ass EditionThe fork in the plot had been suggested by his son, Christopher who had identified a critical weakness that the latest draft for the opus failed to deliver a clean break with The Hobbit. The horror of the epic fight scene at the Ford provided an earlier, more resonant climax for the palpable sense of terror that had been building-up from the start. And yet that ripple effect had turned into a wave as dramatic new plot changes emerged.
Terrifying enough was the prospect of the Fellowship confronting the Balrog without the leadership of the Wizard. Because in this updated passage, the Balrog seizes the Ring from Frodo. And instead of the Fellowship mourning the fallen Wizard, they are reunited with Gandalf the White, his resurrected alter-ego in the very next scene.
Based on an idea from Jeff ProvineOf course the previous version had strongly hinted that the Balrog was awoken by the presence of the Ring. Also suggested was that in his supernatural form, he could not wield it. But in the event, Tolkien decided to follow logic of the Orcish sense of evil duty by having the Balrog head south to return its to its master, Sauron.
When he entitling Book 2 "The Ring Goes South", Tolkien had never imagined that Durin's Bane would be carried by anyone (or anything) other than Frodo. Because the game had now changed dramatically. As Gandalf the White explained to his startled companions, the Fellowship must fly upon the Great Eagles and pursue the ring south, or Sauron would surely gain complete control of Middle Earth.
This article is part of the Wizard thread.
In 1002, smallpox was introduced to the New World. The discovery of the New World by Europeans came as something of an accident in 985. Viking Bjarni Herjolfsson was sailing to Greenland to visit his father after wintering in Iceland when bad weather caught his ship, blowing it far off course to a land covered in trees.
Smallpox Introduced to the New World It seemed good for settlement, but Bjarni and his crew decided to leave the discovery for their intended goal of Greenland.
Leif Eriksson, son of the famous Erik the Red who had helped found Greenland, became fascinated with the rumors of rich lands to the west. He put together an expedition, buying Bjarni's boat (after all, it had been lucky enough to find the land the first time, so perhaps it was favored) and crewing it with 35 men. According to the Groenlendinga saga, Leif asked his father to head the expedition, but the elder man refused, saying signs had shown that he was too old for such adventures. A new story by Jeff ProvineLeif would lead himself. At the last moment, he decided to bolster his crew with two more Vikings, one of whom had recently arrived from Spain.
The expedition sailed for days, finally coming upon a land covered in flat rocks, perhaps today's Baffin Island. They proceeded further south to the wooded Markland (Labrador) and at last arrived at the warm and fruitful Vinland (Newfoundland). The Vikings settled there among wild grapes and streams full of salmon, staying the winter. While there, it became obvious that the Viking from Spain had contracted the new and strange plague that was there, causing horrid blisters over the skin and high fevers. They cast him out of their settlement, making him seek help from the native Skraeling. From the sagas, it is believed the natives killed the man, but they became infected with what would later be called "smallpox" as it infected Europe.
Leif's expedition would return to Greenland with a wealthy cargo, even collecting a shipwrecked Viking and adding his wares to theirs. Earning the nickname "Leif the Lucky", he would not return to Vinland, citing the dangerous peoples there. Other Vikings such as Thorvald, Karlsefni, and the treacherous Freydis would mount expeditions to Vinland, but no permanent settlement would ever take root. Meanwhile, the smallpox plague would sweep through the New World, wiping out some ninety percent of the population.
Nearly 500 years later, an Italian sailing for Spain would re-discover the lands west of the Ocean. Christopher Columbus would begin establishing trading posts and exploring. While the natives were at a severe disadvantage facing Conquistador firearms and steel, the sheer numbers of the population kept Spanish influence in check. The disastrous expedition of Cortes against the Aztec Empire would prove this, causing the deaths of hundreds of Spaniards and a military crackdown that would keep the Aztecs in power and limit relations with the Spanish to suspicious trade.
The Spanish gradually gained a sphere of influence over Middle and South America, but they could not establish the empire they hoped. Trade made them wealthy, but hardly more so than the Portuguese and their trade route around Africa as well as their trading posts in Brazil. In North America, the French would come out best, working well with the locals and harvesting furs for rich trade. The English made repeated attempts at settlement but were wiped out at Roanoke, Jamestown, and Charleston. Religious Separatists would found a plantation in Plymouth, which existed only at the mercy of the local tribes.
Eventually European technology would prove overwhelming, and the Americas would be carved up among the powers as they would do with Africa and Southeast Asia. Rule would be colonial rather than hardy frontiersmen in an empty land with tribes establishing treaties and forming military alliances while European maps gradually filled in gaps.
After the World Wars, industrialized Europe would grow tired of imperialism. Those colonies that could be kept were organized into commonwealths while the others were set into somewhat spontaneous political independence. Much of Aztec land would stand stolid, if backward, while the Incan princes maintained political domination over much of South America. In North America, tribes such as the Nez Perce, Cherokee, and Iroquois Confederation would form functional and profitable nations, other tribes in the Great Plains and Southwest found themselves plagued by warlords. Genocide in the Americas is a common issue brought before international committees on Third World charity.
In 1948, on this day US Army Major (retd) Dwight D. Eisenhower (pictured) showcased his first canvass to the famous German-American Artist Adolf Schicklegruber. "I displayed my version of Mamie," Eisenhower wrote, "weird and wonderful to behold, and we all laughed heartily".
The Art of Warfare by Ed. & Scott PalterAfter his retirement from the US military, Eisenhower had accepted a position of president of a military college in the Hudson Valley. A New York portrait artist, Thomas E. Stephens was commissioned to paint a portrait of Mamie Eisenhower, and Dwight Eisenhower watched the process with keen interest. While the artist and subject toured the house to look for the right place to hang the finished portrait, Eisenhower decided to try his hand at a painting using Stephens' brushes and mixed paints. He and an aide jury-rigged a canvas by stretching a clean dust cloth over a piece of cardboard. By the time his wife and Stephens returned, Eisenhower had finished his first painting.
Stephens mentioned the portrait to his friend Schicklegruber who had been living on the East Coast for a little under a year. Although encouraged by Stephens to keep painting, Eisenhower decided art was beyond him. However, a few days later, Schicklegruber mailed to Eishenhower a complete paint set and portable easel in a package Eisenhower said included "everything I could possibly need -- - except ability --- to start painting".
Once considered Walt Disney's favourite cartoonist, Adolf had furiously quit the studio, creating a long-running dispute with the over-involved owner. So much so, that in 1947, Disney testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he branded Adolf Schicklegruber, Herbert Sorrell, David Hilberman and William Pomerance, animators and labor union organizers, as Communist agitators.
Disney's loss was Eisenhower's gain and in time, Schicklegruber's tutorage shaped Ike into a master of Western Landscapes. An overfavourable comparison with the works of post-modernist English painter Winston Churchill further stoked rivalry between the two. Already barely on speaking terms, Churchill would make disrespectful public remarks about Schicklegruber whilst touring the US the following year. Using a rather eliptic metaphor to describe the breakdown in their relationship, Churchill said that an "Iron Curtain" had descended between the two super-painters.
On this day in 1967, Cuban president Che Guevara was killed when his personal plane crashed en route to Bolivia. At the time of his death, Guevara had been scheduled to visit the Bolivian capital La Paz for a summit meeting with Bolivia's president aimed at improving relations between the two countries, which had deteriorated after the late Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba in 1959.
On this day in 1941, US Pacific Fleet commander-in-chief Admiral Husband E. Kimmel got a written directive from President Roosevelt giving him full authority to take whatever measures he deemed appropriate to secure Pearl Harbor's naval base against attack.
US Army Hawaii Territorial Defense Command C-in-C General Walter Short was given a similiar directive authorizing him to do anything that needed to be done to strengthen the Hawaiian Islands' ground and air defenses.
On this day in 2016, the script for the third CSI movie was finally completed.
In 1960, Soviet 'cosmonaut' Yuri Leonov becomes the first man in space, making a partial orbit of the planet before splashing down.
The Soviets are now pushing their manned space program as hard as they can, as Premier Nikita Khrushchev realizes that the propaganda value of asserting Soviet technological superiority is worth the immense cost of such efforts.
In the United States, there is consternation that the Soviets have managed to place a man in orbit before the United States could do so. Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy, running for president against Vice-President Richard M. Nixon, blasts the Eisenhower administration for allowing the Soviets to erase the early American lead in the 'space race,' saying, It's only a race if everybody's running. Lately, the Russians have been running, while it seems we?ve been walking. He ties the Soviet achievement to his campaign's theme of the need to 'get America moving again.'
Nixon's response is patronizing: My opponent talks about getting the country moving. He doesn't tell us where he wants it to go. Why should we worry about a Soviet propaganda stunt? We'll set our own priorities here on Earth, and let then Soviets crow all they want about space. In the end, we?ll be the ones who get things done that really matter. In private, though, he is not so blase: he knows the political value of the space race. He is conferring with advisers on a number of options for American space spectaculars to be pursued if he is elected, ranging from the building of Von Braun's cherished 'space platform' all the way to an attempt to land men on the moon.
In 2007, US President George Bush closed a bitter chapter in Anglo-Arab Relations.
In an unexpected act of humility, W agreed wholeheartedly with both Harry Windsor and Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti. 'Let be be the finale of seem, The only Emperor is Emperor of Ice Cream'. In other words, death was the winner of the Second Gulf War.
In 2003, British Poet Laureate Gordon Sumner was awarded the CBE (Commander of the British Empire). The dashingly handsome Sumner turned the head of many a young lady at the ceremony, and rumors have spread since then of his dalliance with at least two young princesses. This, more than anything else he had done in office, made poetry cool again.
In 1975, peace activist Dr. Jonas Salk of the Soviet States of America wins the Nobel Peace Prize. After retiring from his medical career, he had spent his life pursuing change in the Soviet States, and an end to its aggression towards other nations. While the award is celebrated in Europe, it is denounced by the government of America as 'another capitalist reward for a counter-revolutionary.'
In 1946, the hilarious comedy The Iceman Cometh, following the wacky misadventures of a family waiting for the iceman during a heat wave, premiered on Broadway. The author, Gene O'Neill, was hailed with a Tony for Best Comedy of 1946.
In 1815, operatic composer Giuseppe Verdi was born in Roncole, Italy. While his first opera, Oberto, showed the promise of a great musician, his follow-up, Un Giorno Di Regno, was an utter failure from which he never recovered. Although there have attempts to revive his reputation, his fan base remains confined to a few academics.
In 1811, General Ned Ludd provoked his followers into a riot at a factory in Manchester, England, in protest of the new Mlosh technologies that were being produced. The Luddites felt that the knowledge the Mlosh were bringing to humanity was unnatural and should be suppressed, and they were willing to take drastic steps to do so.
In 1000, Leif Ericson discovers the great land of Vinland. Over his life, he manages to convince thousands of his fellow Scandinavians to migrate to the country. While no conflict with the natives erupted during Ericson's lifetime, the flow of Europeans to the continent after the Vikings opened it up led to decades of war before the Vinlandians and Europeans achieved an uneasy balance on the continent.
In 1635, Founder of Rhode Island Roger Williams spoke out against punishments for religious offences and giving away Native American land. Labelled by a minority as a religious dissident, most of the Christian people of Massachusetts Bay Colony saw the truth of Williams' wise words. A fresh start could begin in America with peaceful co-existence between indigenes and the European settler. After all, it really is a Big Country.
In 1973, Golda Meir was placed under house after the Israeli Prime Minister had attempted to forbid Minister of Defence Moshe Dayan from speaking openly of the 'the downfall of the 'Third Temple' at a news conference. Believing that tactical command had been lost, Operation Joshua was approved and nuclear armed Israeli Jets were dispatched from the IAF Base at Beersheba.
In 1927, Brigadier-General Winston Churchill died; he was the British Indian Army officer responsible for the 1919 Amritsar (or Jallianwala Bagh) Massacre in which British Indian Army soldiers under the command of Brigadier Winston Churchill opened fire on an unarmed gathering of men, women and children. Years later, Punjabi separatist Udham Singh travelled to the UK and assassinated Churchill in a in a daring and audicious revenge attack.
In 1480, the future of Tatar rule over Russia was assured by a hard-fought Mongolian victory on the banks of the Ugra River.
Battle of the Ugra RiverWith Akhmat Khan occupied in a struggle with the Crimean Khanate, Ivan III abruptly ceased paying annual tribute to the Great Horde, a decision which effectively forged an alliance between Muscovy and Crimea. Poland-Lithuania under Casimir IV  had been provoked by the Muscovite annexation of Novgorod, and a bloody four-power battle was fought on the banks of the Ugra River.
In the face of such grave danger, the Russian boyars fractured into two groups: one, led by okolnichies Oschera and Mamon, wanted Ivan III to flee; the other wanted to fight the Horde. Ivan's final decision to face the Horde was affected by the Russians who had demanded action on the part of the Grand Prince. But the Russian disunity was exploited by the Khan, who had been misadvised to do no more than organize a stand-off, a move that would surely have been misinterpreted as a sign of great weakness.
The year 1957, is not chosen at random. That is the year contemplated by "Dropshot", the U.S. plan for a third world war, which governed strategic thinking for the 1950s. [continues from Part 1] In actuality, or course, even if the Soviets got to Antwerp, they would be most unlikely to have arrived in Amarillo three years later. Rather than the immediate loss of Western Europe, we must imagine Central Europe becoming a debatable region.
Continues from Part 1
Part Two of "Dropshot", World War III in 1957After absorbing the initial offensive, Dropshot calls for NATO to hold the line while the resources of the United States were mobilized. Realistically, this could have taken at least a year. During that time, it would have been extremely difficult to keep NATO together. One of the points which "Not This August" emphasizes as a factor in the defeat of the United States is the role of the Communist underground. The state of the evidence suggests that such a concern may be more than simple McCarthyite paranoia. The part played by Communists and communist sympathizers in the politics and culture of the U.S. in the 1930s and 1940s is still insufficiently appreciated. If I had to name a single book to support this point, I would suggest the last of Upton Sinclair's "Lanny Budd" novels, entitled "A World to Win". Published in 1946, it describes sympathetically the adventures of a wealthy American Communist as he moves about the world during and just before the war, helping to organize the fight against Fascism. The author, who made no secret of his own leftist sympathies, describes the pro-Soviet cells which exist everywhere in the U.S., in Hollywood and Washington and the arts. This, of course, was all edifying progressive fiction, but it seems to have been fictionalized rather than fantastic.
A new article by John Reilly
The pro-Soviet streak in America politics did real harm during the Molotov-Ribbentrop pack, when it actively impeded U.S. attempts to prepare for World War II. It continued to do harm throughout the Cold War era, up to and including the "Nuclear Freeze" movement of the 1980s, which nearly succeeded in depriving American negotiators of the bargaining power they needed to get the Soviets to reduce the number of nuclear weapons. While this force in American politics would have been as active as possible during a U.S.-Soviet war, they might not have counted for that much, considering the high degree of national unity there would have been. In any event, they would have worked through front groups as much as possible. This would not have been the case in Europe. The powerful Communist Parties in France and Italy were openly and proudly pro-Soviet, indeed pro-Stalin. They could and would have organized work stoppages and mutinies. The peace movements they would have supported would have been particularly persuasive with hostile and at least temporarily triumphant armies only a few hundred miles away. Even if they could not have forced their countries to surrender, they could have made all but the most perfunctory participation in the war impossible.
Still, these political difficulties would have been no more insurmountable than those that had to be overcome to win the Second World War. Assuming, therefore, that NATO holds together while it rearms and regroups, the second phase of the war could begin. Dropshot contemplated an offense that would ultimately result in the occupation of the Soviet Union. Again, however, it did nothing to suggest that anyone would enjoy trying this in real life. The plan considered the various ways that the Soviet Union might have been invaded, and finds all but one of them either impractical, like a drive north from the Middle East, or useless, like an invasion of the Soviet Far East. The only way to do it is the hard way, back eastward across the north German plain and into Poland. Securing the Balkans would be necessary simply to secure this endeavor.
Having defeated the Soviet armies in Eastern Europe, the rest of the war would have resembled the German campaign of 1941, but without Hitler's mental problems. I can summarize the final stage of the war no better than by quoting Dropshot itself:
"22. In the event of war with the USSR, we should endeavor by successful military and other operations to create conditions which would permit satisfactory accomplishment of U.S. objectives without a predetermined requirement for unconditional surrender. War aims supplemental to our peacetime aims should include:
"a. Eliminating Soviet Russian domination in areas outside the borders of any Russian state allowed to exist after the war.
"b. Destroying the structure of relationships by which the leaders of the All-Union Communist Party have been able to exert moral and disciplinary authority over individual citizens, or groups of citizens, in countries not under Communist control.
"c. Assuring that any regime or regimes which may exist on traditional Russian territory in the aftermath of a war:
(1) Do not have sufficient military power to wage a war.
(2) Impose nothing resembling the present Iron Curtain over contacts with the outside world.
"d. In addition, if any Bolshevik Regime is left in any part of the Soviet Union, ensuring that it does not control enough of the military-industrial potential of the Soviet Union to enable it to wage war on comparable terms with any other regime or regimes which may exist on traditional Russian territory.
"e. Seeking to create postwar conditions which will:
(1) Prevent the development of power relationships dangerous to the security of the United States and international peace.
(2) Be conducive to the development of an effective world organization based on the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
(3) Permit the earliest practicable discontinuance within the United States of wartime controls".
This passage is not without relevance to the state of the world in 1995. Let us imagine, however, that all this has been achieved, but the year is only 1960.
(3) What would postwar history have been like?
The burden of Arnold Toynbee's great multivolumed work, "A Study of History," is that our civilization has broken down and that it is now (during the 20th century) in a "time of troubles," like the Hellenistic period in the ancient West and the Era of Contending States in China. Such periods are characterized by "world wars". In the course of them, one great power delivers a "knockout blow" to its main rival, and sooner or later goes on to establish a universal state, like the Roman Empire. The war Dropshot envisioned would have been such a blow. Actually, Toynbee thought that a third world war would probably be started by the United States and won by the Russians, "because they have a more serious attitude toward life". Be that as it may, since we are working with the U.S. war plan, let us consider what the result of a Western victory would have been.
The world of 1960 after Dropshot would have been poorer than the real world of that time. Africa and the great arc of Eurasia around Russia would have collapsed into ethnic squabbling as the reach and attention of the great powers were withdrawn. On the whole, the non-communist countries of East Asia might have been invigorated, as they were by the Korean and Vietnam Wars. However, there would have been no comparable world demand for consumer goods for these countries to exploit. They could well have experienced a war boom, followed by prolonged depressions, as their home markets slowly recovered.
China, we assume, would have been part of the losing alliance. Dropshot did not devote a great deal of attention to it. If the plan had actually been implemented, it is unlikely that country would have been the scene of major U.S. operations. However, with China's attention diverted toward supporting the Soviet war effort, it is conceivable that the U.S. might have backed a Nationalist reinvasion of southern China. It is debatable whether this would have found wide support. The Communist regime did not begin to mismanage the country significantly until the Great Leap Forward of the late 1950s, a program which presumably would have been postponed in the event of a war. However, what with the stresses of a lost war and such resentment against the regime as had already been generated, it is possible that China would have fallen apart, much as it had during the warlord era of the 1920s, and as it may again in the later 1990s when Deng Xiao Peng dies.
The biggest differences between a post-Dropshot world and the actual world of 1960 would have been in Russia, Europe and the United States. Russia and Eastern Europe in the late 1950s were still recovering from the effects of World War II, and the last thing they needed was another war. In some ways, perhaps, the Dropshot war would been less damaging than the Second World War, since it was supposed to be faster and would not have been directed against civilians. The plan called for a war of tanks, fought for the most part on the plains of northern Europe. It would still have been a catastrophe, but one that would not have returned the region to 1945 levels.
Russia in 1960 might have been better able to make the transition to a market economy than it was in the 1990s, for the simple reason there was a substantial portion of the population who were already adults during the last period when free enterprise had been allowed to operate, during Lenin's "New Economic Policy" of the 1920s. It might, for instance, have been fairly simple to recreate peasant agriculture. On the other hand, Russian industry in the 1950s was even more strictly military than it was in the final stages of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Since the military occupation of Russia in 1960 would have been largely concerned with closing down the country's military potential, this would have meant closing down all but a small fraction of the country's industry. The country would have become, at least for a while, a country of peasants and priests. This prospect might warm the heart of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, but the reality might not have been sustainable.
In Western Europe, the 1950s boom would gave been cancelled. Even assuming the Dropshot war did less damage than the Second World War, still it would have been the third major war in the region in fifty years. Maybe that would have been too much. People can only be expected to rebuild so many times before they begin to despair about the future. It is hard to imagine the normal market mechanisms of savings and investment operating at all in such environment. What fool would invest money in a society that seemed to explode every 20 years? Who would even want to keep money? People would try to turn their savings into tangible assets as quickly as possible. The cloud of despondency would ultimately lift, of course, but would be greatly impeded by the factor we will consider below.
Even in America, collectivism would have triumphed. As several historians have pointed out, what we call socialism is simply the institutionalization in peacetime of the command economy measures devised by Britain and Germany to fight the First World War. These institutions would have been greatly strengthened throughout the West, but especially in the United States, by the experience of two world wars so close in occurrence. We should remember that enlightened opinion in the U.S. of the 1950s was that command economies really were superior in most was to market economies. It was universally assumed that pro-market policies could never cure underdevelopment in the Third World. Certainly the literature of the era is filled with ominous observations that the Soviet Economy was growing much faster than the U.S. economy during the same period. If the highly regimented American economy envisioned by Dropshot had actually succeeded in winning the Third World War, this attitude might have become a fixed assumption of American culture, as it did in so many other countries during the same period. Private enterprise would doubtless have continued to constitute a major share of economic activity, but it would have been so tightly regimented as to be virtually a creature of the state. And there would have been no example, anywhere on Earth, of an important country that did things differently.
The '60s, as we knew them, would also have been cancelled. Partly, of course, this would have been because the country would have been broke. Everyone would have had a job with a fixed salary, of course, but there would have been little money for cars or highways or private houses. America would have remained a country of immense, densely populated cities, most of which would have consisted of public housing. The biggest difference would have been the psychology of the younger generation. The young adults of the 1950s, who had been children during the Second World War, could not have conceived of allowing themselves the indiscipline and disrespect shown by the young adults of the actual 1960s. The "Silent Generation" of the 1950s knew from their earliest experiences that the world was a dangerous place and the only way to get through it was by cooperation and conformity. If Dropshot had occurred, their children, the babyboom children, would have been even more constrained in childhood and correspondingly more well-behaved in young adulthood. Doubtless there would still have been something of an increase in the percentage of the young in higher education in the 1960s, but the campuses would have been a sea of crewcuts and neat bobs, white shirts and sensible shoes. The popular music would not have been memorable.
The world after Dropshot would have had certain advantages, of course. Total world expenditures on the military would probably have been much smaller than was actually the case. The nuclear arms race would never have occurred. Indeed, the more alarming types of nuclear missile, those with multiple warheads, would never have been invented. It would have been a world much less cynical than the one which actually occurred. The three world wars would have provided a sense of closure which modern history has not yet achieved. This time, finally, all the great evils of the century would have been defeated. It would be unlikely to have resulted in Toynbee's universal state, at least not during the 20th century. The American people would probably have been as sick of the Adlai Stevenson Democrats after the Third World War as they were of the Roosevelt Democrats after the Second World War. The country would have kicked the victors out of office and sought to turn inward. America would not have been enthusiastic about further adventures for a long time to come.
The exhausted world I have described would doubtless have revived in a few decades. Nations would have broken out of the cultural constraints that the experience of universal conscription tend to impose on a generation. People would slowly realize that their highly regulated economies were not really keeping them safe but were really keeping them poor. There would be an episode of restructuring as technologies developed for the military were finally converted to consumer use, and old subsidized industries were allowed to die. All in all, the world of 1995 after Dropshot might have been similar to the one we see today. Still, it would have been reached at immensely greater cost, both economic and spiritual. We are not living in the best of all possible worlds, but it could easily have been worse.
In 1871, in the early night hours of Sunday, a fire started on the O'Leary property at 137 DeKoven Street that would spread to destroy some four square miles in Chicago and kill hundreds of people.
Great Lakes Fires Blamed on Meteors There had been something of a drought, not much in the way of concern for local fire departments, but enough to propel destruction among wooden buildings on a strong wind. With its sudden start and widespread disaster (famously, even the Moody church burned), citizens were highly suspicious of arson and searched for a scapegoat.
A new story by Jeff ProvineAt the time, Michael Ahern was a reporter for the Chicago Republican. He had heard the rumor that the O'Learies (Catholic immigrants, prime targets for suspicion already) had negligently allowed their cow to kick over a lantern and then letting the fire go out of control. Other stories told of sneaked smokes by youngsters and thieves starting the blaze while attempting to steal milk. Ahern was about to write a story blaming specifically Mrs. O'Leary as some "colorful copy" when he came upon an even more exciting topic.
Fires had started suddenly throughout the Great Lakes region nearly simultaneously over the weekend. Peshtigo, WI, and surrounding villages had undergone an enormous blaze that killed some 2,000 people and torched millions of acres. Urbana, IL, over one hundred miles south of Chicago had also burned, as had Holland, Mansitee, and Port Huron in Michigan. Even Windsor, Ontario, in Canada burned on the 12th. News about the disasters trickled out slowly, but various cases of eyewitnesses noted smokeless balls of blue fire falling from the sky. After some consideration, Ahern wrote a shocking story that the origin of the Chicago fire had come from the heavens.
Other tabloids picked up the notion, and the idea seared into the Chicagoan public imagination. Scientific persons scoffed at a "rain of meteors" since they would be cool to the touch by the time they landed, but few listened to them. Instead, as Chicago underwent an incredible reconstruction program, observatories and atmospheric study stations were included. In 1882, a more serious proposal of the meteors was announced, and now the scientific community listened. Some began to argue for the mysterious "ball lightning", but the suggestion was now officially in the journals. By the time of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, a great wealth of knowledge was collected in the Meteor Hall, which afterward would be donated to Northwestern University.
Two decades later, Robert H. Goddard, a sickly part-time instructor at Clark University began soliciting funding for experiments with rockets. While the Smithsonian offered a princely sum of $5000, Northwestern seized the chance and offered funding as well as a position and student aides. Rockets, the departments affiliated with the study of the cosmos thought, would allow for first-hand exploration of outer space. With his arrival in Chicago, Goddard began intensive plans for high-altitude meteorological instruments and, eventually, designs for a possible, though impractically expensive, orbital rocket. Arguments about propulsion in vacuum dominated much of the rest of Goddard's career.
When the Nazis proved rocketry for military use was successful in the Battle of Britain, the US Army and Navy hurried to update Goddard's designs. While students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology worked on programmable trainers leading to computing, research at Northwestern led to development of "The Eagle," or what a jealous Werner von Braun would later call the "V-3". After the war, USSR would begin the Space Race by launching Sputnik, but Americans would swiftly turn and beat the Russians to the first man in orbit with Alan Shepard. Continual challenges would put men on the Moon with the Apollo program in 1963 and a short-term research station on Mars in 1974. The funding for exploratory rocketry along with the Cold War. By that time, short-range space-travel would prove profitable with hour-long sub-orbit intercontinental flights, zero-g tourism, communication and observation satellites, and Solar Energy Collection stations.
In 2009, on this day Michael Jackson's former personal physician, Conrad Murray sued the King of Pop for defamation of character. The source of the dispute was the alleged misportrayal of Murray's dismissal from service in the American concert film documenting "This Is It"
Click to watch the Trailer
This is It by Ed & Chris OakleyThe source of the dispute was the portrayal of Murray's dismissal from service in the American concert film documenting "This Is It". Fatefully, Jackson had turned his face against the use of performance enhancing drugs, a deadly temptation that might have enabled the fifty-year old performer to regain the genius of his earlier years. The film comprises of Jackson mentoring his team for the 50 shows, as well as him creating, developing, and ultimately staging the high-tech performances. The footage was filmed at The Forum and the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
In 1907, on this day the Academy for Art in Vienna passed the entrace examination of Adolf Schicklegruber, later to emerge as one of the leading watercolour painters of the early to mid twentieth century.
Portrait of the remarkable career of a Jewish bastard's sonHe was a bastard's son from Braunua-am-Inn in the Innviertel region of Upper Austria. His grandmother Maria Anna Schickelgruber conceived his father Alois out of wedlock with her Jewish employer, a tobacco merchant called Frankenburger whom she served as a cook and maid1. Discrete funding from his paternal grandfather's family2 permitted Schicklegruber to pursue the study of fine arts in the Austrian capital.
The debt would be repaid. During the late nineteen-forties, Prime Minister David Green3 commissioned a set of watercolours to commemorate the creation of the State of Israel. Today, these priceless items hang in the Knesset, a living symbol of the attainment of the summit of human achievement following difficult and inauspicious beginnings.
In 1860, having concluded that it was too late to save the Union peacefully, Abraham Lincoln unwisely chose to reply frankly to a request for a statement of his views from the editor of the Louisville Journal, George D. Prentice who contended that such a statement would "assure all the good citizens of the South and ... take from the disunionists every excuse or pretext for treason".
A House DividedIt would not be the first time that he had said too much and inflamed southern secessionists. For in his "House Divided Speech" he had stated unambigously that the Union was in the grip of a slaveholder's plot. His partner in his Springfield Law Firm, William Herndon had it right when he said "It is true, but is it wise or politic to say so?".
Lincoln was to learn that it was one thing to make an explosively controversial statement as an outside senatorial candidate, quite another when heading inexorably towards the White House. And yet with John Brown striking slaveholdings seemingly with impunity, and leading free African-Americans over the border into Canada, dodging Prentice's question might appear a fatal weakness in national leadership. "It seemed as if he suddently bore the whole world upon his shoulders, and could not shake it off" - William HerndonAnd after all, it was that frightful absence of national leadership that had inspired Lincoln to seek the highest office as he had told Herndon just two short years before.
That America might really be in the throes of a slaveholder's plot was in all reality, improbable. Yet whilst slavery had been terminated in the north for three decades, events surely appeared to show that some time very soon that might not be the case. It would be hard to interpret the drift of events otherwise since Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) and the Dred Scott ruling (1858) which confirmed that the General Government had no right to interfer in the state's rights to legalise slavery.
Very soon Lincoln would discover that his unwise choice of words had triggered a general secession prior to his inauguration And worse his judgement as to whether Northerners would fight for the Union, or rather bid the Southern States good riddance, would prove to be faulty. For the time being at least, the Union would be split into two nations, one free, one slave, precisely as Lincoln had warned.
Of course Herndon knew something that few others outside his inside circule knew in the late fall of 1860; the drive behind Lincoln's ambition was his deeply flawed character. Because Abraham Lincoln was a life-long manic depressive now gripped by a mid-life crisis, ingesting more than nine thousand times the recommended daily dose of mercury. "Gloom and sadness were his predominant state" concluded Herndon. On the day of his election Herndon remarked that "It seemed as if he suddently bore the whole world upon his shoulders, and could not shake it off". And so, Abraham Lincoln would lead a truly unqiue Presidency; for he was the first man to suicide in the White House, by shooting himself in the head whilst sitting in apparent peace, as if calmy watching the Theatre, perhaps.
On this day in 1973, Roger Staubach recovered from his overtime loss the previous to earn the first Monday night victory of his career as Dallas topped the Washington Redskins 38-31 for their third win of the 1973 NFL season.
In 1960, the Empire State Building officially reopened for business; for many New Yorkers, this was the surest sign yet that their city was recovering from the Jamaica Bay hurricane.
|Empire State Building|
On this day in 2010, President John McCain received word from his intelligence advisors that the CIA had obtained credible evidence suggesting Venezuelan ruler Hugo Chavez was making plans to invade Guyana before the end of the year.
On this day in 1944, the last German troops in Holland were evacuated to Denmark. That same day, Allied troops in Germany captured the city of Essen.
In 1962, as anti-integration riots continue throughout much of the South, James Meredith is shot from ambush on his way to classes at the University of Mississippi.
He is not seriously injured, but after the shooting he is taken into protective custody by federal marshals.
In 1979, President Nelson Rockefeller, in a telephone conversation with the exiled Iranian Shah Pahlevi, offers to send top medical experts to Mexico to assist in treating him for his recently diagnosed malignant lymphoma in a hospital there. The Shah, however, is adamant, insisting that he believes he will die unless he is treated in a U.S. hospital and claiming that America 'owes' him as a longtime ally. Rockefeller does not care for the Shah's tone, which seems more that of a superior to a subordinate than that a supplicant. Nevertheless, the Shah's appeal to American political obligations strikes a chord with him.
In 2007, Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti spoke of his release by US Captors in the Prince Harry prison exchange. He agreed with Harry's remark 'The only Emperor is Emperor of Ice Cream'. Now it was time for 'the roller of big cigars' to make a statement of humility. Only then could Anglo-Arab Relations move forward.
In 1970, American author Kurt Vonnegut is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. His writings criticizing the communist government of the Soviet States of America have been a hit world-wide, although suppressed at home.
In 1944, President Wendell Wilkie died in office. Since he hadn't appointed a vice-president to serve at his side after the death of Vice-President Charles McNary in February, Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn assumed the presidency, the first Speaker ever elevated top the office through the line of succession. Wilkie led the list of war dead in the next day's paper with the simple notation, 'Wilkie, Wendell; Commander-In Chief.'
at Camp Rapidan
President Herbert Hoover made a take it or leave it offer to British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald. The U.S. would cancel Britain's war debt in exchange for Trinidad, Bermuda, and British Honduras. Hoover only wanted Belize in order to split it up between Guatemala and Mexico, and nobody expected London to part with Bermuda. With London mired in Financial Crisis the British were desperate, and in Labour politician MacDonald there was little passion for Imperialism in the chief negotiator. As a result of these unique factors, the British readily agreed to this land for cash offer.
In 1822, weather-control technology that the Mlosh have adapted to earth prevents a volcanic eruption at Galunggung in Indonesia. The achievement makes Mlosh welcome everywhere in the world that has dangerous weather.
In 1604, astronomer Jan Brunowski discovered the supernova named after him while working as an assistant to Johannes Kepler. Brunowski's Star is one of the few supernovae known to exist in the Milky Way Galaxy. The fame Brunowski garnered from his discovery drove a wedge between him and his old master for the rest of their lives, and the younger man's achievements continued to overshadow Kepler's.
In 1941, on this day Jesse Louis Burns was born in Greenville, South Carolina to Helen Burns. Helen Burns was a single mother, aged 16, when he was born. His biological father, Noah Louis Robinson, a former professional boxer and a prominent figure in the black community, was married to another woman when Jesse was born. He was not involved in his son's life. In 1943, two years after Jesse's birth, his mother married Charles Henry Jackson who would adopt Jesse 14 years later. Jesse went on to take the surname of his step-father.
A stellar career in the civil rights movements followed until 1968. Jackson falsely claimed Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. Had died in his arms of on a hotel balcony in Memphis. In fact Jackson had been speaking with musicians in the parking lot at the time of the shooting, then had hidden behind the swimming pool for twenty minutes. He appeared only when the press arrived.
In 1941, Ken Saro-Wiwa was born in Bori, in the Niger Delta. He spent his childhood in a polygamous household of Anglican faith and eventually proved himself an excellent student, netting him a scholarship to study English at Government College Umuahia. He would complete his studies at the University of Ibadan and briefly became a teaching assistant at the University of Lagos. Employed as a by the multinational Shell Oil company, Saro-Wiwa spent thirty years as a press officer in which he was engaged in denying environmental damage to the Niger Delta. In 1995, he was re-united with his father Chief Jim Saro-wiwa, after a religious awakening, causing him to write the controversional biopic 'On a darkling plain'.
In 1973, following the heavy defeats of the first two days of the Yom Kippur War, Minister of Defence Moshe Dayan announced 'the downfall of the 'Third Temple' at a news conference. He also began to speak openly of using weapons of mass destruction against the Arabs
In 1792, on this day a Founding Father of the Republic of Virginia George Mason IV died at his home in Gunston Hall in Fairfax County, VA. He was sixty-six years old.
Ed & Scott PalterAt the Williamsburg Convention he drafted the Colonies' very first declaration of rights and state constitution. First Pennsylvania, then Maryland, then Delaware, then North Carolina and others took most or all of the Declaration of Rights and either made them amendments to their own constitutions or incorporated them directly into their constitutions. Thomas Jefferson paraphrased his ideas into the Declaration of Independence, and although Mason did not receive full credit for his contribution, the entire Continental Congress knew of the conceptual source of Jefferson's ideas.
"a man of the first order of wisdom" ~ Jefferson on MasonAs a result of his high profile he was was appointed to represent Virginia as a delegate to a Federal Convention, to meet in Philadelphia for the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation.
He refused to sign the Constitution, however, and returned to his native state as an outspoken opponent in the ratification contest. Ironically, one objection to the proposed Constitution was that it lacked a "declaration of rights".
In 1918, the Fall of the German Empire carried with it the implosion of the shell of Czarist Russia.
Twilight in RusslandThis required refusing Western demands for further offensives. Brusilov was managing to keep the Imperial Russian army in the field but one more good killing even in a successful offensive would have shattered it. Kerensky and Brusilov were blunt to their Western counterparts. There were two and ONLY two choices. One was keeping a large Austro-German army tied down on an Eastern Front while the West won the war themselves. This would require Western aid to be continued and increased via the White Sea, Vladivostok and Persia. The other was one more attack. Regardless of the result the shaky Russian state would implode. Germany would free up 100 divisions of Austro-German troops for transfer to the West while enabling the Central Powers to feed themselves on the Ukrainian and south Russian harvests. The Western powers fumed, pleaded and raged but in the end accepted the less bad choice.
Kerensky lived up to his part of the bargain. The Eastern Front stayed in being until the German capitulation in 1918. However the Russian implosion had continued parallel to the war. A left rising in Petrograd in November of 1917 took that city out of the war and left the imperial family as prisoners of a shifting coalition of agitators who would gain temporary ascendancy in the Petrograd Soviet. Kerensky and the core of his government were lucky to escape to Moscow with their lives. Brusilov died three days before the Armistice with Germany trying to put down yet another in an endless series of army mutinies.
A new article by Scott PalterNews of the end of the war and the beginnings of the German withdrawal in November saw every ethnic and regional group in the Russian Empire attempt secession. The Petrograd Soviet added to the chaos by hanging the Imperial family. When the smoke cleared the following spring Kerensky was reduced to ruling a region roughly with the boundaries of early modern Muscovy. The royalists split into two camps. The higher nobility grouped themselves around Grand Duke Nicholas, who claimed the throne despite an inferior actual claim. Based out of Mukden and Vladivostok, this regime was cut off from European Russia by a maze of warlord states in Siberia and Central Asia.
The younger royalists and nationalists emerged from the chaos of south Russia grouped into a Cossack and junior officer Volunteer Army under Baron Ungern-Sternberg (pictured). The self-proclaimed Field Marshal and Atman, had assembled this force in a welter of brief campaigns over the previous winter of 1918-1919. He was helped in this by most senior officers choosing to either stay with Kerensky or migrating to serve with Grand Duke Nicholas. He also had seized custody of the Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrova, giving him the legitimate heir to the throne as a figurehead. By a series of deals with the retreating Germans in western Ukraine he had traded their safe passage for their arms dumps. By dint of location in Ukraine, south Russia, Kuban and the north Caucasus, he was the only of the many competing regimes to have a food surplus. While millions starved he could feed his troops. Now with the end of the spring mud season he began his march north to place his puppet monarch on the throne in the twin capitals of Moscow and Petrograd.
This article is a continuation of the Russland timeline.
In 1862, although Hancock, in early October, was not a major town in any fashion, it did nevertheless have railroads, the Potomac, the Cheasapeake-Ohio Canal, not to mention several roads, all either going through or around it (as pictured in map).
The Battle of Hancock - Day One by David Atwell
It was also well located, geographically speaking, so that the Army of Northern Virginia could enter the relative safety of the Shenandoah Valley from the north, thus keeping any pursuer honest in their attempts to attack the rear of Lee's army. But the most important aspect was the local terrain. Although the ridge line, which the town was located on, was an impressive looking location to deploy an army, the ridge line to the west of Hancock was even better.
As a consequence, even though Lee first thought about establishing his line on the town of Hancock itself, he selected the better ground to the west of the town. Thus Lee established his initial position on Blue Hill. Here Longstreet's corps made its line southward down to the banks of the Potomac River and then northward to Kirk Woods through until Longstreet finally anchored his right on Little Tonoloway Creek. Immediately north of this location (in other words across the creek) Jackson started his line. This continued north towards Wardfordsburg where Magruder's Corps took over the line until where it ended at Big Tonoloway Creek. Across Big Tonoloway Creek, Stuart's cavalry was deployed to cover the open flank, even though it was well protected thanks to Big Tonoloway Creek.A Chapter from Hancock 1862
Some four hours later, at around 4pm, the Army of the Potomac arrived by way of Pleasonton's cavalry corps. McClellan was immediately informed of the situation and made his plans accordingly. Assuming Lee was now prepared to offer battle, McClellan returned to his slow methodical ways, but in this instance he was right to proceed cautiously as any rash attack would have been met with disaster. Consequentially, over the remaining hours before nightfall, McClellan established the beginning of his battleline where Little Tonoloway Creek enters the Potomac River. It then parallelled Longstreet's line to the east of Kirk Woods. The Union line then headed north, again parallel to Lee's line, and finally ended east of Wardfordsburg at Big Tonoloway Creek. Finally Pleasonton's Cavalry probed further north and, by dusk, had made contact with their Confederate counterparts. Like Lee, McClellan based most of his line on a hill line, although Lee's position enjoyed the advantage of the higher ridge.
Both sides then awaited the dawn, knowing that the battle which could decide the outcome of the War, was about to begin.
Read the whole story of Hancock 1862 - the Union Strikes Back on the Changing the Times web site.
In 1973, there seemed to be little choice for Israel than to exercise the nuclear option. The military situation was dire, especially on the Egyptian front. A large hole had been successfully made in the Israeli centre on the Sinai front.
The Specials by David AtwellTwo Egyptian spearheads, numbering at least two divisions each, had, not only reached the all important passes, but had crossed them & were heading towards Israel proper. The Israeli Defence Minister, Moshe Dayan, was in shock when told of the news, by his staff, at midday on 7 October. He, in turned, told Israel's Prime Minister Golda Meir, of the situation, & concluded that "It is the fall of the Third Temple" as he was in much despair.
Israel, though, was mobilising as much of its military reserve as possible. But with its defeat at the Sinai passes, Israel was running out of time. At the speed with which the Egyptians were moving, the Israeli homeland would be invaded within 24 hours. There was little time left. Furthermore, now that Egypt had room to move, it had spread its front line out thus making it more or less impossible to establish a "road-block" defence, as the Egyptians could merely drive around it & leave the defenders to be dealt with later.
The only hope seemed to lie with the Israeli Air Force, but it had taken a sever beating when it tried to intervene at the Suez Canal two days earlier. Having said that, whatever the Israeli's could fly was in the air & hitting the Egyptians as they were approaching Israel itself. All the same, the Egyptians had mobile anti-aircraft missile carriers & these kept a watchful eye on the skies. And just as importantly for the Egyptians, their own Air Force patrolled the skies, although they were seldom a match for Israeli pilots.
Even so, it still came down to time. And Israel's time was clearly running out. A decision had to be made as to what to do. As far as Dayan was concerned, if Israel did not act decisively now, all would be lost. Meir was of the same mind, although Elazar voiced his objections, but it was a government decision & not a military one. Thus Meir issued the orders to get the "Specials" ready. The Israeli Air Force was given the most important orders that it had ever carried out.
A Chapter from Hell on EarthThree hours later, four Israeli Skyhawk A-4H fighter/bomber aircraft took off from an air force base outside of Jerusalem. Their mission was a simple one, although the consequences of its success was without equal. On board each aircraft was a crude nuclear weapon, four of only 13 such weapons made for use by an aircraft. These had been built, only recently, by the Israeli defence department for use in an emergency such as this. Now they were on the way to stop the Egyptian army from invading southern Israel.
It only took a short period of time for the Israeli Skyhawks to reach their destination, but to the likes of Meir, Dayan & Elazar, it was probably the longest 30 minutes of their lives. Seconds seemed like hours, whilst minutes seemed like days. The Skyhawks went unmolested by the Egyptians, until they reached the front. Coming in low, though, gave the pilots numerous advantages, but once they entered their sudden climb it was a different story. But the pilots had to reach a high altitude, flying almost straight up, in order to "sling-shot" the nuclear weapon up & away from their aircraft if they wanted to survive.
The Egyptians never knew what hit them, nor did they understand what the four Israeli Skyhawks were attempting. It seemed to be merely an attempt to avoid being hit by missiles or some such. Each Skyhawk, however, was able to release its weapon as planed & then took off at great speed away from the battle zone. As they flew away, each nuclear weapon continued in its upward flight until gravity finally brought it back to Earth. Within two minutes the job was done. Four Egyptian divisions no longer existed. The invasion threat to Israel had vanished in four mushroom shaped clouds.
Read the whole story on the Alternate History web site
By 1849, the life of Edgar Allan Poe had been as bleak as many of his poems. His father had abandoned the family shortly after his birth, and his mother died of tuberculosis the next year. He was taken in by the Allan family, wealthy Scotch merchants in Virginia.
Poe RemarriesWhile the Allans never formally adopted him, Poe was given the middle name of Allan in recognition of his foster parents. He had a youth of mixed fortune: traveling with the family and being well educated, but being alternately spoiled and brutally disciplined by his foster father. Poe would attend the University of Virginia for one year before dropping out, claiming that his foster father had not given him enough of an allowance to pay for classes, texts, and dormitory.
A new story by Jeff ProvineHis first disappointment in love would follow as he learned his sweetheart, Sarah Royster, had married another man. Poe would leave Richmond for Boston, stumbling semi-aimlessly with various writing jobs and unrecognized publications as well as enlisting in the army under an alias while lying about his age. He did well in the artillery but sought to leave early, which his commander would only allow if he reconciled with the Allans. John Allan refused to write back, and Poe finally visited in person, one day after his foster mother's death. Poe later attended West Point while his foster father remarried, which began a new feud that would finally have Poe disowned. Depression struck him, and he purposefully sought court-martial from gross dereliction of duty.
In 1831, while Poe was living with his aunt and also his cousin Virginia, his brother died. He turned more seriously to his writing as well as getting work at newspapers (though he would be fired for drunkenness or lack of productive work). In 1835, he secretly married his 13-year-old Virginia (she lying about her age on the certificate as 21), and the family life won him back his job at the Southern Literary Messenger. They married publicly the next year.
Life seemed to pick up for Poe. He was more stable than he had ever been, and his writing was gaining recognition and making money. It came to an end, however, as Virginia began showing signs of tuberculosis in 1842. The stress of his wife's illness drove Poe back to drink, and he became increasingly belligerent. The Broadway Journal failed under his editorship in 1846, and Virginia died in 1847. Poe was devastated.
In spite of tortured mourning, Poe tried to move on, soon courting poetess Sarah Helen Whitman. They had met in writing before life, Whitman writing a poem "To Edgar Allan Poe" for a Valentine's Day party he did not attend, and Poe writing in return. The courtship was a mess from Poe's erraticism, alcoholism, and Whitman's mother's attempts at sabotage. Despite the odds, they set a wedding date of December 25, 1848. Rumors that Poe had broken his vow of sobriety along with Poe's "outrages" drove them apart. It seemed another melancholic relationship for the Virginia poet.
That spring, Poe returned, signifying his devotion by smashing a whiskey bottle. In spite of her mother's pleas, Whitman took him back, though she would watch his habits closely over the rest of their lives. They were wed in 1849, and Poe's writing returned as he began the "happy half of [his] life". His "Raven" had gained sudden recognition, and Poe finally felt vindicated in his craft. Novels, short stories, and poems surged from his pen. Whitman was a successful poet in her own right, and the two lived very comfortably. As he aged, Poe took up a professorship at the University of Virginia, teaching writing and making great strides in cryptography and logic as well as his famous satirical commentaries on cosmology and physics.
Poe stands as perhaps the greatest American author of the nineteenth century, creating several genres such as detective stories, science fiction, modern heroism, and spirit fiction all the while perfecting the Gothic horror. His advances in the theories of cryptography helped establish America as the foremost world power in code-cracking and ancient linguistics.
In 2010, Connecticut senatorial candidate Linda McMahon was called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities to answer charges that she had participated in proscribed rites of witchcraft.
Linda McMahon on TrialHer confession under "intensive interrogation" by means of waterboarding, a refinement of the Colonial-era technique of dunking, conducted before TV cameras for a national network audience, destroyed her political hopes and resulted in federal confiscation of her financial assets and the collapse of her show-business empire, World Wrestling Entertainment, many of whose garishly-outfitted performers would themselves be called before the Committee.
Ms. McMahon, of course, would not see any of that. Immediately following her broadcast confession, she was taken out and-still before the cameras-burned at the stake.
In 1994, and just two days after becoming the President-elect of the Boerestaat, Constand Laubscher Viljoen (pictured) received an earth-shattering intelligence report that forced the General to reconsider the very lifelong convictions that had led inexorably to his new political appointment as the Head of State for the new "Israel for the Afrikaner".
No WinnersViljeon had joined the South African Defence Force in 1955. Appointed as the senior officer in the campaign in Angola in 1975-1976, his prestige had risen as the hands-on organizer of the swashbuckling airborne assault by South African forces at the controversial Battle of Cassinga. Revered as a white hero, he was promoted to Overall Commander, South African Defence Forces three years later, a position he served in until 1985. This military leadership position in the so-called "Border War" put Viljeon squarely on the frontline as a sworn defender of the Separate Amenities Act, the Group Areas act and the Population Registration, the key pieces of legislation that held the apartheid regime together. By the early 1990s however, Vijeon had retired to his farm and it was his twin brother, Braam that was politically active. The two brothers had not spoken in years.
In contrast, a career failure as a man of the church, Braam was politically aligned to the African National Congress, rightly viewing the apartheid laws as an abomination. He too was on the front-line. So much so, that Constand had sent him dire warnings to quit the Committees of the South African Council of Churches if he "knew what was good for him", because the security forces considered the Council to be a front for ANC terrorism.
"Go rest in peace. Go rest in the shadow of a tree at your home".By the time of Mandela's release from prison, Constand had decided to abandon the farm and join the right-wing political process. Viljoen had a force of between 50,000 and 60,000 trained military personnel at his command, with the ability to take over large parts of the country. Soon realising that the agreements with de Klerk constituted a de facto government of national unity, right-wing forces murdered South African Communist Party chairman Chris Hani to derail the peace process. And at the funeral, youthful ANC supporters shouting "Kill the Boer! Kill the Farmer". Mandela fatally chose to let this reaction go, and was assassinated in the escalation of violence at the funeral.
As President-elect, Constand was privy to the intelligence reports the Polish far-right immigrant named Janusz Walus who had murdered Chris Hani. And whilst studying those very reports, Constand discovered to his horror, that his own people were also behind the 1987 murder of his brother Braam. Addressing the Afrkaner nation on the occassion of Mandela's funeral, Viljeon paid an amazing tribute in Xhosa: "Go rest in peace. Go rest in the shadow of a tree at your home".
In 2009, on this day the super-violent American zombie horror movie For Whom the Bell Tolls premiered in cinemas across the United Kingdom. Starring Woody Harrelson in his most gory role since "Natural Born Killers" the movie shares its name with the signature soundtrack from Metallica.
Click to listen to Metallica on Youtube
From Whom the Bell TollsIn a key scene, the zombie killers stay in lead singer (pictured) James Hetfield's Californian mansion and they club the living dead to death with one of his electric guitars.
To say that the actors got into character would be an understatement, big time. Because on his return from the film-shoot, Woody Harrelson assaulted a photographer at La Guardia Airport in New York, claiming that he mistook the cameraman for a zombie. "I wrapped a movie called "From Whom the Bell Tolled," in which I was constantly under assault by zombies, then flew to New York, still very much in character," Harrelson said in a statement issued by his publicist. "With my daughter at the airport I was startled by a paparazzo, who I quite understandably mistook for a zombie," he said.
In 2010, the first episode of the American future history fiction television series "The Chronicles of Bandit Six" was aired by the Fox Broadcasting Company. Each episode begins with the gravelly voice of Bandit Six (pictured) solemnly pledging "This Rome Will Not Fall".
Click to watch the author's interview with Kelly Lockhart
The Chronicles of Bandit SixThe difficulty for would-be directors was that author John Ringo had written "The Last Centurion" in a unique and compelling blog style where the first person narrator makes reference to a documentary which of course the reader can only imagine.
Set in the second decade of the twenty-first century, the world is struck by two catastrophes, a new mini-ice age and, nearly simultaneously, a plague to dwarf all previous experiences. "This Rome will not Fall"Rising out of the disaster is the character known to history as "Bandit Six" an American Army officer caught up in the struggle to rebuild the world and prevent the fall of his homeland - despite the best efforts of politicians both elected and military.
The genius of the 2010 TV series was to reverse the artistic vision, basing the episodes on the imagined "Last Centurions" documentaries as filmed by the SkyNews satellite news network in late 2018/early 2019 and the "New Centurions" news programs as aired on the ABC and FOX television networks in June of 2021.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.