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Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The Battle of the Kalka: The Genius of the Mongol War Machine Crushes the Russians

Prince Mstislav of Kiev meets his fate
The Western view of the Mongols is of a faceless, highly efficient war machine. We do not think of them as individuals, except in the person of this of that "Great Khan"—a mere token of their faceless power. Their success we attribute to their system or way of fighting. They are to all intents and purposes The Horde, their lack of individualism and thus humanity serving as the secret of their terrible strength.

But this characterization is ahistorical in the sense that it lessens the amount of history that must be processed in order to explain and understand the Mongols as they were. They are reduced to a cipher, an inhuman force of nature that simply blew in from the steppe, and then blew out again. A recent article even went so far as to explain the ebbing of the Mongol tide by referring to tree rings and the rain patterns they revealed in Central Europe in the 13th century. You can't get more impersonal than tree rings!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

The Battle of Granicus: The Bacchic Fury of Alexander

The opening attack at the battle.

On May 22nd, 334 (2,350 years ago), Alexander the Great fought the first of his three great battles against the Persians, the battle at the Granicus River in Asia Minor. The battle reveals Alexander to have been a better leader than a general, with a simple tactical approach that relied heavily on esprit de corps and demoralizing the enemy by pushing him onto the defensive.

With a force of 30,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry, Alexander was faced by a Persian army of roughly equal size. The Persian army also included a large number of Greek mercenaries, especially in the infantry, so the latter part of this battle was an unfortunate case of Greek fighting Greek.

Monday, 16 May 2016

The Dambusters Raid – an example of British technological 'try-hardism'


War, among other things, is a great stimulus to technology. WWI saw the invention of the tank, aerial bombardment, and the use of gas as a weapon; while WWII brought a host of innovations that were equally applicable in both wartime and peacetime, like radar, jet-powered flight, and nuclear power.

While any military power is interested in new technologies that can give it the edge, the British in the WWII period felt a particular impetus to try new things. Partly this was because Britain was the old, established power in decline, with a society that retained antiquated elements. Faced by more modern and up-to-date states, like Republican France, the USA, Communist Russia, Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany, the British felt somewhat out-of-date, and as consequence felt a need to overcompensate by throwing their weight behind daring innovations.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

An Alternative History of Scottish Nationalism


The remarkable rise of the Scottish National Party (SNP), which is now a liberal-left party led largely by 1968 leftists, masks the ethno-nationalist roots of the party and the broader ethno-nationalist undercurrent of the Scottish Nationalist movement as a whole. In this article, we intend to explore some of the personalties that made up this early movement, their activities and detail some of their ideas that influenced the early SNP and which would make the likes of Alex Salmond, the current leader of the SNP, cringe in embarrassment, even though they make up a substantial section of the SNP's early history and political direction.

Monday, 2 May 2016

When Madrid Fought Back Against "French Muslims"

Dos de Mayo (Second of May)
One of the most important dates in Spanish history is the 2nd of May. This is because of events that took place in Madrid 208 years ago this very day, driven by Napoleon's ambition and disregard for the wishes of the Spanish people. The event has been immortalized in this great painting by Francisco Goya.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

The Battle of Chancellorsville: Genius and Tragedy in the Woods of Virginia

Stonewall Jackson in command of Lee's left hook.
Because war is by its very nature an extremely messy business, there are not that many truly classic battles in history. The number of true masterpieces, like Hannibal’s triumph at Cannae or Napoleon’s at Austerlitz, is far surpassed by the number of flawed masterpieces, while that number is itself outstripped by the number of confused, chaotic, and wasteful battles.

One of the most frustrating battles of the American Civil War is the Battle of Chancellorsville, a six-day battle that started today 153 years ago – frustrating because it had all the hallmarks of true genius resulting in a complete victory, but finally ended up being a minor and inconclusive victory for the South, but with heavy casualties.

The Lousiana Purchase: How Yellow Fever and Swiss Anarchy doubled America Overnight

On this day in 1803, the United States of America doubled in size when the United States government bought the vast territory of Louisiana from the French government of Napoleon Bonaparte for a derisory sum.

Napoleon, who expended hundreds of thousands of French and allied lives for relatively minor territorial gains in Europe, thus gave away a territory vaster than Western Europe with a mere flick of a pen. There is something about this which doesn’t quite add up, so what in fact happened? Why did Napoleon, usually regarded as a genius, do something that so obviously lessened French power and prestige?