Is the rise in inequality exaggerated?

Is the rise in inequality exaggerated?The rise in economic inequality is one of the most potent 21st century memes. You could even call it pervasive. It dominates the debate in the Democratic presidential contest and has a material echo in our current federal election. The rich – particularly the notorious one per cent – must be made to “pay their…

Charmed life of Marie Antoinette came to dismal end

Over time, she became the all-purpose scapegoat for everything that ailed pre-revolutionary France

Charmed life of Marie Antoinette came to dismal endThe woman known to history as Marie Antoinette was born in Vienna in 1755. As the 15th child of Empress Maria Theresa, the infant immediately became an archduchess of Austria and was given the baptismal name Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna. At the age of 14, she was married to the heir to the French throne…

When TV westerns ruled the roost

The longevity and sustained popularity of Gunsmoke and Bonanza put them in a class apart

When TV westerns ruled the roostWhen Bonanza made its debut on Saturday, Sept. 12, 1959, it was joining a TV schedule littered with series westerns. During that 1959-60 season, over 30 westerns regularly stalked North American home screens. And most of them were on network evening TV, thus occupying plum spots during peak viewing hours. ABC’s 1959-60 Sunday night roster…

Canada goes to war: 80 years ago, there was no hesitation

Ultimately, though, disagreement surfaced. The trigger was conscription and the division was between Quebec and English Canada

Canada goes to war: 80 years ago, there was no hesitationCanada went to war 80 years ago this September. The formal declaration came on Sept. 10, a week after the United Kingdom and France had declared war in response to the German invasion of Poland. In taking the United Kingdom’s side, Canada joined three other dominions – Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Canada was…

With war on the doorstep, The Singing Cowboy came calling

His tour of the U.K. and Ireland just before the Second World War was a huge success. But prudence meant his entourage came home early to avoid any danger

With war on the doorstep, The Singing Cowboy came callingThe summer of 1939 was nerve-wracking for Europe. As July slid into August, it became increasingly clear that – barring a miracle – war was on its way. And there were no miracles to be had. There was, however, a distraction that delighted tens of thousands. Gene Autry, The Singing Cowboy, came calling across the…

How Ireland stayed neutral in a world at war

Under the leader ship of Eamon de Valera and with a very small army, virtually no aerial capability and little naval service, Ireland was a sitting duck in the Second World War

How Ireland stayed neutral in a world at warAs we approach the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, it’s worth remembering that many of the countries caught up in it were unwilling participants. Rather than enlisting in a universal crusade against the evils of Nazi Germany, they wanted nothing more than to stay out of the conflict. For instance,…

Mussolini more a man of the left than of the right

Mussolini more a man of the left than of the rightWhen I was a university student, a history professor said the first kind words I’d ever heard about Benito Mussolini (1883-1945). The professor was, of course, referring to Mussolini’s early incarnation as a socialist. With this year marking the centenary of the fascist movement’s founding, it’s worth pondering the professor’s observation. In fact, one can…

Johnson shows he’s prepared to force Brexit endgame

That doesn't mean the new U.K. administration will succeed where its predecessor failed. Nor does it mean that leaving the EU is wise

Johnson shows he’s prepared to force Brexit endgameSomething interesting happened in the United Kingdom last week. More than three years after referendum voters opted to leave the European Union, a Leave government was finally installed. Prior to that, negotiations on a withdrawal agreement were in the hands of a government whose most powerful players had supported the Remain side in the referendum…

Wild Bunch showed True Grit in demythologizing the Old West

Fifty years ago, True Grit and The Wild Bunch opened in theatres. They were both westerns, but they were dramatically different in tone and intent

Wild Bunch showed True Grit in demythologizing the Old WestThe big stories from the summer of 1969 were Neil Armstrong’s moon walk and the counterculture music extravaganza at Woodstock, N.Y. But there were also two classic westerns. One was True Grit and the other was The Wild Bunch. In fact, they debuted within a week of each other. True Grit opened on June 11…

How Gene Tunney brought down a boxing legend and an era

He beat Jack Dempsey twice to become heavyweight champion – and his staid personal style foreshadowed the end of the Roaring ’20s

How Gene Tunney brought down a boxing legend and an eraLast week’s column argued that Jack Dempsey’s July 1919 winning of the world heavyweight boxing championship prefigured the celebrity-obsessed Roaring ’20s. If so, Gene Tunney’s dispatching of Dempsey in 1926 and again 1927 can be viewed as a harbinger of the decade’s end. To be sure, the party didn’t come to a shuddering halt until…
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