Weekend Reading

This week: the discrediting of the “least credible history book [formerly] in print”; women in the Civil War; the history of hiking; ancient Persian wrestling; footage of Hiroshima; a couple more Olympics history links; and Communists on Venus!

Empress Wu
Empress Wu (ca. 625-705)

• The vast majority of the Olympic medals won by Iran have come in weightlifting and wrestling, perhaps owing to the lingering influence of an ancient sport that predates the coming of Islam to Persia.

• In three thousand years, only one woman has ruled China in her own right — and, according to a chronicler, she was “hated by gods and men alike.”

• The top ten fires in London’s history.

• We’ve mentioned David Barton’s controversial The Jefferson Lies a few times in recent months… After an onslaught of criticism from evangelical scholars who pointed out Barton’s many errors, the book’s publisher has ceased publishing and distributing it.

• One Indiana family as a prism through which to view the soldier-civilian divide in the U.S. Civil War.

• And the stories of a few of the hundreds of women who fought in that war, plus the many more who served as nurses, cooks, laundresses, etc.

• The history of hiking, camping, and climbing in the Adirondack Mountains.

• Over a century before Oscar Pistorius competed in the London Olympics, an amputee won six medals (three gold) at the 1904 St. Louis games. Read his story here; believe it or not, it connects to Napoleon, German nationalism, immigration, and the Civil War.

• And one last bit of Olympic history before the Closing Ceremonies this weekend and the clock starts ticking towards 2014… The “austerity games” of 1948, hosted by a London that was still under rationing and digging out from the effects of the Blitz.

Archival footage of Hiroshima in late 1945, courtesy of the military that dropped an atomic bomb on it.

• As the “Curiosity” landing on Mars attracted new attention to that kind of exploration, a reminder that the first country to land a satellite on another planet was… the Soviet Union, whose Venera satellites first explored Venus in 1970 (and then again several more times before the USSR collapsed).


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