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Category Archives: Modern

Alexander the Globalist

A link to a JSTOR-Daily post came across my Twitter feed this morning commenting on an article arguing that Alexander the Great was the founder of globalization because his vision of a universal empire of “indeterminate identification,” led by humanist transcending the limits of any one identification. Since the chapters I’ve been buried in the […]

The Struggle for Sea Power, Sam Willis

I have said in the past that if I was not studying ancient Greece there is a short list of other subjects that I would study. One of those is 18th and 19th century naval history. I have a print of a watercolor rendition of the USS Constitution on my wall and used to eat […]

King of Kings – Asfra-Wossen Asserate

Ras Tafari ruled Ethiopia as regent starting in 1916 and then under the regnal name Haile Selassie when he ascended to the position of Negusa Negast in 1930. His reign lasted until 1974 when the Derg, a council of military officers propelled by famine, military frustrations, and student protests ended the monarchy. This long reign—too […]

Present, meet past

Let me begin with five loosely bullet points. I am particularly wary of the adages that posit recurring pasts and arguments of immediate pecuniary or political value to studying the ancient past. My dissertation is a regional history of of Ionia in fifth, fourth and early third centuries BCE. The project examines the position of […]

The Surreality of Humanitarian Crises Online

It is depressing to watch on Twitter as humanitarian disasters unfold, again and again and again. It happened in the Tahrir Square protests (and counterrevolution) in Egypt, with children drowning at sea, refugees suffocating in the back of trucks, and the Macedonian government tear gassing migrants, not to mention Balkan states closing their train stations […]

The Bagel, Maria Balinska

Sometimes when Amazon reviewers give low marks to a book the comments indicate that a book is not good. Sometimes the comments reveal that the Person Angry on the Internet didn’t actually read the same book that the author wrote. Sometimes the reader understood the book but is just angry that it isn’t the book […]

“It is never about the money”

There is a new History Channel documentary series that has been added to Netflix, called “The Men Who Built America.” The premise is that during the period of rapid industrialization that followed the Civil War, the one termed by Mark Twain the “Gilded Age,” there were a few men who led America to its position […]

Errol Morris’ “The Unknown Known”

“I bet Rumsfeld is one hell of a poker player.” –my first comment walking out of Errol Morris’ documentary about Donald Rumsfeld. Before seeing the film I had heard Morris talk about sitting down with the former defense secretary and he contrasted the experience with that of filming McNamara for “A Fog of War.” McNamara, […]

Public Funding and Monumental Buildings, a few thoughts

I want to make a few observations about public funding of monumental buildings in ancient Greece and modern America–not so much for conclusions as for musings. To put it bluntly, I am thinking out loud. Before diving in, I want to acknowledge a few caveats because it is always dicey business to equate the two […]

Borders

I have always loved maps. In fact, I had a pocket atlas of the world in middle school and was teased for “reading” it. But in a European tradition, maps are seductive, deceptive. They instill a sense of order and possession in the world that bear not resemblance to reality. Sure, sometimes the line is […]