The secret madness of Adolf Hitler

Fascinating view into the effects of Hitler being blinded by poison gas in World War I and how it impacted his mental state during World War II. I hadn’t realized just how decrepit he had become at the end of the war.

The Tragedy of the American Military

The American public and its political leadership will do anything for the military except take it seriously. The result is a chickenhawk nation in which careless spending and strategic folly combine to lure America into endless wars it can’t win.

Never-before-heard tapes of Reagan revealed

The recordings from the White House Situation Room include Reagan trying to convince an intractable Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to hold off the pullout of Israeli troops from Lebanon in 1983 until Lebanese forces can replace them; the president discussing the release of Western hostages in the Middle East with Pakistani President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, and a talk with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, the father of Syria’s current dictator and the original “Butcher of Damascus”— whom he kept waiting for over 13 minutes while he finished up a horseback ride at his California ranch.

Inside the Mind of Edward Snowden

“I may have lost my ability to travel,” Snowden said. “But I’ve gained the ability to go to sleep at night and to put my head on the pillow and feel comfortable that I’ve done the right thing even when it was the hard thing. And I’m comfortable with that.”

Project Wizard: Dick Nixon’s Brazen Plan for Post-Watergate Redemption

Determined and methodical as usual, with the help of aides who had gone with him to San Clemente at government expense, Nixon made a plan. This secret plan, codenamed Wizard, was one to regain respectability. He would show ’em again. What would have crushed most people to Richard Nixon was another crisis to be overcome.

But this was a new kind of struggle—not for something as tangible and requiring such fairly conventional means (even for him) as political office, but to rehabilitate his reputation. How, exactly, does one in this unprecedented situation go about that? Most people wouldn’t have dared to try. But Richard Nixon was as driven about this struggle as he had been about those that had gone before.

I continue to be amazed that he managed to have the impact he did, after his fall.

The Origin of the Word “Palace”

With the Second Triumvirate and Octavian’s growing domination of the political scene, a gradual change could be detected. Politics moved from the noisy open square up to a complex of houses on the fashionable Palatine Hill, where Octavian and Livia lived and worked. From “Palatine” derives the word “palace,” meaning that enclosed space where autocrats make decisions in private.

Anthony Everitt in Augustus: The Life of Rome’s First Emperor


The Nuclear War that Could Have Been

The Soviet side, however, is a different story. One of the lessons learned after the fall of the Berlin Wall was that, although NATO considered nuclear weapons use in an invasion a possibility, to the Soviets, their use was a foregone conclusion. Every Soviet war plan unearthed from Warsaw Pact archives assumed liberal use of nuclear weapons — up to 300 or more.

Kyle Mizokami in The Lovely Little Town That Would Have Been Absolutely Screwed by World War III

It’s amazing how close we truly were to nuclear war for so long, and that we managed to avoid it. The Real Cuban Missile Crisis is well worth reading as well, should you want to drive the point home.

Citizenship in a Republic

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face in marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt in a speech delivered at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

The address can be read in its entirety at the Theodore Roosevelt Association site. It is chock full of amazing and inspiration insight. Here’s another favorite of mine:

Probably the best test of true love of liberty in any country in the way in which minorities are treated in that country. Not only should there be complete liberty in matters of religion and opinion, but complete liberty for each man to lead his life as he desires, provided only that in so he does not wrong his neighbor.

I was reintroduced to this after seeing the first quote on Destraynor’s site.

Democracy and the Cult of Ignorance

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

Isaac Asimov

Sadly, painfully true.

Found via Daring Fireball.

China’s Strategy

China’s strategy generally exhibits three characteristics: meticulous analysis of long-term trends, careful study of tactical options, and detached exploration of operational decisions.

On China by Henry Kissinger

An interesting balance there.

Too Busy Killing Nazis

Nancy Wake, Special Agent, Saboteur, World War II’s Most Decorated Woman

Nancy Wake circa 1945

a New Zealander brought up in Australia. She became a nurse, a journalist who interviewed Adolf Hitler, a wealthy French socialite, a British agent and a French resistance leader. She led 7,000 guerrilla fighters in battles against the Nazis in the northern Auvergne, just before the D-Day landings in 1944. On one occasion, she strangled an SS sentry with her bare hands. On another, she cycled 500 miles to replace lost codes. In June 1944, she led her fighters in an attack on the Gestapo headquarters at Montlucon in central France.

John Lichfield – Resistance heroine who led 7,000 men against the Nazis
Ms. Wake stands as an inspiration to step up and get the job done, regardless of the expectations of others. In her case, it extended far beyond the years she served, as noted in John Litchfield’s article, “Ms Wake was also furious the TV series suggested she had had a love affair with one of her fellow fighters. She was too busy killing Nazis for amorous entanglements, she said.”

She was too busy killing Nazis…

The Gestapo’s dubbed her The White Mouse as she continued to evade them, and by 1943 she topped their most-wanted list.

Yeah. The definition of badass.

The tributes from The Independent and The Economist and her Wikipedia entry are engrossing and well worth the few minutes it’ll take you to read them.

I have no doubt that her story will stick with you for years to come. I know it will stay with me.