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The Enigma of Hirohito



This controversial Emperor of Japan was born in the same year (1901) Queen Victoria died, and the two monarchs shared much the same mystique. The Emperor was the son of Crown Prince Yoshihito (1874-1926), who had been the first Taisho emperor (from 1912 to 1926).

Hirohito was the first member of the Imperial family to be permitted to travel abroad, visiting the United States and Europe. On his return his father had become insane and Hirohito became Regent later Emperor. He was an ascetic, austere, strict, chronic hard-worker and frugal, not all willing to spend either his own money or anyone else’s, except for reasons of war. (more…)




Nearly seventy years after the dropping of an atomic bomb over this naval port and military base in Japan the debate still rages. Was the action of the United States necessary? How many people died because of the exploded bomb? To what extent were President Truman and General Eisenhower involved in the decision to use the newly invented horror weapon? Would the Japanese have carried on fighting World War II in the Pacific if the bomb had not been used? (more…)

The Treaty of Washington

This very interesting piece of legislation took place in 1871, some six years after the end of the American Civil War (1861-65). It was attended by the Canadian Prime Minister J.A. Macdonald as well as delegates from the United States and Great Britain. Perhaps Macdonald was there to keep an eye on the proceedings, because the United States wanted compensation from Britain because she had sold arms to the Confederate side during the Civil War. (more…)

By | 2014-04-01T13:30:08+00:00 December 17th, 2013|A History of North America, British History, US History|0 Comments

War in Vietnam

It is now an independent socialist/communist state bordered to the east by the South China Sea, and to the west by Laos and Cambodia. Dominated by China for many centuries, it was ‘visited’ by the Portuguese in 1535. By the 17th century visits had also been made by Dutch, French and English traders accompanied by missionaries.

In 1802 the north and south were combined as The Vietnamese Empire, which in turn was conquered by French forces towards the end of the century. The French Indo-Chinese Union with Cambodia and Laos was formed in 1887.

Inevitably, during the Second World War the country was invaded successfully by the Japanese, and there followed an occupation during which a certain amount of industrialization took place, but agriculture remained the basic staple by which the people of Vietnam were fed. (more…)

Transportation & the penal Settlements

At the end of the sixteenth century English prisons were showing signs of collapse. Thanks to absolute monarchs like Henry VIII, plus the warring sections of the Church, plus the sheer volume of petty crime in rural and urban districts, not enough gaols could be found to ‘house’ the criminal element, at least half of which was not criminal at all, but had crossed the wrong person.

Transportation was introduced as a means of banishing from Britain convicted felons guilty of most ‘petty’ offences, which could mean anything from stealing a loaf of bread or tearing down a fence put up by a landowner. The new colonies in America were considered ideal and a suitably long way from the motherland, and organised transportation to America started in 1597 and continued through the 17th and 18th century, until stopped by the American Revolution or War of Independence. Naturally the established and prospering settlers in the thirteen colonies did not wish to see convicted criminals (who could be of any age or sex) in their settlements. (more…)

The Pentagon Papers

More than forty documents detailing United States involvement in the East, with the emphasis on Indochina, starting during the Second World War and finishing around May, 1968. Students who would like to know how and why the US was (and is) so concerned about countries a long way away should study them; if they can. (more…)

The United Nations Organisation (based in New York)

The most expensive organisation on this planet started life in October 1945. Its predecessor the League of Nations had proved to be useless, and the founder nations were determined, whatever the cost, to maintain peace after the horrors of two world wars, and encourage international cooperation. Headquarters it was decided would be most appropriately based in New York City, since the United States had at last managed to become World Cop No I. No other country had the resources or the money to become sheriff, Japan had lost two major cities to the atomic bomb, and most of her capital to the fire bombs. Britain was nearing bankruptcy. Germany was actually bankrupt, and smarting after two near-total defeats in just over thirty years. France had prospered during her Nazi occupation and people from the east coast of England, if they could afford it, went shopping there by channel ferry. Italy showed signs of approaching Communism, and Russia had lost a heavy percentage of her uniformed male population. It had to be the United States, which had entered the Second World War with extreme reluctance nearly three years late. (more…)

By | 2014-04-01T13:32:30+00:00 November 4th, 2013|A History of North America, Today, US History|0 Comments

The struggle for independence: Rhodesia

Ian Smith of Rhodesia, died 2007 /

Ian Smith of Rhodesia, died 2007 /

It would seem clear that Cataluña will, by one means or another, free herself from Spain, of which she has always been an integral part. All the signs are there; Catalan politicians speak in Catalan on national TV, so the rest of the nation must either know Catalan, or remain ignorant of what is being said. The President of Cataluña, Mr Artur Más, talks of his region being ‘a nation within a nation’, as if that were possible. At meetings of Spanish regional leaders you can be sure of his absence. There are weekly demonstrations in Barcelona and other key cities designed to show that all Catalan peoples support the idea of unilateral independence – that is to say, total independence without consulting or listening to the national government in Madrid. Catalans speaking with persons from other nations – such as Spain – claim the national government steals from Catalan pockets. Let us examine what happened some nearly fifty years ago in Africa, when a British colony decided to break the chains with Britain, rather in the style of thirteen American colonies across the Atlantic two hundred years before. (more…)

That Special Relationship

This is a favourite (or favorite term) used mainly by British social commentators and diplomats to describe what they like to see as special Anglo-American relations. The term reflects language ties as well as cultural ones; shared values and interests. There is no truth in it: it is nothing but a very large dose of wishful thinking on the part of wistful British statesmen. There is an astonishing lack of realism in this romantic idea of a ‘special relationship’ between the United States and Britain.

At the end of the nineteenth century and up to the beginning of the Great War in 1914, Americans regarded Great Britain’s astonishing Empire (more than a sixth of the world’s land surface) with jealousy. Many US presidents wondered openly how they could wrest it away from the Limeys, and perhaps form their own, even bigger Empire. A wonderful opportunity arose when Europe caught fire following the killing of the Austrian arch-duke and his wife in Sarajevo. War broke out in Europe in 1914, but the enormous might and weight of the States did not enter it until 1917, after three years of slaughter, when it was calculated that Britain, France and indeed Germany were so exhausted physically and economically that they could do no more. This was the moment when Uncle Sam got there, and her commanders reversed the maps to their advantage. It was indeed a ‘special relationship’. The pathetic Brits breathed a sigh of relief; they lost on average one man (or boy fresh from the classroom) from every family in the most savage and futile war that has ever been fought. ‘The Yanks are Here!’ they sang, having little or no idea of the harshness of all international relations. (more…)

The witch trials at Salem, Massachusetts, 1692

Witch-hunting, of one type or another, has always been a popular spectator sport. Gypsies, Jews, witches, Catholics, Recusant Catholics, Protestants, homosexuals – everybody has been through it during the centuries. What happened to ‘village scolds’ (women who talked too much) in rural Britain for at least eight centuries was less harmful than burning of course, but being ducked repeatedly in a pond full of refuse and the odd dead animal if the poor scold was unlucky, cannot have been good for either morale or health. What occurred in rural Massachusetts was so awful Arthur Miller wrote an exceedingly successful stage play about it, called The Crucible – not a play for the faint-hearted. (more…)

By | 2014-04-01T13:35:06+00:00 October 2nd, 2013|A History of North America, English History, US History|0 Comments
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