Weekend Reading

Load these on your device of choice and enjoy them down by the creek this weekend:

The Geographical Pivot of History by H.J. Mackinder (free download), seminal, much quoted work of geopolitical analysis.
Crimetown USA, the city that fell in love with the mob by David Grann in the New Republic.
The Most Expensive Weapon Ever Built by Daniel Soar in the London Review of Books
The Sense of an Ending by Michelle Legro at Longreads.com
A Wounded Metropolis: London in the Age of Terror and Brexit by Christoph Scheuermann at Spiegel Online

Titanic History

Object of Rearrangement:
Deck Chair from the Titanic, from the
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax

105 years ago tonight the Titanic met its fate. Short excerpt from my new book Out in the Cold:

As in the Swissair tragedy, when the Titanic sank in April 1912, ships were dispatched from Halifax to recover bodies, since Halifax, then as now, was the nearest big port with continental rail connections.

The Mackay-Bennet, a Halifax-based steamer normally used for laying communications cable, led the recovery effort. Two days after the sinking she set out with a cargo of coffins and canvas bags, an undertaker and a preacher.

Over the next four weeks two ships from Halifax followed, the Minia and the CGS Montmagny. Together they and the SS Algerine, sailing from St. John’s, Newfoundland, recovered over three hundred bodies. Some were buried at sea, but 209 bodies returned to the Halifax shore.

Just 59 were sent away to their families. The rest, including the Titanic’s unidentifiable and unclaimed victims, were buried in Halifax, and local businesses donated bouquets of lilies. The Maritime Museum on Halifax’s waterfront has an extensive Titanic exhibit – complete with deck chair.

Haligonians couldn’t have imagined it, but after the Titanic an even more horrific tragedy lay five years down the road, and this was all Halifax’s own. In 1917 Halifax harbor fell victim to the greatest conflagration of the Great War. I don’t know if it’s just me, but polling people I know, it sounds like nobody else knew about the largest man made explosion before Hiroshima either….

Weekend Reading

Join me in exploring these articles over the weekend, which for a lucky few is three days long. I’ve bumped them over to Instapaper but haven’t finished them all myself. Let’s see where they lead.

Thanks for your participation in yesterday’s photo quiz, and if you haven’t ventured a guess yet, you have until next Thursday to do so. I’ll draw from the correct answers then and send the winner a copy of the audiobook version of Common Sense and Whiskey. We’ll do this Fridays for the rest of the summer.

Meanwhile, this is a momentous weekend for the Turks, who go to the polls on Sunday to decide on granting more power to President Reçep Tayyip Erdogan. Opinion leaders can’t decide among themselves which way to lead; either the Turkish President is a badass anti-democratic juggernaut, or a defeat could put him in peril:

Win or Lose on Referendum, Turkey’s Erdoğan Spells Trouble
How Erdogan’s Referendum Gamble Might Backfire

But enough of that for now. On to some articles for your weekend perusal:

Icebergs by George Philip LeBourdais at thepointmag.com
Operation London Bridge: the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death by Sam Knight in The Guardian
A Town Under Trial by Nick Tabor in the Oxford American
Why some infinities are bigger than others by A W Moore in Aron Magazine
The Case For Butterfish by Neal Ascherson at Granta.com

 

Weekend Reading

Some suggested browsing for the weekend:

Marooned Among the Polar Bears by Justin Nobel in Popular Mechanics
The Friendliest Border by Joshua Kucera in Roads and Kingdoms
The Persistence of Ideology by Theodore Dalrymple in City Journal
The Universe Is as Spooky as Einstein Thought by Natalie Wolchover in The Atlantic
Winston Churchill’s essay on alien life found by Mario Livio in Nature
Grigory Rasputin: full of ecstasy and fire by Stephen Lovell in The Times Literary Supplement

Weekend Reading

A fine harvest of articles for your weekend:

The Faroe Islands by Porter Fox at Nowhere Mag
The Disorient by Joshua Kucera at Roads and Kingdoms
Goodbye, Eastern Europe! by Andrei Rogatchevski in the Los Angeles Review of Books
The Capitalist Who Knew Capitalism Was Only a Third of What We Need by Tim Montgomerie at Capx.co
What Caused the Russian Revolution? Look to the Powder Keg of Petrograd by David Reynolds at The New Statesman
Here Be Dragons by Lois Parshley at VQR Online

Weekend Reading

Fine articles to enjoy this weekend:

Bare Necessities: A visit to the edge of the Arctic Ocean by Amy Butcher in Harper’s Magazine
Icebergs by George Philip LeBourdais in The Point magazine
The Lost Tribes of the Amazon by Joshua Hammer in Smithsonian magazine
Why is Finland Able to Fend Off Putin’s Information War? by Emily Tamkin in Foreign Policy magazine
The Evolutionary Pull of Ocean Tides by Hugh Aldersey-Williams in Nautilus
Is Global History Still Possible, or Has It Had Its Moment? by Jeremy Adelman in Aeon
• and finally, a St. Patrick’s Day-appropriate journey to Ireland’s Inveragh Peninsula from Laurence Mitchell

Congo Intrigue

gorillas

Battles for resources, outright wars and jockeying for power never seem to stop in eastern Congo.

Four men were jailed for eight years each in South Africa on Wednesday for attempting to murder a former Rwandan general. The Kagame government in Kigali disavows knowledge of the plot, sort of.

A tweet from Anjan Sundaram (@anjansun) points to this scary story involving a Belgian prince, AK-47 fire, a British-registered company based opposite the Ritz in London’s Mayfair and ongoing efforts to save the Virunga Park – and its small population of mountain gorillas – on Congo’s eastern border.

One tiny personal anecdote from the Congo border, albeit from the much safer Ugandan side.

•••••

And if you’re looking for an off the beaten track travel/adventure for your next read, I recommend Anjan Sundaram’s book called Stringer, A Reporter’s Journey in the Congo.