Meet Yasuke, Japan’s First Black Samurai Warrior

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“His name was Yasuke. His height was 6 shaku 2 sun” — roughly six feet, two inches — “he was black, and his skin was like charcoal.” Those words come from the 16th-century samurai Matsudaira Ietada, and they describe one of his colleagues.


Helen Keller Writes a Letter to Nazi Students Before They Burn Her Book: “History Has Taught You Nothing If You Think You Can Kill Ideas” (1933)

≡ Category: History |3 Comments

Helen Keller achieved notoriety not only as an individual success story, but also as a prolific essayist, activist, and fierce advocate for poor and marginalized people.


The History of the World in 20 Odd Minutes

≡ Category: History |Leave a Comment

Last year, we flagged Bill Wurtz’s “History of Japan,” an idiosyncratic video that covered 40,000 years of Japanese history in 9 minutes–everything from the rise of technology and religion, to the influence of China on Japan’s language and brand of buddhism, the emergence of the samurai, the country’s vexed relationship wit


Timelapse Film Shows How the British Library Digitized the World’s Largest Atlas, the 6-Foot Tall “Klencke Atlas” from 1660

≡ Category: Art, History, Maps |2 Comments

As a way of currying favor with a monarch, Johannes Klencke’s gift to Charles II (1630-1685) was one of the most audacious and beautiful objects ever offered. Klencke was a Dutch sugar merchant and knew that the king loved maps, and hoped that his gift would land him a favorable trading deal. (It did. He got knighted.


The Love Letters of Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger

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The notorious four-year affair between Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger has occasioned many a bitter academic debate, for reasons with which you may already be familiar.


A Hypnotic Look at How Japanese Samurai Swords Are Made

≡ Category: History |2 Comments″>the

Paper, books, wooden joints, tea whisks — Japanese culture has, for seemingly all of its long recorded history, greatly esteemed the making of objects. But no one object represents the Japanese dedication to craftsmanship, and within that the eternal pursuit of approachable but never quite attainable perfection, than the sword.


A Free Course from Yale on the U.S. Civil War: Because Trump Just Gave Us Another Teachable Moment

≡ Category: History |5 Comments

If there’s a silver lining to the Trump administration, it’s that it provides some teachable moments for historians and students.


The First 100 Days of Fascist Germany: A New Online Project from Emory University

≡ Category: Current Affairs, History |7 Comments

From Emory University comes The First 100 Days of Fascist Germany, an attempt to document online what happened on each day–from January 30, 1933 through May 9, 1933–when Hitler was named Reichskanzler of Germany.
As you can perhaps imagine, the motivation for the project isn’t entirely divorced from current events.


Read Cormac McCarthy’s First Work of Non-Fiction, “The Kekulé Problem,” a Provocative Essay on the Origins of Language

≡ Category: History, Literature, Science |Leave a Comment

Few English writers of the early twentieth century had the rhetorical zest and zeal of novelist, journalist, and Catholic apologist G.K. Chesterton, and few could have so ably taken on the formidable intellect of H.G. Wells.


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