Yearly Archives: 2016

One of my favorite new TV series has been the Netflix original, The Crown, which tells the fascinating story of Queen Elizabeth II, current queen of the United Kingdom. The Crown focuses on the early years when Elizabeth first became queen in 1952, and one of the episodes deals...
I can still remember when I first saw A Charlie Brown Christmas. The Christmas special aired on December 9, 1965, and I would have just turned 10 years old. I recall being out on the playground across the street from my house in the Chicago suburb of Villa Park when...
Fidel Castro is dead. But the Ladies in White live on. Yoani Sanchez, one of the strongest voices for freedom in Cuba, tells about the origins of the Ladies in White movement in a 2011 opinion piece in The Washington Post: "Eight years ago, Laura Pollan was a schoolteacher living with her...
  I’m not sure what historical novelists did before the advent of the Internet. What takes a matter of minutes to discover on the Internet today probably took hours of library work in the pre-Web Stone Age. A case in point: In my first historical novel, The Disappearing Man, I had...
"For the first time in centuries, scientists have exposed the original surface of what is traditionally considered the tomb of Jesus Christ," says an online article from National Geographic. "Located in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem, the tomb has been covered by...
The audience exploded into applause. Every person in the room jumped up and began to wildly clap, as if racing each other to see who could get to their feet the fastest. The applause was all to honor the dictator Joseph Stalin at a 1937 conference of the Communist...
Some called it a murdering machine. But the question was: Who faced the greatest risk from this machine—the enemy or the men operating it? Eight men were jammed side by side in this cramped Civil War submarine, with walls 3½ feet apart and the ceiling about 4 feet high. It...

Hobbits and World War I

The world-famous fantasy epic, Lord of the Rings, might never have been written if the author had not come down with a fever. The author of the trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkien, was an officer for the British army during World War I. But when he came down with “trench fever,” he...
Thirty-eight steps saved the life of Kayla Bergeron—and hundreds of other people. Bergeron says she was working on the 68th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center when two planes rammed the twin towers on September 11, 2001. “We made our way down, floor by floor, through darkness...
The "Lost Notebook" sounds like something that Indiana Jones would pursue through jungles and across sands. But for mathematicians worldwide, the quest for this rare gem has taken them on a much different path—through libraries and stacks and stacks of documents. Bruce Berndt, a University of Illinois mathematician, never had...