Thursday, January 27, 2011

Better Than Radio

Here are some videos watched on recently that merit attention. Actually, I should say listened to, rather than watched. These serve as proxy podcasts for me, when the talk radio grind isn't getting it done.

The Civil War of 1812. A fascinating account of this mostly forgotten chapter of early American history, presented by UC-Davis professor and pulitzer Prize winning historian Alan Taylor. Things I did not know:
  • The war of 1812 can be viewed as an extension of the loyalist vs. republican conflict in North America that lingered past the conclusion of the American Revolution.
  • Contemporary Canadians view this as a great victory, turning back the invading American armies.
  • 70% of the combined combatants on both sides were of Irish extraction.
  • Fearing desertion in their ranks, the Brits decreed that any American combatants captured, if found to be former British subjects (i.e., the Irish) would be given the choice of joining the British army for life or be executed. If they were found to be former members of the British military, execution was the only option.
  • The British briefly considered using this war to attempt to end the American experiment permanently, through fomenting loyalist sympathies in New England, slave revolt in the South, and American Indian uprisings in the West.
  • Ultimately, the larger war against Napoleon forced the British to agree to a brokered peace with neither side gaining any advantage over pre-war conditions.

Beetle: The Life of General Walter Bedell Smith. Biography of one of the most important, yet least well known, military figures of WWII.

Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia. Details on the British archeologist turned spy and insurgent military leader, T.E. Lawrence. What a life this guy led, both tragic and triumphant. The presenter, Michael Korda, compares to him to Princess Diana, for his uncanny ability to generate publicity and inspire admiration from the general public.