Louis Zamperini [previously], subject of Laura Hillenbrand's popular biography Unbroken, died on July 2 at age 97 (link to NYTimes obit). A movie of Unbroken, with a screenplay by the Coen Brothers and directed by Angelina Jolie, is set for a Christmas release. Zamperini was an Olympic distance runner who survived weeks at sea in the Pacific and a Japanese prisoner of war camp after being shot down while serving in WWII. [more inside]
Tweedland has some interesting stories and characters. Here's two to get you started:
Robert de Montesquiou - "Tall, black-haired, rouged, Kaiser-moustached, he cackled and screamed in weird attitudes, giggling in high soprano, hiding his little black teeth behind an exquisitely gloved hand – the poseur absolute. He was said to have slept with Sarah Bernhardt and vomited for a week afterwards."
Lord Berners - "As a child, having heard that if you throw a dog into water it will learn how to swim, he threw his mother's canine companion out of the window on the grounds that if one applies the same logic it should learn how to fly. (The dog was unharmed, and he was "thrashed" by his mother.)"
The Boston Globe reports that historian Howard Zinn has died of a heart attack. The pioneering radical historian is best known for A People's History of the United States.
A Walk in the Woods. Farewell to the original Cold War warrior: Paul Nitze, the college professor's son who went to Hotchkiss and Harvard and worked as investment banker before going to Washington in 1940, where he quickly became one of the chief architects of American policy towards the Soviet Union. His doctrine of "strategic stability" became its cornerstone for half a century (Nitze held key government posts in Washington, from the era of Franklin Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan's, when he was the White House's guru on arms control). By the end of 1949, Nitze had become director of the State Department's policy planning staff, helping to devise the role of Nato, deciding to press ahead with the manufacture of the H-bomb, and producing National Security Council document 68, the document at the heart of the Cold War: in it, Nitze called for a drastic expansion of the U.S. military budget. The paper also expanded containment’s scope beyond the defense of major centers of industrial power to encompass the entire world. (NSC-68 was a top secret paper, written in April 1950 and declassified in the 70's, called "United States Objectives and Programs for National Security"). More inside.
Obitpage, dedicated to the writer's art of the obituary. Recommended among the greats in the (partial) "hall-of-fame" archive is Idi Amin's: "One of the Most Reviled Figures In Recent History."