Philby's boss was Sir Stewart Menzies, who, we are told, "rode to hounds, mixed with royalty, never missed a day at Ascot, drank a great deal, and kept his secrets buttoned up behind a small, fierce mustache. He preferred women to men and horses to both." Menzies was an amateur at a time when his adversaries were professionals. Philby's fellow Soviet spy Donald Maclean was a mess. But since he was a mess with the right accent and background he easily found a home in the British spy service. At one point, Macintyre says, Maclean "got drunk, smashed up the Cairo flat of two secretaries at the U.S. embassy, ripped up their underwear, and hurled a large mirror off the wall, breaking a large bath in two. He was sent home, placed under the care of a Harley Street psychiatrist, and then, amazingly, after a short period of treatment, promoted to head the American desk at the Foreign Office."
Kim Philby, the Soviet spy who infiltrated MI6, is the subject of a Malcolm Gladwell article in The New Yorker
. Gladwell argues that Philby's story is not about spying but "the hazards of mistrust." He is interviewed on a New Yorker podcast
about his article. Gladwell's article is also a review of Ben Macintyre's book on Philby, A Spy Among Friends
. Gladwell reviewed Macintyre's previous book, Operation Mincemeat
and argued that spy agencies might be more trouble than they're worth
posted by Kattullus
on Jul 28, 2014 -
Winston Churchill famously said, "We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills". And although Winston never had contend with an invasion force on the streets of London, he was not entirely successful
in keeping the Germans from occupying British soil. [more inside]
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI
on Feb 23, 2014 -
What we knew of Angus was this: Angus—the only name we had for him—was a flight surgeon our mother had fallen in love with during World War II, planned to marry after the war, but lost when the Japanese shot him down over the Pacific. Once, long ago, she had mentioned to me that he was part of the reason she decided to be a doctor. That was all we knew. She had confided those things in the 1970s, in the years just after she and my father divorced. I can remember sitting in a big easy chair my dad had left behind in her bedroom, listening to her reminisce about Angus as she sat with her knitting. I remember being embarrassed, and not terribly interested.
I was interested now. Even 30 years before, her affair with Angus had been three decades old. Now, 60 years after he had fallen into the sea, she wanted to follow him. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Jan 10, 2014 -
If someone mentions the state of Jefferson that existed in an alternate universe, the question should be: which one?
The western neighbor of the Kansas Territory, the eastern portion of Texas, the later effort to split off a western portion of Texas, or the new state composed of parts of Oregon and California? [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief
on Sep 6, 2013 -
Seventy years ago today
, in the midst of World War II, St. Louis citizens and dignitaries gathered at Lambert Airport to watch a VIP demonstration flight of the CG-4A
glider, which had recently entered service. Aboard the glider
were William Becker
, the Mayor of St. Louis, several other high-ranking city officials, the founder and the vice-president of Robertson Aircraft
(a St. Louis company producing the glider for the war effort), as well as two pilots. Immediately after being released by the tow aircraft, the right wing of the glider sheared off, sending the glider plummeting to the ground
and killing all ten aboard. [more inside]
posted by Chanther
on Aug 1, 2013 -
""He just went out to the shop, and my mum was waiting for him to come home, and he never came," Linda Davis said of her father." -- During World War II tens of thousands of Chinese seamen served in the UK's merchant navy, many of whom had settled in Liverpool and some of which developed relationships with local women. Yet in 1945, as soon as the war was won, Liverpool police forces, on orders of the Home Office mounted razzias and deported the majority of the 20,000 Chinese men living in the city
, leaving behind their wifes and children. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse
on Jul 26, 2013 -
The most well known of New Zealand's World War II home-built tanks was the Bob Semple tank
, designed by New Zealand Minister of Works Bob Semple. There was only one made, but it served its purpose of "showing the people that something was being done to meet the enemy. It rumbled around, took part in parades, and inspired confidence.
" One problem: the tank, built on a Caterpiller tractor and armored with corrugated steel, would momentarily pause while changing gears, unless it was already headed down hill
. During parades and public shows, its driver was instructed to change gear as little as possible, to prevent people from thinking their tank was stalling. The other New Zealand-built tank was the Schofield tank
, built on the chassis of a Chevrolet heavy-duty truck, with the ability to drive quickly on wheels, then operate on treads, the transition only taking 7 to 10 minutes
. Two prototypes were made, but neither the Bob Semple nor the Schofield tank were mass produced, as New Zealand started receiving tanks from abroad by 1943.
posted by filthy light thief
on Jun 17, 2013 -
is a collaborative collection of more than 3,000 royalty-free
photos from World War II's Battle of Normandy and its aftermath. (Photos date from June 6 to late August 1944). The main link goes to the photostream. You can also peruse sets
, which include 2700+ images from the US
posted by zarq
on Mar 19, 2013 -
In 1974, Leon Leyson was one of a group of Jews who greeted Oskar Schindler when he visited Los Angeles. It was the first time the two had seen each other since the war. He began to introduce himself, but Schindler interrupted: "I know who you are," Schindler said, grinning at the middle-aged man before him. "You're Little Leyson." On Sunday, the youngest name on Schindler's List passed away at the age of 83.
"The truth is, I did not live my life in the shadow of the Holocaust," he told the Portland Oregonian in 1997. "I did not give my children a legacy of fear. I gave them a legacy of freedom." [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Jan 14, 2013 -
Tomorrow is remembrance day in the Netherlands, as the dead and victims of World War II and beyond are honoured. Each year at the national memorial service at the Dam square in Amsterdam a poem is read by the winner of the school competition organised by the remembrance committee. This year there was controversy as the winning poem was about a Dutch volunteer for the Waffen SS
, which was not appreciated by the Auschwitz survivors organisation, which threated to boycott the procedings. In the end therefore the poem was scrapped, but it had already laid bare a sore spot in Dutch history. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse
on May 3, 2012 -
World War II in Photos
"A retrospective of World War II in large-size photo stories. 900 photos in all, over 20 chapters, telling many of the countless millions of stories from the biggest conflict and biggest story of the 20th century."
[via mefi projects
] [more inside]
posted by bru
on Nov 1, 2011 -
Nearly seventy years ago, 10,000 Japanse Americans were forcibly relocated to Heart Mountain
, just outside Cody, Wyoming; they were part of a larger group of more than 120,000 men, women, and children incarcerated in War Relocation Authority (WRA) camps
due solely to their ancestry. This past weekend, about 100 survivors of the camp -- led by the delightfully named Bacon Sakatini
-- returned to this remote corner of Wyoming to celebrate the grand opening of the Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center
Of the ten WRA camps, Heart Mountain had the only organized resisters movement
, which was started in 1944 by seven men who formed the Fair Play Committee
to protest the drafting of Japanse American men while their families remained imprisoned -- leading to the largest draft resistance trial in U.S. history.
posted by scody
on Aug 25, 2011 -
Think your taxes are high now?
A list of the top ten salaries in the US in 1941, and the taxes they paid (spoiler: 65-73% tax rate! but, still doesn't include total compensation, though, which makes it a little sketchy). Interestingly, the NYTimes couldn't figure out two of the names, C.S. Woolman (who is probably C.E. Woolman
, one of the founders of delta airlines) and another mysterious name, J.C. Owsley, that seems to be unidentifiable
posted by yeoz
on Dec 1, 2010 -