Wild Geese, Winged Daggers, and Leopards in the Jungle

In perfect keeping with my academic ventures, the initial plan for my paper was quite interesting to me, very very ambitious, and on the whole more than a little high-minded and obscenely impractical. While the study of mercenary soldiering’s evolution from the Congo to the modern age would be interesting and very much in line with my academic pursuits, it would also be nigh well impossible to cut down to a mere 14 or so pages.… Read the rest here

Vive la mort, vive la guerre, vive le sacré mercenaire

Mercenary soldiers are hardly a new phenomenon on the world stage, but in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries they’ve acquired a new notability, starting with the large operations in the Congo and today with the booming private military contractor industry. My paper aims to take a look at the driving forces behind this resurgence of mercenary work, analyzing the evolution of modern mercenary soldiering from large-scale warfighting to more technical, consulting and security work, along with the motives and politics behind mercenary work.… Read the rest here

Workin’ on (researching) the railroad…among other things

Wolfgang Schivelbusch gives a very detailed, well-researched account of how the railroads changed how people viewed their lives. Despite his dearth of primary sources, however, Schivelbusch neglects the lower-class people whose views were no doubt also impacted by what the Americans called the “iron horse.” This is somewhat understandable, as the lower class in pretty much all of society is traditionally less lettered, literate, or likely to record their thoughts and feelings than the upper class, but their thoughts on the matter are still quite important.… Read the rest here

The Usual Suspect

Carl Becker would be rather proud of Detective Grant—rather than a bespectacled academic pondering a weighty tome, the historian hero of Daughter of Time is a gruff, battered, longtime veteran of Scotland Yard who by his own admission gave little and less thought to history after his schooling. However, he finds himself unraveling a mystery of a rather different sort when a portrait of Richard III makes him question everything he thought he knew about the key.… Read the rest here