After Escaping Cannibals, Dealing With Politicians Was Easy

In September 1944 nine US airmen were shot down over Chichi Jima, a small island 700 miles south of Tokyo, Japan. Of these nine men, only one evaded capture by the Japanese. That man, Lt. George H.W. Bush, went on to become the 41st President is the United States. What he didn't know -- and... Continue Reading →

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Mad Dog’s Rules of Etiquette

Before he became the 26th Secretary of Defense, James Mattis was a general in the U.S. Marines Corps. He earned his nickname of "Mad Dog" with his characteristic bluntness and determination. He famously advised fellow Marines, "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet."

The Cavalry Charges Into History

Few military maneuvers instill as many thoughts of heroism and daring as the cavalry charge. Rushing at full speed against an onslaught of enemy forces has inspired such poetic works Alfred, Lord Tennyson's as "The Charge of the Light Brigade," and have launched political careers, as did the Battle of San Juan Hill for U.S.... Continue Reading →

Did One Wrong Word Cause the Hiroshima Bombing?

Readers of Commonplace will not be surprised to learn that one little mistranslation from one language to another can be embarrassing. Whether it is one misplaced letter when cheering General Douglas MacArthur, an incompetent interpreter for a US President, or slip of a tongue during an word of encouragement from a member of the royal family, one... Continue Reading →

Did Dr. Doom Help Design the Atomic Bomb?

Readers of Marvel Comics know that the nefarious Dr. Doom will go to any lengths in his power-hungry desire to conquer the world. It is worth taking a second look, therefore, to see if this master of villainy's fingerprints were on the design of the most destructive weapon in history -- especially since one of... Continue Reading →

The Time Virginia Woolf Scammed the British Navy

  The pride and joy of the British Navy was the HMS Dreadnought, its most powerful battleship. That's why, despite the last-minute notice, the ship's commander was only too happy to accommodate a tour for the Prince of Abyssinia and his entourage. The date of February 7, 1910. The sailors of the Dreadnought were dressed in... Continue Reading →

The Accidental Invasions of Liechtenstein

Switzerland has a long-standing tradition of neutrality and rarely gets involved in military confrontation. It may, therefore, surprise you to learn that Switzerland has invaded its neighboring country Liechtenstein, not once, but three times in a 22-year period -- each time by accident! On December 5, 1985, the Swiss Army fired rockets as part of... Continue Reading →

The Great Tootsie Roll Battle of the Korean War

On Veteran's Day we honor and celebrate those who have served their country in the armed forces. These individuals are known for bravery, selflessness, commitment to duty, and innovation in the face of challenges. Few moments in history illustrate all of these characteristics better than the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, when soldiers used a tasty... Continue Reading →

Scottish Independence Started with a Broken Axe

History records that Scots won their freedom at the Battle of Bannockburn on June 24, 1314. The battle raged for two days before the heavily outnumbered Scots defeated the professional military of England's Edward II.  The battle could easily have been over before it started. On June 23, as the two armies caught sight of... Continue Reading →

Vikings Beware! There Be Scots Here!

Vikings were feared throughout Northern Europe for more than 300 years. The mere mention of these fierce Norse warriors was enough to turn the most battle-hardened soldier weak at the knees. There was one place, though, where even the Vikings trembled and avoided when possible: Scotland. 800-year-old documents, written on yellowed calf vellum, have been... Continue Reading →

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