A Chilling Tale From a Cold Moscow Night

Lenin’s mausoleum, Red Square, Moscow In my blog post last week (about, in part, the words “consul” and “consulate”), I mentioned that while serving in the U.S. consulate-general in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg, Russia), I was involved in the case of an American who died there and whose body had to be shipped home. It […]

‘Horde’ vs. ‘Hoard’

The Mongol Horde From time to time I’ve seen the words horde and hoard confused. But they’re as different in meaning as in spelling. Horde, a noun, refers to a very large group of people – e.g., a swarm, an army. In fact the word is often used to refer to the much-feared 13th century […]

9/11/2001 – 9/11/2016

Fifteen years ago today, with the al-Qaida attacks that murdered nearly 3,000* innocents in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, the world changed. Since that horrible day, perhaps even more ink has been spilled on those events than blood on September 11, 2001. I will waste little additional ink here. Readers can find plenty more on […]

‘You’ve Got Communism’

Soviet propaganda poster: “Forward. To the victory of communism!” Banner shows profiles of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin. Foreground figures are idealized representations of a laborer and a collective farmer in the “workers’ paradise.” On the eve of Labor Day, I’m reminded of an incident that took place back in early 1978, when I was posted to […]

A Linguistic ‘Insight’ That Was Not Terribly Insightful

An article recently posted by a Facebook friend about the “ancient kinship” of Sanskrit and Russian brought to mind a linguistic “insight” that popped into my head several decades ago. Ever since I learned, as a graduate student, about the great prehistoric migrations of people out of the Eurasian steppes, westward into Europe and southward […]

My Peculiar Little Footnote to Apollo 11

I wrote and published this item on Facebook on July 21, 2009, when the 40th anniversary of the first landing on the moon was triggering numerous reminiscences. The incident described here is a unique, if little-heralded, footnote to this landmark event in the history of the human species. All the attention to the 40th anniversary of the […]

Eyewitness to an Astonishing Moment in History

Palace Square Last week, on the eve of July Fourth, I wrote about my late father-in-law, Bob Kelley, and his Bicentennial Essay in The American Historical Review. With the fireworks still (figuratively) echoing in my ears, I’m writing this week about another personal connection with the Fourth of July. On that date in 1978, I witnessed […]

July Fourth – a Personal Connection

America’s Independence Day reminds me of my late father-in-law, Robert L. Kelley, a history professor. A warm, wonderful man, he made an indelible first impression on me. As Sandra, then my fiancé, ushered me into her family’s home in Santa Barbara, California, for the first time shortly before Thanksgiving 1986, Bob Kelley spread his arms […]

The Liberation of Rome

On June 5, 1944 – 72 years ago today, and one day before the D-Day invasion of Normandy – American troops, advancing north in Italy, liberated Rome from the Nazis. I am lucky to have had a personal glimpse of Rome’s liberation from one of my professors at Yale, the late Ivo Lederer.* Fourteen years […]

Helping Bring Progress to the Third World & Crack Open the Iron Curtain

The following are some thoughts I was invited to write about “national service” – in view of my having served in the Peace Corps and the U.S. Foreign Service – for inclusion in the Class Book of the Yale University Class of 1966, in preparation for our 50th reunion next weekend (June 3-5, 2016): Don’t […]