The first ten years of Bruce’s History Lessons is available in two affordable paperbacks or e-books. These collections of Bruce Kauffmann’s published newspaper columns are must reading, whether or not you are a history buff. As Bruce’s legions of readers know, his columns are entertaining, educational and — at just 450 words — quick and easy reads.
Bruce’s History Lessons- The First Five Years (2001 – 2006)
From the Foreword: “As the readers of my weekly history column constantly remind me in the thousands of e-mails they have sent me over the years, history is not about dates, or figures, or statistics or arcane facts that need to be memorized and regurgitated in history tests, only to be promptly forgotten later. History is, as one reader so nicely put it, “about people who are heroic or tragic, who make decisions, often bad ones. People who have hearts and souls.”- Bruce Kauffmann
A Bomb and a “Bombshell”
This week in 1946, in the aftermath of America’s detonation of an atomic bomb over the Bikini Atoll islands in the South Pacific, the world expressed shock, outrage and near universal condemnation. Oh, and the bomb blast and atomic radiation that subsequently leaked into the atmosphere caused some concern as well. For it was on July 5th of 1946 that French clothing designer Louis Reard sent a Parisian “model” (actually a nude dancer) down a Paris runway wearing a bathing suit so skimpy that, as he would later boast, “it could be pulled through a wedding ring.” Pressed to name his shocking fashion creation, he recalled the day’s headlines, which announced the aforementioned atomic bomb’s detonation over the Bikini Atolls. The bikini was born.
Jefferson and Adams Live
It is arguably America’s greatest historical coincidence. Exactly 50 years to the day after the Declaration of Independence announced America’s birth as a nation on July 4th, 1776, the Declaration’s author, Thomas Jefferson, and the man who recommended him for the job, John Adams, both died. The date was July 4th in 1826.
“The Pill” Pushers
And so, one of the most life-altering phenomenon of the 20th century [the birth control pill] was made possible by two women — one a radical Irish atheist, the other a wealthy Protestant socialite — and two men — one a short, homely, Jewish lab rat, the other a tall, handsome Catholic physician. Only in America.
Bruce’s History Lessons- The Second Five Years (2006 – 2011)
From the Foreword: “I was very gratified by the response to the first book and pleasantly surprised that so many parents who home school their children bought the book as a way to introduce their children to America’s heritage and our nation’s place in the world.” – Bruce Kauffmann
Reach Out and Touch Someone
Forty-three years on the planet and the only black man John F. Kennedy had ever spent any time with was his valet. Yet the two-minute phone call he made this week (Oct. 20) in 1960 to Coretta King, the wife of America’s most important black leader, Martin Luther King, probably made Kennedy, and not Richard Nixon, president.
The Iron Man Sits
This week (Sept. 20) in 1998, the last home game of the season for the Baltimore Orioles was somewhat notable because, unlike the previous 2,632 consecutive games he had played for the Orioles, third baseman Calvin “Cal” Ripken decided to sit this game out, ending the longest consecutive playing streak in baseball and sports history. As baseball fans everywhere know, in 1995, Ripken, nicknamed “Iron Man,” broke the 56-year-old Major League Baseball (MLB) record of Yankee first baseman Lou Gehrig (nicknamed “Iron Horse”) by playing in his 2,131st consecutive game. The following year Ripken also broke the world record for consecutive baseball games played, 2,215, held by Japan’s Sachio Kinugasa.
The Presidential Title Search
If you think Congress wastes valuable time on trivial matters today, consider the fact that our first Congress spent a month arguing over what title to give George Washington, who had recently been elected our first …. well, that was the problem. Our first what?
Should he be “His Highness the President of the United States and Protector of the Rights of the Same”? That was what one Senate committee recommended after many hours of spirited debate. Should he be “His Excellency,” as one senator recommended, noting that “President” sounded much too ordinary. After all, there were presidents everywhere in America, be it the president of a company or a local fellowship club. Should he be “His Majesty, the President George Washington”? That was the recommendation of John Adams, who, having been elected to the second highest office, would then presumably become “His Majesty in Waiting, the Vice President.”