Oddly Cool

Take Highway 55 east from St. Louis, to Illinois 70, then into the rolling hills, soybeans, and hamlets where Lincoln lunched to find Carlyle Lake, the biggest manmade lake in Illinois. The Army Corps capped 69 oil wells and dammed the Kaskaskia River to make the 15-mile-long lake, which was finished in 1967. There’s a […]

“So-called children’s books”

“[S]o-called children’s books I don’t like and don’t believe in,” Chekhov wrote to a friend in 1900. “Children ought only to be given what is suitable also for grown-up people.” He had in mind the tales of Tolstoy and books of history and travel such as The Frigate Pallada, by Ivan Goncharov, about a Russian […]

Thirty-nine and Holding

As I approach my 40th birthday, I have become increasingly aware of what psychologists call the “nine-enders.” What-if, perhaps indulgent, end-of-decade questions hum in the background of my everyday life. When will I finish the book I am writing? Will I finally learn how to make yogurt and cheese? Is there still enough time in […]

The Return of Vladimir Lenin

There are few individuals who had a more profound impact on the history of the 20th century than Vladimir Lenin. Born in 1870 to a wealthy middle-class family in Simbirsk Province, Lenin’s path as a revolutionary was laid early in life when his brother was executed for his part in the attempted assassination of Tsar […]

After

The most dreaded question a college senior could be asked: What are you doing after graduation? College graduation sneaks up on a person. At first it seems far away, as if it will never come, and then in the blink of an eye there are caps and gowns and diplomas everywhere. It is easy to […]

The February Revolution

The year 1917 was a significant one in the history of the Great War, and in no country was that more true than Russia. It began with a revolution in February of that year in which power was transferred from the autocratic Romanov dynasty to a provisional government and ended with a toppling of the […]

Foundation For a Revolution

At the beginning of 1917, the outlook for the Russian army on the Eastern Front was pretty bleak. A brief glimmer of hope had shined in the summer and early fall of 1916, when Russian general Aleksei Brusilov had led a highly successful advance on the German lines. The Brusilov Offensive was the high point […]

“As near to hell as I ever want to be.”

While weather and its effects on both battlefields and trenches was a recurring theme during World War I, in no battle was this problem more pronounced than what occurred during the battle of Passchendaele in the late summer and early fall of 1917. Rain and mud were the defining features of this battle, and it […]