General Interest

The Suez Canal

Learn the fascinating history of the Suez Canal, built in the 1860s, centuries after the first Nile-Red Sea canal of the ancient Egyptians.  The huge engineering effort that resulted in the new canal effectively shrank the physical world, and changed the political map of three continents for a century.

Maritime Chokepoints and Strategic Waters

Beginning with the Age of Sail, the geography of the oceans, as well as their winds and currents, became important to governments and their navies.  The Strait of Hormuz is today the best known of these choke points, but other such places have been flash points throughout history.

 Disease and History

Until the age of modern medicine, lethal epidemics and fatal disease shaped human history as much—arguably more—than did the acts of great men (and women), and the events of politics and wars.  Learn how plague, influenza, yellow fever, and small pox (as well as the “great pox,” syphilis), and especially cholera, powerfully changed the direction of the march of time.

The Art of David Roberts, R.A.

The stunning, amber-toned architectural art of Scottish artist David Roberts, who toured Egypt, Nubia, and the Holy Land in the 1830s, is the envy of collectors today.  Roberts is one of the great “Orientalists,” European and later American artists whose images of the sumptuous, exotic, and erotic sights of North Africa and the Levant fascinated and scandalized Victorians.

Major Themes in History

A brief introduction to history’s drivers, an illustrated inventory of some factors that have broadly shaped the story of humankind for the past several millennia, and one answer to the question, “what’s a knowledge of history good for in the digital age?”

Why We Fought: Propaganda and World War II: a two part talk

These two talks skim the history of the World War II in both oceans, focusing on the Pacific, through the fascinating documentary and animated movies Frank Capra and the Disney Studios released during wartime to explain to Americans and their allies the great stakes in the conflict.

Ships, Sailors and the Sea, Maritime Technology and Ocean Commerce

Political rivalries and the quest for gold, markets, and resources drove the great age of exploration, but it was new ship designs and construction techniques, growing navigational expertise, innovative financing structures, improvements in shipboard sanitation and crew health, and the invention of marine insurance exchanges that made possible the achievements of this epic era.

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