Versailles Train Crash

Windows into History

versaillesSnippets 116.  Exactly 175 years ago today a tragic rail accident occurred between Versailles and Paris, on 8th May 1842. A locomotive broke an axle and derailed, causing the carriages behind to crash into it and catch fire. Astonishingly, it was standard practice to lock carriage doors with the passengers inside at the time, so many people were trapped and of the 770 passengers somewhere between 52 and 200 tragically died. This was at the time the worst rail disaster the world had ever seen.

In his Notes on Railroad Accidents (1879), Charles Francis Adams described the events of the day, and also how the disaster gave the French people pause for thought about whether rail travel, still in its infancy, was the right path for the country to take, or whether they should return to more traditional means of travel. But, as always, it is very…

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Japanese Airborne Attack 11th Airborne

Pacific Paratrooper

Gen. Robert Eichelberger

The first eye witness account is from General Robert Eichelberger, Commander of the Eighth Army on Leyte as written in his book, “Our Jungle Road To Tokyo”

“There is a memento of this struggle now in the Military Academy at West Point.  [General] Joe Swing gave it to me, and I sent it on from the Pacific.

“During the fighting on an airstrip, two ducking and dodging American GI’s – Allen W. Osborne and Eustis A. Jolly – were hand-carrying ammunition to the troops under fire.  They noticed a large Japanese flag fluttering in a tree and, being incorrigible souvenir hunters, decided to acquire it.

“Each time they attempted to shinny up the tree, they were met by a fusillade of Japanese bullets.  So they changed their tactics.  They got an ax from their truck and while still under fire, chopped down the tree.  That hard-won Japanese…

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Review: ‘Ville avoisinant la Terre’ by Jorj A. Mhaya

Comics Grinder

Our hero

Taking a global view, there’s isn’t a hotter book right now than “Ville avoisinant la Terre,” by Jorj A. Mhaya. It was originally published in Arabic in 2011 by Dar Onboz. And it has been recently translated into French by Éditions Denoël. This is a gorgeous book and it is only a matter of time before there is an English translation. In the meantime, I would encourage you to seek it out now and get ahead of the pack. If you enjoy the convenience of Amazon, you can find it right here. Let’s take a closer look.

The setting: Beirut, Lebanon

Over years, I’ve enjoyed a number of comics in languages I don’t know well or at all. For example, you don’t have to know French to enjoy the artwork of Blutch or Tardi. And so it is with the artwork of Mhaya. He has…

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