Category Archives: Gregory on History

Inherit the Inaccuracy: The relentless assault on historical accuracy in popular media concoctions that go on and on. Be careful of movies and television that are “doing” history.

Look out for the phrase,“Based on a true story” and other fictions. When I was in high school in the late 1960s we were assigned to read “Inherit the Wind,” a highly popular play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee about the Scopes monkey trial. This was a 1925 trial in which a Tennessee…

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Why History Matters on the Trains: Governments want you to forget about their train disasters

History is critically important in why people suffer when they ride the subways in New York or Amtrak almost anywhere. Their daily frustrations trigger questions. Why is Penn Station falling apart along with Amtrak, New York City commuter railroads and the New York City subways? It is owing to the triumph of a subtle kind…

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Memorial Day—-A Dissenting View, Part 3: Honor the heroes, but also examine the causes of war

The Mexican War, 1846 The United States, which wants to buy California from Mexico, has just incorporated Texas into the United States. Texas is a former province of Mexico that won its independence from Mexico after a short war of rebellion. The successful revolution came in part because an unstable Mexican government revoked the constitution…

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Memorial Day—-A Dissenting View, Part 2: Honor the heroes, but also examine the causes of war

Lord Acton, the great historian of freedom who died in 1902, said there were only two justified wars in American history: The American Revolution and the Second War for American Independence. Acton, who was a correspondent of Confederate general General Robert E. Lee, defended the right of the South to succeed from the union, which…

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Memorial Day—-A Dissenting View, Part 1: Honor the heroes, but also examine the causes of war

Here in the United States we have just celebrated Memorial Day, a day when we justly honor the men and women who fought in our myriad wars. And today in the United States, we perpetually seem to be in a war or on verge of fighting them. This is what revisionist historian Harry Elmer Barnes…

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Bad History on Broadway and Elsewhere: Hollywood and Broadway don’t “do” history very well. Be careful where you get your history. Avoid movie and play “history (sic)”

Where you get your history does matter. It matters a lot. This was brought home to me about 20 years ago. A copy editor named Jeff was reviewing my story at a trade publication. He routinely told me that “Lyndon Johnson was part of the plot in assassinating President Kennedy.” Really, I asked, how do…

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