I’ve just over a week until I leave California and return to the archives in London. The four chapters I wrote for my dissertation are simply not enough to produce a serious book: a few chapters too short! There remain four unanswered questions which are:  (more…)

Admiral John Byng lives an immortal life. Executed by his government for the crime of “not doing one’s utmost”, time and history have worked to mythologize events.

The latest in memory-making belongs to The Telegraph of London. The newspaper printed one of those ‘On this day’ articles: in this case, a commemoration outlining Byng’s execution by firing squad aboard HMS Monarch (14 March 1757).

Yet The Telegraph’s brief article contained many egregious errors, (more…)

As I work through some key issues for my book on John Byng, it became difficult to avoid the fact that the admiral participated in Britain’s pre-emptive strike against France in 1755. Yes, the Seven Years’ War had many precursors prior to the official declaration of war (May 1756), the Channel Campaign among them. Pre-emptive war is familiar to us thanks to the United States invasion of (more…)

Passions run deep in British history.

No further proof necessary than that of an eighteenth-century Frenchman, François-Marie Arouet, more commonly known as that great French philosophe, Voltaire. His 1759 publication Candide proved his attachment, if not outright admiration, for all things (more…)

Today I walked down from 13 Woodland Road (sight of the History Department at Bristol University) to the Print Services office down the hill. There was an unexpected cost: my dissertation will be placed on the university’s library shelves. As such, it must be hardbound, black spine, gold lettering, my name, title, and year. It’s kind of cool, except for the (more…)

I want to stand resolute, appear smart, say something deep, meaningful and extremely erudite. But then that wouldn’t be me.

I board a plane in a few hours that will take me from my native California, fly me an ocean and a rock away (Lisa Hannigan reference), to land me in London. A quick train ride to Bristol, and (more…)

This upcoming first weekend in March, I will be found in Las Vegas, Nevada. No, not gambling, but delivering the following abbreviated, fifteen-minute presentation to numerous British scholars at the PCCBS conference (Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies). I know, Las Vegas is no where near the Pacific… hey, but I didn’t organize this event! Nonetheless, this 2,300 word presentation comes from a 23,000 word chapter. Talk about your editing. Hope it’s coherent, and (more…)