History Summarized: Ireland

On the surface, the history of Ireland seems like the tale of one island getting beat up for over a thousand years straight, and, well, that’s not incorrect. I’ll be honest with you. But from another perspective it’s a story of a unique civilization rising from the intersection of two very different worlds, and then […]

History Summarized: Malta

The history of the Mediterranean is both very long and very crowded. So it’s hard to get a big picture when we’re busy investigating individual civilizations like Egypt, Rome, or the Ottomans. However, a great way to see the whole of Mediterranean history is actually to zoom right in on the middle, to the island […]

History Summarized: How Augustus Made an Empire

At barely 35 years old, Octavian Caesar, the great nephew of one prematurely perforated Julius, was the most powerful man in Rome. In the span of a decade and a half, the “Impressive young man” as Cicero called him, cleverly swayed the people to view him as the rightful heir to the legacy of his, […]

David Foster Wallace and David Lipsky – Original Road Trip interview recording (1996)

Sit. Sit. Good dog, now you stay, you hush. Um, and then I got a job—this is the worst—I worked as a towel boy at something called the Auburndale Health Club in Watertown. Which was a very chichi … They called me something other than a towel boy, but I was in effect a towel […]

History Summarized: Florence

Here’s a fun History Fact for you: Florence… is the freaking coolest. Whether you’re looking for art, literature, political schemes, larger than life characters, things being set on fire, the historical context for the best Assassin’s Creed game, or the single greatest dome in history, this city at the beating heart of the Renaissance has […]

History Summarized: Alexander the Great

In the half-century following the Peloponnesian War, Greece wasn’t really doing so hot. Athens’ once mighty maritime empire had been rendered moot, and its continued relevance was primarily if not entirely owed to its lasting dedication to culture, art, and philosophy. Sparta’s population–which was never all that large in the first place–steadily dwindled through the […]

Modern Classics Summarized: A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens was born in 1812 to a working-class family, spent a few miserable months at age 12 working 10-hour days in a warehouse while his father was stuck in debtors’ prison, and then spent the rest of his life campaigning for child labor laws and writing scathing social commentary about the plight of the […]

History Summarized: Ancient Persia

If you, like me, learned about the Persian wars from the Greek perspective, or have even so much as heard of the movie 300, you might be inclined to view the Persian Empire as some kind of First Order level big bad. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Persia is often branded as […]

History Summarized: Byzantine Beginnings

Blue: You ever lie awake at night, thinking wistfully about the Roman Empire? Or is that just a me thing? *sigh* This is so sad. Okay. Alexa, play ‘Roman Empire 2’. Oh, HELL yeah, this is my jam! You see, the big plot twist of the fall of Rome is that it didn’t. While the […]

History Summarized: The Punic Wars

The three Punic Wars make up possibly one of the most intense chapters in Roman history, so if you want the full story, please check out this video on the Roman Republic. The short of it is that over the centuries the tiny town of Rome grew and grew until it conquered the entire Italian […]