Tag Archive: world history


Review by C.J. Bunce

When the first page reveals full-color children hiding in a trench from the bombs above, you know you’re in for some serious content ahead.  Following up on their new look at the past in their groundbreaking chronicle The Color of Time/The Colour of Time (which I reviewed here at borg), historian Dan Jones and Brazil-based artist and photographic colorist Marina Amaral have dived deeper into the horrors of war in their new book, The World Aflame And the title couldn’t be more apt.  If you think you’ve ever had a glimpse at war, think again.  As said best by The Times (UK), “Purists argue that colourising black and white photographs is sacrilege, but the world has always been in colour.  Truth be told, monochrome is a contrivance.  Human experience is always colourful.”  Your school textbooks were never so frightening, accurate, and true, as what you’ll see on each page of this gruesome and violent look back at both World Wars, or as authors and many historians and world leaders have seen it, one cataclysmic thirty-year war.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Whenever you read a Colin Solter book, you know what you’re going to get.  Salter, author of 100 Speeches that Changed the World and the co-author of 100 Books that Changed the World, is bringing his next thought-provoking ideas to your bookstore next month, 100 Letters that Changed the World.  As with his prior entries in the series, Solter doesn’t really assemble the 100 best, 100 favorite, or even 100 most important items in each category, but he brings to light primary references from history.  In doing this he reminds readers as much as things change, they also manage to stay the same.  Having read his earlier books, I find I’m as intrigued to learn what he has selected from the obscure as much as more expected finds.

In truth, not all of these letters changed the world, if anyone, as might be the case with a few suicide notes from popular culture across the decades.  It also gives a bit more weight to letters that exist in their original form today, and letters that might fetch big dollars on the collector’s market.  The most intriguing of the letters is a note from Abigail Adams to husband John Adams from 1776.  Her letter decidedly did not change the world, because had Adams paid heed to her plea, women would have been included along with “all men” in the Declaration of Independence.  But it is a fascinating secret from history nonetheless.  Also fascinating is the final, jovial letter from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to his wife Constanze, including references to his peer Antonio Salieri.

More obvious, important entries in 100 Letters that Changed the World include the telegram informing FDR about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s open letter from a Birmingham jail, Nelson Mandela’s letters from prison, and words of King Henry VIII’s affections to Anne Boleyn, which indeed would forever alter the course of history in Europe, Christopher Columbus’s first report back to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1493, as well as Galileo mentioning his telescope whereby he first saw the moons of Jupiter and noted its military advantage for Italian naval efforts in 1610.  And from the historic, but perhaps not so critical to human progress is the last telegram message from the RMS Titanic, a telegram from the Wright Brothers to their father of their successful first airplane flight, and Pliny the Younger’s letter to Tacitus describing the horrific deaths from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79.

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