Hannibal’s triumph at Cannae

By 216BC, Hannibal’s Carthaginian army in the Second Punic War had already won victories against the Romans at Trebia and Lake Trasimene. But then came Cannae. According to Polybius, the Senate, terrified by Hannibal’s successes, sent eight legions against him. It was an unprecedentedly large force: some 80,000 foot soldiers and 6,000 cavalry. It’s possible... Continue Reading →

Hattie McDaniel and Gone With the Wind

Gone with the Wind, the 1939 film adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s novel – which, to say the least, valorises the antebellum South – was always controversial. When producer David O Selznick announced the production, his decision was widely condemned by civil-rights organisations such as the NAACP. African-American actors who took roles in the film were... Continue Reading →

The forgotten story of Silent Night

Silent Night is one of the best-known songs in the world. It has been translated into over 200 languages and one version alone, Bing Crosby’s 1937 recording, sold over 30 million copies. But who knows anything of its authors? The lyrics to Silent Night were written by a somewhat loose-living Austrian priest named Joseph Mohr... Continue Reading →

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