Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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On the anniversary of air conditioning

By Salvatore Basile
Those who love celebrations, take note — July 17 marks the birthday of air conditioning. To recap the story, it was 112 years ago today that young engineer Willis Carrier unveiled the plans for his “Apparatus for Treating Air,” a contraption that was designed to lower the humidity in a Brooklyn printing plant.

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The month that changed the world: Monday, 6 July to Sunday, 12 July 1914

By Gordon Martel
Having assured the Austrians of his support on Sunday, the kaiser on Monday departed on his yacht, the Hohenzollern, for his annual summer cruise of the Baltic. When his chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, met with Count Hoyos and the Austrian ambassador in Berlin that afternoon, he confirmed that Germany would stand by them ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’.

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Calvin Coolidge, unlikely US President

By Michael Gerhardt
The Fourth of July is a special day for Americans, even for our presidents. Three presidents — John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe — died on the Fourth of July, but only one — Calvin Coolidge — was born on that day (in 1872). Interestingly, Coolidge was perhaps the least likely of any of these to have attained the nation’s highest elective office.

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Cultural memory and Canada Day: remembering and forgetting

By Eleanor Ty
Canada Day (Fête du Canada) is the holiday that suggests summer in all its glory for most Canadians — fireworks, parades, free outdoor concerts, camping, cottage getaways, beer, barbeques, and a few speeches by majors or prime ministers. For children, it is the end of a school year and the beginning of two months of summer vacation.

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The month that changed the world: Monday, 29 June to Sunday, 5 July 1914

By Gordon Martel
Although it was Sunday, news of the assassination rocketed around the capitals of Europe. By evening Princip and Čabrinović had been arrested, charged, taken to the military prison and put in chains. All of Čabrinović’s family had been rounded up and arrested, along with those they employed in the family café; Ilić was arrested that afternoon.

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The month that changed the world: Sunday, 28 June 1914

At 10 a.m. that morning the royal party arrived at the railway station. A motorcade consisting of six automobiles was to proceed from there along the Appel Quay to the city hall.The first automobile was to be manned by four special security detectives assigned to guard the archduke, but only one of them managed to take his place; local policemen substituted for the others.

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The month that changed the world: Saturday, 27 June 1914

By Gordon Martel
The next day was to be a brilliant one, a splendid occasion that would glorify the achievements of Austrian rule in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Habsburg heir to the thrones of Austria and Hungary, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, had been eagerly anticipating it for months.

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Reflecting on the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings

In the early morning of 6 June 1944, thousands of men stood in Higgins boats off the coast of Normandy. They could not see around them until the bow ramp was lowered — when it was time for them to storm the Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah, and Omaha beaches. Over 10,000 of them would die in the next 24 hours.

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Spies and the burning Reichstag

It is well known that someone set fire to the Reichstag in Berlin on the evening of February 27, 1933 – eighty-one years ago. It is also well known that Hitler’s new government took this opportunity to pass the Reichstag Fire Decree, gutting the Weimar constitution and effectively initiating a 12-year dictatorship. Many readers will know that ever since 1933 controversy has raged about who actually set fire to the Reichstag – was it the first step in a Communist coup, was it a Nazi conspiracy to supply a justification for their Decree, or was the rather confused young Dutch stonemason Marinus van der Lubbe telling the truth when he claimed he had set the fire himself?

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The legacy of the War on Poverty, 50 years later

By Michael B. Katz
On January 8, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the federal government’s War on Poverty during his State of the Union address. Seven months later, Congress passed the Economic Opportunity Act. Time has not been kind to its reputation.

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Launching a war on poverty

By Michael L. Gillette
Fifty years ago on the eighth of January, President Lyndon Johnson declared unconditional war on poverty. In his first State of the Union Address, LBJ outlined his offensive, a sweeping domestic agenda that would become known as the Great Society: Medicare, federal aid to education, an expanded food stamp program, extended minimum wage coverage…

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The Erie Canal: a tour

By Kate Pais
Before Bill and Hilary, DeWitt Clinton was one of the most famous Clintons that New York could lay claim to. His legacy, mocked at the time as “DeWitt’s ditch”, is the famous Erie Canal. Connecting New York City to the Great Lakes through Lake Erie, this notable trade route cost seven million dollars and cut the expense of shipping to the Midwest significantly.

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The Thirteenth Amendment

By Richard Striner
On 18 December 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, thus ending the epochal struggle to kill American slavery. But the long struggle to achieve full equality regardless of race was just beginning. When Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation, he knew very well that it might eventually be overturned in court as unconstitutional.

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Ten things to understand about the Molly Maguires

By Kevin Kenny
On this day 135 years ago, John Kehoe was hanged. Convicted in 1877 of murdering a Pennsylvania mine boss 15 years earlier, he was almost certainly innocent of that crime. But Kehoe also stood accused of being the mastermind in a nefarious secret society called the Molly Maguires.

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