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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Orwell in America

By Robert Colls
The man wants to admit his rebellious thoughts and reveal the deception but knows that by doing so he is going to make the rest of his life difficult, not to say short, and there will be no going back. He does it all the same. He has no accomplices, except his girlfriend. The world has yet to decide what will happen to him. I am of course talking about Edward Snowden.

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Who’s Who in 2014 [infographics]

December sees the annual update of Who’s Who, the essential directory of the noteworthy and influential in all walks of life, in the United Kingdom and worldwide. This year, over 1,000 new lives have been added to the resource. Who’s made it in in 2014? From actors to authors, and presenters to politicians, discover the entries of a vast selection of past and present influential figures, written by the individual themselves.

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Five things you didn’t know about Franklin Pierce

By Michael Gerhardt
There are few presidents more forgotten – and perhaps worth forgetting than – Franklin Pierce. To the extent he is remembered at all, historians and others dismiss him as a weak president who allowed strong-willed senators sympathetic to slavery interests to force him to take actions, which helped to provoke a near civil war in Kansas and bring the nation itself closer to the Civil War that formally broke out in 1861.

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Doctor Who at fifty

Doctor Who was first broadcast by BBC Television at 5.16pm on Saturday 23 November 1963. This weekend the BBC marks the fiftieth anniversary with several commemorative programmes on television, radio, and online—as well as a ‘global simulcast’ of the anniversary adventure, which places the two actors who’ve most recently played ‘the Doctor’…

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Benjamin Britten’s centenary

The 22nd of November is the feast day of St Cecilia, patron saint of musicians and church music, and the 22nd of November 1913 was the birthdate, in Lowestoft, Suffolk, of Benjamin Britten (1913-1976). The young Britten displayed an extraordinary musical talent and his mother had high hopes for her son: young Benjamin, it was said, was to be the fourth ‘B’ after Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms.

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Detective’s Casebook: Unearthing the Piltdown Man

By Ellie Gregory
It is regarded as one of the most baffling scientific hoaxes of the past few hundred years. The mystery of the Piltdown Man, a skull believed to be an ancient ‘missing link’ in human evolution, blindsided the expert eyes of some of the greatest scientists of the 20th century.

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Benjamin Britten, revisited

By Heather Wiebe
When I was charged with the task of updating the article on Benjamin Britten in Grove Music Online, I thought it would be a relatively simple matter. As Britten’s centenary year approached, it seemed an opportune moment, and the article was one I admired.

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Climbing Pikes Peak 200 years ago

By Jared Orsi
Today marks the anniversary of an event little remembered but well worth noting. On 15 November 1806, Lieutenant Zebulon Pike paused on the high plains in what is now Colorado, peered through his spyglass, and saw the mountain that would later bear his name, Pikes Peak.

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FDR, Barack Obama, and the president’s war powers

By Richard Moe
Barack Obama earlier this year became the first president in recent memory to propose limiting the powers of his office when he called for reigning in the use of drones. “Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions,” he said on 23 May 2013.

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A few things to remember, this fifth of November

As you prepare to gather round a bonfire and to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ at fireworks, don’t forget (indeed, ‘remember, remember’) that you’re part of a well-established national tradition. What’s now known as the Gunpowder Plot was uncovered on the night of Monday 4 November 1605 when Thomas Knyvett, keeper of Whitehall Palace, led a second search of the vaults under the House of Lords.

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Vernon Scannell: War poetry and PTSD

By James Andrew Taylor
the more I read about his life after the war – the monumental drinking binges, the black-outs, the terrifying, sweating nightmares, and most of all the raging, unreasonable jealousies and the sickening violence that he meted out to his wife and, later, his lovers – the more I began to wonder whether this was not also the story of a man seriously damaged by his wartime experiences.

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Burlesque in New York: The writing of Gypsy Rose Lee

In celebration of the anniversary of the first burlesque show in New York City, I reread a fun murder mystery, The G-String Murders, by Gypsy Rose Lee. “Finding dead bodies scattered all over a burlesque theater isn’t the sort of thing you’re likely to forget. Not quickly, anyway,” begins the story.The editors at Simon & Schuster liked the setting in a burlesque theater and appreciated Gypsy’s natural style, with its unpretentious and casual tone. Her knowledge of burlesque enabled her to intrigue readers, who were as interested in life within a burlesque theater as in the mystery.

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