The History List: Kamikaze Pilots, Telegraphy & More

A round-up of some things we've enjoyed reading over the past week.

 Major telegraph lines across the Earth in 1891A round-up of some things we've enjoyed reading over the past week

  • 'While Polish national politics may be edging from far-right to right-center, [in] Poland’s southeast corner it is still possible to encounter medieval Catholic notions of Jews as Christ-killers and money-grubbers, and news of revival activity in Warsaw prompts fear that descendants of Polish Jews will show up and take their homes and farmland back.’ On the ‘thorny task’ of recovering Jewish history in Poland as the country’s first Jewish museum opens in Warsaw. (New York Review of Books)
  • 'Preceded by the Roman forum and the Greek agora and medieval market towns', shopping malls ‘sprouted like well-fertilized weeds’ in post-war America. In the 21st century, though, the American mall faces an uncertain future. (Smithsonian)
  • 'In its early days, telegraphy had been mythologized as a way to move up in the world. Andrew Carnegie and Thomas Edison started out as telegraph operators, and Horatio Alger wrote three separate novels about telegraph messenger boys making good.' On The Operator, one of many telegraph industry magazines that thrived by ‘capitalizing on the insecurities of telegraphers’. (Slate)
  • Did Zen philosophy create a ‘philosophy of death’ that encouraged wartime Japanese students to join the kamikaze? 'Clichés of unthinking ultranationalism [do not] fit the experiences of many kamikaze pilots. For each one willing to crash-dive the bridge of a US ship mouthing militarist one-liners, others lived and died less gloriously: cursing their leaders, rioting in their barracks or forcing their planes into the sea. At least one pilot turned back on his final flight and strafed his commanding officers…' (Aeon).
  • 'The mass murderer visited on Sundays.' Saskia Sassen, professor of sociology at Columbia, recalls her father's relationship with Adolf Eichmann in 1950s Buenos Aires. (Chronicle of Higher Education).

Rhys Griffiths is Publishing Assistant at History Today.