“Top 10 Things That Tipped Off Revolutionary War”

That’s the title of my weekend column over at RealClearHistory. Check it out:

5. The continued quartering of British soldiers. Imagine, for a moment, an Iraqi household being forced to give room and board to an American or a Polish soldier in 2005. That’s not quite what happened in the North American colonies but it’s not a far cry, either. The colonists of North America considered themselves to be British subjects of the Crown, and most were proud to be. (In fact, a little further down the list, you’ll see why the Americans, as rebels, were so adamant about liberalizing citizenship laws.) A much better analogy would be to imagine the LAPD or the Texas National Guard forcing households to give quarter to soldiers. The analogy is better, but the picture is still a frightening one.

Please, read the rest. The other 9 are also good. Heck, you might even learn something new…

“Horrors Didn’t End When Bataan Death March Did”

That’s the title of last week‘s Tuesday post over at RealClearHistory. I’ve been so busy I forgot to share it here. Check it out:

Camp O’Donnell was no relief from the Death March of Bataan. In it, disease spread like wildfire and starvation was rampant. The Japanese, who were fighting Americans elsewhere and Filipino guerrillas close by, had no empathy for their prisoners. The prisoners who survived the harsh march from Bataan had another 3 ½ years of hard manual labor in prison camps to look forward to, if they survived the horrific conditions of the camps.

As the Allies began slowly retaking the Philippines from Japanese forces, these prisoners of war were shipped from one of the 70 prisoner camps on the archipelago to China and Japan itself to continue their slave labor for the Empire. The Japanese shipped these prisoners to the mainland on unmarked vessels, a violation of the Geneva Conventions, and it’s possible that the American and British Navies may have inadvertently sunk a number of these vessels.

Please, read the rest.

Pot smoking and freedom: ‘Murica!

My latest Tuesday column over at RealClearHistory takes aim at the history of marijuana in the United States. I’ve got a 600 word limit, but hopefully I packed in plenty of info. Here’s an excerpt:

During the much-loathed Prohibition era (1920-33), marijuana was targeted along with alcohol and other substances deemed immoral by bootleggers and Baptists. Unlike alcohol, which was re-legalized in 1933, marijuana ended up in a legal limbo that continues to this day. The legal, political, economic, and cultural battles surrounding marijuana use in the United States have helped shape three generations of lawyers, businesspeople, activists, academics, and medical professionals. Thanks to the questions posed by marijuana prohibition, rigorous and creative arguments in favor of the drug’s legalization have contributed to a better understanding of our federal system of government, of Judeo-Christian morality, and non-Western ethical systems (pot-smoking “Buddhists” are practically cliche today), of the human body and especially the brain, of global trading networks throughout history, and of intercultural exchange and communication. Freedom still defines us as a society. Freedom binds Americans together. Freedom drives our conversations and our institutional actors. This may be difficult to remember as the news cycle grows ever more sensational, but this quiet, humble truth still remains.

Please, read the rest.