The year was 1916

Col. Mark Sykes called Gertrude Bell (among other things!) a “conceited, gushing, flat-chested… blethering fool.” Both were British. Sykes joined with France’s Francois Georges-Picot to draw the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement, but it was Bell who was the power behind the map that carved up the old Ottoman Empire, willy-nilly creating the countries that are now…

The year was 1962

With fear in his heart, Nobuo Fujita, carrying an ancient samurai sword, was bravely going to face his fate. He expected the worst – imprisonment. He was coming from Japan, headed for Oregon. What had he done? It had been 20 years earlier… On Sept. 9, 1942, Fujita and his co-pilot, Okuda Shoji, had taken…

The year was 1356

In a stunning, shocking defeat, the French king, John II, was captured on September 19th during the Battle of Poitiers, fought southwest of Paris. He was taken to London, a prisoner – except that King John’s jailor, the king of England, was John’s very own uncle.  And the knight who had beaten him in the…

The year was 1189

Japan’s greatest samurai, not yet 30, was on the run with his young wife and his baby son, his death ordered by the very brother he had made Shogun. How had this happened? Yoritomo, now shogun, was the older half-brother, and Yoshitsune was of the brilliant young general. They were the feared Minamoto. There had…

The year was 1818

Tonight was Christmas Eve. The organ at St. Nicholas church in Oberndorff was broken. In the afternoon, Father Josef Mohr, 26, walked a couple of miles from St. Nicholas to his friend Franz Gruber’s home in the nearby town of Arnsdorf, to give him a six-stanza poem he had written two years earlier. Franz, a…