Was the First World War justified?

August 2014 is the Centenary of the First World War – a dreadful war which cost the lives of millions of soldiers and civilians. An estimated nine million soldiers were killed and countless more civilians.

canadian-troops-over-top1-first-world-war

First World War

The first thing is to feel grateful that we didn’t live through such an appalling catastrophe and a waste of human life. War is undoubtedly man’s greatest tragedy and the emotional suffering of this ‘Great War’ is incomparable. I’m glad I didn’t have to make the choice that many young men of the 1914-18 period did.

However, if we could go back in time, would you fight for your country of birth or would you be a conscientious objector?

Was there any justification for the First World War?

Would I fight for Britain?

I am British and have often thought about this question.

Firstly, I believe the British Empire was wrong. Britain had no right to be ruling in India, African countries, parts of Asia and parts of the Middle East. I would not fight to save the British Empire because I would support the independence movements in Ireland and India.

If I joined the British army and found myself in India or Ireland, I would feel compromised because I wouldn’t want to be party to supporting an Empire which denied the democratic rights of the inhabitants.

However, the First World War wasn’t primarily about promoting the British Empire. Most soldiers were sent to the Western Front to fight the German army.

Defence of Belgium and France

Sometimes, the First World War is portrayed as a senseless war where we fought for no reason. However, in 1914, there seemed to be a certain moral necessity for Britain to be involved.

Although the causes of the First World War are complex and multifarious – in August 1914, Germany was invading Belgium and France. This violated Belgian neutrality and also French borders. Britain had signed a guarantee of Belgian independence, and should Belgium request support from an invading army, Britain had a treaty obligation to support.

This makes it very difficult not to join the British war effort. It is true, Britain was fighting for self-interest. We didn’t want Germany to dominate Europe, we wanted to protect our trade interests and also the rule of international law. But, it wasn’t entirely selfish. It was wrong for the Germans to invade Belgium and France. In that sense, the First World War could be seen as a defensive war against an invading army.

If Britain had stayed neutral, it is very likely that ultimately Germany would have defeated the French and occupied both Belgium and France. Germany was not a democracy but ruled by an autocratic military state and powerful Tsar. A military victory would arguably have strengthened the militaristic tendencies within Germany and the occupation of France and Belgium would have violated the rights of the Belgians and French.

German atrocities

German atrocities were definitely exaggerated by the Allied powers. Yet, they did occur. Belgian civilians were shot. The Germans did sink neutral shipping with civilians on board. It is inevitable that an invading and occupying army commit atrocities; another reason why the invasion of German forces needed to be opposed.

The Allies were definitely not blameless; for example, there are reports of shooting German prisoners of war soon after capture. But, when an invading army occupies a neutral country and kills innocent civilians – it becomes hard to refuse to fight.

The senseless nature of the conflict

In August 1914, there seemed to be a clear case for war. If the Allies had prevailed by Christmas – defeated the German army, reigned in imperialistic ambitions and restored the continent to peace – we may look back and think ‘What a wonderful war.’

But, the First World War didn’t end quickly and decisively. For the soldiers in the trenches, it seemed a senseless slaughter with lives needlessly sacrificed for inevitable failures. Sitting in a London coffee shop, it is easy to say the war was justified. But, when you are drowning in the mud of Ypres with death and destruction all around you – many soldiers (on both sides) started to ask – is it really worth it? Why are we fighting? They just wanted to go home.

“the old lie:
dulce et decorum est
pro patria mori”

Wilfred Owen

The long and bloody conflict meant the initial idealist aims seemed lost in the mud and death of the trenches. Both sides became increasingly desperate in their quest to win. The media was used to whip up hatred of the other side. People of German descent were abused in the street and there was a growing intolerance of any dissent from the official line.

Even if you see a moral justification for fighting for Britain, it is impossible not to sympathise with the horrors of the soldiers and their desire to just see the war end.

The difficulty is how could Britain have ended the war in 1916, 1917? It would have essentially meant giving into German demands and allowing the German army to occupy France. The death would have stopped, but it leaves a militaristic regime controlling most of Europe.

It is like a terrible Hobson’s choice – both continuing to fight and stopping fighting had terrible consequences.

Conclusion

I admire the courage of conscientious objectors. But, at the same time, I am not a pacifist. I do believe war can be justified to protect your country from an invasion.

I dislike the patriotic vitriol that was created in Britain and (all participant countries). Yet, despite that, there were still reasons to fight for Britain.

I don’t support the British Empire and many actions of Britain in the First World War (such as promising the Arabs a homeland in return for fighting against the Ottoman Empire – show how Britain could be deceitful and ignore democratic ideals when it felt like it.)

Yet, however, the many failings Britain had – the alternative of a militaristic Germany dominating Europe was much worse.

Would I fight for Germany?

If I was born in Germany, I would like to think I would be a conscientious objector. I believe following orders and fighting for your Fatherland is no excuse for supporting an illegal invasion. There are greater ideals than nationalism. Your country isn’t right, just because you were born in it.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Was the First World War justified?”, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net, 18th June 2014

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Famous Composers

A list of famous and influential composers throughout history, including the greatest composers Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Franz Schubert.

Composers of the Medieval period

hildegard-von-bingenHildegard von Bingen (1097 – 1179) German writer, mystic, composer and polymath. Hildegard wrote many liturgical songs, which pushed the boundaries of traditional Gregorian Chant. Her greatest work was Ordo Virtutum (Play of the Virtues) – a morality play.

Composers of the Renaissance period

 

john-dunstableJohn Dunstable (1390 – 1453) English composer of polyphonic music. Dunstable had a big influence on the development of music through his creation of chords with triads, which became known as the Burgundian School: la countenance angloise or “the English countenance” e.g Quam pulchra es.

Giovanni-da_PalestrinaGiovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525 – 1594) Italian Renaissance composer of sacred music. Palestrina was a prolific composer of masses, motets, madrigals and offertories. An influential work was Missa Papae Marcelli (Pope Marcellus Mass)

William_ByrdWilliam Byrd (1543 – 1623) English composer of the Renaissance. He wrote in many of the forms current in England at the time, including various types of sacred and secular polyphony. He helped the development of Anglican church music, and also secular vocal music with his use of Tudor consort and keyboard fantasia.

Composers of the Baroque Period

 

Henry_PurcellHenry Purcell (1659-1695) English composer of the Baroque period. Purcell wrote some early baroque classics such as Te Deum and Jubilate Deo. He also wrote for theatre and England’s first opera.

j.s.bachBach (1685 – 1750) German composer of the Baroque period. One of the most prolific composers of all time. Bach brought Baroque music to its pinnacle of musical maturity. Famous works of Bach include: Brandenburg Concertos, the Mass in B minor, St Matthew’s Passion, St John’s Passion; Bach also wrote organ pieces and over 300 sacred cantatas.

George_Frideric_HandelGeorge Frederick Handel (1685 – 1759) German-born composer who spent a lot of time in England. He wrote operas and oratorios. Famous works include Messiah “Hallelujah Chorus”, Music For The Royal Fireworks, Jephtha, Chaconne Variations in G  Coronation Anthems, Zadok the Priest.

Composers of the Classical Period

 

Joseph_HaydnJoseph Haydn (1732 – 1809) Prolific Austrian composer of the classical period. He helped develop chamber music such as the piano trio and string quartet. Also wrote amongst first extensive symphonies and contributed to the development of sonata. Haydn’s famous works include Cello Concerto No.1 in C major and Symphony No.94 in G major.

mozartMozart (1756 – 1791) Austrian classical composer. Composing from the age of 6, Mozart’s repertoire varied from light waltzes and dances to the spiritual elevating choral music of Missa Brevis and Mass in C minor. He composed over 600 pieces, including symphonies, operas (e.g. Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), concertos (e.g. Piano Concerto no. 21) and chamber music.

Ludwig_van_BeethovenBeethoven (1770 – 1827) German composer and pianist of the classical and romantic period. Another prodigious genius. Beethoven’s compositions invoked both tremendous power, and soulfulness; he had a lasting influence on western classical music. His greatest works include his Symphonies No.6 and his choral work Missa Solemnis.

Gioachino-RossiniGioachino Rossini (1792 – 1868) Italian composer. Rossini wrote 38 great operas, transforming the opera into its modern form. Great Italian works include The Barber of Seville (1816) and La Cenerentola. He also moved to Paris and wrote for the French theatre, including the operas Count Ory (1828) and William Tell (1829)

Franz_SchubertFranz Schubert (1797 – 1828) Austrian composer who bridged the classical and romantic periods. One of the few composers to evoke the spirit of Mozart, especially in his work – Symphony number 5. Schubert composed seven symphonies sacred music, operas and piano music. He was also a great composer of secular vocal songs. Famous works include his immortal version of Ave Maria D.839Piano Sonata in A major, D 959, Symphony in C major (Great C major, D 944), and Symphony No.5 in Bb major D.485.

Composers of the Romantic Period

 

Hector_BerliozHector Berlioz (1803 – 1869) French composer of the Romantic period. Berlioz composed a Requiem for 210 voices Grande Messe des morts (Requiem) and Symphonie fantastique. He made significant contributions to the romantic period and the development of the modern orchestra.

Felix-MendelssohnFelix Mendelssohn (1809 – 1847) German composer of the romantic period. Mendelssohn wrote symphonies, concerti, oratorios, piano music and chamber music. His famous works include Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave) (1830), Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 (1844) and his piano compositions – ‘Songs without words’

frederic-chopinFrederick Chopin (1810 – 1849) Polish-born classical composer. Important compositions include piano collections, Études, Opp. 10 and 25, and the 24 Preludes, Op. 28. Chopin also wrote numerous polonaises, sonatas, waltzes, impromptus and nocturnes. Chopin is the most influential composer for the piano, becoming a staple for all piano students.

Franz_LisztFranz Liszt (1811 – 1886) Hungarian composer and virtuoso pianist. Liszt was a prominent member of the “New German School” of musicians. Significant compositions include Piano Sonata in B minor (1853), “Liebesträume No. 3”. He also transcribed for the piano great works by other composers, such as Schubert. Also developed new musical ideas, such as the symphonic poem.

Giuseppe-verdiGiuseppe Verdi (1813 – 1901) Italian opera composer of the romantic period. Verdi is considered one of the greatest opera composer of all time. Famous works include “Va, Pensiero” (The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves), the “Coro di zingari” (Anvil Chorus) from Il Trovatore and the “Grand March” from Aida. He also composed other works outside opera, such as Messa da Requiem (1874).

Richard-WagnerRichard Wagner (1813 – 1883) German composer who wrote epic operas such as the  Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung). Beginning in the romantic tradition, Wagner developed his own complex and unique style of ‘total art.’

Johann_Strauss_IIJohann Strauss Jr. (1825 – 1899) Austrian composer of popular light music. He wrote over 500 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles. Famous works include Blue Danube Waltz, Egyptian March, Persian March and Roses from the South Waltz.

Johannes-BrahmsJohannes Brahms (1833 – 1897) German composer who spent most of his life in Austria. Although of the romantic period, Brahms used many of the principles of baroque and classical music in his compositions. Famous works include Violin Concerto in D major, Op 77, “Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90: Allegro con brio”  and Sinfonia n. 2 em ré major op. 73

TchaikovskyPyotr Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893) Russian composer. Tchaikovsky was the greatest composer of the Romantic period. Compositions include the 1812 Overture, Romeo and Juliet Overture, Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor and ballet compositions – Swan Lake and Nutcracker.

Saint-SaensCamille Saint-Saëns (1835 – 1921) French composer, conductor and pianist of the Romantic era. Famous works include  Second Piano Concerto (1868), the First Cello Concerto (1872), Danse macabre (1874), the opera Samson and Delilah (1877), the Third Violin Concerto (1880) and The Carnival of the Animals (1887).

Rimsky-KorsakovNikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844 – 1908) Russian composer who infused a Russian tradition of folk music into a classical genre. He wrote five operas, symphonies and orchestral works. Famous works include Scheherazade, Capriccio Espagnol  (including The Flight of the Bumble Bee).

Gabriel-FaureGabriel Faure (1845 – 1924) French composer of the late Romantic period. Faure composed intimate Chamber music and many compositions for the piano. Famous works include choral masterpieces – Pavane and Requiem, and his Nocturnes for piano, such as Après un rêve” and “Clair de lune”.

Edvard_GriegEdvard Greig (1843 – 1907) Norwegian composer. Greig was one of the most notable composers of the Romantic period. Famous works include – Piano Concerto in A minor Op. 16, Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46, IV. (In the Hall of the Mountain King) and Peer Gynt Suite No.1

Late Nineteenth and Twentieth Century – neo-classical / Impressionist

Edward_ElgarEdward Elgar (1857 – 1934) English composer who created many great orchestral works of the late classical repertoire. Famous works include Enigma Variations (1899) and Symphony No. 2 in E-flat, Op. 63 (1909–1911). Many works are important for British / English musical identity, e.g. Pomp and Circumstance, (including Land of Hope and Glory)

Gustav_MahlerGustav Mahler (1860 – 1911) (Austrian Empire / now the Czech Republic) Mahler was a composer of the late Romantic period. His symphonies (No. 5, No. 2 and No.1) have become some of the best known in the classical repertoire.

Claude_DebussyClaude Debussy (1862 – 1918) French composer of Impressionist music. Debussy used non-traditional scales and chromaticism to develop new strands of classical music. Famous works include Clair de Lune (from Suite Bergamasque), Reverie (1890) and Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune.

Sergei_RachmaninoffSergei Rachmaninoff (1873 –1943) Russian composer. Rachmaninoff wrote five works for piano and orchestra. His most popular works included Concerto No. 2 in C minor, and Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30 (1909). Rachmaninoff was one of most daring composers, noted for his difficult pieces and extensive chords.

Gustav_HolstGustav Holst (1874 – 1934) English composer best known for his orchestral works The Planets. Holst was influenced by Wagner, but later developed his own style inspired by both English folk music and Indian mythology / Vedas.

stravinsky-igorIgor Stravinsky (1882-1971) Russian born composer, who lived in both France and America. He was an influential composer for his development of neo-classical styles. He wrote ballets, such as The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911) and The Rite of Spring (1913)

George_GershwinGeorge Gershwin (1898 – 1938) American composer who combined both classical and popular music. Famous for his modern jazz classic Rhapsody in Blue (1924) and the opera “Porgy and Bess.”

Dmitri-shostakovichDmitri Shostakovich (1906 – 1975) Russian composer who fused neo-classical and post-romantic styles. Famous works include Waltz, no.2, Symphony No. 15 and Piano Concerto No.2.

Leonard_BernsteinLeonard Bernstein. (1918 – 1990) American composer. The conductor of the New York Philharmonic orchestra. Bridged classical music and popular music. Wrote musicals: “On The Town,” “Wonderful Town,” and “West Side Story.”

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Famous Composers”, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net Published 4 March. 2015. Last updated 8 February 2018.

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Books that changed the world

A selection of over 50 books that helped to influence and change the world. These books have all had an impact on human society and human culture.

Bhagavad-GitaBhagavad Gita (c. 3100 B.C)  – ‘The Song of God‘ – is a classic Hindu scripture which records the discourse of Sri Krishna and Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra. Sri Krishna taught a practical spirituality that could be practised in the world and did not require world-renunciation. The philosophy of the Gita includes bhakti yoga (devotion) and karma yoga (selfless action)

iliad-homerThe Iliad (8th Century BC) – Homer. One of the earliest surviving classics of Western literature, the Iliad is an epic poem telling the story and characters of the Trojan War – such as Achilles and King Agamemnon. The Iliad also tells of ancient Greek legends.

the-histories-heroditusThe Histories (c. 450 – 420s BC) – Herodotus  (Greek)  The Histories was one of the first major works of history – documenting the peoples and times of ancient Greece, Persia and Northern Africa. It is an important source for knowledge about those times and set an important precedent for documenting history.

torahThe Torah (c. 600 – 400 BC) Judaism believes the Torah was received by Moses on Mount Sinai; it incorporates five main books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). It is the principal account of Jewish history, traditions and customs. It is highly influential in Judeo-Christian culture, and the five principle books were incorporated into the Bible.

dhammapadaThe Dhammapada (c 3rd-1st Century BC) – Sayings of the Buddha. The Dhammapada is a written account of Buddha’s sayings on the spiritual life and his advice to monks. They contain the essence of Buddhism through topics, such as meditation, detachment, liberation and controlling the mind.

analectsThe Analects c. 475 BC–221 BC) – Confucius  The Analects contain the sayings of the Chinese sage Confucius. The Analects encourage people to cultivate wisdom (ren) through devotion to one’s parents/family and loyalty to their ruler. It is essentially a conservative philosophy encouraging morally and ethically upstanding citizens. It is the most influential book in Chinese history and is widely read today.

plato-the-republicThe Republic (c. 4th Century BC) – Plato. The Republic is a highly influential book on political and social philosophy. It is written in the form of a Socratic dialogue where different participants discuss concepts of justice, good governance, the nature of the soul, and ideas of what constitutes happiness. Plato argues that one of the best forms of government would be to give power to philosopher-kings – independently minded arbiters of just rule.

euclid-elements-150Euclid’s Elements (c. 300 BC) A mathematical and geometric treatise consisting of 13 books written by the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid in Alexandria. Euclid combined many different aspects of mathematics and presented them in a coherent and logical format. His clarity meant this became the standard mathematics textbook into the Nineteenth Century.

geography-ptlomeyGeographia (c. 100- 170 AD) Ptolemy Ptolemy created a book of maps, atlas which summarised the Roman knowledge of world geography. It was translated into Latin in Europe during the early part of the Renaissance and provided an influential starting point for European knowledge of world geography.

quranThe Qu’ran (c. 609 AD – 632 AD). The Qu’ran,  meaning “recitation” is considered the holy book of Islam. Muslims believe the Qu’ran contains revelations from God revealed by the Archangel Gabriel to Muhammad. The Qu’ran teaches a monotheistic religion, where followers are encouraged to surrender to God.

canon-medicineCanon of Medicine (1025AD) – Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna). The Canon of Medicine is an encyclopaedia of medical knowledge compiled by Persian philosopher Ibn Sīnā. It includes some of the most important medical knowledge of the time – including Galenic medicine, Chinese medicine and some of Aristotle’s writings. It served as a medical textbook in Europe into the Seventeenth Century.

the_canterbury_tales_by_geoffrey_chaucerThe Canterbury Tales (c. 1390s) – Geoffrey Chaucer’s  ‘The Canterbury Tales‘ are a collection of 20 books written in Middle English, telling accounts of English life in the Middle Ages. Chaucer was a master storyteller, also including criticism of the church and aspects of English life. The book was an influential moment in encouraging the use of English – as opposed to Latin.

don-quixoteDon Quixote (1605) – Miguel de Cervantes. Don Quixote (The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha) is one of the world’s greatest novels. It is highly influential in Western literature – and Spanish literature in particular. It explores themes of chivalry, realism, justice and simplicity.

holy-bibleThe Bible – King James Version (1611) Commissioned shortly after the first English translation of the Bible by John Wycliffe. The King James Bible was translated from Greek and Aramaic and became the defining English translation for the Western World; it became the most printed book in the world. It has been admired for its quality of English and poetic descriptions.

William_Shakespeare_First_Folio_1623First Folio (1623) – William Shakespeare. The first comprehensive publication of Shakespeare’s plays. The First Folio includes 36 of Shakespeare’s plays and is the primary source material for much of Shakespeare’s work. Its publication began the gradual process of making Shakespeare the most widely read author in the English language. Shakespeare’s influence on language, literature are hard to quantify – given the global and universal appeal of his work.

anatomy-harveyAn Anatomical Study of the motion of the heart and blood in Animals (1628) – William Harvey. A pioneering work on the circulation of blood. Harvey also offered a revolutionary scientific method – with hypothesis, experiments and observations. It influenced our understanding of physiology and also set a benchmark for scientific studies.

dialogue-galileoDialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632) – Galileo Galilei –  In this Italian book, Galileo compared Copernicus’ heliocentric view of the world with the contemporary view of Ptolemy (earth centre of the universe) Galileo’s findings were influential in shifting opinion about the nature of the universe. His book was placed on the Catholic Church’s list of prohibited books until 1835.

newton-principiaPrincipia Mathematica (1687) – Isaac Newton Full title – Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, Latin for “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy” This great work formed the basis of modern physics. Newton included his theory of gravity, the law of motion/mechanics and consolidated Kepler’s law of planetary motion. Newton developed new modes of mathematics and calculus to offer proof for his ideas. Widely considered to be the most influential science book of all time.

Johnson-DictionaryA Dictionary of the English Language (1755) – Samuel Johnson. Johnson did not write the first dictionary, but his was by far the most comprehensive dictionary and became the standard for English dictionaries until the OED in 1888. The Johnson dictionary was commissioned by printers who wanted a better quality dictionary to meet with the growing literacy and demand for books. Even the OED – 187 years later – used many of Johnson’s explanations.

sorrows-of-young-wertherThe Sorrows of Young Werther (1774)– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe’s novel about a sensitive and passionate young man became a best seller and was translated into several European languages. The book helped Goethe become one of the first international literary celebrities. The novel and romantic ideals had a significant impact on the burgeoning Romantic Movement of the late Eighteenth Century.

wealth-of-nationsThe Wealth of Nations (1776) – Adam Smith. Smith’s work on economics became the founding cornerstone of classical economics – helping to define the relatively new subject, which was becoming increasingly important with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Smith’s work considered free markets, free trade, the division of labour and monopoly power.

common-senseCommon Sense (1776) – Thomas Paine. Common Sense was a political pamphlet published at the beginning of the American Revolution. It spoke in simple and direct language about the benefits of American Independence from Great Britain. It appealed to ordinary people and helped to garner support for American Independence. It was also revolutionary for ushering in a more democratic and Republican politics.

lyrical-balladsLyrical Ballads (1798)– William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  These volumes of poetry include some of Wordsworth’s and Coleridge’s finest poetry – such as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Coleridge) and Lines written above Tintern Abbey (Wordsworth). The poetry was influential for its simpler lyrical style. Wordsworth wrote that the book was an experiment to see if the language of poetry could be made more accessible to ordinary people – as opposed to the more rigid and highly formalised styles of 18th Century poetry. Lyrical Ballards is often considered to be the start of the English Romantic Movement, marking a defining shift in English literature.

Pride-And-PrejudicePride and Prejudice (1813) – Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice is one of the most enduringly popular novels in the English language. It deals with issues of class, marriage, manners and morality. It’s popularity and a lasting legacy on this romantic genre of novel. Jane Austen’s success also made it easier for women to be taken seriously as writers.

Charles_Dickens-A_Christmas_CarolA Christmas Carol (1843)– Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is one of Dicken’s most popular short stories. It deals with the contrasting themes of the joy of Christmas and the unhappiness of being miserly and devoted to money. It helped revitalise Christmas traditions, while containing some classic Dickens satire of Victorian Capitalism.

communist-manifestoThe Communist Manifesto 1848 – Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. The Communist Manifesto is a short and succinct revolutionary document which called for the overthrow of Capitalist society. Unlike Marx’ denser works, the language of the Manifesto was incendiary and inspirational for those who wanted to see the end of Capitalism. Marxism became a driving philosophy behind the Russian Revolution and influenced other Western states who became fearful of a Communist Revolution.

Uncle-Toms-CabinUncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) – Harriet Beecher Stowe. Uncle Tom’s Cabin is an anti-slavery novel, which portrayed the harsh realities of slavery. It also offered an optimistic view of how Christian charity and love could overcome a man-made evil such as slavery. It is considered to be highly influential in shaping American public opinion and turning people against slavery – which was a key issue of the civil war.

Madame_BovaryMadame Bovary (1857) – Gustave Flaubert (French). Flaubert’s novel depicts the life of a doctor’s wife who pursues affairs and excitement to escape the banality of life. It’s publication was considered shocking for its depiction of adultery – the resulting obscenity trial helped increase its profile and sales. Its gritty realism was also very significant for the development of the modern realistic genre of literature.

Gray's_AnatomyGray’s Anatomy (1858) An English-language textbook of human anatomy, originally written by Henry Gray. It is was the first comprehensive analogy of human anatomy and part of the movement to formalise and clarify medical treatment. It was so useful that it became the classic textbook for physicians. It has been continually revised and republished since 1858.

Origin_of_Species-darwinOn the Origin of Species (1859) – Charles Darwin –  On the Origin of Species was a culmination of Darwin’s life work examining the development of life and species. It is considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology and critical for overturning mankind’s idea of where it came from. The theory of evolution was a direct challenge to a literal interpretation of the Bible, and its publication was met with significant controversy.

on-liberty-j.s-millOn Liberty (1859) – John Stuart Mill On Liberty is an influential justification for personal liberty and defining the limits of state intervention.  – “The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.” – Mill. On Liberty was an attempt to defend the philosophy of utilitarianism, but also defend individual rights against the ‘tyranny of the majority’.

War-and-PeaceWar and Peace (1869) – Leo Tolstoy (Russian). War and Peace is Tolstoy’s great historical epic based on the French Napoleonic invasion of Russia. It deals with all aspects of life – human emotion, politics and philosophy. In many ways, the book transcended traditional genres and brought in new literary styles, such as the ability to offer a variety of perspectives on the same scene.

The_interpretation_of_dreams-freudThe Interpretation of Dreams (1899) – Sigmund Freud – Freud was a pioneering psychologist. His work on the Interpretation of Dreams was influential for advancing Freud’s theory of the unconscious and the Oedipus Complex. Freud’s theory of psycho-analysis has proved very controversial, but his work inspired a new branch of medical science to either further or reject his initial work.

protocols-zionThe Protocols of the Elders of Zion – (1905) This was published in Russia and was a fraudulent attempt to suggest there was a Jewish conspiracy to gain control over the world through manipulation of the press and subverting Christian ideals. Although shown to be a fraud, it was widely distributed around the world and was used as a textbook in Nazi Germany, fuelling anti-Semitism.

poems-wilfred-owenPoems (1920) – Wilfred Owen. Owen’s war poetry was highly influential in creating a negative view of the First World War. His biting, ironic poems highlighted the absurdity and horror of war. The power of his poems was influential in creating a strong peace movement in Great Britain, which opposed re-armament in the 1920s and 30s.

relativity-einsteinRelativity: The Special and General Theory (1920) – Albert Einstein. Einstein’s great work on relativity helped redefine concepts of physics and our understanding of the universe. It was the most revolutionary development in physics since Newton. Einstein’s work showed that time and space are not linear and absolute, but could vary depending on circumstances. Einstein also showed that energy and mass are actually equivalent through his famous formula –  E=mc²

Ulysses-joyceUlysses (1922) James Joyce – Ulysses is a highly influential modernist work of fiction, which used experimental techniques such as a stream of consciousness writing, combined with an offbeat sense of humour – based on puns, allusions and parodies. It was unprecedented in length, scope and style, and influenced many other modernist writers.

Mein_KampfMein Kampf (1925) – Adolf Hitler. Mein Kampf was written by Hitler when he was in prison for the failed Munich Putsch attempt. It expresses Hitler’s desire for a new world order – based on his anti-Semitism and desire for expanding Germany into Eastern territories. After his rise to power in 1933, it was widely disseminated in Nazi Germany. It was also used by many who feared Hitler’s rise to power as evidence of his intent.

Lady_Chatterleys_LoverLady Chatterley’s Lover (1928) – D.H. Lawrence. The book was highly controversial for its depiction of a love affair between a working-class man and an upper-class women. It was prohibited in the UK for many decades because of its explicit sexual content. In 1960, Penguin wished to publish the book, leading to a trial about whether it contravened the obscenity act. Penguin won and it was published in 1961.

general-theory-keynesThe General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936) John Maynard Keynes –  Keynes wrote his classic economic theory against the backdrop of the Great Depression. Keynes argued the persistence of mass unemployment was unnecessary and effective government action could overcome a prolonged slump. His book was the founding work of a new branch of economics – macro-economics. Keynesian economics continues to be highly influential both theoretically and practically for dealing with recessions.

Diary_of_Anne_FrankThe Diary of Anne Frank (1947) – Anne Frank (Dutch) – Originally published as a “Diary of a Young Girl”. The magnitude of the holocaust, with six million Jews killed, was hard for many to comprehend. The Diary of Anne Frank gave readers a personal link behind the numbers killed and helped put the holocaust into human terms.

if-this-is-a-manIf This is a Man (1947) – Primo Levi (Italian) Levi wrote this personal account of his 12-month incarceration in Auschwitz concentration camp. It is considered one of the most intimate and direct accounts of life under the degrading and dehumanising conditions of a concentration camp. It was one of the earlier personal accounts of surviving the holocaust to be published and is considered a pre-eminent first-hand account.

Animal_FarmAnimal Farm (1945) – George Orwell.  Orwell was a democratic socialist who fought in the Spanish civil war. Animal Farm is a dystopian fairy-tale, which gives a biting and immediate allegory of a revolution betrayed.  It was written as a satirical tale against Stalin’s Soviet Union and became part of the literary Cold War Propaganda against Communism.

The_Common_Sense_Book_of_Baby_and_Child_Care_(hardcover)The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care (1946) – Dr Spock. Spock was an American paediatrician who wrote a manual for child care, which emphasised the importance of parents relying on their natural instincts in pursuing a balanced and empathetic approach to discipline and bringing up children. He has been blamed for encouraging a decline in discipline and respect for authority, though this was partly due to his active opposition to the Vietnam War.

1984-george-orwellNineteen Eighty FourGeorge Orwell – 1949. Orwell’s classic dystopian novel. 1984 is a stark warning against the dangers of totalitarianism. It forewarns against the over-reaching power of the state and the desire to control the lives of individuals. Many phrases and ideas from 1984, such as ‘Big Brother’ and the ‘thought police’ have become part of the English language.

second-sexThe Second Sex (1949) – Simone De Beauvoir The Second Sex was written by De Beauvoir, a French existentialist philosopher. It is considered an important work in the second wave of feminism, which sought to address feminist issues, such as sexual violence, discrimination against women and equal opportunities. She also rejected the theories of Freud.

Rye_catcherThe Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger – 1951. Salinger’s novel became an iconic work for teenage rebellion, dealing with issues of identity, alienation and respect for authority. It is considered influential for the ‘beat generation’ of the 1960s, which saw a widespread challenging of authority and conventional customs.

Fellowship-Ring-780Lord of the Rings (1954) – J.R.R.Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings is an epic three-part fantasy novel based in mythological Middle-earth. It became one of the best selling works of the Twentieth Century and was influential for the 1960s beat generation. It also spawned a renewed interest in the fantasy genre.

Silent_SpringSilent Spring (1962) – Rachel Carson. Silent Spring documented the danger to the environment from chemical pesticides. It is considered a seminal work in the new environmental movement which evolved from the early 1960s and which sought to give priority to protecting the environment.

Quotations_from_Chairman_Mao_Tse-Tung_bilingualQuotations from Chairman Mao (1964) – Mao Zedong Between 1964 and Mao’s death in 1976, ‘Quotations from Chairman Mao’ or the ‘Little Red Book’ became one of the most widely published books in the world. It was distributed to nearly every Chinese person and helped cement the personality cult of Mao and the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s / 70s.

harry-potterHarry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone (1997) – J.K.Rowling. One of the greatest publishing sensations of all time. This was the first book in the seven-part Harry Potter series. It has become the best selling series of books in the world, credited with revitalising interest in reading by children. It has encouraged more books from a similar genre.

 

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Books that changed the world”, Oxford, UK www.biographyonline.net 4 April 2015.

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Sir_Winston_S_ChurchillPeople who changed the world. Famous people who changed the course of history.

MariecurieWomen who changed the world – Famous women who changed the world, including Sappho, Marie Curie, Queen Victoria, and Catherine the Great.

ideasIdeas that changed the world – Scientific, political, religious and technological ideas that transformed the world. Including – democracy, feminism, human rights and relativity.

un-logoQuotes that changed the world –  Inspiring Quotes that changed the world from some of the world’ leading minds, such as Einstein, Buddha, Darwin, Galileo.

ideasIdeas that changed the world – Scientific, political, religious and technological ideas that transformed the world. Including – democracy, feminism, human rights and relativity.

Inventions that changed the world. – From aluminium and the aeroplane to pasteurisation and penicillin.

 

Famous doctors

A selection of famous doctors from Hippocrates to the first female doctors and pioneers in the use of new treatments.

hippocratesHippocrates  (460 – 377 BC) –- Hippocrates was a great doctor of ancient Greece. Through his careful examination of patients, treatments and success rates, he was able to vastly improve his medical treatment. Hippocrates built up one of the great libraries of medical science in Kos. He is also credited with the Hippocratic oath which is still sworn today by medical practitioners.

ParacelsusParacelsus (1493 –  1541) Swiss-German physician and leading health reformer. Paracelsus founded the discipline of toxicology and pioneered the use of chemicals in treating patients. He rebelled against the medical orthodoxy of the day, emphasising practical experience rather than ancient scriptures. He was also one of the first doctors to note illnesses can be psychological in nature.

Richard_LowerRichard Lower (1631 – 1691) English physician who pioneered work on blood transfusions. He observed the circulation of blood and how it interacted with air.

William_HarveyWilliam Harvey (1578 – 1657) English physician. He was the first known doctor to describe in detail the circulation and properties of blood being pumped to the brain and body by the heart.

Benjamin_RushBenjamin Rush (1745 – 1813) American physician, social reformer and ‘American Founding Father’.  Rush was a professor of medical theory, and clinical practice at the University of Pennsylvania. He pioneered improved hygiene standards in hospitals and was the principal founder of American psychiatry. He also served as Surgeon General in the Continental army.

Edward Jenner (1749 – 1823) English physician and scientist who was the pioneer of a smallpox vaccine. Jenner’s breakthrough vaccine also enabled many other vaccines to be developed.

rene-laennecRené Laennec (1781 –  1826) French physician. Laennec invented the stethoscope – which helped improve treatment of many chest infections. He also developed an understanding of peritonitis and cirrhosis.

Elizabeth_BlackwellElizabeth Blackwell ( 1821 – 1910) Born in Britain, Blackwell was the first women to receive a medical degree in America and the first women to be on the UK medical register. Blackwell helped to break down social barriers, enabling women to be accepted as doctors.

Theodor-BillrothTheodor Billroth (1829 – 1894) Prussian physician who pioneered abdominal surgery. He carried out the first successful gastrectomy for gastric cancer. Billroth was also an amateur musician.

Joseph_ListerJoseph Lister (1827 – 1912) English surgeon. Lister pioneered the use of antiseptic (Carbolic acid) and antiseptic surgery which dramatically improved survival rates from major surgery.

Henry_GrayHenry Gray (1827 – 1861) an English anatomist and surgeon most notable for publishing the book Gray’s Anatomy, which offered a comprehensive identification of parts of the human body.

 

elizabeth-garrett-andersonElizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836 – 1917) First female registered doctor in Britain. Also, helped found first teaching college for female doctors.

Upendranath_BrahmachariUpendranath Brahmachari (1873 – 1946) Indian scientist and a leading medical practitioner of his time. In an era before antibiotics, he pioneered the synthesis and use of Urea Stibamine, which was effective in treating (Visceral leishmaniasis an often devastating disease in rural India.

roger_bannisterRoger Bannister (1929 – ) British athlete and doctor. Roger Bannister achieved sporting fame by becoming the first athlete to run a sub-four minute mile in Oxford, 1954 – whilst working as a doctor. Bannister said he achievements as a doctor (neurologist) were greater than his sporting records.

carl-jungCarl Jung (1875 – 1961) Swiss physician, psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology. Although a practising doctor, his famous works were in fields of dreams, psychology and philosophy.

Sigmund_FreudSigmund Freud (1885 – 1939) Austrian /Czech physician, leading figure in the new science of psychoanalysis. Freud made an extensive study of dreams and the sub-conscious to try and understand better human emotions.

Fredrick_bantingFrederick Banting (1891 – 1941) Canadian physician and medical scientist, he was the co-inventor of insulin and pioneered its use in people with diabetes. Awarded Nobel Prize in Medicine 1923

Howard_FloreyHoward Florey (1898 –  1968) Australian doctor who played a major role in turning penicillin into a practical drug. Florey pioneered the first clinical trials at the Radcliffe Hospital Oxford. Florey’s experience led to millions of lives being saved within a short time of his clinical trials.

Benjamin_McLane_SpockBenjamin Spock (1903 –  1998) American paediatrician whose book Baby and Child Care (1946) – revolutionised attitudes to bringing up children. Spock encouraged mothers to use natural instinct and less formal disciplinarian approaches.

Charles_R_DrewCharles Drew (1904 –  1950) African-American physician and surgeon who helped improve techniques for the storage and transfusion of blood. He protested against the racial profiling of blood donations as he felt it had no medical basis.

Virginia_ApgarVirginia Apgar (7 June 1909–7 August 1974)  American obstetrical anesthesiologist. She was a leader in the fields of anesthesiology and teratology. She pioneered the Apgar test for the health of newborn babies.

christaan_BarnardChristiaan Barnard (1922 –  2001) South African cardiac surgeon who performed the world’s first successful human-to-human heart transplant.

Ian_FrazerIan Frazer (1953 – ) Scottish-born Australian scientist who pioneered the first cancer-preventing vaccine. – The HPV vaccine against cervical cancer.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Famous Doctors” Oxford, UK – www.biographyonline.net. Published 2 April 2015. Last updated 22 February 2018.

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scientisFamous scientists – Famous scientists from Aristotle and Archimedes to Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin.

voltairePeople of the Enlightenment (1650s to 1780s) The Enlightenment is a period which saw the growth in intellectual reason, individualism and a challenge to existing religious and political structures.

ideasIdeas that changed the world – Scientific, political, religious and technological ideas that transformed the world. Including democracy, feminism, human rights and relativity.

Inventions that changed the world – Famous inventions that made a great difference to the progress of the world, including aluminium, the telephone and the printing press.

 

Famous Austrians

maria_theresiaMaria Theresa (1740–1780) The only female ruler of the Habsburg Empire. Maria Theresa succeeded to the throne after the death of her father Charles VI. With great strength of will, Maria held together the disparate empire and instituted military, financial and education reforms which strengthened the international position of the Habsburg Empire.

Marie Antoinette (1755 – 1793) Born in Vienna Austria, she had an arranged marriage to the King of France (King Louis XVI) to help secure peace between the two countries. The marriage was not a great success, with Marie Antoinette often held up as a symbol of Royal decadence and profligacy, which was a factor in the French revolution. The negative portrayal was heightened by her Austrian origins. Whether fair or not, she was executed in 1793 for treason and holding principles in opposition to the French revolution.

mozartMozart (1756 – 1791) (Austria)  Born in Salzburg, and spending much of his life in Vienna, Mozart was one of the greatest classical composers of all time. A child prodigy, Mozart began composing at the age of six, and by the time he died, aged just 35, he had completed a remarkable array of symphonies, opera, chamber music and more.

Franz_SchubertFranz Schubert (1797 – 1828) Born in Vienna, Schubert was one of the great composers of the late classical and romantic period. He composed symphonies, sacred choral work, operas and a large body of piano music.

johann_straussJohann Strauss, Sr., composer (1804 –  1849) Austrian composer. He was famous for his waltzes and marches. His most famous work was the Radetsky March. The work became an unofficial anthem of Austria and was used to celebrate Austrian military victories.

Franz_LisztFranz Liszt (1811 – 1886) Hungarian born composer and virtuoso pianist. Liszt was a prominent member of the “New German School” of musicians. Significant compositions include: Piano Sonata in B minor (1853), “Liebesträume No. 3”. He also transcribed for the piano great works by other composers, such as Schubert. Also developed new musical ideas, such as the symphonic poem. Read On…

Famous rebel leaders

A selection of famous rebel leaders throughout history. People who have led a rebellion against the existing power system – seeking greater freedom for themselves and their people.

SpartacusSpartacus (109 BC – 71 BC) A Thracian gladiator who was a slave of the Roman Empire. With other slave leaders, he led the slave revolt in the Third Servile War – this was a major slave rebellion which saw significant defeats for the Roman army before his final defeat by Crassus. Crassus crucified 6,000 of Spartacus’ followers on the road to Capua.

William_wallaceWilliam Wallace (1273 – 1305) A Scottish landowner who became principle leader of Scottish forces in the Scottish wars of Independence. He defeated an English army at the Battle of Sterling Bridge, before his later defeat and capture. He was hung, drawn and quartered on orders of King Edward I of England

hongwu-emperorZhu Yuanzhang (Hongwu Emperor) (1328 –1398). Born into a poor peasant family, Zhu joined the rebellion against the Mongol, Yuan dynasty. He rose through the ranks of the military to successfully lead the Han Chinese in overthrowing the Mongols and establishing the Ming dynasty.

wat-tylerWat Tyler (1341-1381) Leader of the 1381 English peasants revolt. The revolt was a protest against the ‘poll tax’ – an unfair tax levied on all people regardless of income. The revolt also sought to gain greater rights for peasants. He was decapitated after marching on London to meet with the Mayor of London and King Richard II.

j-RohrbachJakob Rohrbach C. 1490 – 1525. One of the leaders of the German peasants in the Peasants war of 1525. He was captured and burnt alive for his part in the violent disputes.

yemelyan-PugachevYemelyan Pugachev (1742 – 1775) A Russian who led the Cossack insurrection against Russia, during the rule of Catherine II. The insurrection was initially quite successful, but he was later captured and taken to Moscow where he was executed.

crazy-horseCrazy Horse (1840 –  1877) A Native American war leader of the Oglala Lakota. He led a rebellion against the US federal government who he felt were taking territories from Native Americans and harming their way of life. He achieved a notable military victory at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in June 1876. He was fatally wounded in 1877 after surrendering to American forces.

giuseppe-garibaldiGiuseppe Garibaldi (1807 – 1882) Garibaldi was a key figure in the Italian independence movement. He led Italian forces to help create a united Italy. He also led rebel movements in South America who were fighting for independence.

Bhagat_SinghBhagat Singh (1907 – 1931) Indian revolutionary who became involved in a violent opposition to British rule. His determination and courage made him a great hero of the Indian independence movement. He was executed aged 24 for his role in the killing of British officers.

che-guevaraChe Guevara (1928-1967) An Argentinian Marxist revolutionary who became a major symbol of Twentieth Century Marxist rebellions in Latin America and Africa. Guevara played a key role in the Cuban revolution and later travelled to the Congo in Africa and Bolivia in South America where he was caught by CIA and summarily executed.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Famous Rebel leaders”, Oxford, www.biographyonline.net, 26th September 2014.

Revolutions and Revolutionary Movements

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gorbachevPoliticians – Politicians from across the world. Including Abraham Lincoln, Charles de Gaulle and Indira Gandhi.

Revolutionaries – People who inspired or began revolutions. Including Spartacus, Joan of Arc, George Washington, Karl Marx.

George_Washington-100People of the American Revolution – Leading figures in the American Revolution. Includes military leaders, philosophers, British protagonists and ordinary people. List includes; George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, George III and Benjamin Franklin.

Erasmus Quotes

 

“The most disadvantageous peace is better than the most just war.”

Adagia (1508)

“War is delightful to those who have had no experience of it.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“The summit of happiness is reached when a person is ready to be what he is.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“Bis dat, qui cito dat.” – He that gives quickly gives twice.

Adagia (1508)

“I am a lover of liberty. I will not and I cannot serve a party.”

Spongia adversus aspergines Hutteni

“He who allows oppression shares the crime.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“Bidden or unbidden, God is present.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“I put up with this church, in the hope that one day it will become better, just as it is constrained to put up with me in the hope that I will become better.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“No Man is wise at all Times, or is without his blind Side.”

– The Alchymyst

“By burning Luther’s books you may rid your bookshelves of him, but you will not rid men’s minds of him.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“Only a very few can be learned, but all can be Christian, all can be devout, and – I shall boldly add – all can be theologians.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“Wherever you encounter truth, look upon it as Christianity.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“There is nothing I congratulate myself on more heartily than on never having joined a sect.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“I am a citizen of the world, known to all and to all a stranger.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“I doubt if a single individual could be found from the whole of mankind free from some form of insanity. The only difference is one of degree. A man who sees a gourd and takes it for his wife is called insane because this happens to very few people.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“Do not be guilty of possessing a library of learned books while lacking learning yourself.”

Letter to Christian Northoff (1497), as translated in Collected Works of Erasmus (1974), p. 115

“In regione caecorum rex est luscus. – The main hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“In the country of the blind the one eyed man is king.”

– Adagia

“I consider as lovers of books not those who keep their books hidden in their store-chests and never handle them, but those who, by nightly as well as daily use thumb them, batter them, wear them out, who fill out all the margins with annotations of many kinds, and who prefer the marks of a fault they have erased to a neat copy full of faults.”

― Desiderius Erasmus

“Next to the theologians in happiness are those who commonly call themselves the religious and monks. Both are complete misnomers, since most of them stay as far away from religion as possible, and no people are seen more often in public. They are so detested that it is considered bad luck if one crosses your path, and yet they are highly pleased with themselves. They cannot read, and so they consider it the height of piety to have no contact with literature..”

The Praise of Folly (1509)

“The merchants are the biggest fool of all. They carry on the most sordid business and by the most corrupt methods. Whenever it is necessary, they will lie, perjure themselves, steal, cheat, and mislead the public. Nevertheless, they are highly respected because of their money. There is no lack of flattering friars to kowtow to them, and call them Right Honorable in public. The motive of the friars is clear: they are after some of the loot. . . .”

The Praise of Folly (1509)

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Famous Olympic track and field stars

Carl Lewis (1961 – ) USA, Athletics. Nine-time Olympic gold medallist, Carl Lewis won gold over three Olympics and was the great star of 1980s track and field. Lewis won gold in the 100m, 100m relay and long jump.

Jesse Owens (1913-1980) USA, Athletics. Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He was the star of the Berlin Olympics, much to the chagrin of Hitler. Despite suffering racial discrimination in his own country, he remained a great ambassador for the sport.

Usain Bolt (1986 –) Jamaica, Athletics. Usain Bolt won triple Olympic gold at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Bolt won gold in the events 100m, 200m and 100m relay gold. He set an amazing world record time of 9.58 for the 100m, and 19.19 for the 200m. By 2016, he had also won 11 world championship golds.

Al_oerterAl Oerter (1936 – 2007)  USA, Athletics. Four time Olympic champion in the discus throw. Winning Olympic gold from 1956 to 1968. Oerter was the first to break 200 feet for the discus.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1962-) USA, Athletics. One of the most successful female track and field athletes. Kersee won Olympic medals in four Olympics between 1984 and 1996. Her best year was 1988, where she won Olympic gold in Heptathlon and Long Jump. In 1992, she returned to win gold in the heptathlon. In 1996, she managed bronze in the long jump.

edwin-mosesEdwin Moses (1955 – ) USA, Athletics. Moses was a champion 400m hurdler. He won Olympic gold in 1976 and 1984. He set the world record four times in his chosen event. Moses was also instrumental in changing rules on allowing Olympic athletes funding and also promoting drug testing.

Sergei_bubkaSergei Bubka (1963 –) Soviet Union/Ukraine, Athletics. Bubka broke the world record for the pole vault on 35 occasions. His outdoor record was increased from 5.85m in 1984 to 6.14m in 1994. Olympic gold medallist 1988.

Jim_ThorpeJim Thorpe (1888 – 1953) USA, Athletics, American Football, Baseball and Basketball. One of the greatest all-round sportsmen, Thorpe won Olympic gold in the decathlon and pentathlon (1912). He also had a successful career in the NFL.

Babe_Didrikson_ZahariasBabe Didrikson Zaharias (1911-1956) USA, Athletics, Golf. Ground-breaking female athlete who achieved success in basketball, track and field, and golf. At the 1932 Olympics, she won gold in the 80m hurdles, javelin and achieved silver in the high jump.

Bob_BeamonBob Beamon (1946 –) USA, Athletics. Olympic gold in Long jump set in 1968, Mexico. Famous for his record breaking jump of 1968 – 8.90m – which broke the existing record by 55cm and stood for 22 years.

Shelly-Ann_Fraser-PryceShelley Ann Fraser Pryce (1986 – ) Jamaica, Athletics. Won Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012 in  100m. Also 7 times world champion with golds in 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay.

Jessica_EnnisJessica Ennis (1986 – ) Great Britain, Heptathlon. Olympic gold in heptathlon 2012. Ennis missed the 2008 Olympics due to injury. For the 2012 Olympics, she was featured as the ‘face’ of the games. Despite the pressure of the home games, she was a convincing Olympic champion in the Heptathlon event.

Fanny_Blankers-KoenFanny Blankers-Koen (1918-2004) Netherlands, Athletics. In the 1948 London Olympics, she won four gold medals at 100m, 200m, 80m hurdles and 4x100m relay. Her performances earned her the nickname ‘The flying housewife’ and helped to change perceptions of female athletics. She won five European Championship gold medals.

Hicham_El_GuerroujHicham El Guerrouj (1972 – ) Morocco, Athletics. Double Olympic gold medallist in 2004 in 1500m and 5000m. Set World Record for mile at 3.43.13 and 1500m of 3.26.00.

David_RudishaDavid Rudisha (1988 -) Kenya, middle distance running. Rudisha provided one of the greatest performances in the 2012 London Olympics, winning the 800m in a new world record – 1.40.91.  He is also double world champion at the 800m, his favourite
event.

kinenisa-BekeleKenenisa Bekele (1982 – ) Ethiopia, Athletics. Triple Olympic gold medallist at 5000m and 1000m. Set new World Record for 5000 metres: 12:37.35. 10,000 metres: 26:17.53.

Paavo_NurmiPaavo Nurmi (1897 – 1973) Finland, Athletics. Dominated middle distance running in 1920s, winning nine Olympic gold medals and setting 22 new world records from 1500m to 20km.

Haile_GebrselassieHaile Gebreselassie (1973 – ) Ethiopia, Athletics. Two-time  winner of the Olympic gold in 10000m. Held world record for the marathon for 3 years with 2.03.59.

Cathy_FreemanCathy Freeman (1973 – ) Australia, Athletics. Freeman was the first Aboriginal athlete to win Commonwealth Games. She won Olympic gold in 2000 when Sydney hosted the games.

 

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. Famous Olympic Track and Field, Oxford, www.biographyonline.net, 28th July 2016.

 

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The socialism of George Orwell

A look at the socialist beliefs of George Orwell. Also, a look at his writings on Soviet Communism.

George-OrwellGeorge Orwell was a fascinating figure and brilliant writer. He was an idealist, who is best known for his work in warning of the dangers of totalitarianism (whatever its political form) This can be seen in the two classics 1984, and Animal Farm. Orwell was also a committed socialist who sought to promote a more egalitarian and fairer society.

“Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it.”

George Orwell, “Why I write” p. 394

Firstly, George Orwell was definitely a democratic socialist. He stated this consistently throughout his life – from the mid-1920s to his death in 1950. It is true that he wrote a compelling account warning of the dangers of a totalitarian state. But, Orwell always maintained that just because you severely criticised Soviet-style Communism didn’t make you any less a socialist. In fact, socialism as Orwell understood it, stood for all the values – democracy, liberty, equality – that Soviet Communism rejected. Orwell believed that only a truly democratic Socialist regime would support liberty.

“And the only regime which, in the long run, will dare to permit freedom of speech is a socialist regime. If Fascism triumphs I am finished as a writer — that is to say, finished in my only effective capacity. That of itself would be a sufficient reason for joining a socialist party.”

– George Orwell, “Why I Joined the Independent Labour Party

Homage to Catalonia

Orwell detested Soviet-style Communism – a belief strengthened when he ended up fighting Soviet-backed Communists during the Spanish civil war – Orwell went to Spain to fight against Fascism and for the Republican movement. As a member of the ILP, he joined a fraternal Spanish party – POUM – a small Marxist / Anarchist / Socialist grouping who had strong utopian Socialist ideals. Orwell loved their utopian Socialism.

“Socialism means a classless society, or it means nothing at all. And it was here that those few months in the militia were valuable to me. For the Spanish militias, while they lasted, were a sort of microcosm of a classless society. In that community where no one was on the make, where there was a shortage of everything but no privilege and no bootlicking, one got, perhaps, a crude forecast of what the opening stages of socialism might be like. And, after all, instead of disillusioning me it deeply attracted me. The effect was to make my desire to see socialism established much more actual than it had been before.”

George Orwell, ‘Homage to Catalonia’

But, Stalin wanted to crush all left-wing parties who were not the Communist party; this led to a civil war amongst the Republican movement in Spain. Orwell got caught up in this and it made him really disgusted with Stalin and the Communist party.

“the Communists stood not upon the extreme Left, but upon the extreme right. In reality this should come as no surprise, because the tactics of the Communist parties elsewhere.

George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia

This experience of fighting alongside socialist idealists and against Stalinist backed Communist party, only strengthened his belief in democratic socialism.

Down and out in Paris and London

Orwell had a privileged upbringing – he studied at Eton College, along with many future members of the British establishment. After school, he got a job in the Burmese civil service. But he came to reject his class privileges and also grew to detest the British Empire. In Down and out in Paris and London and Road to Wigan Pier, Orwell wanted to experience the difficult life that working class people experienced. These experiences in Paris, London and Wigan made Orwell very sympathetic to the cause of the working class, and Orwell believed it was socialism that was the fairest way to help create a more equal society.

“For perhaps ten years past I have had some grasp of the real nature of capitalist society. I have seen British imperialism at work in Burma, and I have seen something of the effects of poverty and unemployment in Britain…. One has got to be actively a Socialist, not merely sympathetic to Socialism, or one plays into the hands of our always active enemies.”

– George Orwell, “Why I Joined the Independent Labour Party

Animal Farm

Animal Farm is an allegory on revolutions which fail their ideals. It is clearly an indictment of the Russian Revolution. Orwell made no secret of the fact that he detested what Stalin was doing in Russia. Orwell was scathing of left-wing intellectuals (like George Bernard Shaw) who thought Soviet Russia was a Socialist paradise. Orwell lamented that Communists in Britain were too liable to excuse Stalin’s crimes and paint a picture of Russia which was not reality.

To Orwell, Soviet Russia was a failing of democratic Socialist ideals. Stalin had merely replaced one dictatorship (old Tsars) with another more murderous dictatorship.

Independent Labour Party

George Orwell was a member of the Independent Labour Party (ILP). The ILP was one of the founding forces of the British Socialist and Labour movement. Their roots were strongly influenced by Christian Socialism and the Fabian movement. Key figures in the party included John Keir Hardie, Ramsay MacDonald and James Maxton.

To give a flavour of the ILP 1928, the ILP developed a “Socialism in Our Time” platform, embodied in the programme:

  1. The Living Wage, incompletely applied.
  2. A substantial increase of the Unemployment Allowance
  3. The nationalisation of banking, incompletely applied
  4. The bulk purchase of raw materials
  5. The bulk purchase of foodstuffs
  6. The nationalisation of power
  7. The nationalisation of transport
  8. The nationalisation of land

Conclusion

Unfortunately, many in America equate Socialism with Soviet Communism. They are unaware that Socialist ideals have nothing to do with Stalin’s policies. Orwell saw Stalin and Hitler as pursuing essentially the same aim of creating a totalitarian state. Orwell wrote against totalitarianism and passionately for a democratic and fair Socialist society in Britain.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “The socialism of George Orwell”, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net. | 14th July 2014.

 

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