Plus: Leif Erikson and Alvin York |

October 11, 2018

By Lily Rothman

Three-quarters of a century after World War II, the conflict’s place in the U.S. national narrative is firm — but a new book explains how, in the years before Pearl Harbor, more Americans were rooting for the Nazi side than you probably think. I spoke to Hitler’s American Friends author Bradley W. Hart about that slice of history, and why he thinks it’s not better known today. You can click here to read more.

Here’s more of the history that made news this week:

A Troubling Fight Over Who 'Discovered America'

Columbus Day or Leif Erikson Day? The history of that dispute is connected to nativist backlash against immigration to the United States

History Is About Telling Stories. Here's Why We Get Them Wrong

The author of How History Gets Things Wrong explains what neuroscience says about the human search for meaning in the past

Why Modern Misogynists Love Ancient History

And what they get wrong about it, according to the author of Not All Dead White Men

WWI's Most Legendary American Soldier Didn't Want to Fight

Here's what changed Alvin York's mind

Michael Beschloss Spent 10 Years Studying Presidents at War

The worst parts of that history are still worth worrying about, he tells TIME


 October 11, 1954

Today in 1954: Marlon Brando

“One day when he was 17, Marlon Brando took a bottle of hair tonic to school. When nobody was looking, he dribbled a thin stream of the stuff down a corridor, into an empty study room, and up the front wall. On the wall he scrawled, with the almost invisible liquid, a shocking word. Next period, when the room was full, he set a match to the hair tonic. Blue flame whooshed through the room, and the handwriting on the wall that day was nothing short of illuminating. A little more than a decade later, Bad Boy Brando, still something of a showoff, has pulled the trick again. But this time his wall is a hundred thousand movie screens, his performance is distinctly more artistic, and his audience is the popeyed world.” (Oct. 11, 1954)

Read the full story

 October 11, 1968

50 Years Ago: Rowan & Martin

“Richard Nixon? Making jokes on a TV comedy show with a bunch of weirdos? You bet, as they say, your sweet bippy. Everybody and his myna bird wants to make a cameo appearance on Rowan and Martin's manic Monday night affair. It is the smartest, freshest show on television. President Johnson, Igor Stravinsky and Jean-Paul Sartre have not yet appeared at the stage door, but if they do, they'll just have to get in line behind Marcel Marceau, Bing Crosby, Pat Boone, Dick Gregory and Jack Benny. And they will do anything once they get before a camera.” (Oct. 11, 1968)

Read the full story

October 11, 1943

75 Years Ago: What the Nazis Want

“The Nazi Leaders, those indelibly stamped with the Party label—like Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, Göring, Ribbentrop, Rosenberg and thousands of Nazis who hold cardinal state positions—these Germans know that perpetuation of the Nazi regime is, above all, a personal matter of life or death. They hope to consolidate their forces and successfully defend the Third Reich. They also hope, and they probably believe, that the Allies may weary, divide and make peace with a Nazi Germany.” (Oct. 11, 1943)

Read the full story


Close Call David E. Sanger at the New York Times reports on how recently declassified documents, which were discovered by Michael Beschloss in the course of research for his new book, reveal just how close the Vietnam War came to going nuclear.

Low Point As the end of baseball season approaches, the Orioles’ Chris Davis can take some comfort from Owen Poindexter at Slate: His terrible, terrible season wasn’t actually the worst in baseball history.

Now and Then At Vox, Zack Beauchamp breaks down why a leading Holocaust historian has compared the U.S. today to Germany in the 1930s, and what such a warning really means.

An Old Problem About a year after #MeToo became a global movement, the staff at has rounded up a list of times that sexual assault changed history.

Uncovered An old photo taken by a Nazi bomber pilot is being used by Russian historians to locate the mass graves of those killed during the Stalin era, reports Agence France-Press.

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