Plus: The uncanny valley and the last World War I death |

November 15, 2018

By Lily Rothman

This week was a sad one in the history of comic books, as Marvel’s Stan Lee—who revolutionized the medium in the mid-20th century—died on Monday at the age of 95. As part of TIME’s coverage of his impact on the culture, we looked at an upcoming book about his life and work. In this excerpt from The Stan Lee Story, learn the surprising reason why Lee, born Stanley Lieber, started using that pen name and how he got his start in comics.

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

The 'Uncanny Valley' Is Thousands of Years Old

The concept—often applied to lifelike robots and animation—got its name in 1970, but there's evidence people were noticing it in Ancient Greece

The Mysterious Story of the Last Soldier to Die in World War I

The last American to die in World War I didn't really want to fight — making his decision to run toward enemy lines all the more confusing

The U.S. and Britain Went Back to War Soon After the Revolution

In this excerpt from 'Heirs of the Founders' by H.W. Brands, find out why

The Militarization of the U.S.-Mexico Border Is Not a New Idea

The drug war has been the catalyst for this effort longer than the immigration issue has

The People Who Let Kristallnacht Happen

On the night of Nov. 9-10, 1938, synagogues were set on fire, store windows were smashed and Jewish homes broken into in cities, towns and villages across the Third Reich. The destruction was made possible by those who failed to protest, writes scholar Mary Fulbrook


Nov. 16, 1960

This Week in 1960: Kennedy Elected

“On election morning this week, the rising orange sun flashed on the Boston steeples and rooftops and glanced through the mist on the old streets as John Fitzgerald Kennedy and his expecting wife drove to the stately West End (Congregational) Church in the Sixth Ward to vote. It was, symbolically, Jack Kennedy's rising sun, heralding the greatest triumph of all for the Kennedy Clan, which first saw the light of political dawn two generations ago in that very city.” (Nov. 16, 1960)

Read the full story

Nov. 15, 1943

75 Years Ago: Pershing’s Legacy

“On the walks and lawns of Washington's Walter Reed Hospital the war-wounded push themselves around in wheel chairs or hobble among the reddening leaves. In the afternoon they see a spare old, straight-backed figure in dark civilian clothes who walks slowly to the drive and hoists himself into a limousine. Even the newest convalescent recognizes him. The face is chipped away by age, the eyes dim. But it is the face on monuments, and the bearing is still West Point. That's Black Jack Pershing, mister." (Nov. 15, 1943)

Read the full story

Nov. 15, 1968

50 Years Ago: Nixon’s Win

“Richard Milhous Nixon became President-elect of the U.S. by the narrowest of margins—so narrow that it may even impede his conduct of the office. At the beginning of his campaign, Nixon held a seemingly unassailable lead. By the time Illinois' 26 electoral votes put him over the 270 mark, it was clear that his lead had been whittled almost to the vanishing point, and that he had come close to the most bitter defeat of his career.” (Nov. 15, 1968)

Read the full story


Armistice Images To mark 100 years since fighting ended in World War I, the New York Times’ Alexis Clark gathered this collection of evocative images of Armistice Day celebration.

Down to the Wire As U.S. troops amass near the Mexican border, tasked in part with stringing up a fence, Slate’s Rebecca Onion has this fascinating and troubling history of concertina wire.

Q&A Historian Jill Lepore spoke to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Evan Goldstein about her new book and the role of historians in modern life. It’s a wide-ranging interview—and one that has provoked some controversy among those who disagree with her contention that “humanists” have “retreat[ed] from public life.”

Listen Up A lighter but no less serious argument is made by Bruce Warren at NPR: that when it comes to music history, 1993 was one of the best years ever.

Not Business as Usual Historian Caitlin Rosenthal, who has written on this subject for, spoke to the Harvard Business Review’s Sarah Green Carmichael about why she thinks those in the management world need to be more aware of the impact of slavery on the history of business in America.

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