Plus: Hanukkah and The Beatles |

By Olivia B. Waxman
Staff Writer

December 7 marks 80 years since the 1941 Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, leading to U.S. entry into World War II. Ahead of the anniversary, TIME national security correspondent W.J. Hennigan looked at military efforts over the last six years to identify 361 men killed aboard the battleship U.S.S. Oklahoma, torpedoed that day by the Japanese. He focuses on two brothers, Harold and William Trapp, and the years it took for the siblings who did everything—including enlisting in the U.S. Navy—together to finally be laid to rest in graves bearing their names.

“The military hopes the Oklahoma project, completed this year, could serve as a model for identifying remains of other soldiers killed in other wars,” writes Hennigan.

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Here’s more history to know:

The Key Role a Local Newspaper Played in the Trial Over Ahmaud Arbery’s Murder
By Janell Ross/Brunswick, Ga.
With three men convicted in Ahmaud Arbery's killing, the importance of local papers in exposing such stories is clear—even as their future is in jeopardy
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Get Back Reveals, in Vivid Detail, the Central Reasons for the Beatles’ Breakup
By Andrew R. Chow
The documentary series captures not just their confrontations, but also the kinetic joy and breathtaking creativity that characterized their last sessions
Read More »
How the COVID-19 Fight Has Tragic Parallels With the Campaign Against AIDS
By Olivia B. Waxman
Many have pointed out the stark public response differences between the two outbreaks
Read More »
The Real Reason American Jews Give Gifts During Hanukkah
By Rachel E. Greenspan
The history actually has a lot to do with Christmas
Read More »
The Surprising Origins of 5 Hanukkah Traditions
By Olivia B. Waxman
There's lots of history behind favorite Hanukkah traditions such as eating latkes, lighting candles and playing with dreidels
Read More »
This week in 1960: Business columnist Sylvia Porter

“Last week Sylvia was working ahead in preparation for a planned vacation with Sumner. But even vacations are no particular rest. On a brief winter idyll in the Bahamas, sunning herself near a Detroit executive who did not recognize her, Sylvia picked up a chance remark about an impending Ford stock sale that made front pages all over the U.S. This kind of momentum is probably what it takes to stay abreast of a business world whose unpredictability and changes Sylvia Porter understands as well as any observer. Her whole philosophy, in fact, is based on momentum. ‘There are two ways of looking at today's economic society,’ she says. ‘One is to preserve what you have. The other is to say, ‘This won't do at all.' In recent years, we've only been protecting. You can't have a dynamic society and sit. We are supposed to have a competitive system. We're just paying lip service to it if we start crying tears when it is competitive. Let's be competitive.’ (Nov. 28, 1960)

Read More »
This week in 1975: Christmas at Bloomingdale’s

“Cincinnati headquarters has allowed Bloomingdale's full rein to exploit what it has long seen as its major market: young, affluent, fashion-conscious, traveled, professional people. They are attuned less to refrigerators and washing machines ("Bloomies" sells neither), more to clothes of fashion and quality, stereo equipment and wacky gadgetry for the compact Manhattan society of small apartments, crowded schedules and casual relationships. These consumers, to Bloomingdale's profit, go for such baubles as yogurt makers, $30 peanut-butter-making machines, ‘male chauvinist pig’ neckties (30,000 sold so far) and even ‘Pet Rocks’ that, at $4 each, roll over and play dead, sleep and stay in place−all on command. This market, Bloomingdale's has learned, enjoys tasting but does not stand still long enough to savor. It thrives on variety and excitement.” (Dec. 1, 1975)

Read More »
This week in 1994: William Shatner and Patrick Stewart

Star Trek has legions of more temperate fans too. General Colin Powell is a watcher; so are Robin Williams, Mel Brooks and Stephen Hawking, the best- selling physicist (A Brief History of Time) who made a guest appearance in an episode of The Next Generation, playing poker with holographic re-creations of Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton. Rachelle Chong, a member of the Federal Communications Commission, has decorated her office with Trek paraphernalia and dressed up as Captain Picard for Halloween. ‘I like the show because it shows me tomorrow,’ she says. And sometimes today: the cellular phone-like communicators used by the Trek crew back in the 1960s are almost exact precursors of the personal-communication systems the FCC has just begun issuing licenses for.’” (Nov, 28, 1994)

Read More »

Holidays: For National Geographic, Erin Blakemore explains the history of Advent traditions, from the wreath to the calendars.

Congress: The Guardian’s Joan E. Greve talks to historian Joanne Freeman about the history of congressional violence, following Congress’s censure of Rep. Paul Gosar for sharing an anime video that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Broadway:  After the death of Stephen Sondheim, who passed away on Nov. 26 at the age of 91, the New York Times ran a never-before-seen interview it conducted with the composer in June 2008, chock full of behind-the-scenes tidbits about how his hit shows came together.

Business: Just in time for the holiday season, historian Lizabeth Cohen traces modern spending habits back to the Depression on All Things Considered.

A cheesy story: On, Andrew Silverstein digs into the history of a breakfast staple, bagels and cream cheese.

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