It Didn’t Start Last Week–Timeline of Ukrainian Conquest

By Jay Holmes

This week, the Western media has, in a fashion, been covering the political crisis in Ukraine with growing interest. While the storm over the steppes has been brewing since November 2013, it has grown to crisis proportions during recent weeks. The growth and severity of the crisis has been sudden, but it has in no way been accidental.

Critical events are occurring at such a rapid pace as to render any published analysis out of date by the time even the speediest editors can post it. Nonetheless, the outcome of the conflict in the Ukrainian Republic will have far reaching consequences for Ukrainians and for much of the Eurasian continent. To a lesser, but still significant degree, secondary political and economic consequences will be felt across the world.

Though the media reporting usually presents the Ukraine in its own vacuum, outside factors have heavily influenced the present situation. One of the most influential outside factors has been Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, a.k.a. Stalin 2.0.

Vladimir Putin image by premier.gov.ru

Vladimir Putin
image by premier.gov.ru

As complicated as that may sound, the reality is even more complicated. To better understand the present conflict in Ukraine, we need to consider the long and complex history of the region. While the current situation is violent and threatens to become more violent at any moment, the previous centuries in the region were even more violent. For the sake of brevity, let us look at a timeline of the critical events in Ukrainian history that are shaping today’s conflict.

Ukrainian Timeline:

Circa 900 A.D.

A Ukrainian ethnic identity becomes evident in what we now refer to as Ukraine.

907 A.D.

Ukrainians found the city of Chernihiv.

While the Ukrainians see themselves as distinct, their Russian neighbors see Ukraine as a Russian hinterland. This particular hinterland is huge, has a Black Sea coast, and has better climates for agriculture than areas further north.

This particular geographic dynamic will shape the relationship between Ukrainians and Russians for the next millennia.

1256 A.D.

Danylo, King of Rus, founds the city of Lviv.

1651 A.D.

The Polish kingdom to the northwest has grown more powerful. At the Battle of Berestechko, the Poles defeat the Ukrainians.

1653 A.D.

A Russian army seizes Smolensk, Ukraine, and initiates a bloody Thirteen Years War between Russia and Poland over Ukrainian rule. In a larger sense, the Thirteen Years War does not quite end until 1670, after a long series of battles and negotiations that include Russian, Cossack (Ukrainian), Tartar, Polish, Swedish, and Turkish armies.

1654 A.D.

Poland cedes Kiev, Smolensk, and Eastern Ukraine to Russia in the Treaty of Andrusovo. The Poles and Russians rule their respective occupied areas with iron fists.

1670 A.D.

Ukraine establishes autonomy from Russia and Poland. While exerting military pressure on its neighbors, it remains under constant military threat from those same neighbors on all sides.

1744 A.D.

A measure of economic prosperity allows for the construction of the magnificent St. George Cathedral in Lviv.

St. George Cathedral in Lviv image by Robin & Bazylek

St. George Cathedral in Lviv
image by Robin & Bazylek

1746 A.D.

The Ukrainian city of Vilkovo is founded. It becomes a cosmoploitan trade center with foreign residents and a vast network of canals. It can be considered the “Venice of the Crimea.”

1783 A.D.

The Ukrainians have lost much of their territory to the growing Russian Empire. Catherine the Great orders the construction of the fortress of Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula and the founding of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea headquarters.

1834 A.D.

The University of Lviv is founded.

1863 A.D.

Russia outlaws the Ukrainian language.

1890 A.D.

The first Ukrainian political party, Halytska, is formed. Its platform is essentialy Ukranian nationalism.

1905 A.D.

The ban on the Ukrainian language in Russian-occupied Ukraine is lifted.

1917 A.D.

Ukrainians establish a central parliament, the Rada, in Kiev following the collapse of the Russian Empire during World War I.

1918 A.D.

Ukraine declares independence, and the Ukrainian People’s Republic is established.

1921 A.D.

The Soviet Army gains control of Ukraine and establishes a puppet state, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine.

Red Army in Kiev 1920 image public domain

Red Army in Kiev 1920
image public domain

1932 A.D.

As part of Stalin’s genocidal campaign against Ukrainians, seven million peasants are starved to death in a Soviet-engineered famine. This holocaust is not well known outside of Ukraine, but it heavily influences Ukrainian thinking today.

1937 A.D.

The Soviets carry out mass executions and deportations in Ukraine as part of Stalin’s systematic purges against intellectuals.

1941 A.D.

Nazi Germany invades Ukraine. At first, many Ukrainians view the Germans as liberators and volunteer to fight against their Soviet oppressors. Hitler misses a golden opportunity in his war against the U.S.S.R., and rather than accepting Ukrainian help against Stalin, he installs a brutal occupation in Ukraine. The Nazis murder most of Ukraine’s 1.5 million Jews between 1941 and 1944. About five million Ukrainians die fighting against Nazi Germany, both in Ukraine and in the ensuing Soviet counter-invasion of Germany.

1945 A.D.

The World War II allied victory leads to Soviet annexation of Western Ukraine lands. Fifty thousand Cossacks that had fought on the German side against the U.S.S.R. are forcibly repatriated from Western Europe to the U.S.S.R., where they are executed.

1954 A.D.

The brutal Soviet occupation of the Ukraine stirs resistance. With the help of Soviet spies in Western governments, the Soviets defeat the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.

1985 A.D.

The Soviet police state begins to collapse after decades of economic ruin.

1986 A.D.

Despite the remarkable courage of firefighters, a nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine explodes and sends a radioactive cloud across parts of Europe and Asia. The area remains heavily contaminated to this day.

Chernobyl 2013 image by Antanana 2013 Ukrainian Wikiexpedition to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Chernobyl 2013
image by Antanana
2013 Ukrainian Wikiexpedition to the
Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

1989 A.D.

The Ukrainian People’s Movement, the Rukh, is founded by writers and intellectuals. Their basic platform is Ukrainian independence and human rights.

1990 A.D.

The Rukh organizes a Human chain protest for Ukrainian independence, and they proclaim Ukrainian sovereignty from the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union files for political bankruptcy.

Vladimir Putin is an officer in the KGB. Ever the capable and ambitious pragmatist, he resigns his KGB position and openly goes to work for the Leningrad city government as a political adviser on international affairs. Not one to wait for the car to sink too deeply into that famous Russian mud, Putin has in fact been working for the mayor of Leningrad since the spring of 1990, while still a KGB officer. Score one for Vlady’s foresight.

1991 A.D.

Ukrainians vote overwhelmingly for independence from the Soviet Union in a referendum. Leaders of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine sign an agreement, The Commonwealth of Independent States, to end Soviet rule in the region.

In December of this year, the Soviet Union officially completes its dissolution process. Fifteen separate countries are formed. At this time, Vladimir Putin is working in the Foreign Intelligence Directory.

1994 A.D.

U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin sign the Kremlin Accords, which provide for the dismantling of the nuclear arsenal in Ukraine. Leonid Kuchma succeeds Leonid Kravchuk in Ukrainian presidential elections. Ukraine signs a treaty of cooperation with NATO that provides for training assistance and joint training between Ukrainian and NATO forces.

Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton image by www.kremlin.ru

Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton
image by http://www.kremlin.ru

1996 A.D.

Ukraine adopts a democratic constitution and a new currency, the hryvnia.

1997 A.D.

Ukraine and Russia sign a friendship treaty. They reach an agreement that Russia will operate a headquarters base in Sevastopol for the Russian Black Sea fleet. Ukraine has its own Black Sea fleet separate from Russia.

1999 A.D.

On March 25, Ukrainian nationalist hero and presidential candidate Vyacheslav Chornovil dies in a car crash. Ukrainian nationalists believe that the crash is a well-designed assassination carried out by ethnic Russians in the Ukraine with the assistance of Russian state security forces. In spite of recent declines in popularity due to his pursuit of closer ties with Russia, Ukrainian President Kuchma is re-elected with strong support from ethnic Russians. Many Ukrainians today remain certain that his re-election was rigged with Russian help.

In August, President Yeltsin appoints Vladimir Putin as one of Russia’s three deputy prime ministers. Later that same month, Putin obtains the office of Prime Minister. He wastes no time. In a climate of political chaos, he orchestrates an effective crackdown on the separatist rebels in Chechnya in Central Russia. He also conducts a loud and well-filmed campaign against corruption that is likely more drama than substance. The giant public relations scheme is effective.

Boris Yeltsin and his family come under investigation for corruption charges in the winter of 1999. In December, the ailing Yeltsin steps down, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin becomes the Acting President of Russia.

2000 A.D.

Vladimir Putin is confirmed as the new President of Russia.

In Part Two, we will look at how the entanglements between Russia and Ukraine intensify when Putin struggles to keep the Ukraine from building strong relations with Europe and becoming part of the West, and we analyze the basis of the current situation and what it means to Western nations.

Ghostbusting, 100 Years Ago — Guest Post by K.B. Owen

Today we welcome historical mystery writer K.B. Owen to tell us about Ghostbusting in the early 20th century. K.B. taught college English at universities in Connecticut and Washington, DC and holds a doctorate in 19th century British literature.  A long-time mystery lover, she drew upon her teaching experiences to create her amateur sleuth, Professor Concordia Wells. She currently lives in Virginia with her husband and sons and is busily planning the lady professor’s next adventure.

K profile pic 2014

Historical Mystery Author K.B. Owen

You’ll find K.B.’s latest release, Unseemly Pursuits, at the links below. Be sure to enter her Big Giveaway for a chance to win the Swag Kit.

Ghostbusting, 100 Years Ago

By K.B. Owen

Among the joys of writing historical mysteries is running across cool nuggets of research. While writing Unseemly Pursuits, I needed to learn more about late-19th century spirit mediums and their tricks, which inevitably led me to some ghostbusters and absurd situations that I like to call “gotcha” moments. The public exposure was sometimes funny, sometimes pathetic. I thought I’d share some with you today.

Ghostbusters

Almost as plentiful as fraudulent mediums were the debunkers who sought to catch them at it.  Below are some of the most well-known of their time, made up of earnest scientific researchers as well as flamboyant entertainers.

John Nevil Maskelyne, 1839-1917

John Nevil Maskelyne image by wikimedia commons

John Nevil Maskelyne 1839-1917
image via wikimedia commons

After watching the Davenport brothers exhibit their “spirit cabinet,” purported to manifest spirits while the brothers were tied up inside, Maskelyne suspected fraud.  He built his own cabinet and in 1865 launched a career of stage magic that lasted decades, whereby he demonstrated how to artificially create many of the spiritualists’ effects. The picture below gives you an idea of what a spirit cabinet looked like.

Davenport Brothers 1870 image via Wikimedia Commons

Davenport Brothers 1870
image via Wikimedia Commons

Harry Houdini 1874-1926

Harry Houdini 1874-1926

Harry Houdini 1874-1926
Image via Wikimedia Commons

image via Wikimedia Commons

image via Wikimedia Commons

Harry Houdini was the ultimate showman.  We associate him primarily with escape artistry, but many of his shows were based on re-creating spiritualists’ effects and demonstrating the fraud behind them. He was particularly impressed with researcher Harry Price’s work (below) in exposing the tricks behind spirit photography. Price’s findings enabled Houdini to duplicate the effect. Below is a photo of Houdini with the “ghost” of Abraham Lincoln (1920-30), created by Houdini to prove how easy it was to perpetrate the fraud.

Harry Houdini and the "Ghost" of Abraham Lincoln image via Wikimedia Commons

Harry Houdini and the “Ghost” of Abraham Lincoln
image via Wikimedia Commons

Harry Price Testing 1930

Harry Price 1881-1948 image via Wikimedia Commons

Harry Price 1881-1948
1930 image via Wikimedia Commons

Price had an impressive credentials list: he was a member of the National Laboratory of Psychical Research, London, belonged to the Society of American Magicians, and was Librarian for the Magicians’ Club of London. He authored many well-respected journal articles documenting the fraudulent techniques of spiritualists, including spirit-writing and spirit-photography. A master-conjurer himself, he could spot sleight-of-hand and other maneuvers. However, unlike other “ghostbusters,” he deeply believed in psychic phenomena and did endorse some spirit mediums. Think of him as a believer in the psychic world – as long as he could first subject it to strict scientific controls.

Slade vs. Lankester

Owen Lankester 1908 image via Wikimedia Commons

Ray Lankester
1908 image via Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Henry Slade (1835-1905) was an American medium who specialized in spirit writing on slate blackboards.  “Spirit slates” consisted of two chalkboards bound together that, when opened, were said to reveal messages written by spirits.  The trick was performed by putting a blank slate on an audience member’s head, or asking him/her to hold it under the table.  Then, after a suitable interval, a chalk-written message would be revealed.  It wouldn’t be that difficult to switch out a pre-written slate, or for the medium to hold a piece of chalk in a ring and become proficient at writing under the table.

During Slade’s tour in Britain, Professor (of Zoology, of all things) Ray Lankester (1847-1929) set out to expose him.  During Slade’s seances, Lankester and another witness watched carefully. At the second séance, Lankester snatched the supposedly blank “spirit slate” to find that it had been pre-written.  Lankester published an account of the incident in a letter to the Times, and sued him. Slade was convicted and sentenced to three months of hard labor (in England, they typically used an old statute of vagrancy, originially meant for gypsies). However, upon appeal the sentence was dismissed, whereupon Slade fled England.

Rival Mediums: Cook vs. Guppy 

Florence Cook image via Wikimedia Commons

Florence Cook
image via Wikimedia Commons 

Sometimes a jealous rival or the skeptical onlooker can prove to be one’s undoing, which was the case with medium Florence Cook.

Florence Cook (1856-1904) began her career as a medium at 15, when she apparently levitated off the floor while with a group of friends.  Soon after, she was causing the ghost of Katie King to materialize.  Katie King was rather notorious in spiritualist circles, as she was supposed to be a murderess who, to atone for her sins in the afterlife, returned to convince people that the spirit world was real.  (I think Jacob Marley had better justification for returning to save Ebenezer Scrooge, but that’s just my opinion).  Being able to produce Katie King on demand became a profitable venture for Florence Cook. The spirit cabinet was Cook’s go-to device for perpetrating the trick.

However, success is not without its drawbacks.  Rival medium Mrs. Samuel Guppy (1838-1917), an older and, by some accounts, a less attractive woman (couldn’t find a picture to bear this out, sorry), decided to give her rival a come-uppance.  Of course, Mrs. Guppy couldn’t attend a seance of Cook’s – she was too well-known – so she enlisted the aid of William Volckman (who later became her husband).  He bribed his way in with jewelery. When the spirit appeared, he grabbed her and proclaimed the fraud. However, other attendees at the séance fought back and assisted Cook’s escape (one of them was Cook’s fiance at the time).  Volkman got a bloody nose and no proof out of the deal, for by the time they looked back in the spirit cabinet, there was Florence Cook tied up again, although her clothes were disarranged.

Cook was caught for real later, when she was pretending to be the spirit of a young girl. One of the sitters noticed the spirit was wearing a corset – not something your young Victorian girl would wear – and decided to grab the lady the next time he got the chance. He did, and the spirit cabinet was found empty, except for boots and outer garments. When the lights were turned on, there was Florence Cook, in her underwear.

So what do you think of these daring ghostbusters and their undergarment-clad targets? What fraud-perpetrators today get caught with their pants down?

Piper and Holmes, thanks so much for hosting me today. I had a blast!

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Unseemly Pursuits: A Concordia Wells Mystery

 KB Owen Unseemly Pursuits Cover

A deadly secret that won’t stay buried…

It is the fall of 1896, and Miss Concordia Wells is hip-deep in the usual tumult of a lady professor’s life: classes, clubs, student pranks, and the unending drama generated by the girls she lives with on campus.  Complicating this normality is the new Lady Principal, whom the students have nicknamed “the Ogre.”  The woman seems bent on making Concordia’s life miserable.

And then there’s the exotic spirit medium, Madame Durand, who has befriended Concordia’s mother and has started a “Spirit Club” on campus.  Madame’s prognostications of doom are at first only mildly irritating – until events take a sobering turn.  An ancient Egyptian amulet donated to the college mysteriously disappears, the donor is found murdered, and his daughter – Concordia’s best friend – confesses to killing him.

Desperate for answers, Concordia unravels a 20-year-old secret, closely guarded by men now dead.  But such secrets can be dangerous for the daughters left behind, including Concordia herself.  Can she make sense of the mystery that has bound together their fates, before it’s too late?

Available as:

KindlePaperback, Nook, Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks

Unseemly Pursuits is the second book of the series.  The first book, Dangerous and Unseemly, was published in early 2013.

KB Owen SwagKit

An Unseemly Giveaway:

During K.B.’s Unseemly Pursuits book tour, which goes through the first week of March, there’s a giveaway at each blog stop (including here!).  The winner, randomly drawn from the commenters at each stop, will get a free ebook copy of Unseemly Pursuits.  At the end of the tour, she’ll hold another random drawing from among the ebook winners for the final prize: a special Concordia Wells series swag package! It includes customized mug, keychain, JellyBelly mini-tin, and signed paperback copies of the first two mysteries: Dangerous and Unseemly and Unseemly Pursuits. You can read, sip your coffee, and snack on candy in unseemly style. Check the sidebar on the home page of kbowenmysteries.com for the full tour schedule and other info.

To comment and enter for the Big Giveaway, come to 

Bayard & Holmes

Ghostbusters, 100 Years Ago by K.B. Owen

What Do You Remember?

image from US Navy

I woke up to hear a voice on the radio saying that two planes had crashed into the twin towers. I knew instantly it was no accident, but I had no way to compute the information with my pre-9/11 mindset. Then I turned on the TV, and I knew our world was changed forever. And I held my children close and wept.

One of the many things I remember was how all of the hospitals were preparing to take in survivors, but so few came. People either died, or they walked away.

What do you remember?

Never forget.

Piper Bayard

The Science of the Inevitable Taupo Apocalypse by FIRELANDS Apocalypse Blogger Challenge Winner MJ Wright

Holmes and I are delighted to welcome Piper’s FIRELANDS Apocalypse Blogger Challenge Winner MJ Wright. MJ is one of New Zealand’s most published historians and writers and a heckuva nice guy. His latest release, the Bateman Illustrated History of New Zealand by Matthew Wright, is available now through Fishpond for New Zealand readers. For those of us who do not live in Lord of the Rings Land, keep an eye out for it on Kindle, Kobo, and iPad.

Bateman Illustrated History of New Zealand by Matthew Wright

In addition to a guest post here today and a month-long seat of honor at the upcoming Bayard & Holmes website blog, MJ is today’s featured blogger at Social In Worldwide, Inc., the premier Twitter-driven news and events network of the nation. In fact, I twisted his arm and convinced him to come on board as one of our Social In team.  Look for more of MJ’s excellent work over at Social In DC or at one of the many Social In sites across the nation. Follow MJ on Twitter at @MJWrightNZ.

Congratulations on your win, MJ! We’re so pleased to welcome you here to Bayard & Holmes and to the Social In family.

Author/Historian MJ Wright

Author/Historian MJ Wright

The Science of the Inevitable Taupo Apocalypse

By MJ Wright

A couple of weeks back I read Firelands, debut dystopian thriller by US author Piper Bayard. To call the book fantastic is an understatement. I was hooked from the first pages, dropping the book I was writing myself, despite looming contract deadline, so I could keep reading.

A photo I took a few years ago. Taupo. Not a placid lake filled with trout. Well, it is. But it's also the caldera of one of the world's biggest supervolcanoes. Uh - yay.

Firelands is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the United States has become a theocratic dictatorship – a provocative setting that makes the novel far more than just Hunger Games for grown-ups. Firelands is in a class of its own. A wonderful, insightful, thoughtful and exciting story.

Bayard’s instrument of doom is a supervolcano – Taupo – that casts the world into darkness.  A scenario that’s not just plausible. It’s already happened at least twice.

I live within 260 km of Taupo’s Hatepe vent, so I thought I’d post about the historical apocalypse while scrabbling for my asbestos suit, hard hat and breathing apparatus.

On the face of it, Taupo is a lake with thermal district. The full name is Taupo-nui-a-Tia; ‘the great cloak of Tia’, referring to a flax cloak of the rangitira Tia. It’s often mispronounced. The first syllable rhymes with ‘tow’ as in ‘towing along’. Technically, Taupo should also have a macron over the o, indicating a long vowel. In IPA terms it’s‘tau-poh, which is close.

Photo taken by my wife one day in early 2005 of the Orakei Korako thermal zone just north of Taupo.

Pakeha (white settlers) got to know it in the 1840s. Donald McLean, the dour, God-fearing Presbyterian Scot who trudged into the district in 1846, saw a Christian apocalypse, confiding to his diary that ‘No person could see this place without feeling intensely the awful end of a miserable sinner, when committed to his last home; and may God in His providence prepare us all for such a serious change…’

The science behind that hellish setting emerged only as vulcanology developed through the twentieth century.

Turns out the lake is a caldera, part of an immense volcanic field stretching from Mount Ruapehu  to the Whakatane underwater volcano. The field has erupted many times. White Island is active now, monitored by a webcam and plastic dinosaur.

Geothermal steam from the Taupo system is used to generate power - up to 13 percent of the North Island's needs, in fact. The techniques were developed right here in New Zealand.

Geothermal steam from the Taupo system is used to generate up to 13 percent of the North Island’s power. This is my photo of the Wairakei station. The techniques were developed  in New Zealand.

All are dwarfed by Taupo itself, the centre of the system. The last eruption around 180 AD, from the Hatepe vents near the south of the lake, was modest by Taupo standards, but still cast the world into shadow.

The Oruanui eruption, Taupo, 26,500 BP. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Taupo_2.png

The benchmark remains the Oruanui eruption 26,500 years ago  (earlier analysis cited 22,690 ±230 BP), to the north of the current lake and the world’s last eruption to score 8 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index – the maximum. Back then, the lake was different, known to paleogeographers as Lake Huka. In 2012, PhD student Aidan Allen discovered the trigger for this cataclysm was likely an earthquake.

The eruption blew out the current lake bed – and more. Everything in the central North Island was destroyed by a fall of ingimbrite some 200 metres deep. Then there were devastating floods. Even the major river, the Waikato, changed its course. Ash fell  as far away as the Chathams.

It was a world cataclysm. Although debate continues over specific triggers for Pleistocene glacial cycles, there is evidence that the worldwide glacial maximum that began 26,500 years ago was pushed, in part, by this eruption. In New Zealand, certainly, a warming period prior to the eruption came to a dead stop afterwards.

Oruanui may not have caused the glacial cycle alone – but  it made things worse. Humanity was nearly wiped out in the deep cold that followed. The downturn seems to have been the last blow for Neanderthals, our cousin species already reduced to the edge of extinction at Gibraltar. It destroyed a nascent H. Sapiens agricultural revolution among the Gravettian culture in what are now Russian steppelands. Had that not been cut short, civilisation might have been with us 20,000 years earlier.

This was the apocalypse, Pleistocene style.

And to give that perspective, the Oruanui blast was itself dwarfed by the Whakamaru eruption in the same zone, 254,000 years ago.

We’ll have warning before the next one. Taupo is monitored by New Zealand’s Geological and Nuclear Sciences department via GPS and seismographic stations. No rubber dinosaur, but hey…

Hopefully it won’t happen in our lifetimes. Because when it does, it will bring the apocalypse. Certainly for New Zealand, maybe the world.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013 

Echoes of Our Forefathers

By Piper Bayard

At this time in America’s history, partisanship is more heated than it has been since the Civil War. We are regularly smacked in the face by evidence that both major political parties put their own interests above the interests of our nation. While perusing a family heirloom, a book of newspapers from 1861 called The Crisis, I was struck by the similarities and relevance of many of the articles to our current political reality.  This article, in particular, stood out for me. I reprint it here in full, punctuation, spelling and all.

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Portrait of George Washington by Charles Willson Peale

Portrait of George Washington by Charles Willson Peale

Washington’s Farewell Address

The Crisis, Columbus, Ohio, January 31, 1861

In this hour of our dread difficulties it is most important that we should “look before we leap;” that we should examine every step we make; that we should thoroughly understand the causes that have led to our great misfortunes, and thereby be prepared to act understandingly. We must not loose our cool and better judgment from excitement nor suffer our passions to get the better of our reason.

As we talk much of the precepts of “our fathers” it may be well for each and every one to read them, study them, and examine each for himself whether he has in word or deed departed from them. With this view we insert in this number of “the Crisis,” as an excellent preface to the work the Farewell Address of GEORGE WASHINGTON, who, by general concession, is called “the Father of his country.” No one can doubt the sincerity of WASHINGTON. His single hearted patriotism and parental love for the American people are a part of his charmed history. His words, therefore, and not those of a partisan or one seeking glory or popularity.

We call attention to three things in this Farewell Address:

1st. His warning against sectional politics. He foresaw that a government constituted as ours, the first and greatest danger was in the prejudices that were likely to arise between sections. Extending over so large an area of country, with so great a variety of soil and climate, with each separate State having full and exclusive control over its own local affairs, General WASHINGTON, with an eye devoted to our success in future years, warned us against the very evils that now afflict the whole land. Let those who have departed from this timely warning lay to their own hearts the kindling of that fire which is now consuming us. If too late to stay the terrible evil, it is not too late to repent and stay the severity of its progress.

2nd. He warns us also against the bitterness of party strife. In no portions of our history, has the country been afflicted with the same amount of senseless partisan warfare, as that of the last six or seven years. No measure worthy of a great nation could have a respectful hearing–no legislation of an absolute and practical nature could get due attention–every thing was sunk in the mere partisan, and the worst spirit of intermeddling with other people’s business, ruled the hustings and the legislative assemblies.

3rd. GENERAL WASHINGTON warns us to be jealous of the interference and intermeddling of foreign nations. It was important to governments of legitimacy that our experiment of self-government should prove a failure. As we grew in power and glory, the glittering paraphernalia of kings and nobles must diminish in lustre. Hence their early interference to aid us in knowledge and direct us to our ruin.

This last warning is peculiarly adapted to our present condition. Having contemned the first, that of avoiding sectionalism, and the sad consequences being in the full vigor all over the land, we shall have the offer of the serpent’s embrace, from every crowned head in Europe.

As we have not avoided the first error, let us not rush heedlessly into the embraces of the last, and thus add foreign bondage to our other misfortunes. Let every man keep his eyes and ears open, for he may see strange sights and hear strange sounds before we get our present fearful and lamentable difficulties adjusted.

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So often I hear people say the world is different, and our founding fathers could not foresee the issues we deal with today. On the contrary, I think the issues are exactly the same. We are a sectioned nation, defining ourselves as Red States and Blue States, urban and rural, and still in some places, North and South. We are a partisan nation, reduced to only two real choices with large segments of our population supporting anything their own party does, and ascribing everything their opposing party does to evil motives. And we are a nation in foreign bondage, spending far more than we have at every turn, and turning to countries that would love to see us fail to cover our excesses, thus giving them power over our weakness. Washington was spot on and every bit as relevant today as he was at the dawn of the Civil War and at the birth of the United States of America.

Today, I ask that we take a moment to remember that all Americans are Americans, regardless of where we live or our party affiliations. Perhaps if we all put America first over sectional, partisan, and foreign interests, we will begin to choose leaders who do the same.

Happy Fourth of July!

Life in the Cold

By Piper Bayard

Independence Day was not the end of our fight for freedom, but only the beginning. Most of the men who signed our Declaration of Independence lost their fortunes and their lives in the battle. It is a battle that has been fought by each generation since 1776, as freedom is a great responsibility that we must continually earn, and not something bought and paid for once in the past that we can now take for granted.

My generation is the Cold War generation. This Independence Day, I would honor those of the intelligence community who served quietly, often giving everything to protect us from the threat of nuclear annihilation.

The following is an excerpt from “From Inside the Cold War,” written by my writing partner, “Jay Holmes,” who is a veteran of that conflict. A conflict which, in spite of the wishful thinking and historical ignorance of younger politicians, continues in a very real way to this day. In it, he gives us a window into his world and what it is like for him and his compatriots to walk through ours.

Anonymous Man Canstock

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From the end of World War II in 1945 until the fall of the Soviet government in Russia in 1991, Western nations faced off with the Soviet Union and its allies and captive satellite states in what became known as the “Cold War.” Basically, the Soviet Union, led by the ruthless Joseph Stalin, felt that it was its duty to spread communism throughout the world, while Western nations governed by democracies felt it was their responsibility to keep the entire world from falling under Soviet domination. . . .

Most Western citizens think of the Cold War as being without casualties, except during the proxy wars in Korea and Viet Nam. Few Westerners will even remember that the allied nations fought a war against Soviet-backed communists in Greece from 1946 -1949, or that the United Kingdom struggled with a communist guerrilla war in Malaysia until 1960. Beyond the publicly acknowledged battle fields in Korea, South East Asia, Lebanon, Grenada, and Panama, the United States thus far acknowledges 382 American servicemen killed in combat against communist forces between 1945 and 1991. This figure does not include the officially acknowledged civilian losses of the CIA and other civilian personnel, nor does it include the deaths of “denied” personnel working under “deep cover.”

I believe the figure of 382 to be wildly low and a long, smoldering debate is currently underway in DOD and CIA circles concerning casualty figures during the Cold War. It is unclear how they should be counted and how much information should be released. After a lifetime of living in a necessary state of denial, “old hands” have well-founded fears about releasing too much information. For one thing, releasing dates and locations of deaths will assist belligerent parties in identifying and killing those who assisted US efforts. Our word was given that our friends would never be exposed, and they never should be.

For nearly four decades, the deaths of American Cold War combatants were explained away as accidents and sudden acute illnesses. Wives and mothers buried their husbands and sons without ever knowing what happened. The battlefield deaths of most of America’s Cold War combatants will likely remain unrecognized for years to come in order to protect the living. Some day, if a future generation gets around to dealing with the information, it will likely seem too distant for anyone to pay much attention to it. This is a natural consequence of the type of battles fought.

If it seems sad, we should remember that it is far less sad than the alternatives would have been. Armageddon was avoided. Freedom was not lost. That matters, at least to me and to those who have gone before me. My brothers paid a price. I knew none who were unwilling to pay that price quietly. None can now regain their lives by being identified.

When we review espionage activities from the Cold War, it is easy to take an academic view. If the seriousness of some of the participants seems almost comical from our current perspective, they seemed far less humorous at the time that they occurred. The events seem distant now, and the causes may have been forgotten by many, and never understood by some. I point out the issue of casualties in an attempt to describe an important aspect of clandestine activities during the Cold War. The contestants on all sides played for keeps.

Between the bright lights of international diplomacy and the dark cloud of the threat of nuclear war, life in the shadows in between was a bit different. Some of us feel as though we have lived in a parallel world far away from this one. We walked through this world every day, careful not to leave too many footprints here on our way to somewhere else. That other world became our home. This world where we trust our neighbors and love our children, is the world that we desperately wanted to see remain intact. But in a sense, we will always be visitors here in this world that we hold so dear. For some of us, our home remains somewhere else, far away.

~ Jay Holmes

Two Worlds Canstock

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From our world to your world, Holmes, thank you.

The True Story of the D-Day Spies: Double Cross

By Jay Holmes

DOUBLE CROSS addresses one of the more complex and important intelligence operations of World War Two. It explains how the UK’s MI-5 Counter Intelligence division quite effectively turned and managed German spies in an attempt to deceive Germany about the Allied plans for the invasion of Western Europe in 1944.

The first thing about this book that jumps out is its readability. Great Britain’s operation for running double agents involved many people and many details. The details can be tedious to consider, but without considering enough of them, these operations can’t be reasonably understood. MacIntyre has done a brilliant job of presenting enough details without making the book read like a boring bureaucratic report. I envy his ability to present such a complex and important piece of history in such a readable form.

Good history writers do good research—lots of it—and Ben MacIntyre certainly did his. But he did something else as well. He very skillfully analyzed the collected data and produced an accurate and clear interpretation of the facts. I’ve never met Ben MacIntyre, but if he was never a spook, he should have been one. For us.

In DOUBLE CROSS, McIntyre manages to present personalities from both sides of that terrible war in very human form. He demonstrates how imperfect people from diverse backgrounds working for MI-5 shared that one essential quality that any effective intelligence person must have. They shared a genuine commitment to their mission. In this case, their mission was to help defeat Nazi Germany. By most traditional standards, the agents would not appear to be “cut from the right cloth.” In some instances their handlers committed blunders in dealing with them. The book clearly shows the reasons why each of them might have failed miserably, as well as why they didn’t.

I had previously read and enjoyed a couple of MacIntyre’s books, but so far, this must be his masterpiece. I have no hesitation in giving this book a Five Star rating on the Five Star scale. It’s not a movie but I can’t help but assign our Bayard and Holmes “.44-Magnum” rating because I so rarely get to use that top assessment. Anyone with interest in World War Two or the world of intelligence operations, or who simply likes good action stories, should absolutely read this book. It’s purely a great book.

image from Bloomsbury.com

Bravo to Ben MacIntyre for staying awake and on course through so many hours of work reading thousands of pages of documents to get to the critical facts. Well done!

You can find DOUBLE CROSS, along with MacIntyre’s other books, at Ben MacIntyre: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle.

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‘Jay Holmes’, is an intelligence veteran of the Cold War and remains an anonymous member of the intelligence community. His writing partner, Piper Bayard, is the public face of their partnership.

© 2012 Jay Holmes. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact us at the above links to request permission.

Where Were You?

image from US Navy

I woke up to hear a voice on the radio saying that two planes had crashed into the twin towers. I knew instantly it was no accident, but I had no way to compute the information with my pre-9/11 mindset. Then I turned on the TV, and I knew our world was changed forever. And I held my children close and wept.

Where were you?

Never forget.

Piper Bayard

No Easy Day, Just an Easy Paycheck

By Jay Holmes

As most folks know by now, on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 author “Mark Owen” will release “No Easy Day,” a first hand account of the Osama Bin Laden mission. I have not read the book and will not guess at the veracity of its contents, but I find the controversy surrounding the release of the book rather interesting.

image from amazon.com

The author is a US Navy SEAL who was on the mission to kill (or capture) Osama Bin Laden. My guess is that the average American and many Europeans will be anxious to read about the details of the raid on Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. The author apparently made that assumption as well and proceeded to write and publish his book. Some members of the SEALs have expressed their displeasure over the release of the book and have stated that they feel the author has violated the SEALs’ rule of never revealing secrets about their missions.

About two weeks ago, I became aware that the Pentagon was “concerned” about the release of the book because the book had not gone through its review process—a process which the Pentagon routinely requires for books about military operations, procedures, facilities, equipment, etc. that are published by members and ex-members of the US military. A Pentagon spokesman even mentioned that the Pentagon wished it COULD review the book prior to its release. Apparently, the mere Pentagon with its military judicial system, backed up by the US Justice Department, is helpless in the face of an author and a publishing company and could only WISH to see the book before its then-projected September 11 release date.

Is this the same Pentagon that routinely invites people to vacation in Guantanamo, Cuba so it can ask whatever questions it or the CIA might have on their numerous and well financed minds? Am I to believe that the same Pentagon that commands the greatest military force in history has been left begging to review a book before its release, while media members stroll through fashionable Georgetown restaurants flashing their copies? It’s summertime. Perhaps a few hundred thousand people in the military and at the Justice Department have all gone on extended vacation, and the Pentagon simply can’t get anyone to answer the phone. Maybe they forgot to pay the bill and the phones are shut off.

Maybe. But maybe not. The Pentagon, the Justice Department, and the White House, along with lots of other government agencies, have always proven themselves quite agile when it comes to reviewing and redacting books before publication, and even suppressing books after publication. In fact, their willingness to redact has nearly rendered the Freedom of Information Act useless. But I’ll save my personal anger over those black ink wielding clowns in Washington for another day.

On August 30, 2012 a Pentagon spokesman, apparently just returned from a long vacation or an exceedingly long nap, announced that the Pentagon will use “all legal means available” to do something about “No Easy Day,” but they haven’t quite figured out what that might be. Apparently, too many folks have not yet returned from their vacations. My point today is that I simply can’t buy the helplessness that the Pentagon is presenting to the public concerning “No Easy Day.”

So what’s with all the theatrics? Is someone in the White House or Pentagon hoping to drive up sales of the book? Why would they do that? What politician, if any, will be assisted by the publication of “No Easy Day”? I have no idea. I suppose that I will have to grit my teeth, pay for a copy and then decide.  I haven’t convinced myself to take the bait. I still haven’t recovered from the indignity of paying to see “The Bourne Legacy,” and I don’t want to be duped by what might turn out to be “One Easy Political Scam.” Who knows? Perhaps it’s a great book without any hidden agendas. Time will tell.

I suppose that I will eventually cave in and read the book. In the meantime, I would love to know what the hell is going on over at the Pentagon when they can’t lay their hands on a copy of a book or remember how to “invite” someone in for a frank conversation about the rules. If this is really the state of affairs in the Pentagon, then someone’s mother or the taxpayers should take away all of their expensive and dangerous toys until they remember how to behave like grown up bureaucrats.

Interestingly, since the Pentagon announced its “concerns” and made a great show of public hand-wringing, sales of “No Easy Day” have soared to well over half a million. My writing partner and I are thinking there’s a great a marketing opportunity in this for some of us thriller authors. After all, having the Pentagon upset about our book would be more publicity than we could ever afford to purchase for ourselves.

Therefore, we hereby officially announce that our current work in progress will include titillating and previously untold facts concerning how a special forces team kidnapped Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and installed a puppet alien life form to rule in his place. We will also reveal details about how the Pentagon has created a portable black hole device that can suck in cash at a velocity greater than the speed of light. Only those who buy our book will ever know these great national secrets, and we certainly hope for the sake of our sales that the Pentagon will wake up in time to express its anxiety about the fact that we did not ask them to review it first.

Top Secret preview from our upcoming book, the actual alien life form known as Hugo Chavez captured on film by David Shankbone.

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*‘Jay Holmes’, is an intelligence veteran of the Cold War and remains an anonymous member of the intelligence community. His writing partner, Piper Bayard, is the public face of their partnership.

© 2012 Jay Holmes. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact us at the above links to request permission.

One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Dreamers

By Piper Bayard

My parents sat us in front of the TV on that July day back in 1969 and said, “You will want to tell your children about this.” We watched Neil Armstrong take the first walk on the moon, not understanding how remarkable it was, but thinking it was incredibly cool just the same.

Our young lives were filled with Tang and Quisp and astronauts, and since each generation believes the world springs fully formed at the moment of its own birth, we took the moon walks for granted. After all, they happened every few months, and at our age, there wasn’t really a time before. We were certain people would be living on the moon by the time we were adults, using it as a base to explore the rest of the solar system.

And Star Trek? Why not? Even Russians and Americans eventually set aside the space race fueled by the Cold War and shared the International Space Station. Space wasn’t only the final frontier. It was the place where humans stood together in the face of the unknown Universe. The very essence of Star Trek made real.

I am only now fully feeling the possibility that there will be no more moon walks in my lifetime. In fact, I’m fond of saying, “We put a man on the moon with a slide rule. Why can’t we do it again with all of these computers? I’m not seeing any improvement here.”

But Neil Armstrong and the other brave astronauts of those years planted a seed in the minds and hearts of humanity that not only stands for the wonders we can find in the night sky, but for what is possible here on earth. My parents were right. I do point to that moment and tell my children, “Anything is possible if we choose to make it so.”

Image from NASA.

Thank you, Neil Armstrong. R.I.P.

All the best to all of you for keeping the fire burning.