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Kill the leader and then attack.

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The second thought was that this might presage a rebellion by some radical political group in America. This also made sense. Throw the nation into confusion and then raise the standard of revolt. The third thought that occurred to me, the most important thought, was this: I am hugging Jane Mahoney. I have my arms wrapped around Jane Mahoney.

She has perfume in her hair, and it is right up against my face. This is a good thing. This is great. This is the silver lining in the grey cloud. We all went home a few minutes later, not to return until the next week, at which time Jane seemed to have again forgotten I was alive. C ' est l 'amore, C ' est la vie.

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There have been many other occasions in my life when events in the world around me, past and present, were made real to me by personal experience. In my youth I travelled extensively, to visit as many of the places in America and Europe I had read about as possible. I went to the beach at Hastings, England, and saw the memorial to Harold, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, who was killed there in by the forces of William the Conqueror.

I have visited the battlefields of Waterloo and Gettysburg. I have visited the three-hundred-and-fifty-year-old graves of my ancestors, one of whom was my namesake and the mayor of the town of Sandwich, England. I was physically thrown out of Aachen Cathedral in Germany when I ignored the barrier to run over and sit on Charlemagne's throne.

I was arrested at the Schatzkammer in Vienna the royal treasury, housing the Hapsburg crown jewels when I inadvertently tried to enter through a delivery entrance and set off a deafening barrage of alarms. I found myself in the rifle sights of an East German border guard as I took photos over the Berlin Wall. I attended Oktoberfest in Munich and got into a fistfight with a Japanese tourist in the Hojbrauhaus.

The people I was with tell me that I decided to take exception to Pearl Harbor for some reason, probably because I had had a few steins of beer too many; they also told me that on the whole I enjoyed Oktoberfest immensely; I woke up the next day in Augsburg. I have also seen many important people up close and personal e. And graves.

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God, the graves I've visited, contemplating the names, dates, and on occasion epitaphs. Napoleon's massive brown marble sarcophagus in the Hotel des Invalides in Paris, and the simple marker of T. The monarchic temperament is more a matter of breeding than of actual position or power. He was forbidden to enter any of the three "kingdoms" to which he had a dynastic claim, and lived in relatively penurious exile in Italy and France. Nonetheless, Hapsburg royalists, and Otto himself, regarded him as the legitimate claimant to the Austro-Hungarian throne.

By another Austrian, Adolf Hitler, had established himself as the single most important person in European politics. When the imperial pretender was asked his opinion of Hitler, the monarchic temperament came to the fore. As both the French and British forces arranged themselves for the coming battle, Napoleon rode back and forth before his troops upon his grey charger, waving his hat and encouraging his men.

But he unwittingly rode within range of the British guns, and a young lieutenant asked Wellington if he might try a shot which, if successful, would have ended the conflict then and there. Benjamin Disraeli, later 1 st Earl of Beaconsfield, was prime minister of the United Kingdom twice, the first time in Though in later years Queen Victoria came to adore her beloved "Dizzy" especially after he arranged for her to be proclaimed Empress of India , she at first took a personal dislike to him.

At the customary dinner given by the Queen to honor the new PM, the entire meal was, perhaps intentionally, poorly prepared; in fact, the temperature of the food testified to the fact that it had been cooked much earlier in the day and had been left sitting around. Needless to say, Disraeli was too dignified and proper to evince annoyance at the personal affront.

However, after he drank the traditional champagne toast, he turned to an associate and, in a whisper loud enough to be heard around the room, said, "At last! Something warm! Disraeli was a Jew by birth and upbringing bur converted to the Church of England in his teens. His Christian adherence notwithstanding, both he and his political opponents were acutely aware of the ambiguous status attending upon his ethnic background. In one somewhat confrontational exchange in the House of Commons, one MP sought to put him "in his place" by contrasting Disraeli's recent British pedigree with his more deeply rooted one.

Disraeli," he said, "that my ancestors were present at the signing of the Magna Carta.

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On occasion tragedy can segue to humor. A good example of this can be seen in the death of the prime minister of Australia , Harold Holt, in December of He was never seen again. Two days later the government pronounced him dead. It is a municipal swimming pool. Perhaps this tells us something about Australians. Ramsey MacDonald, the first Socialist prime minister of Britain in and again from until , was well known for the impenetrability of his rhetoric.

His turgid, convoluted, desultory speeches often left his audiences applauding politely in stunned confusion. It passeth all understanding. His work came increasingly to concentrate on the last period and the end of Roman rule in the Western provinces, especially in Britain. The last of his books to emerge from these studies, Who was Saint Patrick?

Writing terse, lucid and forceful prose, Thompson never flinched from controversy; indeed, he rather enjoyed arousing it. Although inclined to study periods, areas and problems where literary evidence is very tenuous, he always remained slightly aloof from archaeological investigation, and preferred to recall archaeologists to the evidence furnished by literary materials.

He was adept at extracting the last ounce of information from the scrappy texts, and from the gaps between their lines, by meticulously precise reading and relentless pursuit of their implications.


Though a scintillating lecturer and a stimulating teacher, at Nottingham Thompson was seen above all as a scholar dedicated to his research. He ran his department through friendship rather than by anything that could be called 'administration', which, indeed, he was apt to treat with mild contempt. Happily settled in retirement Thompson continued to indulge his love of the Yorkshire countryside, of the classics of English literature, and, with his wife Hazel, of entertaining their friends.

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