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The Cold War and That Damned Berlin Wall

Bayard & Holmes ~ Jay Holmes On a cold, January day in 1961, in a world chilled by the threat of nuclear Armageddon, I sat near a radio with my family and listened intently to the words of a man that my very young mind idolized. Even as [...]

British Drug Pushers in China–The 2nd Opium War

Bayard & Holmes ~ Jay Holmes Last week, we began the sordid tale of the First Opium War, in which England pushed opium produced in India onto China to balance its trade deficit with that country. Today, we continue with the rest of [...]

British Drug Pushers in China–The First Opium War

Bayard & Holmes ~ Jay Holmes China became involved in direct trade with Europe when the Portuguese established a trade center in Macau, China in 1557. Then, in 1565, Spain established a permanent colonial presence in the Philippine [...]

Cotton Reigned Until Slavery Was Outsourced

Bayard & Holmes ~ Jay Holmes Today, Western nations are forced to consider the price and flow of crude oil in all foreign policy decisions concerning the Middle East. From Algeria to Iran, Oil is King. However, back in 1861, petroleum was [...]

The Man Who Stole Tea from China

By K.B. Owen   With stories in the news about Chinese hackers breaking into U.S. corporate computers and stealing proprietary software and information (for example, this 60 Minutes’ feature: The Great Brain Robbery), here’s [...]

Seppuku: Ritual Suicide in Samurai Japan

by Susan Spann Seppuku (sometimes also referred to as hara-kiri) is a form of Japanese ritual suicide. Many Westerners recognize this Japanese form of suicide, in which a person (often, but not always, male) slits his own stomach with [...]

Ghostbusting 100 Years Ago

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, [...]

Hanging Out With a Noren

By Susan Spann If you’ve eaten sushi anywhere, or visited Japan, you’ve probably seen a noren–though you might not have realized it at the time.  Noren are traditional Japanese doorway hangings. Most noren are constructed [...]

Beautiful, Bombproof Bonsai

by Susan Spann Most people have seen a bonsai tree, and most of us know they come from Japan–or at least, that the techniques and art form are Japanese in origin. But many people don’t realize how ancient the art of bonsai really [...]

Shinobi Shuko: the Ninja’s Climbing Claws

by Susan Spann Ninjas are famous for climbing walls with the ease and grace of a spider. According to legend, ninjas could scale even impossibly high, completely polished surfaces with ease. Some myths even claimed they could fly. In reality, [...]