Statue of Ostap Bender, Elista, Russia

The Red Sting: Conmen in the USSR

The Soviets loved a good confidence game, as was made evident by the popularity of the fictional character of Ostap Bender after Russian Revolution.
Llainfadyn cottage. This 1762 cottage is solidly-built of mountain boulders, and a pair of stout oak trusses supports the roof of small, locally-quarried slates.

Vernacular Architecture in Wales

The pioneering collection of farm and craft buildings at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff preserves traditional design and building techniques.
Two wealthy Chinese opium smokers

Opium’s History in China

Opium has been used as a medicinal and recreational substance in China for centuries, its shifting meanings tied to class and national identity.
Edward John Eyre

When Intellectuals Split: The Eyre Case

Public intellectuals in Great Britain disagreed on what to do with Governor Eyre after his heavy-handed response to the 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica.
Etching of Catherine of Aragon by Wenceslaus Hollar (Bohemian, 1607-1677)

Catherine of Aragon: Europe’s First Female Ambassador

Remembered as the wife Henry VIII brushed aside for Anne Boleyn, Catherine of Aragon was viewed as a strong leader and diplomat in her own lifetime.
A Hundred Years Peace: The Signature of the Treaty of Ghent (Belgium), 1814

The Treaty of Ghent: Annotated

The Treaty of Ghent ended the War of 1812, an oft overlooked conflict that continues to shape the politics and culture(s) of North America.
From a Russian poster from 1920

The Birth of the Soviet Union and the Death of the Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution promised—and for a time delivered—freedom to the peoples of the Tsarist Empire. That freedom ended with the creation of the USSR.
A 1914 postcard featuring Santa Claus in Japan

Christmastime in 1960s Japan

In the years following World War II, the Japanese people looked to Santa Claus as a symbol of not just kindness and beneficence, but of modernity.
Japanese swordswoman in a duel, 1845

Onna-Bugeisha, the Female Samurai Warriors of Feudal Japan

In 1868 a group of female samurai took part in the fierce Battle of Aizu for the very soul of Japan.
A painting of John Donne

John Donne’s Listicle For the Well-Prepped Courtier

“The Courtier’s Library” is a list of books every courtier should know about, a cheat sheet for name-dropping in society. The trouble? Its books are imaginary.