Category: Research Topics

Urban Myths: “Alexander Fleming Twice Saved Churchill’s Life”

Urban Myths: “Alexander Fleming Twice Saved Churchill’s Life”

Fleming as rescuer…

The Flem­ing myth is updat­ed from an arti­cle orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in 1998.

Is it true that Lord Ran­dolph Churchill financed the edu­ca­tion of Alexan­der Flem­ing, the dis­cov­er­er of peni­cillin, as a result of Flem­ing (or his father) res­cu­ing Churchill from drown­ing in a swamp when young Win­ston was a youth—and a Flem­ing dis­cov­ery, peni­cillin, saved Churchill’s life years lat­er in 1943? A friend of mine has sent me this email regard­ing it and I want­ed to ver­i­fy . —L.M.

This ques­tion comes up reg­u­lar­ly, but both parts of the sto­ry are untrue. Nei­ther Alexan­der Flem­ing nor his father were with Churchill at the times sug­gest­ed.…

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Avaricious Imperialists or Nation Builders? The Middle East, 100 Years On

Avaricious Imperialists or Nation Builders? The Middle East, 100 Years On

Middle East, Made and Unmade

A Cen­tu­ry Ago, the Mod­ern Mid­dle East Was Born,” announced The New York Times in Decem­ber. A col­league asks: “Are you not struck by how dif­fi­cult (impos­si­ble?) it is to encap­su­late his­to­ry in an op-ed? Is that real­ly how and when the mod­ern Mid­dle East was born?”

Good ques­tions. The Times’s idea is that after World War I, avari­cious impe­ri­al­ists moved in to enslave Turkey’s for­mer slaves. This famil­iar theme will dom­i­nate through the cen­te­nary of the Cairo Con­fer­ence in March 2021. It’s been around at least since 2001, when Osama bin Laden referred to 9/11 as pay­back for what he then called “eighty years of injus­tice.”

Here­with some con­trar­i­an, revi­sion­ist and polit­i­cal­ly incor­rect thoughts.…

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Happy New Year: “May we all come through safe and with honour”

Happy New Year: “May we all come through safe and with honour”

New Year’s Eve, 31 December 1941…

Some­where east of Ottawa, a spe­cial train bore the Prime Min­is­ter of Great Britain toward Wash­ing­ton. He had been in Cana­da to address Par­lia­ment. His most mem­o­rable lines came as he spoke of the French in 1940:

When I warned them that Britain would fight on alone, what­ev­er they did, their gen­er­als told their prime min­is­ter and his divid­ed cab­i­net, “In three weeks Eng­land will have her neck wrung like a chick­en.” Some chick­en! … Some neck.

A week ear­li­er Churchill had won cheers from hard­ened Amer­i­can politi­cians in Con­gress, hurl­ing defi­ance at the ene­my.…

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