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This Week in History: David & Michelangelo

September 13, 2019
David by Michelangelo

Michelangelo’s David, photographed by Jörg Bittner Unna, courtesy of Wikimedia

This week in 1501, Michelangelo began work on his statue of David, one of Renaissance Italy’s most famous works of art. The artist took three years to complete the piece, unveiling it in 1504. David was originally meant to stand on the roof-line of the Florence Cathedral, but it (he) was instead placed at Palazzo Vecchio in the public square. In 1873, David was moved to the Gallery of the Academy of Florence, with a replica standing in the original site.

9/11 and the Failure of Terrorism

September 11, 2019

On this day eighteen years ago, al-Qaeda carried out the most ambitious and deadly terrorist attack in history. The Islamist group hijacked four large commercial jets and crashed three of them into major U.S. targets: the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington DC. (Courageous passengers stormed the cockpit of the fourth hijacked plane, blocking its planned strike but leading to a crash in rural Pennsylvania, with all aboard lost.) The two towers fell, the Pentagon was partly wrecked, almost 3,000 people died, and Americans were terrified. The attack’s immediate success probably surprised even its planners. So what did 9/11 achieve for al-Qaeda? Nothing. In fact, the attack led to disaster for the Islamist group. That’s because terrorism does not work.

9/11 Didn’t Work

9/11 attacks on NYC Read more…

Magellan: This Week in History

September 10, 2019

this week in history: Magellan's ship Victoria circumnavigated the globeThis week in history, in 1522, the Spanish carrack Victoria returned home with just eighteen crew-members. She had completing the first circumnavigation of the globe. The expedition had begun in 1519 with five fully-crewed ships under the command of Ferdinand Magellan. During the long journey across the Atlantic and Pacific and beyond, most of the initial 260 crew members deserted, died of malnutrition, or were killed in battle. Magellan himself met his end at the Battle of Mactan in the Philippines in 1521. His body was never recovered and so did not complete its journey with the Victoria, but we still credit him with the first circumnavigation of Earth.


© 2019 by David W. Tollen. All rights reserved.

This Week in 30 BC: Augustus in Egypt

August 30, 2019

Caesar Augustus, f.k.a. Octavian

Caesar Augustus, f.k.a. Octavian

During this week in 30 BC, Roman strongman Octavian completed his invasion of Egypt. He ordered the execution of Marcus Antyllus, eldest son of his defeated rival, Marc Anthony, who’d committed suicide. He also executed Caesarion, teenage son of his great uncle and adoptive father, Julius Caesar. Caesarion’s mother was Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt and lover of both Caesar and Antony, who’d also committed suicide a few weeks before. The boy held the Egyptian throne for only a few weeks after the death of his mother, and he wielded no power. But he was the last ruler of Egypt’s Ptolemaic dynasty and the ancient country’s last Pharaoh. His death ended 3,000 years of Egyptian monarchy.

Octavian went on to establish a new form of government for the Roman world, which he ruled as Caesar Augustus, Rome’s first emperor.


© 2019 by David W. Tollen. All rights reserved.

My New Novel, Secrets of Hominea!

July 26, 2019

My new novel just went on sale! Secrets of Hominea is a magical middle grade fantasy novel: a tale of giants, gnomes, queens, and adventurers — and of science and history. It’s for readers age 9 to 14.

middle grade novel

My first novel, The Jericho River, won multiple awards, including wins at the Next Generation Indie awards and the London Book Festival, as well as a bronze medal in the Readers’ Favorite awards. Read more…

Fantastic New Jericho River Review

February 11, 2019

My book, The Jericho River, just got a fantastic new review from William Brown of Ancient History Encyclopedia. Here’s a sample: Read more…

Fat Men’s Clubs

January 7, 2019

Did you know America used to have fat men’s clubs? They proliferated during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. And they played just the role you might guess: venues for very overweight men to socialize and network. One famous club in Vermont had a secret handshake and a minimum weight of 200 lbs. (The average 200-pound man carried more fat then than now, since body-building was rare, and we’re taller.) Read more…

Ancient History Encyclopedia Wins Lovie Awards!

January 4, 2019

I’m delighted to announce that Ancient History Encyclopedia won at the 2018 Lovie Awards! In fact, we won twice — both the People’s Choice Award and the Silver Medal for Schools & Education. Read more…

Test your history knowledge with this fun, educational, interactive quiz!

May 8, 2018

I wanted to offer something fun for teachers and students — and for anyone who loves history as much as I do. That’s why I created The Jericho River History Quiz.

It’s an interactive educational experience. Test your knowledge, learn revealing truths, and enjoy the colorful graphics, giving you a window into the past. Read more…

Ancient History Encyclopedia

December 5, 2017

There’s a great website out there, and if you don’t already know about it, you should. It’s Ancient History Encyclopediahttps://www.ancient.eu/. It’s a curated resource on history, with short, user-friendly articles on a vast array of topics. And it’s more reliable than most online encyclopedias, since the articles follow academic standards and are reviewed by a dedicated team of editors. Read more…

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