OSS – The Director of Strategic Services

This fascinating little pamphlet was written in 1944 by the Office of Strategic Services (precursor to the FBI), and is filled with basic instructions on slowing and thwarting the enemy. There are no plans for rigging bombs, making poison or stealing state secrets. …

Chuck Klosterman

For Gen-Xers like myself, the 90s were just a few years ago. We lived them, so how could we possibly not know all about them? And yet, Chuck Klosterman, the pop-culture philosopher for our generation, once again does a phenomenal job pointing out all the obvious things we …

Text and captions by Donald J Johnson

Old photos are always fun to look at, but this collection is especially fun as so many locations in Madison (WI) are still in existence. The collection starts at the very earliest days of Madison’s history and follows it through major events, such …

Michael Farquhar

Five Centuries of Sex, Adventure, Vice, Treachery, and Folly from Royal Britain

Imagine of People Magazine were to write a textbook of British royalty. This is pretty much it. Each short chapter is a speedy, breezy read about an English monarch. Starting with Henry VIII (yes, him) up …

David Plotz

The story of The Nobel Sperm bank is as bizarre as its title. Wealthy inventor Robert Graham was semi-retired, but looking for a passion project (for lack of a better term). He believed that intelligent people would produce intelligent, nay, genius children. There were too many idiots dragging …

Witold Szablowski

A cook is often one of the most intimate relationships a rich or powerful person may have. Both from living in close proximity. But also, the rich and powerful must trust their cook to not murder them. In turn, these cooks find themselves very well-compensated, but also …

Michael Palin

The ErebusIf Michael Palin, of both Monty Python fame and former president of the Royal Geographic society, turns his eye to a topic, you know it will be good. The Erebus and Terror are two ships that have gripped the imagination for over a century. The two old warships …

Alexander Langlands

For those of us who like working with our hands, there is nothing as satisfying as making a useful and beautiful object we can use for years. Cræft, being skilled at creating unique, hand-made items sourced from nature locally, has nearly disappeared. Once, being a craftsperson who could …

Natalie Haynes

Haynes, a classics scholar who studied at Cambridge, compares and contrasts modern life with those of the Ancients (Greeks, Romans and some Egyptians). While we are often tempted to go with the lazy assumption that “nothing ever changes, people have all been essentially the same”,  Haynes points out …

Iconic Moments from the Past In Color
Wolfang Wild & Jordan Lloyd

This wide-ranging collection of colorized photos gives a rare glimpse into the past. Photography has been around for a surprisingly long time. The first self-portrait was taken in 1839, almost 30 years before the American Civil War. There …

The Bizarre and Disturbing Adventures of Hitler’s Limousine in America

Robert Klara

Three generations after the Holocaust and WWII, Hitler still has the ability to fascinate and repulse us, as does nearly anything even vaguely related to him. His (or possibly his) car (or possibly cars) are no exception. …

Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies

Alastair Bonnett

Unruly PlacesAt first glance, Bonnett’s book may look like another interesting guide to off-the-beaten-track places. Unruly Places goes a step further. Divided into eight categories, Bonnett looks at truly unique geographical places and concepts. Lost Spaces include cities that have been …