Category Archives: American Politics

This Day In History!

At a loss for what to write that could spark my interest today I decided to look up events of this day in history and was pleasantly surprised to discover an event which had, possibly, a transformative impact on the world. In this day in 1941 the Lend-Lease Act was signed into law allowing the transfer of free provisions and materiel from the United States to Allied countries at war with Germany, Italy, and Japan.

This was quite a controversial move for a country that was still technically neutral until events later that same year. However, strong arguments can be made that it was the transfer of materiel, especially aircraft and food, which tilted the balance in the Battle of Britain and in gaining air superiority over the English Channel.

While I had known about the Lend-Lease agreement in doing a bit of digging for today’s blog I learned a few interesting new things. Firstly, the agreement was to return anything at the end of the war unless it had been destroyed, however in practicality most materiel was in unusable condition for peacetime and as such allies were allowed to keep, free of charge, most remaining supplies. Interestingly, the agreement was ended without warning though after the surrender of Japan and any shipments which were already enroute to the Allies were charged for, although at a severe discount.

Secondly, the Lend-Lease agreement also accommodated reciprocal  exchange in the use of zero-cost leases for army and navy bases in allied countries, many of which still exist though of course no longer for free.

By the end of the war the equivalent of over $50 billion in supplies (over $500 billion in modern terms) had been donated to Allied nations with the lion’s share going to the UK. Conversely the use of land for bases and other reciprocal deals are estimated to have been at a value of almost $8 billion over the course of the war. This figure was very surprising to me in serving to show just how immense the industrial and transportation capacity of the US was in the 1940s.

All told, the signing and continuance of the Lend-Lease Act over the course of the war was vital to Allied victory and almost certainly altered history in a fundamental way. And it all started 78 years ago on this day.

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Filed under American History, American Politics, Uncategorized, World War 2

Spring 2019 Lecture Series

Spring 2019 Lecture Series - Poster-page-001

The 2AD Memorial Library’s Spring 2019 Lecture Series spotlights the multifaceted nature of studying the United States and World War II. The series features a range of scholars from different disciplines as they discuss the changing face of American culture and our understanding of our own history.

All talks will take place at the Millennium Library on Thursday evenings at 7PM. To book tickets email 2admemorial.lib@norfolk.gov.uk, find us on Eventbrite, or phone us on 01603 774747.

 

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“The current period of Nazi frightfulness”: Cinemagoing in the Blitz (25 April)

A night at the pictures often offers the prospect of escape, but was that possible under the threat of enemy bombers? This talk will discuss what happened to British cinemas and British cinemagoers during the Blitz.

Richard Farmer is a Lecturer in Film and Media Studies at the University of East Anglia.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-current-period-of-nazi-frightfulness-cinemagoing-in-the-blitz-tickets-57878104970

 

The only photograph of the Buddy Bolden Band, c. 1903-05, with Bolden standing next to bassist cropped

Jazz and Disability (2 May)

This talk explores how early jazz reception thought of the new music and dance as disabled and even disabling. It also considers the musical careers of key jazz musicians with disabilities, inviting us to think of jazz as an enabling musical practice.

George McKay is a Professor Media Studies at the University of East Anglia and Humanities Research Council Fellow for its Connected Communities programme.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/jazz-and-disability-tickets-57878776980

 

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Of Mice and Krazy Kats: The History and Art of American Comics (9 May)

This talk will provide an in-depth examination of the complex history of American comics from early newspaper strips to contemporary graphic novels, including the birth of superheroes, WWII propaganda comics, controversial 1950s horror comics, and contemporary graphic novels.

Frederik Byrn Køhlert is a Lecturer in American Studies at the University of East Anglia.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/of-mice-and-krazy-kats-the-history-and-art-of-american-comics-tickets-57878242381

 

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Indigenous London and Beyond: Native Travellers at the Heart of Empire (16 May)

The stories of Indigenous travellers, willing or otherwise, from territories that became Canada, the US, New Zealand, and Australia show the ways in which London and Britain have for centuries been bound up in the Indigenous experience.

Coll Thrush is a Professor of History and Associate Faculty in Critical Indigenous Studies at the University of British Columbia. He is also the International Investigator on the AHRC-funded project Beyond the Spectacle: Native North American Presence in Britain.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/indigenous-london-and-beyond-native-travellers-at-the-heart-of-empire-tickets-57878315600

 

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American Apocalypse: 21st Century Climate Change Fiction (23 May)

This talk considers how the apocalyptic dangers of climate change are being addressed by American fiction. Climate change fiction, or ‘cli-fi’, offers us a way to assess, understand, and address the phenomenon of global warming and the impact of humans on their environment.

Rebecca Tillett is a Senior Lecturer in American Studies at the University of East Anglia.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/american-apocalypse-21st-century-climate-change-fiction-tickets-57878709779

 

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A Heroic Mass Shooter? The Politics of Netflix’s The Punisher (30 May)

Due to his unyielding methods of exacting violent justice, much has been discussed about the Punisher. What is the place of Marvel’s controversial antihero within today’s politics? How has his new Netflix series been received in the Trump era?

Miriam Kent is a Lecturer in Film and Media Studies at the University of East Anglia.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/a-heroic-mass-shooter-the-politics-of-netflixs-the-punisher-tickets-57878147096

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Filed under American Culture, American History, American Politics, Memorial Library, Public Events, World War 2

This Week in History

While we normally focus on WW2 or older US History in conjunction with American Culture I thought it would be nice to briefly discuss some of the more recent coalition actions performed by the US and the UK in alliance. In this week, 1991, Operation Desert Shield which protected Saudi Arabia from Iraqi aggression shifted to the offensive. This offensive, known as Operation Desert Storm, began January 17th with the counter-invasion of Kuwait by allied coalition forces with the goal being to liberate the country. This swift and united action, the first of its kind since the fall of the USSR and ending of the Cold War for the US, resulted in a freed Kuwait and the Iraqi army being forced back within their own borders.

The opening moves of this offensive would have been readily recognizable by any member of our own esteemed 2nd Air Division. A widespread bombing campaign of militarily important targets, a tactic largely unchanged since WW2, was used to cripple the Iraqi ability to continue hostilities. Also, similarily to WW2, ground offensives were held until the men in the skies had done their job; sometimes as many as 2,500 missions a day making it a very busy job indeed. This intensive and focused air campaign allowed the ground forces to declare victory within just 100 hours of their involvement, a feat which would likely would not have been possible without the skills and techniques developed by the Air Force in WW2 and honed since.

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Filed under American History, American Politics, Uncategorized

Book Review: Thanks Obama, My Hopey Changey White House Years

By Danielle Prostrollo

The last few weeks in the library have been a veritable book lover’s Christmas. A ton of new stock has come in, and picking one to highlight was difficult. I picked this one because the subject of the autobiography. The author is a speechwriter and ‘people behind the people’ stories fascinate me.

Thanks Obama: my hopey changey White House Years, by David Litt

thanks obama

To head this review off, I thought the book was great. The story centers around a White House speech writer, David Litt, and his journey from newbie underling to member of Obama’s trusted team. It would be easy to dismiss this book as an Obama love letter, but this is not about the former president. It’s not even actually about the administration. It is rare to get a glimpse into life on The Hill from someone who does not stand directly in the public light.  
 
Equally important and refreshing, is the writing style. The book reads without difficulty, like a buddy is filling you in on his day. I suppose this shouldn’t be a surprise, Litt is a speechwriter, after all. There is an unexpected amount of humor and relatability in the book. He talks about feeling invincible, about moments of awkward embarrassment, and the relatable moments of utter boredom. But, interspersed between these normal-person feelings are trips on Air Force One, nights out at Lincoln Center, and conversations with the President.
 
You don’t need to be a policy wonk to enjoy this book. Anyone interested in a little glimpse into the political life, enjoyed The West Wing, or reads every book that comes about The Hill, will enjoy this read.

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Filed under American Culture, American Politics, Books