In 1964, the U.S. Treasury Seized a Virtual Museum of Machine Guns
In June 1964, agents of the U.S. Treasury Department staged a seven-day sting targeting what news reports described as a “mysterious warehouse” in Ridgefield, New Jersey. What they discovered was startling. 517 guns. A few quite interesting. And some … illegal. A photograph in the New York Journal-American newspaper... Read more
After the AK-47, Mikhail Kalashnikov Pushed an Automatic Pistol
In the late 1940s, Mikhail Kalashnikov — the Russian gun-designer behind the then-new AK-47 assault rifle — produced an automatic handgun called the APK. Busy completing the AK-47, Kalashnikov reportedly lacked the time to truly refine the APK. In the end, the Red Army preferred Igor Stechkin’s own APS... Read more
The PPsH-41 Submachine Gun Makes Me Want to Shout ‘Uraah!’
The PPsH-41 submachine gun undoubtedly reigns as an icon of the Soviet war machine in World War II, immortalized in combat photographs and in films such as Cross of Iron and The Tin Drum.  Like the T-34 tank and the Il-2 Shturmovik attack plane, the “Pepsha” or “Papasha” (“Daddy”) was not only a... Read more
The General Who Could Have Replaced George Washington
Queries the great Sheldon Cooper: “How would the Civil War have gone differently if Lincoln had been a robot sent from the future?” None can tell. But we can essay some critical analysis about how the revolution would have gone had the Patriots rejected Washington as commander-in-chief and embraced the alternative... Read more
A Spanish Chicken Farmer, a Peruvian Gambler and Serbian Playboy Fooled Adolf Hitler
No one really expects spies to live glamorous James Bond-lifestyles full of tailored suits, tight dresses, sex and gambling. So, one of the pleasures of reading Ben Macintyre’s Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies is learning about a half-dozen outrageous secret agents who really did lead... Read more
How South Africa Voluntarily Gave Up Its Nuclear Weapons
The Republic of South Africa is the only country in the world to build a nuclear weapons program, then unbuild that program after domestic and international conditions changed. Why did South Africa decide to build nukes, how did it build them and why did it decide to give them... Read more
‘Smoke ‘Em’
Two the largest naval battles of the post-World War II era occurred in the 1980s. The United Kingdom fought Argentina over the Falkland Islands from April 2 to June 14, 1982, resulting in the British regaining control of its territory. In the second battle, Operation Praying Mantis, the United... Read more
In 1967, the Israelis Eavesdropped on Arab Armies’ Phone Calls
On June 5, 1967 during the war between Israel and its Arab neighbors, Egyptian air force bomber pilot Hosni Mubarak — the future president of Egypt — called Cairo to report that his formation of Tu-16 bombers had landed at Aswan airfield. Forty-five minutes later, an Israeli air strike... Read more
Before 2003, the Pentagon Planned a Secret Air War Over Iraq
In early 2004, as controversy over the decision to invade Iraq the year prior mounted, Pres. George W. Bush endured accusations his administration had decided from the very beginning to take military action to force regime change in Baghdad. Paul H. O’Neill, Bush’s secretary of the treasury until his... Read more
What If Japan Had Never Bombed Pearl Harbor?
Suppose Robert E. Lee had laid hands on a shipment of AK-47s in 1864. How would American history have unfolded? Differently than it did, one imagines. Historians frown on alt-history, and oftentimes for good reason. Change too many variables, and you veer speedily into fiction. The chain connecting cause to effect gets... Read more