Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Italian Tribune Review

April 14, 2016

Thanks Italian Tribune ( for your kind review of Italy Invades: How Italians Conquered the World!

Thanks also Fra Noi (!

For signed copies please
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For the complete Italy Invades Gift Package see...

We are also delighted to announce that the cover of Italy Invades has been selected as a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards da Vinci category.  Thanks and congratulations Blaine Donnelson!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Ketchup History

Some academic historians like to use the term "genocide" the way that Americans use ketchup -- they put it on everything! Sadly Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous People's History of the United States ( falls into this category.

This might really have been an interesting book. The topic is intriguing and worthy. Sadly Dunbar-Ortiz is an anger-filled writer who prefers to grind her Marxist axe rather than even attempting to present a balanced picture of the interactions between Native Americans and Europeans in North America.

Dunbar-Ortiz constantly repeats the charge of genocide against the "settler colonists" that founded America. But she does not present one shred of evidence to support this outrageous charge. Genocide is a intentional plan to destroy an ethnic group. There were wars against the native americans, there was double-dealing, there were massacres and there were crimes but there was not a genocide. There was a cycle of violence that began with the slaughter of the small garrison left by Columbus in 1492 by indigenous Taino people on the island of Hispaniola.  For my take on Columbus see...

Before contact with Europeans North america was in a state of almost continuous low level warfare. Archaeology reveals "embedded spear points, healed injuries, crushing skull fractures resulting from blunt objects" (Source: Scott Weidensaul's The First Frontier: The Forgotten History of Struggle, Savagery, and Endurance in Early America, Dunbar Ortiz ignores this reality. Nor will you find any mention of historical events such as the Cherry Valley massacre in upstate New York by Iroquois working on behalf of the British in the American Revolution ( that very nearly wiped out my own family.  Nor does Dunbar Ortiz mention the Fort Mims massacre by Creeks in 1813 that killed about 500 settlers in Alabama (

Dunbar-Ortiz portrays Andrew Jackson as a genocidal "Indian hater," but neglects to mention that he adopted a Native American as his own son.  Lyncoya was adopted by Andrew a his wife Rachel and educated with their son Andrew Jackson jr. but died at an early age of tuberculosis.  Dunbar-Ortiz, who likes her polemic served in black and white, actually writes that "Jackson was the Dark Knight in the formation o the United States as a colonial, imperialist democracy."
Dunbar-Ortiz approvingly describes Geronimo as the leaders of a "people's war" but neglects to mention that he later cooperated with US officials, converted to Christianity and even became a justice of the peace. Dunbar-Ortiz has nothing but contempt for the US military and was offended that the US Navy Seals used the code name "Geronimo" when they killed Osama Bin Laden. She does not seem to grasp that the US military has repeatedly honored native Americans with names such as the Apache helicopter, etc. A statue of the mighty Tecumseh can be found on the grounds of the US Naval academy in Annapolis.

Tecumseh statue, US Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD
Dunbar-Ortiz distorts the tragic reality of the native American experience. As Charles Mann (1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, and many others have documented it was the spread of disease and the native American lack of immunities that caused the vast majority of deaths in both north and south America after Columbus. Smallpox was devastating but it is in no way to be confused with "genocide".

Dunbar-Ortiz believes firmly in American exceptionalism -- she simply believes that Americans are exceptionally murderous!

This book does have some unintentional humor. Dunbar-Ortiz informs us that "America" and "American" are "blatantly imperialistic terms" yet apparently she boasts on her cover that this book won the "2015 American Book Award"!  She even calls the Mount Rushmore monument in the Black Hills a "shrine of in-your-face illegal occupation and colonialism."  Dunbar-Ortiz dismisses Christianity as a "profit-based religion."

There are so many better alternatives to the unconvincing Dunbar-Ortiz narrative. If you want to understand the impact of Columbus and the coming of the Europeans read Charles Mann's 1491 and 1493 ( If you want to understand the initial impact of Europeans on North America read Scott Weidensaul's The First Frontier: The Forgotten History of Struggle, Savagery, and Endurance in Early America ( If you would like a balanced view of the tragic conflict between the Sioux and Custer that culminated with the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876 read Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors (

Stephen Ambrose, who studied genocide with some care, wrote in 1975 that, "It is, for example, totally irresponsible to state - as has so often been stated - that the United States pursued a policy of genocide toward the Indians." Ambrose was right. Anger is not an agenda and hate speech is not really history.

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Poe and Poland

With Poe in Boston
Sculpture by Stefanie Rocknak
Edgar Allen Poe Square, Boston, MA

Edgar Allen Poe,  though identified with Baltimore, was born in Boston on January 19, 1809.  The master of suspense and poet of The Raven was born at 62 Charles Street (know as 62 Carver Street at the time).  He enlisted in the US Army at the Customs House in Boston under a false name in 1827 claiming to be 21 when he was, in fact, 18 years of age.

Poe found little support from the moralistic Brahmins of the New England literary scene.  He referred to them as croaking "Frogpondians".

In our book, America Invades, we discussed the surprising connection between Edgar Allen Poe and Poland...

"Poland may be a long way from the United States, but a shared experience of fighting for freedom (as well as Polish immigration into the United States) has created many close links between the two nations.

Poles fought for the American cause right from our founding.
Koésciuszko  statue
USMA West Point, NY
Tadeusz Koésciuszko (1746-1817) fought for America’s independence from Britain in the American Revolution and then went on to fight for his homeland’s independence from Russia. He directed the fortification of West Point and rose to become a brigadier general in the Continental Army. A statue of Koésciuszko stands atop the US Military Academy at West Point today.

Another Pole, Casimir Pulaski (1745-1779), also rose to the rank of brigadier general in the Continental Army and fought against both the Russians in Poland and the British in America. At the battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777, he even helped save General George Washington from near certain capture. Pulaski died from wounds received at the Battle of Savannah. For his efforts and for his bravery, he has often been called the “father of the American cavalry.”

Kosciuszko, Pulaski, and the other Poles who fought on our side in the Revolution were major factors in giving Poland a good reputation in the United States. When, in November 1830, the Poles rose against up against Russia, there was plenty of support in the United States for the Poles. For instance, a young soldier in the US Army wrote this letter to his commanding officer in 1831:
Having no longer any ties which can bind me to my native country—no prospects—nor any friends—I intend by the first opportunity to proceed to Paris with the view of obtaining, thro’ the interest of the Marquis de La Fayette, an appointment (if possible) in the Polish Army. In the event of the interference of France in behalf of Poland this may easily be effected—at all events it will be my only feasible plan of procedure.

E.A. Poe Plaque, Boston, MA
The author of this letter was Edgar Allan Poe (who, in the end, never did make it to the fight in Poland)."

You can find signed copies of America Invades
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Friday, March 18, 2016

So Many Reasons to Vote for Trump!

Making America Great...?

There are SO MANY REASONS to vote for Donald Trump this spring!  Here are just a few...

If you believe that Republicans' quaint preference for "Limited Government" should now be replaced by "Authoritarian Nationalism" then you should VOTE TRUMP this spring.
Sucker Punch at Trump rally
If you believe that "Compassionate Conservatism" should be replaced by "Violent Opportunism" then you should VOTE TRUMP this spring.

If you believe that our children's education standards should be set by the founder of Trump University then you should VOTE TRUMP this spring.

If you believe that the Smoot-Hawley style of protectionism that launched the world into the Great Depression in the 20th century deserves a re-test in the 21st century then you should VOTE TRUMP this spring.

If you believe that Americans pay prices that are FAR TOO LOW for imports then you should VOTE TRUMP this spring.

If you believe that slapping tariffs on imports would never lead to...retaliation by foreign governments then you should VOTE TRUMP this spring.

If you believe that the POTUS should fix foreign exchange rates rather than free markets then you should VOTE TRUMP this spring.

If you believe that Anger IS an Agenda then you should VOTE TRUMP this spring.

If you believe that it is safer to have an "outsider" novice in the cockpit of your 747 rather than a pilot with many hours of experience flying the plane then you should VOTE TRUMP this spring.

If you believe that the Old Testament is an "outdated book" whose admonition "Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child" (Ecclesiastes 10:16) has no relevance to the choice faced by American voters in 2016 then you should VOTE TRUMP this spring.

If you believe that a candidate who refuses to disclose his taxes has absolutely nothing to hide from the American public  then you should VOTE TRUMP this spring.

If you believe that the travel rights of American citizens should be determined by their religious affiliation then you should VOTE  TRUMP this spring.

John McCain

If you believe that John McCain, veterans of the Bataan death march in World War II, Tommy Hitchcock (see video below) and even Winston Churchill (captured in the Boer war) were never heroes then you should VOTE TRUMP this spring.

If you believe that "Bush lied, People Died" and that Michael Moore basically got it right on 9/11 and the Iraq war then you should VOTE Trump this spring.

Kim Jong Un on a "Good Hair Day"
If you believe that our next Commander in Chief should match North Korea's Kim Jong Un in terms of militarism, mental stability and haircut then you should VOTE TRUMP this spring.

If you just started rooting for the Kansas City Royals and the Denver Broncos in the past six months then you should VOTE TRUMP this spring.

"The Putin"
If you believe that Putin had a point in killing journalists and that libel laws should be strengthened then you should VOTE TRUMP this spring.

If you believe that Neidermeyer was the real hero of 1978's Animal House then you should VOTE TRUMP this spring.

If you hope for all members of the GOP in Congress and in statehouses to be sandblasted from the political scene for the next decade then you should VOTE TRUMP this spring.

If you believe that Nancy Pelosi should be given a second chance as Speaker of the House then you should VOTE TRUMP this spring.

If you believe the many polls which showed that Trump would win Florida were accurate but that the many polls which show that Trump will lose to Hillary (or Bernie) in the general election are bogus (6 out of 7 according to RCP... then you should VOTE TRUMP this spring.

If you believe that Hillary should begin measuring drapes for the White House then you should VOTE TRUMP this spring.

You can find signed copies of Christopher Kelly's book America Invades
or regular copies here on Amazon...


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Jefferson and Mazzei

Commander K with Fonterutoli Chianti

I was delighted to sample a bottle of Fonterutoli Chianti from the cellars of Giovanni's ( on a recent trip to Florence.  Their Riserva (Castello Fonterutoli) is delicious!  A great wine to serve with pasta and meat.  Giovanni's is a fantastic Osteria in Florence.  Excellent Ribollita (vegetable soup with bread) and Bistecca Fiorentina (T-bone steak).  History never tasted so good!

We wrote about Thomas Jefferson and his vinous friendship with Mazzei in Italy Invades: How Italians Conquered the World...

Thomas Jefferson, Paris, France
"William Paca, who was later elected governor of Maryland, was an Italian American signatory of the Declaration of Independence. Philip Mazzei (1730–1816) was a Tuscan aristocrat who immigrated to Virginia and acted as an agent for the colony, purchasing arms for the Patriot cause. He was a great friend of Thomas Jefferson and wrote that “All men are created equal” even before Jefferson penned it in the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The two men shared a love for both liberty and wine; Mazzei helped Jefferson to plant grapes at Monticello. The Mazzei family has been making wines in Chianti since the fifteenth century and continue to do so to this day."

You can purchase a signed copy of 
Italy Invades
or find regular copies here...

For the complete Italy Invades package...

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Nietzsche on the 2016 election

Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche was an astonishing prophet on many topics.   In a note written in 1885, Friedrich Nietzsche foretold the American Presidential election of 2016...

Sanders: "the poisonous and desperate face of American Socialism"

"Socialism--as the logical conclusion of the tyranny of the least and the
dumbest, i. e., those who are superficial, envious, and three-quarters
actors-is indeed entailed by "modern ideas" and their latent anarchism;
but in the tepid air of democratic well-being the capacity to reach
conclusions, or to finish, weakens. One follows --but one no longer sees
what follows. Therefore socialism is on the whole a hopeless and sour
affair; and nothing offers a more amusing spectacle than the contrast
between the poisonous and desperate faces cut by today's socialists--and
to what wretched and pinched feelings their style bears witness! --and
the harmless lambs' happiness of their hopes and desiderata (CRK adds..."FREE COLLEGE!").
Nevertheless, in many places in Europe they may yet bring off occasional
coups and attacks: there will be deep "rumblings" in the stomach of the
next century, and the Paris commune, which has its apologists and
advocates in Germany, too, was perhaps no more than a minor indigestion
compared to what is coming (CRK adds...The Russian Revolution of 1917 would "rumble" the Tsar and his family).

Trump: "One must possess something in order to be something."
The "poorly educated" want development too!

But there will always be too many who have possessions for socialism to signify more than an attack of sickness — and those who have possessions are of one mind on one article of faith:
"one must possess something in order to be something." But this is the
oldest and healthiest of all instincts: I should add, "one must want to
have more than one has in order to become more." For this is the
doctrine preached by life itself to all that has life: the morality of
development (CRK adds..the morality of developers too!). To have and to want to have more--growth, in one word--that is life itself (CRK adds..."More winning!").

In the doctrine of socialism there is hidden, rather badly, a "will to negate life"; the human beings or races that think up such a doctrine must be bungled. Indeed, I should wish that a few great
experiments might prove that in a socialist society life negates itself,
cuts off its own roots. The earth is large enough and man still
sufficiently unexhausted; hence such a practical instruction and
demonstratio ad absurdum (CRK adds...demonstration or proof of absurdity) would not strike me as undesirable, even if it were gained and paid for with a tremendous expenditure of human lives (CRK adds...How many victims of Socialism in the 20th century "felt the burn"?  The Black Book of Communism estimates around 100 million victims of collectivism in the 20th century

Hillary Clinton: "The Marasmus Femininus" that threatens America?
Delayed by Bernie?

In any case, even as a restless mole under the soil of a society that
wallows in stupidity, socialism will be able to be something useful and
therapeutic: it delays "peace on earth" and the total mollification of
the democratic herd animal; it forces the Europeans to retain spirit,
namely cunning and cautious care, not to abjure manly and warlike
virtues altogether, and to retain some remnant of spirit, of clarity,
sobriety, and coldness of the spirit- it protects Europe for the time
being from the marasmus femininus (CRK..."feminine decay or atrophy") that threatens it."

(Source: The Will to Power, Friedrich Nietzsche,

Nietzsche could see around time's corners.  American voters this fall will likely face a stark choice between a grasping vulgarian, on one hand, and "feminine decay" on the other.  Unless a Superman emerges, we are witnessing a new electoral Birth of Tragedy as we cannot seem to move Beyond the Lesser of two Evils.   Thus Spake the Commander!

Commander Kelly is the co-author of 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome

Mary Beard's SPQR ( is a fascinating history of Ancient Rome that is packed with insights and surprises.  Beard is a Cambridge trained classicist who is unafraid of staking out controversial and, sometimes, unpopular opinions.  After the 9/11 attacks she suggested infamously that "the United States had it coming."
The Senate and People of Rome
SPQR stands for "Senatus Populus Que Romanus" or the "Senate and People of Rome".  A visitor to Rome will find SPQR plastered all over the city's public works from manhole covers to garbage cans.  An Italian parody of it is "Sonno Pazzi Questi Romani" or "These Romans are mad."  One might also loosely translate "SPQR" as the Roman equivalent of "You're Welcome".

We Americans owe an enormous debt to the Roman empire.  Without Rome we would have had no Senate and no Republic.  George Washington consciously styled himself a new Cincinnatus.  The American eagle is direct lineal descendent of the Roman Imperial eagle that topped the banners of the Roman legions.
She-Wolf or Prostitute?
The birth of Rome was, according to the myth / history that Romans told themselves, undeniably strange and violent.  The orphaned twin brothers Romulus and Remus were raised by a she-wolf.  Beard points out that "the Latin word for wolf 'Lupa' was also used as the colloquial term for 'prostitute'."  She asks, "Could it be that a local whore rather than a wild beast had found and tended the twins?"   According to the legend Romulus slew his brother Remus or otherwise we might be saying that "All roads lead to Rema".

After Romulus became Rome's first King he sought to people his dominion.  His solution was the rape of the neighboring Sabine women who were abducted and married by Roman men.  This would create raw material for legions of future artists eager to paint about sex, power and marriage.

Roman politics evolved from Kingdom to Republic to Empire until the collapse of the Western Empire in the mid fifth century.  Beard focuses on the Catiline Conspiracy and demonstrates its relevance to contemporary politics.  Cicero's question, "How long, Catiline, will you go on abusing out patience?" has echoed through political rhetoric to the present.

Caligula (Gaius)
Beard often challenges conventional wisdom about Rome.  According to her, the notorious Emperor Caligula (Gaius) may not really have been such a bad guy after all.  She writes, "Gaius may have been assassinated because he was a monster, but it is equally possible that he was made a monster because he was assassinated."  In assessing Roman history Beard reminds us that we are dependent upon the written sources which were invariably written to settle a score and justify a particular regime (the successors of Gaius) rather than an attempt at objective history (See...
73 mile long Customs barrier?
Beard even challenges the notion that Hadrian's Wall was a defensive structure built to keep barbarians out.  She posits that it may have been a customs barrier.

Beard is more convincing when she reminds us of the astonishing pluralism of Roman society.  The Romans were polytheists who adopted new Gods as their empire expanded. Christian monotheism was a challenge to the Roman order and they tried to crush it.  Beard comments, "The irony is that the only religion that the Romans ever attempted to eradicate was the one whose success their empire made possible and which grew up entirely within the Roman world."

Beard also suggests that Romans were far from unanimous about the meaning and value of their own Roman empire.  It was Tacitus, a Roman historian, who put into the mouth of a barbarian prince the most anti-imperial line ever written -- "They create desolation and call it peace."

Beard's lifelong engagement with the Roman world has produced an amazing work that challenges us to delve more deeply into our past.

You can find signed copies of 
Italy Invades: How Italians Conquered the World
And regular copies on 

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Did Columbus Introduce Slavery to the New World?

Christopher Columbus
Pioneer Park, SF, CA

Many have asserted that Christopher Columbus introduced slavery into the New World.  Here is one example of the charge leveled at the Genoese explorer...  Here is another account that accuses Columbus of enslaving the indigenous people  (

But are these claims really true?  Did Columbus introduce slavery to the New World?

Certainly Columbus was no emancipator.  He was a man of his time and his era took slavery for granted. According to Bartolom√© de Las Casas, Columbus in 1492 described the native people he encountered on what became known as the island of Hispaniola with a mixture of curiousity and compassion...
Columbus and the Taino
"I saw that they were very friendly to us, and perceived that they could be much more easily converted to our holy faith by gentle means than by force, I presented them with some red caps, and strings of beads to wear upon the neck, and many other trifles of small value, wherewith they were much delighted, and became wonderfully attached to us. Afterwards they came swimming to the boats, bringing parrots, balls of cotton thread, javelins, and many other things which they exchanged for articles we gave them, such as glass beads, and hawk's bells; which trade was carried on with the utmost good will. But they seemed on the whole to me, to be a very poor people. They all go completely naked, even the women, though I saw but one girl. All whom I saw were young, not above thirty years of age, well made, with fine shapes and faces; their hair short, and coarse like that of a horse's tail, combed toward the forehead, except a small portion which they suffer to hang down behind, and never cut. Some paint themselves with black, which makes them appear like those of the Canaries, neither black nor white; others with white, others with red, and others with such colors as they can find. Some paint the face, and some the whole body; others only the eyes, and others the nose. Weapons they have none, nor are acquainted with them, for I showed them swords which they grasped by the blades, and cut themselves through ignorance. They have no iron, their javelins being without it, and nothing more than sticks, though some have fish-bones or other things at the ends. They are all of a good size and stature, and handsomely formed. I saw some with scars of wounds upon their bodies, and demanded by signs the of them; they answered me in the same way, that there came people from the other islands in the neighborhood who endeavored to make prisoners of them, and they defended themselves. I thought then, and still believe, that these were from the continent. It appears to me, that the people are ingenious, and would be good servants (CRK's Italics) and I am of opinion that they would very readily become Christians, as they appear to have no religion. They very quickly learn such words as are spoken to them. If it please our Lord, I intend at my return to carry home six of them to your Highnesses, that they may learn our language."

Columbus did apparently bring six of the Taino people from the isle of Hispaniola back to Barcelona.  Little is know of their fate though all were dead within six months, probably from disease.

So Columbus did think that the natives represented an opportunity for the Catholic church to convert their souls.  He was a devout Catholic whose name, after all, means "bearer of Christ".  He also thought that they were "ingenious" and would make "good servants".  Could those words not have come out of the mouth of Robert Crawley on Downton Abbey?

In Italy Invades: How Italians Conquered the World we wrote, "In 1492 Christopher Columbus, sailed west from Europe to the New World and changed the world forever. The intrepid navigator was not the first European to reach what would become known as the Americas,
but the impact of this “Italian Invasion” was profound, and its effects are being felt to this day.
Columbus would later be mythologized as the man who dared sail off the edge of the world. Ditties would instruct schoolchildren that “in fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” More recently, Columbus has come under fire by those who point to his lust for gold, his tolerance for slavery, and the sufferings of Native Americans.

Columbus cannot, however, be blamed for all the sins of European colonialism. Slavery was widespread throughout the world in the fifteenth century, and he needed to deliver a return on Ferdinand and Isabella’s investment in his venture. At the end of the day, Columbus was an unbelievably brave visionary who transformed our world."

Aztec Tlacotin

Christopher Columbus was NOT the first to introduce slavery to the New World -- it had been introduced by indigenous people themselves many centuries before Columbus.  The Aztecs had a form of slavery which they called "tlacotin".  Aztec slavery was personal and not hereditary.  Slavery was sometimes used as a criminal punishment.  (

The indigenous peoples of Southern Alaska were a hierarchical society with nobles, commoners and slaves.  A Russian historian wrote, "Institutionalized slavery existed throughout this region in the pre-contact period."  (Source: Russian America, Ilya Vinkovestsky, 2011, p. 20,  The Aleuts had slavery long before the arrival of Europeans as did the Tlingit and Haida tribes.  The Russian Empire, in its pursuit of furs, did little to eliminate slavery in Alaska.  At the beginning of the nineteenth century about a tenth of the Native population were slaves or Kaiury.   Even as late as 1903, after the purchase of Alaska by the USA, there were documented slave sales in the Alaska territory  (

Christopher Columbus had many faults.  He was an Italian invader and he mistook Cuba for a continent.  But it is demonstrably false that he introduced slavery to the New World.

For more on Columbus see... and

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