November 22, 2005

War Nerd

"Happy Birthday to an Unloved War" (the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War): This isn't one of Gary Brecher's best -- the farther back in time he goes the less distinctive he becomes. He's better off competing against journalists than against historians, because historians have more freedom to tell the truth, because the events they describe are remote enough to be less constrained by the dictates of political correctness.

Brecher's article misses the coolest thing about the Russo-Japanese War, an event that much impressed the 6-year-old Vladimir Nabokov. The Russians had been building the Trans-Siberian Railway both from Europe going east and from Vladivostok on the Pacific going west. When the war broke out, they had finished the whole thing except the extensive zig-zag around Siberia's huge Lake Baikal. To get men and supplies to the front, during the winter, the Russians laid tracks on the ice and drove their trains straight across the lake. (The troops got out of the trains and marched across.) Supposedly the first train fell in, but, being Russians, they took catastrophe in stride and kept at it.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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