Free history Kindle books for 19 Dec 16

Belle Boyd and Mata Hari: The Controversial Lives and Legacies of History’s Most Famous Women Spies

by Charles River Editors

*Includes pictures
*Includes the spies’ quotes about their lives
*Includes a bibliography for further reading

“What a jolly thing military surveillance is!” – Belle Boyd

“I am a woman who enjoys herself very much; sometimes I lose, sometimes I win.” – Mata Hari

Americans have long been fascinated by the Civil War, marveling at the size of the battles, the leadership of the generals, and the courage of the soldiers. Since the war’s start over 150 years ago, the events have been subjected to endless debate among historians and the generals themselves. The Civil War was the deadliest conflict in American history, and had the two sides realized it would take 4 years and inflict over a million casualties, it might not have been fought. Since it did, however, historians and history buffs alike have been studying and analyzing the people and places that shaped the course of the conflict ever since.

Much about the war remains controversial over 150 years later, and that includes the extent and nature of the spying that took place on both sides.
Thus, it is only fitting that the war’s most famous spy, the Confederate sympathizer Isabella Maria Boyd, is one of those people in American history who is as much myth as reality. Part of this is because she lived in an era that is still heavily imbued with a sense of nostalgia and myth, but her own personality is also heavily to blame, for she was what might in modern parlance be called a drama queen; since she was known for serial exaggerations in her work, historians are still trying to separate fact from fiction when it comes to her exploits. In the same vein, there was the matter of the people she surrounded herself with, many of whom needed a mythical figure to attach their last fading hopes for a Confederate victory to. They found such a person in Belle Boyd.

Margeretha Geertruida Zelle, better known to history by the exotic, glamorous name of Mata Hari, was a woman who profited greatly from the power of illusion during much of her brief life. Born to a hatter named Adam Zelle and his wife Antje van der Meulen, Mata Hari moved from a financially rewarding but miserable marriage to circus performances to exotic dancing and celebrity to the role of ostensible international spy in an arc that ended tragically in front of a French firing squad.

To a certain degree, Mata Hari’s entire adult life represented a triumph of advertising. Just as advertising depicts products in such a way that they are associated with other desirable things that have little or nothing to do with the items themselves – romantic or sexual success, beautiful landscapes or exotic locations, excitement, financial success, youth and attractiveness, and so on – Mata Hari created an aura of mysterious glamour around herself to sell to the public, something that would never have happened had she merely been seen for what she was, a Dutch courtesan with elaborate costumes.

Executed by firing squad and subjected to the macabre ritual of having her severed, preserved head retained for decades at a French medical school as a kind of bizarre trophy, Mata Hari ironically won the everlasting fame she craved. She also tragically contributed one final legend to the shared mythology of humanity: that of the seductive female super-spy who uses both a keenly devious intellect and irresistible feminine wiles to change the fate of nations and empires. It’s still a powerful archetype, despite being a far cry from the reality of the actual Mata Hari. The French Army itself also contributed strongly to the legend of Mata Hari. To protect state secrets, and perhaps to conceal their own judicial wrongdoing, the French military court sealed all of the trial records for 100 years – until late 2017, when all involved would assuredly be dead.

The Mailman Went UA (A Vietnam Memoir)

by David Mulldune

Some readers will be upset by the use of racial references, some will be upset by the vulgar language, some by the stark brutality, some by the sexual references. I can sanitize my manuscript and give the reader a false sense of how war reduces the humanity of an individual. Not only that, but sanitizing the past distorts history and lulls a person into a nonchalant manner of behavior in determining courses of action. The end result is that I would defeat the purpose that compelled me to write my book in the first place. So what is the point? I hope that you understand what I am trying to achieve.
As I put this book together over the years, I constantly questioned my ability and skill to compose my manuscript in a cohesive manner and even my right to do it, but here it is. I think the main problems were that I couldn’t look at it
objectively and that I tried to write it as an 18-19 year-old. I wanted to present the naiveté and immaturity, which had awesome power and control over life and death. At the same time, naiveté and immaturity could strangle you.
The title, The Mailman Went UA, came from our little song and dance routine that we performed when we didn’t receive any mail. It reflected the utter desolation of aloneness and heartbreak that extended beyond the lack of mail to who you were as a human being, and that impact is impossible to shake. The mail was our only touch with any degree of normalcy. It was more than a connection with the “World.” It was the essential element in preserving our sanity. We were surrounded by death and destruction and became unfazed by them, but we were always hit hard when we didn’t receive any mail.

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