I read a few topics from history on the internet today. If we search a history topic with Google, it always shows Wikipedia article on it, if such an article exists, on the top of the page. Recently I read about a ‘Leftist bias” inside Wikipedia where Wikipedia moderators have altered the tone of articles on world affairs to suit a ‘Leftist’ version of the events. Learning this, I decided to read from alternative sources today. Later, I opened the Wikipedia page on the same and compared the two. I found that Wikipedia articles contained a huge compilation of not-so-important threads about the topics. Wikipedia articles on important historical topics have become so huge that it is almost important to read those. If we want to get an overview of historical topics, Wikipedia appeared unsuitable. Wikipedia articles are also cluttered with too many inserts, references and hyperlinks and from aesthetics point of view too, the experience was not good. But one thing I liked about Wikipedia was that it did not contain “ads” on its page.
Anyways, so I started reading about former President of USA, Richard Nixon today. I chose to open Biography.com article on him. It was really great to know how he started under humble circumstances where he and his 4 other siblings worked in family owned shops to make ends meet. Later on, he funded his college education with a scholarship. He was a completely ‘self-made’ man and reached Senate due to his sheer talent. I also got interested in his “Checker’s Speech” and read its full script here. Mr. Nixon was splendid in it! Mr. Richard Nixon completed his first term as president and he credited for many changes. His strategy of withdrawing American soldiers from South Vietnam but increasing air strikes and giving training to local Vietnamese people to continue the fight is still being practiced by the USA at other places. He also won President elections for the second term with a huge margin. But soon, he had to resign to avoid impeachment over “Watergate Scandal”. I read about Watergate Scandal on History.com here. It is generally hailed as a journalistic enquiry but the fact is that there was an FBI insider who had leaked all the information to the Washington Post. The FBI insider or ‘whistle blower’ was code named “Deep Throat” by WaPo. It was revealed many years later that the person was Mark Felt. So I read about him too on Biography.com.
Mark Felt was Associate Director of FBI during President Nixon’s tenure. A natural question is about why he leaked insider information and devastated the fate of President Nixon? President Nixon, after all had not done any harm to the country and by all accounts he had won his second term on merit. A version of story tells that Mark Felt had revealed information to Washington Post because of ‘patriotism’, since he thought President Nixon had done something wrong. But later on Mark Felt himself was accused of giving illegal orders for house searches on activists and break-ins without warrants. He was also indicted and stripped off his honors. But in a twist to the story, President Ronald Reagan set him free with a “Presidential Pardon”. Many people thought that the pardon was not right. But it means that even the “good guy” got into a soup and was saved by a President using his exclusive powers.
So after President Nixon, the erstwhile Vice President, Gerald Ford became the next President. I read about him too. It is interesting that he survived two assassination attempts on him by two women within an interval of just 17 days! The first woman was from the infamous Manson Family cult. The woman tried to kill the President as she thought he was not doing enough for the environment and earth! It was crazy to think how fanatic people can become even for noble causes like environment protection. The second woman tried to kill him because of her political inclination. It was interesting how both assassins were women and both failed. After first attempt on his life, President Ford had continued to meet people like always. But after second attempt, he started wearing bullet-proof vest. Perhaps the attacks on him tells more about the rise of radical and popular cults and hippy movements of the 70s.
Later on, I started reading about the Vietnam War. This is the first war where the USA is said to have not won. But reading about it, it looked like a surrender. And it was sad. At that time Cold War was on. The USA was acting harsh on the allies of USSR. The Vietnam War had pitted the communist government of North Vietnam against American ally South Vietnam. More than 3 million people including over 58K Americans died. After President Richard Nixon ordered the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 1973, in 2 years’ time communist forces ended the war by seizing control of South Vietnam in 1975 and the country was unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. It is interesting to know that siding with communists did no benefit to the Vietnam and the country is still poor and under developed. Was it worth it? But those were the times when countries did not know that communism and socialism would be total disasters for the people.
Anyways, I hope to continue reading on linked threads and also more about the US Presidents. Do you know that the White House has maintained small biographies of all the US Presidents till date? You can check it out here.
- Rahul Tiwary