Thursday

Jun. 25, 1998

Limericks

by Various

THURSDAY 6/25

Today's Reading: Limericks.

It was on this day in 1950 that the KOREAN WAR broke out. There'd been constant tension between the Communist North Korea and the Republic of Korea in the south since W.W.II ended. On the 25th of June, North Korean troops, led by Soviet-built tanks, crossed the 38th parallel and launched a full scale invasion of the South. Vernon Walters, deputy director of the CIA back then, later said: "If a KGB spy had broken into the Pentagon on June 25, 1950, and gained access to our most secret files, he would have found the U.S. had no interest at all in Korea. But the one place he couldn't break into was the mind of Harry Truman." Two days later President Truman took the nation to war — without first asking Congress for a declaration of war, the first time in American military history. It lasted until July 27, 1953, when an armistice was signed, formally dividing the country.

It's the birthday of novelist GEORGE ORWELL, born in Motihari, India, 1903, as Eric Arthur Blair. He worked in a bookshop in England while he wrote his first books, including Burmese Days (1934). When the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936 he went to fight with the Republican Army against Franco. He came back to England wounded and bitter, and wrote Homage to Catalonia, and became England's most prominent political writer with his novels Animal Farm (1945), and Nineteen Eighty Four, published just before he died in 1950.

CUSTER'S LAST STAND took place on this day in 1876, when Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his 264 soldiers of the 7th Cavalry were wiped out by Chief Crazy Horse and his Sioux warriors at Little Bighorn in Montana. Custer was supposed to have waited two more days for reinforcements to arrive, but chose to attack probably because he thought the Sioux had discovered his position. Between 2,000 and 4,000 Sioux swarmed over Custer's party and the only survivor was a horse named Comanche.

It was on this day in 1857 that author GUSTAVE FLAUBERT WENT ON TRIAL IN PARIS FOR OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC MORALITY. The reason was his first novel, Madame Bovary, that had been serialized the previous fall in a Paris magazine — a story about a woman who indulges in affairs and ultimately kills herself. Flaubert narrowly escaped conviction, and immediately began work on his next novel, Salammbo.

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