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Week In Review

Week in Review: November 15, 2020

A Vengeful Whale, Cannibalism, and Moby Dick

November 20 marks the 200th anniversary of the sinking of the Essex, a whaling ship rammed by a sperm whale “with tenfold fury and vengeance.” Although all 20 crewmen initially survived, only 8 were rescued following an arduous journey that devolved into cannibalism.
Horror on the high seas
Learn more about the Essex, including the crew’s desperate attempts to stay alive while adrift for some three months.
Whaling in the 1800s
How and why were whales caught back then?
How did sperm whales get their name?
Discover that answer and other interesting facts about these enormous marine animals—who, for the record, are usually quite timid.
Melville’s magnus opus
The sinking of the Essex inspired what was initially a flop but later became one of America’s greatest novels.
Society’s greatest taboo?
While cannibalism is often associated with evil, history reveals a practice that is more complex and, surprisingly, sometimes even reverential.

A Deadly Diet

We’re not talking about high cholesterol. We mean how humans have eaten thousands of species into extinction. From passenger pigeons to dodos, we literally have loved food to death. Worse, our insatiable appetites remain an ongoing threat to many animals.
The Original Chicken of the Sea?
article / Science
Encyclop?dia Britannica, Inc.

A Vengeful Whale, Cannibalism, and Moby Dick

November 20 marks the 200th anniversary of the sinking of the Essex, a whaling ship rammed by a sperm whale “with tenfold fury and vengeance.” Although all 20 crewmen initially survived, only 8 were rescued following an arduous journey that devolved into cannibalism.
Horror on the high seas
Learn more about the Essex, including the crew’s desperate attempts to stay alive while adrift for some three months.
Whaling in the 1800s
How and why were whales caught back then?
How did sperm whales get their name?
Discover that answer and other interesting facts about these enormous marine animals—who, for the record, are usually quite timid.
Melville’s magnus opus
The sinking of the Essex inspired what was initially a flop but later became one of America’s greatest novels.
Society’s greatest taboo?
While cannibalism is often associated with evil, history reveals a practice that is more complex and, surprisingly, sometimes even reverential.

Crimes Against Humanity

Some of most notorious figures in the Third Reich were assembled at Nürnberg, Germany, on November 20, 1945, to answer for their actions during World War II. Over the next 11 months, two dozen high-ranking Nazi officials were tried for war crimes, crimes against peace, and crimes against humanity. Twelve were sentenced to death by hanging, and most of the rest received lengthy prison terms.
Nürnberg Trials
article / Politics, Law & Government
National Archives, Washington, D.C.
What Is a War Crime?
article / Politics, Law & Government
U.S. Department of State
The One that (Almost) Got Away
article / World History
Central Zionist Archives, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives

“Four score and seven years ago...”

November 19 marks the 157th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, perhaps the most famous speech in U.S. history.
Why was the Gettysburg Address so notable?
Lincoln captured the essence of the Union cause in just 272 words.
And Lincoln wasn’t even the featured speaker that day?
Edward Everett’s 13,000-word speech lasted roughly two hours and barely rates as a historical footnote.
What was the purpose of Lincoln’s speech?
Lincoln’s remarks were delivered at the dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, the final resting place of more than 3,500 Union soldiers killed at the Battle of Gettysburg.
“With malice towards none, with charity towards all...”
Lincoln’s Second Inaugural address, delivered just 41 days before his assassination, provides insight into what his postwar policy would have been.
Analyzing the Gettysburg Address (Video)
Explore the meaning and context of the speech with the Civil War Trust.

“To Infinity and Beyond”

Guess what turns 25 on November 19? Toy Story! That’s the day the movie premiered in 1995, introducing the world to Andy and his endearing toys, especially favorites Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen). With a moving story of friendship and stunning visuals—it was the first fully computer-animated feature film—Toy Story became a beloved classic. Learn more about the movie and the history of animation.
The Groundbreaking Studio
article / Entertainment & Pop Culture
? 1995 The Walt Disney Company. All rights reserved.
The Film that Paved the Way
article / Entertainment & Pop Culture
PRNewsFoto/Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment/AP Images
Discover Other Animated Classics
article / Entertainment & Pop Culture
? The Walt Disney Company

Doomsday Prophets

For centuries, religious leaders have predicted the end of the world. While they have thankfully been wrong, their stories occasionally had tragic endings.
Jim Jones
The self-proclaimed messiah of the Peoples Temple, he led more than 900 followers in a mass suicide on November 18, 1978.
David Koresh
In 1993 Koresh, the leader of the Branch Davidians, and numerous followers were killed during the Waco siege, a standoff with federal agents.
Marshall Applewhite
As the founder of Heaven’s Gate, a UFO-based group, he and 38 other members took their own lives in 1997, believing that a spaceship was coming to transport them to a better place.
Asahara Shoko
He founded AUM Shinrikyo, which was little known until 1995, when various members, including Asahara, perpetuated the Tokyo subway attack, in which nerve gas killed 13 people and injured thousands.

Native American Military History

From the first arrival of Europeans in North America, Native Americans have united behind a series of leaders in an attempt to check white encroachment onto their lands. The Shawnee chief Tecumseh led a formidable pan-Indian resistance movement during the War of 1812, while the Teton Dakota chief Sitting Bull inflicted a series of embarrassing defeats on the U.S. Army in the Great Plains. Today, however, Native Americans (including Native Alaskans) make up a significant portion of the U.S. military; as a group, they are five times more likely to serve in the armed forces than the national average.
Tecumseh
article / Politics, Law & Government
The Story of Tecumseh, by Norman S. Gurd, 1912
Sitting Bull
article / Politics, Law & Government
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (neg. no. LC-USZ62-12277)
Code Talkers
article / World History
U.S. Marine Corps/National Archives and Records Administration

Famous Pharaohs of Egypt

For some 3,000 years, a series of kings ruled ancient Egypt, but we know very little about the lives they lived. Rather, a lot of what we know about Egyptian pharaohs is based on their magnificent funerary complexes.
King Tut
The boy king, whose real name was Tutankhamun, may be the most famous pharaoh of all, largely because of his intact tomb discovered in the Valley of the Kings. Within it, archaeologists found such objects as furniture, clothes, chariots, weapons, three dazzling gold coffins in which the mummy lay, and Tutankhamun’s now-iconic portrait mask.
Djoser
The king erected a funerary complex at ?aqqārah, where, with his minister, Imhotep, a talented architect and physician, he oversaw the construction of the step pyramid, a precursor to the iconic pyramids at Giza and the oldest extant monument of hewn stone known in the world.
Hatshepsut
Unsatisfied with the title of queen, Hatshepsut (reigned in her own right c. 1473–58 BCE) attained unprecedented power, adopting the full titles and regalia of a pharaoh. Her funerary temple at Dayr al-Ba?rī is perhaps one of the most impressive, featuring a series of three colonnaded terraces set elegantly into the mountainside.
Ramses II
Ramses the Great, whose reign (1279–13 BCE) was the second longest in Egyptian history, is known for his extensive building programs and for the many colossal statues of him found all over Egypt.

“The People’s Princess”

Nearly 40 years after she entered the spotlight, Diana, princess of Wales, still captivates the public. Her beauty and shy demeanor—which earned her the nickname “Shy Di”—made her an instant sensation when she and Prince Charles announced their engagement in 1981. Hundreds of millions of people tuned in for their fairy-tale wedding that year, but as has often been said, the marriage turned out to be anything but.
Diana, Princess of Wales
article / World History
? Shutterstock.com
Charles, Prince of Wales
article / World History
Press Association/AP Images
Queen Elizabeth II
article / Politics, Law & Government
NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Youngest Countries

As seemingly more regions around the world discuss independence, we’re focusing on the most recent to gain autonomy. Well, at least according to some. Many secessions are disputed and not universally recognized. Do you know these nations?
“Rainbow’s end”
Formerly part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, this archipelago—a paradise for divers—gained its independence in 1994, though it operates under a Compact of Free Association with the U.S.
The newest country
In 2011 this African nation was established, and two years later it was plunged into a civil war that only ended this year.
"The most beautiful encounter between land and sea”
This Balkan republic, known for its scenic coast, became independent from Serbia in 2006.
“Land of the sleeping crocodile”
In 2002 this country gained its independence after being occupied by Indonesia for more than 25 years.
“Field of blackbirds”
In 2008 this nation—which has the youngest population in Europe, with more than 50% under the age of 25—also seceded from Serbia.

Native American Leaders

Native Americans have long had to work outside, or even against, the institutions that were ostensibly created to assist them. With Native American voters turning out in massive numbers in the 2020 election, and a record number of Native American women elected to the incoming 117th Congress, Britannica looks at some notable activists and leaders who have made a mark on U.S. history.
Wilma Pearl Mankiller
article / Politics, Law & Government
Buddy Mays/Alamy
Russell Means
article / Lifestyles & Social Issues
Marcy Nighswander/AP
Charles Curtis
article / Politics, Law & Government
Ewing Galloway
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