With Rose Coloured Glasses…

It’s very interesting to go back to the original critical reviews of films that are held in such high esteem today, because at the time of their release, opinions were often very different.
Last week saw the 35th anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars film. Today many critics and fans have voiced the opinion that the original trilogy was superior to the more recent prequel trilogy. Whether they are right or wrong is a matter of personal view, but what is interesting is that when Star Wars was released,  many of the reviews made the same criticisms about the film as they did for the prequel trilogy. Here’s one example from The New Yorker.

Even more recently, the film Prometheus, a prequel (in spirit) to Alien was reviewed by The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw as “[lacked] the central punch of Alien”. What is interesting here is that a number of years ago the 1979 journal Films and Filming contained a review of Alien. I will never forget the final line of what was, to be frank, quite a damning review, which stated “this film will not stand the test of time”.

In thirty five years will we look back at films released today in a different, more favourable light?

“A Day That Will Live In Infamy” – Pearl Harbor, 70 years on…

An aerial view of Pearl Harbor as the bombs begin to fall

  This Wednesday, December 7th, 2011 marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese surprise attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, an event that brought the United States into the Second World War and opened up the so called ‘Pacific War’.

Japan had been engaged in a war of expansion into China since the mid 1930s and in 1940 had invaded French-Indochina to cut off relief supplies to the Chinese. This act resulted in the United States placing an embargo oil exports, cutting off the Japanese Navy from their primary source of fuel. In order to secure new oil supplies, the Japanese turned their attention to the Dutch East Indies and the Philippine Islands, an American territory. An attack in this rejoin was sure to provoke an American response.

Rather than wait and react to America, the Japanese High Command instead decided to launch a pre-emptive strike on the US Pacific Fleet, stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The attack, code named Operation AI, involved a total of six aircraft carriers and more than 300 aircraft, and their escorts. The attack began at

The USS Arizona burns

approximately 7:48 local time on the morning of December 7thand achieved total surprise. A total of four battleships, three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship and one minelayer were sunk, with a further 4 battleships suffering damage. One hundred and eighty eight US aircraft were destroyed and more than 2400 Americans killed, with a further 1282 wounded. The Japanese lost only 29 aircraft, five midget submarines and 65 servicemen killed or wounded.

On the day following the attack, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his now famous “Day of Infamy” speech and the US declared war on Japan and entered the Second World War on the side of the Allies.

The USS Arizona memorial today

Today, the still submerged wreck of the battleship USS Arizona is marked as a memorial to the attack. The battleship USS Missouri (BB63), the ship aboard which the Japanese signed their surrender to the Allies is permanently moored 460m from the Arizona.

Public Library, 1874

The Ohio Memory website provides an “online scrapbook of Ohio history”, including this great photo of the interior of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County “Old Main” Building in 1874. Five tiers of cast-iron book alcoves were designed to house over 200,000 books – makes you wonder how many volunteer shelvers they had.

New online resources!




The Library has recently added a couple of new online resources to our collection, which are accessible 24/7 from our website. Both are great for students for research and project information.
Simply login with your library barcode to use:

Facts on File – Ancient and Medieval History Online – provides thorough coverage of eight civilisations, including ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome and medieval Europe. Features include biographies, events and topics, primary sources, timelines, maps and charts, videos and images plus much more.

Facts on File – Science Online – covers a broad range of topics from subjects including Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Space and Astronomy and more, and features resources such as experiments, biographies, timelines, videos, diagrams to name just a few.

Give them a try and let us know what you think!

Ever wondered what the world’s oldest book is?

I’m not talking about the Epic of Gilgamesh which arguably the oldest known piece of literature, but the oldest actual physical book.  I’ve recently discovered the oldest known book is on display in the Bulgarian National Museum of History in Sophia.


Discovered during road construction near the Struma River, the text is in the lost Etruscan language on 6 pages of 24 carat gold sheet.  The book has been dated to approximately 500 BC.

The Etruscans were the original inhabitants of northern Italy prior to Roman assimilation and eradication. I’m not surprised the Romans sought to aquire their land and civilisation if they’re making books out of 24 carat gold.