Ion Grumeza

Author, historian, educator, and philosopher


1810 – Napoleon’s Peaceful Year in Paris

Paris after the turn of the 19th century was the unofficial capital of Europe. Under Napoleon I who had reached his military and political zenith, France was a global power. On a personal level, the self-proclaimed Emperor could not be happier: he had just divorced Josephine who could not deliver an heir to the throne, and married Marie-Louise of Austria, to gain royal legitimacy for his future dynasty. Napoleon had defeated Austria one year before and he felt entitled to take ownership of it. It turned out that he was conquered by the beauty and charm of the eighteen year-old Archduchess.

AK-47 Versus MP44

When remembering the dead, we should focus on their good deeds. But in the case of general-lieutenant Mikhail Kalashnikov, who just died at the age 94, the “creator” of the famous, or rather infamous, AK-47 automatic rifle, and a few other things could have been mentioned in the New York Times obituary of 24 December 2013. Indeed, a number of important facts deserve to be clarified.

Regarding “Eisenhower Under Fire 1944-45” , Armchair General Magazine cover story by Jerry D. Morelock, December 2013-January 2014

This article is well written and well substantiated with reliable facts and comments that show the friction between General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe in WWII, and the British senior officers, who traditionally looked down on the Americans, regardless of their military merits. Additionally, General Patton was in their way, especially when he was the first to enter liberated German cities, ahead of cocky British Field-Marshal Montgomery, who was the one who did the actual fighting but was outwitted and deprived of the honors he deserved.

Ten facts that supplement Armchair General Magazine article “Hitler Takes Command” by Nick Shepley

In my book, Admiring the Goose-steps: How Hitler Succeeded in Intimidating the World Powers (Hamilton Books, 2007), I described how Hitler rebuilt the German Army and took command of it. The article by Nick Shepley included important explanations of how Hitler commanded his armies into an unprecedented military defeat. As I did with the article about the Blue Division, I would like to share some additional trivia that further illuminates this often-debated subject.

Culinary Macho Reflections

During a recent trip to Rome I experienced the effects of the well renowned Latin machismo in an unlikely place, a peaceful and elegant restaurant. It was a unique encounter with a restaurant group formed of a captain, greeter, wine steward, waiters, bus boys and other stylish servers; all were tall with broad shoulders, tiny waistlines, curly dark hair brushing their foreheads, bright smiles under eagle noses, and penetrating black eyes. Each had a superior attitude, eager to put his virility in full display.

The Healer

What happened to my friend is so powerful and unusual that I believe it deserves to be known by all my readers. It proves how little we know about ourselves, our profession and what is around us.

My Fishpond: A Pond of Thoughts

Only after digging a small fish pond, and almost dying in the process, did I realize I was growing older and frailer. My usual optimism was impaired by thoughts I had never had before. I came to realize that none of us escape aging, but with acceptance of the mercilessness of time, we can age gracefully, and hopefully, wiser. This study in Effectology illustrates how the exhausting physical demands of manual labor triggered effects that strongly impacted on my life.

The Risk of Being a Superpower

From military and economical points of view, only a global superpower can assure a safer and more orderly world. The ancient Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans almost achieved that status. In the Middle Ages, the Spanish and the British built colonial empires, while Napoleon’s ambition was to create a modern United States of Europe. Across the ocean, the United States of America kept adding more stars to its striped flag, building a most successful capitalistic empire

The Power of Soccer

Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal have similar highly unrealistic concerns about their impending financial collapse. While their politicians exchange blows in Parliament, amused commoners bitterly talk in coffee shops and parks, on street corners and around the dinner table about unwanted changes. However, their worries about economics quickly shifts to the latest news about soccer, always at the top of their gossip list.

The Making of Empires

Today, the United States of American remains the only global power, while its military strikes are perceived by the rest of the world as purely imperialistic expansion. With fifty states united by the same flag and language, the U.S. is the only empire in history to rule on the principle of freedom and justice. Its armies occupied the aggressive Germany and Japan and forced them to write peaceful constitutions. Its GIs gallantly fought in Indo-China to stop the spread of the Communist empire, and thus, America survived the Cold War, emerging more powerful than ever. Like any global power in any time in history, the U.S. found itself in the unenviable position of policing the world, ironically including former Communist countries.

The Grexit: The Greek Exit from the Euro Zone

Everyone knows about Greece’s historical debt of over 300 billion Euros and its inability to pay it back to Western banks. According to Greece, it has been victimized by the high interest on the loans and the worldwide recession. However, by looking back one thousand years into the history of the relationship between the Byzantine Empire, led by the Orthodox Church, and Central Europe, led by the Catholic Church, one can discover an amazing similarity to today’s economic and political situation. It is basically the eternal and unsolvable conflict between Eastern and Western Europe.

The Celts and the Dacians

At the time of the Roman Empire, a large population of Celts from central Europe migrated to Dacia in Eastern Europe. They brought with them skills and traditions that continue to be evident in today’s Romania, which roughly encompasses the former lands of ancient Dacia. What follows is the history about these unlikely partners: their shared culture, the major battles they fought against Rome, the construction of Hadrian’s Wall in Britannia and Dacia, and finally, an intriguing postulation about the legend of King Arthur.

The Breaking of Empires

Because of terrorism, economic setbacks, and too many wars, we are likely to witness serious geo-political changes in the near future. One is taking place right now, due to American military strikes that will trigger loyalty shifts and affect the redistribution of natural resources, as well as the wealth of the global markets

Not Perfect, But the Best

It was 1973, and I was twenty-nine when I defected from my native Communist country and came to the United States to partake in the dream of freedom and opportunity. Like many others, I believed all Americans were rich and that soon I would have a better life. I arrived in New York City, where I pictured myself mingling with happy people and expecting to see cowboys and movie actors.

Long Live the Queen and the Olympiads

This summer in London two main events will attract the world’s attention: the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and the summer Olympic Games. British pomp and circumstance will remind the world that constitutional monarchy is alive and well, as it did celebrating Queen Victoria’s sixty years on the royal throne. While one hundred years separate the two jubilees, the biographies of the two queens have much in common: they reigned longer than other queens, married a prince in waiting, had many children, and ruled in peaceful times. From any point of view, both long lasting queens were bright, restless and adored by the world, regardless of their blunders.

Crusaders Then and Now

The American invasion Iraq (with minimal help from its allies) revolted the Arab world which viewed it as a Judeo-Christian crusade against Islam. In the summer of 2003, bin Laden addressed the Iraqi guerillas, asking Allah to “bless their sacrifices and valor in fighting the Crusaders.” And he added, “Devour the Americans just like lions devour their prey. Bury them in the Iraqi graveyard!”

A Historical Lesson in Fighting Guerillas

When Napoleon invaded Spain in 1808, he soon became aware that despite occupying Barcelona and Madrid, he had lost the peace. He also painfully learned that “guerilla” meant “little war.” Both in Spain and again, four years later in Russia, he found himself engaged not in a “real” war between soldiers in uniforms with precise front lines, but in battles with local peasants turned bitter fighters who relentlessly harassed and killed the French soldiers left behind their columns and outside their encampments.

A Study of Wonder

In today’s technologically savvy world we are inclined to talk about the “aha!” moment—as the indication that, oh, yes, that explains it, I understand it, I get it. But it is the “wow!” moments that have the power to awaken us to something bigger, something unexplainable, something beyond what we know or expect. Those “wow!” moments are the spontaneous oral expressions of what we call “wonder.”