10 Historic Events Crazier Than Movies

10 Historic Events Crazier Than Movies

Khalid Elhassan - May 27, 2018

When watching movies, we have to willingly suspend disbelief, at least to some extent, in order to enjoy the film. However, a common criticism of many movies is that their plots are just too unrealistic and farfetched. Sometimes, though, real life offers up actual events that are just as ridiculous and seemingly farfetched as any tacky B-movie.

Following are ten real life stories that could make for a crazy movie plot.

Returning WW2 Veterans Rose in Armed Rebellion Against a Corrupt Southern Sheriff in 1946

When WW2 ended, most American veterans were welcomed back with parades or at least the warm embrace of a grateful nation. Not so, the veterans of Athens, Tennessee, who returned to the nightmare of a corrupt local Sheriff. However, having just finished kicking the behind of tyrannies overseas, they were not about to submit to tyranny at home: so they took up arms and went to war.

Athens was the seat of McMinn County, TN, which had fallen into the clutches of a dirty political machine, venal even by the then-prevailing standards of southern local governments. The Sheriff’s income depended on the number of prisoners in his jail, so he engaged in predatory policing to keep his jail full. People were routinely victimized by overbearing deputies, looking for any excuse to throw somebody in jail. If they were unable to find something, the Sheriff and his deputies would simply beat up a victim, then toss him in jail for “resisting arrest”.

Complaints were unavailing, as local officials and the local judge were just as dirty. The entire government machinery was on the take, getting a cut from various illicit activities, from moonshine stills to misappropriation of public funds. And presiding over it all was the Sheriff, who turned a blind eye to official corruptions, and acted as enforcer to intimidate dissenters.

10 Historic Events Crazier Than Movies
‘Battle of Athens’. New York Times

Things got worse during the war: with nearly the entire fit male population in uniform and away, the Sheriff’s deputies had a free run of the local females. As they endured the depredations, “wait ’til the boys get back!” became a mantra amongst the locals. As the vets drifted back home, the determined to change things. So they formed “The GI Nonpartisan Party” to contest the elections scheduled for August 2nd, 1946. With all county offices on the line, especially that of Sheriff, the stakes were high. The veterans were confident of victory. The incumbents were equally confident: who counts the votes matters more than who votes, so all they had to do was control the ballot boxes.

Thus, the election hinged on the poll watchers: Sheriff’s deputies for the incumbents, and veterans for the challengers. Trouble began when a black man tried to vote at an Athens precinct, only for deputies to shoot him on the spot. They then shut down the voting precinct, and held the veterans’ poll watchers captive. Soon, the Sheriff and other deputies arrived, sirens blazing, to seize the ballot boxes and move them to the jail. Word then spread throughout the county that voting was to be cancelled, and all ballot boxes were to be taken to the jail.

Suddenly, it was put up or shut up time, as the Sheriff and about 200 deputized henchmen barricaded themselves with the ballot boxes in the fortress-like county jail. The veterans decided to put up. About 45 seized the local armory and the weapons therein, and headed to the jail for a showdown. Although heavily outnumbered, the veterans had the advantage of military training, and many had recent combat experience. So they seized the tactical advantage by seizing a ridge overlooking the jail. When night fell, gunfire suddenly erupted from the jail, and what came to be known as “The Battle of Athens” ensued.

The violence escalated when a veteran blew up the jail’s front with dynamite. That was when the goons inside realized that they were faced with a level of violence that their years of bullying defenseless civilians had not prepared them for. White flags were stuck out of the jail’s windows, and the corrupt officials and their henchmen surrendered. The ballot boxes were recaptured, and by sunrise the following morning, they had been counted: The GI Nonpartisan Party won in a landslide.

10 Historic Events Crazier Than Movies
Harvey Casino bomb going off. Tahoe Daily Tribune

A Desperate Gambler Held a Casino Hostage With a Bomb

The bombing of Harvey’s Resort Hotel and Casino in Stateline, Nevada, was one of the craziest cases ever handled by FBI agents. It began on the morning of August 26th, 1980, when men in white jumpsuits pretending to deliver a copying machine, rolled a big bomb into the hotel, deposited it in the middle of the employee lounge, and left.

Sometime later, an employee noticed a note attached to the delivery. It read in part: “STERN WARNING TO THE MANAGEMENT AND BOMB SQUAD: Do not move or tilt this bomb, because the mechanism controlling the detonators in it will set it off at a movement of less than .01 of the open end Richter scale. … Do not try to take it apart. The flathead screws are also attached to triggers, and as much as 1/4 to 3/4 of a turn will cause an explosion“. It went on to add that for $3 million in used $100 bills, delivered via helicopter, the bomb maker will provide a combination of switches that will allow the bomb to removed for a remote detonation.

The FBI’s bomb squad used X-rays to examine the mechanism’s inner workings. It consisted of two steel boxes containing 1000 pounds of dynamite, perfectly balanced and leveled above trigger mechanisms. It was an extremely complicated and sophisticated piece of machinery, unlike anything that explosives disposal experts had ever seen before. The bomb squad concluded that the device could not be safely removed, and had to be dismantled at the hotel. After studying the machinery for 30 hours, a C4 explosive shaped charge was used in an attempt to disarm the bomb, but failed. The explosives went off, creating a five story crater in the hotel.

The blackmailer was John Birges, a Hungarian immigrant who had flown for the Luftwaffe during WW2. He built a successful landscaping business, opened a few restaurants, and became a millionaire. However, he then wrecked himself with a gambling addiction, losing about $750,000 (equivalent to about $2.2 million in 2018) at Harvey’s alone. With his businesses on the verge of bankruptcy, Birges decided to recoup his losses by extorting $3 million from the casino ($8.9 million today). So he enlisted his two sons, and another two accomplices, and set his extortion plan in motion.

While much of the plan, particularly the bomb design, was genius, Birges was no criminal mastermind, and sloppiness proved his undoing. Among other things, he used his own van to deliver the bomb. An alert clerk at a nearby hotel had jotted down the license plate, and that put investigators on to Birges. His choice of accomplices was even worse: one of his own sons blabbed to a girlfriend that his father had placed a bomb at Harvey’s. He then broke up with her, and she contacted the FBI after learning of a reward for information about the bombing. When confronted, Birges’ sons snitched on their father and agreed to testify against him. Birges was arrested, convicted, and got life in prison without parole. He died behind bars in 1996.

10 Historic Events Crazier Than Movies
Mitsuyasu Maeno before his final flight. Hikalu Clarke

Lockheed Bribery Scandal Leads Japanese Porn Actor to Kamikaze Dive His Airplane Into Yakuza Boss’ Home

American aerospace company Lockheed had a problem when its F-104 “Starfighter” went into production starting in the late 1950s. The supersonic interceptor airplane, whose thin fuselage made it look like a pencil with wings, was as advanced as fighter jets got in those days. However, for all its sleekness, futuristic look, and cutting edge technology, the F-104 was actually a poorly designed airplane that was dangerous to fly because of a tendency to spin out of control.

Lockheed had staked its future on the F-104, and if the airplane didn’t sell, the company could go bankrupt. With the stakes that high, Lockheed’s executives hit upon a simple solution to guarantee sales for their winged deathtrap: bribe officials in charge of defense contracting into buying Starfighters. Thus was born the “Lockheed Bribery Scandal”. Company agents fanned out across the world, spending millions to bribe foreign government officials into buying the problematic F-104 fighters and other Lockheed aircraft. West Germany alone bought almost a thousand F-104s, of which about 300 crashed, killing 116 pilots.

Details of the bribery scheme emerged in the 1970s, and caused political firestorms around the world. Governments in West Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, and other countries, were shaken when it was revealed that their officials had been bribed into buying Starfighters. The ensuing scandal in Japan, however, took an exceptionally bizarre turn, with a porn actor demonstrating his displeasure by flying his airplane in a kamikaze dive into the home of a Yakuza boss involved in the bribery.

Lockheed had bribed Yoshio Kodama, a former Japanese war criminal who became a Yakuza boss after his release from an Allied prison in 1948, as a “consultant”, to broker bribes for Japanese government officials. Through Kodama, Lockheed funneled millions to Japanese government officials, including about $3 million in bribes to the office of a Japanese Prime Minister, Kakuei Tanaka. Millions more were paid out to Japanese defense officials. As a result, the Japanese government cancelled purchase orders for military aircraft from Lockheed’s rivals, and inked deals to buy Lockheed airplanes instead.

When the news hit in Japan, it hit like a bombshell. As the scandal gripped the nation, angry protesters picketed the offices and homes of those involved. On March 23rd, 1976, throngs of news reporters covered protesters surrounding shadowy crime boss Kodama’s mansion in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward, amidst a heavy police presence. While that was going on, a porn actor named Mitsuyasu Maeno took off from nearby Chofu airport in his Piper Cherokee airplane, determined to fly the first Japanese kamikaze mission in over three decades. His target: Yoshio Kodama’s home.

Maeno circled the Setagaya Ward, and after sending a final radio message, “Long live the Emperor! Banzai!“, the 29 year old porn actor piloted his airplane into Kodama’s home, slamming into the second floor of the mansion. Maeno was instantly killed, his body mangled in the crash and burned in the ensuing fire. Two of Kodama’s household staff were also injured. The targeted Yakuza boss was more fortunate, however: he was recovering from a stroke in another part of the mansion, and escaped unharmed.


10 Historic Events Crazier Than Movies
President John F. Kennedy and Curtis LeMay. Politico

Curtis LeMay Was a Real Life Version of the Warmonger General From ‘Dr. Strangelove’

A stock character in quite a few action movies and television series is the rigid general, stick firmly stuck up his rear, whose advice in any crisis scene is a massive use of force that is bound to worsen the situation. US Air Force general Curtis LeMay (1906 – 1990) was that stock character in real life. Indeed, that stock character is actually based on LeMay.

LeMay did not start out that way. During WW2, he was a creative Eighth Air Force bomber group commander who came up with innovative tactics that reduced losses and increased bombing efficiency. They soon became standard throughout the entire Eighth Air Force. That earned him recognition and promotion, and in 1944 LeMay was sent to take command of 20th Bomber Command in China, then of 21st Bomber Command in the Pacific.

The bombing campaign against Japan had been in trouble. The B-29 Super Fortress heavy bombers deployed were designed for high altitude bombing, but a fast moving jet stream over Japan often scattered the bombs. LeMay changed the tactics. By 1945, Japanese air power was negligible, so he stripped his B-29s of defensive weapons in order to maximize bombload, and sent them on low level raids. He also switched bombs. Instead of the high explosives suitable for European cities of brick and concrete, LeMay’s B-29s dropped incendiaries that were more effective against Japanese cities, whose buildings were mostly wooden. The result was the incineration of Japanese cities and the devastation of Japan, without a corresponding devastation of B-29 squadrons.

After the war, LeMay again showed his innovativeness by organizing the Berlin Airlift in 1948. Fresh off that success, he returned to the US to head the Strategic Air Command (SAC) – America’s nuclear bomb carrying bombers. He ran SAC from 1948 to 1957, and transformed it from a ragtag entity into a finely tuned machine on a sustained 24 hour standby, capable of delivering armageddon at a moment’s notice.

It was during his years at SAC that LeMay’s mind ossified. Used to playing with big hammers for so long, he came to see all problems as big nails. That became manifestly evident during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, by which time LeMay had risen to Air Force Chief of Staff. When the crisis erupted, LeMay pushed President Kennedy to adopt a course of action that would have guaranteed WW3, starting with bombing the Russian missile sites, followed by an all out invasion. He likened Kennedy’s reluctance to trigger a nuclear holocaust to Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement at Munich. Luckily for the world, JFK declined to follow LeMay’s advice, and negotiated a way out of the crisis instead. Even after the crisis was over, LeMay still urged that Cuba be invaded.

After retiring from the Air Force, LeMay went into extreme far right politics, and joined segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace as running mate in his 1968 presidential bid. He managed to come off as too extreme even for George Wallace, who came to see the former general as a liability after he made tone deaf comments about nuking rivals into the stone age. After the campaign, LeMay retired to California, where he died of a heart attack in 1990.

10 Historic Events Crazier Than Movies
League of Blood defendants awaiting trial. Wikimedia

A Japanese Secret Group Called ‘The League of Blood’ Tried to Remake Japan Via a Murder Campaign

In the years preceding WW2, Japan was caught in a vice between an urge to preserve its heritage, and the need to modernize lest it succumb to Western imperialism, as most of the rest of Asia had already done. A volatile mix of nationalism and militarism took an already touchy situation and made it worse, ultimately leading to the decision to attack Pearl Harbor. En route, there was plenty of craziness, such as “The League of Blood” – a violent ultranationalist organization, resembling HYDRA from the GI-Joe fictional universal, that sought to change Japan via murder.

The League of Blood was headed by a crackpot Buddhist preacher named Nissho Inoue, who experienced some mystical visions in the 1920s while wandering around China. That left him convinced that he had been chosen as Japan’s savior, and that the country needed a spiritual rebirth. So he returned to Japan and opened a school that pushed an agrarian philosophy that advocated the superiority of farmers over workers, and rural life over urban. Nissho slowly began radicalizing his students, and within a few years, his school had morphed into a training center for ultranationalists pining to make Japan great again, by returning to the Japan of centuries past.

In 1932, Nissho concluded that the best way to reform Japan would be via a campaign of assassinations, whose ultimate aim was to dismantle the secular government, and restore supreme power to the Japanese emperor. So Nissho and his disciples drew up a list of 20 liberal politicians and rich industrialists – pro Western types whom they viewed as evil obstacles, standing in the way of the nationalist rebirth of Japan. Then, with the slogan “one person, one kill“, the League of Blood killers fanned out to remake Japan.

Nissho’s disciples killed a former Finance Minister in February of 1932, and a wealthy industrialist the following month. Nissho turned himself in to the police, who treated him with respect as a “patriot”. In May of 1932, Japanese Navy officers associated wtih the League of Blood assassinated the Prime Minister, Inukaye Tsuyoshi. In a sign of Japan’s weakening democracy, many sympathized with the killers, and all got off with light sentences. Nissho was sentenced to prison in 1934, but was released in an amnesty in 1940, and spent the rest of his life a free man until his death in 1967.

10 Historic Events Crazier Than Movies
Davy Crockett. Wikimedia

The US Army Once Deployed Thousands of Big Bazookas With a Nuclear Warhead

In the early days of the Cold War, atomic weapons were all the rage, and people had not yet thought through the implications of their use. In that atmosphere, the powers that be in the Pentagon decided to make nukes readily accessible to lower levels of command. The result was the Davy Crockett Weapon System, a smoothbore recoilless rifle developed in the 1950s, that looked like a Bazooka on a tripod, or a big Russian RPG with a fat rocket on its nose. The M-28 version could propel a tactical nuke to a distance of a mile and a quarter, while a later M-29 version doubled that to two and a half miles. Over 2000 Davy Crockett systems were deployed with US ground forces in West Germany and Korea from 1961 to 1971.

Setting aside the recklessness inherent in deploying such weapons at lower levels of the chain of command, the Crocketts had some serious defects. They were quite inaccurate – although pinpoint accuracy was not that important, considering the warhead. The Davy Crockett’s deadliness stemmed more from its radioactivity than its explosive yield, which was pretty small by atomic standards, equivalent to about 20 tons of TNT. However, that small atomic explosion was enough to produce an instantly lethal dose of radiation within a 500 foot radius, and an incapacitating and likely fatal dose up to a quarter mile away. That made the Davy Crockett more of a radiation dispenser than a smart bomb.

On top of the hazards of long term contamination, the weapon was dangerous to its own users. The M-28 version of the weapon had a maximum range of a mile and a quarter, while the M-29 version topped out at two and a half miles. As a result, the firing team, and other NATO personnel in the vicinity, could easily fall victim to radiation from their own side’s tactical nuclear warhead.

However, the greatest risk of the Davy Crockett was the fact that it was deployed at all. And deployed at very low levels of chain of command. In practice, the Davy Crocketts were under the physical control of three soldiers roaming the battlefield in a Jeep. In theory, the Crockett team needed authority from higher command to fire the weapon. In practice, given the chaos and fog of war, it is not difficult to imagine a variety of scenarios in which some lowly lieutenant, cut off from contact with higher HQ, fires off one or more nukes to save himself and his comrades from annihilation. Shockingly, it took a decade before somebody figured out that that it might be unwise to give a lieutenant, a sergeant, and a corporal, the means to unilaterally fire the opening shot in what might quickly escalate into a global nuclear holocaust.

At least the Pentagon had been wise enough not to hand out Davy Crocketts to the West Germans, who were quite eager to deploy them with their ground forces. They were turned down because the way they proposed to incorporate the weapon into their defensive strategy would have made its use nearly automatic as soon as war began.

10 Historic Events Crazier Than Movies
The martyrdom of Saint Lawrence. The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Patron Saint of Comedians Cracked Jokes While Getting Roasted

Saint Lawrence (225 – 258) was one of seven deacons appointed by the pope in Rome, entrusted with safeguarding church goods and properties, and placed in charge of distributing alms to the poor. The patron saint of comedians, cooks, and firefighters, he was martyred during a wave of Christian persecutions ordered by the Roman Emperor Valerian.

Lawrence was born in Valencia, in the Roman province of Hispania. As a young man, he travelled to Zaragoza, and there he met the future Pope Sixtus II, a famous and highly esteemed teacher in the third century Church. Sixtus became Lawrence’s mentor, and took him along when he left Hispania for Rome. In 257, Sixtus became Pope, and he appointed his young protege archdeacon, or first of the Church’s then seven deacons.

A persecution of Christians was ordered in 258 by Emperor Valerian, who issued a decree that all bishops, priests, and deacons, be put to death. When his mentor and patron, Pope Sixtus II, was arrested and condemned to death, a weeping Lawrence followed him to the execution site, crying: “father, where are you going without your deacon?” Sixtus reportedly replied: “I am not leaving you, my son – in three days you shall follow me“. While such an ominous prediction might have terrified others, Lawrence was cheered by the condemned man’s prophecy. He made a beeline for the Church’s coffers, and distributed their contents to the poor. He also began selling what Church assets he could in order to give even more to the needy.

When a Roman prefect heard what Lawrence was doing, he concluded that the Church must have a fortune stashed away, and so ordered Lawrence to bring him the Church’s treasure. Lawrence promised to do so in three days, then gathered Rome’s poor and sick, and returning with that destitute throng on the appointed day, informed the prefect that they were the Church’s treasure. Incensed, the prefect condemned Lawrence to a prolonged death, and ordered him secured to an iron grill and placed over a slow fire. Lawrence, burning with religious zeal even as he burned, seemed impervious to the pain, and even joked at some point “turn me over, I think I am done on this side” – explaining why he became the patron saint of comedians.

10 Historic Events Crazier Than Movies
A lantern shield. Pintrest

Duelists in Renaissance Italy Often Ran the Risk of Turning Themselves Into Human Torches

Back in the days of Romeo and Juliet, swaggering swordsmen in Renaissance Italy went to great lengths to gain an edge, frequently resorting to fancy equipment to do so. Sometimes the nifty gizmos worked, and sometimes they backfired. Sometimes they backfired literally, as in the case of lantern shields – small round bucklers to which a lantern was attached. They became all the rage in dueling circles, and a variety of techniques for putting them to best use were described in the day’s dueling manuals.

As seen in the above photo, the shields were designed with a lantern attached to their rear, on the wielder’s side. The shield’s front had a hole cut into it, covered by a flap to conceal the lantern’s light. When the user wanted to, he would pull on a string to remove the flap, and the sudden light would, in theory, blind his adversary or otherwise impair his night vision. Some of the more sophisticated lantern shields also had a mechanism for dimming or brightening the intensity of the lamp’s light.

Lantern shields looked cool and stylish, and gave their users an aura of elegance, urbane classiness, and refinement, in addition to the literal aural of light. However, lanterns back then were oil lamps. That was a serious design defect in lantern shields, in that they literally mixed oil and fire, strapped to the user’s arm and in close proximity to his upper body and face.

Today, flashlights use batteries for stored fuel. Then, lantern shields used oil in a storage compartment. That was a drawback when the lantern was shaken, as it could not help doing seeing as it was attached to a shield that absorbed blows when used defensively, or delivered them when used offensively to bash opponents. As a result, oil could easily leak or spill out of the lantern. Since it was attached to the shield, which was affixed to the user’s arm and in close proximity to his torso, the user’s shield-bearing arm, face, or body, would get drenched in flammable oil. And the flame was right there, in the lantern. As a result, lantern shield users ran a serious risk of getting turned into human torches whenever they put their fancy gizmo to actual use.

10 Historic Events Crazier Than Movies
Alfred Redl. Wikimedia

The Austro-Hungarian Empire’s Chief Spy Catcher Was a Spy

The Austro-Hungarian Empire’s chief of counterintelligence from 1900 to 1912 was Alfred Redl (1864 – 1913), an army officer in charge of tracking down and rooting out traitors and spies. Unbeknownst to his bosses, however, Redl was himself a traitor. He betrayed his country and sold its secrets to its main rival and likeliest future enemy, Russia, whose chief spy in the Austro-Hungarian Empire he became. He also spied for both the Italians and French in exchange for money.

Redl was born into a poor family, the son of a railway clerk, in Austria Hungary’s Galician province – part of today’s Ukraine. Wealth and family connections were the usual prerequisites back then for joining the Austro-Hungarian Army’s officer ranks. However, Redl had been precocious from an early age and was highly intelligent, which enabled him to secure a commission.

Redl had a gift for languages, and his fluency in Russian got him assigned to Army Intelligence. There, he impressed its chief, a General von Geisl, who adopted Redl as his protege. Geisl promoted Redl in 1900 and made him his deputy, placing him in charge of counterintelligence. Redl quickly gained a reputation for innovation in what had been a disorganized and backwards branch. He streamlined the system, and introduced new technologies such as the use of recording devices and cameras.

However, Redl had a serious problem: he was gay, in an era when homosexuality was a taboo that could ruin a person’s social standing and career prospects. Russian intelligence learned of Redl’s homosexuality, set out to entrap him, and captured him on camera committing homosexual acts. They used the photos to blackmail him into turning traitor, and sweetened the extortion by offering him money in exchange for secrets. Redl accepted, and in his first major act of treason, he gave the Russians Austria-Hungary’s war plans in 1902. When word reached the Austrians that the Russians had a copy of their war plans, General von Geisl tasked Redl with finding the traitor.

Redl covered his tracks by unmasking minor Russian agents, who were fed to him by his spymasters, and by framing innocent Austro-Hungarian officers with falsified evidence. That burnished his reputation within the Austro-Hungarian establishment as a brilliant head of counterintelligence. Over the next 11 years, Redl sold the Russians Austro-Hungarian mobilization plans, army orders, ciphers, codes, maps, reports on road and rail conditions, and other secrets.

His treasonous career finally came to an end because his handlers got sloppy. In 1912, Redl’s mentor, von Geisl, was promoted to head an army corps, and he took Redl with him as his chief of staff. Postal censors working for Redl’s successor in counterintelligence intercepted envelopes stuffed with cash and nothing else. However, they had registration receipts tracing back to addresses abroad that were known to be used by Russian and French intelligence. A sting operation was set up, and the envelopes were delivered under surveillance. Redl showed up to claim them, and was arrested. After confessing to treason, he requested that he be left alone with a revolver. His request was granted, and after writing brief letters to his brother and to von Geisl, Redl shot himself in the head.

10 Historic Events Crazier Than Movies
Lord Byron. Government Art Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

England’s Greatest Romantic Poet Was Into Incest With His Sister

One of Britain’s greatest poets was George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron (1788 – 1824). A prominent figure in the Romantic Movement, Byron became famous for his brilliant use of the English language. He also became famous, or infamous, for his lifestyle. The aristocratic poet shocked contemporaries with his flamboyance, sexually deviant practices, the notoriety of his romantic liaisons with members of both sexes, and incest with his sister.

Of Byron’s numerous affairs, his most famous was with the married Lady Caroline Lamb. She rejected him at first, describing him as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know“. She eventually had a change of heart, however, and had a torrid affair with the poet that scandalized Britain. When Byron dumped her, a besotted Lady Lamb became a stalker, and pursued him relentlessly. She stopped at his house one time too many, and scribbled in a book on his desk “Remember me”. The exasperated Byron responded as only a poet could, with a poem entitled Remember Thee! Remember Thee!

Remember thee! remember thee!
Till Lethe quench life’s burning stream
Remorse and shame shall cling to thee,
And haunt thee like a feverish dream!

Remember thee! Aye, doubt it not.
Thy husband too shall think of thee:
By neither shalt thou be forgot,
Thou false to him, thou fiend to me!

However, the affair with Lady Lamb was not Byron’s most controversial. Even more scandalous was an incestuous affair with his own sister, Augusta Leigh. Raised separately, Byron had seen little of his sister during childhood. The siblings more than made up for it in adulthood, forming an extremely close relationship. In 1814, the incestuous affair produced a daughter, an illegitimate child on multiple levels, for whom the poet was both uncle and father.

Befitting for a major figure of the Romantic Movement, Byron was the sentimental type, and he liked to keep mementos of his lovers. Back then, such mementos were usually a lock of hair from one’s beloved, tied with a ribbon. But that was for normal people. For Byron, being Britain’s most flamboyant poet, eccentric aristocrat, and all around pervert, a simple lock of hair tied with a ribbon would simply not do. Instead, he snipped pubic hair from his lovers’ crotches, and kept them, catalogued and labeled, in envelopes at his publishing house.

Mounting scandals eventually made Britain too hot for Bryon. So he hit the road, and started roaming Europe for years at a stretch, including a seven year stint in Italy. Restlessness eventually led him to join the Greeks in their war of independence from the Ottoman Turks. However, he was disappointed with the Greeks of his day, because they differed greatly from the heroic Hellenes described by Homer. While moping about that discrepancy, he caught a fever and died in a Greek backwater at the age of 36.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Sources & Further Reading

Army History – The M28/ M29 Davy Crockett Nuclear Weapon System

Asian Conference on Asian Studies – Buddhist Terrorism?

Atomic Heritage Foundation – Curtis LeMay

Coggins, Allen R. – Tennessee Tragedies: Natural, Technological, and Societal Disasters in the Volunteer State (2012)

Cracked – Real Life Stories Way Crazier Than Any Movie

Cracked – 6 Flat Out Crazy Conspiracy Theories That Really Happened

Encyclopedia Britannica – Saint Lawrence, Christian Saint

FBI Archives – A Byte Out of History: The Case of the Harvey’s Casino Bomb

Guardian, The, June 8th, 2007 – The Lockheed Scandal

Huffman, James L., Editor – Modern Japan: An Encyclopedia of History, Culture, and Nationalism (1997)

New York Times, October 13th, 1985 – Colonel Redl: The Man Behind the Screen Myth

Wikipedia – Mitsuyasu Maeno