History Lectures with Ray Callahan

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How Did We Get Into This Mess? — The Lessons of Disaster
Ray Callahan, Ph.D., UD professor emeritus of history


           An expert on military history, UD's Ray Callahan will present a five-part lecture reflecting on the lessons of disaster through case studies of historic military defeats and catastrophes.


"How did we get into this mess?" How many times has that question been posed? And how many times have postmortems on disasters told us that the knowledge to avert them was there—but went unheeded.


Over the course of several weeks this fall, we will be looking at several cases where the information needed to avert disaster was abundant, but brushed aside. Why? When examined closely, the pattern that emerges underscores the importance of the greatest variable found in the historical record: the human factor. We blunder into disaster not because it is unavoidable but, all too often, because we are sure it can’t happen to us.


The illustrative cases will range from Britain’s failure to defeat its American colonists, to the East India Company’s 1839 exercise in “regime change” in Afghanistan (the Afghans allowed one man of the company’s 19,000-man army to escape), to World War I, an embarrassment of riches where disaster is concerned. We will finish with the colossal political and military catastrophe of 1940 that shaped the rest of the 20th century.


           This series is part of the Friday Lecture Series at the University of Delaware’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), free and open to the public for adults of all ages. There is no OLLI membership or age requirement to attend.


RSVP requested!

Friday, November 8, 2019 at 12:30pm to 1:45pm

Arsht Hall
2700 Pennsylvania Avenue, Wilmington, DE

Event Type

Community, Lectures and Programs, Special Events



Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), Osher Lifelong Learning-Wilm


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