I can’t believe I have to say this, but Nazis are bad.
Bad before World War II. Bad during. Still bad now.
The worst kind of bad.
There are no “very fine people” among them.
If you disagree, you won’t like my writing. Also, fuck you.
Still here? Cool. I’m James Fell, the “Sweary Historian.” Because history is fucking awesome. On April 18, 2020, I began a social media column titled “On This Day in History, Shit Went Down,” and exactly one year later I published a book under the same name, filled with 366 profanity-filled tales of historical shit going down. As I begin Year Two of the daily column, they’ll all be published here, free for everyone.
What kind of shit going down? A description:
Mae West was sent to jail for “corrupting the morals of youth” with her first Broadway play. When participation in the Hitler Youth became mandatory in Germany, groups of teen “pirates” rebelled. Muhammad Ali refused to “drop bombs and bullets on brown people” in Vietnam. A dog sled relay carried life-saving medicine 674 miles through –50 temperatures to rescue children dying from diphtheria. The Dionne Quintuplets were stolen by the Canadian government and displayed like zoo animals for profit. Indian princess Noor Inayat Khan was one of the most successful spies against the Nazis in World War II. A children’s television show called Caillou tortured parents for more than a decade . . .
Fucking Caillou. I loathe that sniveling little shitnugget. More description:
Shit goes down every single day of the year, year after year. Sometimes it’s a battle that changes the course of history, other times it’s a life-saving medical advancement. Bravery is counter-balanced with cowardice. There is slavery and there is self-sacrifice. History is replete with deeds both noble and despicable. Some were motivated by greed, others generosity. Many dedicated themselves to the art of killing, while others focused their efforts on curing. There have been grave mistakes and moments of greatness. Confrontation and cooperation.
Early in the twentieth century Spanish philosopher George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” But history serves not just as a warning; it also offers encouragement. Humanity is not endless suck. There is inspiration to be found amidst the atrocities.
Perhaps those who cannot remember the past just needed a history teacher who said “fuck” a lot.
Fucking Pay Me (please)
So that’s all free, every day, for everyone. But what do you get if you fork over your hard-earned $5 a month (or go fucking nuts and get an annual subscription thereby saving 10%)?
First off, you help keep the daily column free for everyone and I get to buy food. It’s like, altruistic and shit. In the first month after I launched the daily column, it had a million views. Before long, it was getting five million views a month. You’re helping to educate millions of people through a wide variety of world history stories (so we don’t repeat the awful shit quite so much) while spreading my unapologetic liberal biases about how Nazis fucking suck, racism and sexism are bad, vaccines are good, and dogs are the best.
You also get exclusive, subscriber-only stuff.
You get instant access to a lot of already published content dating back to November 2020, including my 1996 master’s thesis about the CIA being murderous dicks by overthrowing democratically elected governments in Latin America.
Behind the subscriber curtain, you’ll also see stuff other than history. You’ll find sometimes vulnerable, sometimes hilarious stories I am often afraid to post publicly. In one of my public history posts about the story of the Virgin Mary I wrote “I guess you can’t create a god by lots of grunting and sweating and spurting of DNA and only one person having an orgasm.” After reading that, you might wonder what kind of shit I am afraid to post publicly. You’ll have to subscribe to find out.
Some of it is deeply personal, like when I was 15 and found a dead body while riding my dirt bike. Sometimes it comes with a content warning, such as sexcapades that led to an ambulance ride. Sometimes I watch a movie that is such a fucktacular shitnado of ass I’m compelled to go on a tirade about the levels of suckage it achieved. Sometimes it’s a longer analysis of history that doesn’t fit for the daily column, and other times it’s political analyses regarding the latest assholery of our elected officials. Sometimes I can’t decide which history story to choose for a specific day and write a bonus piece for subscribers only. Occasionally it’s writing about writing. I’m also back to writing about fitness, because I was a respected fitness writer for many years and I understand some people miss it, and I miss it just a little bit, too.
Sometimes there is video. People have been bugging me for years to do video. Fine. I’m doing fucking video. But if you want to watch it, you gotta pay. I’ve also decided that for Year 2 of the “Shit Went Down” column, beginning April 18, 2021, that I’ll be recording audio versions for each post if you’d rather listen to me yammer about them rather than read them. That also requires payment. Because food.
And soon, I’m going to do something I’m rather nervous about.
One of my “On This Day in History” posts was a huge hit. Well, lots of them have been hits. But with this one numerous people said, “Why have I never heard of this person before?” and “I want more of their story!” and “This needs to be a Netflix show.” And since I love reading historical fiction, I’m beginning work on a trilogy of novels based on that piece. And as I write them, I’ll be teasing out the chapters here for subscribers. The books take place before the word “fuck” was invented, but I’ll be including that word anyway. Because fuck it.
Your History Guide
I didn’t always write about history. I completed a master’s degree in history in 1996, but rather than going on to a PhD I decided to get an MBA and work for The Man for a while. Later, I got into writing about health and fitness, authoring popular columns for the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune and being featured in many other major publications. I was a body-positive kind of fitness writer, not the fat-shaming-alpha-douche-bro kind. I’ve had books published internationally by Random House, St. Martin’s Press, and Harper Collins, and appeared on radio and TV hundreds of times as a fitness and motivation expert. I’ve also interviewed many celebrities. Hugh Jackman is just as wonderful as you imagine he is, and Lena Headey is hilarious and swears more than I do.
Anyway, that Covid shit hit, and the accompanying sense of mortality had me pondering my life choices. Rather than buy a little red Corvette, I decided to return to my original writing love, and people seemed to like it. In an instant, I transformed from fitness/motivation guy to history guy and I like history way more and holy shit it actually pays better so I’m sticking with it.