SteynOnline celebrates its twentieth birthday this month, and we're marking the occasion by getting back in the cruise biz. No tests, no vax passports, that's all yours to choose or not; but just a week of fun on the high seas with Bo Snerdley, Eva Vlaardingerbroek (from Thursday's Steyn Show), Andrew Lawton and other Steyn favorites. More information here.
We're also celebrating by strolling back through the last two decades of the SteynOnline archives. For earlier entries, see below.
In 2017 we launched The Mark Steyn Club, enabling longtime patrons of SteynOnline to take it to the next level. Many of the features launched ad hoc in the Club's first days are still here half-a-decade later, and more popular than ever, among them our Clubland Q&A and Steyn's Sunday Poem. We will have a new edition of the former later today, and a birthday entry to the latter this weekend - because, as I always say, video poetry is where the big bucks are, especially on a twentieth anniversary.
Also launched that first week was our series of audio adventures, Tales for Our Time. Many classic - and not so classic - novels have lessons for our age, whether it be Daniel Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year for a time of contagion or George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four for the 24/7 central-control state the contagion ushered in.
The very first of our nightly capers played a big part in the finale of my book America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It: It's a novel written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, in 1897 for Strand Magazine, and published between hard covers the following year. The Tragedy of the Korosko deals with the 19th century version of Isis and al-Qaeda, the Mahdists of the Sudan, and what happens when a group of western tourists fall into their hands. The parallels are striking - but so are the differences between Conan Doyle's time and ours:
"It isn't safe to reckon upon a Dervish's fears," remarked Brown. "We must always bear in mind that they are not amenable to the same motives as other people. Many of them are anxious to meet death, and all of them are absolute, uncompromising believers in destiny. They exist as a reductio ad absurdum of all bigotry—a proof of how surely it leads towards blank barbarism."
"You think these people are a real menace to Egypt?" asked the American. "There seems from what I have heard to be some difference of opinion about it. Monsieur Fardet, for example, does not seem to think that the danger is a very pressing one."
"I am not a rich man," Colonel Cochrane answered after a little pause, "but I am prepared to lay all I am worth, that within three years of the British officers being withdrawn, the Dervishes would be upon the Mediterranean. Where would the civilisation of Egypt be..? Where the monuments which all nations look upon as most precious memorials of the past?"
"Come now, Colonel," cried Headingly, laughing, "surely you don't mean that they would shift the pyramids?"
"You cannot foretell what they would do. There is no iconoclast in the world like an extreme Mohammedan."
That was Conan Doyle over a century before the Taliban, Isis et al began cleansing their territory of any trace of pre-Islamic civilization. You couldn't write it now. Well, you could, but you wouldn't find a London or New York publisher willing to put his name to it. And, even if you did, at some literary festival in a distant town far from the turmoil of the world, an "extreme Mohammedan" would one day catch up with you.
To hear Part One, prefaced by my own introduction to the book, simply click above. If you've joined the Steyn Club since our airing of The Tragedy of the Korosko, we hope you'll enjoy getting acquainted with it. If you're not a member, feel free to have a listen to this first episode - and, if you enjoy it, we hope you'll want to join us in the Club. And, if you have a friend who enjoys classic fiction in audio, we also have a great gift membership.
Aside from Tales for Our Time, The Mark Steyn Club does come with other benefits:
~Exclusive Steyn Store member pricing on over 40 books, mugs, T-shirts, and other products;
~The chance to engage in live Clubland Q&A sessions with yours truly (such as today's);
~Transcript and audio versions of The Mark Steyn Show, Mark's Mailbox, and our other video content;
~My video series of classic poetry;
~Priority booking for the 2023 Mark Steyn Cruise to Italy, Croatia, Montenegro and Greece with Bo Snerdley, Michele Bachmann, Eva Vlaardingerbroek and other guests;
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world (assuming "live appearances" become a thing once more);
~Customized email alerts for new content in your areas of interest;
~and the opportunity to support our print, audio and video ventures as they wing their way around the planet.
To become a member of The Mark Steyn Club, please click here - and don't forget that special Gift Membership. As soon as you join, you'll get access not only to A Journal of the Plague Year but to all the other yarns gathered together at the Tales for Our Time home page.
SteynOnline: The First Twenty Years