Presentation Topic Areas
History Presentations offered by Edward E. Gordon
Presented by an inspiring expert professional speaker, author, researcher and knowledgeable historian who …
- Researches the past — His extensive historical studies challenge audiences to think about history’s lessons for today and for the future.
- Delivers powerful yet entertaining messages that engage audiences supported by meticulous research on contents.
Presentation Topic Areas:
World War II
“Divided on D-Day: New Perspectives on the Normandy Invasion”
By focusing on the points of conflicts among the principal Allied commanders, Ed Gordon offers new insights on the Normandy Invasion and the three-month campaign that followed. Drawing on research from his new book, Divided on D-Day, he explores how national and personal rivalries led to poor command decisions and missed opportunities that needlessly prolonged the Allied campaign to defeat Nazi Germany. (Click here to see the major controversies discussed in this presentation.)
“Explaining Hitler and the Third Reich”
The economic and political conditions at the time of Hitler’s rise were key to enabling him to seize the reins of power in Germany. This program will particularly focus on how Hitler, with the help of Joseph Gobbels, masterfully turned a wide variety of mass media into a propaganda machine to first win over the German people and later Nazi-occupied Europe. The monstrous Nazi criminal regime continued its domination using terror, tyranny, and lies.
“The Monuments Men & Their Mission: Recovering Europe’s Art Treasures from the Nazis”
During World War II throughout Europe the Nazi government systematically looted millions of works of art from museums and churches and from Jews and others who were deemed enemies of the Third Reich. This is the story of how the Nazis literally raped Europe of its art masterpieces and other valuables and secreted these treasures in mines, warehouses, barns, and castles across Europe. As the war was winding down, art specialists who were called “Monuments Men” were recruited by the Allies to rescue these treasures and restore them to thier rightful owners. Now 70 year later this story is far from over as artworks that were though lost are discovered and endless litigation between individuals, museums, and nations continues over them.
“The Shadow Army: European Resistance during World War II”
As the tyrannical regime of Nazi Germany spread across Europe, its savage acts of repression, hostage taking, and the persecution of Jews, labor leaders, Communists, Catholics and anyone who dared to oppose the Nazi occupation provided more than enough motivation for hundreds of thousands of people to join secret armies. Resistance forces all over Europe gathered intelligence for the Allies, established hiding places and escape routes for captured Allies and those fleeing Nazi persecution, and fomented acts of sabotage, raids, and uprisings. This program will trace how and why resistance forces grew as the war continued and how underground movements differed from country to country. It will celebrate the heroic deeds of many notable individuals who refused to surrender their countries to Adolf Hitler’s twisted regime.
“Killing Hitler: The Assassination Plots That Failed to Stop a Madman”
Between 1921 and 1945, there were about 50 alleged assassination attempts on Adolph Hitler, all of which failed. This program will review 10 of the better documented incidents, the people behind them, and why they failed including: the 1934 “Night of the Long Knives,” the 1939 Munich beer-hall bomb, and the 1944 Wolf’s Lair bomb. Hitler’s assassination fears led to the growth of the SS Lifeguard detachment from a few men to a division. In April 1945, a remnant of this force was still on duty at the Fuhrer’s Berlin bunker when Hitler finally ended his own life by shooting himself.
“The Invasion that Shook the World: France 1940”
In all the annals of history, Nazi Germany’s six-week blitzkrieg resulting in the lightning defeat of France in 1940 stands as a classic military campaign. How did Germany develop such a powerful strategic war plan and the tactical skills to accomplish in a first weeks what four bloody years had failed to achieve in the First World War — the complete rout of the Western allies? This program provides the intriguing political, economic, and military answers that added up to Germany’s greatest victory in the Second World War.
“Secrets of the Battle of Britain”
(The Air Conflict of 1940)
In June 1940 after the fall of France, the United Kingdom stood alone against Hitler’s formidable armies. Over the following summer the aerial conflict between the Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe in the skies over England became one of the key air campaigns of World War II. Britain’s great air victory helped prevent a German invasion and ultimately helped sow the seeds of defeat for Nazi Germany.
“U-Boat War: Tragedy & Redemption in the North Atlantic”
During World War II Nazi Germany’s U-boat fleet so effectively blocked fuel and supplies to Britain that the survival of this island nation was threatened. The success of the Allied war effort also heavily depended upon the capacity to ship troops and material across the Atlantic. This is the story of the people, strategy, tactics, and technology that were employed on both sides of the U-boat war. More than 2,700 ships were sunk by U-boats which costs the lives of over 35,000 British and American seamen. But by 1943 the Allies began to turn the tide against the U-boat menace through a combination of advances in convoy tactics, radar, active sonar, codebreaking, and intelligence gathering. By the end of the war, over 700 U-boat were sunk at sea and 28,000 sailors perished, resulting in the highest proportion of combat losses for any branch of the German armed forces.
“Clash of the Titans: The Russo-German Campaign of World War II”
On June 22, 1941, Adolf Hitler unleashed an army of 3 million for a blitzkrieg conquest of the Soviet Union. Over 10 million Germans and Russians would fight for four years over a 1,500 mile front stretching from the Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea. Both side deployed countless thousands of planes, tanks, and field guns in a seemingly endless conflagration on a truly epic scale. The outcome of this campaign shaped the map of Europe for the next 50 years.
“Wings over Germany”
(Allied Bombing Campaign 1939-1945)
During World War II, British and American strategic bombing of Germany produced controversial results still argued about today and some of the highest casualty rates of the war. In this program Ed Gordon tells the story of the gallant allied airmen who by laying down their lives helped to shorten the war in Europe. They also participated in testing the breakthrough aviation technology that became the foundation of modern aviation.
“From Sicily to Victory: The Italian Campaign”
Winston Churchill once referred to the Mediterranean region as the “soft underbelly of Europe” and influenced the Allies to launch the Italian Peninsular Campaign. The Allies would find to their regret that there was nothing soft about this underbelly. This program explores some of the key figures and prominent battles of this long, costly, grinding front.
“When the Desert Fox Met General Patton: The North African Campaign”
During the Second World War both Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, Germany’s Desert Fox, and Lt. General George S. Patton, Jr., “Old Blood and Guts,” established their military careers on the sands of North Africa. Set on the vast wind-swept stretches of the Sahara Desert, this is also the story of Italian dreams of empire, the British determination to turn the tide of war against Nazi Germany, and the beginning of American participation in the European theater of operations (Operation Torch).
“Empire of the Sun: Japan Triumphant”
From Korea to the shores of Australia, and westward to the central Pacific, Japan’s Rising Sun grew ever larger from the 1930s to mid-1942. This is the story of how a small nation organized for war and swept most of Asia into its “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.” Ed Gordon explores how Japan’s civilian government was thwarted by the military’s quest for the domination of Asia and describes how allied neglect of Asia resulted in early crushing defeats.
“The Rising Sun Sets: The Defeat of the Japanese Empire”
In the summer of 1942, Allied forces under Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and General Douglas MacArthur began campaigns that led to the slow implosion of the Japanese Empire in the vast expanse of the Padific ending with the epic battles on Iwo Jima and Okinawa and the A-Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Meanwhile under the leadership of British Lord Louis Mountbatten, Allied forces liberated Southeast Asia from Japanese occupation. This programs draws upon the heroic stories of individual soldiers, sailors, and airmen about how these battles led to victory.
“Fireball in the Night: The Bombing of Japan”
The April 1942 Doolittle bombing raid on Tokyo using sixteen B-24 bombers was widely publicized, but caused little damage. The key elements in the successful U.S. air campaign against Japan were the development of the B-29s which could fly up to 3,500 miles with up to 4 tons of bombs, the American capture of the Mariana Islands from which air strikes against Japan could be launched, and the air strategy of General Curtis LeMay. This program will explore the reasons for the effectiveness of the fire-bombing of Japanese cities, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the dramatic role of the Japanese Emperor in the surrender to the Allies. Never in the history of warfare would air power play such an important role in the outcome of a war.
U.S. Civil War
“Chancellorsville, High Point of the Confederacy”
(May 2-6, 1863)
In early May 1863, General Joseph Hooker led the Army of the Potomac to Chancellorsville, a remote Virginia crossroad. There he hesitated and gave Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia an opportunity to destroy the Union Army. Hooker was drawn from the field, leaving his army badly crushed and demoralized. Tragedy, however, quickly followed Stonewall Jackson’s heroic role in this Southern victory as he died from being mistakenly shot as a Union picket. Chancellorsville served to reinforce the perception of Lee’s invincibility that would culminate in a disastrous invasion of the North at Gettysburg.
“Gettysburg: Three Days that Changed America”
(July 1-3, 1863)
In a small Pennsylvania town during three days of 1863, almost 200,000 men met in battle and 50,000 were killed or wounded in what many consider the decisive battle of the American Civil War. Enlivened by his personal visits to this battlefield, Ed Gordon constructs an exciting saga woven from the triumphs and tragedies, luck, pivotal decisions, and diverse personalities of the men who fought in this epic battle.
“Vicksburg: The Key to Victory”
Ulysses S. Grant’s effort to occupy Vicksburg, Mississippi was the pivotal military campaign in the West during the U.S. Civil War. Here is the story of the strategic significance of Vicksburg, the numerous failures of the Union forces to take the town, the profiles of the opposing commanders, and the final battles and siege that resulted in the Union’s final victory on July 4, 1863.
“Sherman’s March from Chattanooga to Victory”
While Grant fought Lee in Virginia, from May 1864 to April 1865 General William T. Sherman, in an often unorthodox campaign, unleashed his forces and destroyed the heart of the Deep South. This is a story punctuated by a host of battles, including Kenesaw Mountain, Atlanta, Columbia, Savannah, and Charleston. Sherman’s much vilified March to Sea across Georgia that devastated crops and other resources helped to sap the South’s determination to continue the war.
“Grant Versus Lee as Military Commanders”
In the annals of the U.S. Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee have garnered plaudits as consummate military commanders. Grant’s successes at Vicksburg, Chattanooga and the 1864 Virginia campaign that ended the war were in themselves masterpieces in grand strategy. Almost equally, Lee’s victories at Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville established his reputation as an innovative tactician responsible for giving the South its greatest victories. In this program Ed Gordon reviews the military prowess of both commanders — their strengths, weaknesses and the final battles that pitted them against each other prior to the Appomattox surrender.
The American West
“From Mountain Men to Railroads: The Opening of the American West”
This is the intriguing story of how the fur trade, government surveys, the overland trade, and the great wagon trails forged pathways across the West often later followed by the railroads. Once the golden spike celebrating the completion of the transcontinental railroad was driven, the barriers to the settlement of the American West were breached and the Native American way of life was undermined. This is a vast story with many colorful personalities who changed the character and destiny of the United States to our own time.
“Wagon Trails West: Myth and Reality”
From the 1840s to the late 1870s, hundreds of thousands of Americans and newly arrived immigrants participated in one of the largest mass migrations in our history. Hollywood movies and television created dramatic sagas about the struggles and privations that these pioneers endured in the wagon trains traveling through the “Great America Desert”. Based on the diaries and letters of pioneer man and women, this program explores the myths and realities of their travel on the Oregon, California, and Santa Fe Trails. For about 30 years, scores of these wagon trains set out from Missouri facing rugged topography, harsh weather and many types of danger on the journey west. Only the building of the transcontinental railroad brought this odyssey to an end. Yet, their migration helped rapidly settle the American West and close our nation’s last frontier.
“The Story of the California Missions”
Across the American Southwest many early mission churches still exist. These historic sites preserve the remnants of what once was an extensive effort to solidify Spain’s colonial empire. Spain’s mission system began in the 1500s, and its last mission was built in Sonoma in 1823. Today, the 21 California mission churches remain the most extensive survivors of that era. As first conceived, the California missions were to bring the benefits of Christianity to local Native Americans. However, the mission system became a vital part of Spain’s broader colonizing plan to claim and populate its extensive New World territories. Ed Gordon has visited all the California missions and many others in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. With his additional extensive research, he explains the typical economic, educational, and social activities of daily life at the missions and then explores the historical circumstances behind their closing and revival.
History of the Roman Catholic Church
“The Holocaust, the Vatican, and Pius XII: Hitler’s Pope?”
During the Second World War Vatican City was considered a neutral country. It was the home of 40 foreign ambassadors including representatives of the United States and Great Britain. Pope Pius XII, who was elected on the eve of the war, was confronted by perhaps the greatest series of crises that the Church faced in the 20th century. This program will highlight how Pius XII and the Vatican struggled to keep the churches open and protect the Jews and other oppressed peoples of Europe from Nazi tyranny. Was Pius XII “Hitler’s Pope” or a valiant defender of human rights? Through newly released research we will relive the dramatic events inside the Vatican that had an impact across Europe and the world. (Hear Ed Gordon discuss many of the controversies included in this presentation. The discussion begins at minute 34 in the podcast.)
“The Church and State in Balance: A History of American Catholicism”
In 1565 America’s first Catholic Church opened in St. Augustine, Florida. Over 400 year later, the U.S. Catholic Church has the largest membership of all the religions in America. This is only a very recent development. The history of Catholicism in the United States is a fascinating story of missionary zeal, growth and change triggered by waves of immigrants, times of religious persecution, and the maintenance of the delicate balance between church and state across American civil society.
“The Papacy Today: Transformation and Renewal”
The voluntary retirement of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of Francis, the first Pope to choose the name of the saint from Assisi and the first Latin American to hold this office, are noteworthy events in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Francis has broken precedents and captured world attention with his informal and approachable manner and has begun initiating changes to the Curia, Vatican Bank and other parts of the Church. What can we expect to see in the immediate future and the long term? These and other issues will be presented in this far-reaching update on the contemporary Church.
“Motivational, Dynamic, Inspiring, Informative”
Superlatives like these are typical responses to an Edward Gordon presentation. His programs have wide appeal. The many types of organizations for which he has given presentations include museums, libraries, academic institutions, alumni associations, charitable organizations, professional associations, retirement centers, and church groups.
“The presentation was a testament to your professionalism (adherence to facts and attention to detail) and great gifts as an orator.”
— Greg Kenny, Program Coordinator
Palm Springs Air Museum
“You had them [the audience] spellbound by your encyclopedic knowledge of your subject and by the excellent graphics and photos you presented.”
— Blaine Mack, President
Old Bold Pilots
“Dr. Edward Gordon engages an audience vis-a-vis his enlightened, energetic, and erudite approach relating to history, particularly of World War II and both the tragedies and triumphs which ensued. He is a master story teller presenting fact, not fiction, in an entertaining and approachable light.”
— Susan Meyer, Program Chair
Northwestern University Alumni Association of the Coachella Valley
“Your outstanding programs are exciting, informative, and extremely well received by our visitors.”
— Sharon Maguire, President/Museum Director
Palm Springs Air Museum
“Your presentation was well prepared, well delivered and stimulating. What else could we ask for?”
— Jan Varnum
Phi Delta Kappa Chapter
University of Main
“In these thoughtful presentations, Dr. Gordon has demonstrated that he is both a professional historian and professional speaker who is expert at informing and entertaining diverse audiences. I can wholeheartedly recommend him as a lecturer.”
— David Ramsay, President
The Churchillians of the Desert