Everyone loves a good plot twist, right? You’re watching a movie or reading a book and blam, shit changes all of a sudden. Dunno about you, but the first time I saw The Sixth Sense, or the Crying Game, my mind was fucked. But did you know that random, game-changing plot twists actually happened in real life too? I sure didn’t. I mean I knew of some of these events, but I didn’t know the details, but man, are they ever gonna mess with your brain.
For example did you know that the FBI was watching Hemingway and had a part in his death? I didn’t. Take a look below and see how else coincidence, intuition and downright dumb luck turned things around and changed history as we know it.
The Spy that Loved Him and Her
Chevalier d’Eon was a French diplomat and spy in England and Russia, with remarkable androgynous physical characteristics, and good mimic skills. Once he retired after 49 years, he revealed to the public that he had been a woman the entire time. She was henceforth made to wear gender appropriate clothing for the rest of her life. She went on to write some books and support the American Revolution. But here’s the kicker.
When she died after a paralyzing fall, the doctors found out she was actually a man the whole time, with a feminine physique.
He was double crossdressing.
Julius Caesar Was a Badass Hostage Negotiator
When a 25-year-old Julius Caesar was captured by Sicilian pirates who didn’t know who he was, they demanded 20 talents of silver (which is about 1,400 lbs of silver or $600,000 by today’s silver prices) for his ransom. Caesar was offended, and demanded they ask at least 50, because he was more valuable than that. It took Caesar’s associates 38 days to get together all the silver, which left him at the mercy of the pirates.
While in their custody, Caesar treated them like subordinates, demanding the they leave him alone to nap or that they listen to speeches and plays that he’d put on. All along, Caesar joked that he was going to have them arrested and crucified when they let him go, which they all found very funny and laughed with him. At least until they got their money and Caesar was released, then he came back and the pirates were arrested and crucified.
Then they stopped laughing.
Papa, Someone is Watching You
It’s been documented that in the later stages of his life, Ernest Hemingway became incredibly paranoid, thinking that the FBI was following him and that his phone was bugged and his mail being read. This caused him to have a total mental breakdown and he was sent to the Mayo Clinic under and assumed name. He underwent over 30 rounds of electro-shock therapy and courses of drugs, to the point that his sanity and memory started to go and he couldn’t write. Soon after, in 1961, he shot himself.
The irony is, due to his ties to Cuba and his exploits during WWII, the Freedom of Information Act revealed that the FBI was indeed doing all the things he claimed to have said they were doing. They even bugged his phone while he was at the Mayo Clinic.
Cobain had it right… just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.
Sometimes a Wrong Turn Can Lead to World War II
If you remember your history class, you’ll recall that World War I started when Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo. What you might not recall is that it was a series of random events that lead to his death on that day (one could argue that he was gonna die sometime, but not this way).
Let’s break this down: a guerrilla group called the Black Hand wanted independence for Bosnia and the best way to go about it was to assassinate the Archduke. They had a plan and a member by the name of Gavrilo Princip wanted to do the job. But they didn’t really have a plan. They were just gonna wing it.
So, unaware of this plan, the Archduke, his wife and some random political advisors were driving around the city in an open-topped car. When his motorcade passed by some of the assassins, one of them threw a grenade that took 10 sec to detonate, allowing the Archduke to get away but taking out the car behind him. Instead of getting out of there, the Archduke wanted to do something unwise.
He wanted to go to the hospital to visit those injured in the blast. The driver, however, had no idea where he was going, so they took some wrong turns and just happened to pass by a cafe where Gavrilo Princip was enjoying a sandwich.
So he took his chance and changed the world
Sometimes, the Sports You Like Will Make Enemies
During the 1960’s, US spy planes were tasked with taking photos of Cuba, after an agreement was made between Kennedy and Soviet Premier Khrushchev, that the Soviets wouldn’t bring weapons or build instillations on the island. When they brought the photos back to the US and they were analyzed, they realized that the Cubans were building sports fields. But instead of the expected baseball diamonds (which they used to gauge activity in areas – if they’re building a field, they’re looking to inhabit that space), they saw something else – soccer fields.
When this was brought up to the CIA, they realized that the only way that soccer fields would be showing up in Cuba instead of baseball diamonds, is if there were Soviets living and building bases there, as only they liked soccer.
This is how the Cuban Missile Crisis started.
When you Squeal like a Rat, Everybody Wins
Every knows the legend of Whitey Bulger, one of the most successful mob bosses in history. He ran the organized crime racket in Boston from the late 70’s to the early 80’s and no one understood how he was getting away with it. He was known to be a mob boss, was always getting more and more territory, but nothing was ever done to take him down, despite all the evidence against him.
Turns out he had a friend in the FBI and was working for them as an informant. He would rat on other organized crime families and once they were arrested, he’d take over the territory. It was a win for Whitey as he got more and more powerful, and a win for his FBI buddy as he was making all the busts and making a reputation for himself.
The FBI Agent Who Cried Wolf And Was Right
John P. O’Neil was the kind of guy who always wanted to be part of the FBI. Starting in the J. Edgar Hoover building as a fingerprint clerk and tour guide, he got his education in justice and forensics and was hired by the Bureau, working on white-collar crime, organized crime and counterintelligence. In the late 90’s, he was chief of the counterintelligence division and started to hear rumours of the growing threat of Terrorism. He was the first to identify Al-Qaeda as a legitimate threat to homeland security and tried to get his higher ups to focus on them. He was ignored and reprimanded passed over for promotions due to some personal and professional issues.
After an assignment to Yemen that went south, he was reprimanded again and forced to retire in 2001. He ended up taking a job at the World Trade Centre in New York as the head of security on August 23, 2001.
His remains were found in the rubble of the World Trade Centre attack on September 11th; perpetuated by Al-Qaeda. Turns out, he was right.
Edith Wilson: Secret President of the United States
The world might still be waiting for its first female President, but it turns out, the US might have had one already – 28th President Woodrow Wilson’s wife Edith. Elected in 1913, Wilson was one of the most predominantly public US presidents, having huge role in geo politics during WWI and the aftermath and not being shy with his speeches, meetings and press availability. For the leader of the free world, he was incredibly visible; at least until 1919.
After a global meeting in Paris, Wilson had a severe stroke, which left him unable to write, stand for long or even speak. Edith decided that they had two options: let the public know and leave office or take over his duties. So she created a story about how Wilson was going to double down and focus on his work – retreating from the public eye, meeting with press, cabinet or the public. Edith became the defacto President for the next year, consulting with Woodrow when he was feeling well, until his term was up. This wasn’t known until many years later, and now she’s well known as the first acting female President of the United States.
Never Use Psychology on Someone You Don’t Know
At the start of the Cold War, psychologist Henry Murray developed a personality profiling test to help weed out Soviet Spies with psychological warfare, and determine which US spies are ready for the field. Calling it Project MKUltra, he began experimenting on Harvard students. He made one student the control, as he was a predictable, law-abiding conformist and ran his tests. Then he had that student write an essay on his core beliefs, then had an aggressive interrogator come in and tear those beliefs apart, to see if the student would fight back. He didn’t.
The experience left him a psychologically broken man, who after graduating, sequestered himself in the woods, trying to put his belief system back into place, by writing an essay. He kept writing that essay for decades and became convinced that the world had to read it, so he found a way to make everyone read it. You’ve probably read it.
It’s the Unabomber Manifesto.
Who Says Double Dipping is Bad?
Juan Pujol Garcia was a spanish citizen during WWII, who wanted desperately to be a spy. After surviving the Spanish Civil War, he developed a loathing for Communism and Fascism, so he wanted to help Allies. He approached the British army and offered to Spy, but was turned down. He then went to the Germans and pretended to be a fanatically pro-Nazi Spanish government official and offered his services there, where he was hired as a German agent. They sent him to Britain to spy, but instead he went to Portugal and made up intelligence that he sent back to Germany. They believed that he had a developed a ring of spies and trusted him with more missions.
Meanwhile he went to the British with this Germany spy ring intact and offered them a way to get one up on the Germans. They hired him as a double agent, code naming him GARBO. After helping to mislead the Germans during the Normandy invasion, he was awarded a Member of the British Empire. At the same time, for his ‘contributions’ for the Germans (they never picked up that he was lying to them), he got an Iron Cross.
Bet he’s the only guy to get medals for bravery by opposing forces.
Bad Things Happen When You Go to the Movies
In 1987, a security guard was assigned to keep an eye on an abandoned and disputed Private Radiotherapy Hospital in Brazil. One day he decided to take the day off to go see Herbie Goes Bananas. While he was away, thieves came in and looted the building, including taking left behind nuclear material, hoping to sell whatever they found.
Except they didn’t know what they had, so the thieves began dismantling the equipment. Despite feeling ill, vomiting and getting painful ulcers on there hands, they didn’t stop taking the machines apart until the radioactive material was exposed. He then sold the metal and materials to a scrapyard; no one being the wiser that this was radioactive material. The resulting leak of radiation resulted in 4 people dying and 249 being significantly affected by radiation. This was one of the worst nuclear disasters in history.
Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbour’s Wife
Jonny Cash is known for the song “Ring of Fire,” but did you know he didn’t write it? June Carter did, and the ring of fire she was alluding to, was her secret love for him. She was a married woman and was desperately in love with Jonny Cash, but couldn’t do much about it.
After he recorded it in ’63, the two of them performed duets and met several times platonically until her divorce in 1966. Jonny and June were married in 1968, and made some epic music together.
That connection was so strong that after June Carter Cash died in May of 2003, Jonny couldn’t live without her and followed her to the Grand Ol’Opry in the sky 4 months later.
Hell Truly Hath No Fury…
Olga of Kiev was the wife of Igor, who was the ruler of a part of easter Europe called Kievan Rus. When a dissatisfied tribe called the Drevlians rose up in protest against taxes and killed her husband, she got revenge.
The plan was that the leader of the Drevlians would marry her and take over the kingdom, so they sent an envoy with their proposal. She buried him alive. Then she sent a message that she’d accepted the proposal, but wanted an escort of nobles to escort her. They came and she offered them her bath house. They crammed in there to clean up and she burnt it down.
Then she held a funeral for her husband and invited the rest of the Drevlian populace to attend. Attracted by free food and booze, they all came and her soldiers slaughtered them all. Then she marched to their city and asked for their surrender. They agreed and she asked for a tribute of a bird from their homes (in that time, birds would nest in the rafters of each home). They agreed, and she tied a lit match to each bird and let them fly home, burning down the village and declaring herself Queen.
If that’s not epic, I don’t know what is. Even better, since she attempted to bring Christianity to the area, she’s also close to being a saint. Why don’t they tell us these stories in church?
The Doppelgänger Epic Fail
During World War I, a German passenger liner named Cap Trafalgar was turned into an auxiliary cruiser and sent to patrol the waters off the coast of Brazil near Trindade. Early one morning during one of it’s first engagements of the war, it was spotted by a British ship and attacked.
The irony was that the Cap Trafalgar was disguised as a British ship called the HMS Carmania; the very ship that spotted them and ultimately sank them. After the inevitable who’s who, the British attacked and pummelled the German ship into submission.
Even more ironic is that German warships were sent to rescue them, but saw two British ships fighting and feared a trap, so they left, causing it to be a decisive British victory.
How do you say oops in German?