Year
1990

Mikhail Gorbachev wins Nobel Peace Prize

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in ending Cold War tensions. Since coming to power in 1988, Gorbachev had undertaken to concentrate more effort and funds on his domestic reform plans by going to extraordinary lengths to reach foreign policy understandings with the noncommunist world.

Some of his accomplishments include four summits with President Ronald Reagan, including a 1987 meeting at which an agreement was reached to dismantle the U.S. and USSR intermediate-range missiles in Europe. He also began to remove Soviet troops from Afghanistan in 1988 and exerted diplomatic pressure on Cuba and Vietnam to remove their forces from Angola and Kampuchea (Cambodia), respectively. In a 1989 meeting with President George Bush, Gorbachev declared that the Cold War was over.

Gorbachev also earned the respect of many in the West through his policy of non-intervention in the political upheavals that shook the Eastern European “satellite” nations during the late-1980s and early-1990s. When Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Poland, and other Iron Curtain countries began to move toward more democratic political systems and free market economies, Gorbachev kept Soviet intervention in check. (This policy did not extend to the Soviet republics; similar efforts by Lithuania and other republics were met with stern warnings and force to keep the Soviet Socialist Republics together.)

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Moneyball author Michael Lewis is born

On this day in 1960, Michael Lewis, author of such nonfiction best-sellers as “Moneyball” and “The Blind Side,” is born in New Orleans. Lewis studied art history at Princeton University, graduating in 1982, and earned a degree from the London School of Economics. He went on to ...read more

Vichy leader executed for treason

Pierre Laval, the puppet leader of Nazi-occupied Vichy France, is executed by firing squad for treason against France. Laval, originally a deputy and senator of pacifist tendencies, shifted to the right in the 1930s while serving as minister of foreign affairs and twice as the ...read more

Gretzky breaks scoring record

During a game against his old team, the Edmonton Oilers, Canadian ice hockey great Wayne Gretzky breaks Gordie Howe’s National Hockey League career scoring record of 1,850 points. Gretzky dominated professional hockey during the 1980s, setting numerous records and leading the ...read more

Mata Hari executed

Mata Hari, the archetype of the seductive female spy, is executed for espionage by a French firing squad at Vincennes outside of Paris. She first came to Paris in 1905 and found fame as a performer of exotic Asian-inspired dances. She soon began touring all over Europe, telling ...read more

First draft card burned

In a demonstration staged by the student-run National Coordinating Committee to End the War in Vietnam, the first public burning of a draft card in the United States takes place. These demonstrations drew 100,000 people in 40 cities across the country. In New York, David Miller, ...read more

Wayne Gretzky breaks NHL points record

On October 15, 1989, 28-year-old Los Angeles King Wayne Gretzky breaks Gordie Howe’s points record (1,850) in the final period of a game against the Edmonton Oilers. Gretzky’s record-setting goal tied the game; in overtime he scored another, and the Kings won 5-4. Gretzky had ...read more

Gerald Ford marries Elizabeth Bloomer

On this day in 1948, future President Gerald Ford marries Elizabeth Anne (“Betty”) Bloomer. The handsome, blonde, blue-eyed Ford grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and went on to play football at the University of Michigan, where he was voted the team’s most valuable player in ...read more

P.G. Wodehouse is born

Comic novelist P.G. Wodehouse, creator of Jeeves the butler, is born on this day in Surrey, England. Wodehouse attended Dulwich College in London, then went to work as a humor columnist for the London Globe. He also worked as a freelance writer. After 1909, he spent extended ...read more

Hurricane Hazel hits the Carolinas and Ontario

Hurricane Hazel, the fourth major hurricane of 1954, hammers southern Ontario, Canada, on this day in 1954. Hazel hit hard from Jamaica to Canada, killing more than 400 people and causing over $1 billion in damages. On October 5 hurricane hunters spotted Hurricane Hazel about 50 ...read more

A murderous husband is executed

Arthur Eggers, who was convicted of killing his wife, Dorothy, because of her alleged promiscuity, is executed in the gas chamber at San Quentin Prison. He probably would have gotten away with the crime had the investigators not received a few lucky breaks. In January 1946, ...read more

C.S.S. Hunley sinks during tests

On this day in 1863, the C.S.S. Hunley, the world’s firstsuccessful combat submarine, sinks during a test run, killing its inventor and seven crewmembers. Horace Lawson Hunley developed the 40-foot submarine from a cylinder boiler. It was operated by a crew of eight—one person ...read more