I found some interesting tidbits about the man behind the Nobel Peace prize. Y’all might already know this, but if you didn’t…

Alfred Nobel, Swedish inventor of dynamite, blasting caps, smokeless gunpowder,and many other explosion-related items, suffered from mistaken identity. On April 13, 1888, Nobel awoke in Paris, opened a newspaper,and was astonished to read his own obituary. but it was actually his brother Ludwig who’d died; the newspaper had goofed.

As a result of the mistake, Nobel was given the rare gift of a chance to see how he would be remembered…and he didn’t like what he saw. As David Zacks writes in An Underground Education:

Alfred was shocked to see himself portrayed as the Merchant of Death, the man responsible for escalating the arms race…[even though] he had made high-powered explosives much easier to use and was proud of how this power had been unleashed to mine precious minerals and to build roads, railways, and canals.

The obituary painted him as a “bellicose monster” whose discoveries “had boosted the bloody art of war from bullets and bayonets to long-range explosives in less than 24 years.”

Determined to change his image and redeem the family name, Nobel hatched a shrewd plan. He used his wealth to create prizes in several areas – including peace. (Sort of like “the Exxon award for environmental safety…[or] the John F. Kennedy award for marital fidelity,” Zack says). It was successful spin control. Today, the Nobel Prizes are the most prestigious in the world…and few of us connect their creator the “the art of killing.”

Uncle John’s Absolutely Absorbing Bathroom Reader

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