Here are some one liners...
The War of the Worlds and the End of History -- We are at the apex of the history cycle and the people think that they have things all figured out so H.G. Wells kicks them in the backside.
"Remember the Maine! To Hell with Spain!" -- The USS Maine explodes in Havana Harbor. The Spanish-American War ensues.
In Other News -- Shroud of Turin, women in combat, Marie Curie, and the Zepplin
The War of the Worlds and the End of HistoryWe are at the apex of a major cycle of history. Historians call this phenomenon "the end of history" meaning that the current generation thinks it has the whole world figured out. For example, the United Kingdom has grown from 1.5 million square miles in 1800 into a global empire of 11 million square miles. They figure they are doing something right, but an "end of history" implies that the situation will last forever (like when politicians claim they have ended the business cycle). Deterioration follows and eventually the conquerors become the conquered because they no longer believe that they have the moral right to defend themselves. The worst can be avoided if people are paying attention, so to get their attention, H. G. Wells publishes, War of the Worlds. The Martians invade Earth and wipe out millions with a heat ray. Although it is a great story, there is a philosophical undercurrent. Religion is portrayed as a comfort to the mindless. (In the movie, War of the Worlds 2005, the mindless clergyman is replaced by a mindless survivalist.) Then the comfort of the military is overturned by the technical innovations of the Martians. Unfortunately, the public refuses to wake up. 19th century blind optimism is about to hit the brick wall of the 20th century. 
- "...across the gulf of space, ... intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment."
- --The War of the Worlds, Book 1, Chapter 1. 
"Remember the Maine! To Hell with Spain!"Theodore "TR" Roosevelt is the Assistant Secretary of the Navy and he wants to kick Spain out of Cuba. He also wants to kick Great Britain out of Canada! (Smile politely. Say nothing and walk away.) TR has devised several plans for the Navy in case the Cuban break from Spain spins out of control, but he foreign policy of the United States is to do as little as possible for as long as possible. Yet, near the end of January, the USS Maine is sent to Havana... just in case. Everything is fine until February 15th when a massive explosion pushes the keel of the Maine above the waterline, and into the bridge. (It is forgivable if you shout something inappropriate right now.) Three-fourths of the crew are killed instantly. The "yellow journalist", William Randolph Hearst, has been faking up lurid stories to build readership and to create a war in Cuba. (See the movie, "Wag the Dog".) The official investigation blames a submarine mine for the explosion. Later theories blame firedamp which is the off-gassing from a type of coal fuel. By April, the Spanish-American War is on. TR resigns his post and forms the 1st US Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. The press calls them "The Rough Riders". TR leads his men across open ground to take Kettle Hill (often misreported as San Juan Hill). TR will receive the Medal of Honor, posthumously in 2001, for his actions in that battle.     
In Other News
- The negative of the Shroud of Turin is made. You've seen the picture a hundred times. 
- Annie Oakley promotes women in combat. She suggests that women sharpshooters could aid in the Spanish-American War. 
- Pierre and Marie Curie discover radium. Marie Curie will become the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize. 
- Ferdinand von Zeppelin builds his airship. Several gasbags in a thin-skinned framework are used to push people around... sort of like Congress.