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41

"History is written by victors" may itself be an example of history written by the losers! While the quote is commonly misattributed to Winston Churchill, it's origins are unknown and it might be inspired by Hermann Göring's quote: We will go down in history either as the world's greatest statesmen or its worst villains. On a (perhaps) more serious ...


27

No. Japan had almost no capability to continue waging war. In fact, strangled by the American blockade, Japan was tottering on the brink of collapse. Experts both then and since believed that the combined pressure of the Soviet entry, the relentless blockade (and usually, the conventional aerial bombardment campaign) would have compelled Japan to surrender. ...


23

All the bad press given to Vikings (and the like) by angry monks suggests not always. Depends if the victors build a tradition of literacy and of documenting history or whether they just go build more longboats and get drunk.


20

The Wikipedia entry on the book is pretty thorough. Guns, Germs, and Steel is definitely controversial, because Diamond is writing from the perspective of an evolutionary biologist, and essentially is arguing that history is if not wholly determined by geography, at least heavily influenced by it. From the Wikipedia entry: Guns, Germs and Steel met with ...


18

The claim is sourced from 明興野記, lit. Unofficial Records of the Rise of Ming, by the contemporary Yu Ben. It was originally titled 紀事錄, lit. Chronicles, but a certain Zhang Da Tong later changed it because it wasn't fancy enough. Zhang also inserted some editorialising, especially to defend the emperor, as well as an abstract introducing Yu's work as ...


17

To the particular point of Norman Cantor's credit on the book you're looking at, I too am a big Cantor fan but he also kind of had a really bad drop-off at the end of his life. The Last Knight in particular was not terribly well researched and lacked a lot of the panache that Cantor's other work had. Perhaps this accolade came from that twilight era of his ...


15

I was referring to Alexei Isaev's book Antisuvorov (Russian). He lists a bunch of falsifications in the preface of his book. First example is Suvorov's quoting of colonel S. Hvalei's book (approximate translation): It happened that the division was immediately behind the frontier posts at the start of the war, meaning right next to the state border. ...


14

The Ancient Spartan society was based around the laws of Lycurgus, the rhetrae1, that were passed down through oral tradition. A possible explanation of why the laws were not written, and why Spartans didn't keep records in general, comes from Plutarch's The Life of Lycurgus: [Plut. Lyc. 13.1] None of his laws were put into writing by Lycurgus, indeed, ...


13

An important example from ancient history is the Peloponnesian war. The most important account of it comes from Thucydides, "the father of history". Thucidydes was an Athenian, and Athens lost the war. I am not aware of any Spartan accounts of this was that survived.


12

Historians interpolate meaning from multiple conflicting textual sources in the documentary record of the past. This is the natural behaviour of the historian. Between a newspaper article on Thursday and one of Friday the historian must simulate the occurrences of the intervening day, and then imagine that totality of "Thursday" and how it would impact on ...


12

The basis for the 5,000 years figure comes from tracing Chinese "history" to the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors. This figure includes over 1,000 years of legends. The next 1000 years are semi-legendary, being only somewhat corroborated by historical evidence. We start to have fragmentary historical records for a few centuries after that, but true ...


12

Many prominent men of science in the 19th century believed that the Indians' ancestors had always been in America. This belief draws on the theory of polygenism--that the several races had independent origins as separate species. "Scientific" polygenism also had a religious aspect called "Pre-Adamism." Polygenists/Pre-Adamists didn't need to posit ancient ...


12

Probably not. Wikipedia's claim that the Pythia goes into a vapor frenzy and spoke gibberish is not so much a usual theory as it is a common misconception. According to Pierre Amandry, the idea of an ecstatic and unintelligible priestess was sparked by Plato in his Phaedrus, section 244. Amandry argued that early Christian writers adopted this image of ...


12

Before asking this question, you could consult Wikipedia, which says: From the start, the Luftwaffe attacked civilian targets and columns of refugees along the roads to wreak havoc, disrupt communications, and target Polish morale. Apart from the victims of battles, the German forces (both SS and the regular Wehrmacht) murdered several thousand Polish ...


12

Just as I was posting that question and looking for a tag, I saw social-history appear as a suggestion. Sure enough, Social History describes what I am looking for: Social history, often called the new social history, is a broad branch of history that studies the experiences of ordinary people in the past. I have recently started reading the English ...


12

The answer to this question is yes, Japan was capable of maintaining the war at the time and likely would have done so. However, Japan was incapable of conducting meaningful offensive operations by then. So, in a sense they couldn't have hurt the U.S. but they would have hurt many others. U.S. General Curtis LeMay was responsible for implementing the ...


12

Japan was not really capable of "maintaining war" by mid-1945. The problem was that it was unwilling to "make peace" on anything like reasonable terms. If the Allies had wanted a stop to the fighting, one possibility might have been a "cease fire in place." That would leave the Allies in possession of the Philippines, and Iwo Jima and Okinawa, but it would ...


11

If you are serious about learning the history of Christianity, you should be motivated to find more books period. A single book, especially one attempting to cover a massive subject like Christianity, cannot possibly suffice for anything beyond a cursory read. It will be "incomplete" regardless of how old or new it is, if only because you're fitting ...


11

As the commenters have stated, there are several reasons "Persia" isn't one empire, but a succession of empires controlling the same area, more or less in the period. Rome under the Republic and Empire was a single continuous government. The various Persian governments tended to get knocked around in head to head competition with Mediterranean powers. ...


10

This is a really tough question to answer. History is not just the study of what happened in the past and when it happened. Sometime around sophomore or junior year of high school, more perceptive students pick up on the fact that history is about the interpretation of various events and the sheer breadth and variety of interpretations is what makes the ...


10

The answer lies, I believe, in the obscure end of the Merovingian epoch and is quite hard to understand from a modern perspective seeing that the geopolitical entitles involved disappeared completely under the Carolingians (at the risk of being off-topic, I still remember fondly reading these stories as a child and not understanding a word, so foreign seemed ...


10

Early post-contact beliefs contained an unhealthy dose of myths and legends, e.g. Atlantis or that Native Americans descended from the lost tribes of Israel. These were displaced as rationalism developed, but suspicion that the Old World populated the Americas grew over time (for the alternate view, that the Natives had always been in the New World, see ...


10

Generally speaking, Pytheas of Massalia had an apparently undeserved reputation as a "liar of the first magnitude" during antiquity. Much of what we know of this comes from Strabo, who is incidentally Pytheas' most vocal critic. Strabo argues against the authenticity of the Massilian's reports primarily based on the dimensions of Great Britain and the ...


9

The answer lies in history being a discursive and inductive practice where our evidentiary materials are untrustworthy. A preponderance of the evidence, correctly interpreted, with a correct interpretation of what constitutes relevant evidence is required. This is obviously debatable. My invaluable peasant letters are your irrelevant ephemera. Proofs can't ...


9

Postmodern This is a cultural rather than a historical science term. It refers to the contemporary line of reasoning which can be also called ultra-relativism, i.e., not just that any statement's veracity is relative, but its meaning is relative as well. Modern et al I think this terminology went like this: Pre-modern: 1500-1800 Modern: 1800-WW2 ...


9

Thomas Pornin's answer is very good answer to the question of "Can we know anything about Jesus?" But since your question was technically "What do we know about Jesus?", I thought I'd add a few facts about Jesus that the majority of secular and religious historians alike agree upon. Jesus existed Virtually no serious historian believes that Jesus never ...


9

Short Answer: You're both correct. Which date to pick for ending the French Revolution is a matter of opinion. Your friend is not wrong. The downfall and execution of Maximilien de Robespierre is considered by many to be an end date for the French Revolution. For many historians, the end of Robespierre coincided with the end of the Revolution itself. ...


8

When we use historical methods and sources we're doing history. When we use influence and governance, we're doing politics. The distinction between history and politics isn't in the event, it is in your relationship to the event and the use to which you're trying to put the event. If I research the legal status of Kosovo with an intent to determine how a ...


8

The term Radical Republican comes from the Dunning School (Burgess-Dunning School or Progressive School). This was the majority viewpoint from 1900-1950. It was derogatory. A "radical Republican" is motivated by vindictiveness, revenge and party politics, rather than national reconstruction, healing after the Civil War or a genuine motivation to help the ...


8

Non-historians need to be aware that historians produce history using historiography. Historiography is an empirical methodology, it deals with the outside world using fallible human apparatus. Historiography is a discursive methodology, it deals with the close reading of large sets of known to be fallible and incomplete texts. This means that history ...



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