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47

"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 ...


31

It is spurious to assume that the French Revolution somehow originated the term, or otherwise set the standard for what could be called a "revolution". The reality is that different revolutionaries in different periods of history perceived the term differently. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 would be a much more immediate example to 18th century Americans. ...


29

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.


28

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. ...


21

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 ...


20

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 "...


19

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. ...


19

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 ...


18

The right response is to laugh at it. I don't think this can or should be directly rebutted. Arguing details of a theory that is that far from the mainstream implicitly puts it on equal logical ground with every mainstream analysis. This is ceding it ground it has not earned. There are still some first-hand witnesses to the Holocaust around. However, there ...


17

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.


17

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 ...


16

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, ...


16

Haha... the Suetonius of the third reich. Oh dear. It's a history book by a journalist, who had a talent for writing, but no particular ability as a historian. In particular: It's misnamed, because it's really a biography of Hitler and not a history of Nazi Germany. This is serious, because Shirer ignored things that had little to do with Hitler, and blew ...


14

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 ...


14

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 ...


13

The book is well written and well explained; Jared Diamond actually takes real pain to explain that his theories are not implacable and must not be taken as a 100% reliable blueprint for predicting success or failure of any civilization (even if we could actually define what "failure" means for a civilization). The book, though, attracted criticism because ...


13

Another 3 advices to add to Sardathrion's: Try not to let emotions affect you into mistaking incidents for trends (one such example from History SE was when someone described US involvement in Vietnam as being a pattern of massacres. While Mai Lai is indeed horrific, it's (given the scale) a minor blip that serves to prove the opposite trend (out of ...


13

What are you trying to rebut, that the plaque changed, or that the number of deaths is uncertain? Maybe the plaque originally stated the estimated number killed total, but now it just refers to the number killed at Auschwitz. Without knowing the exact text of the plaque, it is hard to say. The death of 1.1 million is the current total accepted by the ...


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

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

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

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. ...


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

Try to go back to primary source and archaeological evidences. Are there mass graves? What about population movement? What do statistics have to say about the population, economy, and whatnot? You can look at the documents and narratives's authors and find out inconsistencies within them or evidence of forgeries/lies -- note that lack of such is not ...


11

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 ...


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

The exact number is unknown and will remain unknown. We're talking about social sciences numbers here. That being said, one of the best rebuttals to the holocaust deniers are people like Oskar Gröning, who admitted his part in the mass murder. He can't testify to the total number, but he did testify to the fact that there were mass killings. Regarding ...



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