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19

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 ...


16

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 ...


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, ...


12

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. ...


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

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 ...


11

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 ...


11

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 ...


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

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 ...


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 ...


9

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 ...


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

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

The book is well supported and well regarded. I want to add a caveat to the above answer, since the Wikipedia page doesn't emphasize this point. He is writing from a viewpoint of environmental determinism. This area of academics is having a bit of a revival right now, but environmental determinism has long been used to explain European (and according to ...


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 ...


8

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 ...


8

There is some reason to believe that the Lapis Niger includes a contemporary reference to the king, and it dates from thge period associated with the monarchy. It could be argued that the use of 'rex' here is purely religious - just like in Greece the word continued in use for religious purpose long after the political institution was left heind. However ...


7

Novels are not typically accorded a high status as a primary source by historians because they have a purpose other than the truthful representation of the past as it was, as recreated from the documentary records of the past. Novels are incapable of "accuracy" in this sense. Similarly: plays and movies are incapable of historical accuracy. Novels may ...


7

According to the official website of the Richard III Society, in their primer "A Brief Biography and Introduction to Richard's Reputation" by Wendy E.A. Moorhen: The Great Debate, as the study of Richard's reputation became known, truly began in the seventeenth century when Horace Walpole wrote his Historic Doubts and rattled the cages of the ...


7

First off, the study of history is composed of three basic types of sources. Primary sources Secondary sources Tertiary sources Primary sources are the originals from the time of the event. Histories, for example, is a primary source. It was written at the time of or soon after the event(s) occurred. Secondary sources are basically compilations of ...


7

Well, to be factual, more like 4100 years+ of history is available for study. Xia Dynasty is dated back to cca 2100 BC - 1600 BC, numerous sites approves these dates. Before these days dates and historical records get more and more inaccurate and entering into the realm of legends. "5000 years" seems more like a generous rounding up, but it is not very far ...


7

It is not only historians who decide. Usually, the "Allies" call such themselves. For example, you refer to World War I. Please remember, that on the very beginning there were two blocs: Triple Entente (France allied with Russia along with United Kingdom, which was not allied to anybody, except the Commonwealth), and Triple Alliance (Germany allied with ...


6

I think the biggest thing that separates Nero from other emperors at this time is the fact that he was actually deposed in his lifetime and thus didn't have successors telling people not to write bad stuff about him. For instance, I would love to see the source on the previous poster's point that he supposedly set people on poles and lit them on fire to ...


6

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 ...



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