Sunday, December 4, 2016

Abd-el-Kader and France’s Conquest of Algeria

Today, Arabs fighting the West brings images of terrorists blowing up women and children so this story of the Algerian Sultan who fought and beat back the French in the long war of the 1830's and 1840's brings a needed balance.  Pitched battles were fought; the Arab side won; and treaties were signed.  In the end it took treachery, a 110 thousand+ army, and tribal disloyalty to bring Abd-el-Dader down.  Had the Algerian tribes stayed on the opposition, the French would not have won in the end.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

How Reliable Is Marco Polo's Book?

After returning to Italy, Marco Polo wrote a book about his travels.  Today's historians have considerable doubts about this book.  Access to Chinese sources allows historians to compare MP to them.  There are a lot of divergences.  To the degree that some think that the book is a fake or even that MP himself is a fake, too.

On the other hand, there's stuff in MP's book that cause historians to wonder, "how did he know that?"  Even, "how could he have known that."  He must have been in or near China to have written some of the things that are in that book.

Here's my theory.  While the old boy was writing his book he probably exaggerated. -- By a lot.  After all, in that day in age who would have been in a position to compare notes with the Chinese?

Here is one scholar's summary of "The Marco Polo Problem" by  Jonathan Dresner:

The Civilization of China by Cambridge University Professor Herbert A.  Giles

 is in The Basic History Library (free). ------------->

Friday, December 2, 2016

How Much Traffic Do History Sites Get?

I'm dismayed at the low levels that are reported.  History is an important subject.  Books on historical topics generate lots of sales.  One would think that history delivered via the internet would generate lots of hits.  The members shown on this group is small while I am sure the daily view are much less. 

Another indicator of low engagement on the internet is the aggregator sites.  Just google history blogs and you see on the first page "Best of" links.  These link to pages that were last updated years ago and/or else themselves award "best" status to blogs/sites that had not been updated for years.

Another way of finding history sites is through the History Carnival.  Sadly that site has deteriorated to a click of insiders.

My modest suggestion:  through social media sites such as this one, we should agree on criteria for sites which are recognized for excellence.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

England Expels Jews

In 1260 the Jews of England were told to leave.  During the Medieval Age there were many expulsions of Jews by many of the kingdoms of Europe.  Sad.  The plight of the Jews throughout history cannot help but command our sympathy.

Today I begin my series on England's actions in the 13th. century.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Russia Invades Iran

In 1911 the Russian Empire followed up its ultimatum to the democratic government of Iran with armed invasion.  A revolution in Iran had changed the government to a democratically elected one.  The Iranians appointed an American diplomat, W. Morgan Shuster as the Administrator.  (Amazing fact for both Americans and Iranians to digest today.)  As the Administrator for the Iranian government, Shuster was in the middle of the crisis.  A selection of his account of the crisis is here.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Worst Election in History

Is there any election in history that was worse than the 1948 election in the Union of South Africa?  The party that had been in power had a vague program of eventual racial equality while the National Party wanted strict racial segregation with White supremacy.  The National Party won and commenced their policy of Apartheid in all areas of life.

Here is a look at the state of affairs in The Union of  South Africa, here is  "S African Racial Perspective in 1910" an installment from "Union of South Africa Formed" by Stephen Leacock:

Saturday, November 26, 2016

What were the Best 6 World Series Baseball?

Calling the championship of a sport that was called "the national pastime" the "The World Series" seems like American ballyhoo.  The National League was formed in 1876.  The first World Series was in 1903.   

Back to the question.  Here's the answer from the History News Network:

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Pilgrims Journey to Massachusetts

When one thinks of Thanksgiving, one thinks of the Pilgrims.  They are as unfashionable today as they were then -- How history circles back!  Here is the first installment of my selection from  John S. Barry about The Pilgrims Settle Plymouth, Massachussets:


Heroes and Heroines Every Child Should Know is in The Basic History Library (free). ------------->

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Back in the Day

The quintessential story of the old New England Thanksgiving was written by Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Yes, she did write more than just Uncle Tom's Cabin.  This selection from her stories about Oldtown Folks is a Thanksgiving classic.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

First Republican Presidential Campaign

It was 160 years ago, 1856.  They nominated John C. Fremont.  The detailed story is told by John Hay and John Nicolay.  This duo were Abraham Lincoln's White House staff.  John Hay later was Secretary of State under Presidents McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.  This is what they wrote:

This begins our selection Republicans' First National Campaign, serialized into 5 minute stories, one per day for easy reading.  Today's installment: Republican Party Forms


Don't forget The Basic History Library (free). ------------->

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Kennedy's Murder 11/22/1963

The Warren Commission summarized their report here.

Hard to realize it was 53 years ago today.  I remember first hearing about it on the playground.  Before a teacher stopped our playing and told us, another kid already knew.  I've always wondered how he knew.  Never thought to ask at the time.

The link is to a series where I broke down the Commission's Summary into 5 minute pieces for easy reading.

Monday, November 21, 2016

How Valuable Is a College History Degree?

This links to an essay in the Los Angeles Times last May.  The author, who is the Executive Director of the American Historical Association wrote that history majors begin their careers earning less than business majors but pass them up mid-career and earn more, on average.  I add that too many history professors seem unable to think outside of the left-wing box and that inability constitutes a drag on career performance and hence, success.

The link is to my blog where I explain my opinion on this.  From there links are to the LA Times article.

U.S. History from Crash Course

These are a series of 10 minute videos that cover all of U.S. history.  The host talks really fast because a lot of information is crammed into the 10 minute episode.  I notice that a lot of time is spent "debunking" traditional views while sometimes the "traditional view" is really a straw man tactic.

Here is  Spain in America
the first installment from Crash Course U.S. History:


The Frontier in American History by Frederick Jackson Turner is in The Basic History Library (free). ------------->

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Before the Big Bang Began the Universe

How can we know?  Noted science writer on what cosmic background radiation tells us before the Big Bang.

Pre-Big Bang inflation is important to historians because we want to know before, during, and after past events. That's how our minds work. Yes, Einstein theory is that time cannot exist outside of universe.  No space-time continuum.  The present knowledge of pre-Big Bang inflation is vital to history and a game-changer to science.

Also, here's my Herodotus page, the first universal historian. The Landmark edition is the best Herodotus available imo.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Why Trump Won

In a phrase it was political correctness.  Revulsion against the left's pc cancelled out revulsion against Trump's bad statements.  Folks on the left do not realize how their pc has reached a critical mass in the country.  Millions are touched by it.

Outside the phrase, there was more.  Trump's errors could have lost it for him.  Clinton's scandals compounded by campaigning mistakes did her in.

My essay in History Moments expands on these thoughts.  In addition there are links to the best articles on the election in the web.


Plutarch's Lives is in The Basic History Library (free). ------------->

Thursday, November 17, 2016

As Obamanation Slips Into History

This video from the first term talks about the Great Recession and Obama's early years as President.  Crash Course has produced over a hundred history videos.  They are extensive although somewhat flawed.  For example, it takes the left-wing perspective on the Republicans' reluctance to compromise while passing the Democrats' record on compromising is passed over in silence.


Don't forget the The Basic History Library (free). ------------->