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What was Plato's academy and why did it influence Western thought?

The Academy, founded by the philosopher Plato in the early 4th century BCE, was perhaps one of the earliest institutions of higher learning. While it was not like a university where people would enroll and obtain advanced degrees, it functioned as one of the first places for dedicated research into scientific and philosophical questions, at least in Europe, took place by gathered scholars. Its main function was to teach Plato's philosophical understanding, but it also challenged its scholars to develop a new understanding of our universe. Read more...

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The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798: Interview with Terri Halperin

The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 were four laws that were passed by the predominantly Federalist Congress and signed by John Adams to strengthen the national security of the United States. These acts not only restricted the ability of an immigrant to become a citizen, but made it easier to deport non-citizens who were either deemed dangerous or were citizens of hostile countries. Perhaps the most contentious aspect of the new laws criminalized the printing or speaking allegedly false statements about the federal government. Not surprisingly, these laws were incredibly controversial and strongly opposed by Thomas Jefferson's opposition Democratic-Republican party.Read more...

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Thomas Jefferson, the Founding Fathers and Christianity: Interview with Sam Haselby

Recently on Twitter, a debate broke out between Annette Gordon-Reed, Sam Haselby, and John Fea on the nature of Thomas Jefferson's religious beliefs. Instead of recreating the debate, it made more sense to contact one of the participants, Sam Haselby, whose recent book The Origins of American Religious Nationalism (published by Oxford University Press) examines how a conflict with Protestantism, in the decades following US independence transformed American national identity.Read more...


Engineering Victory during the Civil War: Interview with Thomas F. Army, Jr.

Logistics win wars. Logistics is the coordination of complex operations such as moving, housing and supplying troops and their equipment. War is the ultimate test of any logistician. During the Civil War, the Union troops fought almost the entire war in the South. Thomas F. Army, Jr. argues in his new book Engineering Victory: How Technology Won the Civil War published by Johns Hopkins University Press that the Union's engineering prowess during Civil War gave it an distinct advantage over the Confederacy.Read more...

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Shantytown, USA: Interview with Lisa Goff

The Harvard University Press recently published Lisa Goff's new book Shantytown, USA: Forgotten Landscapes of the Working Poor. There's a chance that one of your American ancestors lived in an American shantytown. While we may not realize it now, shantytowns were a common feature of 19th century America. Goff's book explores not only how shantytowns became a prominent feature of America's towns and cities, but why middle class Americans eventually turned on them and their residents. Read more...


The Mysterious Illness of Jim Bowie: How Did He Contribute to His Own Decline?

Directly or indirectly, Jim Bowie’s enigmatic illness resulted from his own actions. A hearty man of six feet in height, Bowie was a walking contradiction; a slave trader who fought for freedom, a generous and congenial man who called out his thunderous temper on a whim, and a commanding leader who was prone to binges of sloppy drunkenness. Read more...

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Why did Operation Market Garden in 1944 fail?

Operation Market Garden, launched in September 1944, was an unsuccessful Allied offensive mainly, fought in the Netherlands. It was the largest airborne operation in history up to that time. The operation was a daring one and it was the brainchild of the British General Bernard Montgomery. His intended the airborne offensive to allow the allies to break into the German heartland and to end the war, quickly. Read more...

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Why was the worship of Mithra so popular?

Today the god Mithra or Mithras is not recognized by many in the West. However, in the early centuries of Christianity, one can argue the worship of Mithras rivaled the Christian religion. If Christianity had failed to plant itself in Europe, then it may have been possible for Mithraism to become a lasting and significant religion in Asia and Europe. Read more...


How did Winston Churchill become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in World War Two?

Winston Churchill led a remarkable life, but perhaps the most remarkable element in his life was how he became prime minister in 1940. Just a few years earlier he was widely seen as politically isolated and was widely ridiculed for his views. Yet in 1940, he was appointed his nation’s Prime Minister at its darkest hours and became the leader of the fight against Nazi Germany. Read more...


What Factors Led to the Creation of the First Cities?

The rise of cities in the ancient Near East during the fourth millennium BC (4000-3000 BC) is a key event in the history of the world, as urban patterns that first arose there became patterns inherited in many societies, including in the West. Cities in the ancient Near East were the first to develop major temples, palaces, large urban dwelling areas, city walls, governments, and religious authorities that become features seen in later cities. Read more...

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Why was France defeated in 1940?

In September 1939, the Nazi War Machine invaded Poland and World War II began. France and its Britain declared against Nazi Germany in 1939. The French army was in theory as strong as the Germanys and it had a vast Empire and a sophisticated arms industry. It had also established a series of fortifications in the east of the country, known as the Maginot Line. The Line was designed to keep German forces out of France. Read more...

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Hodges' Scout: Interview with Len Travers

Johns Hopkins University Press has recently published Len Traver's new book Hodges' Scout: A Lost Patrol of the French and Indian War. Travers' book examines a group of colonial scouts who were ambushed on a patrol in upstate New York by French and Native American soldiers during the French and Indian War. Travers uses this massacre to explore the lives of the colonists who fought, died and even survived this massacre. Read more...

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Angels of the Underground: Interview with Theresa Kaminski

The Oxford University Press recently published Theresa Kaminski's Angels of the Underground: The American Women who Resisted the Japanese in the Philippines in World War II. Kaminski's book follows the lives of four American women who were stranded in the Philippines after Japan invaded during World War II. Publishers Weekly described her book as a "fast-paced true story" that documents how these women resisted Japanese occupation. Read more...

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