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Revision as of 20:02, 25 February 2018

How Did Spy Services Develop in Russia?

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Ivan IV Vasilyevich (sometimes better known as Ivan the Terrible or Ivan the Formidable) established one of the first espionage services in Russia in the 16th century. Ivan was one of the first monarchs to create a very centralized Russian state. Before his time, Russian nobles often held great power and influence and would often oppose the actions of the tsar.Read more...

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Gender in Early America Top Ten Booklist

Most of us are familiar with a narrative of colonial America that focuses on the actions of our "Founding Fathers." But what of our "Founding Mothers"? This booklist compiles ten works that explore gender in colonial North America and provide an important lens through which we can view some of the formative events in our shared history. Read more...


How Was the Lighthouse of Alexandria Destroyed?

Of all the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, only the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt still remain. War, neglect, and natural disasters have wiped them from the face of the earth with only descriptions left by ancient historians and geographers, or perhaps an occasional coin or painting, as tokens of their greatness. Read more...

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Great Gifts for History Lovers 2017

It can sometimes be difficult to find the right gift for your history loving friend or spouse. Hopefully, we can help. This is our 2017 list of great gifts for history lovers. If in doubt, get a book. History lovers adore books. Some our recommendations are less academic then some of the books that appear on our other booklists, but they do represent outstanding recent books that most history lovers should enjoy. Read more...

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How accurate is Stanley Kubrick's 'Spartacus'?

The historical epic Spartacus (1960) is one of the best-known movies in cinema history. It caused a sensation on its release and was one of the most successful pictures of the 1960s. The movie was not only a commercial success it was a critical success and it received several Academy Awards. Spartacus was directed by the cinematic genius Stanley Kubrick. Read more...

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How Historically Accurate is Season 2 of Last Kingdom?

Season 2 is divided into two novels from the Saxon Tales series written by Bernard Cornwell, namely books 3 and 4 (Season 1 was books 1-2). The novels span roughly between 878-886 (Figure 1). The main focus for Season 2 in the first four episodes is Uhtred's quest to go north from Wessex into Northumbria, a less tamed area of England that is ruled more by Danes but their hold is somewhat less clear. Uhtred seeks his ancestral home in Bebbanburg (Bamburgh Castle) and also wants revenge against Kjartan, who killed is adopted Danish father. Read more...

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Why are there so many Monuments to the Confederacy across the United States?

As one travels across the southern United States, it is not unusual to find monuments and memorials to the Confederate dead in many small towns. In fact, these sculptural pieces, often composed of the same statues and plinths from the Monumental Bronze Co. of Bridgeport, Conn., can be found as far north as Pennsylvania and New York. A study in 2016 found some 1,500 monuments still standing. While in recent years these monuments have become a new source of political conversation their very erection was a movement by Confederate women. Read more...

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What was lynching?

Lynching is often described as a form of extralegal, vigilante violence or justice; however, its meaning has evolved over time—from the tarring and feathering of individuals in the Colonial period to the lethal, racial violence that proliferated in the South. According to Digital History, "Lynching received its name from Judge Charles Lynch, a Virginia farmer who punished outlaws and Tories with "rough" justice during the American Revolution." The United States has a long history of vigilance committees whose purposes were to protect the community. According to Linda Gordon, “vigilantism generally means bypassing the legal procedures of the state and substituting direct, usually punitive and coercive action by self-appointed groups of citizens".Read more...

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What Was the Importance of Alcohol Consumption in Ancient Egypt?

There is a common misconception today that life in ancient Egypt was a dreary one for anyone not in the nobility. This image is probably at least partially derived from pop culture where scenes are common in movies that depict Egyptian peasants being worked to the death to make tombs and temples for their gods and kings. The reality is that although the ancient Egyptian social system was quite different from that of the modern world, and they had few of today’s modern conveniences, Egyptians from all social classes enjoyed a leisure culture that was not much different than today’s. Read more...

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How Did Public Aquariums Develop?

Large public aquariums have become fixtures in most major urban regions. In some places, they have become among the leading attractions for city tourism, where many aquariums have also expanded into conservation efforts and applied research along with being tourist destinations. The history of such aquariums is not completely modern, although the form in which we know aquariums today is mostly a recent development. Read more...

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Why did Charles XII of Sweden fail to conquer Russia in 1708?

The failed invasion of Russia by Hitler and Napoleon are well known. Less well-known is invasion of Russia by the Swedes under their most famous king, Charles XII. Sweden in 1700 was the greatest Northern European power and this provoked the jealousy of its neighbors. This led to the Great Northern War. The culmination of this war was the Swedish monarch’s invasion of Russia and his subsequent defeat by Tsar Peter the Great at Poltava (1709).Read more...

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How have Historians' perceptions of Native Americans changed?

In 1997, Kerwin Lee Klein, among others, observed that a wholesale change had occurred in how historians portrayed Native American history. Previously, historians and ethnographers had focused on “the tragedy of the vanishing Indian.”[1] Many Americans, even those sympathetic to Native Americans, argued that Indians ultimately faced extinction. Even though this argument was undermined by the continued survival of Native Americans, scholars were slow to reject it. The Native American rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s emphasized the persistence of Native Americans. Read more...

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The Abraham Lincoln Brigade: the Historiography of the American soldiers in the Spanish American War

During the Spanish Civil War, approximately 2,800 American men and women answered the call from the Communist party to defend the Spanish republic from fascist aggression. These men and women served in the Fifteenth International Brigade and formed the Abraham Lincoln, Washington and MacKenzie-Papineau Battalions. These soldiers’ stories have been controversial, because 80 percent of these volunteers were Communists. Read more...

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American Girls in Red Russia: Interview with Julia Mickenberg

Julia L. Mickenberg's new book American Girls in Russia: Chasing the Soviet Dream published by the University of Chicago Press explores the history of the American women who went to Russia looking for adventure, freedom, revolution, work and new life. After they moved to Russia they found challenges and hardships. Many were disturbed by both the conditions of the country and the treatment of people by the new government. Read more...


What Were the Causes of Germany's Hyperinflation of 1921-1923?

Among the defining features of early twentieth century Europe and one of the contributing factors to World War II, was the economic maelstrom known as “hyperinflation” that ravaged Germany from 1921 until 1923. Although the short period is often overlooked in popular histories of the period, there is no denying the impacts that the process had on Germany, Europe, and the world. Read more...

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When did abortion become legal in the United States?

In colonial America, abortion was dealt with in a manner according to English common law. Abortion was typically only frowned upon, or penalized, when it occurred after “quickening,”—when a woman felt fetal movement—because it suggested that the fetus had manifested into its own separate being. Quickening could vary from women to woman, and sometimes as late as four months. Read more...

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What Was the Importance of Ziggurats in Ancient Mesopotamia?

The people of ancient Mesopotamia practiced a religion that modern scholars are only just now beginning to understand and the physical focal point of their religion were the monumental, triangular structures known as ziggurats. Read more...

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Working Toward Whiteness by David Roediger

David Roediger’s book Working Toward Whiteness: How America’s Immigrants Became White: The Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs continues his provocative exploration of whiteness studies by examining how southern and eastern European immigrants became white during the first half of the twentieth century. Roediger argues that “the long, circuitous process by which ‘new immigrants’ became ‘white ethnics’” matters. Read more...

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What Is the History of Ice Cream?

Ice cream has been a popular treat that many see today as having developed relatively recently, as ice cream usually requires a form of refrigeration. While the modern form of ice cream is relatively more recent, the idea of ice cream has been present for millennia. Ice treats, which eventually gave us ice cream, were refreshing snacks usually reserved for elites or those who can obtain ice in times of warm or hot weather. Read more...

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What was the impact of Spartacus' uprising on Rome?

Spartacus was a Thracian and he had once fought with the Romans. According to Plutarch, he was enslaved by them after he had deserted. Due to his strength and military skills he was trained as a gladiator. In 73BC, he plotted to escape from his gladiatorial school, near Capua in southern Italy and was joined in the conspiracy by up to 100 other gladiators.Read more...

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How Did Croesus Become the Wealthiest Man in the Ancient World?

According the fifth century BC Greek historian Herodotus, who has often been called the “father of history,” the Lydian King Croesus (ruled ca. 560-540s BC) was the world’s wealthiest king who ruled the world’s wealthiest kingdom. When Salon, the legendary Athenian law giver, came to Lydia see the king’s wealth personally, Croesus immediately had his servants “take him on a tour of the royal treasuries” in order to “point out the richness and magnificence of everything.”Read more...

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What if the Vikings Never Invaded England?

The Viking, or more accurately Danish and Norsemen, invasions of England in the 9th century CE (865) helped lead to what ultimately would become the united country of England. Before 865, England was divided into four or sometimes more countries, populated by Angles and Saxons (or Anglo-Saxons).Read more...

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Did Theodore Roosevelt really save Football?

In 1905, American football faced an crisis. Far to many young men were being killed while playing football and no one was taking any serious actions to reduce the risks. The headline at the top of the right hand column in The Chicago Sunday Tribune on November 26, 1905 screamed, "Football Year's Death Harvest - Record Shows That Nineteen Players Have Been Killed; One Hundred Thirty-seven Hurt - Two Are Slain Saturday."Read more...


Privateering during the War of 1812: Interview with Faye M. Kert

During the War 1812, US and Canadian privateers fought most of the naval battles between the United States and Great Britain. These privateers were comprised of captains who were motivated by the promise of profit to fight for their countries. There was a strong legal framework in both the United States and Great Britain that normalized piracy. Canadian and American ship owners and investors took advantage of it and funded privateering outfits during the war. Needless to say, privateers were incredibly risky investments.Read more...


Nature's Path: Interview with Susan E. Cayleff

At the very end of the 19th Century, a new system called naturopathy was created by Benedict and Louisa Stroebel Lust. Unlike many of the 19th Century medical systems created, naturopathy has persevered to this day. Naturopathic healing was founded and based on number of influences including botanics, hydrotherapy, eclecticism, temperance and vegetarianism. Read more...

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Why did the Battle of the Somme largely fail to achieve its objectives?

The Battle of the Somme or the Somme Offensive was a series of battles that occurred during the Summer and Autumn of 1916. It involved British and French forces launching a massive assault on the German lines in an effort to break the stalemate on the Western Front. The Battle was primarily a battle between the Germans and the British. The offensive achieved very little and both sides suffered heavy casualties. The British only advanced a few miles and the German lines held. The stalemate was not broken by the offensive. Read more...

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Origins of World War One - Top Ten Booklist

The First World War was an incredibly destructive and wide ranging catastrophe. Not only did it dramatically change the map of Europe and the world and it led to further instability. The First World War was one of the most important wars in human history. There has long been a debate about the exact cause of the First World War. The assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand triggered the war but its ultimate causes were far more complex. Read more...

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What was used for birth control in medieval Europe?

Birth is a universal experience for humanity and therefore, so is conception. This makes the issue of contraception one which stretched back into antiquity. While this topic is frequently in modern news, the historic practices of contraception and the specific methods utilized are rarely touched upon. Read more...


What was George Washington's military experience before the American Revolution?

The Second Continental Congress voted unanimously to put George Washington in charge of the Continental Army in 1775. Washington was only 43 years old at the time, a gentleman planter and local Virginian politician. Read more...

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How did Phillip II of Macedon change Ancient Greek history?

Alexander the Great is one of the most famous men in history. However, it is generally recognized that Alexander’s achievements would have been impossible without his father, Philip II of Macedon, who reigned from 359 to 336 B.C. He is not as well-known as his son but he laid the foundations for the great Empire of Alexander.Read more...

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How did kitchens develop?

Few places in a home are as important or symbolic for our social bonds than the kitchen. In almost every culture, the kitchen serves not only as the place where food is prepared, but serves as a social hub for families and friends. Humans develop deep social bonds with family and friends in their kitchen. The kitchen does not simply provide for our daily nutrition but also helps to reinforce our social character. Whether humans are cooking around a fire or chopping vegetables on a granite counter-top, they are also interacting with one another. Read more...

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When did the First Heart Transplant take place?

When Christiaan Barnard performed the first heart transplant in 1967, it was initially seen as remarkable scientific achievement, but overtime both the medical community and the general public were forced to re-evaluate heart transplants. The medical community quickly realized that the first transplants were little more than dangerous and unpredictable experiments.Read more...


Why Did Helen Keller Become a Socialist?

Helen Keller (1880–1967) is best known for her triumph over blindness, deafness, and muteness. Rescued from the isolation of her afflictions as a young girl by the Perkins Institute for the Blind teacher Anne Sullivan, Keller learned to understand a basic form of sign language and learned to “feel” and imitate the sound of the human voice. Read more...

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Alexander the Great Top Ten Booklist

Creating a top ten list for books on Alexander the Great is not easy, since few ancient historical figures have been written about as much. Everything from his complex personality and his sexual life to his military and logistical tactics have been analyzed by historians. Alexander, simply put, stands out as unique among ancient historical figures for having so much detailed assessment made on his life and times.Read more...

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When was Mesothelioma First Diagnosed?

The history of Mesothelioma is complicated. Medicine struggled to establish its existence and understand what caused it. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that forms on the "tissues that cover the lungs and abdomen." Mesothelioma is typically tied to the exposure of people to asbestos in either their environment or workplace.Read more...

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The Rabbi's Atheist Daughter: Interview with Bonnie S. Anderson

History is fickle. During the 19th Century, Ernestine Rose was one of the most important and famous international advocates for feminism, free thought and anti-slavery. She worked closely with renowned figures in this movement such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Despite her contributions to feminism, atheism, and anti-slavery, since her death she has slowly been erased from history. Read more...

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When did Men Start Wearing Pants?

Why did humans start wearing pants? To answer this question it’s important to understand two things - first, what were the earliest forms of clothing and how did they evolve into pants and secondly, why did a need for pants develop? It is also helpful to define what is meant by pants - specifically a bifurcated garment for the bottom half of the body which covers from waist to the lower leg. It is also helpful to define what is meant by pants - specifically a bifurcated garment for the bottom half of the body which covers from waist to the lower leg. Read more...

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What Mistakes did the Allies make during Operation Overlord on D-Day?

June 6, 1944 was arguably the most pivotal day of World War II. Operation Overlord was set to be launched and if successful, was to open a second front in Europe so as to attack Germany from all sides. Stalin’s Soviet Army had been battling the German Army since late 1942 in Stalingrad, Leningrad, and Moscow. Read more...

Book Review: "The Assassin's Accomplice."

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Kate Clifford Larson's book The Assassin’s Accomplice: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln is a well-researched narrative exploring the prosecution of Mary Surratt. The Assassin’s Accomplice details the events that revolved around Mrs. Surratt in the days and weeks leading up to the assassination of President Lincoln.Read more...

How Did Black Pepper Spread in Popularity?

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Visiting a restaurant in the Western world or even a home often means finding salt and black pepper as common condiments on the table used to give taste to our dishes. Salt has been native to many regions and is commonly found; however, black pepper was a far more limited plant (Piper nigrum) that natively grew in South and Southeast Asia.Read more...

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American Revolution Top Ten Booklist

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed by the Continental Congress. This act was only the first step towards the creation of the United States. The impact of this revolution cannot be ignored. Read more...


Inventing the Pinkertons: Interview with Paul O'Hara

In 1850, Allan Pinkerton founded a detective agency that would grow into the Pinkerton's National Detective Agency. Pinkerton's agency is easily the most famous and infamous security guard and detective agency in United States history. Pinkerton originally created the agency to help railroad companies investigate their employees and catch train robbers. But over time, the Pinkertons developed an intimate relationship with the federal government and as these partnerships grew the Pinkertons' role increased dramatically. Read more...

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How did Edwin Drake create the World's first oil well?

Even though there was no one "first discover" of oil. Oil was known in antiquity when it was used to heal wounds. But by the middle of the 19th century methods for collecting oil from the ground had not changed for thousands of years. Edwin Drake's oil fundamentally changed this process and dramatically increased oil production around the world. Read more...

Gilded Age/Progressive Era History Top Ten Booklist

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Creating a Top Ten List for the Gilded Age/Progressive Era is challenging. There are an extraordinary number of outstanding books on this period. These books are a selection of our favorites. Creating a Top Ten List for the Gilded Age/Progressive Era is challenging. There are an extraordinary number of outstanding books on this period. These books are a selection of our favorites. Most of these books are focused on trying to define this era as whole, instead of focusing on a single issue.Read more...

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What was the dominant medical sect in the United States during the 19th Century?

Nineteenth-century medicine was characterized by constant competition among three major medical sects: Regulars, Eclectics, and Homeopaths.[1] Each of these medical sects not only meaningfully disagreed on how to treat illnesses and diseases, but sought to portray their type of practice as the most effective and scientific.Read more...

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Why did the Congress of Vienna fail to stop future European wars?

The Congress of Vienna was a gathering of representatives of European kingdoms that was presided over by the Austrian Chancellor Klemens Von Metternich. The Congress was held in Vienna from 1814 to 1815. The goals of the Congress were to secure peace and stability in Europe and to ensure that revolutions did not destabilize the Continent. Read more...

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History of God Top Ten Booklist

The concept of God and his historical development is an extraordinarily complex topic and it is not easily addressed in ten books. These books seek attempt to explain a complex story on how the concept of God developed in different cultures, places, and across time. The history of the idea of God is long and has its roots from prehistoric to early historic periods in the ancient Near East. Later cultures developed concepts that derive from ancient Iran, Greece, Egypt, and perhaps other regions.Read more...

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How historically accurate is Braveheart?

Braveheart was a popular movie released in 1995 that won 5 Oscars and featured Mel Gibson as William Wallace. Wallace was a Scottish knight who became a hero in the Scottish rebellions against the English in the late 13th and early 14th century. The movie helped to inspire Scottish national pride while also, to some, represent an early, Medieval warrior who fought for freedom for himself and his people. While much of the story depicted did occur, including the English occupation of Scotland during the time of Edward I, king of England, the depiction of the revolt against the English and other events do not correspond well to historical accounts.Read more...


What Was the Importance of Bill Mauldin to WWII Infantrymen?

Bill Mauldin once said that the infantryman “gives more and gets less than anybody else.” He knew this from his experience on the front lines with K Company, 180th Infantry Regiment, of the 45th Division. Mauldin went through basic training as an infantryman and stayed with his regiment throughout the invasion of Sicily and the Allied campaign up the boot of Italy. The talented cartoonist succeeded in ruffling the feathers of the “brass” all the way up to General George Patton.Read more...

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Why did the Italian Renaissance End?

The Italian Renaissance was one of the most exciting periods in human civilisation. It witnessed a great flourishing of the arts, literature, philosophy, architecture and politics. Many of the greatest figures in World Civilisation appeared during the Renaissance in Italy, including Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Machiavelli and Raphael. Read more...


Civil War Battles Top Ten Booklist

A DailyHistory.org top ten booklist focusing on best book on the battles of the American Civil War. The books on this list explore the battles of Antietam, Gettysburg, Chancellorsville, and many others. Take a look at our list. Read more...

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Why did Germany lose the Battle of Stalingrad?

Hitler saw the war in terms of his personal rivalry with Stalin and he decided to attack the city, because of its symbolic value. However, the original aim of the offensive in Southern Russian was to secure the oil fields in the Caucasus. The oil was essential for the German war machine. Hitler knew this – instead of opting for concentrating all his forces on the conquest of the oil fields, he made perhaps a fateful mistake.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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