Unit 1 The World and the West, 1500–1900
1. Aztecs: A New Perspective, John M.D. Pohl, History Today, December 2002
Who were the Aztecs? What were their accomplishments? What caused their downfall? For centuries, the answers to these questions were shrouded in mystery and misinterpretation. John M.D. Pohl offers a fresh interpretation of the Aztecs and their civilization, written from the perspective of our twenty-first century world.
2. The Peopling of Canada, Phillip Buckner, History Today, November 1993
Canada was the creation of two imperial powers—France and England—during two distinct time periods. At first a French colony and later a British one, Canada experienced dramatically different immigration patterns. During the earlier French phase, emigration to Canada was painfully slow. However, during the later British phase, the emigration rate rose dramatically, creating a cultural dichotomy that still affects Canada today.
3. 400 Years of the East India Company, Huw V. Bowen, History Today, July 2000
Elizabeth I granted a charter to the East India Company in 1600, and in the two centuries to follow it became a powerful vehicle for economic and imperial expansion. It was important for extending British influence into China and India, and it even played a role in starting the American Revolution.
4. The Ottomans in Europe, Geoffrey Woodward, History Today, March 2001
In its contacts with the non-Western world, Europe usually gained the upper hand. However, one non-Western power was able to fight Western Europe to a standstill and sometimes threatened its very existence. For a few centuries, the Ottoman Turks were a problem that Europe couldn’t ignore.
5. Death on the Nile, Simon Craig, Geographical, August 1997
In order to protect the Suez Canal, Great Britain engaged in a military campaign against the Sudan in 1897. They defeated the forces of Mahdi and his followers, called Dervishes, thus guaranteeing that Britain’s life line to the East was maintained.
6. Coffee, Tea, or Opium?, Samuel M. Wilson, Natural History, November 1993
The transport of opium to China gave the British merchants a favorable trade balance for the purchase of tea and other Chinese goods. Threatened with the moral destruction of their people, the Chinese government tried to stop the drug trade, but superior British warships enforced the trade and won five ports and Hong Kong for British control.
7. After Centuries of Japanese Isolation a Fateful Meeting of East and West,James Fallows, Smithsonian, July 1994
The arrival of Matthew Perry at the head of a U.S. naval squadron in 1853 forced Japan out of two centuries of isolation. Although the outside intrusion was unwelcomed, the Japanese suffered no defeat and in the next half-century successfully melded their culture with Western technology to become the most powerful nation in the Far East.
8. Chinese Burns: Britain in China, 1842–1900, Robert Bickers, History Today, August 2000
The Boxer Rebellion began in 1899 in northern China and was based upon Chinese resentment of foreign intrusion and domination. It attracted the support of the Qing government and resulted in the killing of hundreds of missionaries, Chinese Christians, and foreigners. Western retaliation was swift and effective, but when Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997, the Western emphasis was upon forgetting, the Chinese emphasis upon remembering.
9. New Light on the ‘Heart of Darkness’, Angus Mitchell, History Today, December 1999
In 1899, Joseph Conrad’s novel attacked British imperialism in Africa and the Social Darwinist principles which were its foundation. It also spawned a strong humanitarian movement to end wide-spread abuses against Africa’s people.Unit 2 The Ferment of the West, 1500–1900
10. The First Feminist, Shirley Tomkievicz, Horizon, Spring 1972
She did not hate men, nor did she deny the traditional roles of women as wives and mothers. However, in the late eighteenth century, Mary Wollstonecraft pursued a successful writing career and argued that the female had as good a mind as the male.
11. Benjamin Franklin: An American in London, Esmond Wright, History Today, March 2000
From 1757 to 1775, Franklin, an American colonist, lived in London and witnessed the growing rift between colonies and mother country. His peculiar perspective allowed him to see both sides of the coming struggle, but eventually British policies led to his support for the cause of colonial independence from England.
12. George Mason: Forgotten Founder, He Conceived the Bill of Rights, Stephan A. Schwartz, Smithsonian, May 2000
He thought public service was a duty, supported the American Revolution, and believed in the natural rights of people. He participated in the writing of the Federal Constitution, yet refused to endorse it because there was no Bill of Rights. George Mason thus sacrificed his public reputation, and he remains a “forgotten founder.”
13. This Is Not a Story and Other Stories, Eugen Weber, The New Republic, February 1, 1993
Denis Diderot was an 18th century French thinker/writer/editor who was responsible for creating the Encyclopedia, the largest compendium of written knowledge in the western world to that date. The world he and his colleagues—Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu—described became a key text of the Age of Enlightenment, which paved the way for the creation of our modern world.
14. From Mercantilism to ‘The Wealth of Nations’, Michael Marshall, The World & I, May 1999
Jean-Baptiste Colbert developed mercantilist economic ideas under Louis XIV in an attempt to create a favorable balance of trade for France. His ideas clashed with the later free trade thoughts of Adam Smith of Scotland. The controversy continues today because nations still worry about unfavorable trade flows.
15. The Return of Catherine the Great, Tony Lentin, History Today, December 1996
Catherine the Great of Russia (1762–1796) was one of a group of national leaders known as enlightened despots, rulers who governed with an iron fist, but tried in varying degrees to initiate reforms to help their people. A fascinating character, she ultimately failed to bring Enlightenment values to Russia.
16. As Good as Gold?, T. J. Stiles, Smithsonian, September 2000
Wampum, bales of tobacco, coins, paper, and gold have all been used as money—a “medium of exchange” as the economists call it—in the United States. Now, paychecks are issued electronically and money is an electric current.
17. A Woman Writ Large in Our History and Hearts, Robert Wernick, Smithsonian, December 1996
She wrote novels, smoked cigars, wore men’s clothing, had a string of love affairs, and adopted a man’s name. Living in France, George Sand set an example of freedom for women to pursue a profession as well as to care for a household.Unit 3 The Industrial and Scientific Revolutions
18. Eyes Wide Open, Richard Powers, New York Times Magazine, April 18, 1999
An obscure Arab in the tenth century resolved a question that had bothered thinkers for 800 years—did light travel from the eye to an object or was it the reverse? Ibn al-Haytham invited people to observe the sun, and realized from the results that light traveled to the eye. His emphasis upon direct observation later became a foundation stone for the development of the scientific method in Europe.
19. In God’s Place, Alan Lightman, The New York Times Magazine, September 19, 1999
With his great book Principia, Isaac Newton not only explained fundamental scientific ideas about force, inertia, and gravity, but he also destroyed Aristotle’s division between earthly and heavenly knowledge. There was in Newton’s thought the implicit assumption that the physical universe could be known. This idea was an advance in the development of human self-awareness.
20. The Workshop of a New Society, The Economist, December 31, 1999
The industrial revolution began in Great Britain. There were various contributing factors such as iron technology, availability of coal, rural industries, growing demand, political stability, and geographic isolation. At first there were problems and concerns regarding urbanization and worker safety, but by 1900 the British citizen was better fed, housed, clothed, politically represented, and entertained than ever before in history.
21. The X Factor, Mark Elvin, Far Eastern Economic Review, June 10, 1999
In the eleventh century, the Chinese utilized principles of mass production and mechanization, but did not experience an industrial revolution. Disruption by warfare, lack of innovation, environmental destruction, and faults in the organization of production are the common reasons given for the failure, but it is still a historical mystery.
22. Samurai, Shoguns & the Age of Steam, Ron Clough, History Today, November 1999
The Industrial Revolution made its way to 19th century Japan where the new Meiji government was in the process of making Japan a world power. To build their rail system, they imported help from England, completing this prodigious task which revolutionized and modernized the country.
23. The Transatlantic Telegraph Cable, Gillian Cookson, History Today, March 2000
The completion of a lasting transatlantic telegraph cable in 1866 provided instant communication between the two hemispheres. The task was not easy to complete, but it strengthened the financial and commercial markets and whetted the appetite for fresh news.
24. A Tale of Two Reputations, Jared Diamond, Natural History, February 2001
Jared Diamond examines the life and work of two of the 19th/20th centuries most influential thinkers—Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud—and assesses their impact on the modern world. Although Diamond calls both “irreplaceable,” we are more critical of Freud’s errors than we are of Darwin’s because they have had a more direct impact on our lives.
25. The 20th-Century Scientific-Technical Revolution, Mikulas Teich, History Today, November 11, 1996
Near the end of the 20th century, Mikulas Teich looks at the scientific and technical changes that have occurred since 1900. He sees them as responsible for creating a new world culture and global organization, but concludes that the century’s emphasis on money over philosophy and aesthetics threatens to dampen the progress already attained.Unit 4 The Twentieth Century to 1950
26. On the Turn—Japan, 1900, Richard Perren, History Today, June 1992
Following the visit by Commodore Matthew Perry’s flotilla in 1853 and the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Japan rapidly westernized. By 1900 the transformation was so great that there was no turning back time. The Japanese victory in 1904–1905 over Russia demonstrated Japan’s success in becoming a great power of the world.
27. Home at Last, Bill Powell and Owen Matthews, Newsweek, July 20, 1998
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, as the new leader of the Soviet Union, ordered the murder of Nicholas II and his family in 1918. In 1991 the skeletons were exhumed and subjected to DNA testing for identification. The whole family, including Anastasia, along with various servants, had been killed. The remains were reburied at the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg as a gesture of national healing.
28. Gandhi and Nehru: Frustrated Visionaries?, Judith Brown, History Today, September 1997
Gandhi and Nehru, India’s most important 20th century figures, played pivotal roles in their nation’s push toward home rule. The former, a moral leader, the latter a political one, had differing visions of how to achieve the same goal, a strong, unified India. Today, the visions of these two giants have been lost in a maze of provincialism and religious strife. It behooves India’s modern leaders to return to the path set by Gandhi and Nehru.
29. The Roots of Chinese Xenophobia, Dennis Van Vranken Hickey, The World & I, July 2002
National humiliations caused by Western imperialist actions have made China xenophobic and paranoid regarding relations with Western nations. It still affects Chinese reactions to the West today.
30. The Dirty A-Word, Peter Neville, History Today, April 2006
Chamberlain’s name has become synonymous with appeasement. History has treated him badly for giving into Hitler over the Sudetenland. However, his actions could be viewed today as rational and necessary.
31. Women in the Third Reich, Renate Wiggershaus, Connexions, Volume 36 1991
Nazi ideology showed contempt for women and assigned to them the role of procreation of Aryan children. Why was National Socialism not widely rejected by women?
32. Exposing the Rape of Nanking, Iris Chang, The Rape Of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust Of World War II, 1997
After taking Shanghai in 1937, Japanese forces moved against Nanking where widespread atrocities occurred—260,000 to 350,000 Chinese murdered, 20,000 to 80,000 Chinese women raped and tortured. The death toll was greater than that of the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but it has remained an obscure event because of cultural and political reasons.
33. His Finest Hour, John Keegan, U.S. News & World Report, May 29, 2000
Although Hitler thought that Great Britain would surrender, Winston Churchill rallied his country to fight to the death. He was an orator, book writer, soldier, journalist, and politician. His oratorical skills inspired the British people to gain ultimate victory.
34. Judgment at Nuremberg, Robert Shnayerson, Smithsonian, October 1996
Following the end of World War II, German leaders were brought to trial at Nuremberg to answer to “crimes against peace.” Ten were hanged and one committed suicide. The trial upheld the rule of law and resisted the temptation to force mass guilt and executions on the German people.Unit 5 The Era of the Cold War, 1950–1990
35. The Plan and the Man, Evan Thomas, Newsweek, June 2, 1997
In 1947, George C. Marshall, the American secretary of state, announced the “Marshall Plan” in a speech at Harvard. The plan provided $13.3 billion in aid to the ravaged countries of Europe to help them recover from World War II and to hold off the spread of communism. The British foreign minister called it a “lifeline to a sinking man.”
36. Korea: Echoes of a War, Steven Butler, U.S. News & World Report, June 19, 2000
The Korean War was an intervention under the United Nation’s flag, but was also the first taste of defeat and limited war for the United States. After millions of people were killed, including 36,500 Americans, the war settled nothing, and Korea remained divided along the same line established at the end of World War II.
37. Coming to Terms with the Past, Rikki Kersten, History Today, March 2004
Since the end of World War II, Japan has mostly avoided accepting blame for war crimes its military forces committed during the conflict. One Japanese historian, Ienaga Saburo, forced the Japanese government to include some mention of these war crimes in their public school textbooks, a step in the right direction.
38. Iraq’s Unruly Century, Jonathan Kandell, Smithsonian, May 2003
From British protectorate to Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, Iraq, the land that was once an ancient cradle of civilization, has had few bright moments. Dominated by Britain for more than fifty years, it was governed by a constitutional monarchy that was eventually overthrown by a military coup d’etat. This brought about a diabolical one-man rule, which ended with the recent United States-sponsored war. What will the future bring to Iraq’s second century?
39. The USA in Vietnam, Kevin Ruane, Modern History Review, April 2003
“Why did the United States become involved in the Vietnam War?” is a question still being asked today. Kevin Ruane presents an answer with a survey of American foreign policy during the first two decades of the Cold War (1945–1965). He traces growing American commitments to contain communism in four consecutive presidential administrations. Gradually the commitments grew larger, ultimately leading to one-half million troops being sent to Vietnam during the Lyndon Johnson presidency.
40. The Common Currents of Imperialism, Gregory Shafer, The Humanist, September/October 2003
The Spanish-American War marked the United States’ beginning as an imperialist nation. Our resultant actions in the Philippine Islands began a process that some see being used in our war in Iraq today.Unit 6 Global Problems, Global Interdependence
41. Like Herrings in a Barrel, The Economist, December 31, 1999
In 1798 Thomas Malthus, at a time when the world’s population was close to one billion, predicted famine and pestilence as a result of future overpopulation. In 2006 the population will reach 6.5 billion. Fertility is slowing, however, and Earth’s population may stabilize in 2050.
42. The Weather Turns Wild, Nancy Shute, U.S. News & World Report, February 5, 2001
There is a growing scientific consensus about the warming of global climate. Although there is debate about its effects, it will likely result in a rise in sea levels, hotter cities, drought, flooding, and the dislocation of millions of people.
43. Bombs, Gas and Microbes, The Economist, June 6, 1998
It has become increasingly easy to assemble atomic bombs, poison gases, and deadly germs that might be used in warfare. The spread of these technologies seems impossible to stop, and the best protection for the world is to persuade countries to give up the quest for mass destruction for their own benefit.
44. 10 Million Orphans, Tom Masland and Rod Nordland, Newsweek, January 17, 2000
In sub-Saharan Africa about 6,000 people die every day from AIDS. This has resulted in an orphan crisis unmatched in size and scope in all the history of the world. Orphan children with AIDS are often abandoned and others are subject to malnutrition and exploitation.
45. In God's Name: Genocide and Religion in the Twentieth Century, Stephen R. Haynes, The Christian Century, February 27, 2002
Read a comparative analysis of the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and the Jewish Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis during World War II. Striking similarities appear, including the complicity of large numbers of Christians in each genocide. There is also a chilling conclusion: Rwanda proves that world leaders learned nothing from the Jewish Holocaust. Will future historians speak about the Rwandan genocide in the same way that contemporary historians speak about the Holocaust?
46. Terror in the Name of God, Mark Juergensmeyer, Current History, November 2001
Terrorism today has a new face—not political but religious. Its tactics are also different—not assassinations but random acts of violence designed to strike fear into its enemies. And the presumption of being on the right side in a cosmic good v. evil battle provides justification for these actions.
47. A New Generation in the Middle East, Elizabeth Warnock Fernea, Saudi Aramco World, January/February 1998
The future of the Middle East may be in the hands of its present generation of young people, who have high material expectations and occupational ambitions. Representing almost half of the Islamic population, they will control the destiny of their region, and its quest for peace.