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Annual Editions: World History, Volume 2
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, by writing from the perspective of our twenty-first century world.
2. The Mughal Dynasties, Francis Robinson, History Today, June 2007
Although originally viewed as Islamic conquerors, the Mughals established dynasties that practiced an inclusive tolerance and encouraged artistic endeavors. The Taj Mahal in Agra has become their most lasting legacy.
3. 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.
4. The Real First World War and the Making of America, Fred Anderson, American Heritage, November/December 2005
Known as the French and Indian War in the American colonies, the Seven Years’ War, fought on three continents, was truly a world war. It had a profound impact on the colonies and a most detrimental one on the Native Americans who had inhabited the land for centuries.
5. 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.
6. How American Slavery Led to the Birth of Liberia, Sean Price, The New York Times Upfront, September 22, 2003
Liberia was founded by African-Americans who emigrated from the United States in the 1820s. Their descendents dominated the politics of the region until a bloody coup by native Africans ended their rule.
7. Fighting the Afghans in the 19th Century, Bruce Collins, History Today, December 2001
British involvement in nineteenth century Afghanistan produced troubles and eventually a brokered peace. The problems the British faced are similar to those facing the United States today.
8. 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 that were its foundation. It also spawned a strong humanitarian movement to end widespread abuses against Africa’s people.
9. The World, the Flesh and the Devil, Robert W. Thurston, History Today, November 2006
The image of women as witches was a staple of European life for centuries. It took modern rationalism to finally put witch hunts to an end, but this did not occur before many had suffered at the hands of religious and political leaders.
10. The Luther Legacy, Derek Wilson, History Today, May 2007
Martin Luther was a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation. He left a legacy that still touches human lives at every level—individual, family, church, and state.
11. Elizabeth I: Gender, Power and Politics, Susan Doran, History Today, May 2003
Historians who judge Elizabeth I’s rule seem preoccupied with the gender issue. Some, today, find claims of her being "the British feminist icon" to be overstated. Her greatest legacy may be that she proved that a woman could be an exceptionally successful ruler.
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. A Disquieting Sense of Deja Vu, Howard G. Brown, The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 4, 2006
During the French Revolution, the nation’s attempt to establish a democracy was threatened by a propensity toward violence in order to guarantee its success. Present day democracies, including ours, now threatened by world terrorism, should be careful not to repeat the French use of violence to guarantee democratic government.
16. The Paris Commune, Robert Tombs, History Review, September 1999
In 1871, citizens of Paris revolted against their own government. The Paris Commune, as it was called, was eventually defeated by government forces, with dire consequences, including imprisonment and even quasi-legal executions. To many, it may have seemed that The French Revolution was repeating itself.
17. 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.
18. John Locke: Icon of Liberty, Mark Goldie, History Today, October 2004
Political liberals and conservatives have extolled the virtues of John Locke’s political ideals. Throughout history, his work has been used and abused by almost any group that has an axe to grind. In the Twentieth century, his work has become as popular as ever, as more nations embrace the liberty and freedom inherent in his words.
19. 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.
20. Slavery and the British, James Walvin, History Today, March 2002
The Trans-Atlantic slave trade grew to be dominated by British entrepreneurs, who used it to increase their status, power, and wealth. Not a comfortable legacy for a nation that prides itself on its democratic institutions.
21. Samurai, Shoguns and the Age of Steam, Ron Clough, History Today, November 1999
The Industrial Revolution made its way to nineteenth 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, and completed this prodigious task which revolutionized and modernized the country.
22. No Marx without Engels, Tristram Hunt, History Today, April 2009
There can be no doubt that Karl Marx is credited with the creation of communism, and his partner Friedrich Engels has been consigned to the role of wealthy benefactor. However, an examination of the circumstances actually shows that, without the latter’s financial and moral support, Marx’s work might never have seen the light of day.
23. Sputnik + 50: Remembering the Dawn of the Space Age, Ron Cowen, Science News, October 6, 2007
In 1957, Russia’s Sputnik became the first artificial satellite to orbit the earth. It not only captured the attention of the world’s peoples, but also paved the way for a long and expensive competition, which ultimately led to the Space Age.
24. From Boer War to Timor: Warfare in the Twentieth Century, Keith Suter, Contemporary Review, December 1999
Warfare was a regular part of the century’s landscape, with small-scale guerrilla conflicts and massive world wars providing the parameters. If motives for war continue to tempt, an assessment of the twenty-first century might produce similar results.
25. Two Cheers for Versailles, Mark Mazower, History Today, July 1999
The claim that the treaty that ended World War I was responsible for World War Il has been a common historical refrain. Perhaps too much criticism has been given to the Treaty of Versailles. It doesn’t rate a resounding approval; perhaps a quiet two cheers.
26. One Family’s Tryst with Destiny, Jad Adams, History Today, September 2007
The Nehru-Gandhi family was part of India’s political history for most of the twentieth century. Why and how this occurred is woven into the history of this remarkable family.
27. 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.
28. Exposing the Rape of Nanking, Iris Chang, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War 2, 1997
After taking over 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.
29. 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 for "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 of the German people.
30. Starting the Cold War, Geoffrey Roberts, History Review, December 2000
The Cold War is now a thing of the past, but historians still express an interest in the role it has played in our history. Why it began, who was responsible for it, and the effects it produced, will be questions pondered well into the current century.
31. A Case of Courage, Michael Beschloss, Newsweek, May 14, 2007
In the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust, Jews in the Middle East were ready to declare the creation of the new nation of Israel. Support from the United States was crucial to its success, and after a heated debate within the administration, President Harry S Truman made it possible.
32. 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 in order 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."
33. 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.
34. Mao Zedong: Liberator or Oppressor of China?, Michael Lynch, History Review, September 2002
Though considered one of China’s most beloved figures during his lifetime, Mao Zedong’s image as well as his ultimate place in Chinese history has been tarnished by later assessments of his rule. The jury is still out regarding his influence on China and the world.
35. 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?
36. Remembering the War—Japanese Style, Kiichi Fujiwara, Far Eastern Economic Review, December 2005
Japan has not yet come to terms with the large-scale war crimes committed by its armed forces during World War II. Protests from China and South Korea, as well as those from other Asian nations, threaten Japan’s relationships with its neighbors. But, a series of conservative/nationalist governments in Japan has failed to solve this serious problem.
37. Coming to Terms with the Past: Former Yugoslavia, Dejan Djokic, History Today, June 2004
Formerly referred to as Europe’s powder keg, the Balkans were united after World War II with the creation of Yugoslavia. In the 1990s, ethnic rivalries led to wars, which eventually destroyed Yugoslavia. War Crime trials emanating from these wars offer some hope than an area plagued by sectarianism can finally come to terms with its past.
38. Coming to Terms with the Past: Cambodia, Ben Kiernan, History Today, September 2004
Few countries suffered more in the twentieth century than Cambodia. The worst tragedy was a genocidal war, waged on its people by the Khmer Rouge. If the country is to move on in this century, it is necessary to provide closure on this horrific past.
39. The Weather Turns Wild, Nancy Shute, U.S. News & World Report, February 5, 2001
There is a growing scientific consensus about the warming of the 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.
40. 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.
41. 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?
42. Women, Citizens, Muslims, Amy Zalman, The Women’s Review of Books, February 2004
Long oppressed, Afghan women have used the defeat of the Taliban campaign to gain equal rights in their country. They are doing so with the structure of both democracy and Muslim law—an intriguing approach.
43. The Jihad against the Jihadis: How Moderate Muslim Leaders Waged War on Extremists—and Won, Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek, February 22, 2010
The key to winning the war between Sectarian Islamists and the West rests in the hearts and minds of moderate Muslims in the greater Middle East. Who is winning that war? Fareed Zakaria offers his optimistic opinion.
44. The Next Asian Miracle, Yasheng Huang, Foreign Policy, July/August 2008
China and India have entered the realm of superpowers; the former used authoritarian means, the latter democratic. While China has an edge now, India may prove to be the ultimate winner.
45. Bad Guys Matter, Paul Collier, Foreign Policy, July/August 2010
Every year Foreign Policy magazine offers its "Failed Nations" issue. A key factor in making the list is an absence of governmental leadership or the presence of leaders who are "evil personified." A list of these failed nations is presented here.
46. A User’s Guide to the Century, Jeffrey D. Sachs, The National Interest, July/August 2008
The twenty-first century’s new world order seems fraught with potential disasters and rife with far too frequent crises. However, vision, leadership, and global cooperation could produce some surprisingly positive results.
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