Origins of World War One – Top Ten Booklist

Guns of August

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, it ultimately led to further instability and a second world war. 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. These works all tend to agree that no government wanted to start a general war in Europe and dismiss the old idea that Germany was solely responsible for the war. They books shift blame for the immediate start of the war either on the miscalculations or errors of judgments of politicians. They also all agree that nationalism and international rivalry encouraged reckless decision making by governments and the militaries.

Read the list at DailyHistory.org. 

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

Privateering

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.

Faye M. Kert has finally written a comprehensive history on the privateers of the War of 1812. Privateering: Patriots & Profits in the War of 1812 published by Johns Hopkins University Press“highlights the economic, strategic, social and political impact of privateering” and explains why the dangers of piracy ultimately convinced the British to end its conflict with the United States.

Kert was previously a underwater archaeologist and she earned a PhD from the University of Leiden. She is currently an independent historian and the current book review editor for The Northern Mariner published by the Canadian Nautical Research Society. She is also the author ofTrimming Yankee Sails: Pirates and Privateers of New Brunswick and Prize and Prejudice: Privateering and Naval Prize in Atlantic Canada in the War of 1812.

Here is the interview with Faye M. Kert.

Read the Interview at DailyHistory.org.

Why was Rommel defeated at El Alamein?

El_ALAMEIN_3
Erwin Rommel at El Alamein

The Battle of El Alamein was the most important battle of the North African conflict between German and Italy and the British Empire. The battle, which was in reality, a series of battles, has entered military legend and it is one of the best-known battles of WWII. The battle was involved some of the most famous generals of the war, including Bernard Montgomery and Erwin Rommel.

The battle was a turning point in the war. It was the first time that the western allies had decisively defeated the Germans on the battlefield and allowed them to clear the German and Italians out of North Africa and ultimately to invade Italy. This article will discuss the reasons for the failure of the Germans at El Alamein and demonstrate that it was because of inferior German and Italian numbers, inadequate supplies, and above all because of unrealistic objectives.

Read the rest of the article at DailyHistory.org. 

How did hunting become a symbol of the royalty?

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800px-The_Royal_lion_hunt_reliefs_from_the_Assyrian_palace_at_Nineveh,_dead_lions_and_a_lioness,_about_645-635_BC,_British_Museum_(12255284476)
Scene of dead lions shot on a hunt by an Assyrian king

For centuries, hunting became associated with kingship, where large tracts of land were preserved for the kings’ pleasure as they would hunt a variety of game and even exotic animals imported from abroad. While on the surface this was merely an excess that kings exercised and may have had little to do with running the affairs of the state, from the earliest development of kingship, and until much later periods, hunting was seen as critical for displaying royal authority. Far more than pleasure or sport, hunting had an important social function in establishing not only the kings’ power but demonstrating the vitality of the state.

Read more at DailyHistory.org

Was the Destruction Perpetrated by Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman Necessary to End the Civil War?

Grant photo

January 1, 1863 marked a pivotal moment in the American Civil War. On this date the Emancipation Proclamation, the preliminary of which was issued by President Lincoln on September 22, 1862, took full and permanent effect, thus changing the Union’s ultimate war goal. The Civil War was no longer being fought to preserve the antebellum Union but rather, in the words of Lincoln, was to be a war of “subjugation…the [old] South” was to be destroyed in favor of “new propositions and ideas.”[1]

Once the aim of the war changed for the Union, so too did its leaders. The harsh and unpopular actions that were necessary to prevent the prolonged bloody carnage of continual war were tasked to three men. Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and William T. Sherman innately understood what needed to be done in order to end the war and they courageously performed these duties.

Read the article at DailyHistory.org.

Gilded Age/Progressive Era History Top Ten Booklist

Metaphysical Club

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. In other words, several of these books are seeking to create a grand narrative of the era to help their readers understand it.

Admittedly, the border between the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era is somewhat murky. There are not any of the easy starting and stopping points that can be pointed to for defining eras such as Colonial America, the American Civil War, Reconstruction or the Cold War. Arguably, even the term Gilded Age is somewhat archaic and perhaps the era should be renamed. In a way, this listed is focused on the last thirty years of the Nineteenth Century and the implications of those decades on the start of the Twentieth Century. Many people have pointed to similarity of the issues between the Gilded Age/Progressive Era and our present America.

Read the booklist at DailyHistory.org.

Fate of the Revolution: Interview with Lorri Glover

VDC book cover
The Fate of the Revolution: Virginians Debate the Constitution

Starting in 1787, states began to ratify the newly drafted federal Constitution which would determine the fate of the new American Republic. In order for the Constitution to go in effect, nine of the states needed to agree to the document. While five states quickly ratified the Constitution between December 1787 and January 1788, the country’s eyes stayed on Virginia. Virginia was the most populated and largest state and it was critical for the state to ratify the Constitution to legitimize the process.

Lorri Glover’s new book, The Fate of the Revolution: Virginians Debate the Constitution published by Johns Hopkins University Press, explores the dramatic battle that took place during the Virginia Ratification Convention. Virginia’s convention was notable because some of the most influential founding fathers had staked out positions on the Constitution in stark opposition to one another. As Patrick Henry, James Madison, George Mason and John Marshall publicly debated the merits of the new Constitution, the nation waited for a decision. Glover explores the constitutional questions that divided Virginia and shows how these questions are still relevant in understanding the Constutition.

Lorri Glover is the John Francis Bannon Professor of History at Saint Louis University. She has written extensively about the early American Republic and the founding fathers. She has also written Founders as Fathers: The Private Lives and Politics of the American Revolutionaries (Yale University Press, 2014), The Shipwreck that Saved Jamestown: The Sea Venture Castaways and The Fate of America, with co-author with Daniel Blake Smith (Henry Holt Publishers, 2008), Southern Sons: Becoming Men in the New Nation (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007), and finally All Our Relations: Blood Ties and Emotional Bonds Among the Early South Carolina Gentry (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000).

Read the interview at DailyHistory.org.