The HistoryWow Forum


Books such as ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’ and ‘Germany: Memories of a Nation’ have taken a new approach to wide-ranging history, telling many short distinct tales rather than one long narrative. This is arguably a viable way to understand the past. What do you think?

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Three kings, a spate of brutal and innovative battles and an invasion that changed Britain forever. Historians have noted that 1066 was one of the most momentous years in British history. Do you agree?

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August 2020

Many people regard the policy of appeasement, whereby Britain and other European nations made concessions to Hitler in order to avoid conflict, as a disastrous mistake. It was however a rational diplomatic strategy. What do you think?

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British prime minister, author and statesman Winston Churchill (1874-1965) suggested that history would be kind to him as he intended to write it. This is broadly true, as while we may wish it undesirable, history is written by the victors and much of what we know about the past is inaccurate. What do you think?

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French historian Francois Furet once wrote that “Nazism was a form of Bolshevism turned against its initial form”. What do you think?

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From German chancellor Adolf Hitler’s 1930s and 1940s forecast ‘Thousand year Reich’ and the prediction in Japan’s 15th century Onin war that the victors would ‘flourish for ten thousand years’, history shows that predictions are folly. The best that can be done is to identify possible outcomes and seek to anticipate these and acknowledge that there always is the unexpected. What do you think?

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July 2020

Many historians and other commentators have argued that events cannot be properly evaluated until after many decades. So that they can be examined in the cool light of a more dispassionate and quieter period. Famed Russian writer Tolstoy in ‘War and Peace’ has the character of a Russian general intoning the importance of ‘Patience and time. Time and patience’. Accordingly, the success of recent major societal developments such as globalisation cannot be fully evaluated until considerable time has passed. What do you think?

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US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt has been lauded over the decades for having got America out of the Great Depression while his predecessor Herbert Hoover has been largely dismissed as even a failure. Is this an unkind summary of Hoover in light of his many achievements including playing a pivotal role in organising the feeding of a starving Europe after World War One. What do you think?

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Much polemical discussion resonates today about the conquering aspirations of countries and empires in the past. Is this a pointless exercise, when it is clear that the desire to acquire is in the heart of a great number of humans and to decry it goes against the laws of nature. What do you think?

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Stalin’s Spies by Andrew Lownie highlights Cambridge university graduates Guy Burgess, Kim Philby, Donald McLean and Anthony Blunt. In view of Cambridge producing by far the most execrable traitors in Britain’s long history, should the university now apologise for this and should this be the subject of an Oxford Union debate? What do you think?

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Throughout the ages, it has been proven that the power of the individual leader to determine the course of events, especially when in charge of large formations, is beyond doubt. The Union army had to wait three years until U S Grant took command and led the North to victory in the American Civil War. There are numerous other examples of this across from Catherine the Great to Bernard Montgomery. What do you think?

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June 2020

“The Industrial Revolution marks the most fundamental transformation of human life in the history of the world recorded in written documents.” So said famous historian Eric Hobsbawm. Do you agree?

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Fixed-line fortifications were the most important part of warfare for over 2,000 years, but they proved inadequate for modern warfare when the Nazis easily overran the French Maginot Line in 1940. What do you think?

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Theorist Alan Ryan has described political philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) as “the greatest of political thinkers and the boldest, most exciting and most compelling writer on politics in the English language.” Do you agree?

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Famous historian François Furet announced on the bicentenary of the commencement of the French Revolution in 1989 that we, at last, could be certain that the revolution was over. This caused controversy as many claimed the event could never be “over”. What do you think?

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May 2020

The idea that the works of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) were not his, as has been suggested over the centuries, but the work of someone else, is flawed and not worthy of serious consideration. What do you think?

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If the German government had not sent Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924) back to Russia in a sealed train in early 1917, we might today consider Karl Marx (1818-1883) a not very important nineteenth-century philosopher. Do you agree?

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The Boston Tea Party on the night of December 16, 1773 has been exaggerated as a major contributor to the development of the American Revolution between 1773 and 1776. It was, in reality, merely a somewhat pointless and valueless escapade. What do you think?

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The French have claimed that they invented the word ‘civilisation’ and indeed there is much to commend the Frankish people in this regard. The Italians of course produced genius of the likes of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, to name just a few, and many there have claimed they taught the French to cook after French nobles attended a wedding of one of the de Medici’s and returned to France with Italian chefs. It is due to these and other factors that Italy should stand supreme among initiators of civilisation in Europe. What do you think?

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April 2020

England’s 12th century ‘Good King Richard’ has been the benefactor of a perpetual historical hagiographic PR campaign. He was not particularly good, almost bankrupted his country, was never there, and when not exhibiting profound cruelty, such as ordering the massacre of prisoners after taking Acre in August 1191, occasionally indulged in the dubious delights of cannibalism. What do you think?

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The feminist movement, which gained its impetus in the second half of the 20th century, has as one of its central columns that women are far less aggressive than men and if more women held the levers of power there would be fewer wars. What do you think?

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Means of execution over the centuries have included garrotting, the electric chair, gas chamber, firing squad, lethal injection and, of course, hanging. Perhaps the most grisly means of state sanctioned ending of life is the guillotine. It is, however, considered by many to be the quickest and most painless way of ending life, as death is instantaneous and, by and large, cannot be bungled. France had this as their means of execution until 1977. What do you think?

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Genevan-French philosophe Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote a treatise entitled Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men, positing private property is the original source and basis of all inequality, a rebuke of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan. Though Marx’ works are given more credit among historians and academics, it can be argued Rousseau gave birth to modern progressive thought. What do you think?

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While first American president and statesman George Washington (1732-1799) is often depicted as an unparalleled military leader, this is untrue; he lost more battles than he won. What do you think?

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March 2020

By serving as the first ever presidential chief of staff during the Second World War (1939-1945), shaping America’s military and diplomatic policy while hobnobbing with the rich and famous, Admiral William D. Leahy (1875-1959) was arguably the second most powerful man in the world. So says historian Phillips Payson O’Brien. Do you agree?

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While many consider Thomas Edison (1847-1931) a visionary inventor, nearly all his inventions were based on reading up on others unsuccessful work. He must therefore be remembered as a canny businessman rather than natural inventor. What do you think?

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One of the founding myths of the English Reformation is that King Henry VIII (1509-1547) was a protestant. He in fact remained a Catholic until his death, and it was others, notably Anne Boleyn (1533-1536) and Thomas Cromwell (1485-1540), who led England’s transformation to Protestantism. What do you think?

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The ability to successfully rule over different nations, peoples and cultures without ever binding them into a cohesive whole was both the Habsburg Empires biggest strength, but also its ultimate weakness. Do you agree?

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February 2020

Those who wish for a day when warfare is at and end, ignore the fundamental characteristic of humankind, that is, to be warlike. This is proven by the myriad wars over the centuries and in more prosaic examples by the fact that every drama, be it a play, book or Hollywood blockbuster, must have as its central characteristic conflict, otherwise the public will have no interest in it. What do you think?

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Winston Churchill said the first casualty of war was the truth. Propaganda and disinformation have been a key aspect of warfare since time immemorial. From stories, true of otherwise, of German atrocities in Belgium in 1914, to information, false or correct, prior to the Iran and Iraq war of the 1980s, the battle for minds has been pivotal to combatants winning conflicts. What do you think?

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On the 50th anniversary of India’s independence in 1998, a survey in India found something like 90 percent of Indians wished the British were back administering the country, in view of their perceived impartiality, efficiency and fairness. Is the current fashion for condemning the British Empire, revisionist mischief to condemn events of the past and ignore the many benefits to India of Britain’s administration? What do you think?

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English is acknowledged today as the international language. If, however, Spain had been more effective in its colonial aspirations countries such as the United States, Australia and New Zealand would today be speaking Spanish. What do you think?

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January 2020

Many historians and intellectuals put Greece on a pedestal as the key source of Western civilisation, while ignoring the pivotal importance of the Ancient Sumerians, Egyptians and Romans. What do you think?

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The cause of the war in the Pacific in World War Two, which saw thousands of Allied troops die and hundreds of thousands of Japanese military personnel and civilians meet a terrible end, can be laid at the feet of the United States, for denying Japan vital resources, oil, steel etc, in the 1930s. What do you think?

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The English Tudor dynasty were masters of propaganda, immortalised in genealogies, histories and even the works of William Shakespeare (1564-1616). This has led to our poor understanding of the reality of Medieval English politics. What do you think?

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While many of his ideas are outmoded today, it was the rational approach employed by Aristotle (382-322 BCE) that makes him the greatest philosopher and scientist of the ancient world. Do you agree?

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By the time the Nazis came to power in 1933, the German economy was already recovering – but the Nazis took the credit. Do you agree?

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December 2019

Discussing famed 18th century English explorer James Cook (1728-1779), historian J.C. Beaglehole once described how “everybody knows Cook’s name, yet extraordinarily little is known about him. He is an exceptionally difficulty man to get inside.” Do you agree?

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Britain’s decision to enter the First World War (1914-1918) was a rash blunder, a fatal blow that ultimately led to the disintegration of its Empire over four decades of struggle, violence and depression. Do you agree?

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British scientist Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) once stated that Western scientific progress was “built upon a foundation of three key technological discoveries: printing, gunpowder and the magnet.” Do you agree?

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November 2019

In the British Parliament in 1871, Conservative statesman and prime minister Benjamin Disraeli said the Franco Prussian war of 1870/71, which saw Germany defeat France was ‘a greater political event than the French Revolution’, because the balance of power in Europe had been entirely destroyed. Do you agree?

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Dutch philosopher. Her was expelled from the Jewish community in Amsterdam for what was declared to be heretical theology. He became noted for his daring intellectual conjecture. His great work is his posthumously published Ethics in 1677, in which he rejects the dualism of Descartes and advances the concept of a virtually pantheistic deity.

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While the Battle of Britain (1940) is famous for its role in stopping a Nazi invasion of Great Britain, any such attempted conquest was likely not worth the risk and Hitler never seriously considered it. What do you think?

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While James Buchanan (1791-1868) became president in 1857 amidst the slavery crisis before the American Civil War (1861-1865), he was still a hopeless president who made the situation worse in every way. Do you agree?

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The Crusaders’ victories during the First Crusade to the Holy Land (1095-1099), culminating in the capture of Jerusalem on July 15, 1099, are among the most unlikely in military history. What do you think?

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October 2019

Alexander the Great (356-323 CE) built the largest empire in history. He did so, as historian Anthony Everett has noted, with a temperament that glorified war and committed acts of remarkable cruelty. This should define his legacy. Do you agree?

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Judged by loss of life relative to objectives achieved, the American military involvement in the First World War was a disaster. What do you think?

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The history of Jerusalem is the history of the world. Do you agree?

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Alexander the Great (356-323 CE) built the largest empire in history. He did so, as historian Anthony Everett has noted, with a temperament that glorified war and, as well, committed acts of hideous cruelty. This should define his legacy. Do you agree?

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Some members of the French intelligentsia have gone on record as asserting, in traditionally modest fashion, that, as France invented the word civilisation, it is their country which over the centuries has made the greatest contribution to civilising the world. What do you think?

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September 2019

Ancient Rome is remembered for its conquests and the expanse and longevity of its empire. But in reality more focus should be placed on the decadence and debauchery of Roman society and the fact that it eventually imploded through its own excesses and failings. What do you think?

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Due to his role in the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (1863-1914) and the commencement of the First World War (1914-1918), Serbian Gavrilo Princip (1894-1918) had a greater impact on the twentieth century than any other person. What do you think?

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Ancient Rome owes much of its success to being able to successfully appropriate and modify other cultures’ inventions for its own needs. What do you think?

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“Before you study the history, study the historian. Before you study the historian, study his historical and social environment.” So said famous historiographer E.H. Carr (1892-1982). Do you agree?

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August 2019

President James Madison (1751-1836), who led American during the War of 1812 (1812-1815), is the United States’ most underappreciated president. What do you think?

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The British bombing of Nazi Germany during the Second World War (1939-1945) targeted whole cities and districts, rather than specific targets, in the hope of breaking the morale of the population. While this remains controversial, it can be argued that the approach was successful. What do you think?

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Throughout history, no totalitarian system, be it Revolutionary France or Nazi Germany, has ever truly stamped out dissent. Citizens have discussed and shared ideas privately that challenged the official view, even if this view was not challenged in public. What do you think?

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The current fashion of revisiting historical figures and events to disparage the past is merely lamentable historical revisionism which places a negative on every aspect of the earlier times. What do you think?

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July 2019

It is believed by many that vanquished French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte died from arsenic poisoning in 1821 aged 51 on the island of St Helena, where he had been banished six years earlier. If his premature death had not occurred, he would more than likely have again returned to France and the history of the 19th century would have been vastly different. What do you think?

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The graffiti found on the walls of Pompeii, written some 2,000 years ago, along with the relevance today of the philosophical writings of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius from around the same epoch, show that humans never essentially change. What do you think?

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There is no such thing as objective history, for at its core history is just interpretation. Do you agree?

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While British general, later field marshal, Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington (1769–1852) often benefited from lucky circumstances, his skill was to seize upon the opportunities fortune offered him. What do you think?

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June 2019

While British general, later field marshal, Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington (1769–1852) often benefited from lucky circumstances, his skill was to seize upon the opportunities fortune offered him. What do you think?

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Despite its name, there was nothing truly revolutionary about the American Revolution (1775-1783). What do you think?

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“In spite of a lot of general political and ideological waffle, individuals do not always make all that much difference in history.” So said British historian Eric Hobsbawm. Do you agree?

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The autocratic rule of Russian Tsar Nicholas II (1868-1918) made the Russian Revolution inevitable. What do you think?

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May 2019

If the American civil war between 1861 and 1865 had not have occurred, the tremendous economic boom which characterised the last three decades of the 19th century would not have occurred, which in turn set the scene for the US to be the economic powerhouse of the 20th century. What do you think?

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The trend today for history revisionism has seen much criticism of the British Empire, when in reality British rule in many countries introduced an unbiased legal system, incorruptible administration, modern infrastructure such as efficient railways and other benefits to settled countries, and thus on balance was a force for good. What do you think?

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If the United States had have taken a more conciliatory approach to Japan’s needs both in resources, emigration, etc, antagonism would not have escalated in the first 40 years of the last century, culminating in the horrific war in the Pacific between 1941 and 1945. What do you think?

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Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) and Charles Darwin (1809-1882) radically changed human history. According to A.C. Grayling, they moved humankind from the centre of the universe and the summit of creation to a little rock on the outer suburbs of the galaxy, and to a place at the back of the queue of the biological crowd of that rock. Do you agree?

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American political life has always been marked by a shared belief in the rights of property, the philosophy of economic individualism and the value of competition. So argues American historian Richard Hofstadter (1916-1970). Do you agree?

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April 2019

“Revenge is profitable, gratitude is expensive.” So said famed British historian Edward Gibbon (1737-1794). Do you agree with this assessment of history?

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Traditionally it was believed that science advanced by assembling data, with each new piece of data contributing to the development of human knowledge. According to Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996) however, scientific progress relied on short, explosive periods where scientists discarded old models of thinking in favour of new ones. What do you think?

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“The working class made itself as much as it was made.” This line of E.P. Thompson (1924-1993) summarises his view that working people were not victims of history but shaped it. What do you think?

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At the end of the Middle Ages, slavery was almost unknown in Christian Europe. By the nineteenth century, slavery was fuelling the wealth of Europe. It was unrestrained European capitalism, not tyrannical kings or racist ideology, that was responsible for this. What do you think?

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March 2019

The Mayan culture of Mexico and central America flourished for some 600 years. Around 800 CE, however, it began to dissipate due to what many historians have said was economic difficulties and political upheaval. What do you think?

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If Tsar Alexander III of Russia had not died unexpectedly aged only 49 in 1894 the Russian Revolution may never have occurred and the history of Europe would have been vastly different. His successor, the ill-fated Nicholas II, was poorly trained and too young at 26 to take on the onerous burden of reigning over the vast Russian lands. What do you think?

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The plays of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) have been absconded throughout history to individual causes including Marxism, Liberalism, Republicanism and Protestantism. The reality however, in the words of one critic, is that “no culture politics can long hold Shakespeare down.” Do you agree?

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While American patriots thought they faced an efficient and tyrannical regime during the American War of Independence (1775-1783); in reality, overworked and under resourced British colonial administrators were unable to understand, much less control, the events in America. So said historian Nick Bunker. What do you think?

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February 2019

The strategic conception behind the Gallipoli campaign of the First World War (1914-1918) was strong, but it was let down by overly cautious military leadership. So said Gallipoli veteran and British Prime Minister Clement Attlee (1883-1967). Do you agree?

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The German Weimar Republic (1918-1933) failed because it took over the administrative apparatus that had previously served the kaiser, and therefore the civil service was hostile to Weimar from the very beginning. What do you think?

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While historians analyse the past by focusing on either social movements and technological developments, or the intentions of a few great men, the reality is that history is determined by luck. Do you agree?

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The Battle of Britain (1940) is over emphasised for it was, “in retrospect, an extremely one-sided affair”. So said historian Adam Tooze. Do you agree?

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January 2019

Throughout history, Russia has maintained an assertive foreign policy posture. In the 21st century, despite having a much smaller population, it will compete with China for an increasing share of global geopolitical influence. What do you think?

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If America’s Roosevelt administration had not in the 1930s denied Japan vital resources such as oil, urgently needed by the resources depleted country, the war in the Pacific (1941-1945), might never have happened. What do you think?

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The failure of the Spanish Armada in 1588 – aimed at the invasion of Protestant England by Catholic Spain – does not deserve the attention it receives, as ultimately it changed nothing. What do you think?

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Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924), while not a vicious dictator like Josef Stalin (1878-1953), nevertheless prepared the way for Stalin’s leadership. What do you think?

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The Battle of Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941) was the most significant battle, in terms of its impact, of the twentieth century. What do you think?

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December 2018

It was the pursuit of gold which primarily motivated European conquest of the Americas. Do you agree?

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The Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864) shaped modern China in the same way as the First World War (1914-1918) shaped modern Europe. Do you agree?

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Nazi German general Erwin Rommel (1891-1944) is depicted by some historians as apolitical and chivalrous, a victim himself of the Third Reich. What do you think?

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The 1982 Falklands war was an absurdity which Britain should never have fought. The islands were many thousands of miles from Britain and Argentina had a much more legitimate historical claim to sovereignty than Britain. What do you think?

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November 2018

At the end of World War Two in Europe US General George Patton, so rumour had it, wanted to, having defeated Nazi Germany, turn his forces on then ally Soviet Russia to stop the spread of Communism. In the unlikely event have had received orders to do this, how successful would this have been in stopping the spread of Communism into Central Europe?

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Since the end of World War Two Japan has embraced a non-militarist national policy. In view of the country’s long martial history, it is inevitable that it will again embrace a forceful domestic and foreign policy embracing these ancient military characteristics. What do you think?

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There is nothing new under the sun and most of the wisdom advanced for centuries up to the present time was pretty much evident in the writings of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. What do you think?

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The achievements of Ancient Rome, in particular the claim that it spread civilization around the Mediterranean and beyond are greatly exaggerated. In reality, Rome was primarily concerned about the accumulation of wealth and power for its citizens. What do you think?

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The world has much to thank the British for the ending of their slave trade in 1807, which was the catalyst for the surcease of this hideous practice in many parts of the world. What do you think?

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October 2018

If Wilhelm II of Germany, a warmonger who was widely believed to be mad, had never become Kaiser in 1888 after the premature death of his father, the first World War would not have occurred, nor the second world conflagration between 1939 and 1945 and the history of the 20th century would have been vastly different. What do you think?

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Dutch scholar Erasmus (1466 – 1536) once declared “in the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” This sums up his life perfectly. Do you agree?

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The American colonists could never have won the American War of Independence (1775-1783) without French soldiers, finance, ships and weapons. What do you think?

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The Tang dynasty (618-907 CE) was the political and cultural highpoint of imperial China. Do you agree?

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September 2018

US first president George Washington (1732-1799) was an average general. He merely stopped his armies being destroyed before securing some late victories with French support. Do you agree?

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With its geopolitical rivals engaged in mutual destruction and its economy growing rapidly, the First World War (1914-1918) kickstarted the Japanese ambition that would be unleashed during the Second World War (1939-1945). What do you think?

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The Ottoman Empire which lasted for over 500 years and officially collapsed in 1922 was in essence a stabilising force in the area known today as the Middle East. What do you think?

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August 2018

If the European powers had not been so voracious in their plundering of Africa in the 19th century, as a diversion from their centuries old wars between themselves, Africa would have achieved vastly improved general standards of living for inhabitants of the continent and developed economically at a far faster rate. What do you think?

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British painter. He was famous for his society portraits, including Mr and Mrs Andrews (1748) and The Blue Boy (1770). Other famous paintings include his landscapes, notably The Watering Place (1777).

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) once stated that “a country starts out from a name and a flag, and it then becomes them, just as a man fulfils his destiny.” Do you agree with this assessment of the nation-state through history?

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The U.S. Constitution was created in 1788 with a ‘split personality’; as it was a document that both conferred and limited governmental power. What do you think?

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While largely forgotten, no twentieth century British prime minister had a more lasting impact on the lives of British citizens than H.H. Asquith (1852-1928). What do you think?

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“The fundamental and most stable feature of Russian history is the slow tempo of her development.” So said Soviet politician Leon Trotsky (1879-1940). What do you think?

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July 2018

“If the present tries to sit in judgement of the past, it will lose the future.” So said Winston Churchill (1874-1965). Do you agree?

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The death of German statesman Gustav Stresemann (1878-1929) removed the most powerful personality who could have stopped the rise of Nazi Germany. What do you think?

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Throughout history, gold has long been the catalyst for societal economic development. In Victoria, Australia, in the 1950s. In California, in the USA, in 1849. Indeed, if gold had not been discovered then in California, it would be just another state in the American Union, and not, as it is today, on its own, the seventh biggest economy in the world. What do you think?

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The history of Ireland was defined not by British interference in Ireland, but rather by British indifference to it. Do you agree?

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June 2018

“Brave, helpless soldiers, blundering obstinate generals; nothing achieved.’ This is how Oxford historian Professor A.J.P. Taylor summed up the First World War (1914-1918). Do you agree?

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“It is a dangerous myth that we are better historians than our predecessors. We are not.” So said British historian Mary Beard of historians in earlier centuries. Do you agree?

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The French Revolution truly ‘ended’, according to most historians, in either the 1870s or as late as the formation of the Fifth Republic in 1958. What do you think?

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According to historian Susan Kingsley Kent, the Second World War (1939-1945) was ‘quintessentially an imperial war for the British, fought with imperial allies using imperial resources on imperial territory.’ What do you think?

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May 2018

The ten year reign of Chinese Emperor Xianfeng (1851-1861), dominated by domestic rebellions and foreign invasions, was one of the darkest periods in the history of the Qing dynasty. Do you agree?

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If one of the many assassination attempts on Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had have succeeded, there would not have been World War Two and today’s European Union would never have come into existence. What do you think?

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Confucius (551-479 BCE) was the most influential conservative thinker in history. Do you agree?

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The reason Roald Amundsen (1872-1928) beat Robert Falcon Scott (1868-1912) in the famous ‘race to the South Pole’ was Amundsen’s ability to ‘think small’; travelling light with, among other things, a small ship and crew. What do you think?

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Philosopher Adam Smith (1723-1790) famously declared “people of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public.” Do you consider that history supports this view?

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April 2018

American President James Monroe (1758-1831) should be ranked as among the greatest presidents due to his skill in international relations, most notably in the Monroe Doctrine. What do you think?

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According to French philosopher Michel Foucault, the concept of the individual only emerged from 1600 – 1850 and therefore was contingent, not eternal or universal. This is of course saying that we are all natural collectivists because the individual was a recent social construction. In short, it maintains that we humans long to belong, to be part of a group. What do you think?

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“History,” according to pioneering early historian Jacob Burckhardt (1818-1897), “is the record of what one age finds worthy of note in another.” What do you think?

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English philosopher, mathematician and activist Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) wrote a famous book ‘Mysticism and Logic’ which challenged romantic mysticism and promoted a scientific view of society. Many hold the view that it is more common for humans to act in an emotional and irrational, rather than a logical, manner, as, for example, the history of needless warfare clearly evidences. What do you think?

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March 2018

History shows that the rise of one dominant nation which is not orientated to the good will be eventually brought down by an alliance of other nations who object to that dominance. What do you think?

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19th century English writer William Makepeace Thackeray wrote that, ‘The French would do well to eat more beef, for it would make them less inclined to brag, more simple and broad in the shoulders, in fact more English.’ Are there fundamental differences between the English and the French? What do you think?

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According to historian John Man, one of the great ironies of Asian history is that modern day China owes its geographical size and shape to a barbarian non-Chinese who was its greatest enemy, Genghis Khan (1162-1227). What do you think?

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Contrary to traditional thought, the campaign to capture Philadelphia, led by British General William Howe during the American War of Independence (1775-1883), was an important strategic move. What do you think?

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According to Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), the success of the D-Day landings was due to the Allies’ superior air power and poor German intelligence about Allied intentions. What do you think?

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February 2018

The rapid development of the Portuguese colonial empire in the 15th century was partly down to luck; the Portuguese invaded the Indian Ocean and the East Indies just after the Ming Emperor ordered the Chinese to abandon their own naval patrols. What do you think?

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While the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) is often considered to have symbolised the wider international confrontation between revolution and fascism, in reality it was an internal fight, the culmination of long held antagonisms within Spanish society. What do you think?

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Writer and journalist Léon Daudet (1867-1942) famously attacked the “stupid nineteenth century” of French history, admonishing it for its instability and revolutions and counter-revolutions. The reality could not be farther from the truth however. What do you think?

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How did the ancient Egyptians – in building the pyramids – lift 70 tonne stones to a height of some 200 feet, 4000 years ago? Engineers say that would be pretty hard to do today? Nobody really knows how the pyramids were built. No slaves to build them, no wheeled vehicles, no hardwoods – only softwood palms – on which to ‘drag’ millions of stones from distant quarries. Yet the pyramids are near perfect, giant, geometrical, astronomical, etc structures. How can this be explained? What do you think?

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January 2018

Scientists had understood the potential of steam power for hundreds of years prior to it being harnessed in the 17th century. The Ancient Greeks had discussed the aeophile, which showed the possibilities of water vapour. If this harnessing had occurred earlier, the industrial revolution would have began much sooner and the enormous benefits to global economic progress, would have arrived earlier. What do you think?

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According to Adam Goodheart, the year 1861 saw a “second American revolution” as a new generation rejected their parents faith in compromise and appeasement to set Abraham Lincoln on the path to greatness and millions of slaves on the road to freedom. What do you think?

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In no obvious sense was the American Revolution undertaken as a social revolution. It occurred purely as a pragmatic means of freeing the American colonies from English unrepresentative rule and financially burdensome subjugation. What do you think?

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While using the term ‘New World’ to describe European colonisation of the Americas is now redundant, the land was not “new” to those who lived there. The term, however, remains useful. For the European arrival was so disruptive, through wars of conquest, germs of smallpox and the seeds of new flora and fauna, that arguably much of the Americas became ‘new’, as a result. What do you think?

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December 2017

Cambridge historian Sir Herbert Butterfield (1900-1979) declared that the Scientific Revolution “outshines everything since the rise of Christianity and reduces the Renaissance and Reformation to the rank of mere episodes.” Do you agree?

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According to contemporary Chinese writer and historian Jung Chang, Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) was much more of a reformer than historians give her credit for. What do you think?

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“There are all kinds of myths that a people has about itself, some positive, some negative, some healthy and some not healthy. I think that one job of the historian is to try to cut through some of those myths and get closer to some kind of reality. So that people can face their current situation realistically, rather than mythically.” So said James M. McPherson. Do you agree?

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If China’s leadership had been quicker to realize the need for internal change earlier in the 19th century, the upheavals of the 20the century, such as a revolution, foreign invasion and decades of hardline ant-west communism, could have been avoided, and the economic gains now being enjoyed by the world’s most populous country could have occurred much earlier. What do you think?

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November 2017

If France had not suffered so greatly under the reign of King Louis XV, with catastrophic losses such as those that emanated from the Seven Years’ War between 1756 and 1763, the French Revolution would never have occurred and France today, like Britain, would continue to have a monarch as head of state. What do you think?

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History shows that the success of civilisations such as Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece ultimately leads to their downfall, as the rigor and discipline that produced their diverse achievements, is ultimately abandoned, resulting in moral, cultural and then economic decline. What do you think?

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The American War of Independence, far from being a populist democratic crusade, was in fact a military burden shouldered almost excessively by the poorest segments of American society. What do you think?

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The young men who participated in the Crusades to the Holy Land (1095-1291) were motivated less by genuine religious impulse than by the desire for money and adventure. What do you think?

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Nathaniel Hawthorne once described the English Puritans who help found modern America as “black browed, witchunters [who] so darkened the national visage that all subsequent years have not sufficed to clear it up.” This is unfair, as the Puritans were compassionate, brave and intrepid. What do you think?

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October 2017

According to historian Eric Foner, while there is much to admire about Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), to brand him a “model of greatness” as some do is inaccurate; his abilities developed to match the crises he faced. What do you think?

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Contrary to the opinion of some historians, there is no clear evidence that Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE) died of natural causes. He was likely murdered. What do you think?

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According to historian Bernard Bailyn, the peopling of British North America was nowhere near as gentrified as later generations have depicted. These years were brutal; an unrelenting ordeal to avoid squalor and savagery. What do you think?

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If Germany had have been victorious in the First World War, the Second World War would never have taken place and the European Union, which some commentators today argue is about to come apart, would never have eventuated. What do you think?

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September 2017

Historian Gavin Menzies asserts that in 1434 a large Chinese flotilla reached Italy, imbuing cultural ideas that were a catalyst for the Renaissance. Other historians have claimed this could not have occurred. What is your view on this?

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Ten thousand years of civilisation, interspersed with regular wars, has incontrovertibly shown that man is a fighting animal. (Rabbits, for example, by and large, are not.) The first half of the 20th century saw two horrendous world wars, which killed some 100 million people. While small wars, in comparison, continue around the world, are we sadly not due for another major conflagration? What do you think?

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Nothing played a greater role in the defeat of Nazi Germany than the ‘oil campaign’ (1940-1945), the British and American bombing of Axis oil facilities and supply lines. What do you think?

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According to Eric Hobsbawm, the pace of change in the twentieth century was so drastic that it risks “snapping the links between generations, that is to say, between past and present”. Do you agree that this pace of change has transformed how we think about history?

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August 2017

It was Tsar Nicholas II’s (1868-1917) decision in September 1915 to take personal control of the Russian Army on the Eastern Front that made the Russian Revolution inevitable. From then on, continuing military setbacks would be associated directly with Nicholas himself. What do you think?

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While much of the legend of King Arthur is just that, legend, the lack of suitable sources able to prove, or disprove, his existence means that it is best to be agnostic about the question of Arthur’s historicity. What do you think?

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Historians can never truly draw “lessons” from the past. Each historical event is unique, and comparisons only serve to tell us about the priorities of the present, rather than those of the past. What do you think?

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While much of the legend of King Arthur is just that, legend, the lack of suitable sources able to prove, or disprove, his existence means that it is best to be agnostic about the question of Arthur’s historicity. What do you think?

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While the repercussions shook England for over a century, King Henry VIII (1491-1547) had legitimate reason to divorce Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536). The War of the Roses had shattered the certainty of royal succession and the failure to produce a male heir risked delivering the throne to the hereditary enemy, the king of Scots. What do you think?

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Britain finally gave independence to India in 1948 after 300 years of colonial rule. A survey conducted in India on the 50th anniversary of independence in 1998 found that around 90% of Indians surveyed said they wished the British had never left. Would India be better off today, if it was still under British rule? What do you think?

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July 2017

If the Emperor Constantine had not decided in the 6th century CE to build an eastern capital on the site of Byzantium on the Bosporus Strait, thus foreshadowing the eventual division of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire would not have gained the ascendency that it did. What do you think?

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If the United States had not dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki early in August 1945, thus causing Japan to surrender, the Second World War in the Pacific would have gone on for years longer, with hundreds of thousands of casualties, as the Japanese fought to the death against invading US and Allied forces. What do you think?

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While the Battle of the Somme (1916) was avoidable and a colossal waste of life, it did offer some strategic benefits, such as contributing to the dramatic German retreat in 1917. What do you think?

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The argument that the German Weimar Republic (1919-1933) was a “doomed republic”, unlikely ever to succeed due to the power of reactionary forces, is an fundamental oversimplification. What do you think?

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June 2017

Such was the importance of the code breaking at the UK’s Government Code and Cypher School, Bletchley Park, during the Second World War (1939-1945) that it shortened the conflict by at least two years. What do you think?

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“Wars usually begin and end in politics. They are preceded by long negotiation, conference, international efforts for peace, threats, cold war, and intolerable strain.” So said British civil servant Maurice Hankey (1877-1963). What do you think?

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The most influential factor shaping the development of the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s was the fear, real or imagined, of invasion by foreign powers. What do you think?

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In his ranking on the most influential persons in history, historian Michael Hart ranks George Washington (1732-1799) ahead of both Alexander the Great (353-323 BCE) and Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), claiming Washington’s accomplishments were more enduring. What do you think?

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In 1684 some 600 protestant churches were closed in France, thereby further stimulating the exodus of the French protestant Huguenots, a highly industrious and prosperous sector of French society. Can this action be seen as accelerating France’s economic decline that ultimately brought about the French Revolution, a century or so later? What do you think?

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May 2017

Karl Marx, arguably the founder of the worlds transforming economic and social philosophy of Communism, wrote in 1848  that, ‘The history of all hitherto society is the history of class struggles.’ Is Marx correct to place such emphasis on class struggle in the human experience. What do you think?

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Historian Hugh Thomas has written in his ‘A History of the World’ that ‘in general, wars seem, like crime, to have been caused by the desire of the undisciplined to seize the goods of the comfortable.’ What do you think?

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According to historian Desmond Seward, there are significant psychological parallels between the lives of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) and Adolf Hitler (1889-1945). What do you think?

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The importance of the French Revolution is not just its role in overthrowing the traditional order- it also ‘revolutionised’ the concept of revolution. No longer would the term ‘revolutions’ be employed to describe a force of nature, rather the word became singular, a source of political authority itself and a human act. What do you think?

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April 2017

If Pope Clement VII (1478-1534) had granted King Henry VIII (1491-1547) an annulment to his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Britain, along with America, would still be Catholic today. What do you think?

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The ‘real’ Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) is hard to discern, as he is often reduced to serve a purpose in the American history narrative: hero, emancipator, war-monger, orator. What do you think?

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It was the long crisis of confidence within China during the 19th century which led to the collapse of the Manchu monarchy and the birth of the Republic of China in 1911. What do you think?

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“If I had to sum up the twentieth century, I would say that it raised the greatest hopes ever conceived by humanity, and destroyed all illusions and ideals.” So said historian David Christian. What do you think?

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March 2017

If Napoleon Bonaparte had have won the 1815 Battle of Waterloo – the victor, the Duke of Wellington, said it was a ‘close run thing’ – the Bonapartes would be monarchs of France to this day, thus providing French social, economic and political stability for two hundred years. What do you think?

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The great American historian Barbara Tuchman wrote of the difficulty of historical research in the light of different calendars being used as regards dates, as well as exaggeration or at best inexactitude by past chroniclers. For this reason, much of what is taken as historical fact needs to be viewed with skepticism. What do you think?

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China’s long history of internecine wars and conflicts within the country suggest that its current unified posture will not last long, and its lauded world power status in the 21st century will prove illusionary. What do you think?

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If Democrat Stephen A Douglas had have been elected US president in the 1860 election, rather than Abraham Lincoln, the civil war would never have occurred. What do you think?

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Historian Hugh Thomas has written in his ‘A History of the World’ that ‘in general, wars seem, like crime, to have been caused by the desire of the undisciplined to seize the goods of the comfortable.’ What do you think?

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February 2017

The greatest civilizing force the world has ever seen has been the British Empire. This can be seen in terms of benefits to large parts of the world in administration, government, railways, language, equity before the law, probity rather corruption, among a raft of other benefits. What do you think?

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During Sakoku (“the closed country”) from 1633 – 1866, Japan was not completely isolated as two of its most important intellectual currents originated overseas: Confucianism, from China, and Dutch Studies, from the Netherlands. Do you agree?

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“How terribly important the personal characteristics of politicians are … what an immense political influence their good and bad qualities can have on the lives of millions of people.” So wrote Vaclav Havel (1936-2011). Do you agree with this influence of individuals on history?

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According to Michael Hart, Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) “is the man most responsible for the eventual establishment of parliamentary democracy as the English form of government.” What do you think?

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January 2017

Rather than viewing a string of separate conflicts, some historians view the period 1914–45 as a whole as a “European civil war”, considering the period an ongoing struggle between the forces of communism and fascism. What do you think?

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The Forbidden City, modern day Beijing, was a symbol of the grandeur of the Ming Dynasty but also represented its increasing remoteness from the people they governed. What do you think?

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Winston Churchill said the first casualty of war was the truth. Propaganda is a remarkably powerful force in war in motivating military units to fight and in maintaining both military and civilian morale. What do you think?

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According to George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950, “Revolutions have never lightened the burden of tyranny. They have only shifted it to another shoulder.” In the light of Russia replacing the brutal autocracy of the Tsars in 1917 with an equally brutal Communist regime, this argument makes eminent sense. What do you think?

Discuss

December 2016

From a broad historical perspective over the centuries, the horrors that France suffered during World War One and to a lesser extent World War Two were a form of retribution for the fact that France, according to Professor Niall Ferguson of Harvard, has been the most belligerent or war-like European country of the past 1000 years. What do you think?

Discuss

History shows that all empires must ultimately collapse, as success and riches ultimately leads to a decay in discipline and morals which causes these dominant societies to ineluctably implode. What do you think?

Discuss

Despite its existence being perpetuated for thousands of years, there is an argument to suggest that Troy, in today’s northwest Turkey, was not a real city, and that the Trojan War was almost certainly not an historical event. What do you think?

Discuss

If early 20th century German foreign minister Arthur Zimmerman, instigator of the infamous January 1917 Zimmerman telegram, had been assigned another portfolio in his country’s government, the history of the world in the last century would have been blighted with far fewer tragedies. What do you think?

Discuss

There is strong evidence to suggest that Oliver Cromwell, who was a central figure in the English Civil War, and indeed was subsequently offered the Regency of England, contemplated going to America in the 1630s. If he had of done so, in view of his remarkable energy and dynamic personality, this would’ve had a remarkable affect on American history. What do you think?

Discuss

November 2016

“Whether a revolution succeeds or miscarries, men of great hearts will always be victims.” So said Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) in 1834. What do you think?

Discuss

The primary reason behind Robert E. Lee’s invasion of Union territory in September 1862 was to secure a victory of northern soil that would bring about British recognition of the Confederacy. What do you think?

Discuss

Despite what many believe, Karl Marx (1818-1883) did not invent communism. Radical figures such as Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865) had long espoused beliefs that came to be associated with “Marxism”. What do you think?

Discuss

Such has been the power of big companies in American history that historian Alfred Chandler once described business since the Civil War (1861-1865) as being “ten years of competition and 90 years of oligopoly.” What do you think?

Discuss

October 2016

The rulers of the Mughal Empire were formidable conquerors but inept governors. Do you agree?

Discuss

U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) is often depicted by historians as being a weak president; subservient to congress, politically naive and easily manipulated. This is a myth, Grant performed as well as possible in the circumstances. What do you think?

Discuss

If Karl Marx and Frederick Engels had never existed, the great battle between capitalism and labour which so dominated 20th century geo-politics and economics would never have occurred. What do you think?

Discuss

If Germany had have won the First World War, the Second World War would not have taken place and the European Union would never have eventuated. What do you think?

Discuss

September 2016

Special Order 191, detailing critical Confederate positions issued by General Robert E. Lee was recovered by Union Army troops. If it broke through the lines, the Confederates could have routed General McLellan’s army in Maryland and put them in a position to win the American Civil War. What do you think?

Discuss

Despite major upheavals, including the entrance of many women into the workforce for the first time, ideas about gender remained unchanged throughout the First World War (1914-1918). What do you think?

Discuss

While the victory of Aurangzeb (1618-1707) in the Mughal Empire’s War of Succession (1627-1658) is often considered a victory for fanaticism over the religious liberalism of his rival Dara Shikoh (1615-1659), in reality Aurangzeb’s superior political and military skills decided the conflict. What do you think?

Discuss

“There is no Sunday west of St. Louis – and no God west of Fort Smith.” So says the old Wild West adage, but the concept of the American Old West being lawless and godless is for the most part false. What do you think?

Discuss

The rise of Portugal, from minor European country in 1385 to major global empire in the sixteenth century, was driven by the development of the Caravel sailing ship, which combined stability on the seas with the ability to carry large cargoes. What do you think?

Discuss

August 2016

Sparta would never have been able to defeat Athens in the Peleponnesian War (431-404 BCE) had it not been for the financial support of Persia. What do you think?

Discuss

While the war poetry of poets like Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) and Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) has rightly been admired by millions since the First World War (1914-1918), its focus on the horrors of trench warfare has distorted our understanding of the conflict. What do you think? 

Discuss

It is inevitable that China will be the ruling world power in the 21st century, in the light of its 4,000 year long and splendid history of extraordinary achievements, and the decision in the last decades of the 20th century to engage with the outside world. What do you think?

Discuss

“Revolutions have never lightened the burden of tyranny. They have only shifted it to another shoulder.” So said George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950). Do you agree?

Discuss

July 2016

Japan’s Sakoku (closed country) policy, enacted from 1639 to 1853, was not the result of shogunate power policy but a genuine action to combat the threat to native Japanese culture. What do you think?

Discuss

The closest Great Britain ever got to a full-blooded mass revolution was in the weeks and months preceding the passing of the Great Reform Act of 1832. What do you think?

Discuss

“If an historian were to relate truthfully all the crimes, weaknesses and disorders of mankind, his readers would take his work for satire rather than history.” So said Pierre Bayle (1647-1706). What do you think?

Discuss

Without his mother Olympias (375-316 BCE), King Alexander III of Macedon (356-323 BCE) would never have been “the Great”. What do you think?

Discuss

June 2016

The Han Dynasty is often compared with the Roman Empire. Both empires recorded incredible technological discoveries, had advanced administrative, political and legal systems and extended to the limits of the known world. Is such a comparison fair?

Discuss

Without his mother Olympias (375-316 BCE), King Alexander III of Macedon (356-323 BCE) would never have been “the Great”. What do you think?

Discuss

Kaiser William II of Germany’s father was misdiagnosed for throat cancer by the English doctor Morell in the mid 1880s. If this had not occurred, and the immature and impetuous Wilhelm had been kept from the German throne for a number of decades, the history of the world in the 20th century would have been vastly different. What do you think?

Discuss

The defeat of France during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) was by no means inevitable. The French armies were ample and in many ways better equipped. The defeat was simply the result of poor leadership. What do you think?

Discuss

If the Roman Empire had bounced back from its crisis of 376-476, much like it had done previously in the years 188-284, it would have remained a great power dominating a large area and may well have defeated the Muslim invaders in the 7th century. What do you think?

Discuss

May 2016

Karl Marx (1818-1883) said his philosophy was open to multiple interpretations and so the rigid movement that became Marxism distorted Marx’s original message of liberation. What do you think?

Discuss

The most important factor behind the growth of self-government in the British Empire was free trade. This removed mercantilist regulation of commerce and lessened the need for tight control over colonies of white settlement, enabling self-government within the Empire. What do you think?

Discuss

If the Normandy landings of 6 June 1944 had failed, the consequences would not have been a Nazi victory but a Communist Europe, as the Red Army would have made it to the English Channel, liberating Germany and France en route. What do you think?

Discuss

Such was the imbalance in manpower, skill and experience between the forces of Spain and England that if the Spanish Armada had successfully landed with the Duke of Parma’s soldiers, then England would easily have been conquered. What do you think?

Discuss

April 2016

“Myth, memory, history – these are three alternative ways to capture and account for an elusive past, each with its own persuasive claim.” So stated American historian Warren I. Susman. Do you agree?

Discuss

While much maligned for its perceived brutality, the Spanish Inquisition of the early sixteenth century succeeded in its goal of ensuring religious unity in Spain. What do you think?

Discuss

Three individuals personify the British Empire: Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596) for the early period, Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) for the middle and Winston Churchill (1874-1965) for the late imperial age. What do you think?

Discuss

According to historian Eric Hobsbawm, the concept of “nation” is a newcomer in human history and the product of particular historical conjectures; it is not a permanent and universal element of human nature. What do you think?

Discuss

March 2016

There can be little doubt that the Xia Dynasty (c.2070- 1600 BCE), the first dynasty in traditional Chinese history, is little more than a myth. What do you think?

Discuss

It was political rivalry between Monarchy and Church that was the most important factor in the development of medieval Europe. What do you think?

Discuss

Like Victoria in Australia and the US state of California, the discovery of gold in the middle of the 19th century was the key factor behind both becoming enduring economic, financial and business centres. What do you think?

Discuss

In view of the ancient rivalries between China and Japan over the centuries, it is inevitable that in this new technologically advanced age, animosities will again emerge, potentially leading to war. What do you think?

Discuss

While histories are focused on armies, fleets and technology, the most important tool of empire building was the charting and mapping of oceans, coasts and land, which defined sea and trade routes and identified territory to be claimed and colonised. What do you think?

Discuss

February 2016

According to historian Rory Muir, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), was the greatest and most successful of all British generals. What do you think?

Discuss

The control of the railroad won the Union the American Civil War (1861-1865). What do you think?

Discuss

The fundamentals of military strategy remained remarkably consistent between the late nineteenth century and 1945. Do you agree?

Discuss

It was a lack of popular support that was the main reason why the Nationalists were unable to decisively defeat the Communists in China up to 1945. What do you think?

Discuss

January 2016

While the Roman Empire is often considered an example of stability and prosperity, in reality it was perennially unstable and teetered from crisis to crisis until its collapse and division in the fourth century. What do you think?

Discuss

While optimism about the future remains justifiable, history shows that humankind is highly quarrelsome and conflict prone. We are, therefore, statistically due for a major international war in the short to medium term, as much as we may wish for this to not occur. What do you think?

Discuss

If Thomas Jefferson had not instituted the Louisiana Purchase of 1903, buying an enormous swathe of land from France, which was the greatest land purchase in history, it is unlikely that Continental America would have developed as fast as it did. What do you think?

Discuss

December 2015

European explorers from the 15th century onwards were motivated less by Christian zeal and more by the pursuit of glory and, more particularly, gold, spices, and slaves. What do you think?

Discuss

According to historian Gavin Menzies, in 1434 a large Chinese fleet visited Italy, spreading cultural ideas that helped spark the Renaissance. Other historians have claimed this could not have taken place. What do you think?

Discuss

Although James Watt (1736-1819) was a great steam pioneer of the industrial age, without the commercial nous of partner Matthew Boulton (1728-1809), Watt would never have succeeded and the Industrial Revolution would have been far less “revolutionary”. What do you think?

Discuss

The Catholic challenge to the rule of Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603) was never truly serious. What do you think?

Discuss

According to historian Keith Jenkins, “when we study history we are not studying the past but what historians have constructed about the past.” What do you think?

Discuss

November 2015

The rapid ascent of Japan to the rank of global power from 1853 onwards is one of the most remarkable and surprising stories in modern world history. What do you think?

Discuss

While they spouted very different ideologies, the methods employed by the Russian Empire and Soviet Union to rule their people shared many similarities. What do you think?

Discuss

While often depicted as bloodthirsty barbarians, the armies of the Mongol Empire were merely masters of intimidation. They were aware that if they spread rumours of Mongol barbarity, opposing armies would quickly lack the will to fight. What do you think?

Discuss

While he was often personally unpopular, it was the vision and strategy of Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) that enabled the considerable Bolshevik success in Russia between 1917 and 1924. What do you think?

Discuss

October 2015

The nineteenth century was disastrous for China, as it was overtaken by other powers and lost its advantages in science, technology and transportation. Responsibility for this can be laid squarely with Manchu officials, who resented and prevented every attempt to learn from the West. What do you think?

Discuss

According to historian Robert Lacey, John Wesley’s (1703-1791) success in appealing directly to the working classes meant that in his own way he can be considered a godfather of socialism. What do you think?

Discuss

While the Battle of Agincourt (1415) is a famed English victory, Henry V’s decision to summarily execute several hundred French noblemen was a betrayal of the rules of chivalry and a foretaste of brutal modern warfare. What do you think?

Discuss

Historian James Hawes has described how there are parallels between the United Kingdom in 1864 and the United States of America in 1994. Both countries had no credible rivals to their superiority, were the richest and most potent countries on earth and had a matchless sense of their ultimate destiny. Do you agree?

Discuss

Despite being dour in manner and ungainly in appearance, it was William Pitt the Younger’s (1759-1806) exceptional abilities that allowed him to thrive as Prime Minister despite only being in his 20s. What do you think?

Discuss

September 2015

It was Manuel I of Portugal’s (1469-1521) commercial nous and understanding of science and the arts which enabled Portugal to grow to become a major global empire by the end of the Middle Ages. What do you think?

Discuss

The Peace of Westphalia, a series of treaties signed by the major European powers during 1868, conceptualised the idea of Westphalian sovereignty, or non-interference by state actors in the internal affairs of other nations. Some scholars believe it also re-drew the boundaries of Europe to cause further war. What do you think?

Discuss

While history focuses on his military prowess, Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) was also an astute domestic administrator, and policies like the Civil Code (1804) did much to reform France by 1815. What do you think?

Discuss

If it had not been for his premature death aged 20 at the Battle of Loos, then British soldier Charles Hamilton Sorley (1895-1915) would have been the greatest of all the Great War poets. What do you think?

Discuss

August 2015

While the Lutheran Reformation spread far and wide in the years 1521-1555, this had little to do with the actions of Martin Luther (1483-1546) himself. What do you think?

Discuss

While America did achieve independence, the American War of Independence (1775-1783) sparked many conflicts waged outside the thirteen colonies that Britain fared well in, especially after 1781. As a result, the American War of Independence can be considered a measured success for Britain. What do you think?

Discuss

It was the growing influence of foreign powers that was the main reason behind the disintegration of the Chinese state in the early twentieth century. What do you think?

Discuss

With his 1961 book The Origins of the Second World War, A.J.P. Taylor (1906-1990) shook the historical world by arguing that Hitler did not set out to cause the Second World War as part of a master plan, but blundered into it partly by accident. What do you think?

Discuss

July 2015

Indian nationalist Subhas Chandra Bose (1897-1945), who sought to bring down the British Raj by making alliances with the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939-1945), is unfairly maligned and should be considered a committed idealist against imperialism. What do you think?

Discuss

The so called “Great” Reform Act of 1832, which reformed the British parliamentary system and extended the vote to thousands, is overstated as it merely replaced one elite group with another. What do you think?

Discuss

The concept of growing middle classes, or “rising bourgeoisie”, is one of the greatest myths of European history. The middle classes never grew, as the top levels of the bourgeoisie were continually absorbed into the nobility. What do you think?

Discuss

According to historian Gary Sheffield, Allied military performance during the First World War (1914-1918) gradually improved and by the conflict’s end was effective, thus challenging the traditional idea that the Allied War effort was inept. What do you think?

Discuss

“Pax Britannica” (Peace of Britain), the theory that between 1815 and 1914 the world was devoid of any major conflict due to the dominance of the British Empire, is outdated and no longer reflects our understanding of this period. What do you think?

Discuss

June 2015

According to German writer Sebastian Haffner, during the peak of Nazi Germany 9 out of 10 Germans were “Hitler supporters, Führer believers”. Do you agree that Hitler ever held this much popular support in Germany?

Discuss

The Directory, the five-member executive that governed France between 1795 and 1799, lasted for only four years due to the financial collapse and economic hardship it inherited from the previous revolutionary government. What do you think?

Discuss

The Directory, the five-member executive that governed France between 1795 and 1799, lasted for only four years due to the financial collapse and economic hardship it inherited from the previous revolutionary government. What do you think?

Discuss

If Tsar Alexander III of Russia had not died prematurely aged 49 in 1894 – making way for his weakling son Nicholas II – the Russian Revolution of 1917 would never have occurred. What do you think?

Discuss

May 2015

If the Irish potato famine had not occurred in the mid 1840s, causing millions to emigrate, Ireland, with a then population of some eight million, would have become a major regional economic power. What do you think?

Discuss

During the reign of Emperor Wu of Han (156 BCE–87 BCE), China developed a sophisticated state structure based on a strong Confucian philosophy. As a result, Wu must be considered the foundation for all subsequent Chinese emperors. What do you think?

Discuss

On May 23 1915 Italy entered the First World War on the side of the Allies. Despite hopes this would boost the Allied war effort, Italy’s obsession with futile attacks against Austria-Hungary meant their involvement did not benefit the Allies. What do you think?

Discuss

There can be little doubt that if it was not for Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s extraordinary leadership, the American Civil War (1861-1865) would have ended much earlier, perhaps by mid 1863. What do you think?

Discuss

April 2015

Without the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453, and the consequent migration of many Greeks to Italy, there would have been no Renaissance as we know it. What do you think?

Discuss

According to British military historian B.H. Liddell Hart, the “profoundest truth of war is that the issue of battle is usually decided in the minds of the opposing commanders, not in the bodies of their men.” Do you agree?

Discuss

It was the desire for new sources of gold and silver that was the main reason for the development of the Spanish Empire in the Americas in the 15th and 16th centuries. What do you think?

Discuss

According to historian Ian Mortimer, the Black Death was the most traumatic single event that humanity has ever experienced. What do you think?

Discuss

If President John F Kennedy was not been assassinated on November 22, 1963, the United States’ current reduced position as a leading world player would not have occurred. What do you think?

Discuss

March 2015

It was inability of France to defeat Britain that led Napoleon to make the fatal expeditions into Spain and Russia which ultimately led to the collapse of his Empire. What do you think?

Discuss

While the American Civil War is often remembered for its developments in the technology of warfare, it should also be remembered for its role in changing the way society memorialises conflicts, as for the first time the contributions of ordinary soldiers who died were commemorated equally with their leaders.

Discuss

While the failure of the Spanish Armada to invade England in 1588 is often depicted as a victory for English pluck and determination against overwhelming odds, it was ill fortune and stormy weather that was the real cause of the Armada’s failure. What do you think?

Discuss

While the Mughal Empire achieved more territory than ever before under Emperor Aurangzeb (1618-1707), his autocratic tendencies and abandonment of the religious pluralism favoured by his predecessors ultimately led to the decline of the Mughals. What do you think?

Discuss

February 2015

In 1880 the continent of Africa was largely unexplored by Europeans. Less than thirty years later Africa saw 10 million square miles and 110 million subjects carved up by European powers. While often attributed to the desire to spread Christianity, in reality the ‘Scramble for Africa’ had one cause – the desire for commerce and to make money. What do you think?

Discuss

If Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924) had not been debilitated by a stroke in 1922, then the history of the Soviet Union would have been remarkably different for, while Lenin was a brutal leader, he was not capable of the crimes committed later by Joseph Stalin (1878-1953). What do you think?

Discuss

The single most important reason for the upturn in Allied fortunes during the final year of the First World War (1914-1918) was the decision to unify Allied command under one general, the gifted French Commander Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929). What do you think?

Discuss

The lack of recognition for Carsten Borchgrevink (1864-1934), whose Southern Cross Expedition (1898-1900) arguably initiated the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, is a serious historical oversight. What do you think?

Discuss

January 2015

Both Japan and China decided to limit trade with Europe during much of the 16th and 17th centuries primarily because they could simply see no economic benefit. What do you think?

Discuss

According to historian N.A.M. Rodger, the most important factor in the development of British history has been its navy, which has shaped Britain’s political and social progress since the Vikings. What do you think?

Discuss

The Papal Bull issued by Pope Boniface VIII (1230-1303) in 1299, excommunicating anyone who cut up a human body, so restricted the study of anatomy that it can be considered one of the most damaging decisions in the history of science. What do you think?

Discuss

Contrary to the conventional view, Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) was not conservative and despotic, but rather a strong and innovative leader who helped prepare China the best she could for the challenges of the modern world. What do you think?

Discuss

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) once joked that Americans could always be trusted to do the right thing, once they had done all the alternatives first. This is arguably a worthy summation of United States foreign policy between 1914 and 1941. What do you think?

Discuss

December 2014

The persecution of scientists over the centuries by established religions – Galileo for one – proves again that religion is profoundly anti-intellectual and an impediment to human advancement. What do you think?

Discuss

The long history of the Roman Empire was essentially about a desire for conquest as well as enriching and enhancing the power of Rome’s elite, rather than any concept of spreading civilisation. What do you think?

Discuss

If women had been in more leadership roles throughout history, the world would have experienced far fewer wars. What do you think?

Discuss

While Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) is often hailed as a military genius, he owes his considerable success in battle as much, if not more, to his considerable work rate and attention to detail. What do you think?

Discuss

November 2014

The Ordnance QF 25-pounder was a field gun employed by the British Army during the Second World War. While rarely mentioned, its considerable role in a number of battles, including the Battle of El Alamein, mean it must be considered among the most important pieces of military hardware of the war. What do you think?

Discuss

While it is often maintained that no foreign army has successfully invaded England since 1066, this is in fact untrue, for the success of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 hinged on an invading army of Dutch, German and Danish soldiers. What do you think?

Discuss

The legend of what happened to the Ninth Legion of the Roman Army, which was last recorded in Britain in 108 CE, has fascinated many for generations. Despite the allure, its fate was mundane; it was likely transferred to the Netherlands and disbanded or destroyed fighting in the eastern empire. What do you think?

Discuss

American critic Will Cuppy once humorously noted that ‘Alexander III of Macedonia is known as Alexander the Great because he killed more people of more different kinds than any other man of his time.’ Do you agree?

Discuss

October 2014

The states of Europe conquered by Napoleon were more liberal and tolerant after conquest than they were before. What do you think?

Discuss

Henry Clay (1777-1852) was a natural leader and economic innovator, and clearly the greatest President America never had. What do you think?

Discuss

The period of Roman rule know as the era of the ‘Five Good Emperors’; Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius, was first coined by Niccolò Machiavelli in 1503, and continues to be commonly employed to this day. Such a term is outdated however, as these emperors were not all good nor particularly successful. What do you think?

Discuss

While commonly described as a tyrannical state controlled from the top down, the Soviet Union during the leadership of Josef Stalin (1926-1953) is best described as a haphazard dysfunctional mess. What do you think?

Discuss

The Homestead Act of 1862 made more than 500 million acres of land available to be settled and resulted in the largest migration of Americans in the nation’s history. As a result, it must be considered a major event in American history, equal to the American Civil War. What do you think?

Discuss

September 2014

French republicanism of the late eighteenth and nineteenth century is often depicted as unitary, secular and centralised, but it was in fact not wholly any of these. What do you think?

Discuss

The noted British author William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) noted that ‘a nation is a society united by a delusion about its ancestry and by a common hatred of its neighbors.’ Does history support this assertion?

Discuss

While the reign of Elizabeth I (1533-1603) is now often considered a ‘Golden Age’, the realty was far from the truth. Famine, social unrest and high taxation were all features of her reign, especially from the 1580s onwards. What do you think?

Discuss

While often considered one of the worst American Presidents for his role in combating the Great Depression, Herbert Hoover was in fact an able president who has been unfairly judged by modern standards. What do you think?

Discuss

August 2014

The use of feigned retreat by William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings was crucial to the victory of the Normans, and as such can be considered one of the most important military strategies in British history. What do you think?

Discuss

While a popular topic among historians, Nazi Germany’s youth policies actually had very limited success in winning support for the regime amongst young people. What do you think?

Discuss

It was the need for governments to pay for war which was the primary engine of modern finance. What do you think?

Discuss

According to writer Arthur Koestler, ‘if conquerors be regarded as the engine-drivers of history, then the conquerors of thought are perhaps the pointsmen who, less conspicuous to the traveller’s eye, determine the direction of the journey.’ What do you think?

Discuss

July 2014

It was the Battle of Solebay in May 1672 between the naval fleets of the Netherlands and England which saw the beginning of the decline of the Dutch Empire and the rise of English, and then British, control of the seas. What do you think?

Discuss

The concept of ‘the fall of Rome’ is fundamentally flawed. We should instead consider the era as an evolution into medieval Europe. What do you think?

Discuss

British expansion in Africa in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was primarily motivated by strategic concerns regarding the activities of the country’s rivals, rather than any need for territory itself. What do you think?

Discuss

British author Sir Walter Scott described Napoleon as ‘although too much of a soldier among sovereigns, no one could claim with better right to be a sovereign among soldiers.’ What do you think?

Discuss

While often criticized for undermining traditional American values, the rise of big business in America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was nevertheless the key reason behind America’s staggering economic growth. What do you think?

Discuss

June 2014

The principles of the Enlightenment were the most important factor in the growth of opposition to monarchy in France before the French revolution. What do you think?

Discuss

The establishment of the Bank of England in 1694 is the single most important reason behind the growth in power of the British Empire in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. What do you think?

Discuss

The reasons Mao’s Communists won the Chinese Civil War was because they successfully mastered guerrilla warfare, leaving the Nationalists highly vulnerable. What do you think?

Discuss

After waging forgettable wars in France and Scotland, King Henry VIII of England’s foreign policy was an unmitigated disaster. What do you think?

Discuss

May 2014

The democracy of the Athenian City State, which existed between the 5th and 3rd Century BCE and was one of the world’s first, was fundamentally undermined by war with Sparta. What do you think?

Discuss

The Spanish Empire’s inability to crush the revolt of the Netherlands in the 1570s and 1580s marked the end of Spain as the pre-eminent global power. What do you think?

Discuss

The League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations, would have been a success if the Great Depression had not restricted its progress. What do you think?

Discuss

One of the most powerful myths about the mediaeval age is that they thought the world was flat. There is in fact zero evidence for this, and nearly all major mediaeval scholars considered the world to be a sphere. What do you think?

Discuss

In 1941 George Orwell wrote ‘the fact that we are at war has turned socialism form a text-book word into a realizable policy.’ It is indeed true that the most importance factor in the development of socialism in the west were the two world wars. Do you agree?

Discuss

April 2014

It was the fear of revolution, above all else, which was responsible for the decision of the British parliament to pass the Great Reform Act in 1832. What do you think?

Discuss

The introduction of the Great Reform act of 1832, which significantly extended the franchise in the United Kingdom, was primarily the consequence of public agitation outside Parliament. What do you think?

Discuss

German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe one stated that ‘patriotism ruins history,’ arguing that patriotic sentiment is incompatible with historical scholarship. Do you agree?

Discuss

British victory in the Seven Year’s War (1754-1763), which brought about international dominance, was primarily due to the failure of France to build on its advantages at the beginning of the conflict. What do you think?

Discuss

March 2014

The growth in power of Europe nations in the post-medieval world was down solely to two features: the European exploration of new parts of the globe and the accelerating development of modern scientific knowledge. What do you think?

Discuss

The secularisation theory, which argues the Western world has become less religious over recent centuries, is fatally flawed. This is because it over emphasises the extent of religious participation in early history, which was often even less widespread than now. What do you think?

Discuss

The Henry repeating rifle, first developed in 1860 by the New Haven Arms Company, was so ahead of its time that if it had been introduced en masse during the American Civil War it would have decisively altered the conflict. What do you think?

Discuss

As it was instigated by foreign powers and created without flexibility to change, the Bourbon Restoration of 1814 was doomed from the start. What do you think?

Discuss

February 2014

In September 1066, English Saxon King Harold II repelled an invasion by Norwegian King Harald at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. While he prevailed, the battle so weakened Saxon troops that his eventual defeat to William the Conquerer at the Battle of Hastings later that year was a formality. What do you think?

Discuss

Historians have traditionally placed far too much emphasis on the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, for it was less harsh than similar treaties – such as that which ended the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War – and was never properly enforced. What do you think?

Discuss

The rigidity of the British class structure, in many ways a strong factor in its development as a world power in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, acted as its major hindrance by the twentieth. What do you think?

Discuss

The Battle of Kolubara in 1914, where a well prepared Austria-Hungarian army was defeated by a ramshackle Serbian army approaching half its size, is arguably among the major military disasters of the First World War. What do you think?

Discuss

January 2014

While much writing on Colonial America focuses on the pilgrims and Massachusetts, it was Virginia colony, the oldest settlement in America, which tells us most about the origins of the United States we know today. What do you think?

Discuss

The writer Aldous Huxley once wrote that ‘men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.’  What do you think?

Discuss

The development of the American West in the nineteenth century was only possible due to the introduction of the railroad. What do you think?

Discuss

 The French Revolution, while considered by many historians to be an event driven by social conditions or class anger, should still be considered primarily an event driven by political ambition. What do you think?

Discuss

The Roman Army is often considered to have been a highly efficient fighting force, little short of superhuman. The reality is that recent archaeological discoveries has shown that the Roman Army was often an imperfect military machine. What do you think?

Discuss

December 2013

The famous British Historian A.J.P. Taylor once stated that it is ‘human blunders that have done more to shape the course of history than clear human wickedness’. What do you think?

Discuss

China has been a relative latecomer as a power on the world’s stage because during the nineteenth century its society was too enveloped in feudal monarchy, conservatism and a stagnant peasantry to develop modern political values and drive economic growth. What do you think?

Discuss

While U.S. President Andrew Johnson was a poor leader, the decision by the House of Representatives to impeach him was a colossal mistake, one which did little to heal American divisions in the wake of the Civil War. What do you think?

Discuss

Despite often being proclaimed as a great hero of Ancient Britain, the verifiable sources for her existence are so poor that it is likely Queen ‘Boudicca’, or ‘Boudicea’, never actually existed. What do you think?

Discuss

November 2013

Irish neutrality during the Second World War, while making little impact on military operations, was nonetheless a large blow to Allied morale and weakened the British and American war effort. What do you think?

Discuss

The Roman philosopher Cicero once stated that ‘to not know what happened before one was born is always to be a child.’ Do you agree with the importance he places on the role of history?

Discuss

The lessons of history tells us that a major world conflict has a high probability of occurring in the next few years. Unless the world is entering a period similar to that after the Congress of Vienna in 1815. That event presaged some 100 years of essentially the absence of major conflicts, aside from comparatively short lived wars involving usually two countries. What do you think?

Discuss

In the middle ages, Chinese armies were led by an educated class who had demonstrated their skill while rising through the ranks. This led to their natural superiority over the aristocratic officer classes of European armies. What do you think?

Discuss

October 2013

While British Admiral Horatio Nelson is famed for his strategy during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, it was his leadership during the Battle of the Nile seven years earlier which was really his greatest military achievement. What do you think?

Discuss

By the end of the Second World War, Nazi Germany was clearly demonstrating the most advanced apparatus of war. These ‘wunderwaffen’, such as the V-3 supergun and Heinkel He 162, meant that if Germany had not been starved of resources and time, the war would have swung decisively in their favour. What do you think?

Discuss

The term ‘American Revolution’ is misleading, for the conflict was never a political and social ‘revolution’ in the true sense of the word. What do you think?

Discuss

The last truly English Royal dynasty perished in 1066, with the defeat of Harold II by King William the Conqueror. All other royal dynasties have had their origins in Norman, Scottish, French or German dynasties. What do you think?

Discuss

Especially from around the middle of the 19th century Africa has been colonised by European powers. If this had not occurred, the continent’s general standard of living and economic growth would have been much higher. What do you think?

Discuss

September 2013

The origins of Canada, the United States of America and Australia, with their roots as British colonies, encounters with vast frontiers and conflict with native peoples, has produced a shared historical legacy which continues to separate them fundamentally from Europe. What do you think?

Discuss

The Norwegian theatre during the Second World War is often forgotten. This is a chronic oversight, as the battle for Norway led to the demise of a prime minister and likely diminished the ability for Nazi Germany to mount an invasion of Britain. What do you think?

Discuss

At the height of the Nazi invasion of Western Europe, Winston Churchill proposed to unite the United Kingdom and France to form one nation state. Far from being lofty idealism, Churchill’s plan was a pragmatic and shrewd response to the growth of Nazi tyranny in Europe. What do you think?

Discuss

While it was an important factor in the impressive economic growth of the United States, American slavery cannot be considered the only reason why the country flourished economically after independence. What do you think?

Discuss

August 2013

The armed chariot, heavily used from 1700 BCE, was the greatest military breakthrough in human history. Its impact on speed, power and accuracy of military attacks was so profound that it would never be matched again. What do you think?

Discuss

The Treaty of Versailles is a widely misunderstood document. Less onerous than commonly believed and often not enforced in full, attempts to suggest it caused the Second World War are far-fetched and misleading. What do you think?

Discuss

For too long, the impact of colonial rule on areas like India, South-East Asia and Africa have been overemphasised by historians. The role played by native peoples and the continuties with pre-colonial life should be emphasised equally with European impact. What do you think?

Discuss

The key issue facing South American countries after their independence in the nineteenth century was the struggle to integrate extremely diverse peoples into a cohesive whole, an issue still felt today. What do you think?

Discuss

During the Malayan Emergency’ of 1948-1960, the Malayan colonial government became one of the few states to successfully suppress a communist insurgency. If the French, and later American Government, had paid more attention to this conflict, the defeats in Vietnam could have been avoided. What do you think?

Discuss

July 2013

The Song Dynasty, which ruled from 960 to 1279, was the halcyon age of imperial China. It delivered more prosperity, and was more popular with the Chinese people, and, by definition, was, therefore, more successful than the dynasties of Mongol Yuan, the Ming or the Manchu Qing. What do you think?

Discuss

The US Constitution, lasting as it has with only minimal amendments over a period of 300 years, is one of the most important political texts of all time, ranked below only the Magna Carta for historical importance. What do you think?

Discuss

In the years from the French Revolution to the Franco-Prussian War, military success depended far less on the fighting skills of armies than on the tactical nous and vision of army commanders. What do you think?

Discuss

Despite producing the most devastating wars in human history, the twentieth century also saw the worldwide development of a community of sport, a powerful force for international cooperation. What do you think?

Discuss

June 2013

It has been suggested that the passing of the 18th amendment in the United States, introducing Prohibition in January 1920, was in large part a measure by Protestant America to encourage American drinkers, many of whom were thought to be Catholics, to emigrate from America. What do you think?

Discuss

The success of the Soviet Union in the Second World War was based on one factor, and one factor only: the magnificent T-34 tank. What do you think?

Discuss

Robert E. Lee was famously offered a position in the Union Army at the beginning of the American Civil War. If he had taken it, rather than join the Confederates, the Civil War would have ended at least a year earlier. Do you agree?

Discuss

The only way Europe could have matched the social and intellectual developments of ancient China would have been if the Western Roman Empire had never fallen, enabling a more prosperous structure for these developments. What do you think?

Discuss

May 2013

The Molotov–Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact of 1939, agreed between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, is sometimes considered a victory for Nazi Germany but a blunder for the Soviet Union. It was in fact, however, the opposite. What do you think?

Discuss

The economic principle of Free Trade dominated British thinking in the nineteenth century, but it was likely damaging to the British economy. What do you think?

Discuss

Despite the apparent benefits, espionage has produced major mistakes in diplomacy. Before the First World War for instance, Austria-Hungary had the most sophisticated intelligence system, but on the base of it, they made the worst decisions. What do you think?

Discuss

There was no such thing as a French Bourgeoisie before the French Revolution. What do you think?

Discuss

The Maratha Empire could, and indeed should, have been able to withstand British incursions into India. If it had done so, European Imperial history would have been radically different. What do you think?

Discuss

April 2013

American Historian Fredrick Jackson Tuner argued that the presence of a large frontier in American life fundamentally altered American national identity. This argument however, is untrue, for the frontier only affected a handful of Americans. What do you think?

Discuss

The Incas are sometimes known as the ‘Romans of America’, due to their ability to spread and rule vast territories and peoples. What do you think?

Discuss

The Entente Cordiale of 1904, which formed the basis for positive relations been imperial rivals Britain and France, is one of the most unlikely diplomatic agreements in European History. What do you think?

Discuss

American Patriot Dr. Joseph Warren was considered by contemporaries to be one of the leading figures in the American Revolution, and was a participant in the Battles of Lexington and Concord. That he is overshadowed by others such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson is a tragic flaw in our understanding of the revolution. What do you think?

Discuss

March 2013

When founded in 1919, The League of Nations formed the honorable basis for future government. The fact that it failed related more to its lack of power than any other reason. What do you think?

Discuss

History is best understood by focusing on great leaders who had the courage and ability to change the world. Studies of the likes of Churchill, Napoleon and Alexander offer us a crucial glimpse into the development of brilliance and these are essential to our understanding. What do you think?

Discuss

In 1890, Germany rejected the chance to continue an alliance with Russia dubbed ‘the Reinsurance treaty.’ If Germany had maintained this alliance, then the First World War never would have happened, and if it did, it would have been a resounding German victory. What do you think?

Discuss

While the European discovery of Australia is usually attributed to the Dutch, evidence can be presented that the first European discovery of the continent was in fact made by the Portuguese in the 1520s. What do you think?

Discuss

February 2013

The premature death of Henry V of England in 1422, aged only 35, deprived the nation of one of its more formidable leaders. If he had not died when he did, England would have won the Hundred Years War against France. What do you think?

Discuss

The ‘hundred years of national humiliation’ is a term used to describe the perceived century of military disasters that afflicted China between 1839 and 1949. This is untrue, for while China suffered defeats, it never faced the complete ‘humiliation’ often suggested. What do you think?

Discuss

The decision by United Kingdom to guarantee the defense of Poland in 1939, when it had no army of worth, was a foolish decision which brought about the war more quickly and guaranteed Polish defeat. What do you think?

Discuss

The Battle of Trafalgar, fought on 21st October 1905, was one of the most decisive naval battles in European history, and certainly the most hard fought. Do you agree?

Discuss

January 2013

America was arguably the richest country in the world, surpassing even Britain, by the 1880s. That it took so long to turn this wealth into dominant international influence is the result of a chronic lack of leadership in foreign policy. Do you agree?

Discuss

The Han Dynasty is often compared with the Roman Empire. Both empires recorded incredible technological discoveries, had advanced administrative, political and legal systems and extended to the limits of the known world. Is such a comparison fair?

Discuss

Of all the changes witnessed in the Medieval era, none had so a profound effect as the invention of the printing press. Do you agree?

Discuss

If Queen Boudicca of the Northern Iceni had have beaten the Roman Army led by Paulinus in 60 or 61 CE, then the Romans would have left Britain 400 years earlier and the country would have avoided numerous subsequent invasions by the Vikings and others.

Discuss

If Nazi Germany had have succeeded in being the first to develop the atom bomb during World War Two, rather than the United States, the second half of the 20th century would have seen Germany the dominant world country, in the same mould as the United States. What do you think?

Discuss

December 2012

In the thirteenth century, if the European Crusaders had allied with the Mongol Empire, as they were close to doing so, then the combined forces would have easily captured the Holy Land, and the Middle East would have been dominated by European and Central Asian culture. What do you think?

Discuss

The Dutch Republic at its seventeenth century height was arguably the richest civilization to ever exist. What do you think?

Discuss

The German military’s Schlieffen Plan, the scheme to quickly capture Paris at the beginning of the First World War, was a huge gamble; ill thought out, desperate and never likely to succeed. What do you think?

Discuss

The death of Zhuge Liang in 234 CE was a chronic blow to the Chinese state of Shu Han. If he had not died when he did, the history of China in the early Middle Ages would be radically different. What do you think?

Discuss

November 2012

Alexander the Great died at the age of 33, before a series of planned campaigns which would have enlarged his already formidable empire. If Alexander had not died at this time however, but lived on into old age and continued his military expansion and spreading of Greek Culture, the world would be a fundamentally different place today. What do you think?

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The Battle of Mels-el-Kebir in July 1940, when the Royal Navy attacked the French Navy fleet based in Algeria to ensure it did not fall into the hands of Nazi Germany, is one of the most controversial acts of the Second World War. The Battle is not significant for the French ships destroyed however, but rather that it showed British leaders were intent to do all it took to defeat Germany. What do you think?

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Framed in terms of the wealth acquired, civilisations discovered and land conquered, no imperial power in history can ever be considered to have matched the achievements of the Spanish Empire. What do you think?

Discuss

While European powers often interfered with Chinese affairs in the 19th century, China’s broader political problems at the time were ultimately unrelated. What do you think?

Discuss

If one of the assassination attempts on the life of German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler in the 1930s had have succeeded, World War Two would never have happened and Germany would have continued as a bulwark against Soviet expansionism, with the enduring hostilities of the Cold War having never occurred. What do you think?

Discuss

October 2012

The United Kingdom was the first nation in the world to industrialize. This factor alone helps explain the development of British world supremacy in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. What do you think?

Discuss

During the American Civil War, the Confederacy was undermined by its lack of formal recognition by the leading powers of the day, Britain and France. If they had recognised Southern independence, the superior naval power and finance of these powers would have guaranteed the success and survival of the Confederacy. What do you think?

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In the lead up to D-Day during the Second World War, Allied forces fortunately avoided two periods of bad weather, either of which would have likely thwarted the Normandy landings and resulted in a military disaster. If the D Day landing had failed, it is likely that either the Soviet Union would have conquered as far as the English Channel, or an atomic bomb would have been deployed in the European theatre. What do you think?

Discuss

The Dieppe Raid during World War Two was a Canadian and British attempt to capture and hold the German occupied port of Dieppe in 1942. Both in terms of losses sustained and the failure to meet military objectives, it must go down as the worst military blunder of the twentieth century. What do you think?

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September 2012

Contrary to popular perception, British forces at the Battle of Bunker Hill had a sophisticated battle plan, and they would likely have defeated the American patriots if it wasn’t for the far sighted leadership of Major General John Stark. Therefore, with the exception of some small scale resistance in Virginia, the American War of Independence would have likely ended on June 17, 1775, instead of eight years later. What do you think?

Discuss

Napoleon’s disastrous 1812 Russian campaign and the abject failure of the Nazi’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 illustrate that any march on Moscow will inevitably result in failure. What do you think?

Discuss

If the Chinese had not entered a xenophobic, isolationist phase in the 14th century, then, with their superior technology and ships that were two or three times those in Europe, China would have become the dominant world power and most of the world today would be speaking Chinese, rather than English. What do you think?

Discuss

If the Bubonic Plague of the mid 14th century had not killed at least a third of Europe’s population, thereby slowing social, economic and political progress immeasurably, then the stirrings of liberalism and democracy would have begun in Europe in the early 1700s, and not the mid 19th Century. What do you think?

Discuss

If the Spanish Armada had have successfully invaded England in 1588, the British Empire would not have existed, the Spanish Empire would have lasted until the 20th Century and the bulk of the world would be speaking Spanish not English. What do you think?

Discuss

August 2012

If John F Kennedy had not have been assassinated on November 22, 1963, the country would have withdrawn its then small forces from Vietnam, thereby avoiding the enormous cost in lives and billions spent, and the United States would have avoided the seismic social unrest of the 1960s. What do you think?

Discuss

The greatest invention in human history is not the printing press, or the internet, or the internal combustion engine, but the plough. For this device allowed humankind to grow crops and vastly accelerate human development through the centuries. What do you think?

Discuss

Language has been a major cause of disagreement and misunderstanding through history and across the world. If the world had only one language, conflicts would have been greatly reduced. What do you think?

Discuss

If brilliant Confederate commander general T J ‘Stonewall’ Jackson had not been accidentally shot by his troops in May 1863, eight days after inflicting a crushing defeat on the Union army at Chancellorsville in northern Virginia, the South, with superior generals, would have prevailed and won the war.

What do you think?

Discuss

If Tsar Alexander III had not died at the age of 49, to be replaced by his weakling son Tsar Alexander, then the Russian revolution would not have occurred and Russia would more than likely have a Tsar today.

What do you think?

Discuss

July 2012

The argument used by colonizing forces throughout history that they bring civilization, new cultures and new benefits to the defeated peoples, is a smoke screen for the fact that the prime purpose of such colonizers is to steal other peoples’ property.

What do you think?

Discuss

Much of the history of the world is characterized my conflicts initiated by men. If women had have had a greater role in world events, fewer conflicts and wars would have occurred throughout history.

What do you think?

Discuss

Throughout world history religion has caused more bloodshed and human misery than any benefits it has bestowed. What do you think?

Discuss

Overpopulation has been considered throughout history to be a major cause of war. Yet over-populated China had many years of peace. And the American Indians who occupied vast territory per head of population were frequently at war. What are the principal causes of war?

Discuss

June 2012

If Karl Marx and Frederick Engels had not published their ‘Communist Manifesto’ in London in 1848, the 20th Century would have been vastly different and more peaceable. The Russian Revolution would not have occurred, nor the enduring tensions between east and west, nor the post Second World War ‘Cold War’. What do you think?

Discuss

The 1915 Dardanelles campaign during the First World War aimed to establish another front against Turkey such that allied forces could advance from the south to attack Germany. The main supporter of the scheme, Winston Churchill, called this attacking the ‘soft underbelly of Europe’. If the scheme had not failed as it did, then World War One would have ended perhaps two years earlier and Churchill might have become British Prime Minister 20 years earlier than he did. What do you think?

Discuss

If Theodore Roosevelt had won the 1912 US presidential election, rather than Woodrow Wilson, the United States would not have entered the European War in 1917, and World War Two would have been avoided. What do you think?

Discuss

The attempt by Guy Fawkes to blow up the British Parliament on November 5, 1606 is partially understandable in light of the terrible prejudice experienced by Catholics in England. What do you think?

Discuss

May 2012

If Napoleon Bonaparte had not been in poor health at the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815, France would still be a monarchy, with one of his descendants on the French throne today. What do you think?

Discuss

Just as the Roman Empire brought civilization to an agrarian and comparatively primitive Britain in the first four centuries AD, the British Empire many centuries later, brought immeasurable benefits to the countries which became part of that Empire. What do you think?

Discuss

If King Edward VIII of Great Britain, who was very pro-German, had not abdicated in December 1936, the world would have largely been spared the horrors of World War Two. What do you think?

Discuss

If Stephen A Douglas had have won the 1860 US Presidential election, the Civil War would have not occurred and 620,000 Americans, the most who have ever died in war, would have been spared. What do you think?

Discuss

If the so-called Indian Mutiny, the rebellion against British rule in north and central India in 1857 and 1858, had have been successful, India would have gained the post-colonial prosperity it is enjoying today much sooner. What do you think?

Discuss

April 2012

If the Allies in the Second World War had, on the fall of Berlin in 1945, joined forces with the defeated German army to fight the Soviet Union – as was reportedly suggested by, among others, General George S Patton – many tens of millions of Europeans would have been saved from living under a harsh Communist regime for over 50 years. What do you think?

Discuss

If Henry VIII had a son who grew to maturity by Catherine of Aragon, the attempted invasion of 1588 by the Spanish Armada would not have occurred, and English history in ensuing centuries would have been vastly different. What do you think?

Discuss

Africa today would be vastly better off, if the European Powers had not mercilessly colonized and plundered the continent from the mid-19th century onwards. What do you think?

Discuss

If Germany had defeated France in August 1914, thereby bringing what was to become known as World War One quickly to an end after a month, rather than four years, the history of the 20th Century would have been markedly different. For a start, over 80 million Europeans would not have died in two world wars. What do you think?

Discuss

March 2012

At the start of the American Civil War, if Confederate troops had have won the first Battle of Bull Run in July, 1861 and pressed on to take Washington to end the war, the future of America and indeed the world would have been vastly different. What do you think?

Discuss

World War Two was inevitable, as World War One was essentially a ‘draw.’ What do you think?

Discuss

If Louis XVI had have shown greater leadership at the outbreak of the French Revolution, instead of falling into an indecisive and despondent lethargy, he could have quelled the revolution, and France, like Britain, would still have a monarchy today. What do you think?

Discuss

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 had its origins in 1853 when Commodore Perry sailed into Tokyo Bay. By doing so America forced Japan, then a reclusive feudal state, to open the country to trade which led to an inevitable battle for hegemony in the Pacific with the United States. What do you think?’

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