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Alpha History
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Because the Past Matters
Because the Past Matters

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Was 536 the "worst year to be alive"? New evidence unearthed by scientists and historians suggests it might have been. Ice core samples and other data suggests that an enormous volcanic eruption, probably in Iceland, enveloped Europe in a thick fog. This caused temperatures to plummet and instigated crop failures and famine that decimated as much as 20 percent of the population. These disasters may well have shaped European society in the unfolding Middle Ages. #history #europe #middleages #volcanoes #climate #science
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In 1942 General Douglas MacArthur fled the Philippines, promising "I shall return" - and so he eventually did, almost three years later. The imminent return of the Americans prompted Japanese forces to commit some of the worst atrocities of the war, a litany of horrors that rivalled the notorious 'Rape of Nanking' of 1937-38. "Countless women were raped and tortured, their babies tossed in the air and bayoneted. Patients and doctors were stabbed at hospitals, nuns and priests hanged at churches, children tossed into pits with grenades." #history #philippines #worldwar2 #manila #battleofmanila #atrocities #warcrimes
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Angela Serratore looks at some of the best history books of 2018 - from Priya Satia's account of how the Industrial Revolution Britain armed the world, to Sarah Churchwell's history of violent nationalism in America. #history #books #historians
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World War I left Europe with thousands of ex-soldiers with disfigured faces. Despite efforts at surgical reconstruction and artificial masks, these "gueules cassées" (broken faces) had a significant impact on post-war culture. "Their galvanized copper faces, painted eyes, and frozen expression elicited, in their own way, as much despair from loved ones and revulsion from strangers as the ravaged flesh they were meant to hide.” #history #europe #worldwar1 #soldiers #disfigurements #culture
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Philosopher Crispin Sartwell poses the question "how would you draw history" - or, in other words, how should we understand the route taken by history? Is the old linear timeline favoured by school textbooks still adequate? Or are the cycles and complexities of history better represented as a series of loops, spirals or Hegelian dialectics? #history #philosophy #historicalthinking #progress #crispinsartwell #visualisation
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The commemorations are over and the end of World War I is now more than a century past. But as historian Mark Curtis explains, the modern world is still struggling with the legacies of the Great War - particularly its colonial 'carve-up' of the Middle East and North Africa. "Not of the Middle East's conflicts are the result of past imperialist border-making – but some of the most deep-rooted are." #history #worldwar1 #middleeast #sykespicot #colonialism #borders
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The Domesday Book is one of medieval England's best-known sources. A survey of property ownership across most of England and Wales, the Book is believed to have been compiled in the mid-1080s on the order of William the Conqueror. Now, an American historian has made new claims about the origins and compilation of the Domesday Book. Carol Symes believes it was assembled years or even decades later - and its content reflects public opinion and grievances rather than bureaucratic record-keeping. #history #britain #domesdaybook #middleages #historians #sources
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Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Jonestown massacre in Guyana, South America. More than 900 followers of Reverend Jim Jones and his apocalyptic cult died after drinking or being injected with cyanide, in what was described as an act of "revolutionary suicide". Most had moved to Guyana the previous year to join Jones' Peoples Temple Agricultural Project. #history #guyana #jonestown #reverendjimjones #cults #suicide
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Nuon Chea, a former general-secretary of the Khmer Rouge and 'Brother Number Two' to the notorious Pol Pot, has been found guilty of genocide, almost 40 years after the regime collapsed. Khieu Samphan, who served as the Cambodian head of state, was also found guilty. Almost two million Cambodians were killed, starved or worked to death during the four-year reign of the Khmer Rouge. #history #cambodia #khmerrouge #nuonchea #genocide
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In June 1963, Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova travelled into orbit aboard Vostok 6, becoming the first woman in space. Tereshkova was not just a pioneering astronaut, writes Matthew Wills. In the United States, her achievements challenged prevailing stereotypes of Soviet women as "graceless, shapeless and sexless". Female pilots in America were inspired by Tereshkova's example but frustrated by the lack of change in their own country. #history #sovietunion #unitedstates #coldwar #women #valentinatereshkova
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