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Popular Controversies in World History

Popular Controversies in World History

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INVESTIGATING HISTORY’S INTRIGUING QUESTIONS

Steven L. Danver, Editor

Volume One Prehistory and Early Civilizations
Volume Two The AncientWorld to the Early Middle Ages
Volume Three The High Middle Ages to the ModernWorld
Volume Four The Twentieth Century to the Present


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Book Details
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 3.00
 Pages
 378 p
 File Size 
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 PDF format
 eISBN
 978-1-59884-078-0
 Copyright©   
 2011 by ABC-CLIO, LLC

Contributor List
Claire Brennan
James Cook University, Townsville, Australia
Justin Corfield
Geelong Grammar School, Geelong, Australia
Cheryl Golden
Newman University, Wichita, Kansas
Harald Haarmann
Institute of Archaeomythology, Luum€aki, Finland
Peter N. Jones
Bauu Institute, Boulder, Colorado
Laszlo Kocsis
South East European University, Tetovo, Macedonia
John Lee
Utah Valley State University, Orem, Utah
Thaddeus Nelson
Columbia University, New York, New York
James Seelye
University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio
Talaat Shehata
Columbia University, New York, New York
Olena Smyntyna
Odessa National University, Odessa, Ukraine
Barry Stiefel
Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
Benjamin D. Thomas
University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Patrick G. Zander
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia


Introduction
In the countless history courses I’ve taught over the years, the one question that
invariably appears at some point (usually from a nonmajor who has to take the
course for some general education requirement) is: ‘‘Why should we study history?’’
This is not an idle question, but an esoteric one that goes to the heart of
what history is and what it can tell us. Usually, the student asking that question
has the notion that history consists of a static set of ‘‘facts,’’ unchanging (or, at
least, it should not change) and ultimately meaningless for modern life. Students
often buy into Henry Ford’s famous take on the subject, ‘‘history is more
or less bunk,’’ rather than George Santayana’s maxim, ‘‘those who cannot
remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’’ In the end, neither of these perspectives
is especially true or helpful. This is because both writing history and
understanding history are complex activities. They are our attempts to make
sense of the past, usually drawing from incomplete or biased accounts of what
actually happened. Even when the accounts are complete, the interpretations of
history can vary radically depending on the perspective of the person writing.
Perhaps the best explanation of the problem comes from the novelist Aldous
Huxley, who, in his novel The Devils of Loudun, said ‘‘The charm of history
and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age, nothing
changes and yet everything is completely different.’’
This work proceeds on the assumption that history is not a subject, but
rather an activity. The activity of history engages the capability of students to
use reason. On a purely anecdotal basis, I’ve asked many of my colleagues
which skills they believed were the most important for their students to possess
a high proficiency in when they begin college. Almost invariably, the two top
answers were writing and critical thinking. In Taxonomy of Learning, developed
in 1956 by Benjamin Bloom as an effort to show the evolution of mental skills
in pyramidal form, critical thinking skills are integral to the third and fourth
levels: application and analysis. The students who ask why it is important to
study history are proceeding on the assumption that history is only an activity
that engages the first two levels: knowledge and comprehension. If that were all
there is to history, then Ford may have been right. However, application and
analysis are also key to understanding, without which one cannot reach the final
two levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy—synthesis and evaluation—which are essential
to the creation of history. So, to summarize, critical thinking skills are key
to moving from the first two levels—knowledge and comprehension—to the
highest levels—synthesis and evaluation. In order to understand and, eventually,
to write history, critical thinking is the transitional, indispensable skill.
Judging once again from my unscientific survey of my colleagues, it is one
of the skills with which many students who are entering college struggle. This
realization was the genesis of this project. Popular Controversies in World History
takes as its subjects the topics over which there has been considerable historical
debate. Some of these topics will not be familiar to students, but many
of them will. Did the Great Flood, described in both the biblical book of Genesis
and the Epic of Gilgamesh, actually happen? Is the lost continent of Atlantis
just a myth, or was really such a place? Is the Shroud of Turin the actual burial
cloth of Jesus Christ? Was William Shakespeare the sole author of all of the
plays attributed to him? Who was the ‘‘man in the iron mask’’? Did Franklin D.
Roosevelt allow the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor to happen as a pretext for
the U.S. entrance into World War II? Did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone in
assassinating John F. Kennedy in Dallas? These questions and more reveal that
history is not a static set of facts, but rather a living, expanding set of ideas and
interpretations. To understand those interpretations and formulate those ideas,
critical thinking skills are paramount in importance.
The purpose of this work is to present the varying perspectives on events
like these. These topics, as well as the ability to think critically about them, are
vitally important parts of the social science curriculum at both the secondary
and postsecondary levels. Each chapter takes a particular topic that has generated
controversy either within the historical profession or in society as a whole
and offers pro and con points of view, allowing readers to draw their own conclusions.
The work covers all eras of human history, both before and after the
advent of the written record. Each chapter in Popular Controversies in World
History is formatted in the style of a historical debate, with a ‘‘pro’’ and a
‘‘con’’ section that presents contrasting perspectives. In most cases, both of
these perspectives are or have been widely held within academia and supported
by scholarship. The readers are then given the opportunity to exercise their critical
thinking skills to evaluate the evidence presented by each side, to assess the
validity of the arguments made by the authors, and eventually to determine
which conclusions they accept or reject.
Of course, I could never have presented these arguments, ranging across so
many eras and subdisciplines of history, by myself. This work represents the
efforts of 62 other scholars with whom I have had the privilege to work. In
addition, much of the early work on this project, especially determining the format
to be used to accomplish our goals and formulation of the various questions
to be debated, was done in conjunction with Geoff Golson, to whom I give due
credit. I’d also like to thank the editorial and production staff at ABC-CLIO,
including David Tipton, editorial manager; Barbara Patterson, who administered
the considerable paperwork involved; Kim Kennedy-White, who helped me
refine the manuscript submissions; and Donald Schmidt and his team, who
oversaw the production work to turn the manuscript into a book. Without the
efforts of such a fantastic team, this work would not have been possible.


Table of Contents
VOLUME ONE
Prehistory and Early Civilizations
Introduction, xv
List of Contributors, xix
CHAPTER 1
Tool use is characteristic of hominids and apes, but not of other animal
species, 1
PRO Talaat Shehata
CON Patrick G. Zander
CHAPTER 2
Agriculture, or the domestication of plants, diffused from its start in the Middle
East to the rest of the world, 23
PRO Olena Smyntyna
CON Harald Haarmann
CHAPTER 3
The Great Flood referred to in the Book of Noah and in Gilgamesh resulted
from the flooding of the Black Sea by an influx of higher-level water from the
Mediterranean via the Dardenelles and Bosporus, 51
PRO Harald Haarmann
CON John Lee
CHAPTER 4
Much of what is now considered to be Classic culture actually
has Afroasiatic roots, 75
PRO Talaat Shehata
CON Harald Haarmann
CHAPTER 5
China’s head start in technological innovation was retarded by its efficient and
centralized imperial government, 103
PRO Talaat Shehata
CON John Lee
CHAPTER 6
The findings of Neolithic drawings at C¸ atalh€oy€uk in Turkey are a fraud, 127
PRO Justin Corfield
CON Harald Haarmann
CHAPTER 7
The existence of Atlantis is not entirely mythical, 149
PRO Laszlo Kocsis
CON Cheryl Golden
CHAPTER 8
Lemuria is not the invention of religious enthusiasts, but rather, actually
existed, 179
PRO Laszlo Kocsis
CON Claire Brennan
CHAPTER 9
Native American peoples came to North and South America by boat
as well as by land bridge, 207
PRO Peter N. Jones
CON James Seelye
CHAPTER 10
The ancient Egyptians used volunteers, not slaves, to build the pyramids, 227
PRO Harald Haarmann
CON Talaat Shehata
CHAPTER 11
Ancient Egyptian obelisks were raised by a hitherto undiscovered
technology, 249
PRO Talaat Shehata
CON Patrick G. Zander
CHAPTER 12
The Beta Israel (or Falasha) People of Ethiopia are one of the Lost
Tribes of Israel, 271
PRO Barry Stiefel
CON Talaat Shehata
CHAPTER 13
Ancient findings of Ancient Babylonian cities confirm the
Old Testament, 295
PRO Benjamin D. Thomas
CON Thaddeus Nelson
Index, 317
VOLUME TWO
The Ancient World to the Early Middle Ages
Introduction, xv
List of Contributors, xix
CHAPTER 1
The Ark of the Covenant is in Axum, Ethiopia, 1
PRO Talaat Shehata
CON Thaddeus Nelson
CHAPTER 2
The Greek city-states were ‘‘democratic’’ by our modern American
definition, 21
PRO Cenap C¸ akmak
CON John Lee
CHAPTER 3
The Ogham Celtic script is derived from the Norse Rune script, 43
PRO Justin Corfield
CON Harald Haarmann
CHAPTER 4
The ‘‘Trial of Socrates,’’ described by Plato, was an actual event that
occurred in 399 BCE, rather than merely a philosophical device used
by Sophists in teaching Apologia, 63
PRO Todd W. Ewing
CON John Lee
CHAPTER 5
Pushyamitra Sunga, a Hindu ruler in the second century BCE, was a great
persecutor of the Buddhists, 83
PRO Caleb Simmons
CON K. T. S. Sarao
CHAPTER 6
The Shroud of Turin is actually the wrapping shroud of Jesus, 103
PRO Justin Corfield
CON Thaddeus Nelson
CHAPTER 7
A Staffordshire inscription points to the location of the Holy Grail; it
may be in Wales, 125
PRO John Lee
CON Juliette Wood
CHAPTER 8
Nestorius did not intend to argue that Christ had a dual nature, but that view
became labeled Nestorianism, 145
PRO Mark Dickens
CON Annette Morrow
CHAPTER 9
The Celtic Church that arose after 400 CE as distinct from Roman Catholicism
is a modern construct, rather than a historical reality, 175
PRO Michael Greaney
CON Joseph P. Byrne
CHAPTER 10
The inhabitants of Easter Island who erected the monoliths were from South
America, not from Polynesia, 203
PRO Chris Howell
CON Harald Haarmann
CHAPTER 11
The Roman Empire’s collapse was primarily due to social and political
problems rather than the Barbarian invasions, 229
PRO Heather Buchanan
CON Laszlo Kocsis
CHAPTER 12
The Hawaiian and other Polynesian seafarers developed navigation methods
based on observation of constellations and currents, so that they could sail
intentionally from Tahiti to Hawaii and back, 257
PRO Harald Haarmann
CON Claire Brennan
CHAPTER 13
The Toltecs and Maya developed wheels for religious reasons, but not for
wheelbarrows or other practical uses. The reason is that they had sufficient
slave labor, 281
PRO Talaat Shehata
CON Harald Haarmann
CHAPTER 14
Native American languages can be traced to three grand linguistic roots, 301
PRO Harald Haarmann
CON Peter N. Jones
CHAPTER 15
The historical Buddha was born in 563 BCE and lived to 483 BCE, 325
PRO Anita Sharma
CON K. T. S. Sarao
Index, 347
VOLUME THREE
The High Middle Ages to the Modern World
Introduction, xv
List of Contributors, xix
CHAPTER 1
North American rune stones point to extensive exploration by the Norse of
North America, 1
PRO Justin Corfield
CON Harald Haarmann
CHAPTER 2
The Ancestral Puebloans lined up their communities so that, although miles
apart, they could signal each other with fires by line of sight to
communicate, 25
PRO Linda Karen Miller
CON Peter N. Jones
CHAPTER 3
The Mayan kingdoms died out from disease, 49
PRO Justin Corfield
CON Chris Howell
CHAPTER 4
The Chinese explorations of the 1420s reached both coasts of North and South
America, 69
PRO Justin Corfield
CON Eric Cunningham
CHAPTER 5
The technologies that allowed Europe to dominate the world were all imported
from the East: compass, lateen-rigged sail, gunpowder, windmill, stirrup,
moveable type, 93
PRO David Blanks
CON Talaat Shehata
CHAPTER 6
Richard III was innocent of the charge of murder, 117
PRO Charles Beem
CON Jeffrey Mifflin
CHAPTER 7
Columbus intentionally underestimated the circumference of Earth in order to
get funding, 141
PRO Talaat Shehata
CON Joseph P. Byrne
CHAPTER 8
European pathogens caused the decline of Cahokia and Mississippian mound
builders, 165
PRO Chris Howell
CON James Seelye
CHAPTER 9
Shakespeare’s plays were written by someone other than William Shakespeare
of Stratford-upon-Avon, 191
PRO Alexander Hugo Schulenburg
CON Jeffrey Mifflin
CHAPTER 10
Galileo willfully violated the injunctions of the Inquisition and was thus guilty
at his 1633 trial, 225
PRO Joseph P. Byrne
CON Arthur K. Steinberg
CHAPTER 11
The Man in the Iron Mask was Count Ercole Antonio Mattioli, 249
PRO Justin Corfield
CON Heather K. Michon
CHAPTER 12
Prince Louis Charles (Louis XVII), also known as the ‘‘Lost Dauphin,’’
survived captivity during the French Revolution and was allowed to escape in
1795, 267
PRO John Lee
CON Lorri Brown
CHAPTER 13
Charles Darwin got his idea of evolution from ‘‘social Darwinist’’ Herbert
Spencer who published first, 287
PRO Ian Morley
CON A. J. Angelo
CHAPTER 14
Slavery was unprofitable for slave owners, 309
PRO Radica Mahase
CON Jerry C. Drake
CHAPTER 15
Lincoln maneuvered the South into firing the first shot at Fort Sumter, 333
PRO Rolando Avila
CON Lee Oberman
Index, 355
VOLUME FOUR
The Twentieth Century to the Present
Introduction, xv
List of Contributors, xix
CHAPTER 1
The Progressive movement in the United States and in other countries in the
first decade of the 20th century represented a middle-class, conservative
reaction against the rise of both big business and big labor that had created a
status revolution, 1
PRO Kevin Wilson
CON Arthur K. Steinberg
CHAPTER 2
The captain of the ship Californian was guilty of gross negligence in not
coming to the rescue of the survivors of the Titanic, 25
PRO Tim J. Watts
CON Elizabeth D. Schafer
CHAPTER 3
The assassins of Archduke Ferdinand were funded by the Serbian
government, 49
PRO Laszlo Kocsis
CON Steve Garrin
CHAPTER 4
The deaths of over one million Armenians in Turkey were due to a Turkish
government policy of genocide, 83
PRO James Frusetta
CON Cenap C¸ akmak
CHAPTER 5
The British had shipped weapons aboard the Lusitania, in effect using women
and children as ‘‘human shields’’ for a war cargo, 107
PRO Ardhana Mudambi
CON Justin Corfield
CHAPTER 6
Woodrow Wilson’s neutrality in World War I was so blatantly pro-British that
he forced the Germans into attacking U.S. shipping, 127
PRO Walter F. Bell
CON Justin Corfield
CHAPTER 7
Mahatma Gandhi would not have been a world leader without the
influence of Rabindranath Tagore, 147
PRO Rajini Pani
CON Rajshekhar
CHAPTER 8
Sacco and Vanzetti were innocent, 171
PRO Annessa Babic
CON Arthur K. Steinberg
CHAPTER 9
Warren Harding was murdered, rather than dying of food poisoning, 193
PRO Elizabeth D. Schafer
CON Kimberly K. Porter
CHAPTER 10
Marcus Garvey was ‘‘railroaded,’’ 217
PRO Kelton R. Edmonds
CON Tim J. Watts
CHAPTER 11
Franklin D. Roosevelt had knowledge of an impending Japanese attack and
used Pearl Harbor as an excuse to spur American entry into World War II, 241
PRO Rolando Avila
CON Paul W. Doerr
CHAPTER 12
Alger Hiss’s 1950 conviction for espionage was not an example of Cold War
hysteria. He was a Soviet spy and deserved his punishment, 263
PRO Jeffrey H. Bloodworth
CON Annessa Babic
CHAPTER 13
John F. Kennedy was elected U.S. president in 1960 only because of voter
fraud committed by his connections in the mafia, 287
PRO Christian Nuenlist
CON John H. Barnhill
CHAPTER 14
Lee Harvey Oswald was not the sole assassin of John F. Kennedy, 309
PRO Rajshekhar
CON Tim J. Watts
CHAPTER 15
Considering the refusal of Saddam Hussein to comply with United Nations–
imposed inspections, it was reasonable for George W. Bush and his
advisers to assume that Iraq harbored weapons of mass destruction
and that justified the invasion, 333
PRO Dan Tamir
CON Christian Nuenlist
Index, 361


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1. History—Miscellanea. 2. Curiosities and wonders. I. Danver, Steven Laurence.

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