HOT TOPIC: Top History Resources
Volume 1, Issue 38 - June 12, 2005

History is one of my all time favorite subjects, both as an academic discipline and as a pastime. Nothing captures my imagination or intrigues my mind more than the many classic stories and mysteries peppered across the span of human events. Sadly, for many students history is reduced to a dry memorization of dates, names and events. This need not be the case!

I can remember sitting with my brother over a college break debating the virtues of history. He loved the truths of the hard sciences. “Why study the past?” he would ask me. “It's done! Look ahead to what science will deliver in the future – it's much more exciting!”

“But,” I would counter, “history provides us the context for how we got where we are. How can you begin to look ahead when there are so many lessons to be learned from the past?”

We are hopelessly deadlocked in are disagreement. And I can respect the fact that not everyone is wired to be a historian. Still, everyone should be able to appreciate the experience of investigating and celebrating the achievements, downfalls, challenges and decisions which have marked civilization after civilization throughout recorded time.

Consider the story of Ivan the Terrible and his defeat of the dreaded Mongols under the lead of Tamerlane. These fierce leaders met on the frozen river Oka , each camping on a respective bank. For three days each waited for the other to make the first move. When Tamerlane began to pack supplies the Russians panicked and began to pack camp themselves, resulting in both sides retreating from each other without a shot being fired. Ivan returned to Moscow claiming victory and becoming the first Czar to be able to claim to be emperor of all the Russias . No one could make up a story this good – it is true history!

On that note, please consider the dozen-plus resources I offer you this week on the general subject of history. Each of these sites can help history come alive in the classroom, with a particular emphasis on primary sources and historical detection. I know you will find a plethora of materials here you can use. Enjoy!


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©2005 Walter McKenzie

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