How Not to (Re)Write World History: Gavin Menzies and the Chinese Discovery of America

In 1421: The Year China Discovered America (2002), aspires to rewrite world history on a grand scale. He maintains that Gavin Menzies)four Chinese fleets, comprising twenty-five to thirty ships and at least 7,000 persons each, visited every part of the world except Europe between 1421 and 1423. Trained by Zheng He, the famous eunuch-admiral, Chinese …

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The American Revolution

American Revolution

In the United States, historians and the broader public have, for most of the past two centuries, looked at the American Revolution principally as the first step in the creation of the American nation. They have stressed the process of nation building epitomized by the creation of a republican political regime in each state and the subsequent establishment of a federal system for the distribution of power between the states and the nation. They have emphasized the centrality of the drive for national self-realization that, beginning during the revolutionary era, provided the foundation for an American national identity. From the national-state perspective that has largely shaped the writing of United States history, such an emphasis makes considerable sense. For developing an understanding of why a revolution occurred in North America during the late eighteenth century and what that revolution was, however, it is, in at least two major respects, seriously deficient. First, it obscures the extraordinary extent to which the American Revolution was very much a British revolution. Second, it seriously underestimates the powerful continuities between the colonial and the national eras and thereby significantly overestimates the revolutionary character of the revolution.

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Labour History as the History of Multitudes

Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, The Many-Headed Hydra: The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (Boston: Beacon Press 2000) LABOUR HISTORIANS STUDY the working class to examine its development, composition, working conditions, lifestyle, culture, and many other aspects. But what exactly do we mean when we use the term “working class”? Over the past half-century, …

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Mormon History: A Review

Mormon History

This survey of Mormon history by three Brigham Young University historians helped by a Washington State University sociologist, traces writing about the Mormons from 1830 until the twenty-first century. It grows out of their own long work in Mormon history and historiographic studies. It is organized chronologically, topically, institutionally, and by author. With four writers …

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“The Specter of Environmentalism”: Wilderness, Environmental Politics, and the Evolution of the New Right

In 1982 conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives released an internal report titled “The Specter of Environmentalism.” Coming on the heels of Ronald Reagan’s landslide election in 1980, the appointment of James Watt to the Department of the Interior, and, above all, growing frustration with environmentalism, the Republican Study Committee’s report reflected a new …

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