Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Clash of the Titans

Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:25 pm by he_who_is_nobody

One of my favorite displays at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science is found in the hall Age of the Super Giants. This hall covers the Jurassic period found in New Mexico. There are several displays found in this hall, but the crowning jewel is the two titans in the middle.


The photo above is the first thing one sees when walking into this Hall. The Stegosaur (right) looks on as Saurophaganax (left) is rushing in to attack the Seismosaurus (center).


Seismosaurus is one of the largest sauropods/land animals to ever live. Scientist believe that it reach a length of 33 meters, making this tied for the longest dinosaur ever discovered. It is believed to have weighed 27 metric tons. It was found in New Mexico and is the only one known from the fossil record.


There is some debate over whether Seismosaurus is actually a new genus or if it is just the largest specimen of Diplodocus ever discovered. The consensus at this point is that Seismosaurus is just the largest Diplodocus to have ever been discovered. The only way to settle this debate is if some lucky paleontologist finds another specimen that includes the anatomy that we are lacking.


The erect skeleton is a fabrication of the fossils found. Above are the actual fossils from Seismosaurus. They include most of the pelvis, part of the tail, the lower back section, and a few ribs. The rest of the anatomy on the erect skeleton was created by scaling up the bones from Diplodocus.


Seismosaurus would have had two lines of defense against predators, such as Saurophaganax. The first would have been it size. When it reached, adulthood a predator would have to be very desperate to attack one of them. The second would be the tail you see above. Sauropods, such as Seismosaurus were able to whip their tails at supersonic speeds, just like a bullwhip. It could have been used for defense, but it also could have been used for communicating with other sauropods with sound.


Saurophaganax would have been the apex predator of the late Jurassic. Saurophaganax was closely related to Allosaurus, however, Saurophaganax was ~ 12 meters long (just shy of the length of a T. rex). Saurophaganax shared many of the same attributes that made Allosaurus such a fearsome predator. Some of those include strong legs for running and a large head with teeth like steak knives.


However, the feature that I feel made Saurophaganax a terrifying predator was its clawed hands. Saurophaganax would have been able to run up to an animal and slash at its belly with one hand, while holding it with the other. The largest claw was over 15 cm long.


Again, the erect skeleton is a fabrication, but above is a photo of the actual fossils of Saurophaganax that were found in New Mexico. Some specimens of Saurophaganax have been found in other states, but none were complete. Much like with Seismosaurus, Saurophaganax was reconstructed by scaling up bones from Allosaurus.

This display is a jaw dropping experience. The size of these two animals is astonishing. The WOW! one hears from children and adults walking through this hall never ends. It is quite amazing just to sit in this hall and imagine the world that held these beasts in it. This display is just one of the extraordinary exhibits one can find at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

“Germany and Austria started WWI seeking European domination, historian says”

Sun Jun 16, 2013 4:39 pm by theyounghistorian77

The above title was from a Daily Telegraph headline to one of its recent articles concerning the causes of the outbreak of WW1 and I thought I may take a break from blogging chronologically about leading up to WW1 in order to focus on what I have seen.

If one wishes to discuss the causes, arguably one could stretch this to the Treaty of Berlin in 1878, which was designed to settle the so-called eastern question, i.e., what belongs to what within the context of the end of the Russian-Ottoman war of 1877–1878. Initially that question between Russia and the Ottoman had been resolved through the treaty of San-Stefano signed March 3 1878. That treaty ceded effective Ottoman control of the Northern Balkans and likewise allowed the Russians to increase their political influence upon the region, much to the chagrin of the great powers of the West, namely the British, who felt that an expansionist Russia could put her far-eastern colonies at risk and the Austria-Hungarian Empire who wanted to maintain their own diplomatic influence in the Balkans.

Whilst this treaty was designed to mitigate the effects of San-Stefano and in effect allow the Ottoman Empire to retain control of the Southern Balkans, crucially to my perspective, this treaty also allowed the region of Bosnia and Herzegovina to be occupied and administered by the Austria-Hungarian Empire through international mandate. In 1908 however, without any legal justification, the Austria-Hungarian Empire decided to annex Bosnia and Herzegovina, triggering the Bosnian crisis and a subsequent amendment to the treaty of Berlin in 1909, recognising the Austria-Hungarian Empire’s governance of the region. This amendment denied nationalists within Serbia their ambitions to build a full “greater Serbia”, i.e., want of a restoration of the lands that once belonged to Serbia during the middle ages before the nation was subsumed by the Ottoman Empire.

Serbia for its part would go on to be a key player in the set of Balkan wars that played out just before the First World War. In the conclusion to the first Balkan War, Serbia practically doubled its territory, through expanding southwards into Kosovo and Macedonia. In the second Balkan War against Bulgaria, it consolidated these gains. This was perhaps enough for the govt but it certainly was not enough for the nationalists who were embedded within the army, such as the nationalist group “The Black hand” who had already possessed a track record for changes in Serb foreign policy through political terrorism, such as the changes in foreign policy caused by the assassination of King Alexander I for not being too belligerent enough with the Austria-Hungarian Empire, and also because he married to someone whom the Black Hand thought had a dangerous influence upon society.

But the Serbian govt wasn’t represented by terrorists and officially expressed little desire for war between itself and the Austria-Hungarian Empire in 1914. And this is what made the assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand by the “Black hand” so tragic in retrospect. It wasn’t the first time that a major figure had been assassinated by nationalists either; In 1908 a Ruthenian nationalist murdered Andreas Potocki, the governor of Austria-Polish province of Galicia which was also contested for influence by both the Austria-Hungarian Empire and Russia. In this case however, the assassin was handed over and no war came about. Evidently the Galician and Sarajevo assassin events were clearly different. As of yet I have not seen anything to suggest that Austria-Hungary had suspicions that the event in Galacia was a state sponsored act of terrorism whereas with regards to Serbia they clearly did. On July 23 1914 Austria-Hungary presented to Serbia an extremely harsh ultimatum to Belgrade with the addition that a response should be delivered from Belgrade within 48 hours. And, although Serbia did say they would comply with most of the ultimatum, most wasn’t enough. On July 28 Serbia Austria-Hungary declared war and was invaded and so WW1 formally began.

It is then that the systems of entangling alliances both sides of the War had kicked in. Russia mobilised against Austria-Hungary as a response to the former’s ominous treatment of Serbia, but there was no declaration of war. Germany responded by declaring War on Russia anyway on August 1, and then on Belgium and France. Britain had an entente with France and a guarantee to Belgium that had existed since 1839 which promised, in short, that the British would go to war with whoever shall attack Belgium. On August 4 1914 that country happening to attack Belgium was Germany, and subsequently the British declared war on the Germans.

The above presents the history of the beginnings of World War 1 that I am sure most would be familiar with, and in this summation, German blame for WW1 is implied. But is this the most explicit of finger-pointing? What I will present you now are two recent articles centered around Max Hastings who has a new book coming out, who seems very much in the explicit finger-pointing camp, stating that the central powers are mainly to blame for WW1.



In addition to Germany’s foreign policy on its southern neighbour, whom she vowed to stand by like a knight “in shining armour”, and the subsequent reaction to this from Vienna as pointed out in these articles, another point I’ve seen is that the German rationale for aggression in the west was detached from Austria-Hungarian aggression against Serbia. Indeed, part of the reason Germany said on August 3 that it was going to war with France was that because the German city of Nuremberg had earlier been bombed by French aircraft, (this bombing raid seems a nonsensical story).

So, for all the above, how much relative blame should we point to Germany and Austria-Hungary? You tell me.

(PS: With regards to the Greater Serbia that the nationalists there wanted and their base being the medieval kingdom of Serbia, I am actually writing this on the anniversary of the Battle of Blackbird’s Field, which took place just 3 miles north of Prishtina in Kosovo in the year 1389. For the Serbs, it was at most a Pyrrhic Draw, in the long term it began a slow decay and splinter in Serbian Anti-Ottoman political elite, although that being said, it did take another 132 years for Belgrade itself to fall into Ottoman hands with that city finally being captured in 1521. However because of the losses on the Ottoman side this battle is often seen as delaying Ottoman advance into the rest of the Balkans, thus this battle forms part of the modern Serbian pride in that medieval kingdom. This is the Gazimestan monument, located on the modern day battle-site.

It commemorates those Serbs who fell in battle. It was also where the late dictator Slobodan Milošević made this notorious speech )

Countdown to ww1: The end of the First Balkan War.

Thu May 30, 2013 9:59 pm by theyounghistorian77

As I am sure you may be all aware, the centennial of the Great War, “the war to end all wars” is looming ever closer. And to mark the occasion, it has been decided that I should commission a series of short posts (such as the one you are reading) to mark the events that led up to it, so here goes. And perhaps what better way to begin this series by marking the signing of the Treaty of London, which was signed on this very day as I type, 100 years ago. A treaty that marked the formal ending of the First Balkan War! What you see below is a map of how what the Balkans looked like, after this Treaty and to commemorate the signing of it, what I am going to do in this post is give you a very basic guide to the territorial changes for the Balkan nations as a result of the first Balkan War. Of course, if there’s anything you feel that I have missed, feel free to point it out to me.


Crete was allowed to become formally unified with mainland Greece in accordance with the latter’s demands for “enosis”. Note this: officially the enosis took place during December 1913 with the ceremonial raising of the Greek flag at the city of Chania.

The Treaty of London also confirmed Albania as a independent state in the eyes of the western powers, but this didn’t mean all its peoples belonged to it. Instead, its borders had to be decided by an international commission due to the fact its neighbouring states in the Balkan league also had substantial Albanian populations. And it was this that meant Kosovo (whose inhabitants are mostly ethnic Albanian) would come into the fold of the Kingdom of Serbia, for example. So one can easily guess Albanians have a mixed opinion of this treaty? For a brief time (until WW1) the ancient port of Vlorë was made the new capital and its politics resembled a western style monarchy, lasting until 1925 when Albania became a republic.

As for the Kingdom of Serbia, it got from the war and the Treaty of London a practical doubling of its territory, through expanding southwards into Kosovo and Macedonia, although the Kingdom was frustrated by not having a slice of the Adriatic coast. This, with a growing Serb nationalism and dreams of all the Serb peoples united under one single state, was not healthy. And this nationalist dream included all the Serbs residing in Bosnia and Herzegovina which at the time was under the jurisdiction of the Austria-Hungarian Empire through it being annexed in 1908. This dream would go on to have ramifications with regards to the assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand, But I think I can save this for another time. I would also like to note that Serbia also shared its spoils in the region of Sandžak with Montenegro and thus the latter got a slight expansion of its territory.

As for Bulgaria, it got territorial expansion to include Black and Aegean sea coastal regions thus becoming the largest of the Balkan nations, as you can see on the map, yet was left physically weak due to it’s large role in securing the Balkan league’s victory over the Ottoman Empire

And finally? Perhaps one should spare a thought for the suffering peasants of Macedonia who did not get any independence! Instead, their land became a flashpoint of conflict between especially Bulgaria and Serbia over who should own what part of it. But I think I might just save my thoughts about the second Balkan War for another time.

Disproving Genesis

Mon May 20, 2013 6:30 pm by Frenger

Recently, Dr Joseph Maestropaolo, a Calfornian Creationist, pledged $10,000 of his own money to anyone who could disprove the literal word of Genesis. While the challenge is rigged with more booby traps than a Marks and Spencer’s lingerie section, I thought it would still be fun to disprove Genesis, chapter by chapter over a series of blog posts. So, here we go.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

For the time being, I’m going to gloss over the concept of god. Personally, I don’t see any evidence for such a being, but this isn’t the point of the series.  The point is that Genesis is in direct conflict with what we know about the Universe and our species from evidence.

So, in the beginning, there was the heaven and the earth. As Heaven isn’t defined here I’m at a loss of what to do with it, so I’ll simply ignore it until a more concrete description is given. The Earth however, is something we can work with.

The Earth, is 4.5 – 4.6 billion years old. We know this by dating meteorites surrounding the earth using Lead isotope systematics. As Claude et al show;

The PbPb ages of the most radiogenic compositions measured in Allende refractory inclusions range from 4.568 to 4.565 Ga, the PbPb ages of secondary phosphates in equilibrated ordinary chondrites vary from 4.563 to 4.504 Ga, and basaltic achondrites show ages between 4.558 and 4.53 Ga.


Of course, the Earth will be slightly younger than primitive meteorites, about 0.1ga. This is due to a series of processes that will need to take place before Earth can be recognised as Earth, such as core formation, end of accretion, atmospheric extraction etc.

So, I could stop here, as in the beginning god made meteorites, waited a bit, then through a series of processes made Earth. However, I want to show that our Universe is MUCH MUCH older than our planet.

The recent WMAP (Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe) mission from NASA produced results showing the Universe to be around 13.77 Billion years old (sauce). This is likely the most precise measurement to date, although other systems of measurements have produced similar results.

By measuring the Cosmic Microwave Background, Knox et al were able to show the age of the Universe to be 14.0 ± 0.5 Gyr.

If Ωtot = 1 and structure formed from adiabatic initial conditions, then the age of the universe, as constrained by measurements of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), is t0 = 14.0 ± 0.5 Gyr. The uncertainty is surprisingly small given that CMB data alone do not significantly constrain either h or ΩΛ


So, the Earth is 4.5-4.6 Billion years old along with the rest of our solar system. However, the Universe is, according to new estimates 13.77Gyr. Unless it can be shown that Earth was static and the Universe was built around it, I would suggest that in the beginning, god did not make the Earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters

That the Earth was without form and void, leaves me to believe it didn’t actually exist. But glossing over that, we’ll look at the next two points.

“Darkness was upon the face of the deep”. Well, according to the Nebular hypothesis, the Earth formed out of the solar nebula left over from the formation of the Sun. This would suggest then, that the Sun was producing light as a bi-product of nuclear fusion during Earth’s accretion, and therefore darkness would not be upon the face of the deep.

“And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters”. Again, I’m not here to look at the claims made concerning spirits, gods, afterlife’s or anything super natural, so I shall miss out the spirit of god in this instance, however, that he moved upon the face of the waters, is up for scrutiny.

According to Genesis, we are still in day one, a day in Earth terms being 24 hours, or the amount of time it takes for Earth to spin 360o on its own axis. However, according to Mojzsis et al, evidence of water has only been found as far back as 4,300 myr

Here we report in situ U–Pb and oxygen isotope results for such zircons that place constraints on the age and composition of their sources and may therefore provide information about the nature of the Earth’s early surface. We find that 3,910–4,280 Myr old zircons have oxygen isotope ( 18O) values ranging from 5.4 0.6 to 15.0 0.4 . On the basis of these results, we postulate that the 4,300-Myr-old zircons formed from magmas containing a significant component of re-worked continental crust that formed in the presence of water near the Earth’s surface.


So, with this being the earliest evidence of water on the surface, we are left with around 200 myr where the planet was too hot for water to form as liquid. Therefore, would not have been present on the same day as the Earth’s formation. It will be said that a day is relative, and that days were longer back when the Earth was formed some 6,000 years ago, however, the Bible makes no reference to this, and so we take it literally as is asked by your man Joseph.

Part of me wants to carry on, although I’ve already hit nearly 1000 words debunking only 2 sentences. Therefore, I’ll save the “let there be light” for next time, as I want to go into that in some depth.

Comments and addition always welcome.

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science

Thu Apr 11, 2013 5:10 pm by he_who_is_nobody

I volunteer at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, which was created in 1986 and is made up of two floors of exhibits. There are several different halls to the museum, some change over time, but the main thrust of the museum is found in eight halls that make up the Walk Through Time. This section of the museum focuses on the geological history of New Mexico from Precambrian to the present. The exhibits in the halls may change, but the overall theme of them stays the same.

In this blog post, I am going to give a general overview of the museum by describing the eight main halls that make up Walk Through Time. I will provide the map of the museum so one will be able to follow along while reading this post. In addition, this post is the beginning of several posts I will be doing about the museum. Some will be about specific halls, while others will be about specific exhibits found in the halls. This post will always be referenced, thus one will know exactly which part of the museum I discuss in the future.

Walk Through Time starts on the second floor and works its way back down to the first floor.

Hall One: Origins

In this hall, one is given a brief overview of the formation of the earth and how life might have started. It covers the Precambrian and Paleozoic periods of the earth. Walking farther into this hall one is shown fossils of some of the first life forms on earth and modern creatures that resemble that life. This hall also briefly covers the origin of land-based life. At the end of this hall is the beginning of the major theme of this museum, and that is the natural history of New Mexico. There are fossils, displays, and murals that cover what New Mexico was like at the end of the Paleozoic and beginning of the Mesozoic.

Hall Two: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

In this hall, the first thing you see is a wall talking about the largest extinction event in earth’s history. Next to that, they show what the oceans looked like (with fossils and art) in the Paleozoic and compare with what it looked like in the Mesozoic. The beginning of the hall deals with the early Triassic and has displays of living fossils featuring lungfish (including a live specimen) and coelacanth. Phytosaurs and Placerias, which made up the bulk of the land base life forms during the late Triassic, dominate the late Triassic part of the hall. This hall also includes a display of the earliest mammal (Adelobasileus) and talks about how exactly scientists are able to classify mammals using their ear bones. This hall also includes an exhibit on Coelophysis, New Mexico’s state fossil.

Hall Three: Age of Super Giants

In this hall, some of the largest dinosaurs to ever live are displayed. This hall is about the Jurassic, which is the period that dinosaurs truly became the dominant animal on the planet. Two of the dinosaurs on display in this hall are Seismosaurus, the longest dinosaur to ever be discovered, and Saurophaganax, the largest carnivorous dinosaur of the Jurassic.

There is also a display showing the evolution of birds from dinosaurs. It compares the anatomy of Archaeopteryx with that of a pterosaur, a small dinosaur, and one of the first true birds in order to show the homology between the bird/dinosaur and dissimilarity between bird/dinosaur and the pterosaur.

Hall Four: New Mexico’s Seacoast

In this hall, one is able to find a display that shows the movement of the sea that once covered most of New Mexico for all of the Cretaceous period. Because of this sea, the Cretaceous period is one of the most fossiliferous periods in the whole state. When first walking into this hall, one sees into the bottom floor, which has a mosasaur sculpture surrounded by blue floors and walls, representing the sea that covered the state. Next to that is a coastal jungle, which is filled with fossils and sculptures of the creatures that once inhabited the coastal region of the inland sea. One walks down a ramp passed other fossil displays and the coastal jungle. When walking into the first floor one comes into a room entitled “A Bad Day in the Cretaceous”, which shows a film projected on the wall of a meteor striking the earth. Once one leaves this area one walks closer to the mosasaur display.

Hall Five: Volcanoes

In this hall, one is treated to a walk through a generic volcano. New Mexico has more extinct volcanoes than any other state. Inside this hall, it discusses all four different types of volcanoes and the lava they produce. It also shows examples of all four volcanoes with ones found in New Mexico. This hall has been here, virtually unchanged since the museum opened in 1986 and is still one of my favorites along with most of the people that visit.

Hall Six: Rise of the Recent

In this hall, one is able to see a brief overview of much of the Cenozoic of New Mexico. This hall contains some of the most beautiful murals in the whole museum. The best mural in this hall is the mural showing the evolution of the horse. There are a few fossil exhibits found in this hall including Diatryma, which was discovered here in New Mexico by Edward Drinker Cope.


Hall Seven: Cave

In this hall, an artificial cave is created to show all the different aspects of caves. There are different displays that light up and tell one about the different formations found in caves. This exhibit also discusses the life forms that one would find in a cave. In addition, a display talks about Carlsbad Caverns, which in my opinion is the most beautiful cave system on earth.

Hall Eight: New Mexico’s Ice Age.

In this hall, there are several different displays of the different animals found in New Mexico during the Pleistocene. This hall includes erected skeletons of a Columbian mammoth, two dire wolves, and a saber-toothed cat. It also has a mural, which depicts how lush New Mexico would have been during the ice age. This is also the only hall that contains depictions of human activities in the Museum, which is a mural of the Clovis People butchering a Columbian Mammoth.

Edited by Dean, 11/04/2013
Reason for edit: Spelling/word-choice alterations, all images but the first reduced in size by 50%.

Here we go again! “Militant Atheism” and Communism

Thu Mar 28, 2013 2:55 am by theyounghistorian77

Another day, another documentary purporting to educate us all on “hidden truths” about the USSR when in reality, the “hidden truths” have been known about since even before the collapse of the USSR. This time however to the interests of all of us secularists and atheists, the entire emphasis on the film being “Militant Atheism, in the Former Soviet Union”. (Watch the trailer)


Habemus Papam! And what do believers say?

Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:58 pm by Inferno

A new Pope has been elected. I won’t comment on the choice, it’s obviously the outcome of an internal political struggle and a need to show that people outside of Europe are represented in some way or other. Note that the Pope is still white, so no thought was given to true multiculturalism. It may even be considered that he only grew up in Argentina, but because his parents were Italian he can’t be said to be South American with a straight face. It’s been said that this Pope, just like the last one, will result in a decline in followers and possibly even help speed along atheism, but while the former is almost certainly true the latter is up for debate.

That all of this clashes with the idea that God elects the Pope is glaringly obvious, but I’ll skip all of that and focus on something else entirely: What are the responses by believers to the new Pope?

To look at that, I’ll pick some comments from FB, twitter or newspapers and check what people are saying.
The choice of comments is not representative and merely reflects the biases of the author.


The first comment comes from one of my friends, posted on FB. The English translation reads:

Francesco I. from Buenos Aires. A good choice. A good prayer.

How this guy knows that it was a good choice is a mystery to me. Others have already complained that this Pope was a bad choice, being a homophobe, conservative, anti-progressive kook. It also once again calls into question what any of this choosing has to do with God’s will. If God were choosing, we’d have a Pope in the first few minutes by unanimous vote but NO!, it sometimes takes ages to elect a new one.

The second thing is the “A good prayer” bit. It can be understood in two ways, one of them is entirely bizarre.
1) After seeing that a new pope was elected, said friend prayed and felt good about it. Slightly weird, but not bizarre.
2) He or someone else prayed for the outcome to be what it is or prayed for a good outcome. The second bit is subjective, so I’ll address the first. If that really were the case, why did God answer those prayers and not the other ones? What happens to God’s will if he has to bow down to your prayer?


The second comment can be found here at HuffPo:

Just a matter of time before all the criticism and nasty comments show up before the man has a chance. Pope Francis’ religous beliefs and convictions belong to him. He doesn’t have to justify those beliefs. You may not agree with his beliefs. At least acknowledge that he too is entitled to free speech. We keep getting away from that. Live and let live. No one should be bound and gagged because they reject abortion, reject same sex marriage and reject life styles. As long as that person is civil towards fellow mankind….why, why do others condemn? I don’t agree with abortion. I don’t agree with same sex marriage. This doesn’t mean I don’t love others. I simply do not agree…what is so bad about that? OK…I’m ready for all the ugly feedback. :)

I find it strange that a Pope’s religious beliefs belong only to him. Isn’t he supposed to guide his sheep in their faith-struggle? Even worse, isn’t he supposed to uphold the views presented in the Bible? (He is upholding the whole “no gays” part, so that’s not what I’m complaining about. I’m complaining about the commenter’s views that he can have other views.)

The second part about not “binding and gagging” people because they reject “… life styles” is a wicked idea. People who condemn others because of personal choices that do not harm others (i.e. homosexuality, etc.) is despicable and should not be tolerated in anyone, even less so in people who present a business or a group of people. People get fired about such comments every day, but the Pope is applauded for them. We live in a weird world.

Many other posts are either along the lines of

He was the best we could hope for. Thank GOD

or rationalisations of both his crimes and the crimes of his predecessors.

All of this should lead to some kind of point, right?
Well, going through about 500 comments or so on the BBC, NY-Times, HuffPo, Guardian and some Austrian newspapers’ sites, I noticed three things:

1) There are more people critical of the new pope than there are people endorsing him. It seems that even Christians are aware that he may not have been the best choice.

2) The ones who do protect the pope are very often ignoring large parts of his history. The few who acknowledge that he did some evil things in his past sweep that under the rug and claim that this has no effect on his current stance.

3) Christians who did neither of those, that is to say neither endorse in a weird way nor reject him, post things that are supremely weird.

This post was just a short insight into the weirdness of “moderate” and “enlightened” Christians. Nothing will follow.
I do have one question though: How long do you think it will take before the new Pope says something really stupid? And I’m not talking about the statements issued a few hours after his election á la “homosexuality is bad”, I’m talking “AIDS is bad, but not as bad as condoms”-stupid.

My guess? Before summer.

A Short post on why i am prejudging the latest book by Norman Stone

Sun Jan 20, 2013 5:34 am by theyounghistorian77

Perhaps you may have missed it but earlier this month saw the publication of a new history on the Second World War by Norman Stone. As of yet i haven’t read the work so i cannot offer my opinion of it fully, but i am afraid i am the mood to prejudge the book in that i do not expect great things from it due to it’s length. Click on the Amazon link and you will see that it is a “Short history”, and what it means by that is the entire work is only approximately 270 pages long.

My prejudgment is based on a little bit of experience. Last year saw the release of another work, this time only 200 pages long (or 190 pages plus 6 pages of footnotes and 4 pages of select bibliography), which was a biography of Hitler by a certain A.N Wilson. Something which i have already described in these forums as “ridden with factual error” and “easily amongst the worst biographies of him that I’ve ever had the misfortune to come across, but then i also have the feeling this book was not aimed at a person like me.”

The book, like the current one from Norman Stone, was designed for a general audience, not for anyone who takes History seriously. Granted therefore we ought to judge it by some degree of looser standards compared to say some of the works i have often cited in my posts like the Biography written by Ian Kershaw or the Third Reich trilogy by Richard Evans but even so this was little excuse for the deep flaws of A.N Wilson’s book so brilliantly exposed here.

So i fear for the latest work by Norman Stone. The entire history of World War 2 is such a vast subject that in my opinion it simply cannot be covered within the space of 300 pages without omitting many of the details needed to make it a proper history of the Second World War.

This is the reason why i do not think i will be using it as a citation anytime soon. I have other works in my bookshelf such as Martin Gilbert’s “Second World War” which on page count alone is almost Three times as long as Stone’s book but my edition is also written on larger than average pages also.

(Image: A Size comparison. My copy of Martin Gilbert’s “Second World War” compared to my copy of Ian Kershaw’s “Nemesis” (pt2 of his biography of Hitler. “Hubris” or pt1 is virtually the same size) and also my copy of A.N Wilson’s “short biography of Hitler”)

I guess the final clincher in me deciding to use Stone’s work as a citation is me reading it, and i would like to hope i am wrong in my prejudgements here. But as i have laid out, i am not optimistic.

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