Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Notable E-Book: Popular Controversies in World History

Sometimes, it is tempting to think of history as a static and set and agreed upon.  But nothing, of course, could be further from the truth.  Our perceptions of the past are constantly changing and on many (many) topics, historians and the general public continue to debate "what happened" decades, even centuries, after events played out.

We've just added a new eReference set that makes for a fun browse because it gathers together scores of those historical debates in one place.

Popular Controversies in World History : Investigating History's Intriguing Questions, edited by Steven L. Danver, was published by ABC-CLIO, but we deliver it on our familiar Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL) platform.  Here, you can easily search, browse, read and print 58 entry/chapters contained in all four volumes.

Here's how the publisher describes it: "Covering prehistoric times to the modern era, this fascinating resource presents pro-and-con arguments regarding unresolved, historic controversies throughout the development of the world. Did ancient Egyptians really use slaves to construct the pyramids? Could Charles Darwin have "borrowed" his idea of evolution from sociologist and philosopher Herbert Spencer? Was John F. Kennedy elected president only as a result of voter fraud committed by the Mafia? Researchers exploring the earliest eras of history have offered vigorous, plausible answers—both yes and no—for these and a number of other unresolved questions.

Popular Controversies in World History: Investigating History's Intriguing Questions offers uniquely compelling and educational examinations of pivotal events and puzzling phenomena, from the earliest evidence of human activity to controversial events of the 20th century.

From the geographic location of human origins, to the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, to the innocence—or guilt—of Sacco and Vanzetti, Popular Controversies in World History: Investigating History's Intriguing Questions provides four volumes on the ongoing debates that have captivated both the historical community and the public at large. In each chapter, established experts offer credible opposing arguments pertaining to specific debates, providing readers with resources for independent critical thinking on the issue. This format allows students, scholars, and other interested readers to actively engage in some of the most intriguing conundrums facing historians today."

A Choice review acknowledges that the set is "fun to use," and cites its "admirable number of non-Western topics. The essays are chapter-length, and all have an extensive bibliography."  And it should be noted that the provided "References and Further Reading" lists are important, since this set walks the line between general readership and academia.  So, if you were doing a paper on one of these topics, you would not want to rely on an entry as a sole or even major source.  The kind of reading you'd do here would just be a starting point for your research.

Popular Controversies in World History joins another paper series, History in Dispute, as good basic reference for historical controversies.  And if you are interested in more current matters of pro-con debate, please explore the many options offered in our LibGuide called Current Issues: Pro and Con.