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This is a summary of some ideas on the correct approach to preparing and writing history essays. It should be stressed that this is not a magic formula which must be followed to the letter. It is, instead, a set of guidelines which it is hoped will help students to gain more from their written work. It is also worth noting that every tutor has his/her own personal approach to essays and that if you are concerned about any particular points of detail you should contact them in person.
How To Write A Good History Essay - Lancaster University
The historian Henry Steele Commager expressed a similar view in an article in the New York Review of Books, October 1972. Comparing the U.S. war in Vietnam to the Confederacy’s war to preserve slavery and Germany’s war of aggression in World War II, he wrote, “Why do we find it so hard to accept this elementary lesson of history, that some wars are so deeply immoral that they must be lost, that the war in Vietnam is one of these wars, and that those who resist it are the truest patriots.” Cited in Neil Jumonville, Henry Steele Commager: Midcentury Liberalism and the History of the Present (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999), p. 177. Of course, the peace movement’s quest was to prevent the war and stop the war, irrespective of American victory or defeat.
Noam Chomsky, professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the son of an émigré Hebrew scholar, addressed the issue of the moral responsibility of intellectuals in a special supplement in the New York Review of Books in February 1967. Based on a thorough examination of U.S. policy in Vietnam, he judged that it was genocidal in conduct and imperialist in intent. Like other intellectuals on the left, he viewed U.S. involvement in Vietnam as neither an aberration nor a simple mistake but rather as part of a larger design to extend American hegemony. Chomsky examined the role of the intellectuals in World War II, particularly those in Germany and Japan who failed to speak out against the atrocities committed by their respective governments. Considering the relative freedom of Western societies, he argued that academics and intellectuals had a responsibility to “seek the truth hidden behind the veil of distortion and misrepresentation, ideology and class interest, through which the events of current history are presented to us.”
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Writing degree-level history essays is not about regurgitation. It is generally agreed that the difference between a passable essay and a first class piece of work is the amount of original thought and input which the student includes. Writing an essay is not supposed to be a form of worship in which various historical text books are venerated. Although you must always back up your arguments with evidence, you should assume, until proven otherwise, that your mind is as good as anybody else's.
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Among the topics featured are immigration (Ellis Island), current events, geography, essay writing, environmental education, the Holocaust, and film critique (Disney's Pocahontas).
How to Write a Good Essay on Your AP World History …
Reading one book is NEVER going to be enough! If you are approaching a new subject you might wish to start by reading a condensed summary of the basic information in perhaps one or two general text books. At best this will give you an understanding of the bare bones of a topic and, sometimes, a summary of some of the historical problems involved. Be wary, however, of over-generalisation and out-of-date approaches. Then move on to consult at least two or three more specific secondary works. This may include what appear to be very daunting historical tomes, but do not be put off. Learn to maximise your productivity by reading selectively and skimming. With a basic understanding of a topic you ought to be able to identify what sections you should read by using the contents page and index. Also try to read primary sources in translation wherever possible to develop a greater understanding of a subject. This may help you to begin to form your own opinions and to question the approaches of current historians.
AP US History Essay 16: Gilded Age | John D
Most of you will be used to reading, and perhaps relying upon, secondary sources (those written by historians, drawing upon primary evidence), in order to gather information. Modern secondary works might, for example, contain an up-to-date summary of the perceived narrative of the events with which they are dealing, and a detailed analysis of the importance and/or context of those events. But historians draw their information from a wide variety of primary sources, which might include chronicles, letters, or official documents, written at or around the time of the events to which they relate. A vital part of studying history at degree level is developing your own ability to use the primary sources. Therefore, although you will almost certainly have to read a variety of secondary works in order to give yourself a general over-view of a period, it is always also advisable to examine primary sources related to your topic if they are available.