Synopses & Reviews
From the TAKING SIDES Series, this third edition of TAKING SIDES: WORLD HISTORY presents current controversial issues in a debate-style format designed to stimulate student interest and develop critical thinking skills. Each issue is thoughtfully framed with an issue summary, an issue introduction, and a postscript. An instructors manual with testing material is available for each volume. USING TAKING SIDES IN THE CLASSROOM is also an excellent instructor resource with practical suggestions on incorporating this effective approach in the classroom. Each TAKING SIDES reader features an annotated listing of selected World Wide Web sites and is supported by our student website, www.mhcls.com/online.
This debate-style reader is designed to introduce students to controversies in world history through readings that reflect a variety of viewpoints. Each issue is framed with an issue summary, an issue introduction, and a postscript. The Taking Sides readers feature annotated listings of selected World Wide Web sites. Taking Sides is supported by our student website, Dushkin Online (www.dushkin.com/online/).
Table of Contents
PART 1. The Ancient World
ISSUE 1. Did Homo Sapiens Originate in Africa?
YES: Stephen Oppenheimer, from “The First Exodus,” Geographical (July 2002)
NO: Milford Wolpoff and Rachel Caspari, from Race and Human Evolution (Simon & Schuster, 1997)
Professor and researcher Stephen Oppenheimer states that genetic, archaeological, and climatic evidence proves that modern humans first developed in Africa and then spread to other parts of the world, referred to as the "out of Africa" theory. Paleoanthropologists Milford Wolpoff and Rachel Caspari claim that scientific evidence proves that humans developed simultaneously in different parts of the world, now called the "multiregional" theory.
ISSUE 2. Was Sumerian Civilization Exclusively Male Dominated?
YES: Chester G. Starr, from A History of the Ancient World (Oxford University Press, 1965)
NO: Samuel Noah Kramer, from “Poet and Psalmists: Goddesses and Theologians: Literary, Religious, and Anthropological Aspects of the Legacy of Sumer,” in Denise Schmandt-Besserat, ed., The Legacy of Sumer: Invited Lectures on the Middle East at the University of Texas at Austin (Undena Publications, 1976)
Historian Chester G. Starr finds Sumerian society to be male dominated, from the gods to human priests and kings, and he barely acknowledges the status of women in either the heavenly or the earthly realm. Museum curator Samuel Noah Kramer relies on much of the same data as Starr, but finds powerful goddesses and earthly women to have played prominent roles in both cosmic and everyday Sumerian life.
ISSUE 3. Was Mesoamericas Olmec Civilization Influenced by African Sources?
YES: Ivan Van Sertima, from “Van Sertimas Address to the Smithsonian,” in Ivan Van Sertima, ed., African Presence in Early America (Transaction Publishers, 1995)
NO: Gabriel Haslip Viera, Bernard Ortiz de Montellano, and Warren Barbour, from “Robbing Native American Cultures: Van Sertimas Afrocentricity and the Olmecs,” Current Anthropology (June 1997)
History professor Ivan Van Sertima argues that Mesoamericas Olmec civilization was influenced by African sources that date back to both ancient and medieval civilization. Scholars Viera, Ortiz de Montellano, and Barbour counter that Mesoamericas Olmec civilization developed on its own, with little, if any, influence from African sources.
ISSUE 4. Does Alexander the Great Deserve His Reputation?
YES: N.G.L. Hammond, from The Genius of Alexander the Great (University of North Carolina Press, 1997)
NO: Ian Worthington, from “How ‘Great Was Alexander?” The Ancient History Bulletin (April-June 1999)
Professor emeritus of Greek N.G.L. Hammond states that research has proven that Alexander the Great is deserving of his esteemed historical reputation. Professor Ian Worthington counters that Alexanders actions were self-serving and eventually weakened his Macedonian homeland; therefore, he does not merit the historical reputation he has been given.
ISSUE 5. Did Christianity Liberate Women?
YES: Karen L. King, from “Women in Ancient Christianity: The New Discoveries,” A Report from FRONTLINE (April 6, 1998)
NO: Lisa Bellan-Boyer, from “Conspicuous in Their Absence: Women in Early Christianity,” Cross Currents (Spring 2003)
Professor of New Testament Studies and the History of Ancient Christianity Karen L. King presents evidence from biblical and other recently discovered ancient texts to illuminate womens active participation in early Christianityas disciples, apostles, prophets, preachers, and teachers. Art historian Lisa Bellan-Boyer uses mimetic theory to explain why womens richly diverse roles were severely circumscribed in the name of unity and in order to make the new religion of Christianity acceptable in the Greco-Roman world.
ISSUE 6. Were Internal Factors Responsible for the Fall of the Roman Empire?
YES: Antonio Santosuosso, from Storming the Heavens: Soldiers, Emperors, and Civililians in the Roman Empire (Westview Press, 2001)
NO: Peter Heather, from “The Huns and the End of the Roman Empire in Western Europe,” The English Historical Review (February 1995)
History professor Antonio Santosuosso states that the Roman Empires inability to cope with demands involving the defense of the empire was responsible for its demise. Professor of history Peter Heather claims that the invasion of the Huns forced other barbarians to use tribal unity as a survival technique and to seek safety within the confines of the Roman Empire, thus permitting the invasion of the Huns to bring about the fall of the Roman Empire.
PART 2. The Medieval/Renaissance Worlds
ISSUE 7. Did the Byzantine Empire Benefit from the Rule of Justinian and Theodora?
YES: Paolo Cesaretti, from Theodora: Empress of Byzantium (The Vendome Press, 2004)
NO: Procopius, from Secret History, trans. by Richard Atwater (P. Covici, 1927; Covici Friede, 1927; University of Michigan Press, 1961)
Professor of Byzantine studies, Paolo Cesaretti, presents a balanced view of the accomplishments of Justinian and Theodora in the Byzantine Empire of the sixth century. Procopius, a contemporary of the Byzantine rulers, offers a "secret history" of their personal and administrative failings.
ISSUE 8. Did Environmental Factors Cause the Collapse of Maya Civilization?
YES: David Drew, from The Lost Chronicles of the Maya Kings (University of California Press, 1999)
NO: Payson D. Sheets, from “Warfare in Ancient Mesoameria: A Summary View,” in M. Kathryn Brown and Travis W. Stanton, eds., Ancient Mesoamerican Warfare (AltaMira Press, 2003)
Writer and documentary presenter David Drew emphasizes environmental factors and their effects on Maya civilization as primarily responsible for its collapse. Anthropology professor Payson Sheets stresses military expansion as a potential cause of the Maya Collapse.
ISSUE 9. Could the Crusades Be Considered a Christian Holy War?
YES: Arthur Jones, from “Memories of Crusades Live on in Todays War,” National Catholic Reporter (October 26, 2001)
NO: Jonathan Phillips, from “Who Were the First Crusaders?” History Today (March 1997)
Editor-at-large Arthur Jones presents a case for calling the Crusades a Christian holy war and finds resonances of that long-ago conflict in todays Muslim-Christian conflicts. Lecturer in medieval history Jonathan Phillips finds motivatoins for the Crusades in religious fervor, the desire for wealth, and a family history of pilgrimage, not in holy war.
ISSUE 10. Does the Modern University Have Its Roots in the Islamic World?
YES: Mehdi Nakosteen, from History of Islamic Origins of Western Education A.D. 800–1350 (University of Colorado Press, 1964)
NO: Walter Rüegg, from “The University as a European Institution,” in Hilde De Ridder-Symoens, ed., A History of the University in Europe, volume I (Cambridge University Press, 1992)
Professor of history and philosophy of education Mehdi Nakosteen traces the roots of the modern university to the golden age of Islamic culture (750–1150 C.E.) He maintains that Muslim scholars assimilated the best of classical scholarship and developed the experimental method and the university system, which they passed on to the West before declining. Emeritus professor of sociology Walter Rüegg calls the university "the European institution par excellence," citing its origin as a community of teachers and taught, accorded certain rights that included the granting of degrees, and as a creation of medieval Europethe Europe of papal Christianity.
ISSUE 11. Did Women Benefit from the Renaissance?
YES: Margaret L. King, from Women of the Renaissance (University of Chicago Press, 1991)
NO: Joan Kelly-Gadol, from “Did Women Have a Renaissance?” in Renate Bridenthal, Claudia Koonz, and Susan Stuard, eds., Becoming Visible: Women in European History, 2d ed. (Houghton Mifflin, 1987)
Historian Margaret L. King surveys Renaissance women in domestic, religious, and learned settings and finds reflected in their lives a new consciousness of themselves as women, as intelligent seekers of a new way of being in the world. Historian Joan Kelly-Gadol discovered in her work as a Renaissance scholar that well-born women seemed to have enjoyed greater advantages during the Middle Ages and experienced a relative loss of position and power during the Renaissance.
ISSUE 12. Was Zen Buddhism the Primary Shaper of the Samurai Warrior Code?
YES: Winston L. King, from Zen and the Way of the Sword: Arming the Samurai Psyche (Oxford University Press, 1993)
NO: Catharina Blomberg, from The Heart of the Warrior: Origins and Religious Background of the Samurai System in Feudal Japan (Japan Library, 1994)
Religious scholar Winston L. King credits the monk Eisai with introducing Zen to the Hojo samurai lords of Japan who recognized its affinity with the warriors profession and character. Japanologist Catharina Blomberg emphasizes the diversity of influences on the samurai psycheConfucianism, Shinto, and Zenstressing the conflict between a warriors duty and Buddhist ethical principles.
PART 3. The Premodern World
ISSUE 13. Did Chinas Worldview Cause the Abrupt End of Its Voyages of Exploration?
YES: Nicholas D. Kristof, from “1492: The Prequel,” The New York Times Magazine (June 6, 1999)
NO: Bruce Swanson, from Eighth Voyage of the Dragon: A History of Chinas Quest for Seapower (Naval Institute Press, 1982)
Journalist Nicholas D. Kristof states that Chinas worldview, shaped by centuries of philosophical and cultural conditioning, was responsible for its decision to cease its maritime ventures during the Ming dynasty. Naval historian Bruce Swanson acknowledges that Chinas worldview played a role in its decision to cease its maritime programs, but maintains that there were other, more practical considerations that were responsible for that decision.
ISSUE 14. Did Christopher Columbuss Voyages Have a Positive Effect on World History?
YES: Robert Royal, from “Columbus and the Beginning of the New World,” First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life (May 1999)
NO: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, from “For a Country Within Reach of the Children,” Americas (November/December 1997)
Robert Royal states that although there were negatives that emanated from Columbuss New World discoveries, they continue to "remind us of the glorious and ultimately providential destiny on the ongoing global journey that began in the fifteenth century." Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez argues that Columbuss voyages had a negative effect on the Americas, much of which is still felt today.
ISSUE 15. Did Martin Luthers Reforms Improve the Lives of European Christians?
YES: Robert Kolb, from Martin Luther as Prophet, Teacher, Hero: Images of the Reformer, 1520–1620 (Baker Books, 1999)
NO: Hans Küng, from Great Christian Thinkers, trans. John Bowden (Continuum, 1996)
Religion and history professor Robert Kolb contends that Martin Luther was seen as a prophetic teacher and hero whose life brought hope, divine blessing, and needed correctives to the Christian church. Theologian and professor emeritus of theology Hans Küng views Martin Luther as the inaugurator of a paradigm shift and as the unwitting creator of both bloody religious wars and an unhealthy subservience by ordinary Christians to local rulers in worldly matters.
ISSUE 16. Were the Witch-Hunts in Premodern Europe Misogynistic?
YES: Anne Llewellyn Barstow, from “On Studying Witchcraft as Womens History: A Historiography of the European Witch Persecutions,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion (Fall 1988)
NO: Robin Briggs, from “Women as Victims? Witches, Judges and the Community,” French History (1991)
History professor Anne Llewellyn Barstow claims that the European witch-hunt movement made women its primary victims and was used as an attempt to control their lives and behavior. History professor Robin Briggs states that although women were the witch-hunts main victims, gender was not the only determining factor in this sociocultural movement.
ISSUE 17. Was the Scientific Revolution Revolutionary?
YES: Edward Grant, from “When Did Modern Science Begin?” American Scholar (Winter 1997)
NO: Steven Shapin, from The Scientific Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 1996)
Distinguished professor emeritus of history and philosophy of science Edward Grant argues that there was a revolution in science that took place in the seventeenth century; however, it might have been delayed by centuries if several key developments between 1175 and 1500 had not paved the way for it. Professor of sociology and historian of science Steven Shapin questions the idea of a Scientific Revolution, suggesting greater continuity with the past and rejecting a single time/space event we might call a Scientific Revolution.
ISSUE 18. Did the West Define the Modern World?
YES: William H. McNeill, from The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community (University of Chicago Press, 1991)
NO: Philip D. Curtin, from The World and the West: The European Challenge and the Overseas Response in the Age of Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2000)
Professor of history William H. McNeill states that in 1500, Western Europe began to extend influence to other parts of the world, resulting in a revolution in world relationships, in which the West was the principal beneficiary. History professor Philip D. Curtin states that the amount of control the West had over the rest of the world was mitigated by the European colonial process and the reaction it engendered throughout the world.