The History Carnival XVI

Welcome to the History Carnival.

As many of you know, I am not a history blogger or trained historian. Indeed, the primary focus of this blog has been evidence-based medicine versus quackery, science versus pseudoscience, the occasional political post, and the occasional uncategorizable bizarre post, and, yes, history versus pseudohistory. However, I do have a strong interest in history, particularly World War II history and the Holocaust, as well as a long history of debunking Holocaust denial, and that’s why I wanted to host this carnival. My first idea for hosting involved a storyline that included Orac, EneMan, and the Hitler Zombie. Fortunately for you, dear reader, unlike the case for my previous hosting of Tangled Bank, this time I actually showed some restraint.

With my interest in World War II history and the Holocaust, you’d think I’d love The History Channel (a.k.a. The “Hitler” Channel, given the predominance of programming about World War II and the Nazis it generally serves up). And I do, for the most part. (It seems to be a guy thing.) However, even I get tired of such large quantities of earnest programs about various World War II battles, series about the rise and fall of Hitler, or shows about military equipment and warplanes of that era. I sometimes dream of a broader, more diverse History Channel that emphasizes many eras and cultures and presents the topics accurately but with a sense of—dare I say it?—fun. So imagine, if you can, what sorts of shows might be premiering on History Channel this fall if the channel were run by History bloggers. Imagine, if you will, The Historoblog Channel.


I leave it to the reader to determine which show should be on what night. What's a Monday night show? What's a better Friday night show? What show should be on in the early morning or the middle of the night? You decide. Now, without further ado:

What the Bleep Do We Know--About History? (Miniseries) This week, the crew examines basic methodology in historical research, particularly the question of how we know what we know about history how we find out about history. In this first episode, Peter Kirby of Christian Origins gives an introduction to the historical method. Future episodes will include a two part (1, 2) segment on how archaelogy can supplement the historical method to investigate the history of slavery and an episode about David Hume's writing of "philosophical history."

The Education of a Talking Head. (Miniseries) Behind the scenes reality show in which a historian learns what it's really like to make a TV documentary about history, in this case about Ulysses S. Grant. (Four part series.) Hijinks ensue as matters of scholarly credibility battle the need for screen presence.

Lying About History? (Series) Lying About History? is a show that demonstrates that distorting for ideological purposes history isn’t just for David Irving anymore. In this show, a roundtable of historians delivers a well-deserved smackdown, McLaughlin Group-style, to those who would distort, lie about, or misuse history for ideological reasons and in general just argue about issues where it is not so clear that there is distortion. In this premiere episode, the controversy over Michelle Malkin’s book In Defense of Internment about the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II is examined. David Neiwert, a frequent critic of Malkin, takes on Malkin's claims once again that Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy had ordered the internment of Japanese-Americans on the basis of decrypted MAGIC transcripts indicating a high level of espionage among this population. Greg James Robinson explains why McCloy may have changed his justification and expands on why this change completely undermines Malkin's thesis. Finally, Neiwert laments that this pseudohistory is spreading to more mainstream conservative writing. (Ed. Note: Orac really does wish this show actually existed. Imagine the possibilities, as distorting history is a bipartisan proclivity.)

History by PowerPoint. (Series) No, this isn't some sort of Microsoft plot for world domination. This series takes a humorous look at major historical events by telling the tale through imagined "lost PowerPoint slides," proving that any complex historical event can be reduced to a series of bullet points. This week: The Lost PowerPoint Slides of William Wallace. (Why? Because we can.) Next week: Thucydides present the history of the Peloponnesian War.

Religion in History. (Series) Wilson examines a treatise from 1644 that argues that civil authority does not derive from religious authority. Jonathan Rowe examines the claim that the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation. Future episodes will include a multipart feature about the Oracle of Delphi and the effect belief in the Oracle had on the development of the Greek calendar, entitled "Dolphin Watching in Ancient Greece."

Historic True Crime. (Series) "An Audience for Murder." This week, how to get away with murder in front of a live audience.

Ethics in History. (Series) This show presents ethical issues from the past and contrasts ethics then with ethics now. This week: Ahistoricality Alert: Did Lincoln Violate the Geneva Convention? (Of course, there was no Geneva Convention back then, but isn't that the point?)

Racism in America. (Series) This show explores every week the evolving history of racism in America. "The Untold History of the Chinese Exclusion Act." An in-depth look at the Chinese exclusion act and its consequences. Future episode: Venus in the Dark: Blackness and Beauty in Popular Culture. The history of the "Hottentot Venus" and how racism has led to the demeaning use of black bodies.

Rebellion! (Series) This show examines rebellions and revolutions throughout history. This week: The story of the largest slave revolt in colonial North American history.

Listen Up! (Series) This series is dedicated to bringing you the sounds of history, from primary recordings when possible, from recreations based on the latest scholarship for earlier events. This week, ghw examines why there is a growing interest in how history sounds.

Genocide. (Series) Genocides throughout history and their repercussions. This week: British Muslims complain that Holocaust Remembrance Day excludes them. Are they justified in their complaint?

Monuments. (Series) Thorgrim presents the social history of the Standing Stone. Randy can't believe his ears when he hears a father tell his child that a Civil War monument is "just another monument." Phil Harland reports on a new study of Roman imperial statue bases.

9/11 as History. (Special) Join Beldar as he examines what may happen in 20 years, when 9/11 will be more history than memory, comparing it to Pearl Harbor. Doc Charles points out that 9/11 is still firmly memory for him. Meanwhile Michael McNeil describes the 1,905th anniversary of a different 9/11.

Past Present Imperfect. (Series) This provocative show looks at present day events and looks into history for parallels. This week: The New Orleans Hurricane and Flood. Rob MacDougall hosts, comparing the 2005 flood with the "good flood" of 1927 in New Orleans, examining its consequences. In another segment Radagast looks at some rather inflammatory comparisons between the response to this natural disaster and the response of previous Presidents to natural disasters. Guests Sean Hannity and Karl Rove get very upset.

The Untold Story of a Different Apartheid. (Special) J. Otto Pohl shines a light on a lesser known example of apartheid, this time in the Soviet Union.

Plagues Throughout History. (Series) The history of disease and plague. This week: When Germs Travel (plagues throughout the centuries and their consequences). Future weeks: Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs (Adrienne Mayor describes how Hercules was the most famous early practitioner of germ warfare); Fire and Plague (Did the Great Fire of London of 1666 halt the spread of the Great Plague by killing off the city's rats?)

Mysterious People. (Series) Mysterious and intriguing people throughout history. This week: The Mystery of the "Piano Man."

Thanks everyone for contributing and nominating others' work. It's been fun. And be glad that that I restrained myself from having the Hitler Zombie make an appearance! He'll show up again, sometime, I'm sure, though.

In any case, the next History Carnival will be hosted by The Apocalyptic Historian on October 1 (I love that blog name). Get your entries to Lisa at Also, don't forget Carnivalesque on October 9. A call for entries is here.


  1. Now that's a premium cable package!

    Time to start shopping my pitch to the networks....

  2. All the worry you expressed about putting this together appears to have been misplaced. You did a great job.

  3. This is terrific! Thanks for doing a great job.

  4. Splendid, Orac!

  5. One comment, you mis-spelled Neiwert's name the second time you wrote it under the "Lying about History" section.

  6. Fantastic job. I'm sifting through each one during my late lunch.

    I particularly liked the piece on Soviet apartheid, and the first entries from Peter Kirby, and Siris on David Hume (we should be sending at least 100,000 butterboxes to the Gulf coast)

    Also, thanks for the link.

  7. I love your ideas, and I would definite tune into this channel if it existed. You forgot about The History of the Apocalypse . I would love to know how many times throughout history that people thought the world was going to end. It is a fascinating subject.

  8. I just noticed that the very last paragraph of your post lists the Apocalyptic Historian. I'll have to look at her blog.

  9. I would also like to know how our government handled the Great Molasses Flood of 1919. 2.3 million gallons of molten molasses poured out into the streets of Boston. The people weren't just stuck in water; they were stuck in a thick goo. It is an amazing story.

  10. Nice work. I got a couple of new blogs for the Cliopatria Blogroll out of the deal, too!

  11. Trish,

    The host of a carnaval presents those blog entries that are sent to him (see: ).

    Sometimes if I am curious about something I will use, which will often bring up blog entries on the subject.

    Yes, the great Molassis spill is fascinating. It was mentioned in more than one engineering structures class when I was in college (along with Galloping Gertie, a bridge that had massive structural failure because of unstable structural dynamics). I've read one book, and seen other more recent books written specifically on engineering disasters. They are fascinating reads (I just can't remember the names right now especially since I use the library for my reading material).

  12. The vast majority of what I presented was sent to me. The articles were submitted by the author-blogger or nominated by other bloggers. In cases where multiple entries were sent to me, I didn't always use all of them, as I was fortunate enough to have more than enough material this time around. In those cases, I picked the articles I liked or considered somehow interesting or provocative.

    Finally, there were a handful of entries (like the one about the British Muslims protesting Holocaust Remembrance Day) that I found during my wanderings and liked enough to use.

  13. Well done!

  14. Actually, I don't mind another range on arms and equipment as long it's NOT 20/21 century. What about 'A hundred ways to chop your head off'?

  15. I, too, would like to see more variety in the "histories" shown, but the reason may be that WWII was really the first to be widely filmed, and TV is, well, a visual medium. Anything older is going to be pictures, paintings and people talking. Us hard-core historians will probably enjoy much of it, but the average person won't.

  16. I fell in love with History many years ago when my high school history teacher ssaid to look at not as his tory but the hi story! Many volumns of Toynby, Durant and casual reading of books by authors like O'Brian and Cornwell (novels of Napoleonic War era. Please keep this going.


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