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Welcome to Crash Course World History Office Hours! John Green and Cathy Keller answer your questions on the Russian Revolution, discuss the origin of nation states, and talk about the best way to approach studying history.

Thank you to Flipgrid for sponsoring this series. Check them out here: https://info.flipgrid.com/

00:00 Introduction
06:02 Causes and effects of the Russian revolution
15:55 Who was Genghis Khan and how was he able to get so much territory?
20:56 How did the Cold War start?
28:17 Kwame Nkrumah and Ghana in African decolonization and the Cold War
31:03 The differences between the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans
36:09 Ataturk and the origin of nation-states
41:05 What's the best way to look back on history?
44:05 Tips for studying World History
48:24 Why didn't the silk road stretch all the way across Europe?
50:53 Favorite books on history
56:16 Outro

Crash Course Study Skills: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhuwS5ZLwKY&list=PL8dPuuaLjXtNcAJRf3bE1IJU6nMfHj86W

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 (00:00) to (02:00)


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John: I am joined today, I don't know if you know this about me, but I am not an expert in World History or indeed in anything other than signing your name over and over again, so I am joined by an actual expert who knows a lot about World History, Cathy Keller. Hello, Cathy.

Cathy: Hi everyone, I'm Cathy Keller. I'm a history teacher and I was a consultant on the Crash Course European History series.

John: And we are so grateful to you for doing it. Thank you. So here's how this study session is going to go. We are going to ask questions that you have sent in. Many of you have sent in questions ahead of time. We're going to get to those most pressing questions, we'll go through some of those. And then we'll provide a few tips on studying World History and maybe even a little bit of test-taking advice. And we will end with answering some questions from the chat, so if you're watching at youtube.com/crashcourse right now, you can ask us questions and we will be answering those as well. So before we get to the first questions, we want to start a little bit by talking about our partner for office hours, Flipgrid. Flipgrid is the free video discussion app from Microsoft, with the mission to make learning fun and empowering and accessible for all. It's been used in the classroom for nearly a decade. My kids use it. I was going to say that your kids probably use it but if you're studying for a World History test, you may not have kids. But a lot of kids use it. As we talk about preparing for exams, Flipgrid is a convenient way to host study groups without having to coordinate around class schedules for after-school commitments. You can create a group, start a topic and send the link to anyone who wants to join. You can record video or audio responses, discuss specific concepts and detail, quiz each other, prep for group presentations. It's really flexible.

 (02:00) to (04:00)


John: We hear from Crash Course viewers all the time about how helpful video is as a learning tool, and it is one of the reasons, of course, why we make Crash Course. But connecting with peers and learning in groups with your peers in community, is a wonderful and really powerful thing that Flipgrid helps make happen. We use Flipgrid to collect some of your questions for these livestreams. Okay, so we're going to get to that now. Alright, so Cathy.

Cathy: Yes?


John: Before we answer any of these questions, can I ask you a broad question?

Cathy: Sure.

John: Because when I'm studying for a test, I personally find it helpful to have a sense of why I'm studying for the test, why the test exists, why I'm studying this at all. So, why do you study History? Why do you teach History? Why do you think it's important to learn History?

Cathy: I was an English major and History double major in college and I think that those two go so well together in part, just because I love stories. Like, one of the things that first- probably the two thinigs that first really hooked me on History were the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the Russian Revolution. I don't know why those two things, but I just found the stories and the people so interesting, and I think we can learn so much about the present by studying the past. Now I don't really think that we learn from the past to avoid making the same mistakes. I think we're actually pretty bad at that, but I feel like understanding how people have done things in the past can make us make better decisions now, if we're paying attention. Unfortunately, I think that a lot of people just assume History is a bunch of memorizing names and dates and I think that it's much more about big connections and how people work, about how societies work, about how we make decisions, what works and what doesn't.


 (04:00) to (06:00)


Cathy: I jus thtink it's informed so much about how I think about the present that I find it endlessly fascinating. Also, people are weird. They do really bizarre things and that never fails to entertain me.

John: Yeah, I feel the same way. There's something wonderful about knowing that a lot of our problems aren't new and about knowing that a lot of the challenges we face aren't new, and also there's something wonderful for me in knowing that a lot of the challenges that we used to face that seemed completely unsolvable and unaddressable in their time got solved and addressed. For me, that's a real encouragement. There's some hope for me in History. Yes, it is the story of people making the same mistakes over and over again, but it is also a story of real lasting change. Like, life today is different from what it was like during the Russian Revolution. It is certainly different than what it was like in the 1200s. And, the story of how we went on the journey that we've gone in these last 800 years or 10,000 years- however long you want to define history- is really, really interesting. So, I agree. Above all else, for me, it is a fascinating story that helps me understand how we got to now and why now looks the way it does, which also makes me think about how now might look different.

Cathy: With a little hindsight, right?

John: Yeah, yeah. It gives you a little bit of an ability to see your historical moment, in a greater context, which for me anyway makes my historical moment slightly less terrifying. Only slightly, but it does help. We're actually going to start with the Russian Revolution. We're going to start with your favourite, or what got you hooked on History, the causes and effect of the Russian Revolution.

 (06:00) to (08:00)


John: Geet Gover, and I apologize if I mispronounce any of your names of indeed if I mispronounced the names of major historical figures. I'll remind you that mispronouncing things is my thing. They asked, "Can we talk about the background events that triggered the Russian Revolution?" And Dineo asked, "Why was Rasputin so important to the Royal family?" I want to add a PS there Cathy, was Rasputin so inportant to the Royal family?

Cathy: I mean, I think that he was, in the sense that they had this desperately ill child who they were hoping to cure, and there was no cure for Haemophilia at that time. I think that it's overplayed, in part because he's such a fascinating character. The pictures of him are just so creepy.

John: Oh he's a great- Nobody looks like Rasputin.

Cathy: No, they seem over the top, really. I mean, he was over the top. HIs personality was huge. I think he was kind of a party animal, so that was just helping part of a larger destabilization of Russia at that time. Just to give some context for Russia in 1917, for a lot of the 19th century, Russia was pretty reactionary and slow to modernize. They weren't really industrializing very quickly. There were some exceptions like Alexander II, who was the Tsar that freed the serfs in 1861 and banned corporal punishment in the army, but he was assassinated in 1881. When Nicholas became Tsar in 1894, he was never very popular. He supported some of the attempts by his advisors to reform and modernize, but he really only agreed to the creation of the Douma, or the Parliament, because of a revolution in 1905.

John: Right.

 (08:00) to (10:00)


Cathy: So, once World War I starts, or once the Archduke is assassinated, Nicholas supported Serbia after his assassination. Then, Russia's involvement in World War I was, I think, really the death blow to the Russian monarchy. Nicholas didn't really create any kind of administrative machine to support the war effort with things that were important in war, like guns and bullets and uniforms and medicine and food, so they're just consistently trounced by the Germans on the Eastern front, which was absolutely brutal. This is going to cause all sorts of war weariness, mutinies and general strikes that make it even harder to continue fighting and producing the goods that they needed to fight the war. Rasputin is just going to help delegitimize the Tsar. I think one of the reasons that Rasputin looked to have so much power is probably just he didn't touch Alexis and that probably helped prevent the forming of clots that might have been forming. There are some other theories about why that could have been, but Haemophilia was untreatable and here's this creepy guy, in tight with the Royal family, that was just further delegitimizing him. But to look at 1917 specifically, there's actually two Revolutions in Russia in 1917. The first starts in February, which is on the old Russian calendar. Sometimes the dates are a little funky when we get to the Russian Revolution. In Petrograd, which we now call St. Petersburg, which they had previously called St. Petersburg, but we'll say Petrograd for now. On International Women's Day, women have this parade and started protesting food scarcity and casualties and all of these kinds of things. The protest spread- or the parade, I guess, becomes a protest. It spreads, and then the soldiers rebelled, they joined, and Nicholas is forced to abdicate.

 (10:00) to (12:00)


Cathy: That's the beginning of the first revolution. In the meantime, the Douma, or the Parliament, declared itself a provisional government. They had all sorts of political parties in there represented. Alexander Kerensky leads to the front of that. He was a moderate socialist that came to lead the provisional government and tried to revive the Russian war effort. Meanwhile, the Petrograd Soviet, which was a workers' council of workers in Petrograd, was also claiming to be the government and issuing its own decrees, so that it was destabilizing. And then, in April, the Germans put Lenin, who was a radical Bolshevik intent on overthrowing the whole system, on a train, gave him money and sent him to Petrograd. Lenin starts making all these speeches abotu peace, land and bread. And that all sounded pretty good to people who were war-weary, landless and hungry.

John: Yeah, I bet that sounded good, but- so a couple... Just ot stop you and reinforce a couple of things. So, we generally refer to this revolution as the February Revolution, even though the dates are a little weird. But we think of it, we generally talk about it as the February Revolution, right? And that Lenin, Vladimir Lenin had been in exile in Germany, and then.


Cathy: He was in Switzerland, yeah, but the Germans-

John: In exile in Switzerland, and then the Germans basically funded his journey to Russia, correct me if I'm wrong here, in an attempt to further the destabilization of the Russian government to weaken its ability to fight World War I against Germany.

Cathy: Right, which was a pretty brilliant move. The British did it to the Ottoman Empire too, with Lawrence of Arabia. They weren't the only ones doing it, but I always thought that was pretty smart.


 (12:00) to (14:00)


Cathy: So when Lenin gets there, he's giving all these speeches and rallying all the support, but we've got these two governments rallying for control, and Lenin just stages a coup in October of 1917, basically taking over the government buildings. Then, they hold an election, the Bolsheviks lose, so they just dismissed the assembly. In 1918, they signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany, which gives up most of their Western holdings and gets Russia out of the war and then basically, immediately become entrenched in a civil war with the 'whites', who was basically everyone who wasn't a Bolshevik. That goes on for a while until about 1922, when the Bolsheviks just declare victory, rename the country Soviet Union and then we start talking about Soviet history and not Russian history, because we've got to change that name too.

John: And that is- that revolution is the October Revolution, right? In October, there's this second revolution where Lenin leads this coup. They hold an election. They don't like the results of the election because it was too fair, I guess you might say.

Cathy: Yeah, they didn't win, right?

John: Right, yeah. So they lost the election, which was a real bummer to them so they dismissed the Douma, and then end the war with Germany which, of course, makes sense because that's part of how Lenin got to Russia in the first place and was in the position that he was in. then, focus on the civil war against the 'whites' and how to form a new communist country, or at least this particular Bolshevik version of communism country. Then by 1922, that country exists, and we now know it as the Soviet Union. And that is the same Soviet Union that existed until 1991, right?

 (14:00) to (16:00)


Cathy: Yup, exactly.

John: That was a big moment in history. One that, some would argue, continues to reverberate.

Cathy: Right now?


 


John: Yes, very much right now. The history of the Soviet Union and the relationship between the SSRs of the USSR, the Soviet Socialist Republics of the USSR is, of course, right now at the center of the conversations about Ukraine and at the center of Putin's argument that Ukraine is not a legitimate nation. So, that's just one example of how history from a hundred years ago that feels very distant continues to shape the world we live in. Next, we have a couple of questions about my favourite of the major world history empires, the Mongol Empire. The truly, exceptional Mongol Empire, different in so many important ways from the empires that have traditionally been the focus of history classes in the US. So, "Who was Genghis Khan and why was he able to get so much territory in so little time?" Which, to be fair, is a tough question to answer and one that is still debated.

Cathy: Right, and I think that we'll find that with a lot of these questions. It's not like historians can always put their answers in a nice little box. They're continuing to debate these things. New information comes out. History is constantly evolving. Genghis Khan, who before he was known as Genghis Khan was known as Temujin, came from a pastoral group or a herding group of these feuding Mongol clans and tribes during the 12th century. He supposedly had a pretty magnetic personality, which helps him to build up a following of friends.


 (16:00) to (18:00)


John: He forges all of these alliances with more powerful leaders. He wins a series of victories and he was known for being pretty ruthless to his enemies, but pretty generous to his friends. He also would incorporate a lot of the warriors from the defeated tribes into his own forces. Then he's renamed, I guess, or becomes knows as Genghis Khan, which was the supreme leader of what was now unified as the great Mongol nation. The army was pretty well organized and disciplined, which allowed the Mongols to eventually take over most of Asia, or much of Asia and Eastern Europe, capitalizing on some weaknesses there. The Abbasid Caliphate and divided China, which eventually results in the largest land-based empire in all of human history. Even though they don't have a huge lasting cultural impact on the areas they cnquered, in terms of bringing a new language or religion to the area, it facilitated all of this Afro-Eurasian trade and communication. And then their collapse, I guess, leaves this big power vacuum that will be filled by the Ming dynasty in China, the Ottoman and the Safavid empires in the Middle East and then the Russian State in Eastern Europe. I just thought it was interesting too, that apparently climate change might have actually benefited them. There was a particularly wet, warm period in Central Asia that led to this boom in grass growth and thereby livestock and horsepower, which is part of what they relied on.

John: Wow, that is really interesting. A reminder that human history is also the story of other species, whether that species be the infectious agents that caused Bubonic plague or something like warm, wet weather that allows grass to grow to feed lots of horses and have a little more horsepower.

 (18:00) to (20:00)


John: I think it's really interesting though that this gets to something really important in history. That's one of the great questions, "Does history make the man or does man make history" is the way that it was phrased when I was a kid. Hopefully, it's phrased in a slightly more inclusive way these days. What is the relationship between individuals and systems? When we talk about Genghis Khan, we have to focus on these systems that were falling apart at the time that he rose to power in China. That the dynasty was falling apart, that the Abbasid Empire, which had been really powerful, the caliphate there, which had a really, really powerful and super culturally and historically important empire, spreading Islam and really shifting a lot of things. Those were both so weak, that this left a power vacuum and it left an opportunity for the Mongol empire to come. I think it's also really important to- I really like how you focused in that answer on it, while acknowledging that it's not like all of these areas after the relatively brief Mongol empire, where we're speaking a different language or we're engaging in different religious practises necessarily. But by connecting those places, it did lead to a lasting shift in Afro-Eurasian trade, which had a huge impact on the history of the world.

Cathy: Yeah, totally. You see an upswing in the Silk Road trade, for instance, during that period, which is really important.

John: Yeah, at the center of how all of Afro-Eurasian history went, really. Yeah, I think that there's- One of my favourite books, I want to make sure I get the title right, one of my favourite books of history is called the 'Calamitous 14th Century.

Cathy: Oh, yeah. By Barbara Tuchman, right?

 (20:00) to (22:00)


John: Yeah, yeah. The Barbara Tuchman book. And if it hadn't been for the growth of this Afro-Eurasian trade, the growth of the silk road, these much deeper connections among- that ranged all the way from Japan to Portugal and to Central and Southern Africa, if it hadn't been for all of those connections, we might not have had the Black Death,  or certainly might not have had the Black Death in the same way we ended up having it. We also wouldn't have had a huge explosing in the distribution of knowledge in that period. So, what a fascinating- so in that sense, what Genghis Khan left behind was super important to the rest of human history. Okay, there were a bunch of questions about the Cold war as well. I feel like Sascha maybe put it best asking, "How did the Cold War start? I feel like the beginning is so muddy. Like the end of World War II, everybody's happy about winning, and then boom: mortal enemies measuring each other in the amount of weapons able to exterminate the human species." It does feel like a little bit of a dramatic escalation. I agree. Also, Vivi wants to know, how to understand- "Is it COMECON and COMINFORM?" I've only ever seen these words written.

Cathy: Yeah, I think it's COMECON and COMINFORM. Now that you say that, I'm not a hundred percent sure either, because I mostly see them written, so I hope you're right. I think you're right.

John: But to be fair on your test, you'll probably see them written as well. Talk to us about the Cold War.

Cathy: I feel like it's always complicated, right? It's always complicated, but there's all this debate amongst historians on the causes of the Cold War. It shifted so much over time based on current political climate.

 (22:00) to (24:00)


Cathy: Was it an ideological struggle, or was it one based on geopolitical power after World War II? In the 1950s, in the West, a lot of historians pointed to that deep ideological divide, and Stalin and the Soviet Union's aggressive expansion after World War II in Europe and Asia and this was called an 'orthodox interpretation' and just basically showed America is reacting to Soviet aggression. Then the revisionists would point to American economic expansion in Europe and even going back to the open door policy of protecting American markets that went back to the 1890s. But starting in the 1970s, the post-revisionist historians, so this all gets a little ridiculous, I think, with the names, but people like John Lewis Gaddis had the benefit of hindsight and Detente was going on, and some new archival material. Though, I want to point out, not the Soviet archives yet. The post-revisionists argued for more of a middle ground, pointing to the ally's delay in opening a second front in World War II, which left the Soviets fighting basically alone in Europe. Truman's atomic diplomacy, Washington's refusal to recgnize the Soviet sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. They look at more complex social, political and economic causes of the Cold War. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Soviet archives opened up which leaves historians with all this new information. Gaddis, for instance, is going to take a much more negative view of Stalin. Others start focusing again on these ideological struggles and people like myself, who went through school in the Cold War, and I think you too, basically learned that communists were evil and trying to destroy the world and I think it's important to think about our own subjectivity when thinking about the Cold War, like how much is that impacting how I view different primary sources?

John: Right.

 (24:00) to (26:00)


Cathy: If we look at more modern interpretations and we look at- like the Marshall Plan is offering all this American aid to help rebuild Europe after World War II, to strengthen it against Soviet influence and attemption to contain the spread of communism. Containment is the big idea there. Stalin bulked the Eastern European countries accepting the Marshall Plan because he saw that as American expansionism. He created COMECON to prevent Eastern European countries from aligning themselves with the West, so providing that aid himself. COMINFORM, to answer the second half of that question, was the internation communist organisation led by the Soviet Union to organize communist parties across Europe. But as Chinese communism became stronger and made that less relevant, it was just dissolved as part of the de-Stalinization that happened after Stalin's death.

John: Yeah, just to go through a couple of things, a couple of important points there, I think, so maybe at the very beginning we were taught that it was, I mean, we were taught that- I mean I was certainly taught that it was an ideological struggle. A purely ideological struggle between, on the one hand, an ideology that focused on individualism and individual freedoms. On the other hand, an ideology that focused on the overall average communal good, even to the point of terrific astonishing oppression. Terrific being, I don't mean like in the good way. Astonishing oppression of individal expression. That was the way I learned it in high school. I don't know if that's the way you learned it, but that's the way that I was taught about it.

 (26:00) to (28:00)


Cathy: Yeah, I mean a lot of, and obviously the oppression is a huge deal and economically they weren't able to produce the kind of consumer goods that were in demand. There were all sorts of flaws in the Soviet system. I think though, that looking at the Soviet Union as this monolith gets problematic as any kind of monolith does with people, because we never agree on anything.

John: Right, yeah. And over time there were different Soviet Unions, like Stalin's Soviet Union, even early Stalin's Soviet Union was very different from late Stalin Soviet Union, like Stalin's Soviet Union, even early Stalin's Soviet Union was very different from late Stalin's Soviet Union, and 1938 was vastly different from 1951. That's definitely part of it, but understanding the relationship, I don't know how important this is to the test. You probably will, but understanidng the relationship between those initial ways of thinking about the Cold War, that these were just an ideological disagreement about what the human social orders should be with both sides. But at least from our perspective, when I was a kid, expecially the communists trying to impose their worldview in the so-called 'third world'. Thie 'first world' being the US and its allies, the 'second world' being the Soviets and its allies, and the 'third world' being the world that we were all fighting over to decide what the future of humanity would be. This was a purely ideological struggle. Then, along come the revisionists and say, "Well actually I think it's a lot more complicated than that, and that maybe we shouldn't only be looking at the way communism is trying to expand its influence, but also look at the way the US is trying to expand its influence, and the West is. Then the post-revisionists argue for? Just to restate it, I'm asking you.

Cathy: Oh, just, I guess , a middle ground. They asked for simplification of "How did it start" and I was like, "Well, here's all these complicated responses."

John: It's pretty hard, yeah. It's not simple.

Cathy: Right, I don't think you need to name these schools of thought necessarily on the AP exam, but understanding that there's  different perspectives on this, I think is important. I would say that the post-revisionists were just complicating- looking at more social, political, economic causes and not just that ideological divide.

 (28:00) to (30:00)


Watch our videos and review your  learning with the Crash Course App!

Supplemental content is now  available for these courses. [Theme Music] I am joined today, I don't know if you know this about me, but I am not an expert in World History or indeed in anything other than signing your name over and over again. I am joined by an actual expert who knows a lot about World History, Cathy Keller.

Hello, Cathy. >Hi, everyone. I'm Cathy Keller. I'm a history teacher and I was a consultant on the Crash Course European History series.

Thanks.
We're going to get to those  most pressing questions. We'll go through some of those. Then, we will provide a few tips on studying

World History and maybe even a  little bit of test-taking advice.

We will end with answering  some questions from the chat, so questions, if you're watching at  youtube.com/crashcourse right now, questions that you can ask us, and  we will be answering those as well. Before we get to the first questions, we want to start a little bit by talking about our partner for office hours, Flipgrid. Flipgrid is the free video  discussion app from Microsoft, with the mission to make learning fun  and empowering and accessible for all.

It's been used in the classroom for

nearly a decade. My kids use it. I was going to say your kids probably use it, but if you're studying for a world history test, you may not have kids, but lots of kids use it.

As we talk about preparing for exams, Flipgrid is a convenient way to host study groups without having to coordinate  around class schedules  for after-school commitments. You can create a group, start a topic, and send the link to anyone who wants to join. You can record video or audio responses, discuss specific concepts and detail, quiz each other, prep for group presentations.

It's really flexible. We hear from Crash Course viewers all the time about how helpful video is as a learning tool, and it is one of the reasons, of course, why we make Crash Course. But connecting with peers, and learning  in groups with your peers in community, is a wonderful and really powerful  thing that Flipgrid helps make happen.

We use Flipgrid to collect some of  your questions for these live streams. Okay, so we're going to get to that now. Alright, so...

Cathy-- >Yes? Sure.
Why do you think it's important to learn history? >I was an English and History  double major in college,  and I think that those two go so well together, in part, just because I love stories. Like, one of the things that first, probably the two things that first really hooked me on history were the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the Russian Revolution. I don't know why those two things, but I just found the stories and the people so interesting.

I think we can learn so much about the present by studying the past. Now, I don't really think  that we learn from the past  to avoid making the same mistakes. I think we're actually pretty bad at that, but I feel like understanding how people have done things in the past can make us make better decisions now, if we're paying attention.

Unfortunately, I think that a lot of people just assume history is a bunch of memorizing names and dates. I think that it's much more about big connections about how people work, about how societies work, about how we make decisions, what works, what doesn't work. I just think it's informed so much about how I think about the present that I find it just endlessly fascinating.

Also, people are weird. They do really bizarre things and that never fails to entertain me.
There's something wonderful about knowing that a lot of our problems aren't new and about knowing that a lot of the challenges we face aren't new. Also, there's something wonderful for me in knowing that a lot of the challenges that we used to face that seemed completely unsolvable and unaddressable in their time got solved and got addressed. For me, that's a real encouragement.

There's some hope for me in history. Yes, it is the story of people making the same mistakes over and over again. But it is also a story of real lasting change.

Life today is different from what it was like during the Russian Revolution. It is certainly different than what it was like in the 1200s. The story of how we went on the journey that we've  gone on in these last 800 years or 10,000 years, however long you want to define history, is really, really interesting.

I agree, above all else, for me, it is a fascinating story that helps me understand how we got to now and why now looks the way it does. Which also makes me think about how now might look different. >With a little hindsight, right?
It gives you a little bit of an ability to see your historical moment in a greater context, which for me anyway, makes my historical moment slightly less terrifying, only slightly, but it does help. We're going to actually start with the Russian Revolution. We're going to start with your favorite, or what got you hooked on history, the causes and effects of the Russian Revolution.

Geet Grover, and I apologize if  I mispronounce any of your names

or indeed if I mispronounced the  names of major historical figures. I'll remind you that  mispronouncing things is my thing. They asked, can we talk about the background  events that triggered the Russian Revolution?

And Dineo asked, why Rasputin was  so important to the Royal family? I want to add a PS there, Cathy, /was/ Rasputin so important to the Royal family? >I think that he was, in the sense that they had this desperately ill child who they were hoping to cure, and there was no cure for hemophilia at that time. I think it's been overplayed, in part because he's such a fascinating character.

The pictures of him are just so creepy. <Oh, he's a great ... Nobody looks like Rasputin. >[laughs] No, they seem over the top, really. <[laughs] Yeah. >He was over the top. His personality was huge.

I think he was kind of a party animal... so that was just helping part of, though, a larger destabilization of Russia at that time. Just to give some context for Russia in 1917, for a lot of the 19th Century, Russia was pretty reactionary and slow to modernize. They weren't really industrializing very quickly.

There were some exceptions like Alexander II, who was the tsar that freed the Serfs in 1861 and banned corporal punishment in the army, but he was assassinated in 1881. When Nicholas became tsar in 1894, he was never very popular. He supported some of the attempts by his advisors to reform and modernize, but he really only agreed to the creation of the Douma, or the Parliament, because of a revolution in 1905.

Once World War I starts, or once the Archduke is assassinated, Nicholas supported Serbia after his assassination. Then, Russia's involvement in World War I was,  I think, really the death  blow to the Russian monarchy. Nicholas didn't really create any kind of administrative machine to support the war effort with things that were important in war, like guns and bullets and uniforms and medicine and food.

So they're just consistently trounced by the Germans on the Eastern front, which was absolutely brutal. This is going to cause all sorts of war weariness, mutinies, and general strikes that make it even harder to continue fighting  and producing the goods that  they needed to fight the war. Rasputin is just going to  help to delegitimize the tsar.

I think one of the reasons that Rasputin looked to have so much power is probably just he didn't touch Alexis. That probably helped prevent the forming of clots that might have been forming. There are some other theories about why that could have been, but hemophilia was untreatable.

Here's this creepy guy, in  tight with the Royal family,  that was just further delegitimizing him. But to look at 1917, specifically, there's actually two revolutions in Russia in 1917. The first starts in February, which is on the old Russian calendar.

Sometimes the dates are a little funky when we get to the Russian Revolution. In Petrograd, which we now call St. Petersburg, which they had previously called St.

Petersburg, but we'll say Petrograd for now. On International Women's  Day, women have this parade  and started protesting food  scarcity and casualties and all of these kinds of things. The protest spread-- or the parade, I guess, becomes a protest.

It spreads and then soldiers rebelled, they joined, and Nicholas is forced to abdicate. That's the beginning of the first revolution. In the meantime, the Douma, or the Parliament, declared itself a provisional government.

They had all sorts of political  parties in there represented. Alexander Kerensky leads to the front of that. He was a moderate socialist that came to lead the provisional government and tried to revive the Russian war effort.

Meanwhile, the Petrograd Soviet, which was a workers' council of workers in Petrograd, was also claiming to be the government  and issuing its own decrees,  so that was destabilizing. Then, in April, the Germans put Lenin, who was a  radical Bolshevik intent on  overthrowing the whole system, on a train, gave him money,  and sent him to Petrograd. Lenin starts making all these speeches about peace, land, and bread.

That all sounded pretty good to people who were war-weary, landless, and hungry. That set the- <Yeah, I bet that sounded good, but-- so a couple ... just to stop you and reinforce a couple of things. We generally refer to this revolution as the February Revolution, even though the dates are a little weird.

But we think of it, we generally talk about it as the February Revolution, right? >Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. He was in Switzerland, yeah, but the Germans Right, which was a pretty brilliant move.
They weren't the only ones doing it, but I always thought that was pretty smart. When Lenin gets there, he's giving all these speeches and rallying all the support, but we've got these two  governments rallying for control. Lenin just stages a coup in October of 1917, basically taking over the government buildings.

Then, they hold an election, the Bolsheviks lose, so they just dismissed the assembly. In 1918, they signed the Treaty  of Brest-Litovsk with Germany, which gives up most of their Western holdings and gets Russia out of the war. Then, basically, immediately become entrenched in a civil war with the "whites," who was basically everyone who wasn't a Bolshevik.

That goes on for a while until about 1922, when the Bolsheviks just declare victory, rename the country the Soviet Union. Then, we start talking  about Soviet history and not  Russian history, because we've  got to change that name too. Right.
They hold an election. They don't like the results  of the election because  it was too fair, I guess you might say. >They didn't win, right?
Then, focus on the civil war against the "whites" and how to form a new communist country, or at least this particular Bolshevik version of communism country. Then, by 1922, that country exists, and we now know it as the Soviet Union. That is the same Soviet Union  that existed until 1991, right?  >Yup, exactly.
One that, some would argue, continues to reverberate >Right now. <Yes, very much right now. The history of the Soviet Union and the relationship between the SSRs of the USSR, the Soviet Socialist Republics of the USSR is,  of course, right now at the  center of the conversations about Ukraine and at the  center of Putin's argument,  that Ukraine is not a legitimate nation. That's just one example of how history

from a hundred years ago that feels very  distant continues to shape the world we live in. >Yeah. <Next, we have a couple of questions about my favorite of the major world history empires, the Mongol Empire.

The truly exceptional Mongol Empire, different in so many important ways from the empires that have traditionally been the focus of history classes in the US. Who was Genghis Khan and why was he able  to get so much territory in so little time? which to be fair, is a tough question to answer and one that is still debated. >Right, and I think that we'll find  that with a lot of these questions. It's not like historians can always  put their answer in a nice little box.

They're continuing to debate these things. New information comes out. History is constantly evolving.

Genghis Khan, who before he was known  as Genghis Khan was known as Temujin, came from a pastoral group or a herding group of these feuding Mongol clans and tribes during the 12th Century. He supposedly had a pretty magnetic personality, which helps him to build  up a following of friends. He forges all of these alliances with more powerful leaders.

He wins a series of victories and he was known for being pretty ruthless to his enemies, but pretty generous to his friends. He also would incorporate a lot of the warriors from the defeated tribes into his own forces. Then, he's renamed, I guess, or becomes known as Genghis Khan, which was the supreme leader of what was now unified is the great Mongol nation.

The army was pretty well  organized and disciplined, which allowed the Mongols to eventually take over most of Asia, or much of Asia and Eastern Europe, capitalizing on some weaknesses there. The Abbasid Caliphate and divided China, which eventually results in the largest land-based empire in all of human history. Even though they don't have a huge lasting cultural impact on the areas they conquered, in terms of bringing a new language or religion to the area, it facilitated all of this Afro-Eurasian trade and communication.

Then, their collapse, I guess, leaves this big power vacuum that will be filled by the Ming Dynasty in China,  the Ottoman and the Safavid  empires in the Middle East, and then the Russian State in Eastern Europe. I just thought it was  interesting too, that apparently  climate change might have actually benefited them. There was a particularly wet,  warm period in Central Asia  that led to this boom in grass growth and thereby livestock and horsepower, which is part of what they relied on. <Wow.

That is really interesting. A reminder that human history is also the story of other  species, whether that species  be the infectious agents  that caused Bubonic plague or something like warm, wet weather that allows grass to grow to feed lots of horses and have a little more horsepower. >Yeah.
Hopefully, it's phrased in a slightly  more inclusive way these days. What is the relationship  between individuals and systems? When we talk about Genghis Khan, we have to focus on these systems that were falling apart at the time that he rose to power in China.

That the dynasty was falling apart, that the Abbasid Empire, which  had been really powerful,  the caliphate there, which had  been a really, really powerful and super culturally and  historically important empire,  spreading Islam and really  shifting a lot of things. Those were both so weak,  that this left a power vacuum  and it left an opportunity  for the Mongol empire to come. I think it's also really important to ...

I really like how you focused in that

answer on it, while acknowledging that it's  not like all of these areas  after the relatively brief Mongol empire, where we're speaking a different language,  or we're engaging in different  religious practices necessarily. But by connecting those places, it did lead to a lasting shift in Afro-Eurasian trade, which had a huge impact on  the history of the world. >Yeah, totally. You see an  upswing in the Silk Road trade,  for instance, during that period, which is really important. <Yeah.

At the center of how all of  Afro-Eurasian history went really. Yeah, I think that there's ... One of my favorite books, I want to make sure I get the title right, one of my favorite books of history is called the Calamitous 14th Century. >Oh, yeah.

The Barbara Tuchman, right? <Yeah, yeah. That Barbara Tuchman book,  and if it hadn't been for the  growth of this Afro-Eurasian trade, the growth of the Silk Road, these much deeper connections among, that ranged all the way from Japan to Portugal and to Central and Southern Africa, if it hadn't been for all of those connections, we might not have had the Black Death, or certainly might not have had the Black Death in the same way we ended up having it. We also wouldn't have had a huge explosion in the distribution of knowledge in that period.

What a fascinating ... so in that sense, what Genghis Khan left behind was super important to the rest of human history. Okay. There were a bunch of questions about the Cold War as well.

I feel like Sascha maybe put it best asking, "how did the Cold War start? I feel like the beginning is so muddy. The end of World War II, everybody's happy about winning, and then boom, mortal enemies measuring each other

in the amount of weapons able to  exterminate the human species." >[laughs] Right. 
I agree. Also, Vivi wants to know, how to understand ... Is it COMECON and COMINFORM?

I've only ever seen these words written. >Yeah. I think it's COMECON and COMINFORM. Now, that you say that I'm not  a hundred percent sure either, because I mostly see them written, so I hope you're right. <Yeah.

But to be fair on your test, you'll probably see them written as well. >True. I feel like it's always complicated, right? It's always complicated,  but there's all this debate amongst historians on the  causes of the Cold War. It  shifted so much over time based  on current political climate.

Was it an ideological struggle, or was it one based on geopolitical power after World War II? In the 1950s, in the West,  a lot of historians post--  or pointed to that deep ideological divide, and Stalin, and the Soviet Union's aggressive expansion after World War II in Europe and Asia. This was called an "orthodox interpretation" and just basically showed America is making-- reacting to Soviet aggression.

Then, revisionists would point to American economic expansion in Europe. Even going back to the open  door policy of protecting  American markets that went back to the 1890s. But starting in the 1970s, the  post-revisionist historians,  so this all gets a little  ridiculous, I think, with the names, but people like John Lewis Gaddis  had the benefit of hindsight  and Detente was going on, and  some new archival material.

Though, I want to point out  not the Soviet archives yet. The post-revisionists argued  for more of a middle ground, pointing to the ally's delay  in opening a second front in

World War II, which left the Soviets  fighting basically alone in Europe. Truman's atomic diplomacy, Washington's refusal  to recognize the Soviet sphere  of influence in Eastern Europe.

They, look at more complex social, political, and economic causes of the Cold War. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Soviet archives open up, which leaves historians with  all this new information. Gaddis, for instance, is going to take a much more negative view of Stalin.

Others start focusing again on  these ideological struggles, and people like myself, who went through school in the Cold War, and I think you too, basically learned that communists were evil and trying to destroy the world. I think it's important to think about our own subjectivity when thinking about the Cold War, like how much is that impacting how I view different primary sources? If we look at more modern interpretations and we look at-- like, the Marshall Plan is offering all this American aid to help rebuild Europe after World War II, to strengthen it against Soviet influence and attempting to contain the spread of communism.

Containment is the big idea there. Stalin bulked the Eastern European countries accepting the Marshall Plan because he saw that as American expansionism. He created COMECON to prevent Eastern European countries from aligning themselves with the West, so providing that aid himself.

COMINFORM, to answer the  second half of that question,  was the international communist organization led by the Soviet Union to organize communist parties across Europe. But as Chinese communism became stronger and made that less relevant, it was just dissolved as  part of the de-Stalinization  that happened after Stalin's death.
Just to go  through a couple of things,  a couple of important points there, I think, so maybe at the very beginning, we were taught that it was, I mean, I was certainly taught that it was an ideological struggle. A purely ideological struggle  between, on the one hand,  an ideology that focused on  individualism and individual freedoms. On the other hand, an ideology that focused on the overall average communal good, even to the point of

terrific astonishing oppression.

Terrific being, I don't mean like in the good way. Astonishing oppression of individual expression. That was the way I learned it in high school.

I don't know if that's the way you learned it, but that's the way that I was taught about it. >Yeah. Obviously, the oppression is a huge deal and economically they weren't able to produce the kind of consumer goods that were in demand. There were all sorts of  flaws in the Soviet system.

I think though, that looking at the Soviet Union as this monolith gets problematic as any kind of monolith does with people, because we never agree on anything.
You probably will, but  understanding the relationship between those initial ways of  thinking about the Cold War,  that these were just an ideological disagreement about what the human social  orders should be with both sides. But at least from our perspective, when I was a kid, especially the communists trying to impose their worldview in the so-called "third world." The "first world" being the US and its allies,  the "second world" being  the Soviets and its allies, and the "third world" being the world that we were all fighting over to decide what the future of humanity would be. This was a purely ideological struggle.

Then, along come the revisionists and say, "Well, actually, I think it's a lot more complicated than that, and that maybe we shouldn't only be looking at  the way communism is trying  to expand its influence, but also look at the way the US is trying to expand its influence, and the West is." >Right. <Then, the post-revisionist argue for? Just restate it, I'm asking you.  >Oh, just, I guess, a middle  ground, like trying to ... which is, they asked for simplification of "how did it start," and I was like, "Well, here's all these complicated responses." <It's pretty hard. Yeah.

It's not simple. >Right. I don't think you need to name these schools of thought necessarily on the AP exam, but understanding that there's different perspectives on this, I think is important. I would say that the post-revisionists were just complicating-- looking at more social, political, economic causes and not just that ideological divide. <Right.

Okay. Let's move on to a question from Tim Ruckle, who asks, "how was Kwame Nkrumah and Ghana significant  in the nonaligned movement  to African decolonization, and more broadly, in the Cold War itself?" >Yeah. I think that whole movement is interesting, speaking of a middle ground.

The nonaligned movement was the third option during the Cold War. It started with Yugoslavia  and its leader Tito, trying  to establish independence  from Soviet-led communism. It did have some impacts on UN decision-making during the Cold War.

Kwame Nkrumah was a part of the non-aligned movement and thought that capitalism had done a lot of damage to Africa, envisioning socialism as the best way forward, because it had egalitarian goals. He was the leader of the independence movement in Ghana against British colonization  and was elected as the first  president of Ghana in 1960. He was a Pan-Africanist, which I think was an interesting idea, meaning basically he saw Africans as sharing a common history and a common destiny, whose solidarity and  collective self-reliance would  empower people of African  descent on a global scale.

That's even going to have an impact on the American Civil Rights Movement. For instance, Malcolm X travels to Ghana and they're all talking together. It's interesting, again, to see that communication on a global scale. <Yeah.

Yeah. It is another example of how we may want to put histories into continents or in these particular communities, but in fact, all history is world history on some level. >I think I tended to learn more about one country at a time. I think world history has been interesting looking at these big global movements.

Looking at huge trends and how they affect all these different areas of the globe, but are interconnected. We can never detach ourselves from that interconnectedness.
It makes a lot of sense that Malcolm X would be going to Ghana and learning about decolonization there and trying to bring some of those ideas back to the US. Here's a question from Gabrielle, "What are the differences between the Aztecs,  the Incas, and other Native  American ethnic groups?" That's broad.  >Yeah. I don't know why we talk so much about the Aztec, the Incas, and the Maya.

I feel like those are the big  three always in the Americas,  but obviously, there's other  groups in the Americas by 1200. But those are the big three that I think get  brought up a lot, in part,  because they're really big. We could debate other reasons why, but I think it's interesting to think about those areas geographically, because when you think about the Incan Empire, for instance, it stretches largely North-South, along the coast of mostly what's now Peru, rather than East-West, which most of Europe is in that East-West, similar latitude.

They span a much bigger range of climates, not to mention the elevation going up and down. I just think that's

an interesting thing about them and how much that must have impacted development. But the Aztec and the Inca had both forcibly taken over and absorbed other cultures.

The Aztecs were the last and the largest of these Mesoamerican states that emerged before Spanish conquest, and then grew out of the Mexico alliance with these two other states. Its power came from conquest, which made it a little bit unstable because the areas that they conquered would rebel. Then, the areas that they conquered owed payments  in the form of labor and  materials to Tenochtitlan.

The city itself was an  absolute wonder to Europeans. They were just in awe of  its size, of the chinampas, or these floating islands where they grew food that were used for farming. People talk a lot about human sacrifice with the Aztecs.

It did play a role in Aztec public life, but they  weren't alone in that, so I  wouldn't overemphasize it. The Aztec emperor Montezuma was eventually conquered by Hernan Cortes, the Spaniard. Now, the Incan empire was much larger than the Aztec state geographically, and might have had as many as 10 million subjects.

These are estimates, but  they were more bureaucratic than the Aztecs, probably because of that. They used, I think it's pronounced quipus, a series of these nodded cords to record demographic data and do all this accounting. They required the people that they conquered  to learn Quechua and to do  military service to the empire.

State authority permeated much further into Inca society than in the Aztec. That might be something I'd say if I were asked to compare and contrast them. In Incan society, women had matrilineal descent and worshiped the moon, and men worshiped the sun and traced their descent through their fathers.

Atahuallpa was the last emperor after, the last Incan emperor after a civil war caused by the death of his father due to smallpox. Speaking of global things impacting history, and he was defeated by Pizarro. <Yeah, and we should say that smallpox was not in the Americas before the Columbian exchange began in 1492. >Right, and just was so  devastating. Some estimates  are as much as 90% of the  population of the Americas. <Yeah.

This is a particular, this is like a pet issue of mine, Cathy. But I think that disease is overwhelmingly the most important historical force. >It's huge, right?
Yeah, it had a huge impact, obviously, 90% of people in the Americas died, and 500 years earlier or 400 years earlier, probably half of people in Eurasia died in a four or five-year period during the Black Death. These are huge, huge historical forces that we tend to ignore because war and kings are so much more interesting. >I think COVID gives us a much better appreciation of that, right? When I think about the 1920s in the US and like jazz clubs and all of that now, I'm like, "Of course, they went and partied after the influenza pandemic.

They were tired of quarantine." I feel like it just changed  my whole perspective on that. 
Alright, Stan, are we going  to talk about nation-building? Oh, great. We're going to  talk about nation-building, America's favorite topic.

Mahi wants to know how nation states emerged. Related, Atahan wants to know  who Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was. >Yeah. I think this is a fascinating question because you see this in world history, the sway between local control and stronger national control, that's an ongoing topic.

I suppose empires are the  other extreme of local control,  with countries controlling these  large groups of other countries. In the 19th Century, nationalism  led to a specific form  of countries driven by this  sense of common identity because of language, religion, ethnicity, similarity in cultures. In Italy and Germany, nations  were brought together by these

strategic, eventually, by  these strategic limited wars.

In multi-ethnic empires though, like the Ottoman Empire or the Austrian Empire, a lot of nation-states were created in the aftermath of World War I because of what Woodrow Wilson  called "self-determination,"  or groups roughly deciding their own boundaries. Before you had war to build a nation, though, there were often these idealistic groups who helped to propel that sense of common identity or defining who they were. Young Italy, for instance,  created by Mazzini gave Italians  this rosy dream, drawing on  the glory of ancient Rome.

The young Turks in the Ottoman Empire  forced Abdul Hamid II to  restore constitution in 1908. The Ottoman Empire was pretty ethnically diverse. They had Arabs, Albanians, Jews, et cetera, and much more of that group was much more about liberal political reform, but they eventually would  splinter off into groups.

One of those groups became more nationalistic, creating a single-party state that would lead the Ottoman Empire into World War I. Then, like so many other empires, World War I is just devastating to the Ottoman Empire. When World War I ends, nationalists led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk took the Turkish empire, a part of the Ottoman Empire, and they abandoned the sultanate and the caliphate.

They're no longer the head of Islam in the world, and transformed Turkey into an independent, modern, secular republic, thinking as-- it was a way to make Turkey, I don't know, bring it into the new age. They did have an enlightened authoritarian rule under Ataturk. He considered gender equality  a mark of modernization,  so women got the right to vote  and hold public office in 1934.

Polygamy was abolished. Women were given equal rights in divorce, but his program of unification  through Turkification,  that's a mouthful, emphasized  people speaking Turkish. Changing their surnames, if  they were ethnic minorities,  to names that sounded more Turkish.

You really get that still  very nationalist bet with him. Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, and that's such an  interesting idea, of like, how do you define who's "us" versus who's "them?" That's, I just think, a fascinating thing to look at throughout history.
Yes, and this is something we talked a lot about in the European History thing, is that, in the European History Crash Course, is that the negative integration strategy for forming an idea of a people, that people have a shared identity as to say, "we are not this, we are not this, we hate these people. These others are the opposite of what we are. We will identify ourselves by being not-this and by trying to oppress, or marginalize, or even destroy them." Then, positive integration strategies focus on ways of creating "us's" without "thems," which is maybe harder, at least according to what we've seen from history, but there are some examples of it. >Yeah.

Like a national anthem, you need a flag, a holiday, all of those things help build that. Your statutes.
We got a question submitted on our Flipgrid group. It comes from Nia, from Bulgaria who asks,  "What do you think is a  better way to look at history? On one hand, there's the emotionally detached way of looking at it, where you just look at the facts  and the figures, and you're  very objective and looking  at it as almost a fiction, like it happened to a different species or didn't happen at all.

You just detach yourself from it. Or, on the other hand, you can look at it as  fully grasping that every  single one of these people was an actual person who actually lived and died, just like you will." I feel like that's probably the right thing to do, because history is most importantly a human story, but it's also  very emotionally difficult. I'm wondering which you  think is the better option. >Yeah.

I had to face this moment in my career  when I was looking at  different grad school programs. I was in a PhD program. One of the schools that I looked at had the top Holocaust historian in the country, Christopher Browning.

I had a long conversation with him about this because I wasn't sure that I could study the Holocaust for the rest of my life, because it's so emotionally intense. I was asking like, "How do you do this? How do you do this every day?" He said, "A little bit is compartmentalizing, and I think that I have learned to do that, as I teach the Holocaust every year, maybe three times in a day or something." It's a lot, it's intense.

Sometimes you have to distance yourself a little bit, but sometimes you just have to let yourself feel it too,  because that was my fear,  was that I would become numb to it, that I would not understand the gravity of it anymore. There's moments where it just hits you like a ton of bricks. I remember visiting Auschwitz and seeing this,  they have this room full  of hair, and it's just like six million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

That's a number we can't comprehend really, but there's moments like that where it just really, really hits you. I think you let yourself feel it in those moments, but not let it paralyze you, I guess, and try to move forward. I don't know if we can ever be truly objective, so I'm not sure that's my goal, but to move forward with what I'm researching or what I'm talking about without letting it completely overwhelm me. <Yeah.

I think that's really beautifully put. The only thing that I'd add is that facts and figures in history have to serve human goals. We're not trying to inform artificial intelligences about what we were like.

We're trying to inform each other. When we're studying data or we're studying, we have to remember that those are ... that we're talking about people and we're talking about people to people. >Right. <Alright,

we're going to try to  transition to some study tips. Cathy, give us some study tips.

I need study tips. I don't know about you or your students or the people watching this, but the pandemic has not been great for my ability to focus. >No, I discovered TikTok during the pandemic for that reason, because I couldn't- Yeah. Oh, sorry. <I'm just checking to see how our video is doing. >I'm sure it's doing better than mine. <Oh, you're on TikTok?

Oh, this is very exciting. >I think I heard, actually, that you guys have made a series on study skills and I've looked at some of those and I think they're great. For the AP exam in particular, people who are studying for that, I think the most, as someone who's graded those exams a lot, know your rubrics. Know how you score the points that you need on the DBQ, on the LEQ, know what scores on an SAQ.

On that note, practice by doing what you'll have to do on the exam. Take some practice exams, write a DBQ in timed conditions and set ... I think if you're overwhelmed by evidence, by names, which can be a lot in history or events, look at the College Board key concepts and know the evidence for each of those concepts.

Think about how, if that concept were turned into a question, how would you provide evidence for an essay question related to that, and help them use what you know and separate that into what's important from, this just flood of info, because in the end, you're going to go in with what's in your brain. Think about how you can use that evidence in an essay.
Putting aside everything else, it just makes-- when I would do it anyway, when I was a student, it would just make me feel going in like, "Well, my practice SAT score might not have been very good, but I did do it." >You did what you can do. In the end, that doesn't define you either. I bombed one of my IB exams and I went on to major in that subject, so life goes on.

You'll be okay.
I cannot imagine how difficult it is to be going to school or teaching school right now in this historical moment. I am deeply sympathetic with that situation. You want to encourage people to like, study hard, do their best, work really hard, all that stuff.

But it is also worth saying that this is not the defining feature of your life. How you do on an AP test is not how you are going to ... is not the life you are going to have. It is one data point out of literally millions in your life. >Yeah.

Yeah. For sure.
Alright. We're going to take some questions from the chat now. Stan, do we have any questions?

Oh, did you already put them in there? Oh, wow. This is very, very professional.

I should say a quick thank you to Stan and Zulaiha, who are running this behind the scenes and doing an extraordinary job. Again, a big thank you to  Cathy for joining us today. What a lovely gift.

Thank you all. This is from the internet. It doesn't say which person, "Why didn't the Silk Road stretch all the way across Europe?

Did traders just have no interest in going further?" I don't know the answer to this question. >I think there's a limit, I guess, to how far you can go. Let me talk about the Silk Road a little bit just in general terms. It stretches for like 2000 years, connects China to Europe, starting around like 200 BCE.

The caravanserai, where merchants and travelers would rest, turned into these major Central Asian commercial cities, like Bukhara. Over the millennia it impacted trade, but it also spreads religions like Buddhism, which spreads widely from India through Central and East Asia. Changing local religions, and a lot of luxury goods, obviously, are traded that way.

Mostly just luxury goods, because transport was so expensive. There were periods of activity that spiked and waned. We talked about the last big period was the Mongol Empire revitalizing it.

I'm thinking that part of why it didn't spread completely, and this is not my biggest area of expertise, so this is an educated guess here. But in 1453, the Turks conquered Constantinople, which is going to cut off European land access to the Silk Road. It's part of why Europeans improve their naval trade to go in the other direction.

I'm thinking about what kind of ... before that, I think that a lot of it probably had to do with what countries had the wealth to participate. <Yeah, had the markets for luxury goods. Yeah. >Yeah, and then also, once you hit Constantinople, it was easier to put stuff on a ship and then move it via the Mediterranean trade than to continue to travel on the Silk Road. That would probably be the biggest piece, was that traveling by land is hard.

Ships can carry a lot more than a camel. <Yeah, and in a lot of cases, faster too. I think all of that probably went into it, but it's also important to acknowledge that we don't know everything. Brady asks, "I'm curious what John or Cathy's  favorite books are for  history of any time period." That's a big question.

It's a tough one. >Do you have one that comes to mind quickly? <Well, I just read this  book, The Dawn of Everything,  that's about prehistory and makes an argument that hunter-gatherer and foraging communities were much more multitudeness than we tend to imagine,

that they had lots of different ways of organizing their social orders. Sometimes with radical  egalitarianism and often not. That our ideas that before  12,000 BCE, all human life  was pretty similar and pretty historically boring, are probably wrong.

I thought that was really an interesting book. >That's interesting. Yeah, I really like ... I read a lot of gender history.

Bonnie Smith, who worked on the European History series, I had read her in college and to be able to work with her was so great. She has a book about, it's like the history of 20th Century France as told through the micro-history of the concierge, at where she lived when she was doing her research. That was just fascinating, because it's like this, how all these global things impact this one, just average woman.

There's  another book I really like  called The Woman Beneath the Skin, which is about this 18th Century German doctor in the German states. It's like women's testimonies to him about what was going on with their bodies. You get into all this information about medical history and how they perceive themselves, but it's all translated  through him.

There's a lot of  good thinking about how much can you trust what he said about them, and how much of this is their accurate accounts of what they said. It's hard sometimes to get those records of women,  and so this was just an  interesting avenue into it. <Oh, that sounds like it is absolutely up my

alley. >Yeah. The Woman Beneath the Skin, it's by Barbara Duden. She has a couple, actually.

I hope I'm not mixing up the titles.
Probably my favorite book about the history of infectious disease, which Stan gave me, it was such a great gift. It made me feel really known. Stan gave me this book called The Black Death by, is it Rosemary Horrox, is that her name? [Stan, offscreen] Yeah. >She collected and translated first-person accounts of the Black Death.

Now, it's a little more  limited than I want it to be  because it's very Europe-centric. So many of the important accounts of the Black Death occurred in what is now known as the Middle East, or in North Africa, or in Central Asia. But to read these first-person accounts, contemporaneous accounts of what this experience was like, to live in a time where half or 60% or 70% of people in your community were dying in a matter of a few months, and to have no idea how to make sense of it, and to see all of these societal rules break down, to see over and over again people abandoning their families.

The kind of horror of the death rituals breaking down, because it's impossible to ring the bells for everybody who died, because too many people were dying. That stuff, it's really powerful to read. I love reading well-translated  first-person accounts,  because I'm never going to be somebody who's able to read Aramaic or read Middle English.

If it's really well-translated,  you feel the full humanness of that person and you feel the fear and hope, the ineradicable hope that I find so encouraging in those accounts, even though they're ... Obviously, it's the worst, one of the worst things that's ever happened to humans. One of my favorite ones is this Irish monk, John Clyn, who wrote an account of the plague and the account ended, "Here, I leave extra parchment in case anyone is left alive to continue the story." Then, he died. >Did anyone continue the story? That's sad.
Yeah. >Yeah.
Cathy, I'm so grateful to you for helping me do that through Crash Course European History, but also through all your work. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for joining us.

Thanks to everybody who wrote in questions. Again, thank you so much to Flipgrid for sponsoring this live stream and giving students a really wonderful set of tools to work with. We're really grateful to all of you.

Again, to Stan and Zulaiha as well. It's just been really wonderful to be able to spend this hour with you. Good luck on your tests. >Yeah.

Good luck, everybody. They're coming up in a couple of weeks here. Thank you guys for having me.

This is really fun. I always love to sit around and talk about history. This has been a fun experience for me too. <Yeah, let's do it again sometime soon.

This is the last of the Office Hours live stream for now, but let us know what you liked about the series. Also, don't be afraid to let us know what you didn't like, because we would like to do more of them, and potentially do them more regularly. We'll be uploading these live streams on the Crash Course channel soon.

If you missed it live or if you only caught like the last half, you can watch the entire video soon. Stay tuned for that. Again, thank you so much.

Thanks for being here. Cathy, thank you, and it's been a joy to learn with you all tonight. >Thanks again. Bye.

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think about how you can use that evidence in an essay.

John: So, watch Crash Course Study Skills, which I also recommend, and know your rubrics, and take a couple practices. You will feel so much more prepared anyway. Like, putting aside everything else, it just makes... when I would do it anyway, when I was a student, it would just make me feel going in, like, well [sighs] you know, my practice SAT score might not have been very good, but I did do it [laughs]

Cathy: Right. You did what you can do and, like, in the end that doesn't define you either, you know?

John: Yeah

Cathy: Like, I bombed one of my IB exams and I went on to major in that subject.

John: Yeah

Cathy: So, you know, life goes on. You'll be okay.

John: Yeah, I think, like, that's such a hard thing to manage because you want to tell people, like, study hard, like, it can be really hard to focus, especially right now, I am so... I cannot imagine how difficult it is to be going to school or teaching school right now, in this historical moment, I am deeply sympathetic to that situation, and so you want to encourage people to, like, study hard, do their best, work really hard, all that stuff. But it is also worth saying that, like, this is not the defining feature of your life.

Cathy: Right

John: How you do on an AP test is not the life you are going to have. It is one data point out of literally millions in your life.

Cathy: Yeah. Yeah, for sure.

John: By the way, I did not do particularly well on the AP World History test, I think I got a 3, and I'm here, you know?

Cathy: I heard you made this series too that was pretty popular, so I feel like it worked out okay for you

John: Just fail up! Fail up

Cathy: hahaha

John: All right, we're going to take some questions from the chat now.

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the chat now. Sam, do we have any questions? Oh, did you already put them in there? Oh, wow! This is, I mean, very, very professional. Um, I should say a quick thank you to Stan and Zoulea(?~48:15) who are running this behind the scenes, and doing an extraordinary job, and again a big thank you to Cathy for joining us today. What a lovely gift. Thank you all. This is from the internet. It doesn't say which person: "Why didn't the Silk Road stretch all the way across Europe? Did traders just have no interest in going further?" I don't know the answer to this question.

Cathy: I mean, I think... I think there's a limit, I guess, to how far you can go. I mean, let me talk about the Silk Road a little bit, just in general terms. So it stretches for, like, 2,000 years, connects China to Europe starting around, like, 200 B.C.E. and, um, you know, the caravans to ride where merchants and travelers would rest turned into these major central Asian commercial cities like ??(?~49:07) and, um, over the millennia it impacted trade but it also spreads, you know, religions like Buddhism, which spreads widely from India through central and east Asia, changing local religions, um, and a lot of, um, luxury goods obviously are traded that way. Mostly just luxury goods, because transport was so expensive. There were periods of activity that kind of spiked and waned, so, you know, we talked about the last big period was the Mongol empire, kind of revitalizing(?~49:42) it. I'm thinking that part of why it didn't spread completely, and this is not my biggest area of expertise so this is kind of an educated guess here but, you know, in 1453 the Turks conquered Constantinople, right? which is going to cut off European land access to the Silk Road, and it's part of why Europeans improved their naval trade to go in the other direction. And I'm thinking about what kind of, you know, before that, I think that a lot of it probably

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in the other direction, and I'm thinking about what kind of, you know, before that, I think that a lot of it probably had to do with what countries had the wealth to

John: yeah

Cathy: participate

John: had the markets for luxury goods, yeah

Cathy: Yeah, and then also, like, once you hit, um, Constantinople, it was easier to put stuff on a ship and then move it via the Mediterranean trade

John: right

Cathy: than to continue to travel on the Silk Road. So, um, that would probably be the biggest piece, was that

John: yeah

Cathy: probably by land it's hard. Ships can carry a lot more than a camel

John: yeah, and in a lot of cases, faster too

Cathy: right

John: So I think all that probably went into it. But it's also important to acknowledge that we don't know everything hahaha

Cathy: hehehe

John: Brady, uh, Brady asks: "I'm curious what John or Cathy's favourite books are for history for any time period." That's a big, that's a big question. That's a tough one.

Cathy: Do you have one that comes to mind quickly?

John: Oh, I just read this book, The Dawn of Everything, um, that's about pre-history and makes an argument that hunter-gatherer and foraging communities were much more multitudinous than we tend to imagine

Cathy: hm

John: And that they had lots of different ways of organizing their social orders. Sometimes with radical egalitarianism, and often not, and that our ideas that, like, you know, before 12,000 B.C.E. all human life was pretty similar and pretty historically boring are probably, uh, probably wrong. So I thought that was a really interesting book.

Cathy: That's interesting. Um, yeah, I really liked, uh, I read a lot of gender history

John: mm-hm

Cathy: so, um, you know, Bonnie Smith, who worked on the European History series, I had read her in college, and, like, to be able to work with her was so great. She has a book about, like,

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a book about, it's, like, the history of 20th century France, as kind of told through the, like, micro-history of the concierge at, um, where she lived when she was doing her research. And that was just kind of fascinating because it's, you know, how all these global things impact this one, you know, this average woman. Um, there's another book I really like called The Woman Beneath The Skin,

John: mmm

Cathy: which is about this 18th century German doctor

John: Mmm!

Cathy: in the German states and it's, like, women's testimonies to him about what was going on with their bodies. So you get into

John: mmm

Cathy: all this information about, like, medical history and

John: Mmm!

Cathy: how they perceived themselves, but

John: mm-hmm

Cathy: it's all, you know, kind of translated through him, so there's a lot of, of thinking about, you know, how much can you trust what he said about them, and how much of this is their, you know, or accurate accounts of what they said and, um, it's, it's hard sometimes to get those records of women, so this is was just an interesting avenue to

John: Oh that sounds like it is absolutely up my alley. You can... what is the title again?

Cathy: um, The Woman Beneath The Skin. It's by Barbara Duden(?~53:09). She has a couple, actually. I hope I'm not mixing up the titles.

John: That sounds really good. I, yeah, I mean, most of what I read is about the history of infectious disease and the history of medicine. Probably my favourite book about the history of infectious disease, which Stan gave me, um, it's, this was, it was such a great gift, like, it made me feel really know. Stan gave me this book called The Black Death by, um, Rosemary Horux(?~53:38), is that her name? And she collected and translated first-person accounts of the black death. Now, it's a little more limited than I want it to be, because it's very Europe-centric, and so many of the important accounts of the black death occurred in what is, you know, now known as the Middle East or North Africa or central Asia,

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I mean, to read these first person, you know, accounts, you know, contemporaneous accounts of what this experience was like to live in a time where half or 60 or 70 percent of people in your community were dying in a matter of a few months, and to have no idea how to make sense of it, and to see all of these societal rules break down, to see over and over again, you know, people abandoning their families, the kind of horror of the death rituals breaking down because it wasn't possible to ring the bells for everybody who died, because too many people were dying, that stuff is just, it's really powerful to read and it's... I love reading, I mean I love reading well-translated first-person accounts, because I'm never going to be somebody who's able to read Aramaic, or read Middle English, and so if it's really well translated, you just, you feel the full human-ness of that person, and you feel the, you feel the fear and hope, you know, the ineradicable hope that I find so encouraging in those accounts, even though they're.. obviously it's the worst, one of the worst things that's ever happened to humans. And yet, like, one of my favourite ones is this Irish monk, John Clan(?~55:26), who wrote an account of the plague, and the account ended "here I leave extra parchment, in case anyone is left alive to continue the story."

Cathy: Hm

John: And then he died.

Cathy: And then did anyone continue the story?

John: The only, the only note after that reads "here, it seems, the author died."

Cathy: That's sad

John: In different handwriting. Yeah. So, um, but! I find it, I mean obviously in a kind of dark, a rather dark way, but I find it hopeful that we would leave extra parchment, you know, like, we would hold on

Cathy: Right

John: to that hope that the story will continue.

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that the story will continue, um, and that somebody will keep telling the stories. And our opportunity and responsibilities as people is to listen to the stories and to hear them and to try to make sense of the past through them. And Cathy, I'm so grateful to you for helping me do that, through Crash Course European History, but also through all your work, so thank you so much, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks to everybody who wrote in questions, and again, thank you so much to Flipgrid for sponsoring this livestream and giving students a really wonderful set of tools to work with. We're really grateful to all of you, and again to Stan and (?~56:44)Zoulea as well. It's just been really wonderful to be in this hour with you. Good luck on your tests!

Cathy: Yeah! Good luck everybody! They're coming up in a couple of weeks here. And thank you guys for having me. This is really fun, and I always love to sit around and talk about history so this has been a fun experience

John: Yeah, let's do it again some time soon. This is the last of the office hours livestreams for now, but let us know what you liked about the series. Also, don't be afraid to let us know what you didn't like because we would like to do more of them and potentially do them more regularly. We'll be uploading these livestreams on the Crash Course channel soon, so if you missed it live, or if you only caught, like, the last half, you can watch the entire video soon. So stay tuned for that. Again, thank you so much, thanks for being here Cathy. Thank you. And it's been a joy to learn with y'all tonight.

Cathy: Thanks again

John: Bye everybody DFTBA

Cathy: Bye