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  • Charles River Editors

    20th century Chicago was an ideal breeding ground for organized crime. A buzzing circuit board dotted with towering skyscrapers, brick buildings, worker's cottages, and an eclectic collection of greystone manors, the Windy City was further decked out with electric entertainment districts, the theaters, clubs, brothels, restaurants, and niteries that lined its streets. The city was illuminated by dazzling marquees and light-up signage, and enlivened by the muffled medley of midnight chatter and big band music seeping out of the nightspots. Those who ambled along the boardwalks flanking the Chicago River were greeted by moored commercial fishing boats bobbing in the water, as well as bustling...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    By the golden age of the mountain man in the mid-19th-century, there were perhaps only 3,000 living in the West. Their origins were disparate, although they included many Anglo-Americans. A good number hailed from wilderness regions of Kentucky and Virginia and throughout the newly purchased Louisiana Territory, which occupied the entire central section of the continent. French Canadians traveled from the north to work in the fur trade, while Creole-Europeans represented approximately 15% of the men known to be living the isolated mountain life. Others were of Métis, Spanish, American, Black, Indian, and mixed-blood origin, most often Iroquois or Delaware. Most came to the West in their...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    Overall, Tulsa in 1921 was considered a modern, vibrant city. What had fueled this remarkable growth was oil, specifically the discovery of the Glenn Pool oil field in 1905. Within five years, Tulsa had grown from a rural crossroads town in the former Indian Territory into a boomtown with more than 10,000 citizens, and as word spread of the fortunes that could be made in Tulsa, people of all races poured into the city. By 1920, the greater Tulsa area boasted a population of over 100,000. In turn, Tulsa’s residential neighborhoods were some of the most modern and stylish in the country, and the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce produced postcards and literature boasting of the virtues of life in...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    The fall of the Ottoman Empire set the political and geostrategic scene of the new Middle East. In 1920, two years after the end of the war, the region was already experiencing growing instability. The issues and trends that would plague the region until today were growing. On April 4, Arab riots broke out in Jerusalem, fueled by the growing hostility against the Zionist movement. The British passivity would convince one of the Jewish leaders, Vladimir Jabotinsky (the future founder of the Israeli right-wing), of the strategic necessity of a strong Jewish military as the core of the future state. Just two weeks later in Turkey, the Grand National Assembly in Ankara set the foundation of...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    Given the abundance of funerary artifacts that have been found within the sands of Egypt, it sometimes seems as though the Ancient Egyptians were more concerned with the matters of the afterlife than they were with matters of the life they experienced from day to day. This is underscored most prominently by the pyramids, which have captured the world's imagination for centuries. The pyramids of Egypt are such recognizable symbols of antiquity that for millennia, people have made assumptions about what they are and why they exist, without full consideration of the various meanings these ancient symbolic structures have had over the centuries. Generations have viewed them as symbols of a lost...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    The Boer War was the defining conflict of South African history and one of the most important conflicts in the history of the British Empire. Naturally, complicated geopolitics underscored it, going back centuries. In fact, the European history of South Africa began with the 1652 arrival of a small Dutch flotilla in Table Bay, at the southern extremity of the African continent, which made landfall with a view to establishing a victualing station to service passing Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) ships. The Dutch at that point largely dominated the East Indian Trade, and it was their establishment of the settlement of Kaapstad, or Cape Town, that set in motion...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    Modern day Lithuania is a small country bordering the Baltic Sea with a population of less than 3 million people, but despite its relative size, the nation has exerted an influential role on the history of the region. More recently, in the 20th century, Lithuania was caught between much larger powers in two world wars and then the Cold War. Along with neighbors Latvia and Estonia, Lithuania was one of the only states to truly break free of the Soviet Union when the latter dissolved in 1991. Now entrenched in the EU’s political and security bloc, Lithuania has seen unprecedented economic growth and prosperity, although Vilnius is still wary of the Russian giant on its doorstep.  Given...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    Along the sandy shores and ancient forests of crystal blue Lake Erie, a proud, brave, and confident people lived long ago, building homes, raising crops, hunting game, rearing children, and surviving through harsh winters and hot summers. None of their tribe remains today to tell their story, but their name lives on in the waters of a Great Lake. The Erie Tribe would have been completely lost to history if not for the archeological evidence and archival records that have been uncovered to prove that they existed. The Erie was a relatively small nation; at its height, their population numbered about ten thousand. Archeologist Frederick Houghton writes that archeological evidence proves that...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    Toward the end of the 17th century, the preeminent Islamic power in the world was the Ottoman Empire. From lowly beginnings as a vassal of the Anatolian Sultanate of Rum Osman I, from whom the empire was named, it expanded into the lands of the Christian Byzantine Empire, and by 1683, the year of the Battle of Vienna, the Ottomans ruled Asia Minor, the Middle East (with the exception of Iran), northern Africa to the borders of Morocco, the Balkan Peninsula up to the lands of modern Poland, as well as portions of Poland, Ukraine, Crimea, and Georgia. The sultan was styled “His Imperial Majesty the Padishah (Emperor), Commander of the Faithful and Successor to the Prophet of the Lord of the...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    "Forward, sons of the Greeks,Liberate the fatherland,Liberate your children, your women,The altars of the gods of your fathers,And the graves of your ancestors: Now is the fight for everything." - The Greek battle hymn sung before the Battle of Salamis according to Aeschylus Dominated to this day by the sprawling white marble complex of the Acropolis, Athens is a city which is immensely and rightly proud of its past. For a period of roughly three centuries, the polis of Athens stood, if not in a position of unchallenged supremacy among the cities of Hellas, then at the very least among its three most important polities. Its fledgling empire, though small by the standards later set...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    “Never pry into a person's personal circumstances (they'll tell you all eventually).” – “The Ten Commandments for Con Men,” attributed to Victor Lustig The art of the confidence trick is a controversial craft that is as old as time itself. In the early years of civilization, unscrupulous folks bottled and peddled assortments of fake cures and potions. Snake oil salesmen aside, charlatans posed as mystical beings with supernatural powers, promising to end droughts and other misfortunes of the gullible with what were in reality parlor tricks and illusions. Despite several famous con men, there is one con man in particular who, despite being frequently overshadowed by various...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    The modern history of Africa was, until very recently, written on behalf of the indigenous races by the white man, who had forcefully entered the continent during a particularly hubristic and dynamic phase of European history. In 1884, Prince Otto von Bismarck, the German chancellor, brought the plenipotentiaries of all major powers of Europe together, to deal with Africa's colonization in such a manner as to avoid provocation of war. This event-known as the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885-galvanized a phenomenon that came to be known as the Scramble for Africa. The conference established two fundamental rules for European seizure of Africa. The first of these was that no recognition of...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    The Missouri Compromise of 1820 staved off the slavery crisis for the time being, but by setting a line that excluded slave states above the parallel, it would also become incredibly contentious. It was against that backdrop and the election of Andrew Jackson that the Whigs emerged as opponents to the Jacksonian Democrats during a period of American history known as the Second Party System (1828-1854). Initially, the conflict was rooted not only in different visions for the United States - the Whigs believed in a strong central bank and federally funded infrastructure projects (known as "internal improvements") - but also in opposition to one man: Andrew Jackson. When it first formed, the...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    Mankind's obsession with felines is an enigma in and of itself. Unlike dogs, famously known as man's most excitable, trustworthy, and loyal friend, cats are oftentimes indifferent, guarded, and yet finicky little furry creatures who only yearn for attention and affection when one is neck-deep in work or otherwise preoccupied. And still, people adore them all the same. In a recent poll that surveyed 600 American college students, 60% of the participants identified themselves as “dog lovers,” whereas only 11% pledged their love for cats. The remaining 29% regarded themselves as fans of both critters or fans of neither. Be that as it may, there is said to be anywhere between a...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    Nearly 50 years after Napoleon met his Waterloo, generals across the West continued to study his tactics and engage their armies the same way armies fought during the Napoleonic Era. Despite advances in military technology and the advent of railroads for transportation, all of which made defensive warfare more effective, acclaimed military geniuses like Robert E. Lee used flank attacks and infantry charges against superior numbers in an effort to win decisive victories, and it would not be until World War I that concepts of modern warfare made the Napoleonic Era of the early 19th century outdated. The French army which became known as the Grande Armée existed for just 10 years, from...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    Africa may have given rise to the first human beings, and Egypt probably gave rise to the first great civilizations, which continue to fascinate modern societies across the globe nearly 5,000 years later. From the Library and Lighthouse of Alexandria to the Great Pyramid at Giza, the Ancient Egyptians produced several wonders of the world, revolutionized architecture and construction, created some of the world’s first systems of mathematics and medicine, and established language and art that spread across the known world. With world-famous leaders like King Tut and Cleopatra, it’s no wonder that today’s world has so many Egyptologists. Today, the goddess Hathor is one of the...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    The westward movement of Americans in the 19th century was one of the largest and most consequential migrations in history, and as it so happened, the paths were being formalized and coming into use right around the time gold was discovered in the lands that became California in January 1848. Located thousands of miles away from the country's power centers on the East Coast at the time, the announcement came a month before the Mexican-American War had ended, and among the very few Americans that were near the region at the time, many of them were Army soldiers who were participating in the war and garrisoned there. San Francisco was still best known for being a Spanish military and...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    From the "Trail of Tears" to Wounded Knee and Little Bighorn, the narrative of American history is incomplete without the inclusion of the Native Americans that lived on the continent before European settlers arrived in the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the first contact between natives and settlers, tribes like the Sioux, Cherokee, and Navajo have both fascinated and perplexed outsiders with their history, language, and culture. In Charles River Editors' Native American Tribes series, readers can get caught up to speed on the history and culture of North America's most famous native tribes in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    Space may be the final frontier, but no frontier has ever captured the American imagination like the "Wild West", which still evokes images of dusty cowboys, outlaws, gunfights, gamblers, and barroom brawls over 100 years after the West was settled. A constant fixture in American pop culture, the 19th century American West continues to be vividly and colorful portrayed not just as a place but as a state of mind. In Charles River Editors' Legends of the West series, readers can get caught up to speed on the lives of America's most famous frontier figures in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known. The Wild West has made...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    There are few cases in American history as well known as Sacco and Vanzetti, and perhaps none of them were as controversial or socially charged as the trials against the two Italian immigrants in the early 20th century. The two avowed anarchists were ultimately tried and executed for murder and armed robbery, but the case said as much about the society trying them as it did about their guilt or innocence. Nearly 90 years later, there is still a heated debate over whether the two men, who arduously asserted their innocence, were actually guilty, but what is clear is that many Americans at the time believed they were being unjustly accused based on anti-Italian prejudice and disdain for...read more