John Green teaches you the history of the world in 42 episodes of Crash Course.
In which John Green returns to teaching World History! This week, we'll be talking about the idea of civilization, some of the traditional hallmarks of so-called civilization, and why some people would choose to live outside the civilization model. It turns out, not everyone who lives outside of what we traditionally think of as a "civilized" social order is necessarily a barbarian! To defuse any tension you may be feeling, I'll just tell you now, the Mongols are back. You'll learn about Zomia, swidden agriculture, and even a little about anarchy!
In which John Green teaches about filthy, filthy lucre. Money. And Debt. So, what is money? And what is it for? And why do we use money? And why does it all disappear so quickly after payday? John will look into 75% of these questions, and if he doesn't come up with answers, we'll get into some interesting ideas along the way, at least. This week we'll investigate whether money displaces barter, then leads to war, slavery, and what we think of as civilized social orders. We'll also see what old Adam Smith thinks of big money, no whammies, this week on Crash Course.
In which John Green teaches you about disease, and the effects that disease has had in human history. Disease has been with man since the beginning, and it has shaped the way humans operate in a lot of ways. John will teach you about the Black Death, the Great Dying, and the modern medical revolution that has changed the world.
In which John Green teaches you about war! Specifically, John talks about whether humanity is naturally warlike, hard-wired to kill, or if perhaps war is a cultural construct. John will talk about the Hobbes versus Rousseau debate, the effects that war has on human social orders, and the effects that war has on individuals. So is war human nature? Watch and find out what we have to say about it.
In which John Green investigates war, and what exactly it may or may not be good for. Was war a result of human beings organizing into larger and more complex agricultural social orders, or did war maybe create agriculture and "civilization?" It's hard to know for sure, but it's sure fun to think about.
In which John Green teaches you about the Little Ice Age. The Little Ice Age was a period of global cooling that occurred from the 13th to the 19th centuries. This cooling was likely caused by a number of factors, including unusual solar activity and volcanic eruptions. The Little Ice Age greatly impacted human social orders, especially during the 17th century. When the climate changed, and weather became unpredictable, the world changed profoundly. Poor harvests led to hunger, which led to even less productivity, which even resulted in violent upheaval in a lot of places. All this from a little change in the temperature? Definitely.
In which Stan Muller subs for John Green and teaches you about energy and humanity. Today we discuss the ideas put forth by Alfred Crosby in his book, Children of the Sun. Historically, almost all of the energy that humans use has been directly or indirectly generated by the sun, whether that be food energy from plants, wind energy, direct solar energy, or fossil fuels. Stan looks into these different sources, and talks about how humanity will continue to use energy in the future as populations grow and energy resources become more scarce.
In which John Green teaches you a little bit about drought, which is a natural weather phenomenon, and famine, which is almost always the result of human activity. Throughout human history, when food shortages strike humanity, there was food around. There was just a failure to connect those people with the food that would keep them alive. There are a lot of reasons that food distribution breaks down, and John is going to teach you about them in the context of the late-19th century famines that struck British India.
In which John Green teaches you about World War I and how it got started. Crash Course doesn't usually talk much about dates, but the way that things unfolded in July and August of 1914 are kind of important to understanding the Great War. You'll learn about Franz Ferdinand, Gavrilo Pincep, the Black Hand, and why the Serbian nationalists wanted to kill the poor Archduke. You'll also learn who mobilized first and who exactly started the war. Sort of. Actually there's no good answer to who started the war, but we give it a shot anyway.
In which John Green teaches you WHY World War I started. Or tries to anyway. With this kind of thing, it's kind of hard to assign blame to any one of the nations involved. Did the fault lie with Austria-Hungary? Germany? Russia? Julius Caesar? One thing we can say for sure is that you can't blame the United States of America for this one. Woohoo! Well, you can hardly blame the US.
In which John Green teaches you about the Bronze Age civilization in what we today call the middle east, and how the vast, interconnected civilization that encompassed Egypt, The Levant, and Mesopotamia came to an end. What's that you say? There was no such civilization? Your word against ours. John will argue that through a complex network of trade and alliances, there was a loosely confederated and relatively continuous civilization in the region. Why it all fell apart was a mystery. Was it the invasion of the Sea People? An earthquake storm? Or just a general collapse, to which complex systems are prone? We'll look into a few of these possibilities. As usual with Crash Course, we may not come up with a definitive answer, but it sure is a lot of fun to think about.
In which John Green talks about the methods of writing history by looking at some of the ways that history has been written about the rise of the West. But first he has to tell you what the West is. And then he has to explain the Rise of the West. And then he gets down to talking about the different ways that historians and other academics have explained how the West became dominant in the world. He'll look at explanations from Acemoglu and Robinson's "Why Nations Fail," Francis Fukuyama's "The Origins of Political Order," and Ian Morris's "Why the West Rules, for Now."
In which John Green teaches you about Imperialism, but not from the perspective of the colonizers. This week John looks at some Asian perspectives on Imperialism, specifically writers from countries that were colonized by European powers. We'll look at the writings of Sayyid Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani from the Middle East, Liang Qichao from China, and Rabindranath Tagore from India. these voices from the countries that were colonized give us a sense of how conquered people saw their conquerors, and gives an insight into what these nations learned from being dominated by Europe. It's pretty interesting, OK? A lot of this episode is drawn from a fascinating book by Pankaj Mishra called The Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia. You should read it.
In which John Green teaches you about railroads, and some of the ways they changed the world, and how they were a sort of microcosm for the Industrial Revolution as a whole. Prior to the invention of steam powered railroads, pretty much all locomotion had been muscle-powered. You either walked where you wanted to go, or rode on an animal to get where you were going. The railroad changed human perception of time and space, making long distance travel much faster and easier. Railroads also changed habits, including increasing reading. People needed some sort of distraction to ensure they didn't have to talk to other people on the train. Like any new technology, railroads also scared people. All kinds of fears surrounded rail travel, but over time, people got over them. And the quality of boiler manufacturing improved, so the trains exploded less often, which also made people feel safer.
In which John Green teaches you about population. So, how many people can reasonably live on the Earth? Thomas Malthus got it totally wrong in the 19th century, but for some reason, he keeps coming up when we talk about population. In 1800, the human population of the Earth passed 1 billion, and Thomas Malthus posited that growth had hit its ceiling, and the population would level off and stop growing. He was totally right. Just kidding, he was totally wrong! There are like 7 billion people on the planet now! John will teach a little about how Malthus made his calculations, and explain how Malthus came up with the wrong answer. As is often the case, it has to do with making projections based on faulty assumptions. Man, people do that a lot.
In which John Green teaches you about how Islam has interacted with politics during it's history, and how it continues to do so today. Islamist movements are in the news a lot lately, but how did that happen. John will point out that Islam has alway been tied to political movements. Mohammed was not only a religious leader, he led an empire. So how did this lead to modern movements like ISIS? Islam has traditionally been a pretty egalitarian religion, and its scriptures value peace, so it is surprising in a lot of ways that such a violent fundamentalist movement would come out of it. What is a caliphate? What is a Caliph? John will teach you all about it. Take it easy in the comments, y'all. Be kind and respectful to each other.
In which John Green teaches you about the Mughal Empire, which ruled large swaths of the Indian Sub-Continent from 1526 to (technically) 1857. While John teaches you about this long-lived Muslim empire, he'll also look at the idea of historical reputation and how we view people from history. Namely, he'll look at the reputations of Mughal emperors Akbar I and Aurangzeb. Traditionally, Akbar I is considered the emperor that made the Mughal Empire great, and Aurangzeb gets the blame for running the whole thing into the ground and setting it up for decline. Is that really how it was, though? It turns out, it's complicated.
In which John Green teaches you about the Protestant Reformation. Prior to the Protestant Reformation, pretty much everyone in Europe was a Roman Catholic. Not to get all great man, but Martin Luther changed all that. Martin Luther didn't like the corruption he saw in the church, especially the sale of indulgences, so he left the church and started his own. And it caught on! And it really did kind of change the world. The changes increased literacy and education, and some even say the Protestant Reformation was the beginning of Capitalism in Europe.
In which John Green teaches you about the Holy Roman Empire by teaching you about Charles V. Charles Hapsburg was the holy Roman Emperor, but he was also the King of Spain. And the King of Germany. And the King of Italy and the Lord of the Netherlands and Count Palatine of Burgundy. In short, Charles was runnin' thangs in much of the world during his reign. Charles ruled a lot of countries, and he was also known for encouraging intellectual discourse and he even spoke out against slavery, in a limited. So why did he consider himself a failure, and why did he break up the Empire when he abdicated in 1556? Mainly because the Holy Roman Empire didn't work very well. It was huge, and it didn't have any means of directly raising taxes. Plus, it was a pretty crazy time in Europe anyway, and Charles found himself in charge of the Catholic-Church-Endorsed Empire in the time of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. John will teach you a bit about how Charles put the Empire together, and how it fell apart, and even talk a bit about the Diet of Worms.
In which John Green teaches you about World War II, and some of the causes behind the war. In a lot of ways, WWII was about resources, and especially about food. The expansionist aggression of both Germany and Japan were in a lot of ways about resources. There were other reasons, to be sure, but the idea that the Axis needed more food can't be ignored.
In which John Green teaches you about the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which used to be Zaire, which used to be The Belgian Congo, which used to be the Congo Free State, which used to be the region surrounding the Congo River Basin in central Africa. So the history of this place is a little convoluted. The history of Congo is central to the history of central Africa, and the Congo Wars embroiled neighboring countries like Uganda and Rwanda. John will talk you through the history of Congo and the region.
In which John Green teaches you about water! So, we talk about resources a lot on Crash Course, and today is no exception. It turns out people can't live without water, which means it's absolutely necessary for civilization. Today John talks about water in the context of classical civilizations, but not like Greece or Rome or something. We're talking about the Maya civilization in Central America, and the Khmer civilization in what is now Cambodia. So this is an awesome video, OK?
In which John Green teaches you about conflict in Israel and Palestine. This conflict is often cast as a long-term beef going back thousands of years, and rooted in a clash between religions. Well, that's not quite true. What is true is that the conflict is immensely complicated, and just about everyone in the world has an opinion about it. John is going to try to get the facts across in under 13 minutes.
In which John Green teaches you about Vikings! That's right, one of our most requested subjects, the Vikings, right here on Crash Course. So what's the deal with Vikings? Well, the stuff you've heard about them may not be true. The Vikings weren't just pagan raiders striking terror into the hearts of defenseless European Christendom. They were some of the greatest travelers of their time, and they weren't always traveling to steal. In a lot of cases, they were traveling to trade. John will teach you about Viking trade goods, Norse Mythology, and yes, there will be blood, guts, and dragons. OK?
In which John Green teaches you about nation building and nationalism in Latin America. Sometimes, the nations of Latin America get compared to the nations of Europe, and are found wanting. This is kind of a silly comparison. The rise of democratic, economically powerful nations in Europe came about under a very different set of circumstances than the way nations arose in Latin America, so the regions are necessarily a lot different. But why? John will explore whether it was a lack of international war which impeded Latin America's growth, which sounds like a crazy thing to say, but you should hear him out.
In which John Green teaches you about Iran's Revolutions. Yes, revolutions plural. What was the1979 Iranian Revolution about? It turns out, Iran has a pretty long history of unrest in order to put power in the hands of the people, and the most recent revolution in 1979 was, at least at first, not necessarily about creating an Islamic state. It certainly turned out to be about that, but it was initially just about people who wanted to get rid of an oppressive regime. Listen up as John teaches you about Iran's long history of revolution.
In which John Green teaches you about what westerners call the middle ages and the lives of the aristocracy...in Japan. The Heian period in Japan lasted from 794CE to 1185CE, and it was an interesting time in Japan. Rather than being known for a thriving economy, or particularly interesting politics, the most important things to come out of the Heian period were largely cultural. There was a flourishing of art and literature in the period, and a lot of that culture was created by women. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu was the classic piece of literature of the day, and it gave a detailed look into the way the Aristocrats of the Heian period lived. While this doesn't give a lot of insight into the lives of daily people, it can be very valuable, and the idea of approaching history from a cultural perspective is a refreshing change from the usual military or political history that survives from so many eras.
In which John Green teaches you about nonviolence and peace movements in the 20th century. What is nonviolence? What is a peace movement? Well. traditionally, humans often resort to violence when they come into conflict. In the 20th century, it became much more common for people to enact change by means of nonviolence, and there was a common thread of connection between many of the most notable advocates of peaceful change. Crash Course will take you from Gandhi to Gregg to Bayard Rustin to Martin Luther King, Jr, to the Cold War to Arab Spring along a path of nonviolent resistance and peaceful change. It's pretty great.
In which John Green teaches you about the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, doing business as the VOC, also known as the Dutch East India Company. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Dutch managed to dominate world trade, and they did all through the pioneering use of corporations and finance. Well, they did also use some traditional methods like violently enforced monopolies, unfair trade agreements, and plain old warfare. You'll learn how the Dutch invented stuff like joint stock corporations, maritime insurance, and futures trading. Basically, how the Dutch East India Company crashed the US economy in 2008. I'm kidding. Or am I?
In which John Green teaches you about the end of World History, and the end of the world as we know it, kind of. For the last hundred years or so, it seemed that one important ingredient for running an economically successful country was a western-style democratic government. All evidence pointed to the idea that capitalist representative democracies made for the best economic outcomes. It turns out that isn't the only way to succeed. In the last 40 years or so, authoritarian capitalism as it's practiced in places like China and Singapore has been working really, really well. John is going to look at these systems and talk about why they work, and he's even going to make a few predictions about the future. Also, thanks for watching this series. It has been amazingly fun to create, and we appreciate all of you.