Wednesday, March 08, 2017

I mentioned before how much I've been enjoying these Extra History Youtube videos, and their series on Catherine the Great has also been excellent.

My only previous encounter with the story of Catherine the Great had been in The Great Upheaval by Jay Winik.

Many of the same story beats are covered in Jay Winik's book, but the emphasis is quite different.  Writing during the Bush years, Jay Winik focuses much of his story on the problems of a Western super-power invading an Islamic country.
The folks at Extra History pretty much ignore that angle entirely, and talk the Russian-Ottoman War entirely in terms of the balance of power in Europe.

Jay Winik also spends a lot of time talking about Catherine the Great's involvement in the American Revolution (W).  (His central thesis is that the politics of America, France, and Russia were all interconnected during the years 1788--1800.)  Extra History also ignore that angle.

Other Notes
For most of my history education, I had been taught that Hitler invaded Poland just because Hitler was a jerk.

It wasn't until relatively recently that I found out that there was a historical reason why Hitler wanted Poland--historically East Prussia had extended into Poland, and there was a German diaspora trapped in Poland.  (If memory serves, I learned this tidbit from The World At War. )
This means that the events at the end of this story (in which Fredrick the Great extends Prussia into Poland) are later going to be a direct cause of World War II.


Whisky Prajer said...

Mennonites LOVED Catherine the Great, and did very well indeed by her -- which is when internal strife developed. All that haves/have-nots grief never goes away, it just takes on bold and unexpected shape as the NEW nouveau riche "come in to their own."

BTW, now's a good time for some confession. I noticed Dan Carlin's podcasts switched from fee-based to gratis on iTunes, so I've downloaded Prophets of Doom and have given it a closer listen. A couple of things are changing for me, the most notable being my attitude -- I'm no longer chaffing at his delivery, which is huge. Also I'm listening while doing the janitorial job, so my attention is relatively undivided (on YouTube I'd occasionally leave the room, or surf elsewhere on another tab, etc). Anyway, he does a terrific job of covering all the beats (as you say (in fact, I had a moment where I thought, "Shit! I'm just repeating Carlin!")). I'd have no trouble recommending his podcast to students looking to get familiar with the Munster chapter of the Reformation.

So thanks again for the intro -- and huge kudos for being a good sport in the face of my initial crustiness!

Joel Swagman said...

Oh right. So this ties into Mennonite history as well. Interesting how it all comes together.

Glad to hear you're enjoying Dan Carlin.
He's a bit hard to classify as a story-teller, isn't he? It's not really a straight narrative. Maybe somewhat of a cross between an afternoon radio talk-show commentator, and a...I don't know. A campfire storyteller?

Anyway, I can see where he might get some getting used to.

If you feel like you've gotten used to him, though, I'd also recommend Death Throes of the Republic.

Whisky Prajer said...

His own protestations aside, Carlin is in fact a historian -- "story" being a crucial element to the discipline.

I shall definitely check out Death Throes -- thanks, Joel.