Battle of Kadesh

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Battle of Kadesh
Subject: Battle of Kadesh (Egyptian version versus Hittites version) (comparative and controversial essay)
I) Introduction (half page)
II) Background (1 page, the brief description, the basic understand of the topic)
III) Source 1 (Tell beyond your sources, give background, who the source was, where, when was in charge)
IV) Source 2 (1 page)
V) Source 3( 1 page)
VI) Conclusion
And 1 page citation
Well written, proofed and concise. This paper clearly states the topic, answers it based on the textbook?s interpretation and adds the student?s own reaction and includes one or more other cited sources that either supports or contradicts the text.
MLA Format
4-5 Pages
Citations
Proofed
Bibliography
Three Scholarly Sources
Content
Making Sure your History Paper has Substance
Get off to a good start. Avoid pretentious, vapid beginnings. If
you are writing a paper on, say, British responses to the rebellion in India
in 1857, don?t open with a statement like this: ?Throughout human history
people in all cultures everywhere in the world have engaged in many
and long-running conflicts about numerous aspects of government policy
and diplomatic issues, which have much interested historians and generated
historical theories in many areas.? This is pure garbage, bores the
reader, and is a sure sign that you have nothing substantive to say. Get
to the point. Here?s a better start: ?The rebellion in 1857 compelled the
British to rethink their colonial administration in India.? This sentence
tells the reader what your paper is actually about and clears the way for
you to state your thesis in the rest of the opening paragraph. For example,
you might go on to argue that greater British sensitivity to Indian customs
was hypocritical.

State a clear thesis. Whether you are writing an exam essay or a senior
thesis, you need to have a thesis. Don?t just repeat the assignment or
start writing down everything that you know about the subject. Ask yourself,
?What exactly am I trying to prove?? Your thesis is your take on the
subject, your perspective, your explanation?that is, the case that you?re
going to argue. ?Famine struck Ireland in the 1840s? is a true statement,
but it is not a thesis. ?The English were responsible for famine in Ireland
in the 1840s? is a thesis (whether defensible or not is another matter). A
good thesis answers an important research question about how or why
something happened. (?Who was responsible for the famine in Ireland
in the 1840s??) Once you have laid out your thesis, don?t forget about it.
Develop your thesis logically from paragraph to paragraph. Your reader
should always know where your argument has come from, where it is
now, and where it is going.

Be sure to analyze. Students are often puzzled when their professors
mark them down for summarizing or merely narrating rather than
analyzing. What does it mean to analyze? In the narrow sense, to analyze
means to break down into parts and to study the interrelationships of
those parts. If you analyze water, you break it down into hydrogen and
oxygen. In a broader sense, historical analysis explains the origins and
significance of events. Historical analysis digs beneath the surface to see
relationships or distinctions that are not immediately obvious. Historical
analysis is critical; it evaluates sources, assigns significance to causes,
and weighs competing explanations. Don?t push the distinction too far,
but you might think of summary and analysis this way: Who, what, when,
and where are the stuff of summary; how, why, and to what effect are
the stuff of analysis. Many students think that they have to give a long
summary (to show the professor that they know the facts) before they get
to their analysis. Try instead to begin your analysis as soon as possible,
sometimes without any summary at all. The facts will ?shine through? a
good analysis. You can?t do an analysis unless you know the facts, but
you can summarize the facts without being able to do an analysis. Summary
is easier and less sophisticated than analysis?that?s why summary
alone never earns an ?A.?

Use evidence critically. Like good detectives, historians are critical
of their sources and cross-check them for reliability. You wouldn?t
think much of a detective who relied solely on a suspect?s archenemy to
check an alibi. Likewise, you wouldn?t think much of a historian who
relied solely on the French to explain the origins of World War I. Consider
the following two statements on the origin of World War I: 1) ?For
the catastrophe of 1914 the Germans are responsible. Only a professional
liar would deny this…? 2) ?It is not true that Germany is guilty of having
caused this war. Neither the people, the government, nor the Kaiser
wanted war….? They can?t both be right, so you have to do some detective
work. As always, the best approach is to ask: Who wrote the source?
Why? When? Under what circumstances? For whom? The first statement
comes from a book by the French politician Georges Clemenceau, which
he wrote in 1929 at the very end of his life. In 1871, Clemenceau had
vowed revenge against Germany for its defeat of France in the Franco-
Prussian War. As premier of France from 1917 to 1920, he represented
France at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. He was obviously not a
disinterested observer. The second statement comes from a manifesto
published by ninety-three prominent German intellectuals in the fall of
1914. They were defending Germany against charges of aggression and
brutality. They too were obviously not disinterested observers. Now,
rarely do you encounter such extreme bias and passionate disagreement,
but the principle of criticizing and cross-checking sources always
applies. In general, the more sources you can use, and the more varied
they are, the more likely you are to make a sound historical judgement,
especially when passions and self-interests are engaged. You don?t need
to be cynical as a historian (self-interest does not explain everything), but
you do need to be critical and skeptical. Competent historians may offer
different interpretations of the same evidence or choose to stress different
evidence. You will not find a single historical Truth with a capital ?T?
on any matter of significance. You can, however, learn to discriminate
among conflicting interpretations, not all of which are created equal. (See
also the section on Analyzing a Historical Document.)
Be precise. Vague statements and empty generalizations suggest that
you haven?t put in the time to learn the material. Consider these two
sentences: ?During the French Revolution, the government was overthrown
by the people. The Revolution is important because it shows that
people need freedom.? What people? Landless peasants? Urban journeymen?
Wealthy lawyers? Which government? When? How? Who exactly
needed freedom, and what did they mean by freedom? Here is a more
precise statement about the French Revolution: ?Threatened by rising
prices and food shortages in 1793, the Parisian sans-culottes pressured
the Convention to institute price controls.? This statement is more limited
than the grandiose generalizations about the Revolution, but unlike them,
it can open the door to a real analysis of the Revolution. Be careful when
you use grand abstractions like people, society, freedom, and government,
especially when you further distance yourself from the concrete by using
these words as the apparent antecedents for the pronouns they and it. Always
pay attention to cause and effect. Abstractions do not cause or need
anything; particular people or particular groups of people cause or need
things. Avoid grandiose trans-historical generalizations that you can?t
support. When in doubt about the appropriate level of precision or detail,
err on the side of adding ?too much? precision and detail.

Watch the chronology. Anchor your thesis in a clear chronological
framework and don?t jump around confusingly. Take care to avoid both
anachronisms and vagueness about dates. If you write, ?Napoleon abandoned
his Grand Army in Russia and caught the redeye back to Paris,?
the problem is obvious. If you write, ?Despite the Watergate scandal,
Nixon easily won reelection in 1972,? the problem is more subtle, but
still serious. (The scandal did not become public until after the election.)
If you write, ?The revolution in China finally succeeded in the twentieth
century,? your professor may suspect that you haven?t studied. Which
revolution? When in the twentieth century? Remember that chronology
is the backbone of history. What would you think of a biographer who
wrote that you graduated from Hamilton in the 1950s?
:)

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