Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Book thumbnail image

Indian forces massacre Sikhs in Amritsar

This Day in World History
After months of standoff between India’s government and Sikh dissidents, the Indian army attacked those dissidents who had taken refuge in the holiest Sikh shrine — the Golden Temple, in Amritsar, India — on June 6, 1984. The fighting left hundreds dead and more captured. The attack also enraged many Sikhs across India, which would have fatal consequences for Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, who had ordered the assault.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Hillary and Tenzing climb Mt. Everest

This Day in World History
On May 29, 1953, at about 11:30 a.m., New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Tibetan Tenzing Norgay stood on top of the world. They had spent more than two hours straining every muscle against ice, snow, rock, and low oxygen to reach this point. But they were atop Mount Everest, more than 29,000 feet above sea level, the highest peak in the world.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Afghanistan’s other regional casualty

By Alexander Cooley
As NATO leaders gather in Chicago to garner international support for an Afghanistan drawdown and stabilization strategy, they should also consider the overlooked toll that the campaign has taken on the adjacent Central Asian states. Western security assistance has made the Central Asian states more authoritarian and more corrupt, while these trends are only likely to deteriorate as the drawdown of US and ISAF forces accelerates.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Da Gama reaches Calicut, India

This Day in World History
On May 20, 1498, sailing for the Portuguese crown, Vasco da Gama reached Calicut, India. Having successfully sailed around the southern tip of Africa, da Gama had pioneered a sea route from Europe to Asia that bypassed the Muslim nations that controlled the overland spice trade.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Kublai Khan becomes Mongol Emperor

This Day in World History
In 1259, the great Mongol Empire — which stretched from parts of China west to Russia — was shaken for the second time by the death of its leader, or khan, when Mongke, a grandson of the founder Genghis Khan, died. One of his brothers, Kublai, left his army in China, came back to Mongolia, and had himself declared the Great Khan.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Osama bin Laden killed

: This Day in World History
In the middle of the night, 2 May 2011, a brief message was radioed from Pakistan to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia: “EKIA.” “EKIA” is military shorthand for “enemy killed in action.” The enemy was Osama bin Laden. After a manhunt of nearly ten years, the United States had found and killed the al Qaeda leader who had ordered the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Captain Cook sights Australia

This Day in World History
“What we have as yet seen of this land appears rather low, and not very hilly, the face of the Country green and Woody, but the Sea shore is all a white Sand.” Thus James Cook concluded his log entry for April 19, 1770 — the day Europeans first sighted the continent of Australia.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Nadir Shah enters Delhi and captures the Peacock Throne

This Day in World History
On March 21, 1739, Nadir Shah, leading Persian (Iranian) and Turkish forces, completed his conquest of the Mughal Empire by capturing Delhi, India, its capital. He seized vast stores of wealth, and among the prizes he carried away was the fabled Peacock Throne.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster strike Japan

: This Day in World History
Japan, situated on the Ring of Fire on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, has suffered some major earthquakes over the years. However, nothing before compared to the triple disaster of March 11, 2011: a massive earthquake followed by powerful tsunamis which led to a serious nuclear accident.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Empress of China becomes first US ship to trade with China

This Day in World History
Carrying a full load of goods, including 30 tons of ginseng, and finally free of the ice that had choked the harbor for weeks, the Empress of China set out from New York on February 22, 1784 for China. Just months after the British had finally evacuated the city after the Revolutionary War, American merchants were seizing the opportunity afforded by independence to enter the China trade.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Emperor Meiji issues new constitution of Japan

This Day in World History
On February 11, 1889, Japan’s Emperor Meiji furthered his plan to modernize and westernize his nation by promulgating a new constitution. The new plan of government created a western-style two-house parliament, called the Diet, and a constitutional monarchy — though one with a Japanese character.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Mahatma Gandhi is assassinated

This Day in World History
The 78-year-old man was walking to a prayer meeting with the support of two grandnieces. A man stepped out of the crowd and greeted him. The old man returned the salutation when, suddenly, the other man pulled out a pistol and shot three times. Half an hour later, Mohandas Gandhi—the leading figure of India’s independentce movement and the leading exponent of nonviolent resistance—was dead.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Heart of Buddha

A century ago, Tanxu used his temples to establish physical links between Buddhism and Chinese nationalism. At the same time, though, he was guided by the belief that the physical world was illusory. The title of his memoir, “Recollections of Shadows and Dust,” uses a common Buddhist phrase meant to convey the impermanence and illusion of the material world, hardly the theological emphasis one might expect from a man who transformed cityscapes with his work in brick and mortar. I tried to understand this apparent paradox as I researched Tanxu’s career, but my connection to him remained impersonal, even distant, and strictly academic.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Sun Yat-sen becomes first President of Republic of China

This Day in World History
Nearly four dozen delegates gathered in Nanjing, a city in east-central China. Representing seventeen Chinese provinces, they were supporters of the Wuhan Revolution against the Qing dynasty, the last imperial dynasty of China. On December 25, Sun Yat-sen, the spearhead behind the revolution, returned to China after sixteen years of exile to join the meetings. Four days later, he was elected the provisional president of the Republic of China.

Read More