Looking for some interesting reading? You might try these essays and interviews, which were the ten most viewed items on apholt.com in 2015. It’s been a good year for this little blog.
10. An Interview with Dr. Florin Curta on Communism, Faith, and Academia.
An interview with my good friend, mentor, and one of the leading historians of the early Middle Ages on his life under communism in Romania and now as a leading American academic. This interview has staying power as it was originally the second most viewed item of 2014 and continues to be popular (with daily referrals from search engines) in 2015.
9. Bill Maher and Mainstream Muslim Beliefs: A Brief Analysis of the Recent Pew Poll on the Issue of Apostasy.
In the wake of the dust-up between Bill Maher and Ben Affleck, I checked into the polling information behind their claims, particularly Maher’s claims concerning the widespread acceptance of death for apostasy in parts of the Muslim world.
8. ISIS and Medievalism: An Interview with Dr. Sharan Newman.
Popular historian and author Sharan Newman considers how the research and work of medieval historians have continued relevance in an age of modern terrorism. Sharan has a lot of fans and they showed a lot of interest in this interview during the year.
7. A Medieval Historian (from the South) Weighs in on the Recent Confederate Flag Controversy.
As a history professor in the South, even as a medievalist, I could not help being caught up in the controversies that emerged over the continued display of the Confederate flag over government buildings.
6. The Medieval Origins of a Modern Phrase- “Kill’em all. Let God sort’em out.”
This was one of those hastily written and (essentially) rushed blog posts that I did not think much of at the time, and nearly deleted it, but has proven popular online. As a former Marine, I had often heard the phrase and was intrigued to find out about its origins when I began studying medieval history.
5. Blackwater vs. ISIS? An Interview with Patrick Minor.
This was the most viewed item on my blog in 2014 (with over 4500 views) and continued to find many interested readers in 2015. Patrick is a former Marine, Police Officer, and Swat Team member that transitioned into private military contracting to work for Blackwater and related organizations that are contracted by the United States and other governments to carry out important tasks around the world. Patrick has worked in this capacity in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and provides his views on the capabilities of such organizations to aid in helping the U.S. government achieve its foreign policy objectives.
4. The Future of Medieval History: An Interview with Dr. Alfred J. Andrea.
My interview with my friend and great retired medieval historian Alfred J. Andrea, who also happens to be co-editor of our recent book Seven Myths of the Crusades. This interview considers his excellent career and the “future of medieval history.”
3. Medieval Warfare, The First Crusade, and Rape: Lessons for the Present?
On January 3, 2015, I had the chance to present a paper for the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in New York City. This post provides the text of that talk, which considers the oddity of the First Crusade as it related to the issue. While the wartime rape of captured women (and sometimes men) was common by all medieval armies, Christian or Islamic, the participants of the First Crusade generally seem to have avoided the practice. Indeed, the sources, whether friendly or hostile to the crusaders, seem to agree on the issue.
2. Crusading Against Poor History: An Interview with Dr. Paul Crawford.
An interview with my friend and leading U.S. historian of the crusades, Paul Crawford. Here Paul had the opportunity to discuss his views of modern popular understandings of the crusades and his contribution to the book Seven Myths of the Crusades, which has been described by at least two reviewers as the most important contribution to the volume.
1. The Most Dangerous Man in Medieval Studies: An Interview with Peter Konieczny.
It’s not surprising that my interview with Peter Konieczny would be the most viewed item on my humble blog for 2015. The enormous popularity of his website, publications, and social media reach have the potential to reach tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people (e.g. he has well over a quarter of a million “likes” on his Facebook page for medievalists.net alone). Hence, the title referring to the otherwise friendly and soft-spoken Peter as the “most dangerous man” in medieval studies on account of his potential (and already recognized) influence on the field.
P.S. I should note that a number of very interesting scholars and military officers have kindly agreed to do interviews for this blog in 2016. When time allows, and our schedules mesh, I will bring them to you here.