The Spartacus Educational website provides a series of free history encyclopaedias. Entries usually include a narrative, illustrations and primary sources. The text within each entry is linked to other relevant pages in the encyclopaedia. In this way it is possible to research individual people and events in great detail. The sources are also hyper-linked so the student is able to find out about the writer, artist, newspaper and organization that produced the material.
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In September, 1997, Spartacus Educational founder and managing director John Simkin became the first educational publisher in Britain to establish a website that was willing to provide teachers and students with free educational materials.
According to a survey carried out by the Fischer Trust, Spartacus Educational is one of the top three websites used by history teachers and students in Britain (the other two are BBC History and the Public Record Office’s Learning Curve). The Spartacus Educational website currently gets up to 7 million page impressions a month and 3 million unique visitors.
As well as running the Spartacus Educational website John Simkin has also produced material for the Electronic Telegraph, the European Virtual School and the Guardian's educational website, Learn. He was also a member of the European History E-Learning Project (E-Help), a project to encourage and improve use of ICT and the internet in classrooms across the continent.
During the last few months he has published six e-books, Charles Dickens: A Biography (October, 2012), First World War Encyclopedia (October, 2012), Assassination of John F. Kennedy Encyclopedia (November, 2012), Gandhi: A Biography (December, 2012), The Spanish Civil War (December, 2012) and The American Civil War (December, 2012). He also contributed an article to the recently published book, Using New Technologies to Enhance Teaching and Learning in History (December, 2012).
In January 1930, an announcement of an all-out drive to collectivize agriculture, was published in Pravda. It was a belated admission of events that had been taking place in the countryside for almost two years. In an article published by Walter Duranty in the New York Times he argued: "Stalin in my opinion marks the beginning of a new militant phase - like militant communism - and is out to accomplish what Lenin could not - collectivization of the peasants".
Joseph Stalin had decided that the peasants were putting their own welfare before that of the Soviet Union. Local communist officials were given instructions to confiscate kulaks property. This land would then be used to form new collective farms. It has been argued that in the next eight weeks ten million peasant households were forced to join collective farms. The kulaks resisted this process. It has been estimated that during this period some "fourteen million head of cattle were destroyed, one-third of all pigs, one-quarter of all sheep and goats".
In June 1918 Gibbons went out on patrol with Major Benjamin S. Berry and the Fifth Marines in woods near Lucy-le-Bocage. While crossing a wheat field they came under heavy machine-gun fire. Berry was hit and Gibbons began to crawl towards him. According to his friend, John Gunther: "There was a sudden whish and bits of wheat were clipped off, by a spray of machine gun bullets. (Gibbons) dropped. He got up again at once, feeling his arm, where he was hit slightly. But he dropped again, turned over, and his companion saw his eye, exactly like a whole small raw egg, roll slowly down his right cheek. There it wobbled and swayed, but stayed, held by greyish-red filaments: they looked like nerves. (Gibbons) had to lie in the wheat all day, holding his eye there, low on the cheek."
The bullet "took out his left eye, fractured his skull and exited, ripping a three-inch hole in the right side of his helmet." The French authorities later recalled: "Rescued several hours later and carried to a dressing station, he insisted on not being cared for before the wounded who had arrived before him." When he was told he had lost his eye he replied: "Well Doc, I won't have to squint down the neck of a bottle anymore, like you guys."
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