7 Historical Texts You Never Knew Existed

Hi, Shmoopers,

Did Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination actually start World War I? Why did Nixon write an entire speech about a dog? And how is “Ich bin ein Berliner” even pronounced? These are questions you’ve asked yourself a zillion times. Or, you know, never.

With Shmoop’s new Learning Guides for Historical Texts, you can dive into nearly fifty primary sources and get the nitty-gritty on every last word.

1. Hope, Despair and Memory

The Holocaust was an unthinkable atrocity, and those few who survived had the experience burned into their minds. Elie Wiesel‘s speech, “Hope, Despair and Memory” (1986) reminded people that the social ills that led up to the Holocaust were still alive and well forty years later. His plea: mankind needs to stop ignoring its mistakes and come to grips with them—and with them firmly in mind, work toward peace. Maybe another forty years will do the trick?

2. The Checkers Speech

Richard Nixon, scrambling to preserve both his political career and Republican hopes of victory in the 1952 presidential election, planned a speech addressing his alleged misappropriation of a “secret fund.” Nixon’s “I’m just a regular guy with a dog named Checkers” approach, plus an unprecedented national audience via TV and radio, left an indelible mark on American political strategy and propelled the Republicans to an overwhelming victory in the election.

3. Ain’t I a Woman?

Sojourner Truth began her “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech (1851) by pointing out that the status quo wasn’t okay. Women aren’t fragile things that need to be treated like weird glass-blown angels, but, uh, at that point? Black women were treated absolutely horrifically. She discussed the lack of logic present in inequality and used some religious imagery to prove her (obviously correct) point. Bottom line: with the combined forces of determined women, there can be change.

4. The Stamp Act

Taken on its own, the Stamp Act (1765) is pretty unremarkable legislation. It’s just a list of how much everything is going to cost under a new tax and the necessary framework to make it enforceable. Think of it like how Captain America suddenly has super-geometry powers when he bounces his shield off stuff to knock Hydra agents out. Without knowing the context, it would be pretty easy to dismiss or to gloss over it. The Stamp Act becomes interesting only after knowing the environment it was released into, and what came out of it. (Psst: the United States. It was the United States that came out of it.)

5. The Zimmermann Telegram

Back in 1917, this German Foreign Minister dude named Arthur Zimmermann sent a message to his German ambassador buddy in Mexico about a new strategy for winning World War I. His note got intercepted, and nations on at least three continents were not at all pleased with its subject matter. See, Zimmermann suggested that Mexico attack the U.S. as a distraction from all the nasty stuff Germany was planning to do in the Atlantic. As a bonus, maybe they’d get Texas, Arizona, and California. He also implied that Japan could attack the U.S., too, and that Germany would pay for it. The outcome? The U.S. joined WWI. Kind of a big deal.

6. A Left-Handed Commencement Address

It was the beginning of the end of the Second Wave of Feminism, so when Ursula K. Le Guin was asked to be the commencement speaker at the graduation of a well-known women’s college in 1983, she had some things to say about what it means to be a woman. She argued that women should stop fighting for success as it’s defined in a man’s world, and instead get more comfortable with what it means to succeed as a woman in a woman’s world. She advocated separatism, to a certain degree, in order to establish places where women could be women without the patriarchal framework upon which American society was built. Plus, you know, the future lies with women. (Men would have an awfully hard time trying to procreate on their own…)

7. The Man With the Muckrake

In 1906, the rich and the working class were in a knockdown, drag-out cage-match, and the press was making sure everyone had ringside seats. Teddy Roosevelt (you know, the president) had something to say about it in a speech now known as “The Man With the Muckrake.” He started his speech off by calling journalists out for, uh, exaggerating. He then went on to say that, instead of fussing over haves versus have-nots, America should be concerned with the individual character of its citizens. Not all businesses spend their free time twirling their Snidely Whiplash mustaches and petting their white cats, and if we kill that stereotype, he said, we can acknowledge the businesses that are actually doing some good out there.

Hungry for more? We’ve also got deets on the classics: “I Have a Dream,” The Declaration of Independence, The Gettysburg Address…the list goes on.

Check ’em all out here.

Happy reading,

Test Your Dr. Seuss Knowledge

Hey, Shmoopers!

You’ve purchased twenty-seven copies of Oh, the Places You’ll Go! to give as graduation gifts…but when’s the last time you actually read a book by Dr. Seuss? Yeah, that’s what we thought.

As you look back on your high school career (or look forward to whatever’s left of it), why not go on a nostalgic road trip through Seussville? As it turns out, there’s more to Dr. Seussthan meets the eye.


That’s just the beginning. Seuss wrote about everything from communist cats to nuclear goo—and he even threw a little semiotics in there. Because why not?

Check out all of the Seuss we’ve Shmooped. You’ll be serenaded by our rhymes, enlightened by our analysis, and blown away by what was really going on in Seuss’s kooky brain.

You’ll never think of cats or hats the same way again…

Quote of the Week

“I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful one-hundred percent!”

Horton Hatches the Egg

See what Horton was up to in the sequel.

1. d;  2. b;  3. a; 4. e; 5. c

Name That Sequel

Hey, Shmoopers,

We want to test your knowledge of sequels. So take a break from shipping Thomas and Teresa, and see how well you know your YA dystopian thrillers. Good luck—and don’t let the tracker jackers sting.

How Well Do You Know Your YA Dystopian Thriller Sequels?

Name the sequel to each of the following books:

1. The Hunger Games
2. Divergent
3. Uglies
4. Matched
5. Delirium
6. City of Bones
7. Beautiful Creatures
8. Legend
9. Daughter of Smoke & Bone
10. Mortal Engines
11. Shiver

Yes, we linked, but have some dignity, people. No cheating. Save the clicks till after you guess. Answers are below (and in tiny font, like ya do). Once you’ve graded yourself, find out how you stacked up.

0 right:
Yeah, you were definitely the first person killed in the 74th Hunger Games. Not that you’d volunteer, anyway.

1 -3 right:
Hope you like electricity, because you’re getting picked off by bulb monsters.

4 – 7 right:
You didn’t nail it, but at least you can take that red pill to forget about your mediocre performance.

8 – 10 right:
It’s true love for you and these sequels. Let’s just hope they’re not secret werewolves.

11 right:
You’re a regular Tris Prior: truly divergent.

How’d you do? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #ShmoopSequels.

Quote of the Week

“Thomas had lived in fear and terror the past few weeks, but this was almost too much…”

~ The Scorch Trials

Do you think the second movie was as good as the first?
1. Catching Fire  2. Insurgent  3. Pretties  4. Crossed  5. Pandemonium 6. City of Ashes 7. Beautiful Darkness 8. Prodigy 9. Days of Blood and Starlight 10. Predator’s Gold 11. Linger

Don’t Get Stupid This Summer: 10 Online Courses to Keep Your Neurons Firing

Hi, Shmoopers,

School’s out for the summer. (Er, for some of you. Everyone else can at least see the light at the end of the tunnel.) And as much as we’re all about loading up on sunscreen and relaxing by the pool, we hate getting back to school in the fall and feeling like our brains have somehow been vacuumed out by the zombies in the latest YA dystopian novel.

So how about a compromise? Shmoop’s Online Courses keep your brain muscles intact without ruining your SPF season. If you need to brush up on the basics, you can hit up one of our core courses. (Geometry? American Lit? Modern World History? Whatever floats your boat.) But we want to shout out a few of our elective courses—the just-for-fun stuff that’ll give you a good reason to skip a day at the beach. Or, you know, bring your tablet along.

1. Reality TV

This video-based course digs deep into why we’re all so obsessed with reality TV. Because we are. (Anyone else already have a pool going for this season of The Bachelorette?) We talk about the history of reality TV, the literary tropes found in every episode of Survivor, and why oh why we love to watch stuff ironically. After all, we didn’t come here to make friends.

2. Introduction to Java

Want to be prepared when computers take over the world? In this course, you’ll learn all the important variables, conditionals, loops, methods, and objects that’ll allow you to do just that. We’ll do everything but teach you how to make a cup of coffee. (But real talk: you might want to learn that skill if you keep learning how to program.)

3. Creative Writing: Fiction

Living enough of a drama-free life that your diary’s getting a little stale? Try some fiction writing with Shmoop. From squeezing those mind-grapes while brainstorming to the literary shave and haircut that is editing, you’ll finish this short course with a story that’s Pulitzer-worthy. Or at least fridge-worthy.

4. Video Games and Remixes: Audience Participation

Instead of playing video games all summer, why not learn about ’em? This course will give you buzzwords galore, which means the next time you’re playing Counter-Strike, you can distract your opponents by just saying ludological, moral panic, and narratology over and over again until their brains explode.

5. The Psychology of Influence

Nirvana might ask you to “Come As You Are,” and Madonna might want you to “Express Yourself,” but when push comes to shove, humans are crazy-inclined to follow the crowd. (How else do you explain your old Furby collection?) In this course, you’ll enjoy some Social Psychology 101 as you examine how we as humans change due to the desire to fit in and please the people around us.

6. Dinosaurs

After you’ve watched all four Jurassic Park movies (okay, fine, you can skip 2 and 3—we won’t tell), take our short course on dinosaurs. By the end, you’ll be as geeky—er, knowledgeable—as the kid in Jurassic World. Clever course.
The internet: land of quickly-changing design principles (thank goodness) and even quicker meme fads (we repeat, thank goodness). But it wasn’t always that way. There was a time before the internet had pictures, color, or even cats. While you spend countless hours watching totally-worth-it YouTube vids this summer, pencil in some time to learn about where those videos came from. Spoiler alert: no storks were involved.

8. ’90s History Through Music

Close read Milli Vanilli, learn about how an economic recession inspired Nirvana, and dig deep into everything Madonna. Come on, it’s what you’d do with your summer anyway…just with a little more Macarena thrown in.

9. History of Animation Technology

We all grew up watching animated movies (and let’s be real: they’re still some of our favorites), so why not understand the nitty-gritty of what makes them come to life? This course peeks into Pixar and covers the history of animation from cave dwellers to Arendelle dwellers. Let the info rage on…online courses never bothered us anyway.

10. How to Write a Cover Letter

Okay, so this one might not be beach reading, but if you’ve waited till the last minute to apply to summer jobs and internships, this course, and the rest of our Business and Career Preparation Courses will serve you well. Pro tip: spell the company name right. A Shmoop by any other name won’t smell as sweet.

Quote of the Week

“Mama says, ‘Stupid is as stupid does.'”

~ Forrest Gump

Don’t be/do stupid. Subscribe to Shmoop.

Don’t Break the (Piggy) Bank with Shmoop’s Financial Literacy Learning Guides

It’s time for some real talk, Shmoopers.

You think that having a million bucks when you retire is serious bank? That you’ll retire with jets and homes on multiple continents and bling as far as the eye can see? Well, that math works if you’re 97 and just going to live one more year; but if you’re 65 and planning to live another 33 years, then…what time does the Blue Plate Special start again?

Or how about if you don’t invest in the stock market and keep all of your dough in your sock drawer? The market goes up about 8-10% a year over long periods of time, doubling about every 8 years; by not investing, you’re basically guaranteeing yourself a lifetime of financial mediocrity.

Or…maybe you have no clue what we’re even talking about? No matter what, you’ve come to the right place.

Welcome to the world of Shmoop Finance: guides to financial literacy for folks of all ages, from diapers to dentures. (Well, maybe not diapers; infants should probably ask their parents to hold their cash for a few more years.)

When it comes to money, we calls ’em as we sees ’em. Why? Because way too many people are doing all the wrong things, simply because they don’t see the whole story. Ignorance is not bliss—it’s just expensive.
  • For the early bloomers, we cover financial responsibility, savings, and credit and debit cards.
  • For those of you heading out on you own for the first time, there are sections on college finance and job income.
  • And for anyone who’s becoming an adult (in age if not maturity), we’ve got all the deets on the inner workings of insurance, taxes, mortgages, and the increasingly elusive possibility of retirement.
  • After you follow our advice and start swimming in literal poolfuls of cash (or the more tax efficient shares of stock), our section on investing will give you tips and tricks from decades of experience on Wall Street.

So there you have it: our tell-it-like-it-is attitude will teach you the importance of delayed gratification, long-term greed, and not putting all your cash under a moldy mattress.

Have financial advice for the masses? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #ShmoopFinance.

Quote of the Week

“Show me the money!”

~ Jerry Maguire

Uh, how about we show you the Financial Literacy Learning Guides instead?

17-minute Distractions for APs

Hi, Shmoopers,

Six of the big AP® exams are left, and you’re burnt out. So how do you make it through the rest of the week? Our suggestion: treat your studying like it’s a real job.

Uh, no, we’re not going to pay you to study. What we mean is that you should approach studying the same way that the most productive employees approach their work. In 2014, a study found that people are most productive when they work for 52 minutes and then take a 17-minute break. (Talk about specific.)

Drawing a blank on what to do during your breaks? We came up with ideas for productive(ish) 17-minute distractions for each of the remaining APs.

AP Comparative Government and Politics

This one’s easy: read the news. And we don’t mean People.com and Entertainment Weekly—although there’s plenty of politics in reality TV. We’re talking global news about the big six of the AP exam: Great Britain, Mexico, Russia, Iran, China, and Nigeria. Yeah, there’s no lack of stuff to care about there.

AP World History

Okay, so this one’s actually 18 minutes, but it’s cool enough to cheat with an extra minute. Check out David Christian’s Ted Talk Lesson: “The history of our world in 18 minutes.” It’s not exactly what the AP World History exam is about (unless there’s a surprise question about the Big Bang on there), but that’s why it’s called a study break, right?

AP Statistics

Go to your local coffee shop and settle in for some people watching. What drinks do folks order the most? How often does the barista misspell the customer’s name on the cup? And how many other weirdos like you are there, creepily staring at everyone? Might be time to head back to the books if you count more than one.

AP Human Geography

It’s no secret that old-fashioned cartography is totally outdated. Take a spin around Google Maps or Google Earth and explore a place you’ve never been. While you’re at it, examine its so
cioeconomic organization
. Hey, it can’t hurt to keep those brain cells working hard.

AP Microeconomics

Take one step more micro and dive into some of our personal finance resources. It’s one thing to be able to answer questions about market failure and another to pinpoint your own market failure. Seriously, how did you spend $9 on limes?

AP Latin

Kick back, grab some popcorn, and see a little Latin in action by re-watching your favorite scenes from Dead Poets Society. After seventeen minutes of Robin Williams, you’ll be inspired to truly carpe diem and face that AP Latin exam with confidence. You might need it, too—the test is on Friday the 13th. Bonam fortunam, indeed.
Use your break time wisely. You have fifty-two minutes until the next one.

Quote of the Week

My advice is, never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.

~ David Copperfield

Clearly Dickens hadn’t seen this study. It doesn’t count as procrastination if it’s a planned break, right?

AP is a registered trademark of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.

6 Ways to Distract Yourself from APs Without Losing Brain Cells

Hi, Shmoopers,

AP® exams started this week, and your brain might be getting a little fuzzy from everything you’re packing in there. As much as we love a good binge-watch session, we also encourage you to take a break from AP studying with something that won’t dry up those learning muscles.

1. Take a career quiz.

Start by remembering that your AP scores won’t determine your entire future…probably. Shmoop’s Career Advice Center offers two quizzes: one for people who need some guidance and one for people who have zero clue what they want out of life. Figure out which category you fall into, and then let us crush your dreams.

2. Goof around with Shakespeare.

If you’re taking AP English Literature, you might need to know a thing or two about Shakespeare. But why not take a break and see what Shakespeare would have said about Shmoop? Head over to our Shakespeare Translator and type in “Shmoop is awesome.” And then travel down the Shakespeare Translator rabbit hole.

3. Figure out how the internet actually works.

We spend all day on it, so why not understand, uh, what it is? Even if you’re not taking AP Computer Science (A or Principles), it’s fun to learn the ins and outs of how stuff works. Our guide to How the Internet Works will walk you through everything from algorithms to copper cables to IP addresses.

4. Learn a few little-known facts from history.

It’s one thing to ace the AP U.S. History exam, but how about taking a break with some fun history trivia? In addition to our guides to Historical Texts, we’ve got loads of videos about history trivia to keep you on your toes.

5. Finance Glossary

If you’re taking AP Micro or Macro, you might feel like an informed economic citizen. But if not, take a peek at our guides to economics and finance to beef up. Not only will you have more in your arsenal for dinner party chatter, but you’ll also get some tips for personal finance that’ll help you if those AP exams don’t turn out the way you hoped…

6. Today in History

Figure out what went down in history on each of your AP test days. Taking AP Chem or AP Psych? Joseph Heller was born on May 1, so take a cue from him and keep it lighthearted while you study. Working on AP English Language? On May 10, the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed—just think about that when you start complaining about how hard you’ve been working.

Now get back to those APs.

You got this,

AP is a registered trademark of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.