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History (from Greek ἱστορία, historia, meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past. Events before the invention of writing systems are considered prehistory. "History" is an umbrella term comprising past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of these events. Historians seek knowledge of the past using historical sources such as written documents, oral accounts, art and material artifacts, and ecological markers.

History also includes the academic discipline which uses narrative to describe, examine, question, and analyze past events, and investigate their patterns of cause and effect. Historians often debate which narrative best explains an event, as well as the significance of different causes and effects. Historians also debate the nature of history as an end in itself, as well as its usefulness to give perspective on the problems of the present.

Stories common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources (such as the tales surrounding King Arthur), are usually classified as cultural heritage or legends. History differs from myth in that it is supported by evidence. However, ancient cultural influences have helped spawn variant interpretations of the nature of history which have evolved over the centuries and continue to change today. The modern study of history is wide-ranging, and includes the study of specific regions and the study of certain topical or thematic elements of historical investigation. History is often taught as part of primary and secondary education, and the academic study of history is a major discipline in university studies.

Herodotus, a 5th-century BC Greek historian, is often considered the "father of history" in the Western tradition, although he has also been criticized as the "father of lies". Along with his contemporary Thucydides, he helped form the foundations for the modern study of past events and societies. Their works continue to be read today, and the gap between the culture-focused Herodotus and the military-focused Thucydides remains a point of contention or approach in modern historical writing. In East Asia, a state chronicle, the Spring and Autumn Annals, was reputed to date from as early as 722 BC, although only 2nd-century BC texts have survived. (Full article...)

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Colonel Phạm Ngọc Thảo (IPA: Hanoi: [fâˀm ŋoˀk tʰa᷉ɔ], Saigon: [fə̂ˀm ŋoˀk tʰə᷉ɔ]), also known as Albert Thảo (1922–1965), was a communist sleeper agent of the Viet Minh (and, later, of the Vietnam People's Army) who infiltrated the Army of the Republic of Vietnam and also became a major provincial leader in South Vietnam. In 1962, he was made overseer of Ngô Đình Nhu's Strategic Hamlet Program in South Vietnam and deliberately forced it forward at an unsustainable speed, causing the production of poorly equipped and poorly defended villages and the growth of rural resentment toward the regime of President Ngô Đình Diệm, Nhu's elder brother. In light of the failed land reform efforts in North Vietnam, the Hanoi government welcomed Thao's efforts to undermine Diem.

During the First Indochina War, Thảo was a communist officer in the Vietminh and helped oversee various operations in the Mekong Delta in the far south, at one point commanding his future enemy Nguyễn Khánh, who briefly served the communist cause. After the French withdrawal and the partition of Vietnam, Thảo stayed in the south and made a show of renouncing communism. He became part of the military establishment in the anti-communist southern regime and quickly rose through the ranks. Nominally Catholic, Thảo befriended Diệm's elder brother, Archbishop Pierre Martin Ngô Đình Thục—the devoutly Roman Catholic Ngô family strongly favored co-religionists and had great trust in Thảo, unaware that he was still loyal to the communists. He went on to serve as the chief of Bến Tre Province, and gained fame after the area—traditionally a communist stronghold—suddenly became peaceful and prosperous. Vietnamese and US officials, as well as journalists hostile to or supportive of Saigon, misinterpreted this as a testament to Thảo's great ability, and he was promoted to a more powerful position where he could further his sabotage. Thảo and the communists in the local area had simply stopped fighting, so that the communists could quietly recuperate, while Thảo would appear to be very skillful and be given a more important job where he could do more damage. (Full article...)
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