Like astronomy, history has for first objective to make observations and to do that as accurately as possible. Cover However, together with its parent field astrophysics, astronomy also wants to organise and analyse its data in ways which ``make sense''. Although astronomical observations started thousands of years ago, astronomy became a real science only a few centuries ago. Nowadays nobody would deny that astronomy and astrophysics are indeed testable sciences.
For instance, by comparing the size of stars we can understand that there exists a critical mass under which there can be big planets like Jupiter or Saturn but not stars. The nuclear reactions which are the engine of stars can start only above a given threshold of density and temperature.

Our objective is to give history the same ability. We wish to raise its status from facts collecting to providing testable predictions. Countless events have been recorded in numerous countries and over many centuries. Our goal now is to make sense of them. We do that not in an anthropocentric way as has mostly been tried so far, but in the same manner as Kepler's laws happen to make sense of the observations performed by Tycho Brahe, that is to say by way of comparisons of similar events.

A book entitled ``Pattern and Repertoire in History'' (Harvard University Press 2002) explains this project. Cover
The methodology is fairly simple.
Instead of considering complicated global events such as the French Revolution or the Pacific War, one should break them into separate smaller modules. That is why this approach is referred to as ``analytical history''. Once this is done, it will usually appear that these modular events in fact occurred in many other occasions and situations. It is from this point that science can really start because one is in a position to analyze many observations of the same phenomenon. That is the main requirement for a truly scientific investigation. Single events can only be described. They cannot be analyzed scientifically.

In its first part the book analyses the French and American Revolutions. In its second part it explores the core-pattern of wars for territorial expansion over the past three centuries. Finally, in its third part, it proposes tools and techniques that will allow systematic coverage of world events; in the decades following 2002 some of such tools were duly developed on Internet.

Charles Tilly, one of the book's reviewers, wrote: ``I started to write that the authors bring a breath of fresh air into historiography, then realized that their arrival on the scene more closely resembles a tornado. Good ideas, analogies, and illustrations come swirling and densely packed''.
However, to be honest, back in 2002 the book's publication was far from resembling a tornado. Actually, in the USA where it was published it went almost unnoticed. Although its authors and reviewers were expecting that the book would convince other researchers to follow this path and approach, that did not happen.

As the saying goes, ``A tree must be judged by its fruits''. In other words, the main challenge is not to propose clever methodological guidelines but rather to show that by using these guidelines one can indeed get a better understanding.
By ``better understanding'' we mean that previously unrelated events and episodes suddenly will appear as different facets of a common pattern. This will open the way to (successful) predictions in the same way as in medicine correct characterization of an illness allows reliable prognosis. Similarly, the three laws found by Kepler are valid not only in our Solar System where they were discovered but also in other solar systems.

Cover The cluster methodology proposed in ``Pattern and Repertoire'' was applied to the investigation of separatism in a book entitled ``Separatism'' .
What makes this topic a good testing field for the cluster methodology is the fact that there have been hundreds of separatist episodes. It is true that we do not have detailed information for all of them, but even if one restricts the study to those which occurred during the past two centuries there are dozens of such episodes.


  • Excerpts of two pre-publication reviews (2001) .
    The first was written by Charles Tilly, a renowned US researcher in socio-history.
    The second is due to John Markoff.
    Both reviews were destined to Harvard University Press prior to the decision to publish the book.

    The post-publication reviews posted below reveal a cultural gap in the sense that the transition from individual events to clusters of similar events (which is the main methodological innovation of our approach) is almost completely overlooked.
    One might think that the necessity of making comparisons is better recognized by intelligence agencies for instance at the Pentagon or State Department. Undoubtedly comparative studies are done in these institutions as shown by the fraction of them which are publicly available. However, one can have some doubts about how effectively they are done.

    For instance, since 1945 there have been many episodes of US forces arming, training and supporting foreign troops. Some were successful (e.g. in South Korea or Latin America) whereas others were not (e.g. in China, Vietnam and now Afghanistan). In short, it does not seem that the crucial parameters which control such episodes are well understood. Or may be other considerations (e.g. in the case of Vietnam the spurious ``domino effect'') have overridden the conclusions of the analysts.

  • Two post-publication reviews by historians (2003) plus an answer by one of the co-authors
    These reviews were published in an American journal entitled ``Historically Speaking''. In addition, the journal gave one of the co-authors the opportunity to write an answer to the two reviews.

  • A review by an economic historian (2004)


  • Review by an economist (2006)
    To our best knowledge this review which appeared 4 years after the book's publication was the only review ever made.
    Incidentally, it can be observed that the book was initially sold at the price of $75 (i.e. 66% higher than the price of $45 of ``Pattern and Repertoire'' which has 17% more pages). Then quite surprisingly, its price was raised to $82.50 in 2006 and $117 in 2007. Needless to say, such a high price had quite a deterrent effect on potential buyers. No explanation was given by the publisher in response to our enquiry.


    Subsequently, the same methodology was used in several other studies.
    For instance:

  • A book entitled ``Patterns of Speculation'' (Cambridge UP, 2002) investigates speculative trading in stocks, real estate, rare books and rare stamps.

  • Part 2 of ``Driving Forces'' (Cambridge UP, 2007) is an exercise in analytical history in which we investigate public relations campaigns and colonization episodes.

  • A comparative exploration of episodes of military occupations was made in a series of studies which cover the occupations of China, Hawaii, Iceland, Japan, South Korea. The comparison reveals several common features and patterns.