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I guess we had a pretty good history teacher. She drilled into our minds that any important historical event usually had an underlying cause, a corroborating cause and a triggering cause (and often more than one of each category). So for instance on WWI, we learnt not only about Archduke Ferdinand and the Serbian "Black Hand" movement, but also about the geopolitical frictions that already existed between Austria-Hungary and Russia over the Balkan situation, etc.

That's brilliant! How much more useful than arguing over the 'great man' theory etc. Just lay out the causes and understand how they contribute.

Btw I was at the WWI memorial in Kansas City (created just a few years after the war) and they list Darwin as a cause of the war! The leaders of the world had read his "Origin of the Species". It was variously interpreted politically to mean 'the strongest culture will win' and used by the German leadership to justify war. War was natural, it would winnow the nations down to just those worthy of survival, and Germany was the most worthy.

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