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Whatever the medievalists might say when they think you’re not listening, 20th-century European history is hard, and post-1945 history can be the trickiest bit. The decades after 1945 are much less precisely understood, in historical terms, than the decades before. They are more subject to unchallenged platitudes and uninformed controversy: they are surrounded by white noise.
Sir Edward Grey’s 11-year tenure as foreign secretary between 1905 and 1916 remains the longest continuous period that anyone has held the post. For much of that time he commanded near universal respect across the political spectrum.
Paul A. Gilje, Professor of United States History at the University of Oklahoma and renowned expert on the history of common people on the waterfront in early America (1), argues in his recently published book on the War of 1812 that the U.S. declared war against Great Britain in 1812 in defense of neutral rights and the safety of American sailors.
The title of this book, Antarctica: a Biography, might cause some initial confusion but this is rectified by the publisher’s puff on the front inside flap of the dust jacket where it is described as ‘the first major international history of this forbidding continent’.
The significance of ransoming has long been recognised by students of medieval chivalry and diplomacy. Seen as key to the development of an international aristocratic ethic that mitigated some of the worst excesses of medieval combat the ransom system led to a pan-European conception of a chivalric brotherhood.
Controversies over nuclear issues are no strangers to New Zealand. To some this is a surprise. Often regarded in the northern hemisphere as a country both remote and insular (one of ‘eternal Sundays’ as playwright Alan Bennett has written), it is a locality that at times jolts with a seismic unpredictability.
The historical literature on Afghanistan and the various armed conflicts fought on its soil has greatly increased in recent years, due to the tragic events following the American-led invasion of the country in October 2001.
These engaging tomes, a two-volume collection of translations on pan-Asianism and a collection of articles in an edited volume on the same topic, offer a mint of scholarship on what has long been a troubling issue to decipher for students limited to the English language – namely, what is the deal with Pan-Asianism? What does it all mean, who talked about it, why and where?
It is interesting that well into the 21st century two books written by Turkish authors belonging to the historiography of the Armenian Genocide should be so vastly different in argument.
‘If the Euro fails, Europe fails’, Angela Merkel boldly declared in September 2011; a potent reminder of how monetary integration lies at the heart of today’s European Union.(1) Yet the Eurozone has not been the first attempt at European monetary cooperation.