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Response to Review of Cambridge History of the First World War

There are only two points I would like to make in response to Professor Grayson’s generous review of The Cambridge History of the First World War. Both relate to our sense that we stand at an important moment in the development of a new approach to the history of the Great War. The first point concerns language. It is high time to break down the divisions between different national schools of historical interpretation of the 1914–18 conflict written in different languages. To this end the editorial board and all the authors worked with the publishing house of Fayard in Paris to produce a three-volume version of the Cambridge History in French. The first volume came out in October 2013, and the second and third will appear in 2014. No European, let alone global, history of the war can remain imprisoned within one language community.

The second point is that we are fully aware that young scholars are working in what may be the most difficult environment in decades to enter the academy. This is as true of graduate students working on the First World War as it is of all others. In light of this fact, we took the decision collectively to forego our fees and royalties, and to place all funds generated by the sale of these books into a fund to provide post-graduate studentships for anyone working anywhere in the world on the history of the First World War. The studentships will be awarded by the Historial de la grande guerre, PĂ©ronne, Somme, the board of directors of which served as the editorial board of The Cambridge History of the First World War. This is the first time senior scholars have directed their royalties due for writing part of a Cambridge History or similar works to a fund helping to ensure that there will be a fifth generation of vibrant historical writing on the Great War. Drawing the attention of your readers to this point may help others to consider taking similar steps in the future.