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Response to Review of War, Agriculture, and Food: Rural Europe from the 1930s to the 1950s

The editors and contributors would like to thank Professor Pinilla for a very fair and informative review of their book. His summaries effectively grasp the essentials of each chapter, and his introductory remarks are an excellent distillation of the essential historical problems that motivated us to produce the book, most notably the lack of comparative studies of the period and the differences between the pre-war and post-war periods.

As far as comparative studies are concerned, two of the chapters are internationally comparative, in the sense that they examine many countries, and two more compare two more or less contrasting countries. We hope that this will encourage more historians to go beyond their national comfort zones and engage in more thematic and comparative work. In examining pre- and post-war differences, we argue that it is worth remembering that the war only lasted for six years, long enough if you were engaged in the fighting or separated from family members, and a long time in politics, but a relatively short time in an agricultural context, and, as Professor Pinilla points out, the implication of this is that the search for the reasons behind the changes in post-war European agriculture needs to examine not only the wartime years but also the events leading up to them. If we were doing the book again, perhaps we would try to add one or more chapters on the inter-war period. We also regretted the absence of chapters on such agriculturally important countries as Italy, the Netherlands, and Yugoslavia. We did in fact have a draft of a chapter on the last of these, but for a variety of reasons it could not be included in the final version of the book. One might also argue that only one chapter on French food and agriculture is hardly enough. And so on – there are limits to the sizes of books and the capacities of editors, and if this book encourages historians to expand on what we have done, or so infuriates them that they write in opposition to us, we shall feel that we have produced something useful.