The transformation of Germany after the Second World War from Nazism into a prosperous and peaceful state has long exerted a particular fascination upon historians. In the last four decades, legions of scholars have sought to explain the presumably miraculous ‘success story’ of the Federal Republic by a range of factors.
Endless books have attempted to answer the question as to why the First World War broke out in summer 1914, and the centenary of the July crisis will no doubt prompt historians and popular audiences to further revisit the circumstances in which European leaders ‘sleepwalked’ into a military conflict of unprecedented proportions.
For France, 2014 marks not just the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, but the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy and the liberation of Paris after four years of Nazi occupation. Yet while the centenary of the First World War has been marked by consensus among historians and the wider community, the Second World War remains a subject of contestation.
The deluge that is the centenary of 1914–18 war is upon us. As the commemoration period rolls on over the next four, five or even more years – the centenaries of unveiling war memorials will take us well into the 2020s – the number of books, newspaper, magazine, TV, radio and online contributions is already greater than any one person might hope to keep up with – even should he or she wish.
As Elizabeth Greenhalgh alludes to in the introduction of her well-researched and constructed monograph, The French Army and the First World War, common perceptions of France’s military experience between 1914 and 1918 have tended to be reduced to mere flashpoints of interest. Obvious examples would naturally include the Miracle of the Marne, Verdun and the 1917 mutinies.
Unsurprisingly, given the significant First World War anniversary that is now upon us, there has been a raft of new books on the conflict with a variety of foci; each aimed at different groups on the spectrum of amateur enthusiast to hardened academic scholar.
The comparative history of empires has become a very popular subject in recent years, provoking interesting debates on the origins of the globalization process and on the future of post-Cold War international relations.(1) The focus on empires has also provided a constructive way to reassess the role of Europe in world history, going beyond the traditional great narrat
‘Shackled to a corpse’ is a quote widely attributed to General Erich von Ludendorff, which allegedly describes the alliance between Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Stanley G. Payne needs no introduction. He has a well-deserved reputation as an excellent historian who has produced, among other publications, perhaps the best guide to the study of European Fascism (A History of Fascism, 1914–45). He is also the author of numerous books on Spain, some of them real landmarks in our knowledge of that country’s modern history.