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Laid Down by Ranke

Peter Ghosh: Defending history, 15 October 1998

In Defence of History 
by Richard J. Evans.
Granta, 320 pp., £8.99, October 1998, 1 86207 068 7
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... Richard Evans hopes that this book will take the place of E.H. Carr’s What is History? and G.R. Elton’s The Practice of History as the ‘basic introduction’ to history as taught in the universities. Evans is a self-declared ‘Rankean’ empiricist, committed to Ranke’s view that facts and documents ‘speak for themselves ...

Mad John

Gabriele Annan, 28 June 1990

McEnroe: Taming the Talent 
by Richard Evans.
Bloomsbury, 216 pp., £14.99, June 1990, 0 7475 0618 3
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... This is Richard Evans’s second book on McEnroe. The Struwwelpeter of tennis is now 31 and No 4 in the international ratings. The first book, McEnroe: A Rage for Perfection, came out eight years ago when McEnroe was 23 and rated No 1. The new book belongs to the genre of defensive biography. It is as though Oliver had written a life of Roland: the wise, steady friend standing up for the brilliant, wayward hero ...

Axeman as Ballroom Dancer

David Blackbourn, 17 July 1997

Rituals of Retribution: Capital Punishment in Germany 1600-1987 
by Richard J. Evans.
Oxford, 1014 pp., £55, March 1996, 0 19 821968 7
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... 1981, and the death penalty was not formally abolished until 1987. This is the capsule version of Richard Evans’s important new book, trying to do justice to which makes one feel like a hapless contestant in Monty Python’s summarising-Proust competition. The central theme is clear enough: capital punishment was and is the symbol of political ...

The Demented Dalek

Richard J. Evans: Michael Gove, 12 September 2019

Michael Gove: A Man in a Hurry 
by Owen Bennett.
Biteback, 422 pp., £20, July 2019, 978 1 78590 440 0
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... We’ve​ got form, Michael Gove and I. ‘Richard Evans may hold a professorship,’ he told the Daily Mail in 2014, after I had attacked him for claiming that Britain had fought the First World War for democracy, ‘but these arguments, like the interpretations of Oh! What a Lovely War! and Blackadder, are more reflective of the attitude of an undergraduate cynic playing to the gallery in a Cambridge Footlights revue rather than a sober academic contributing to a proper historical debate ...

After Deng

John Gittings, 6 July 1995

Deng Xiaoping: My Father 
by Deng Mao Mao.
Basic Books, 498 pp., £20, March 1995, 0 465 01625 1
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Deng Xiaoping and the Making of Modern China 
by Richard Evans.
Hamish Hamilton, 339 pp., £20, October 1993, 9780241130315
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China After Deng Xiaoping 
by Willy Wo-lap Lam.
Wiley, 516 pp., £24.95, March 1995, 0 471 13114 8
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Burying Mao: Chinese Politics in the Age of Deng Xiaoping 
by Richard Baum.
Princeton, 489 pp., £29.95, October 1994, 9780691036397
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Deng Xiaoping: Chronicle of an Empire 
by Ruan Ming.
Westview, 288 pp., £44.50, November 1994, 9780813319209
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... and diplomats have been more indulgent, though not everyone shares the glorious certainty of Sir Richard Evans, British Ambassador in Beijing from 1984 to 1988. He concludes that for most Chinese the Beijing massacre is a ‘blemish’ on a record that is ‘much more white than black’. Western governments were obliged to put Chinese human rights on ...

Echoes from the Far Side

James Sheehan: The European Age, 19 October 2017

The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914 
by Richard J. Evans.
Penguin, 848 pp., £12.99, June 2017, 978 0 14 198114 7
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... when others are trying to prevent them from realising them’. The pursuit of power was not, as Richard Evans seems to suggest in his introduction, a distinctive feature of 19th-century Europe. What changes over time is not the fact that people seek power, but the means by which they do it, as well as the nature of the contest with those who resist ...

Still messing with our heads

Christopher Clark: Hitler in the Head, 7 November 2019

Hitler: A Life 
by Peter Longerich.
Oxford, 1324 pp., £30, July 2019, 978 0 19 879609 1
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Hitler: Only the World Was Enough 
by Brendan Simms.
Allen Lane, 668 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 1 84614 247 5
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... complicity from which there could be no escape. As Lucy Dawidowicz argued many years ago and Richard Evans reminded us more recently, Hitler’s ‘war against the Jews’ really was a war against the Jews. Simms’s monocausal approach creates an inertia at the heart of his narrative. Hitler, having been shaped for life by his early wartime ...

I want to love it

Susan Pedersen: What on earth was he doing?, 18 April 2019

Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History 
by Richard J. Evans.
Little, Brown, 800 pp., £35, February 2019, 978 1 4087 0741 8
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... historical and autobiographical questions and then hares off to tackle the former. This means that Richard Evans had an untilled field before him. Based on unrestricted access to Hobsbawm’s personal archive, this is one of those doorstopper biographies that can get published in Britain even when the subject is a historian. It clocks in at 662 pages of ...

Weimarama

Richard J. Evans, 8 November 1990

Male Fantasies Vol. I: Women, Floods, Bodies, History 
by Klaus Theweleit, translated by Chris Turner, Erica Carter and Stephen Conway.
Polity, 517 pp., £35, May 1987, 0 7456 0382 3
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Male Fantasies Vol. II: Male Bodies: Psychoanalysing the White Terror 
by Klaus Theweleit, translated by Chris Turner, Erica Carter and Stephen Conway.
Polity, 507 pp., £35, September 1989, 0 7456 0556 7
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... Since its appearance in Germany in 1977, Klaus Theweleit’s psychoanalytical study of fascist literature has graduated from the status of a cult work to that of a classic. Rereading it in English, a decade after my first, rather sceptical perusal, it is easy to see why. Much of what made Theweleit’s book so startlingly original in the mid-Seventies has since become relatively conventional in literary and historical studies, from the Foucaultian analysis of literary discourse, and the exploration of the political history of the human body, to a feminist perspective on sex and power ...

Disease and the Marketplace

Roy Porter, 26 November 1987

Death in Hamburg: Society and Politics in the Cholera Years 1830-1910 
by Richard Evans.
Oxford, 676 pp., £55, October 1987, 0 19 822864 3
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... of them was Hamburg. For – and this is one of the powerful interpretative strategies deployed in Richard Evans’s penetrating study – the entrenched laissez-faire liberalism of Germany’s foremost international trade centre was of a piece with the theory of disease aetiology which held sway in the city. Hamburg’s ruling Senate upheld a ...

Thank you, Dr Morell

Richard J. Evans: Was Hitler ill?, 21 February 2013

Was Hitler Ill? 
by Hans-Joachim Neumann and Henrik Eberle, translated by Nick Somers.
Polity, 244 pp., £20, November 2012, 978 0 7456 5222 1
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... In May 1941, after the sudden flight to England of Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, who had deluded himself that he could persuade the British to make peace, a joke went round Berlin. ‘So you’re the madman,’ Churchill says to Hess. ‘No,’ Hess replies, ‘only his deputy!’ That Hitler was insane was something many Germans came to believe in the later stages of the war ...

2000 AD

Anne Sofer, 2 August 1984

The British General Election of 1983 
by David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh.
Macmillan, 388 pp., £25, May 1984, 0 333 34578 9
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Militant 
by Michael Crick.
Faber, 242 pp., £3.95, June 1984, 0 571 13256 1
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... their opponents in the propaganda war by a brilliant campaign of softening up the press. Richard Evans of the Times was quoted as saying of their Press Officer, Pat Edlin: ‘He was the best Press Officer I’ve ever come across. He made press men in Whitehall or the big companies look like beginners. He ought to give lessons in it.’ Shrewder ...

Short Cuts

Richard J. Evans: Rewritten History, 2 December 2021

... We won’t allow people to censor our past,’ Robert Jenrick, then communities secretary, said in January. ‘It is our privilege in this country to have inherited a deep, rich, fascinating and yes, often complex, past. We are mature enough as a society to understand that and to seek to pass it on, warts and all. To do otherwise would leave our history and future diminished ...

Who remembers the Poles?

Richard J. Evans: Between Hitler and Stalin, 4 November 2010

Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin 
by Timothy Snyder.
Bodley Head, 524 pp., £25, September 2010, 978 0 224 08141 2
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... of other historians have written recently, and more perceptively, about this same topic, from Richard Overy in The Dictators to Robert Gellately in Lenin, Stalin and Hitler – some, like Norman Davies in Europe at War 1939-45, from a similar perspective to Snyder’s own. Despite the widespread misapplication of Hitler’s statement about the ...

Let’s Learn from the English

Richard J. Evans: The Nazi Empire, 25 September 2008

Hitler’s Empire: Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe 
by Mark Mazower.
Allen Lane, 726 pp., £30, June 2008, 978 0 7139 9681 4
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... As a young man, Adolf Hitler became a devotee of the music-dramas of Richard Wagner, and spent much of his meagre income on tickets for performances of Lohengrin and other pseudo-medieval fantasies. Historians have spent a good deal of energy trying to trace the effects of this youthful passion on the later dictator’s ideas and beliefs ...

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