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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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... RichardEvans 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 ...

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 ...

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. If they had known in ...
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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... bacteriology was in the ascendancy. But Pettenkoferian miasmatism still had its strongholds, and one of them was Hamburg. For – and this is one of the powerful interpretative strategies deployed in RichardEvans’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 ...

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 ...

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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... are the central event in the whole of European history is rhetorical overkill, to say the least. A number 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 ...

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, 978 1 78590 440 0
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... We’ve​ got form, Michael Gove and I. ‘RichardEvans 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 ...

Echoes from the Far Side

James Sheehan: The European Age

18 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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... Weber​ defined power as ‘the ability of an individual or group to achieve their own goals or aims when others are trying to prevent them from realising them’. The pursuit of power was not, as RichardEvans 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 ...

One nation, two states

Richard J. Evans

21 December 1989
... Events are moving fast in East Germany. Over the past couple of weeks, the popular revolution, instead of settling down to a period of quiet preparation for free elections, has been gaining momentum. As many people predicted, the regime of Egon Krenz did not last very long. What toppled him was not, however, the fact that nobody could forget his role in rigging the local elections earlier in the year ...

A Most Irksome Matter

Richard J. Evans: Murder in 18th-century Hamburg

6 July 2006
Liaisons Dangereuses: Sex, Law and Diplomacy in the Age of Frederick the Great 
by Mary Lindemann.
Johns Hopkins, 353 pp., £23.50, May 2006, 0 8018 8317 2
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... If you wanted intelligent conversation in 18th-century Hamburg, there was no better place to go than Dreyer’s coffee house, where the professional and cultural elite gathered to discuss the latest ideas of the Enlightenment in an atmosphere far removed from the inns and bars of the waterfront. Here you could read the international press and discuss the state of the world. If you tired of intellectual ...

Cite ourselves!

Richard J. Evans: The Annales School

3 December 2009
The Annales School: An Intellectual History 
by André Burguière, translated by Jane Marie Todd.
Cornell, 309 pp., £24.95, 0 8014 4665 1
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... As a graduate student in the 1970s, looking around for new approaches to history that would enable me to do something different from my teachers’ generation, I spent a lot of time with my fellow students discussing the relative attractions of British Marxist historians like Eric Hobsbawm, Christopher Hill and E.P. Thompson, German neo-Weberians such as Hans-Ulrich Wehler and Jürgen Kocka, American ...

Wait and See

Richard J. Evans: The French Resistance

3 November 2016
The French Resistance 
by Olivier Wieviorka, translated by Jane Marie Todd.
Harvard, 569 pp., £31.95, April 2016, 978 0 674 73122 6
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... On 18 June​ 1940 Charles de Gaulle, speaking from London, where he had arrived the previous day, denounced the new government led by Marshal Philippe Pétain, which had called for an armistice after the comprehensive defeat of France’s armed forces at the hands of the Wehrmacht. ‘Nothing is lost for France,’ he declared. ‘The war is not over as a result of the Battle of France. This war is ...

Into Dust

Richard J. Evans: Nazis 1945

8 September 2011
The End: Hitler’s Germany 1944-45 
by Ian Kershaw.
Allen Lane, 564 pp., £30, August 2011, 978 0 7139 9716 3
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... Why did the Germans keep on fighting to the bitter end in 1945, long after it was clear to almost everybody that the war was lost? From the catastrophic defeat of the Sixth Army at Stalingrad early in 1943, through the devastating Allied bombing raids on Hamburg in the summer of 1943, reports on popular opinion filed by secret agents of the Nazi regime record a growing belief that Germany was going ...

Spot and Sink

Richard J. Evans: The End of WW1

15 December 2011
With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918 
by David Stevenson.
Allen Lane, 688 pp., £30, May 2011, 978 0 7139 9840 5
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... In November 1918, after more than four years in the trenches, Adolf Hitler was in hospital away from the front, temporarily blinded by a gas attack. As he was recovering, he was told of Germany’s surrender and the overthrow of the kaiser. ‘Again,’ he later wrote, ‘everything went black before my eyes.’ And so it had all been in vain. In vain all the sacrifices and privations; in vain the ...

Autoerotisch

Richard J. Evans: The VW Beetle

12 September 2013
The People’s Car: A Global History of the Volkswagen Beetle 
by Bernhard Rieger.
Harvard, 406 pp., £20, April 2013, 978 0 674 05091 4
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... When I first went to Germany, in the early 1970s, the roads were swarming with squat, misshapen little beasts, bustling about the city streets or rattling along the autobahns with noisy, air-cooled engines, curved roofs tapering down to the rear bumper and, in older models, tiny oval back windows, so small that I wondered how the driver could see anything at all in his rear-view mirror. Their ugliness ...

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