A.J.P. Taylor

This country has faced the choice of war or peace on some ten or twelve occasions during my lifetime. I was too young to have an opinion on the outbreak of the First World War, then known as the Great War. Thereafter I assumed I should always be against war even when it was conducted in the name of collective security. I opposed going to war over Manchuria in 1932 and campaigned energetically against going to war over Abyssinia in 1935. I even opposed the sending of British troops to Shanghai in 1927. Then, much to my surprise, I turned round. I did not actually advocate war over the Rhineland in 1936, believing – I still think rightly – that it was a lost cause. But I was very hot on the side of war for Czechoslovakia in 1938 and for Poland in 1939. I applauded the Second World War and still do, being rebuked by a former pupil the other day for describing it as ‘a good war’. Afterwards I swung round again: against the war for Korea in 1951 and very much against the Suez aggression in 1956.

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