Month: February 2017

Turmoil in Europe (podcast)

Jeremy Black addresses the Foreign Policy Research Institute on turmoil in Europe — from Brexit to the rise of nationalist parties to Russian machinations in Ukraine.

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Jeremy’s recent books include Modern British History (Palgrave, 2000), The Politics of James Bond (Praeger, 2001), America as a Military Power 1775-1882 (Praeger, 2002), The World in the Twentieth Century (Longman, 2002), Parliament and Foreign Policy in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge, 2004), The English Seaborne Empire, Yale, 2004, and World War Two: A Military History (Routledge, 2003), and Great Military Leaders and their Campaigns (Oct. 2008). The Society of Military History recognized Jeremy Black’s work in April 2008, presenting him with the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize for lifetime achievement.

Review of The Little Book of Big History

Jeremy’s book with Ian Crofton The Little Book of Big History is reviewed by Patrick Manning (University of Pittsburgh) alongside Walter Alvarez. A Most Improbable Journey: A Big History of Our Planet and Ourselves.

“These two concise books address big history in different ways, showing that history even at the largest scale can be told in many ways. Though their differences are many, the contradictions between the two are few. The Alvarez book focuses on a geological approach to big history, told through personal narratives of his encounter with the evidence. Crofton and Black adopt what could be called a human-society approach to big history, working political and social history into the big history focus to the degree possible. Each draws a line between the human era and the time before: for Alvarez about 75% of the book addresses the pre-human era; for Crofton & Black a much smaller 25% of the book is on the pre-human era.”

Read the full review in  JWH  vol.28, no. 3 (2017).

Why historians get it wrong

Communing with Clio and laying down rules for mankind, all too many historians appear to think that their views on the past are of direct relevance for the present. The full blast, or possibly dribble, of academic establishment power was directed very clearly during the
Brexit debate, and there are instructive signs similarly for the United States. In the former
case, articles and letters glittering with potent titles—for example the President of the Royal Historical Society or a Regius Professor or two—made clear what the past presented and the future should follow. Destiny was decried and declared.

Why then did they get it wrong in misjudging the public mood? Was there more at stake than the expression of a view in public debate and the usual preference of a majority of academics for what are defined as left-wing causes? In fact, the stance publicly taken by so many was an aspect of culture wars and a product of the direction of academic history in recent years.

Read the full article in the February edition of The New Criterion.