Few areas of historical enquiry resonate with such contemporary relevance as the Arab-Israeli conflict, and any scholar attempting a book on the subject is walking into a politically charged minefield. Historians enquiring after the 'truth' are accused of partisan bias: after all, they must either be supporters of Zionism or the Arab cause.
It has been fashionable to downplay the importance of battles in medieval military history. 'Most campaigns did not end in battle largely because both commanders were reluctant to risk battle', was John Gillingham's verdict. He pointed out that Henry II never fought a battle, yet had a great military reputation.
Sweden, Prussia, and Russia. Three great powers were forged in the fire of the Northern Wars. The military monarchies fed on weaker neighbours where such existed. In the sixteenth century, Poland-Lithuania, Brandenburg and Sweden carved up the small Baltic empire left by the crusading knights of the Teutonic Order.
John Charmley is, of course, no stranger to controversy.... How tempting it would be to begin a review of his latest book in this vein.
Research into the origins of the First World War, like the work undertaken on most controversial historical topics, is subject, at least to some extent, to the dictates of scholarly fashion. Thus, it was that, not so long ago, much of the writing on this issue focused on the cultural factors that, it is said, predisposed the people of Europe to rush headfirst towards the precipice.
I came to review this book with a great deal of anticipation. MacGregor Knox has been working for a long time on a comparative analysis of the fascist dictatorships, and is one of a line of US or US-trained historians who have breathed life into the recent study of contemporary European history by using a comparative approach.
The historical significance of the First World War is taken for granted in most European countries. In Ireland, however, as Charles Townshend has noted, 'the memory of the war was for a long time marginalised.
In reviewing Mark Cornwall's monumental study of 'front propaganda by and against the Habsburg Monarchy in the First World War, I feel I ought to register a certain personal interest.
Christopher Durston has produced here the sort of history which my generation of school students was brought up to regard as the norm, taking a celebrated episode of political and constitutional history and setting out to re-evaluate it by reading a broader and deeper collection of sources for it than ever before, in both local and national archives.