How should we read the Crusades? The question begs a host of others, not least how do we read them, in the light of how we have read them in the past.
The aim of Roderick McLean's book is to assert the continuing importance of monarchs in European politics in the decades immediately before 1914.
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.
Arthur C. Clarke once remarked that the time would come when nothing of the twentieth century would be remembered except the moon landing in 1969. Clearly that time has not come. Indeed we seem to be in danger of forgetting Neil Armstrong's small step altogether. More than half of the planet's inhabitants today have been born since a man walked on the moon.
The reviewer's first duty is easily accomplished. This is a feast of entertainment and instruction to the diplomatic historian (and even more to the undiplomatic historian) of Ireland, Britain, Europe, Israel, India, Burma, the British Commonwealth in general, South America, the U.S.A., and the United Nations.
Despite spurious claims being made in some quarters about 'a new consensus',(1) the history of fascism remains a bitterly contested area, even if, notwithstanding the Irving Trial, most contests occur in the seminar room rather than the courtroom.
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.