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.
Totalitarianism as a concept has made something of a comeback in recent years.
'We historians are dull creatures', A.J.P. Taylor once wrote, 'and women sometimes notice this.' One woman who obviously thought Taylor far from dull was Kathy Burk, the last of his postgraduate students.
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.
If any era deserves the epithet 'tragic' then it is the 1940s in Greece. Conquered in spring 1941, its people were subjected to a brutal occupation regime, enduring famine, forced labour, deportation and terror. In 1942, armed resistance to the occupying powers of Germany, Italy and Bulgaria and the collaborationist government began in earnest.
In a widely-disseminated and highly-regarded set of 'Observations on Hitler' first published in 1978, the German commentator Sebastian Haffner defined the central problem facing any biographer of the dictator thus: 'Everything is missing from this life, from beginning to end - everything which would normally give a human life depth, warmth and dignit
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.