The Origins of The Second World War – different approaches to the same topic

The Origins of The Second World War is of course one of the great historical debates of modern times. To be honest it is not really a topic that sets me on fire. I have however included this link from the Wall Street Journal as it contrasts five very different books from five very different historians. They all approach the topic from different directions. For us, it is a good reminder, that the conclusions that a historian draws will often depend upon their starting point.

Perhaps most noteworthy here is the reference to “The Origins of The Second War” by A.J.P. Taylor. This is a massively controversial revisionist text in which Taylor presents Hitler in 1939 not as the bringer of the Holocaust, but as another German stateman with a vague idea to rip up the Treaty of Versailles. For Taylor, the origins of the Second World War should not be seen as a moral question. Hitler was as an opportunist who blundered into war without a master plan. It is perhaps the most controversial history book of the Twentieth Century, but as Taylor’s pupil, Kathleen Burke states, “it broke the log jam of history”.

You might like to wtach the youtube clip below of Taylor discussing the book with his great rival, Hugh Trevor Roper.

This entry was posted in historians, history in the news. Bookmark the permalink.