European History

Mapping America’s Recovery

Andrew Imbrie— Imagine a country laid low by foreign wars, ravaged by plague, and weakened by political dysfunction, economic recession, and multiple bankruptcies. Instead of preparing for the future, its leaders engage in fierce disputes over the balance of trade, wage bitter debates over religion and immigration, and stoke tensions

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The Endangered Species of the Polymath

Peter Burke— People are talking more and more about polymaths these days, but at the same time, living examples of this intellectual species are becoming more and more difficult to find. By polymath I mean, like the ancient Greeks who coined the term, someone who has mastered many intellectual disciplines,

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Echoes of Edward in British Politics

Tom Licence— As Edward the Confessor lay dying in 1066, according to his contemporary biographer, he foresaw the Norman invasion and England’s downfall within a year. Sir Winston Churchill, in his History of the English-Speaking Peoples, alludes to this prophecy at the end of his account of Edward’s reign. “The

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Sergei Furgal and Authoritarian Politics

Yoram Gorlizki and Oleg Khlevniuk— Over the last few weeks Russia has been rocked by demonstrations in a number of regions. One of the key points of contention has been the dismissal and arrest on July 9, 2020, of the popular governor in Khabarovsk, Sergei Furgal. Local protesters have rallied

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The Meetings of Mussolini and Hitler

Christian Goeschel— The meetings between Mussolini and Hitler were robust projections of an aggressive challenge to the Wilsonian post-war order. The Fascist and Nazi regimes defied lurking tensions to promote a powerful image of unity, a unity symbolised by the dictatorial friends meeting amidst their peoples – in marked contrast

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Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate

Alexandra Popoff— Vasily Grossman began Life and Fate, a powerful anti-totalitarian novel, when Stalin was still alive. Back then he had no prospect of publication. But after the dictator’s death, when the regime admitted half truths about Stalin’s crimes, there was a glimmer of hope. Despite knowing that the repressive

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Sinking the SS Athenia

Evan Mawdsley— The SS Athenia was a substantial vessel, but not one of the great liners; a passenger ship of some 13,500 tons, with accommodation for 1,000 passengers, her speed was 15 knots: the white stripe on her single thin black funnel marked her as one of the ships of

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The Letters of King Henry III

David Carpenter— King Henry III of England, the son of King John, reigned for fifty-six years from 1216 to 1272, one of the longest reigns on record. He was nine when he came to the throne, sixty-five when he died. We know more about Henry, on a day-to-day basis, than

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The Fettmilch Attack on the Frankfurt Ghetto

Kenneth Austin— On August 22, 1614, Vincenz Fettmilch, a Calvinist gingerbread-maker, led an attack on Frankfurt’s ghetto, a single street known as the Judengasse (“Jews’ Lane”). When it was first established, the community had about 150 residents; by the early seventeenth century, this number had risen to almost 2,000. Its

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The Trial of László Rajk

Molly Pucci— News of the trial of the former Hungarian Politburo member László Rajk, staged as a show trial in Budapest between 16 and 24 September 1949, traveled quickly across the Eastern Bloc. Over the course of these fateful, widely propagated eight days, Rajk came to represent many things to

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