European History

“It’s the Climate, Stupid.”

Geoffrey Parker— Once upon a time, climate change was a hot topic. In 1979 the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations Environment Programme, the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation paid for 250 historians, geographers, archaeologists and climatologists from thirty countries to share their expertise

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The Idea of Yugoslavia: Translating Miljenko Jergović’s “The Walnut Mansion”

The Walnut Mansion by Miljenko Jergović—translated by Stephen M. Dickey with Janja Pavetic-Dickey—is a grand novel that encompasses nearly all of Yugoslavia’s tumultuous twentieth century, from the decline of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires through two world wars, the rise and fall of communism, the breakup of the nation, and

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The Legacy of Jane Austen and the Industry of “Jane Austen”

Fiona Stafford– When Jane Austen spoke of being “in love with” Clarkson, in a private letter of 1813, she was referring to the indefatigable antislavery campaigner Thomas Clarkson and his splendid History, which charted the progress of the abolitionist movement. Two hundred years later, the name of Clarkson would be

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When Britain Saved the West: The Story of 1940

Robin Prior— The year 1940 could have been disastrous for Britain and for the West. Any number of events that occurred during that year might have seen Germany victorious over Britain. As Churchill said of another series of crises in another war, “The terrible ‘If’s’ accumulate.” If the government of

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The Office of the Coroner and the Birth of the Modern English State

Matthew Lockwood— The image of the detective is a familiar one to modern eyes. Contemporary culture is rife with crime dramas, police procedurals, and medical investigations. Searching for the origins of this ubiquitous cultural type in the Anglo-American world, few would delve deeply into the past, pinpointing instead the nineteenth

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The English Reformation: Was Henry VIII the Founder of Roman Catholicism?

Peter Marshall— The Reformation in England—heralded by Henry VIII’s repudiation of the authority of the pope in 1533-4—is usually conceived of as a process of societal conversion, through which one kind of religious culture gradually transformed itself into another. A fundamentally Catholic nation became an overtly Protestant one, and the

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Sick Labor: Illness and Treatment in Stalin’s Gulags

Golfo Alexopoulos— In the Gulag or forced labor camp system under Stalin, 1929-1953, prisoners represented the state’s “human raw material.” Camp officials recorded prisoners’ illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths as a way of tracking one of the most important pieces of data for the party—“lost labor days.” The Stalinist camp system

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Louis Barthas: Eyewitness to the French Army Mutinies, May-June 1917

Edward M. Strauss— “On May 26 [1917] the first American combat troops arrived in France…. “The arrival of the first American troops coincided with a dramatic change on the French sector of the Western Front, where the growing number of desertions turned, on May 27, to mutiny.  At the Front

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Notes from the Gulag

The following two poems are written by Arsenii Formakov, a Latvian Russian poet, novelist, and journalist, during two terms in Soviet labor camps, 1940 to 1947 in Kraslag and 1949 to 1955 in Kamyshlag and Ozerlag. This correspondence, which Formakov mailed home to his family in Riga, provides readers with

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A Sociological Look at World War Combat

Alan Allport— The Second World War was not just one of the two greatest military efforts ever undertaken by the United Kingdom, but also, albeit quite by chance, one of its two greatest ever sociological experiments. Between 1939 and 1945, Britain mobilized around 5.8 million men and 640,000 women for

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