There will be blood
More than any other single figure, Maximilien Robespierre is identified with, and blamed for, the terror and bloodshed of France’s revolutionary years, yet the hostility of contemporaries, historians and political commentators is not wholly justified.
Crimes and Punishment
Germans have confronted the crimes of the Nazi regime with honesty and thoroughness. Important sections of Japanese society, however, prefer to forget or forgive the wartime actions of their army and deal with victim nations with defiance, not conciliation.
In the brutal conduct of its invasion of the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany revealed its true nature fully for the first time as all political, legal or moral scruples were cast aside.
A superb and beautifully written study of the sixteenth century Council of Trent, when the Catholic church gathered to consider its response to Protestantism, constitutes a painless crash course on the Europe of the time.
Ulysses and Africa
A new book seeks to consider writers’ responses to Homer from an anticolonial or postcolonialist perspective.
Varieties of Modernity
Relations between capitalism and the state have been crucial in Europe. Both, accommodating to claim-making from civil society, gave this model a distinctive concern with social solidarity.
Eric Hobsbawm, perhaps the most respected of twentieth century historians, still manages to impress from beyond the grave with a wide-ranging tour of culture and society.
Strong Hand, Beloved Leader
A hoard of letters written by Germans to Hitler show a people keen to abdicate their responsibility and infantilise themselves, but they do not indicate any great enthusiasm for either Nazi ideology or territorial aggression.
Jacques Rivière claimed that great writers could not be great moral characters, because their necessarily self-centred natures made them poorly equipped for devotion and sacrifice, and since they had to distance themselves from their feelings in order to see them, these were never as genuine as with other people. Jean Guéhenno, a writer free of any taint of collaboration, wrote in his diary in 1940: “The species of the man of letters is not one of the greatest human species. Incapable of surviving for long in hiding, he would sell his soul to see his name in print.”