Geoffrey Barraclough (1908–1984) was a British historian.

Date Palms and Elephant Tusks

Some time around the middle of the twelfth century, perhaps in AD 1160, the Welsh tenant of an English (or more accurately Anglo-Norman, and probably French-speaking) landlord agreed to pay an annual rent of three ivory dice for his holding of five acres.[^1] What, if you stop to think about …

Return of the Natives

“Macro-history,” so long discredited, is back in favor, but not the sort we used to associate with the name of Arnold Toynbee. Today it takes the form of long, sophisticated books, frequently with a distinctly Marxist flavor, tracing the story of the transformation of Europe from a marginal frontier of …

Clockwork History

Norbert Elias is one of those shadowy figures, not uncommon in our ambivalent society, hovering indecisively on the nebulous frontier between obscurity and fame. In this respect his position is not unlike that of Eric Voegelin, another octogenarian German scholar, who also was a refugee from Hitler’s Germany, though in …

Goodbye, Hitler

I have myself heard enough about Hitler and the Nazis for a long time to come, and this thought-provoking book by the French historian Pierre Ayçoberry, admirably translated by Robert Hurley, has only reinforced my prejudice. The Nazi Question is not, thank goodness, still another history of Nazi Germany; we …

The Nazi Boom

“It all reads like a movie scenario,” writes James P. O’Donnell at one point, as he recounts the lurid goings-on in Hitler’s underground bunker in Berlin in 1945—the wish, no doubt, being father to the thought. The same verdict, unfortunately, applies to far too much recent writing about Nazi Germany.

The Struggle for the Third World

If we survey the relations of the rich and poor countries not over the last two to three years but over the last twenty to thirty years, there is no doubt about the magnitude of the changes. That may be a platitude, but it is necessary to say it in …

Waiting for the New Order

Three years ago, as Western statesmen were girding themselves to do battle at the Seventh Special Session of the United Nations under the banner of that intrepid knight in armor, Henry Kissinger, a sense of expectancy, even of excitement, filled the air. At last, it seemed, the poor, destitute, backward …

The Haves and the Have Nots

As the world has proceeded from the “oil crisis” of 1973-1974 to the confrontation between the beneficiaries and the victims of the existing international order, which is the overriding issue looming up in 1976, it has become obvious—if it was not obvious before—that we stand at a watershed in world …

Wealth and Power: The Politics of Food and Oil

Anyone looking back in 1975 at the oil and food crisis, as it has developed since October 1973, and at the whole current economic disequilibrium, will quickly perceive that things are not what they seem. Of course, we must take care not to get involved in the old game of …

A Special Supplement: The Meaning of Vietnam

In early May, The New York Review asked some of its contributors to write on the meaning of the Vietnam war and its ending. They were asked to consider the questions of the responsibility for the war; its effect on American life, politics, and culture, and the US position in …

Farewell to Hitler

Thirty years ago, at the beginning of 1945, Hitler’s Thousand Year Reich was coming to an end. A few weeks later, on April 30—after destroying his dog Blondi (probably the only living creature for which he felt genuine affection) and marrying his mistress, Eva Braun—Hitler committed suicide. The world was …

Some New Books on Hitler and National Socialism

The fortieth anniversary of Hitler’s so-called “seizure of power” was greeted by the appearance of a spate of popular biographies, of which the more important were Colin Cross’s Adolf Hitler (Berkley, 1973), Robert Payne’s The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler (Praeger, 1973), and Joachim C. Fest’s Hitler (Harcourt Brace …

The Great World Crisis I

When the history of the approaching depression comes to be written—a depression likely, on present showing, to be even more severe and more world-shaking than the depression of 1929-1940—the second half of 1974 will appear as the time when an unwilling world, preoccupied with inflation and mounting unemployment, was suddenly …

The End of an Era

“The most significant political figure in Nixon’s Washington,” economist Eliot Janeway once observed, is “Hoover’s ghost.” Not, as journalists like Henry Brandon would have us believe, Metternich’s ghost, strutting about in the guise of “the President’s first minister, Dr. Kissinger.” Like Metternich, Brandon candidly reports, Kissinger is “bored” by economics.

Watch Out for Japan

One of the clearest and least equivocal signs of the changing pattern—to say nothing of the confusion and disarray—of current international politics is the way everyone is suddenly becoming preoccupied with Japan. For twenty years Tokyo remained in the background, apparently happy with the role the United States assigned it …

Hitler and Hirohito

One of the worst pieces of news reaching me recently through the publishers’ grapevine—worst, that is to say, in the small closed world of books and history, for there is plenty of other hair-raising news in the world around us—is that 1973 is to be “Hitler’s year.” When, one sometimes …

A New View of German History: Part III

Some twenty years ago Hans Kohn published a book called German History: Some New German Views. It included some interesting contributions, but in retrospect we can see that the undertaking as a whole was premature. In 1952 the time was not ripe for a new evaluation of German history. What …

The Liberals and German History: Part II

For twenty-five years the history of modern Germany, as presented in our standard historical works, has been molded by the assumptions and preoccupations of liberal historiography. I have already discussed the preoccupation with Nazism, which is one of the more obvious characteristics of these studies.[^1] But there are other, more …

Mandarins and Nazis: Part I

The centenary of the foundation of the Second German Empire in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles on January 18, 1871, was no occasion for celebration, but it provided at least an opportunity to take stock of the vast output of writing on recent German history and draw up a …

Hitler’s Master Builder

Long before Albert Speer was carried off into captivity on May 23, 1945, the Speer legend had begun to take shape. War is the young man’s opportunity, and the career of this particular young man, Minister of Munitions and Armaments in the Thousand Year Reich at the age of thirty-six, …

What Is to Be Done about Medieval History?

What are we to do about medieval history? No serious person would question its importance. What is nearest to us in time is not necessarily most relevant. The traditional Europe of our history books—the Europe of Napoleon and Bismarck, even the Europe of Hitler and Mussolini—is as dead as that …