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To write history is to consider how to explicate the past, to weigh the myriad possible approaches to the past, and to come to terms with how the past can be and has been used. In this book, prize-winning historian Jeremy Black considers both popular and academic approaches to the past. His focus is on the interaction between the presentation of the past and current circumstances, on how history is used to validate one view of the present or to discredit another, and on readings of the past that unite and those that divide. Black opens with an account that underscores the differences and developments in traditions of writing history from the ancient world to the present. Subsequent chapters take up more recent decades, notably the post-Cold War period, discussing how different perspectives can fuel discussions of the past by individuals interested in shaping public opinion or public perceptions of the past. Black then turns to the possible future uses of the then past as a way to gain perspective on how we use the past today. Clio's Battles is an ambitious account of the engagement with the past across world history and of the clash over the content and interpretation of history and its implications for the present and future.
Prize winning author Jeremy Black traces the competition for control of North America from the landing of Spanish troops under Hernán Cortés in modern Mexico in 1519 to 1871 when, with the Treaty of Washington and the withdrawal of most British garrisons, Britain accepted American mastery in North America. In this wide-ranging narrative, Black makes clear that the process by which America gained supremacy was far from inevitable. The story Black tells is one of conflict, diplomacy, geopolitics, and politics. The eventual result was the creation of a United States of America that stretched from Atlantic to Pacific and dominated North America. The gradual withdrawal of France and Spain, the British accommodation to the expanding U.S. reality, the impact of the American Civil War, and the subjugation of Native peoples, are all carefully drawn out. Black emphasizes contingency not Manifest Destiny, and reconceptualizes American exceptionalism to take note of the pressures and impact of international competition.
History and geography delineate the operation of power, not only its range but also the capacity to plan and the ability to implement. Approaching state strategy and policy from the spatial angle, Jeremy Black argues that just as the perception of power is central to issues of power, so place, and its constraints and relationships, is partly a matter of perception, not merely map coordinates. Geopolitics, he maintains, is as much about ideas and perception as it is about the actual spatial dimensions of power. Black's study ranges widely, examining geography and the spatial nature of state power from the 15th century to the present day. He considers the rise of British power, geopolitics and the age of Imperialism, the Nazis and World War II, and the Cold War, and he looks at the key theorists of the latter 20th century, including Henry Kissinger, Francis Fukuyama and Samuel P. Huntington, Philip Bobbitt, Niall Ferguson, and others.
Brilliant and wrenching, The Holocaust: History and Memory tells the story of the brutal mass slaughter of Jews during World War II and how that genocide has been remembered and misremembered ever since. Taking issue with generations of scholars who separate the Holocaust from Germany's military ambitions, historian Jeremy M. Black demonstrates persuasively that Germany's war on the Allies was entwined with Hitler's war on Jews. As more and more territory came under Hitler's control, the extermination of Jews became a major war aim, particularly in the east, where many died and whole Jewish communities were exterminated in mass shootings carried out by the German army and collaborators long before the extermination camps were built. Rommel's attack on Egypt was a stepping stone to a larger goal--the annihilation of 400,000 Jews living in Palestine. After Pearl Harbor, Hitler saw America's initial focus on war with Germany rather than Japan as evidence of influential Jewish interests in American policy, thus justifying and escalating his war with Jewry through the Final Solution. And the German public knew. In chilling detail, Black unveils compelling evidence that many everyday Germans must have been aware of the genocide around them. In the final chapter, he incisively explains the various ways that the Holocaust has been remembered, downplayed, and even dismissed as it slips from horrific experience into collective consciousness and memory. Essential, concise, and highly readable, The Holocaust: History and Memory bears witness to those forever silenced and ensures that we will never forget their horrifying fate.
What if there had been no World War I or no Russian Revolution? What if Napoleon had won at Waterloo in 1815, or if Martin Luther had not nailed his complaints to the church door at Wittenberg in 1517, or if the South had won the American Civil War? The questioning of apparent certainties or "known knowns" can be fascinating and, indeed, "What if?" books are very popular. However, this speculative approach, known as counterfactualism, has had limited impact in academic histories, historiography, and the teaching of historical methods. In this book, Jeremy Black offers a short guide to the subject, one that is designed to argue its value as a tool for public and academe alike. Black focuses on the role of counterfactualism in demonstrating the part of contingency, and thus human agency, in history, and the salutary critique the approach offers to determinist accounts of past, present, and future.
In this engaging book, Jeremy Black argues that technology neither acts as an independent variable nor operates without major limitations. This includes its capacity to obtain end results, as technology's impact is far from simple and its pathways are by no means clear. After considering such key conceptual points, Black discusses important technological advances in weaponry and power projection from sailing warships to aircraft carriers, muskets to tanks, balloons to unmanned drones--in each case, taking into account what difference these advances made. He addresses not only firepower but also power projection and technologies of logistics, command, and control. Examining military technologies in their historical context and the present centered on the Revolution in Military Affairs and Military Transformation, Black then forecasts possible future trends.
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