A Student of History

May 30, 2006


Filed under: New books,Wars — John Maass @ 5:23 pm

History's Age of Hatred (Allen Lane History S.) 

Niall Ferguson has just published The War of the World, though it has apparently appeared only in the UK for now.  I can not find it on Amazon at all in the US but it is available at Amazon's UK site.  There is one review though, in which the quotes below are found.  The premise is very catching:

Why, asks Niall Ferguson, the Laurence A. Tisch professor of history at Harvard, was the 20th century so uniquely ghastly for so many people? “It was not a war between worlds that the twentieth century witnessed,” he argues, “but rather a war of the world.”

Good question, though not a new one. Others have asked why the so-called modern world has been its bloodiest during the last century, despite "progress." Nevertheless the review is positive, and includes this as well:

Ferguson’s writing is full of epigrams, witticisms and thought-provoking paradoxes and ironies. For example, Stalin, “one of the most paranoid, untrusting individuals in modern history”, completely fell for Hitler’s promises of peaceful intent, right up to the Wehrmacht’s invasion of the USSR in June 1941. “The Soviet dictator only trusted one man,” he writes. “Unfortunately, that man was the most unscrupulous liar in history.” By 1942 the Germans had captured more than half of Russia’s economic capacity, but as Ferguson points out, three-quarters of world oil production came from the US by 1944 – compared with just 7 per cent from the whole of North Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf – so Hitler’s declaration of war against America in December 1941 had been a suicidal error.

Hopefully the book will appear in the USA soon too….

June 10th: just found another review of the book, by Max Hastings, here.

By the way, Ferguson is also the author of another thoughtful book on WWI, The Pity of War.

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