Cosmopolitan Islanders: British Historians and the European by Richard J. Evans

By Richard J. Evans

In Cosmopolitan Islanders one of many world's top historians asks why it's that such a lot of trendy and influential British historians have dedicated themselves to the examine of the ecu continent. Books at the background of France, Germany, Italy, Russia, and plenty of different eu nations, and of Europe extra in general, have often reached the best-seller lists either in Britain and (in translation) in these ecu nations themselves. but an identical is emphatically now not actual in opposite. Richard J. Evans lines the evolution of British curiosity within the heritage of Continental Europe from the Enlightenment to the 20 th century. He is going directly to speak about why British historians who paintings on features of ecu background right now have selected to take action and why this extraordinary culture is now less than risk. Cosmopolitan Islanders ends with a few reflections on what has to be performed to make sure its continuation sooner or later.

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Finally, the ‘special relationship’ between Britain and the USA – backed, of course, by a common language – ensures that 9% of American historians work on Britain, and the same proportion of British historians on America. Yet the mutual impact of the two historiographical traditions has been less weighty than that of, say, British historians like Sir Raymond Carr and Paul Preston on Spanish history. ’ For later periods, he describes American writing on British history, with a few exceptions, as ‘respectable at best’.

The same has in general not been true in reverse. Explaining this inequality of impact is not at first sight very easy. Boyd Hilton notes, for example, that while Halévy became interested in Victorian Britain because it was the most powerful country in the world, this was no longer really the case after the First World War, and even less after the Second, which is when the historical profession in every European country expanded at its fastest. By this time, the history of most European countries had become far more turbulent, and thrown up many more urgent questions to answer, than that of the United Kingdom.

Thus while 40% of French historians have published on both domestic and foreign history, as have 38% of German historians, and 36% of Italian, only 21% of British historians have done so. Even more striking are the figures for the USA. The proportion of American historians who devote themselves exclusively to the study of countries other than their own is actually a majority – 61%. But comparative history is weak in the USA too; only some 11% of American historians do domestic and foreign history together.

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