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Laid Down by Ranke

Peter Ghosh: Defending history, 15 October 1998

In Defence of History 
by Richard J. Evans.
Granta, 320 pp., £8.99, October 1998, 1 86207 068 7
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... Richard Evans hopes that this book will take the place of E.H. Carr’s What is History? and G.R. Elton’s The Practice of History as the ‘basic introduction’ to history as taught in the universities. Evans is a self-declared ‘Rankean’ empiricist, committed to Ranke’s view that facts and documents ‘speak for themselves ...

Axeman as Ballroom Dancer

David Blackbourn, 17 July 1997

Rituals of Retribution: Capital Punishment in Germany 1600-1987 
by Richard J. Evans.
Oxford, 1014 pp., £55, March 1996, 0 19 821968 7
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... Even many who defended it expected it to disappear within a generation. But it didn’t. A.J.P. Taylor once remarked that 1848 was the moment when German history reached its turning-point, and failed to turn. This is more false than true, but it fits the history of the death penalty – up to a point. Capital punishment was restored across most of ...

Disease and the Marketplace

Roy Porter, 26 November 1987

Death in Hamburg: Society and Politics in the Cholera Years 1830-1910 
by Richard Evans.
Oxford, 676 pp., £55, October 1987, 0 19 822864 3
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... of them was Hamburg. For – and this is one of the powerful interpretative strategies deployed in Richard Evans’s penetrating study – the entrenched laissez-faire liberalism of Germany’s foremost international trade centre was of a piece with the theory of disease aetiology which held sway in the city. Hamburg’s ruling Senate upheld a ...

Echoes from the Far Side

James Sheehan: The European Age, 19 October 2017

The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914 
by Richard J. Evans.
Penguin, 848 pp., £12.99, June 2017, 978 0 14 198114 7
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... when others are trying to prevent them from realising them’. The pursuit of power was not, as Richard Evans seems to suggest in his introduction, a distinctive feature of 19th-century Europe. What changes over time is not the fact that people seek power, but the means by which they do it, as well as the nature of the contest with those who resist ...

Breathtaking Co-ordination

Jonathan Wright: Hitler’s Wartime Economy, 19 July 2007

The Third Reich in Power 
by Richard J. Evans.
Penguin, 941 pp., £12.99, May 2006, 0 14 100976 4
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The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy 
by Adam Tooze.
Penguin, 800 pp., £12.99, August 2007, 978 0 14 100348 1
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... Richard Evans’s history of the Third Reich – it will be completed by a third volume covering the war – is an invaluable work of synthesis. The mass of specialist studies we now have makes a general history all the more useful, and not only, as Evans suggests, for those who know little about the subject ...

Mad John

Gabriele Annan, 28 June 1990

McEnroe: Taming the Talent 
by Richard Evans.
Bloomsbury, 216 pp., £14.99, June 1990, 0 7475 0618 3
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... This is Richard Evans’s second book on McEnroe. The Struwwelpeter of tennis is now 31 and No 4 in the international ratings. The first book, McEnroe: A Rage for Perfection, came out eight years ago when McEnroe was 23 and rated No 1. The new book belongs to the genre of defensive biography. It is as though Oliver had written a life of Roland: the wise, steady friend standing up for the brilliant, wayward hero ...

I want to love it

Susan Pedersen: What on earth was he doing?, 18 April 2019

Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History 
by Richard J. Evans.
Little, Brown, 800 pp., £35, February 2019, 978 1 4087 0741 8
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... historical and autobiographical questions and then hares off to tackle the former. This means that Richard Evans had an untilled field before him. Based on unrestricted access to Hobsbawm’s personal archive, this is one of those doorstopper biographies that can get published in Britain even when the subject is a historian. It clocks in at 662 pages of ...

After Deng

John Gittings, 6 July 1995

Deng Xiaoping: My Father 
by Deng Mao Mao.
Basic Books, 498 pp., £20, March 1995, 0 465 01625 1
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Deng Xiaoping and the Making of Modern China 
by Richard Evans.
Hamish Hamilton, 339 pp., £20, October 1993, 9780241130315
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China After Deng Xiaoping 
by Willy Wo-lap Lam.
Wiley, 516 pp., £24.95, March 1995, 0 471 13114 8
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Burying Mao: Chinese Politics in the Age of Deng Xiaoping 
by Richard Baum.
Princeton, 489 pp., £29.95, October 1994, 9780691036397
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Deng Xiaoping: Chronicle of an Empire 
by Ruan Ming.
Westview, 288 pp., £44.50, November 1994, 9780813319209
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... and diplomats have been more indulgent, though not everyone shares the glorious certainty of Sir Richard Evans, British Ambassador in Beijing from 1984 to 1988. He concludes that for most Chinese the Beijing massacre is a ‘blemish’ on a record that is ‘much more white than black’. Western governments were obliged to put Chinese human rights on ...

Germans and the German Past

J.P. Stern, 21 December 1989

The Unmasterable Past: History, Holocaust and German National Identity 
by Charles Maier.
Harvard, 227 pp., £17.95, November 1988, 0 674 92975 6
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Historikerstreit 
Piper, 397 pp., DM 17.80, July 1987, 3 492 10816 4Show More
In Hitler’s Shadow: West German Historians and the Attempt to Escape from the Nazi Past 
by Richard Evans.
Tauris, 196 pp., £12.95, October 1989, 1 85043 146 9
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Why did the heavens not darken? 
by Arno Mayer.
Verso, 510 pp., £19.95, October 1989, 0 86091 267 1
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A German Identity, 1770-1990 
by Harold James.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £16.95, March 1989, 9780297795049
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Die Republikaner: Phantombild der neuen Rechten 
by Claus Leggewie.
Rotbuch, 155 pp., May 1989, 3 88022 011 5
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Ich war dabei 
by Franz Schönhuber.
Langen Müller, 356 pp., April 1989, 3 7844 2249 7
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... on the Austrian resistance; but he has done little else. Another account of the controversy – Richard Evans’s In Hitler’s Shadow – is better informed, and more perceptive. Professor Evans shows in abundantly documented detail how the arguments the embattled historians are advancing ‘are derived, consciously ...

Still messing with our heads

Christopher Clark: Hitler in the Head, 7 November 2019

Hitler: A Life 
by Peter Longerich.
Oxford, 1324 pp., £30, July 2019, 978 0 19 879609 1
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Hitler: Only the World Was Enough 
by Brendan Simms.
Allen Lane, 668 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 1 84614 247 5
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... complicity from which there could be no escape. As Lucy Dawidowicz argued many years ago and Richard Evans reminded us more recently, Hitler’s ‘war against the Jews’ really was a war against the Jews. Simms’s monocausal approach creates an inertia at the heart of his narrative. Hitler, having been shaped for life by his early wartime ...

Why Philosophy Needs History

Bernard Williams: On Truth, 17 October 2002

... is, whether it can be other than relative or subjective or something of that sort. (Some, such as Richard Rorty, say that ‘truth’ is not really the object of our inquiries or our concerns at all: what we should aim at is rather something like solidarity.) The first of these impulses of course fuels the second: the demand for honesty and truthfulness turns ...

What’s Left?

Sheila Fitzpatrick: The Russian Revolution, 30 March 2017

October: The Story of the Russian Revolution 
by China Miéville.
Verso, 358 pp., £18.99, May 2017, 978 1 78478 280 1
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The Russian Revolution 1905-1921 
by Mark D. Steinberg.
Oxford, 388 pp., £19.99, February 2017, 978 0 19 922762 4
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Russia in Revolution: An Empire in Crisis, 1890 to 1928 
by S.A. Smith.
Oxford, 455 pp., £25, January 2017, 978 0 19 873482 6
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The Russian Revolution: A New History 
by Sean McMeekin.
Basic, 496 pp., $30, May 2017, 978 0 465 03990 6
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Historically Inevitable? Turning Points of the Russian Revolution 
by Tony Brenton.
Profile, 364 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 1 78125 021 1
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... a line of historical inevitability.’ In an attack on the whole ‘what if?’ genre of history, Richard J. Evans has suggested that ‘in practice … counterfactuals have been more or less a monopoly of the Right’ with Marxism as target. That’s not necessarily true of the Brenton volume, despite the inclusion of ...

Grisly Creed

Patrick Collinson: John Wyclif, 22 February 2007

John Wyclif: Myth and Reality 
by G.R. Evans.
Lion, 320 pp., £20, October 2005, 0 7459 5154 6
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... historian of the Middle Ages to be published in his lifetime. But it is strange that G.R. Evans, in what is blurbed as ‘the first major biography of Wyclif to be published for almost a century’ (the reference is to the two volumes published by H.B. Workman in 1926), makes no reference to it. Evans’s title ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘3.10 to Yuma’, 1957 & 2007 , 18 October 2007

3.10 to Yuma 
directed by James Mangold.
September 2007
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3.10 to Yuma 
directed by Delmer Daves.
August 1957
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... giving too much away, but the long set-up is interesting enough in itself. A poor rancher, Dan Evans (Van Heflin/Christian Bale), father of two boys, husband of a loyal but tired wife, witnesses the coach robbery I’ve just mentioned. This is carried out by a gang led by the notorious outlaw Ben Wade (Glenn Ford/Russell Crowe). Wade lets ...

Horsemen

Carolyn Steedman, 4 February 1988

Spoken History 
by George Ewart Evans.
Faber, 255 pp., £9.95, August 1987, 0 571 14982 0
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... to William Labov, a story-taker from a tradition quite different from the one George Ewart Evans represents, a sociolinguist rather than a folklorist, that is the response that every good narrator is continually evading: ‘when the narrative is over, it should be unthinkable for a bystander to say “so what?” ’ The story-taker was first ...

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