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A Terrible Beauty: Patrick Radden Keefe’s Say Nothing

When I think of the Troubles, I remember the summer I spent abroad in Ireland. I think about visiting Belfast, where we went forth from the world-class Titanic Museum to explore streets filled with murals, flags, and “peace walls” still dividing Catholics and Protestants. I think of the walking tour we took in Derry, the […]... Read More
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An Evolving Institution: John Groom’s Crippleage and the Interwar Years

Two years ago, I stumbled across an advertisement while reading Headway, the monthly bulletin of Britain’s League of Nations Union. It was an intentionally striking and provocative image featuring a silhouette of a young woman with the following caption: This is Helen . . . She paints beautiful flowers. We cannot show her full portrait. […]... Read More
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Judging the Past: The Historian as Ethicist

As I was reading Alexander Watson’s Ring of Steel for an upcoming Concerning History Book Club post, I was struck by how easily perspective can be lost when dealing with subjects that we find morally unacceptable. Ring of Steel offers a different portrait of the war than most English-language accounts. Early on, Watson argues that […]... Read More
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Book Club: The Vanquished by Robert Gerwarth

It’s time again for the Concerning History Book Club, where we recreate the experience of the engaging book discussions we’ve had throughout the years in classes and with each other. This month, Bryan, Jeff, and Kevin read The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End by Robert Gerwarth. KL: It wasn’t an accident […]... Read More
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Democracy’s Tragedy: Mike Rapport’s 1848: Year of Revolution

In preparation for our historical anniversaries post last April, Heather and I obtained two books concerning Europe’s 1848 revolutions for further research. The first, reviewed last October, proved to be an interesting analysis of those uprisings’ effects on American culture and politics in the middle of the nineteenth century. The second, which I was able to finish just before the end of 2018, was more along the lines of what we had initially looked for: an accessible, general history of the revolutions of 1848 and their impact on nineteenth-century Europe. Indeed, Mike Rapport’s 1848 not only provides an elegant guide to Europe’s tumultuous mid-century conflicts, but eloquently argues for their continued relevance in the evolution of European state formation.... Read More
Remembering the Great War

Book Club: Remembering the Great War by Ian Isherwood

by Bryan Caswell, Heather Clancy, and Kevin Lavery Welcome to our very first Concerning History Book Club! As with the rest of the blog, the goal here is to provide a space for us to continue engaging with history. In the case of our book club, we hope to replicate the engaging discussions we’ve had […]... Read More
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Complicity or Respect? Conflicting Themes in HBO’s Band of Brothers

I recently had the pleasure of re-watching HBO’s Band of Brothers as I introduced Heather to it for the first time. Unlike most other historical media I consume (or re-consume), I won’t be writing a general review for this miniseries. Band of Brothers is beloved and much talked about, and I frankly have nothing new to add to the conversation. While watching, however, I noticed something odd. In the final two episodes lurked a cognitive and thematic dissonance that, given recent trends in American and world politics, was thrown into higher relief than on other viewings.... Read More
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What’s in a World War, Part II: Let’s Shorten This Up a Bit

Years ago, in my American Military History class at Gettysburg, our professor began our foray into the Second World War with a curious statement: World War II should actually be considered to have begun in 1937, with the Japanese invasion of China. While normally I would applaud efforts to reduce Eurocentrism and emphasize global connections, I internally scoffed at what I then (and still) considered to be a ridiculous notion. The whole world was not at war yet, only Japan and China; how then could you say that the Second World War had begun? This memory was called to mind recently as Kevin and I reflected on how we define world wars and global conflicts in modern history (found here), and my thoughts began to wander to other, less orthodox, conclusions. Though Kevin and I did not exactly agree on a precise definition of a ‘world war,’ we did agree on three general criteria. Perhaps the most fundamental of these, and the starting point of our debate, was the scope of fighting. A world war is typically a war in which fighting occurs across most of the world. We even later reach the conclusion that this fighting must be connected in some way, as part of a single, cohesive war effort. I was led further and further towards a daring question: if Japan and China’s isolated fight should not count as the beginning of World War II, why should Britain, France, and Germany’s?... Read More
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Making History, Marking History: The Great Anniversaries of 2018

To mark the first anniversary of Concerning History, we’re taking a look at some of the major historical moments being commemorated this year and providing some recommendations for further reading. There are plenty of other events out there worth marking, however, so if you have one you think we should have included, we invite you to scroll down to the comments and share it with us.... Read More
Youth Demands a Peaceful World

Infiltrated! Reds in the World Youth Congress

It’s been some time since I’ve written here about my research on the World Youth Congress Movement. I’m still chipping away and just got back from a trip to Amsterdam, Manchester, and London, where I was trawling around archives in search of evidence of the nature of the relationship between liberal internationalists and communist youth. […]... Read More