ADAM TOOZE https://www.adamtooze.com Historian - Author - Critic - Blogger Sun, 22 Apr 2018 12:00:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.10 https://www.adamtooze.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/cropped-AdamTooze-1-32x32.png ADAM TOOZE https://www.adamtooze.com 32 32 War in Germany: Lecture 12 Wilhelmine Germany, Militarism and Weltpolitik https://www.adamtooze.com/2018/04/08/war-germany-lecture-12-wilhelmine-germany-militarism-weltpolitik/ https://www.adamtooze.com/2018/04/08/war-germany-lecture-12-wilhelmine-germany-militarism-weltpolitik/#comments Sun, 08 Apr 2018 20:43:56 +0000 https://www.adamtooze.com/?p=71253 Imperial Germany: a regime uneasily founded on militarism in the first age of "globalization".

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War in Germany reaches the critical decades in the aftermath of the Wars of Unification: Imperial Germany as a political regime founded on the military, the tensions of militarism articulated from above and below, the impasse of Weltpolitik as grand strategy.

Download powerpoint here:

Tooze WinG2018 Lecture 12 Wilhelmine Germany Militarism and Weltpolitik

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War in Germany: Lecture 11 Franco-Prussian War https://www.adamtooze.com/2018/03/31/war-germany-lecture-11-franco-prussian-war/ https://www.adamtooze.com/2018/03/31/war-germany-lecture-11-franco-prussian-war/#comments Sat, 31 Mar 2018 14:56:03 +0000 https://www.adamtooze.com/?p=71052 War in Germany is back. Installment 11 on the Franco-Prussian war.

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After a tactical delay, the War in Germany series resumes with installment 11 on the Franco-Prussian war: Lessons learned from 1866; how Bismarck (and Napoleon III) isolated France; the escalating violence of battle; the politics of war and peace; the Commune; Alsace-Lorraine and the aftermath.

Powerpoint here: Tooze WinG2018 Lecture 11 Franco Prussian War

By way of reading I particularly benefited from:

And the magnificent exhibition at the Musée de L’Armée a while back.

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America’s Political Economy: Essential new work on intergenerational inequality in the US – how race, gender and social structure interact https://www.adamtooze.com/2018/03/20/americas-political-economy-essential-new-work-intergenerational-inequality-us-race-gender-social-structure-interact/ https://www.adamtooze.com/2018/03/20/americas-political-economy-essential-new-work-intergenerational-inequality-us-race-gender-social-structure-interact/#comments Tue, 20 Mar 2018 13:20:12 +0000 https://www.adamtooze.com/?p=70784 How the disadvantage of black men accounts for the entire difference in social mobility between black and white americans. If you read just one thing on American society this year, make it these reports!

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How is inequality in America produced and reproduced?

How do class, race and gender interact?

How do educational opportunities and disadvantages, family structure and incarceration combine to produce the massively unequal society that we inhabit?

Our understanding of the structures and mechanisms of inequality in the US today is being transformed by the construction of large institutional datasets based on records from the tax administration and other similar public data-gatherers. Studies of educational mobility have already had a huge impact. But now the biggest of these projects – the Equality of Opportunity Project – has turned to squarely address the question of race.

The results produced by Raj Chetty, (Stanford University and NBER), Nathaniel Hendren (Harvard University and NBER), Maggie R. Jones (U.S. Census Bureau) and Sonya R. Porter (U.S. Census Bureau) are astonishing in their stark clarity. The New York Times team of Emily Badger, Claire Cain Miller, Adam Peace and Kevin Quealy have ably summarized the results and added brilliant graphics.

If you read just one thing on American society and inequality today, this week, this month or even this year make it this New York Times essay as well as the underlying report, slides and summary. This is indispensable material for the debate about the state of American society today.

Black and white families have very different levels of income and wealth. The white population is spread across the entire distribution. Black families are clustered at the bottom end.

Source: Chetty et al 2018

This means that of all children growing up poor in America in the last decades, at least a third are black, whereas only 1 % of those growing up at the top of the income pyramid are. Hispanics make up another 25 percent of low income families and whites account for c. 37 percent.

Source: Badger et al 2018

This difference in starting positions affects all black Americans. But it affects black women and men differently.

For any given parental income level black women in their 30s (despite being disproportionately single mothers, having slightly lower high school completion rates and more disciplinary issues at high school) achieve income levels slightly greater than their white counterparts. Black women work at similar rates, for similar pay and for similar hours as their white counterparts. They are also in similar occupations.

Source: Badger et al 2018

By contrast, black men, whether their family background was hard up or comfortably off, earn significantly less than their white counterparts. The employment rates for black men in their early 30s from lower income backgrounds, are dramatically lower than for their white counterparts and across the board, regardless of class background, their is a gap in hourly earnings.

Chetty et al 2018

This is an astonishingly stark result. For American women it may be reasonable to say that at a first approximation (and at a first approximation only) class trumps race. They struggle to overcome the huge disadvantage of being born disproportionately into the bottom of the income pyramid, but they succeed (and fail) at the same rates as their white counterparts.

For black men that is not true. For them gender and race combine to produce a structure of socio-economic disadvantage that is essentially racialized (and gendered).

The disadvantage starts early. For young black men, high school drop out rates are far higher than for their white counterparts at any given level of income. They are far more likely to be cited for disciplinary violations at school. But if one wanted to point to a single variable to explain the stunted mobility of black men, it is the disastrously lopsided operation of US criminal justice system.

Incarceration rates vary by income for both white and black Americans. But the chances of the son of a rich black family ending up in prison are the same as that for lower middle-class white Americans.

Source: Badger et al 2018

In April 2010, 21 percent of black men in their thirties born into low income families were in jail or prison. Of course, many of those men are subsequently released and others are incarcerated in their stead. But the ex-inmates carry the social scars for the rest of their lives.

For black and white women for any given parental income level there is no difference in incarceration rates.

Introducing the gender variable allows the researchers to dispose of the question of IQ and test scores. Black men and women score very similarly on all such tests and yet despite their lower score than white women, black women match their white counterparts in social mobility. Whatever it is that the tests are measuring, it is not the aptitudes that matter for inter-generational income mobility.

Does family structure matter? 70 percent of black children are born outside marriage. At any given income level white men and women marry far more than their black counterparts. Do these differences have an impact on inter-generational mobility?

Source:Badger et al 2018

Not according to the study. The study shows that the marital and educational qualifications of the households that black and white kids grow up in, have a very limited impact on differential adult income levels. What does matter is not the particular characteristics of a black family (marital status, parental education etc), but the community that family is living.

Source: Chetty et al 2018

For white men there are large parts of the US where mobility is positively enhanced. For black men there are very few such communities and there are large swaths of the US, notably the South East, the postindustrial midwest and parts of California, which systematically diminish black men’s life chances.

Once we go down to the census tract level this basic finding is reinforced. But the research also finds that in high income neighborhoods that promote mobility for both white and black men, the gap between the races is larger. Within such low-poverty, high success neighborhoods what tends to lower the racial gap is the presence of fathers of black children and lower levels of racial prejudice. It is not the presence of men, or even a particular child’s father, but the presence of fathers as such that has a positive impact on black boys’ prospects.

Source: Chetty et al 2018

The tragedy is that very few black boys born into low income families grow up in communities that offer them these essential conditions for success. The chances of young black men growing up in communities blighted by poverty and the absence of paternal role models are vastly higher than for their white counterparts.

Source: Badger et al 2018

Almost two-thirds of white Americans in their 30s today grew up in neighborhoods with low rates of poverty and families with most fathers present. Four percent of black Americans did. By contrast two-thirds of thirty-something black Americans spent their childhood in neighborhoods of high poverty and low paternal presence. By contrast only 1 percent of white Americans suffered those disadvantages.

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War in Germany: Bismarck and the Austro-Prussian war of 1866 https://www.adamtooze.com/2018/03/18/war-germany-bismarck-austro-prussian-war-1866/ https://www.adamtooze.com/2018/03/18/war-germany-bismarck-austro-prussian-war-1866/#comments Sun, 18 Mar 2018 11:25:51 +0000 https://www.adamtooze.com/?p=70714 1864-1866: How war finally emerged as the solution to the Prussian impasse. Bismarck and Wilhelm roll the iron dice.

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In which I attempt a Clausewitzian analysis of the power play both inside Prussia and in Germany between 1848 and 1866, adopting Showalter’s highly contingent approach to Prussian success in the Austro-Prussian war.

Done with help of the brilliant maps at Battlefield Anomalies.

Powerpoint for download here: Tooze WinG2018 Lecture 10 Bismarck and unification

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Notes on the Global Condition: Nuclear aircraft carriers in the age of the anthropocene https://www.adamtooze.com/2018/03/17/notes-global-condition-nuclear-aircraft-carriers-age-anthropocene/ Sat, 17 Mar 2018 09:37:55 +0000 https://www.adamtooze.com/?p=70666 What happens when the history of the weather overtakes the greatest military superpower the world has ever seen? What happens when the sea level rises faster than you replace the infrastructure and machinery of global nuclear power?

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The refusal of the Trump administration to engage with the question of climate change not only causes consternation worldwide. It also causes tension within the apparatus of the American state. How are you to govern if you cannot officially recognize massive changes going on around you? The result is what The Economist in a brilliant article dubs “administrative bipolar disorder”.

America’s defense department with its gigantic domestic and worldwide footprint is forced to reckon with the reality of changing climate conditions as one of the basic parameters of its operations. Military infrastructure planners cannot ignore the reality of rising sea levels and increasingly unpredictable and violent weather patterns. If rather than pandering to coal lobbyists your job is to fly airplanes or sail ships, these are simply matters of operational reality.

In the face of the administration’s official indifference and denial, the Defense Department in January 2018 published a report -the Department of Defense Climate-Related Risk to DoD Infrastructure Initial Vulnerability Assessment Survey (SLVAS) Report – that highlights the impact of climate change effects across its infrastructure.

Of 3500 reporting sites almost half registered concerns about weather or sea level effects. Crucial staging grounds like the Marshall Islands and Diego Garcia may be swallowed up as the oceans rise. The gigantic Hampton Roads naval complex, which is home to much of America’s nuclear aircraft carrier fleet, may have to be redesigned if a large part of the facility finds itself under water.

At the same time the melting of the Northern polar ice opens up routes of navigation and zones of strategic competition that American military planners cannot ignore.

Along with the remarkable physical rearrangement climate change induces, what fascinates me are the bewildering temporalities of the anthropocene. Hitherto, in modernity, we could think of machinery and infrastructure as inserted into, transforming and reshaping nature. Nature and it temporality, through corrosion and other forms of wear and tear, enters the story as the enemy of the present. When technology decays, it falls out of the present, it becomes ruined, transitioning back to nature.

In the technophile vision of adaptation to climate change that temporal order remains intact. We will devise new technologies to cope with rising global temperatures. Diesel cars will be replaced by e-mobility. A new frontier of technology meets the constantly changing challenge of a new natural environment.

This vision however depends on simplistic vision of modernity’s temporal structure. It assumes that at any given moment it is the technological cutting edge that dominates. But what if we take into account David Edgerton’s “shock of the old”? The challenges facing America’s defense infrastructure from climate change are a particularly telling example.

Consider giant naval vessels and the infrastructure of bases on which they depend. Naval station Norfolk in Virginia dates to 1917. It has continuously developed over a hundred years.

The Nimitz class nuclear aircraft carriers it supports have life spans of half a century or more depending on Pentagon budgets. Given the likely pace of climate change in coming decades, these giant artifacts of military technology will outlive the climactic conditions for which they were designed. The weather will be more modern than the US navy. The aircraft carriers will be of an older vintage than the storms that batter them. What happens when the history of the weather overtakes the greatest military superpower the world has ever seen?

They are a particularly extreme and strategically important instance of what happens when the shock of the old meets the challenge of the anthropocene.

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War in Germany: 1848 and the impasse of conservative militarism in Prussia https://www.adamtooze.com/2018/03/07/war-germany-1848-impasse-conservative-militarism-prussia/ https://www.adamtooze.com/2018/03/07/war-germany-1848-impasse-conservative-militarism-prussia/#comments Wed, 07 Mar 2018 20:36:44 +0000 https://www.adamtooze.com/?p=70419 Taking the War in Germany story up to 1850.

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How did Metternich contain the revolutionary threat? Would Germany have been more peaceful if liberalism had triumphed in 1848? Marx, Engels and the promise of revolutionary war.

Lecture slides here:

Tooze WinG2018 Lecture 9 1815-1850

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Europe’s Political Economy: Reading Reviews of Varoufakis’s Adults in the Room https://www.adamtooze.com/2018/02/24/europes-political-economy-reading-reviews-varoufakiss-adults-room/ https://www.adamtooze.com/2018/02/24/europes-political-economy-reading-reviews-varoufakiss-adults-room/#comments Sat, 24 Feb 2018 13:33:29 +0000 https://www.adamtooze.com/?p=70086 Comparing three different lines of reading Varoufakis's gripping memoir.

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Since it appeared in 2017 Yannis Varoufakis’s Adults in the Room has attracted a number of thoughtful reviews. Broadly, these fall into three camps.

The camp to which my own effort in the New York Review of Books belongs, takes Varoufakis seriously as a witness both to the potential and limits of a certain kind of left-Keynesian politics. These readings have in common not only that they are sympathetic to the frustration that Varoufakis experienced at the hands of the Eurogroup and the “financial institutions”, but that they identify a basic blind spot in his approach, or in his account of his approach to Eurozone reform. It is a blind spot characteristic of Keynesian thinking about policy. In the terms of Geoff Mann and his brilliant diagnosis of Keynesian politics, Varoufakis regards the Eurozone as resulting from an intellectual and political “muddle” (“muddle” is Keynes’s preferred description). Policies were pursued that made no sense in their own terms as a result of short-sighted maneuvering by politicians and bureaucrats. This allows Varoufakis to position himself as the good doctor who by means of his insights will open a way out of the impasse from which all sides will ultimately benefit.

Rather than repeating my own words, I will quote J.W. Mason’s characteristically full and subtle reading in the Boston Review. Varoufakis justified his participation in the Syriza government, with which he had many differences, on the grounds that there was a muddle to fix. And, as Mason points out, no experience, however depressing could cause

“him to question his assumption that good ideas are what matter. Even when Schäuble tells him bluntly in a one-on-one meeting that “I am not going to negotiate with you,” Varoufakis goes on gamely trying to make a deal. Right to his last days in office, he is offering new proposals, all vetted by the highest authorities. …. “

How did the Eurozone end up in this mess? For Varoufakis

“the MoU and the larger austerity agenda were embraced opportunistically by politicians who did not want to admit that the first bailout had handed over public funds to their own banks. Blaming Greek profligacy was the politically easier cover story. “The sole reason that the IMF and EU were asphyxiating us [was] because they did not have what it took to confess the error” of the earlier bailouts, he says. Austerity, in this telling, is not a goal in itself, but merely “a morality play pressed into the service of legitimizing cynical wealth transfers from the have-nots to the haves during times of crisis, in which debtors are sinners who must be made to pay for their misdeeds.”

What for Varoufakis is harder to accept is that there might have been other reasons. Perhaps there was no mistake and no muddle.

What if, “austerity and the rolling-back of social democracy were the goals all along, for which the Greek crisis simply provided an opportunity. In this version, Greece was subject to “fiscal waterboarding” not to avoid acknowledging the earlier bailout, but precisely to force compliance with the MoU—and even more, to provide an example for other governments in Europe.

It is clear why Varoufakis prefers the first story: the logic of his position in government required something like it to be true. If austerity were not an accident, a mistake—if the authorities would not in principle be just as happy with an active, egalitarian Greek state—then what was he sitting in all those meetings for? You can’t walk into negotiations unless you believe that a mutually satisfactory agreement is at least possible.”

But the harsh reality, which Varoufakis’s time in office clearly exposed, is that

“the creditors were not just looking for a politically palatable way to avoid responsibility for their earlier failures. They were sincere and consistent ideologues, striving to remake Europe in the model of an idealized free-market society. Varoufakis recounts these stories masterfully, yet curiously they never seem to shake his view that a mutually beneficial deal is just around the corner.”

Mason’s review is great reading as is his blog at slack wire.

Both Mason and my own reviews offer sympathetic criticism. A related criticism from a Marxisant perspective is made by Pavlos Roufos in the Brooklyn Rail. His title is a manifesto: ‘Inside the disenchanted world of left-Keynesianism”. Interestingly, Roufos directs his fire at Varoufakis’s ultimate bargaining chip, a stratagem I have described as the “dirty bomb” (i.e. the poor man’s nuclear option).

Let us grant, Roufos argues, that Varoufakis was not caught in the Keynesian labyrinth to the extent that both Mason and I suggest. Let us take at face value Varoufakis’s occasional protestations that he did not in fact believe “that the unquestionable logic and obvious moderation of my proposals would win our creditors over”. If not by argument, how then was he going to defend Greece’s interests as he understood them? The answer that Varoufakis urged on Tsipras was that Athens should threaten to politically destabilize Draghi’s QE program by means of a default on the Greeks bonds held by the ECB. This would lift the protective financial shield that Draghi had extended to the rest of the Eurozone “periphery”. It would unleash the risk of financial contagion and restore Greece’s bargaining power.

It was a shockingly radical proposal that threatened to make Portugal and Spain into collateral damage. Tsipras was never willing to unleash it and much of Adults in the Room is taken up with narrating that failure. For Roufos this tactic is itself revealing. It exposes a belief on Varoufakis’s part not only in the force of sweet reason (the critique that Mason and I make) but in legality as such, as a constraint on the actions of the power bloc that dominates the Eurozone.

For Poufos, “(t)his approach, however, betrays a misreading of the recent history of crisis management, during which it has been demonstrated time and again that abstract legal principles do not stand in the way of important decisions. In point of fact, a careful reading of post-2010 policies (both at the Eurozone and the country level) reveals that “flexible” interpretations of legal formulas or their complete overlooking is more often than not the actual background of economic policies.1

And beneath this lies a deeper misunderstanding that Poufos teases out as follows:

“The abstract understanding of the law as a crystallization of the essence of capitalist social relations that Varoufakis and others promote leads to quite a few mystifications. Perhaps most importantly, it misconstrues capitalism as a set of relations held together (and engendered) by legal statutes, whose importance surpasses that of, say, profitability. By not recognising that the content of capitalism (a historical form of social organisation of production that utilizes class divisions to achieve value creation) is reflected in (but not determined by) legal forms, this approach is not only theoretically invalid. It also results in an inability to properly situate the underlying logic of the contemporary crisis management model, which attempts to both avoid the collapse of a central pillar of the capitalist economy system (finance) and to act as an opportunity to (finally) impose in full force the monetary discipline (low state spending, low deficits, low inflation) that peripheral Eurozone countries had avoided through their ability to roll over debt due to low interest rates. It is true that in certain instances, Varoufakis appears to have a fleeting sense of this predicament. For example, in a passage about the background of the first Memorandum Agreement, Varoufakis himself admits, “When the French banks faced certain death, what choice did [Lagarde] have as France’s Finance Minister, alongside her European counterparts and the IMF, but to do whatever it took to save them?” This thought is, however, not further developed. Instead, Varoufakis considers the legal framework of the ECB as a given, a line of reasoning that forces him to explain the failure of his strategy as a result of the refusal of Tsipras to implement it when the shit hit the fan.”

Criticism from the left of a very different kind is offered by the debt campaigner Eric Toussaint. The Verso website has published a multi-part series of articles that dissect Varoufakis’s ambiguous relationship to Syriza. As Adults in the Room makes clear, Varoufakis was at odds with many of the basic positions of the Syriza movement and he did his best to turn the party away from its Thessaloniki program of September 2014. As Toussaint puts it:

“Varoufakis explains how he gradually convinced Tsipras, Pappas, and Dragasakis not to follow the orientation adopted by Syriza in 2012, then in 2014. He explains that along with them, he worked out a new orientation that was not discussed within Syriza and was different from the one Syriza ran on during the January 2015 campaign. And that orientation was to lead, at best, to failure, and at worst to capitulation.”

Toussaint offers an account from the perspective of the Syriza left-wing of the way in which Varoufakis did not just espouse a rationalist Keynesian perspective, but in doing so subverted the militant energy of Greece’s left government and shifted the balance of expertise in the government towards those who were willing to work with the troika.

Whether one finds them sympathetic or not, Toussaint’s essays deepen one’s understanding of the Greek political scene in which Varoufakis and Tsipras operated.

The same can be said of the commentary by Pavlos Eleftheriadis. Eleftheriadis teaches law at Oxford. He doesn’t like Varoufakis’s politics. He doesn’t like Adults in the Room and he doesn’t like my review of the book either. He has published his own fierce criticism at Verfassungsblog which is a great site for contemporary European legal commentary.

Eleftheriadis has long been a critic of Syriza. In the September 2015 elections he stood as a candidate for To Potami, the centrist, pro-EU party that many had hoped would be Syriza’s coalition partner. Eleftheriadis’s interest is not in diagnosing the aporia of Varoufakis’s Keynesianism, but in denounce the damage he claims that Varoufakis and the Syriza government did to the Greek economy. Anyone who does not share that interest in reading Adults in the Room is objectively a fellow traveller who must be combated as such. It is the argumentative position of the engaged and highly informed partisan and, whether one agrees or not, interesting as such.

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America’s Political Economy: How college attendance varies with parental income https://www.adamtooze.com/2018/02/18/americas-political-economy-college-attendance-varies-parental-income/ Sun, 18 Feb 2018 14:19:02 +0000 https://www.adamtooze.com/?p=70015 The stark simplicity of educational disadvantage.

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Better off Americans go to College. Poor Americans don’t.It’s obvious. We all know it. But when plotted, the relationship is stark.

In fact the relationship is linear. 75 percent of kids with poor parents don’t go to College (any post-secondary College of any type). Of those in the top decile, 90 percent plus go to College and the colleges they go to are the wonderful ones.

Nothing fancy. Just a devastating blow to the complacent idea that we inhabit a meritocracy.

Data from Chetty Friedman and Hendren et al’s inequality project

By way of Piketty’s english-language blog at Le Monde.

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War in Germany: Clausewitz https://www.adamtooze.com/2018/02/16/war-germany-clausewitz/ Fri, 16 Feb 2018 14:30:59 +0000 https://www.adamtooze.com/?p=69967 Clausewitz's historical theory of war set against the Prussian crisis of 1806-1815.

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Reading Clausewitz against the backdrop of the Prussian crisis of 1806-1815. The latest installment of the War in Germany series. How did a radical Prussian reformer become a global icon for military intellectuals? How did history enter the philosophy of war? All framed by the radicalization of war, the Prussian levée en masse and society politics in Berlin during the crisis. A new biography of Marie von Clausewitz (née von Brühl) highly recommended.

Download the slides here:

Tooze Wing2018 Lecture 8 Clausewitz

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War in Germany: “In the beginning was Napoleon” https://www.adamtooze.com/2018/02/13/war-germany-beginning-napoleon/ Tue, 13 Feb 2018 16:53:06 +0000 https://www.adamtooze.com/?p=69913 The shock of revolutionary warfare, the Napoleonic struggle for continental hegemony, Prussia's crisis and the desperate choices of 1812-1813.

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“Am Anfang war Napoleon” – In the beginning was Napoleon. That was the way that Thomas Nipperdey began his famous 1980s history of nineteenth-century Germany. It was a deliberate provocation to the societal historians of Bielefeld. Hans-Ulrich Wehler would responded: “Am Anfang war keine Revolution” – “In the beginning there was no revolution”.

It seems odd, in retrospect, that these positions should have been seen as stark alternatives. That Nipperdey is right as far as the nineteenth-century is concerned, seems hard to deny. But why this should be incompatible with Wehler’s broader claim about German history, is not obvious. Anyway, much to ponder as the War in Germany course concentrated last week on the shock of Napoleonic warfare and the dramatic tensions it unleashed in Prussian politics between 1806 and 1813. The radical choices facing the Prussian military reformers under Napoleonic rule, make this for me one of the most fascinating periods in modern German history.

If, like me, you enjoy history painting, as we head into the nineteenth century we are in for a treat.

Lectures to download.

Tooze WinG2018 lecture 6 Napoleon

Tooze WinG2018 lecture 7 Prussia and the overthrow of Napoleon

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