Why continue to study the origins of the Second World War? Few of us today (and fewer with each passing year) have direct experience of the war. For sheer horror, it is the First World War that retains the greater fascination among students of the twentieth century, while the Cold War offers the only recent experience of global conflict. Yet with the events of 1989–91 even the Cold War has ended,1 and arguably none of the three global conflicts of the twentieth century has much relevance to contemporary security problems. Today’s security nightmare has become global terrorists operating outside the nation-state system and armed with weapons of mass destruction. As E. H. Carr observes in What is History?, the present determines what each generation finds most significant in the past.2 Perhaps therefore interest in the Second World War will fade, and popular and scholarly attention will turn instead to the Crusades (1095–1291) and the pre-national forms of order and conflict in the medieval world.
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- Introduction: The Debate Continues
Joseph A. Maiolo
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number