Background

I read a lot of history; I read it in sprees. For a year twentieth century history has been my nut, primarily the two European wars and Germany and the Soviet Union. There are times I’ll find an author, and buy books from Amazon or Bookfinder (and others), but most of my reading comes from used books, stuff bought at library bookstores or library sales.

Why read history? To understand more completely. In Barrons today, Jack A. Ablin of BMO Private Bank, is quoted (M16): “It is hard to conceptualize from our Western point of view, but roughly 80% of Russians surveyed believe that economic growth and jobs are more important than their form of government.” I agree. That has been an issue many books I’ve read over the last year, decade, scores of years.

However, I went to read three volumes by Richard J. Evans, the first being, The Coming of the Third Reich (borrowed from the library). In total the three volumes are about 1500 pages. I read the Preface, and Evans discusses other survey books telling of the Third Reich. He notes William L. Shirer’s books, The Rise and Fall and says it is weak, but he fails to mention it is the first. It is unusual for a historian to criticize, outside critical literature, books. He is complimentary to everyone he mentions, English and German historians. He finally, and has to mention Gordon Craig, an American, but only one of Craig’s books: The Politics of the Germany Army 1640-1945.

I finished the Preface and wondered why it was incomplete: Gordon Craig has a book, Germany: 1866-1945 (1978). It seemed spot onto Richard Evans’ topic, but it wasn’t referenced. A German who became an American wrote three volumes, the last covering 1840-1945. Hojo Holborn was a brilliant historian; he died in 1967. Reading about the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) and its culture, one finds Hajo Holborn mentioned. He was part of German academia and participated in the culture before the Nazis came to power. He left Germany in 1933 after losing his university position.

I wondered why Hajo Holborn and Gordon Craig’s other books were not in the Preface. I looked at the bibliography where they were also absent, saving Craig’s German Army book.

I turned the page to Chapter 1, page 1, line 1 or Evans’ The Coming of the Third Reich:

       “Is it wrong to begin with Bismarck?”

Richard Evans book was published in 2003, almost forty years after Gordon Craig’s book. I realized I had read this book before. I stopped reading. Indeed, Germany: 1866-1945 by Gordon Craig, Chapter 1, Page 1, line 1 reads: 

       “Is it a mistake to begin with Bismarck?”

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