My name is Marc Mulholland. I am a Fellow (lecturer and tutor) in the History Faculty of Oxford University. My College is St Catherine's. I come from Ireland.

This is a blog relating to my book published in 2012 by Oxford University Press, Bourgeois Liberty and the Politics of Fear: From Absolutism to Neo-Conservativism.
Now on sale here and here. If you want 20 per cent off the price, I can arrange that! Send me a message or leave a comment, and I'll tell you how.

The thesis my book is examining was rather pithily summarised by Leon Trotsky in 1939: "Wherever the proletariat appeared as an independent force, the bourgeoisie shifted to the camp of the counter-revolution. The bolder the struggle of the masses, the quicker the reactionary transformation of liberalism." [Context is here]

However, my book isn't a defence of Trotskyism, or indeed any particular ideology. It's a study of an idea that took shape in Left, Right, and Centre variations.

This blog has tid-bits not included in the book, and other thoughts that occur.

You can see book details at the
OUP website.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

New Book by Geoffrey Roberts

I'm very pleased to see that Geoffrey Roberts has a new book out on Marshal Zhukov, and not only because Prof. Roberts is based at University College Cork. His last book, Stalin's Wars, was a cracking read, and impressively balanced. As one might guess, Stalin comes across as a thoroughly nasty piece of work, but also as a Great Power leader with real 'virtues' (if that's the word), not least an unexpected ability to learn.

Stalin was different from Hitler not least because he could come to realise that he was mistaken. Hitler always thought that he knew more than his professional military men. Now, he had some cause: his generals were unhappy about his insistence on invading western Europe in 1940, but the amazing success of German arms (and the terrible failure of French and British) unfortunately vindicated him. Most specialists also believe that Hitler was correct in demanding that the Wehrmacht sit out the Winter of 1941, after the failure to take Moscow. A strategic retreat, as advised by the generals, would probably have turned into a flight and rout.

Hitler's mistake was in becoming convinced that he was infallible. He ignored his generals' advice to pull-back in the east and consolidate behind defensible lines. After the war, Goring thought this had been the Fuhrer's greatest mistake. Instead he insisted that the German Army defend all its conquests, and the Red Army was able to batter the over-extended Germans into pieces. During the last days in the bunker, Hitler blamed his generals for Germany's downfall, rather than himself.

Stalin's trajectory went the other way. His insistence that the Red Army never retreat in the face of the Barbarossa offensive was disastrous, allowing huge numbers of soldiers to be kettled and shipped off to camps (and usually death). As time went on, he showed an impressive ability to learn and master technical and strategic military detail. Compared  to the other war leaders - Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt - he probably had the best military mind. More importantly, however, he realised that no matter how competent he might become, he was an amateur, and war-making needed to be left to the professionals. Morbidly suspicious, as he was, and unspeakable cruel to those who crossed him, Stalin nonetheless came to understand that men like Zhukov should be able to contradict him, and to ultimately prevail in debate. Zhukov was able to develop a more flexible and realistic military doctrine, and somehow the enormous disasters of the first stages of the war in the east were overcome.

I'm much looking forward to reading Roberts' new book.

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