Haunted by History: Myths in International Relations Hardcover – 1 Jan 1998
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About the Author
Cyrill Buffet is Research Fellow at the Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin.
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Balance of Power, European Concert and Integration: The Myth of a Changing International System by Peter Krueger
Myths That Keep Small Powers Going: Internationalist Idealism in the Netherlands by Jan Willem Honig
The Myth of Swedish Neutrality by Ann-Sofie Dahl
The Green Peril by Remy Leveau (on the Islamic "Other" in the European imagination)
The Spanish Civil War: 'Betrayal' by the Bourgeois Democracies by Aline Angoustures
Munich, or the Blood of Others by David Chuter
Yalta, the Myth of the Division of the World by Reiner Marcowitz
The Myth of Potsdam by Marc Trachtenberg
Cliches of Our Memory by Marcellin Hodeir
The 'Special Relationship': A Diverting British Myth? by John Baylis
Is Britain Part of Europe? The Myth of British 'Difference' by Antonio Varsori
Dunkirk, Dien Bien Phu, Suez or Why France Does Not Trust Allies and Has Learnt to Love the Bomb by Beatrice Heuser
Marianne and Michel: The Franco-German Couple by Cyril Buffet and Beatrice Heuser
The Myth of the German Sonderweg by A.J. Nicholls
The Myth of Prussia by Robert Cooper
Rapallo: Sirens and Phantoms by Cyril Buffet
Conclusions: Historical Myths and the Denial of Change by Beatrice Heuser and Cyril Buffet
Appendix: The Berlin Myth: A Curse in Ten Cantos by Uwe Prell
The most interesting ones to me were on the Spanish Civil War (exploited by Leftists after the fact to blame liberal democracies for not having intervened and potentially averted the Second World War), Munich (meaning appeasement)--the many ways in which that event has been misconstrued simply as a surrender to brutality (and inappropriately invoked ever since, in contexts ranging from the French colonization of Indochina to the USSR's interventionism in Eastern Bloc countries and the Korean War [the author also makes the argument that "Munich" also serves as a proxy for other acts of conciliation, such as not opposing the remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936]), and the myth(s) around Prussia.
The writing is professorial but not inaccessible to a college-educated readership (a certain level of political and historical knowledge is assumed). Essays are discrete so lends itself well to someone who wants only read some of them. Occasional typos (e.g., "...idea of a lesser civilisation [that of pre-Normal Anglo-Saxon England]..." surely the author means "pre-Norman"). Ends with a summary about how myths develop and the (usually counterproductive) role they play in historical understanding and political decision-making. Excellent volume with copious footnotes but definitely leaning towards the academic rather than the layperson (would give it 4 and 1/2 stars for this reason).
Fwiw I would love to see a follow-up volume addressing some of the following topics (myths):
Greece/Athens as the birthplace of Western democracy
French as poor fighters prone to surrendering
Polish political history as a saga of nothing other than victimhood at the hand of larger powers
Britain as the "arsenal of democracy" and "standing alone" against Nazism in 1940-1
Italians as non-militaristic/non-imperialistic
Russia(ns) as non-European barbarians, also Russians as incapable of change and inherently predisposed to authoritarianism
Germans as obsessively racist, militaristic, anti-Semtiic and/or nationalistic
Dutch social history as being defined simply by liberalism/tolerance
Swiss as simple peace-loving folk
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