E. H. Carr pp 165-197 | Cite as

Carr and his Early Critics: Responses to The Twenty Years’ Crisis, 1939–46

  • Peter Wilson


It is an interesting but little known fact that although E.H. Carr’s The Twenty Years’ Crisis is generally regarded to have had a devastating impact on the ‘utopian’ thinking of the inter-war period, the Utopians themselves, or at any rate those so labelled by Carr, did not feel particularly devastated by it. Norman Angeli and Alfred Zimmern, two of Carr’s chief ‘utopian’ targets, wrote highly critical reviews of the book, and although he did not, to my knowledge, publish his thoughts on the subject, Arnold Toynbee, Carr’s other major living target, agreed whole heartedly with what his utopian fellow travellers had to say. In addition, a number of thinkers not specifically indicted by Carr felt sufficiently wounded by his remarks to write lengthy replies. Among them can be counted a distinguished moral philosopher, Susan Stebbing, and a fellow man of the Left who shared many of Carr’s ideas about the ‘New Society’, the Fabian and Bloomsburyite, Leonard Woolf. Other less than convinced respondents included the historian, R.W. Seton-Watson and, writing under a pseudonym, Richard Grossman, future government minister and political diarist, then a Labour local councillor and a journalist on the New Statesman.


Foreign Policy International Morality Collective Security Intellectual Freedom Military Alliance 
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  1. 9.
    E.H. Carr, The Twenty Years’ Crisis: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations (London: Macmillan, 1939), pp. 102–12.Google Scholar
  2. 12.
    Zimmern, ‘A Realist in Search of Utopia’, Spectator, 24 November 1939, p. 750.Google Scholar
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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  • Peter Wilson

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