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Introduction — ‘The Beginnings’

  • Richard Scully
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Part of the Britain and the World book series (BAW)

Abstract

It need hardly be said that Britain’s relationship with Germany and the Germans has been of immense importance historically. In the twentieth century, the contest for power between the two countries helped to push the world to war in 1914; triggered a second more terrible conflict in 1939; led to Britain’s imperial retreat and drove it by necessity into a ‘special relationship’ with the United States after 1941. The origins of this troubled relationship — the 1860–1914 period, which is the focus of this book — is perhaps one of the best-known, but least understood, phases in Britain’s association with Germany, being most meticulously explored in Paul Kennedy’s Rise of the Anglo-German Antagonism (1980): still the dominant master-narrative despite three decades of subsequent scholarship. Charting the process by which Britain and Germany became diplomatically and militarily estranged, Kennedy took as his basic purpose to explain why ‘the British and German peoples … went to war against each other’, when they possessed no longstanding tradition of antipathy and indeed had been remarkably close for much of the preceding century.2 The general and ongoing fascination with this apparent paradox has also led popular historians to explore it, and in a sense, every history of the origins of the First and Second World Wars — which constitute entire genres in their own right — can be said to constitute a work on Anglo-German relations.3

Keywords

Cultural History Apparent Paradox Longstanding Tradition Preceding Century German People 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Note

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Copyright information

© Richard Scully 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Scully
    • 1
  1. 1.University of New EnglandAustralia

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