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Our Friend "The Enemy": Elite Education in Britain and Germany before World War I

Our Friend "The Enemy": Elite Education in Britain and Germany before World War I (Hardback)

£56.00
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Synopsis

Winner of the 2008 Duke d'Arenberg History Prize for the best book of a general nature, intended for a wide public, on the history and culture of the European continent.



At once a book about Oxford and Heidelberg universities and about the character of European society on the eve of World War I, Our Friend "The Enemy" challenges the idea that pre-1914 Europe was bound to collapse. Weber brings Britain and Germany's preeminent universities and playgrounds for political and social elites back to life to reconsider whether any truth is left in the old contrast between British liberalism and German illiberalism. Contesting the idea that fundamental Anglo-German differences existed, he also questions new interpretations that use a cultural history brush to paint pre-1914 Britain in just as gloomy a light as Imperial Germany. Rather, he argues that militarist nationalism and European transnationalism were not mutually exclusive concepts, that reform usually triumphed over stasis, and that prewar Europe was more stable than commonly argued. Finally, he demonstrates that the belief that Europeans were eagerly awaiting a cataclysmic remaking of the world they were inhabiting is a result of a tendency to read pre-1914 history backwards as the prehistory of the two world wars.

Thomas Weber is a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is the author of Lodz Ghetto Album (2004), which won the 2004 Golden Light Award for Best Edited Historical Book and a 2005 Infinity Award of the International Center of Photography in New York.

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