TWENTIETH-CENTURY EUROPEAN HISTORY
Hoeniger Book Collection Prize 2014 Winner
Matthew Korda is a third-year student at Victoria College, majoring in European Studies and minoring in History and American Studies. In 2015 he will join the editorial staff of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, and will spend his reading week on an International Course Module in Tbilisi, Georgia, where he will conduct field research on Georgian foreign relations. Post-graduation, he intends to pursue a Master’s degree in history, global affairs, or war studies, eventually leading him towards the field of diplomacy and intelligence.
In the autumn of 2013, as I was flipping through my brand-new copy of Margaret MacMillan’s latest work of brilliance, entitled The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914, I spotted a short phrase, buried within the introduction, that changed my life: “Very little in history is inevitable.” A simple statement; one might even characterize it as obvious; however, it is in no way redundant. This short sentence carries remarkable implications for the study of history and historiography. One often forgets that any one action, as insignificant as it may seem, has the potential to change the course of history, but MacMillan’s remark drives home the fact that any particular historical event could have been altered by very specific tipping points; these points are sometimes very clear to historians, and sometimes they are buried beneath the sheer weight of historical facts relating to a single event.
For me, the realization of the lack of inevitability in history has truly opened my eyes to the importance of detail. If the true purpose of studying history is to learn from it, then it is not enough to simply understand “big-picture” history; every detail deserves to be scrutinized, because if the course of a historical event can rest upon a single decision or a single act, then our knowledge is insubstantial by glossing over these crucial details. It was George Santayana who wrote that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” If we truly wish to remember the past, we must understand that history lies in the details.
Already being an avid history-lover and collector, my collection has truly grown and reached new heights since reading Margaret MacMillan’s formative masterpiece. Before picking up her book, my collection consisted mainly of survey books that provide a historical overview of an entire country or series of years, like Martin Kitchen’s Germany, and William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Since then, my collection has grown immensely, and my newer additions are noticeably more detail-oriented, centring around specific people and events.
My interest in the Second World War and the Holocaust is apparent when examining my collection, as my family tree has naturally coincided with such horrific events. My passionate interest in the rise of Nazism and Adolf Hitler is manifested in such works as Ian Kershaw’s unequalled biographies of Hitler, Hubris and Nemesis, Albert Speer’s memoir, Inside the Third Reich, and Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf which I found half-destroyed in a secondhand book store and have since restored to readable condition, as I have endeavoured to comprehend the loss of countless family members to the horrors of the Holocaust. One day I hope to have my own works present amongst the books of my collection, as I plan to work with my grandmother in writing and publishing a short collection of Holocaust stories from her childhood in Hungary.
Being the detail-oriented person that I am, I love discovering the interesting stories that lie behind the physical books themselves. I purchased a significant percentage of my books at the Victoria College book sales of recent years, as well as in secondhand book shops and rummage sales, and I have always been intrigued by the personal histories of the books in question, as well as those of their owners. One of my favourite books in my collection, The Third Year of War in Pictures, was given as a bar-mitzvah present to a thirteen-year old boy in England in 1943, as evidenced by its inscription. I am extremely intrigued by the history of the books themselves, in addition to the many history lessons contained within their pages.
It was Confucius who once wrote that one must “study the past if you would define the future.” For this reason I believe that history is one of the most important subjects that can be studied, and I am pleased to present my own collection of books which showcase my love of history and the books from which I draw my knowledge.
List of Titles in Exhibition
Articles and Short Essays
Harding, Thomas. “‘He Was The Nicest Man In The World.’” Toronto Star (Toronto, ON), September 19, 2013.
Kershaw, Ian. “‘Working Towards the Führer:’ Reflections on the Nature of the Hitler Dictatorship.” Contemporary European History 2.2 (July 1993): 103–118.
Martin, Douglas. “A Liberal Mayor with A Famous Last Name.” The Globe and Mail (Toronto, ON), November 12, 2013.
O’Keefe, David. “Licensed To Loot.” National Post (Toronto, ON), November 8, 2013.
Snyder, Timothy. “Preface: Europe.” In Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, vii–xix. New York: Basic Books, 2010.
Memoirs and Diaries
Churchill, Winston S. Memoirs of the Second World War. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1959.
Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf. Translated by Ralph Manheim. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1971.
Originally published in German in 1925 by Franz Eher Nachfolger GmbH.
Klemperer, Victor. I Will Bear Witness: 1933–1941. New York: Random House, Inc., 1998.
Levi, Primo. Survival in Auschwitz. New York: Touchstone, 1996.
Originally published in Italian in 1958 as Se questo è un uomo by The Orion Press.
Liddell-Hart, B.H., ed. The Rommel Papers. New York: Da Capo Press, 1953.
Sledge, E.B. With The Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 1990.
Originally published in 1981 by Presidio Press.
Speer, Albert. Inside the Third Reich. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1970.
Spiegelman, Art. Maus I: My Father Bleeds History. New York: Pantheon Books, 1991.
Spiegelman, Art. Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began. New York: Pantheon Books, 1991.
Kershaw, Ian. Hitler: Hubris. London: Penguin Books, 2001.
Kershaw, Ian. Hitler: Nemesis. London: Penguin Books, 2001.
MacIntyre, Ben. Agent Zigzag. New York: Random House Inc., 2007.
Meisels, Leslie. Suddenly the Shadow Fell. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation, 2014.
Reuth, Ralf Georg. Rommel: The End of a Legend. Translated by Debra S. Marmor and Herbert A. Danner. London: Haus Publishing, 2010.
Originally published in German in 2004 as Rommel: Das Ende einer Legende by Piper Verlag GmbH.
Stern, George. Vanished Boyhood. Toronto: The Azrieli Foundation, 2013.
World War One
Berton, Pierre. Vimy. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1986.
MacMillan, Margaret. Paris 1919. New York: Random House Inc., 2003.
MacMillan, Margaret. The War That Ended Peace: the Road to 1914. Toronto: Penguin Books, 2013.
World War Two and the Holocaust
Ambrose, Stephen E. D-Day. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994.
Ambrose, Stephen E. Band of Brothers. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.
Barris, Ted. The Great Escape: A Canadian Story. Markham: Thomas Allen Publishers, 2013.
Brickhill, Paul. The Great Escape. London: Cassell Military Paperbacks, 1951.
Conot, Robert E. Justice at Nuremberg. New York: Caroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1984.
Fest, Joachim. Inside Hitler’s Bunker: The Last Days of the Third Reich. Translated by Margot Bettauer Dembo. Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2004.
Originally published in German in 2002 as Der Untergang: Hitler und das Ende des Dritten Reiches by Alexander Fest Verlag, Berlin.
Fest, Joachim. Plotting Hitler’s Death: The Story of the German Resistance. Translated by Bruce Little. New York: Metropolitan Books, 1996.
Originally published in German in 1994 as Der lange Weg zum 20. Juli by Siedler Verlag, Berlin.
Gross, Jan T. Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland. London: Penguin Group, 2001.
Larson, Erik. In The Garden of Beasts. New York: Broadway Paperbacks, 2001.
MacIntyre, Ben. Operation Mincemeat. New York: Random House Inc., 2010.
Noakes, J., and G. Pridham, eds. Nazism 1919–1945: Foreign Policy, War, and Racial Extermination. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2010.
Overy, Richard. World War II: The Complete Illustrated History. London: Carleton Books Ltd., 2010.
Parker, R.A.C. The Second World War: A Short History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Originally published in 1989 as Struggle for Survival by Oxford University Press.
Payne, Stanley G. A History of Fascism, 1914–1945. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995.
Perquin, Jean-Louis. The Clandestine Radio Operators. Paris: Histoire & Collections, 2011.
Porter, Anna. Kasztner’s Train. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre Ltd., 2007.
Shirer, William L. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1960.
Steiner, Jean-François. Treblinka. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1967.
Originally published in French in 1966 by Librairie Arthème Fayard.
The Third Year of War in Pictures. London: Odhams Press Limited, 1943.
Postwar European History
Judt, Tony. Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945. London: Penguin Books, 2005.
Keegan, John. A History of Warfare. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1994.
Originally published in 1993 by Hutchinson, London.
Warner, Michael. The Rise and Fall of Intelligence. Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 2014.
European History Overviews
Boyer, John W., and Jan Goldstein, eds. Readings in Western Civilization: Twentieth Century Europe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
Hay, Colin, and Anand Menon. European Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Judt, Tony. Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century. New York: The Penguin Press, 2008.
Kitchen, Martin. Germany. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Merriman, John. A History of Modern Europe: From the French Revolution to the Present. 3rd ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010.