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The Spectre of War: International Communism and the Origins of World War Two

The Spectre of War looks at a subject we thought we knew—the roots of the Second World War—and upends our assumptions with a masterful new interpretation. Looking beyond traditional explanations based on diplomatic failures or military might, Jonathan Haslam explores the neglected thread connecting them all: the fear of Communism prevalent across continents during the interwar period. Marshaling an array of archival sources, including records from the Communist International, Haslam transforms our understanding of the deep-seated origins of World War II, its conflicts, and its legacy. Illuminating ideological differences in the decades before World War II, and the continuous role of pre- and postwar Communism, The Spectre of War provides unprecedented context for one of the most momentous calamities of the twentieth century.

Date & Time

Monday
Sep. 26, 2022
4:00pm – 5:30pm ET

Location

Zoom Webinar

Overview

The Spectre of War looks at a subject we thought we knew—the roots of the Second World War—and upends our assumptions with a masterful new interpretation. Looking beyond traditional explanations based on diplomatic failures or military might, Jonathan Haslam explores the neglected thread connecting them all: the fear of Communism prevalent across continents during the interwar period. Marshaling an array of archival sources, including records from the Communist International, Haslam transforms our understanding of the deep-seated origins of World War II, its conflicts, and its legacy. Illuminating ideological differences in the decades before World War II, and the continuous role of pre- and postwar Communism, The Spectre of War provides unprecedented context for one of the most momentous calamities of the twentieth century.

Jonathan Haslam retired as George F. Kennan professor at the Institute for Advanced Study. He is a fellow of the British Academy and an emeritus professor of the history of international relations at Cambridge University. Haslam is also a life fellow of Corpus Christi College at Cambridge. His recent publications include: The Spectre of War: International Communism and the Origins of World War II (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2021); Near and Distant Neighbors. A New History of Soviet Intelligence(New York: Farrar, Straus, 2015); and Russia’s Cold War: from the October Revolution to the Fall of the Wall(Yale University Press 2011).

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University and the National History Center) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is organized jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Woodrow Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks its anonymous individual donors and institutional partners (the George Washington University History Department and the Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest) for their continued support.

Speaker

Jonathan Haslam

Jonathan Haslam

George F. Kennan Professor (Retired), Institute for Advanced Study

Panelists

Mary S. Barton

Mary S. Barton

Former Title VIII Short Term Scholar;
Analyst with the US Government
Juliane Fürst

Juliane Fürst

Head of the Department of Communism and Society at the Center of Contemporary History, Potsdam

Hosted By

History and Public Policy Program

The History and Public Policy Program makes public the primary source record of 20th and 21st century international history from repositories around the world, facilitates scholarship based on those records, and uses these materials to provide context for classroom, public, and policy debates on global affairs.  Read more

Cold War International History Project

The Cold War International History Project supports the full and prompt release of historical materials by governments on all sides of the Cold War. Through an award winning Digital Archive, the Project allows scholars, journalists, students, and the interested public to reassess the Cold War and its many contemporary legacies. It is part of the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program.  Read more

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