Analysis of The Origins of Second World War by A.J.P. Taylor Essay

Analysis of The Origins of Second World War by A.J.P. Taylor Essay

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The Origins of the Second World War, by A.J.P. Taylor, proposes and investigates unconventional and widely unaccepted theories as to the underlying causes of World War Two. Taylor is British historian who specialized in 20th century diplomacy, and in his book claims that as a historian his job is to “state the truth” (pg. xi) as he sees it, even if it means disagreeing with existing prejudices. The book was published in 1961, a relatively short time after the war, and as a result of his extreme unbias the work became subject to controversy for many years.
Studying history through his lens of objectivism, Taylor’s theory is that Hitler’s design wasn’t one of world domination; rather his methods, especially his foreign policies, didn’t differ from his predecessors. However, when confronted with a strict policy of appeasement, by both the French and the English, the stage was set for a second World War. Taylor constructs a powerful and effective argument by expelling certain dogmas that painted Hitler as a madman, and by evaluating historical events as a body of actions and reactions, disagreeing with the common idea that the Axis had a specific program from the start.
The book begins with the conclusion of the First World War, by exploring the idea that critical mistakes made then made a second war likely, yet not inevitable. Taylor points out that although Germany was defeated on the Western front, “Russia fell out of Europe and ceased to exist, for the time being, as a Great Power. The constellation of Europe was profoundly changed—and to Germany’s advantage.” (p.20-21) As a result of the war, Russia was severely weakened, which greatly upset the balance of power in Europe. Taylor claims that, “What gave France independence as a ...


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... him to conciliate.” (pg. 216) Finally, Taylor explains, after Britain’s failure to help reach an agreement, the aggression dragged both France and Britain into war with Germany.
Taylor’s perspective on the origins of the Second World War, although controversial, is not one so easily dismissed. Taylor’s approach is one of, “innocent until proven guilty,” which allowed him to distribute accountability to both the Allied and Axis powers. Taylor carefully constructs a historical chain of cause and effect through his unbiased evaluation. The First World War left a structurally sound Germany bent on restoring its independence, and a weakened balance of power in Europe. These facts, along with a morally revolting yet rational leader, faced only with a strict policy of appeasement combined to form the perfect storm, one that would ravage the world in the Second World War.

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Analysis of The Origins of Second World War by A.J.P. Taylor Essay

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