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8 Historically Speaking · November 2002 Crossing Borders* Peter Paret In 1942, at the age ofeighteen, I became a freshman at Berkeley. The basic history surveys seemed to me—no doubt unfairly—little better than verbal equivalents of the lists of dates and events familiar from my school years in Europe. Different altogether were the elegantly clear lectures on British history by George Guttridge, which he permitted me to attend although the course was limited to upper-division students. I was drafted the following year, and did not return until the fall of 1946. From my second period at Berkeley I recall with special pleasure William Hesseltine's summer session course on the American Civil War, his left-wing take on events only rarely exploding in bursts ofsarcasm; and a survey ofSicily in the Middle Ages, delivered—chanted would be more accurate—by Ernst Kantorowicz. It was not difficult to see that his search for universals , at its most impressive when animated by such specifics as the phrasing of a Papal missive or the architecture of a Norman watchtower, could reflect only a part ofhow things had actually been. His respect for evidence was that of the artist as much as that of the scholar. I was twenty-five years old when I graduated . Family obligations took me back to Europe, and I did not begin graduate study at King's College, London until 1956. The choice ofthe University ofLondon was motivated by mywish to remain in Europe for the time being, and by the presence at King's of Michael Howard, at that time a lecturer in war studies. My intention to write a dissertation on war seemed to clash with my preoccupation with literature and the fine arts. But service in an infantry battalion in New Guinea and the Philippines raised questions that did not disappear when the fighting stopped. How men faced danger; how the course of fighting could be described and interpreted with some accuracy; how a country 's social and political energies were transformed into organized violence—these were matters to investigate and understand. Graduate study at King's placed few restraints on the student. I audited Howard's excellent survey of the history of war, took the necessary qualifying examinations, and attended two seminars at the Institute ofHistorical Research: one conducted by Howard; the other, on European history, by W Norton Medlicott, who with great professionalism and kindness oversaw a large, international group ofstudents trying their hand on a wide range oftopics and approaches. One of his assistants, Kenneth Bourne, later Medlicott 's successor as professor ofinternational history at the London School ofEconomics, became a life-long friend. My dissertation addressed the change in Prussian infantry tactics at the end ofthe 18th century and in the Napoleonic period. The subject may seem narrow and technical, but itwas closely linked to issues ofbroad significance , from an expansion ofoperational and strategic possibilities to the treatment ofthe common soldier and his place in society. The so-called break-up ofthe linear system ofthe ancien régime—more correctly, its modification by column and open order—had long been associated with the American and French Revolutions, an interpretation emotionally validated bythe powerfully symbolic contrast between citizen soldiers and mercenary automata. Not surprisingly, I found that the change was the outcome ofdevelopments antedating 1776 and 1789. In two later articles I demonstrated—at least to my satisfaction —that the War of American Independence had little impact on European military practice. While working on the dissertation, I gained teaching experience as a resident tutor in the Delegacy ofExtra-Mural Studies at Oxford. I began to review books for several journals, but with a troubled conscience , not yet having written a book myself. I also published a number ofarticles, but on subjects far removed from my dissertation topic: two on current defense issues, which led to membership in the recentlyfounded Institute for Strategic Studies , a third in the Bulletin ofthe Institute of HistoricalResearch on the history ofthe Third Reich. The latter resulted from a chance discovery . While searching for 18th-century military manuals in the library ofthe Royal United Service Institution, I noticed a crudely bound folio, used by library attendants as...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-6438
Print ISSN
1941-4188
Pages
pp. 8-10
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Ceased Publication
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