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REVIEWS THE HISTORIAN AS PROPHET' FRANK H . UNDERHILL "In order to understand the problems of the 'new society' in which we live today we shall have to go back at least as far as the French, the American and the Industrial revolutions. This assertion commits me to the historical approach to the contemporary world. Modem man is beyond all precedent 'history conscious.' What philosophy was to classical Greece and Rome, what theology was to the Middle Ages, what science was to the eighteenth century, that history is to our own time." This is the note on which Mr. E. H. Carr introduces his lectures , broadcast over the B.B.C., on The New Society. He has made himself our leading contemporary student of revolution, and has set forth the results of his studies and reflections in a series of volumes which have been coming from the press since the 1930's. They include biographies of Marx and Bakunin; The Twenty Years Crisis 1919- 1939 (1939); International Relations between the Two World Wars (1937 and 1947); Conditions of Peace (1942); Britain (1939), the first volume of a projected series on the belligerent countries edited by Mr. Carr, of which only his own volume apparently ever was published; Nationalism and After (1945) and The Soviet Impact on the Western World (1946); and Studies in Revolution (1950), a series of articles on the leading revolutionaries of the nineteenth century which first appeared in The Times Literary Supple" ment, of all places. And they have culminated in the three magisterial volumes of the 1950's which contain his history of the Russian revolution from 1917 to 1923, and which are presumably to be continued by further volumes. The lectures on The New Society give us Mr. Carr's analysis of what he considers to be the essence of our twentieth-century revolution from individualism to collectivism, and his exposition of the function of the historian as an interpreter of events to his contemporaries. Mr. Carr here presents himself frankly as a social-democrat who has cast off most of the individualist inheritance of the nineteenth century and who believes that we must adjust ourselves to the fundamental twentieth-century phenomenon of mass-democracy with its shift of *A History 0/ Soviet Russia: The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1923. By EDWARD HALLETT CARR. Vols. J, II, III. London: Macmillan & Co. Ltd. [Toronto: The Macmil1an Company of Canada Limited], 1950, 1952, 1953. Pp. x, 430; viii, 400 ; x, 614. $5.00; $6.50; $7.00. The New Society. By EDWARD HALLETT CARR. London: Macmillan & Co. Ltd. [Toronto: The Macmillan Company of Canada Limited1. 1951. Pp. viii, 119. $1.75. 87 88 UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY emphasis from liberty to equality. He has no use for Toynbeean prophesies of doom or for Professor Butterfield's call for Christian judgment on our generation. "Grandiose pronouncements of the judgment of history on civilisations or nations sometimes provide evidence only of the bankruptcy of the groups from which they emanate." Mr. Carr is temperamentally an optimist, and at the end of his lectures he comes pretty close to the old doctrine of progress. But he is worried about the future prospects of reason in mass-democratic society, and seems today much more concerned about the task of preserving nineteenthcentury liberal values than he used to be in the 1930's and 1940's. Everything that he has written displays his powers of brilliant, incisive analysis, his mastery of political ideas, and his delight in challenging the inherited ideology and prejudices of his English-speaking liberal readers. It is interesting to reflect upon the differences between two famous professors of international politics in the University of Wales, A. E. Zimmern and E. H. Carr. One would look a long time to find two men in the same subject who differed from each other more than these two. Sir Alfred Zimmern always tended in his lectures and books to treat international affairs as if he were analysing a Socratic dialogue , as if international relations were a kind of intellectual discussion such as might take place in an Oxford senior common-room in which victory goes to the more acute and subtle debater. His Greek Commonwealth...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 87-92
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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