Professor Geoffrey Barraclough isolates some of the main themes of contemporary history. His purpose is to show the ways in which, since the closing years of the nineteenth century, the fundamental structure of world politics has changed. Our political vision must be adjusted accordingly.
In Professor Barraclough’s analysis, however, contemporary history is not confined to politics. Among the themes he pursues, in a book which boldly envisages the onset of a new epoch in the history of mankind, are the impact of science, the spread of technology, the challenge of Marxist ideology, and the re-orientation, in the century, of all the arts.
“Our search will carry us along some unfamiliar, or less familiar, paths. Historians of the recent past have assumed for the most part that, if they explained the factors leading to the disintegration of the old world, they were automatically providing an explanation of how the new world emerged; and contemporary history has therefore consisted largely of accounts of the two world wars, the peace settlement of 1919, the rise of Fascism and National Socialism, and since 1945, the conflict of the communist and the capitalist worlds.”
Professor Geoffrey Barraclough (1908–1984) - Initially a medievalist and leading British historian of Germany, Barraclough altered his views and his perspective to write an influential work on contemporary history. In his later years he became an advocate of the study of world history and the use in history of the methodologies of the social sciences.
He was educated at Bootham School (1921–1924) in York and at Bradford Grammar School (1924–1925). He read History at Oriel College, Oxford University in 1926-1929.
He was Professor of Medieval History, University of Liverpool (1945–1956), Stevenson Research Professor, University of London (1956–1962), University of California (1965–1968) and Professor of History, Brandeis University (1968–1970 and 1972–1981). He was Chichele Professor of Modern History, University of Oxford from 1970 to 1973.