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Born in Wellington, New Zealand, I studied as an undergraduate at the University of East Anglia, and as a postgraduate at the University of Sussex. I came to St Andrews in 2010, having previously worked at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and before that at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. I have taught and supervised widely on 20C European history, with a particular interest in Germany’s story during the Weimar and Nazi eras, and also in Franco-German relations during the inter-war years.
My research and writing has by and large reflected my teaching. In 2011 I published a general history of earlier 20C Europe, Europe between Democracy and Dictatorship 1900-1945 (see publications) while my earlier work looked at Nazism during Hitler’s drive to and consolidation of power. My study of the Nazis’ paramilitary wing, the Storm Troopers (SA) established that its members were primarily from the unemployed working class, which fostered a wider interest in the relationship between Germany’s workers and the Nazi movement and also in relations between the Nazi and Communist extremes during the Weimar era. (See major publications) In ca. 2000 I turned to the history of inter-war Franco-German relations, beginning with a major study of the 1923-24 Ruhr Crisis during which Germany and France in particular sought to revise unilaterally the terms of the Versailles Peace Treaty in their own favour. A French military occupation of Germany’s industrial heartland in the Ruhr pitted its civilian population against the armed might of the occupying forces at terrible personal cost and at a devastating price for the Weimar Republic. (See publications)
My current research project investigates and appraises Franco-German relations during the inter-war Great Depression. Contrary to received wisdom, the two countries responded to the challenges of the 1929-1932 global economic crisis by striving to forge an enduring rapprochement founded on a Franco-German customs union. This bilateral alliance envisaged far-reaching economic and social collaboration that would, in due course, serve as the cornerstone of wider-ranging European integration. British obstruction and a host of unanticipated practical difficulties combined to undermine these efforts, which nonetheless serve as a pre-history of the contemporary European Union and even the challenges it currently faces. My book, A Vision of Europe (see publications) has appeared with Oxford University Press 2017.
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