Richard Overy (b. 1947) has published extensively on the history of World War II and the Third Reich. Educated at Caius College, Cambridge he went on to teach at Queen's College from 1972 to 1979, before moving to King's College London... [more]
Richard Overy (b. 1947) has published extensively on the history of World War II and the Third Reich. Educated at Caius College, Cambridge he went on to teach at Queen's College from 1972 to 1979, before moving to King's College London in 1980. He taught at Kings College until 2004, being made professor of modern history in 1994. He moved to Exeter University in 2004.
In the late 1980s, Overy was involved in a major historical dispute with the Marxist historian Timothy Mason that mostly played out over the pages of Past and Present journal over the reasons for the outbreak of World War Two in 1939. Mason had contended that a "flight into war" had been imposed on Adolf Hitler by a structural economic crisis, which confronted Hitler with the choice of making difficult economic choices or aggression.
Overy argued against Mason's thesis, maintaining that though Germany was faced with economic problems in 1939, the extent and scale of these problems can not explain aggression against Poland, and the reasons for the outbreak of war were due to the choices made by the Nazi leadership. Recently, another British historian, Adam Tooze, has argued for a similar position as Mason's in his book The Wages of Destruction.
His work on World War II has been praised as "highly effective [in] the ruthless dispelling of myths" (A. J. P. Taylor), "original and important" (New York Review of Books) and "at the cutting edge" (Times Literary Supplement). He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (1977), Fellow of the British Academy (2000) and Fellow of King’s College (2003). In 2001 he was awarded the Samuel Elliot Morrison Prize of the Society for Military History for his contribution to the history of warfare. [show less]