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– Acknowledgements –

This book arose out of a series of conversations and exchanges several years ago with Stuart Proffitt, who shaped my thinking on this question to a profound degree, though all the responsibility for what appears here is mine and mine alone. I am grateful to him and hope he feels the trouble he took in discussing these ideas was worthwhile, even if not profitable. I am indebted to Dr Lucasta Miller for agreeing to take this project on, and for her intelligent and highly perceptive guidance during the course of it. Michael Burleigh, to whom this work is dedicated, gave me some invaluable guidance early on and exerted a moral and intellectual influence whose full extent he will be too modest to appreciate. I wrote the book during a sabbatical year, for which I must thank the Chief Executive of the Telegraph Media Group, Murdoch MacLennan. It was written at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, during a year as Fellow Commoner, and I must sincerely thank the Master, Stuart Laing, and the Fellows for their hospitality and many other kindnesses. I greatly benefited particularly from conversations with Professor Jonathan Haslam, Sarah Cain and Dr Pernille Røge, and notably from a seminar I led with Dr Røge’s history students. Professor Brendan Simms and Professor Christopher Clark also gave me important and helpful ideas, for which I thank them. My agent, Georgina Capel, was especially supportive on the long journey of such a short book. Finally, nothing would have been possible without the constant support and understanding of my wife, and I thank her above all others.

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