The Shallow Drafts of Charles Hill

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Austin Bramwell

I am a freelance opinion-monger living in New York City.

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6 Responses

  1. FWIW, I really enjoyed this. There are few things that make a better read than a thorough fisking, and this certainly qualifies.Report

  2. Avatar Rufus says:

    This shows why people who study for a living should always avoid the romantic lure of a big explanation.

    I agree with Mark- this is very entertaining.Report

  3. Avatar Andy Smith says:

    I join the chorus. Great post. I’m not against Grand Narratives and big picture theories, I think we need them, but constructing one doesn’t excuse the theorist from paying attention to details.Report

  4. Avatar Will says:

    At the risk of picking nits, did the plague really defeat the Athenians? The Sicilian expedition and Lysander’s naval campaign are the proximate causes that immediately come to mind, and both fit more comfortably within Hill’s interpretive framework.

    Full disclosure: I was one of those students who migrated from poli sci to history in search of “grand narratives.”Report

    • Avatar Austin Bramwell says:

      @Will, You’re right. It was a long war, and, if I remember, the plague was an early crisis. But I think my general point holds — once you start thinking in terms of probabilities and butterflies-in-tokyo type causal chains, grand narraties cease to make sense.Report

  5. Avatar a says:

    Never mind that the Soviets had the world’s largest land army and intercontinental missiles aimed at major American cities, while Islamists are poor, ignorant, persecuted, few, and don’t even control a single state.

    I guess you (or Hill) mean “jihadists” or “radical Islamists” or something like that. There are a lot of Islamists in the world, some of them are rich and well-educated, they control or are very influential in a number of countries.Report