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Philip Dwyer

Philip Dwyer

Philip Dwyer is Professor of History and the founding Director of the Centre for the Study of Violence at the University of Newcastle. He has published widely on the Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras, including a three-volume biography of Napoleon. He is one of the general editors of the four volume Cambridge World History of Violence, and co-editor of the Cambridge History of the Napoleonic Wars. He is currently writing a global history of violence.

Philip Dwyer reviews 'War: A genealogy of Western ideas and practices' by Beatrice Heuser

March 2023, no. 451 25 February 2023
Writing in the eighteenth century, Jean-Jacques Rousseau argued that the life of a king was made up of two objects: to extend his rule beyond the frontiers; and to make it more absolute within them. Reading those lines, I couldn’t help but think of Vladimir Putin, whose primary political goals seem to mirror those of absolutist monarchs. Rousseau was implying that war was an instrument wielded b ... (read more)

Philip Dwyer reviews 'The Politics of Humiliation: A modern history' by Ute Frevert

June 2022, no. 443 23 March 2022
As I started to read this book, right-wing extremists stormed the US Congress, spurred on by a president who was unable to accept defeat at the ballot box. It has long been recognised that Donald Trump is a narcissist, but, as Ute Frevert aptly points out in The Politics of Humiliation, narcissism and shame are closely related. Trump feels humiliated by his defeat and is therefore psychologically ... (read more)

Philip Dwyer reviews 'Hitler: A Life' by Peter Longerich, translated by Jeremy Noakes and Lesley Sharpe

October 2019, no. 415 25 September 2019
It’s a disconcerting image. Piercing blue eyes stare out at you from the cover of the book. It renders Adolf Hitler somehow human, which is the intent of the author, Peter Longerich, and which sets this biography apart from the many others that have preceded it. Two other notable biographers, Ian Kershaw and Joachim Fest, refused to engage with Hitler’s personality and declared that he was ‘ ... (read more)

Philip Dwyer reviews 'Robespierre: A Revolutionary Life' by Peter McPhee

May 2012, no. 341 23 April 2012
The ‘good’ biographer always opts for a nuanced portrait, and this is what Peter McPhee has given us in his well-written, reflective, sympathetic account of one of the most enigmatic, complex leaders of the French Revolution, Maximilien Robespierre (1758–94). McPhee had his work cut out for him. Those familiar with the period may come to this book, as I did, with somewhat preconceived ideas. ... (read more)