Harold James (historian)

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For other people of the same name, see Harold James (disambiguation).

Harold James (born 19 January 1956 in Bedford, United Kingdom) is an economic historian specializing in the history of Germany and European economic history. He is a Professor of History at Princeton University as well as the university's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.


Harold James was born and raised in the United Kingdom. He attended the The Perse School in Cambridge. He completed his undergraduate education at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University, and received his Ph.D. at Peterhouse, Cambridge in 1982. At Cambridge University he received the Ellen MacArthur Prize for Economic History. He began teaching at Princeton University in 1986. In 2004 the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C., awarded him the Helmut Schmidt Prize in Economic History. He serves on the editorial committee of the journal World Politics and is chairman of the Academic Council of eabh (European Association for Banking and Financial History).

James is married to Marzenna Kowalik (1964 – ), a political scientist who specializes in Polish-Soviet economic relations who also teaches at Princeton. They have three children.

German history[edit]

In the earlier part of his career, James focused on modern German history, particularly German financial history in the interwar era. Among his major contributions to the field are a detailed study of Deutsche Bank, an examination of the role of the Reichsbank in seizing Jewish financial assets during the Nazi era, and a reappraisal of the peculiar nature of the German national identity. James' explanation of the evolution of the German identity places particular emphasis on an "economic identity", which provided the impetus for unification in the 19th century. In 1992 he was appointed to the Independent Commission of Experts, which had been set up by the Swiss Parliament to examine the refugee policy of Switzerland during World War II as well as economic and financial relationships between Switzerland and Nazi Germany.


Harold James has written extensively on the economic implications of globalization, drawing comparisons with historical attempts at globalization that ended with the Great Depression beginning in 1929. He argues that the Great Depression must not be considered as only an American phenomenon, but as a global economic crisis. He examines the contemporary issues associated with globalization in the context of larger economic trends, which were disrupted by the World Wars and the Great Depression.


His publications include

Harold James has also authored several dozen articles in professional journals on German economic history, globalization, and political economy.

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