Richard James Overy
23 December 1947
|Alma mater||Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge|
|Known for||Studies on military history, especially the Second World War|
|Why the Allies Won, The Air War: 1939–1945|
Life and career
Overy, after being educated at Caius College, Cambridge, and becoming a research fellow at Churchill College, taught history at Cambridge from 1972 to 1979, as a fellow of Queens' College and from 1976 as a university assistant lecturer. He moved to King's College London, where he became professor of modern history in 1994. He was appointed to a professorship at the University of Exeter in 2004.
Overy's work on the Second World War has been praised as "highly effective [in] the ruthless dispelling of myths" (AJP Taylor), "original and important" (New York Review of Books) and "at the cutting edge" (Times Literary Supplement).
Dispute with Timothy Mason
This section may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may interest only a particular audience.(January 2022)
In the late 1980s, Overy was involved in a historical dispute with Timothy Mason that mostly played out over the pages of Past & Present over the reasons for the outbreak of the Second World War 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 decisions or aggression. Overy argued against Mason's thesis by maintaining that though Germany was faced with economic problems in 1939, their extent cannot explain aggression against Poland and the outbreak of war was caused by the Nazi leadership. For Overy, the problem with Mason's thesis was that it rested on assumptions that were not shown by records, information that was passed on to Hitler about Germany's economic problems.
Overy argued that there was a difference between economic pressures induced by the problems of the Four Year Plan and economic motives to seize raw materials, industry and foreign reserves of neighbouring states as a way of accelerating the Four Year Plan. Overy asserted that the repressive capacity of the German state as a way of dealing with domestic unhappiness was somewhat downplayed by Mason. Finally, Overy argued that there is considerable evidence that Germany felt that it could master the economic problems of rearmament; as one civil servant put it in January 1940, "we have already mastered so many difficulties in the past, that here too, if one or other raw material became extremely scarce, ways and means will always yet be found to get out of a fix".
Awards and honours
- 1977 Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
- 2000 Fellow of the British Academy
- 2003 Fellow of King's College
- 2001 Samuel Eliot Morison Prize of the Society for Military History
- 2004 Wolfson History Prize, The Dictators: Hitler's Germany; Stalin's Russia
- 2005 Hessell-Tiltman Prize, The Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia
- Overy was featured in the 2006 BBC docudrama Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial.
- KGNU's Claudia Cragg – interview with Overy on 'Countdown To War' for Remembrance Day (Veteran's Day) 2010.
- Overy was a featured commentator in the 2018 series Hitler's Circle of Evil.
- William Morris, Viscount Nuffield (1976), ISBN 0-900362-84-7.
- The Air War: 1939–1945 (1980), ISBN 1-57488-716-5.
- The Nazi Economic Recovery, 1932–1938 (1982), ISBN 0-521-55286-9.
- Goering: The "Iron Man" (1984), ISBN 1-84212-048-4.
- All Our Working Lives (with Peter Pagnamenta, 1984), ISBN 0-563-20117-7.
- The Origins of The Second World War edited by Patrick Finney, Edward Arnold: London, Hodder Education Publishers (1997), Third Edition (2008) ISBN 0-340-67640-X.
- Co-written with Timothy Mason: "Debate: Germany, 'Domestic Crisis' and War in 1939" pp. 200–240 in Past and Present, Number 122, February 1989, reprinted as "Debate: Germany, 'Domestic Crisis' and the War in 1939" in The Origins of The Second World War (1997).
- The Road To War (with Andrew Wheatcroft, 1989), ISBN 0-14-028530-X.
- The Inter-War Crisis, 1919–1939 (1994), ISBN 0-582-35379-3.
- War and Economy in the Third Reich (1994), ISBN 0-19-820290-3.
- Why the Allies Won (1995), ISBN 0-224-04172-X.
- The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Third Reich (1996), ISBN 0-14-051330-2.
- The Times Atlas of the Twentieth Century (ed., 1996), ISBN 0-7230-0766-7.
- Bomber Command, 1939–45 (1997), ISBN 0-00-472014-8.
- Russia's War: Blood upon the Snow (1997), ISBN 1-57500-051-2.
- The Times History of the 20th Century (1999), ISBN 0-00-716637-0.
- The Battle (2000), ISBN 0-14-029419-8 (republished as The Battle of Britain: The Myth and the Reality).
- Interrogations: The Nazi Elite in Allied Hands, 1945 (2001), ISBN 0-7139-9350-2 (republished as Interrogations: Inside the Minds of the Nazi Elite).
- Germany: A New Social and Economic History. Vol. 3: Since 1800 (ed. with Sheilagh Ogilvie, 2003), ISBN 0-340-65215-2.
- The Times Complete History of the World (6th ed., 2004), ISBN 0-00-718129-9.
- The Dictators: Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia (2004), ISBN 0-7139-9309-X.
- Collins Atlas of Twentieth Century History (2005), ISBN 0-00-720170-2.
- Imperial War Museum's Second World War Experience Volume 1: Blitzkrieg (2008), ISBN 978-1-84442-014-8.
- Imperial War Museum's Second World War Experience Volume 2: Axis Ascendant (2008), ISBN 978-1-84442-008-7.
- 1939: Countdown to War (2009), ISBN 978-960-16-3467-8.
- The Morbid Age: Britain Between the Wars (2009), ISBN 978-0-7139-9563-3.
- The Bombing War: Europe 1939–1945 (2013), ISBN 0713995610 (later published as The Bombers and the Bombed: Allied Air War Over Europe, 1940–1945, ISBN 978-0-670-02515-2).
- RAF: The Birth of the World's First Air Force (2018), ISBN 978-0-393-35724-0
- Blood and Ruins: The Great Imperial War, 1931-1945 (2021), ISBN 978-0-713-99562-6
- Overy, Richard (19 October 2007). "The 50 key dates of world history". The Times. Retrieved 2 April 2009.
- "Professor Richard Overy". University of Exeter. Retrieved 18 June 2022.
- Mason, Tim & Overy, R.J. "Debate: Germany, 'domestic crisis' and the war in 1939" from The Origins of The Second World War edited by Patrick Finney, Edward Arnold: London, United Kingdom, 1997, p. 102
- Overy, Richard "Germany, 'Domestic Crisis' and War in 1939" from The Third Reich edited by Christian Leitz Blackwell: Oxford, 1999, pp. 117-118
- Overy, Richard "Germany, 'Domestic Crisis' and War in 1939" from The Third Reich, edited by Christian Leitz, Blackwell: Oxford, 1999, p. 108
- "Samuel Eliot Morison Prize previous winners". Society for Military History. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
- Cragg, Claudia (11 November 2010). "Chatting Up A Storm with Claudia Cragg". Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- Media related to Richard Overy at Wikimedia Commons
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