Few contemporary historians have accomplished so much at such a high level as Richard Overy. He has written admirable biographies of William Morris (the car-maker) and Hermann Goering. He has produced superb accounts of The Air War and Russia’s War. He has conducted a series of dazzling investigations into the origins of the Second World War, scrutinising everything from economic foundations to diplomatic gyrations and giving the most cogent explanation of why the Allies won. His monumental comparative study of Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia, Dictators, won the Wolfson Prize. And Overy has achieved all this and much more while holding down a professorial job complete with lectures, tutorials, conferences, learned articles and PhD students.
Equally impressive is his dedication to archival research. His book Interrogations (2001), for example, was based on a pile of dusty boxes that he unearthed containing transcripts of the preliminary cross-examination of top Nazis before their indictment as war criminals at Nuremberg. And one of the many merits