Ordinary Men is one of the most influential works on the Holocaust. Before US historian Browning's 1992 book, most Holocaust scholarship focused either on the experience of the victims or on the Nazi political ideology driving the slaughter. Browning investigates the stories of some who carried out acts of extreme violence, those who literally had blood on their hands. Who were they? What were their backgrounds? And how could they end up committing such unspeakable acts?
Based around a Marxist understanding of class struggle, Lefebvre sees the revolution not just as a political crisis, but also as an assault on inherited privilege and the social hierarchy. Ultimately, it succeeded because people at every level of society - from nobles and the elite bourgeois to peasants and the urban masses - found the will to defy the crown. Lefebvre's book was later interpreted by some as simplistic and overly partisan, designed as a rallying call to his fellow countrymen.
In The Age of Revolution, renowned British Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm focuses on the historical period from the end of the 18th century to the middle of the 19th. He concludes that the "dual revolutions" of the time - the French Revolution and the British Industrial Revolution - changed the way the whole world thought about politics and power, and fundamentally shaped the modern era.
American author Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's 1996 work, Hitler's Willing Executioners, is one of the most controversial history books of modern times. While most historians have sought to explain the horror of the Holocaust by focusing on Nazi leaders and their ideologies, Goldhagen set out to investigate whether ordinary Germans enthusiastically embraced their goals. His conclusion: "eliminationist anti-Semitism" - a genocidal hatred of Jews unique to Germany - caused the Holocaust.
What is history? In his 2001 book In Defence of History, British historian Richard J. Evans debates the very nature of the subject. Certain thinkers known as postmodernists consider history to be not very far removed from a work of fiction, something based on a scholar's own interpretation of the past. Evans, however, argues that historians do not have free reign. Rather, they are constrained and enabled by the nature of the surviving evidence.