Crampton, R(ichard) J. 1940-

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

CRAMPTON, R(ichard) J. 1940-


PERSONAL: Born November 23, 1940; son of John Donald and Norah (Haden) Crampton; married Celia Harris, 1965; children: two sons. Education: University of Dublin, B.A.; University of Oxford, M.A.; University of London, Ph.D. Hobbies and other interests: Cooking, bird watching, "trying to avoid pop music and mobile phones."




ADDRESSES: Offıce—c/o Oxford University, Faculty of Modern History, Broad St., Oxford OX1 3BD, England. E-mail—[email protected] uk.


CAREER: University of Kent at Canterbury, lecturer, 1967-78, senior lecturer, 1978-88, professor of East European history, 1988-90; University of Oxford, lecturer in history, 1990-1996, Fellow of St. Edmund Hall, 1990—, professor of East European history, 1996—.


WRITINGS:


The Hollow Détente: Anglo-German Relations in theBalkans, 1911-1914, Humanities Press (Atlantic Highlands, NJ), 1981.

Bulgaria, 1878-1918: A History, East European Monographs (New York, NY), 1983.

A Short History of Modern Bulgaria, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1987.

(Compiler) Bulgaria (bibliography), Clio (Santa Barbara, CA), 1989.

Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century, Routledge (New York, NY), 1994, 2nd edition published as Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century and After, 1997.

(With Benjamin Crampton) Atlas of Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century, Routledge (New York, NY), 1996.

A Concise History of Bulgaria, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1997.

The Balkans since the Second World War, Longman (New York, NY), 2002.


SIDELIGHTS: With a variety of writings about Bulgaria and the Balkans, British historian R. J. Crampton has created important English-language resources on Eastern European history. He has written for both specialists and nonspecialists, and has been credited with providing interesting, carefully selected information on a complex and volatile region. While Crampton has a special interest in European history from 1918 to 1945, his histories of Bulgaria are comprehensive works that span Bulgaria's medieval origins and twentieth-century political turmoil. Among his works that focus on contemporary politics is The Balkans since the Second World War, which surveys the recent history of the Balkan states.


In The Hollow Détente: Anglo-German Relations in the Balkans, 1911-1914, Crampton shows how England and Germany tried to hold off war in Europe during a period that he characterizes as a détente. Great Britain's ties to Russia and Germany's alliance with Austria-Hungary led these countries to try to relieve tensions in the Balkans, where nationalism and territorial disputes were growing. The book is based on research using British Foreign Office correspondence from the Public Record Office and microfilmed documents from the German Foreign Ministry Archives. Reviews show the work to be substantial and convincing, and best-suited to specialist readers. Writing for the British Book News, Roger Bullen called The Hollow Détente an "important and lively book" and one that makes contributions on several different levels. Robert James Maddox commented in History: Reviews of New Books that the book was persuasive and well-written, but noted that it "contains such a wealth of detail that only the most determined buff will work his way through it." And in the American Historical Review, Laurence Lafore remarked, "The scholarship is towering. . . . More detailed studies may appear, but it seems unlikely that any will cause major revision in Crampton's narrative and conclusions."

The monograph Bulgaria, 1878-1918: A History takes a broader focus in order to show a wider audience the first several decades of Bulgarian statehood. In this work, Crampton considers diplomatic relations with other countries, internal political developments, economic conditions, and social trends. According to a reviewer for Choice, the book was not only "solid, well written and useful," it was also seen as filling "a gap in English-language literature on the history of Bulgaria." In a review for the American hisotrical Review, Philip Shashko called the book "the best history of Bulgaria in English and one of the most satisfactory one-volume studies in any language," despite some perceived omissions. Shashko also noted that it was "a product of extensive, meticulous research in Austrian and British archival materials and in specialized studies, both Bulgarian and foreign." In the English Historical Review, Z. A. B. Zeman predicted that it would become "required reading" on Bulgaria. St. K. Pavlowitch commented in the Journal of Modern History that it was a "clearly narrated history . . . which constantly stimulates reflections, parallels, and questions. It provides scholarly and intelligent political history, backed up by social and economic analyses."


Crampton shows a special skill at distilling the most critical information about Bulgaria in A Short History of Modern Bulgaria, which is just over 200 pages long. The subject is divided into three segments: one on events through the end of World War I, a second that takes the reader through World War II, and a third considering Communist rule until 1985. Writing for Choice, E. M. Despalatovic recommended the work to nonspecialists and highlighted that "the writing is clear and interesting, the tone objective." Jerry Tomaszewski noted in the European History Quarterly that Crampton had "the skill and elegance of an experienced writer," but wished the book had more to say about conspiracies in Bulgaria. Noting the difficulty of explaining political violence in Bulgaria, Joseph Rothschild commented in the American Historical Review that Crampton had done remarkable work in creating an "intelligible history" in so short a space. Rothschild had special interest in the book's "account of the Communists' economic difficulties since their violent political victory over other parties."


Two editions of Crampton's Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century have been published; the second adds "And After" to the title and considers events after 1989. Both are aimed at readers with some background in the history and politics of the region, which is defined broadly to include the Balkans and Baltic republics. Crampton begins with a review of the period between the world wars, and goes on to discuss totalitarianism and the collapse of socialism. In a review of the first edition for the Times Higher Education Supplement, Charles King called the book an "engaging and erudite history of a region where the locomotive of history seems to run faster than anywhere else." King also said, "One of the book's most laudable qualities is that it takes the interwar period seriously." Stephen Fischer-Galati commented in the International History Review that the interwar discussion was "lucid, objective, and thorough" and suggested that the book "should be mandatory reading for policy-makers and executors of such policies in contemporary Eastern Europe." According to James Felak in the Journal of Modern History, "Crampton successfully weaves his consideration of regionwide issues into a country-by-country narrative, enabling the reader to gain an appreciation for both the similarities and differences among the various states and peoples of Eastern Europe. He has a knack for concentrating on what is genuinely important, so the reader is spared detail for its own sake."


The political, social, economic, and cultural histories of individual Balkan countries are detailed in The Balkans since the Second World War. In this book, Crampton writes about Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, and Yugoslavia, which all became Communist countries during this period, as well as Greece. He considers the period when communism was established, a middle era of communist dominance, and the later time of political upheaval. In a review for Choice, D. MacKenzie considered it to be an "excellent survey of Balkan history," one that was "objective, analytical, and clear." Vladimir Tismaneanu commented in the Times Literary Supplement that Crampton "succeeds in offering an inclusive and convincing political and historical map," although he also found that the author "neglects the context of the rest of the Soviet bloc." Tismaneanu had special praise for Crampton's "compelling analysis" on Greece.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:


PERIODICALS


American Historical Review, June, 1982, Laurence Lafore, review of The Hollow Détente: Anglo-German Relations in the Balkans, 1911-1914, pp. 770-771; June, 1985, Philip Shashko, review of Bulgaria, 1878-1918: A History, pp. 733-734; December, 1988, Joseph Rothschild, review of A Short History of Modern Bulgaria, pp. 1366-1367.

British Book News, November, 1981, Roger Bullen, review of The Hollow Détente, pp. 701-702.

Choice, April, 1984, review of Bulgaria, 1878-1918, p. 1185; February, 1988, E. M. Despalatovic, review of A Short History of Modern Bulgaria, p. 955; November, 2002, D. MacKenzie, review of The Balkans since the Second World War, p. 532.

English Historical Review, July, 1986, Z. A. B. Zeman, review of Bulgaria, 1878-1918, p. 739.

European History Quarterly, July, 1990, Jerry Tomaszewski, review of A Short History of Modern Bulgaria, pp. 444-446.

History: Reviews of New Books, January, 1982, Robert James Maddox, review of The Hollow Détente, p. 72.

International History Review, May, 1996, Stephen Fischer-Galati, review of Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century, p. 447.

Journal of Modern History, March, 1986, St. K. Pavlowitch, review of Bulgaria, 1878-1918, p. 376; June, 1997, James Felak, review of Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century, p. 408.

Times Higher Education Supplement, July 21, 1995, Charles King, "Motley Chips off the Old Bloc," p. 26.

Times Literary Supplement October 25, 2002, Vladimir Tismaneanu, "Europe on the Horizon," p. 28.*