Arnold J. Toynbee

Arnold Joseph Toynbee
Arnold Joseph Toynbee CH (14 April 1889 – 22 October 1975) was a British historian, philosopher of history, research professor of international history at the London School of Economics and the University of London and author of numerous books. Toynbee in the 1918–1950 period was a leading specialist on international affairs.

He is best known for his 12-volume A Study of History (1934–1961). With his prodigious output of papers, articles, speeches and presentations, and numerous books translated into many languages, Toynbee was a widely read and discussed scholar in the 1940s and 1950s.

A Study of History was both a commercial and academic phenomenon. In the U.S. alone, more than seven thousand sets of the ten-volume edition had been sold by 1955. Most people, including scholars, relied on the very clear one-volume abridgement of the first six volumes by Somervell, which appeared in 1947; the abridgement sold over 300,000 copies in the U.S. The press printed innumerable discussions of Toynbee's work, not to mention there being countless lectures and seminars. Toynbee himself often participated. He appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 1947, with an article describing his work as "the most provocative work of historical theory written in England since Karl Marx’s Capital”, and was a regular commentator on BBC (examining the history of and reasons for the current hostility between east and west, and considering how non-westerners view the western world).

While on a visit in Berlin in 1936 to address the Nazi Law Society, Toynbee was invited to have a private interview with Adolf Hitler, at Hitler's request. Hitler emphasized his limited expansionist aim of building a greater German nation, and his desire for British understanding and cooperation. Toynbee believed that Hitler was sincere and endorsed Hitler's message in a confidential memorandum for the British prime minister and foreign secretary.

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