McKercher, Brian



Phone number: (472) 4131
Department: History

Research description:

-19th and 20th Century British Foreign policy
-19th and 20th Century American Foreign policy
Expertise Profile
Historian Brian McKercher studies the history of national defence strategy and the issues of war and peace from 1815 to 1939, focusing on Britain and the other great powers of the time.

He currently studies Britain's motivation for entering World War I. Many scholars believe Britain and Germany were not natural enemies and that Russia posed a far greater threat to Britain. Consequently, Britain probably should not have entered the war.

Dr. McKercher has a different interpretation: "I argue that the Russians might have been a long-term threat, but Germany was a more potent, menacing short-term threat."

Britain could not have avoided the war because they were strategically concerned with the balance of power in Europe, says Dr. McKercher. If the Germans had won the war, they would have controlled the continent, drastically changing the balance of power. On the other hand, if France and Russia had won, then they would have upset the balance by splitting the continent up between them.

When Dr. McKercher teaches his senior-level classes, he emphasizes multiple interpretations of historical events. Every week, he hands out articles to read and assigns different ones to each student. "I don't have them read the same book and discuss the same thing every time because nobody learns anything. It's better if they have clashing ideas."


French, German, Italian

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