Rereading The Origins of the Second World War, more than three decades after its first appearance, is like bumping into a familiar face at a school reunion. Years ago we, the new boys, had been cautioned about this celebrity. Our mentors distrusted his judgment, though they admired his “style’ – in part a temperament distinguished by audacity, in part an inspired pen that too often made the complex appear simple. It was clear to us then, even if the reasoning behind it were less so, that Taylor’s Origins had passed some tests magnificently and failed others rather miserably. Whatever the final assessment of his peers, we undergraduates knew that Taylor had been responsible for an historical event of its own kind. Almost forty years later that publishing event of 1961 remains, as Taylor said of the war itself, “a matter of historical curiosity.”1