The Black Sun of Paroxysm Nazism, War Violence, and Now Publication date : March 3, 2021
Christian Ingrao is a historian and head of research at CNRS in Paris. He was director of the Institut d’histoire du temps présent (2008 – 2013), and teaches at the Institut d’Études Politiques (Sciences Po) in Paris. He has written on Nazism and war violence in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, on the cultural history of Nazi militancy, and German violence, notably on the Eastern Front.
There are two facets to Christian Ingrao’s new book: it is both the work of a practicing historian (applied history) and the work of a thinker/historian who experiments with ways of working, with conceptual and disciplinary connections, who analyzes and tests concepts and methods (historical theory). Thus, the concept of paroxysm is both the object of a reflection which aims to define it as a theoretical tool, an empirical and historiographical category, and an “application” for historical objects: the war suicides in 1945 in Germany and Japan, the emergency actions during the attacks of 13 November 2015 in Paris – symbols of paroxysm.
The book is partially an analysis of situated historical objects (speeches, representations, and emotions of actors of Nazi genocidal violence, the war suicides of 1945, emergency action in 2015, etc.) and partially devoted to the philosophy of history, the history of conceptions, and practices of history – or metahistory – whose historiographical chapters are in part exercises in practical application.
In this sense it is a unique book, both a book of history and a book on history, producing an historiographical object and allowing the reader to visit the factory and the workshop, in a sometimes demanding, but undeniably fascinating journey. A history working to define its approach and concepts, before putting them into practice in order to clarify pasts that help us to understand the present.
The book’s strength is in this back-and-forth between theoretical and methodological reflection and in its subsequent application to historical objects.