The Inevitable Accident
The writing of this book has been a massive task, which would not have been possible without considerable background support. There is always a long history of relevant reading, discussion and help provided with organising time to think and time to jot down ideas, well before the concept for a book emerges. Academia provides time and space for pursuing research but is a trap in that it can envelop you in groupthink. Universities are remarkably conservative places, with disciplines operating within narrow paradigms and a mighty dose of political correctness outlawing the mention of some issues. In my experience, academics are extremely cautious in drawing out the implications of their research. Retirement not only frees an academic from endless meetings and administrative demands, it creates room for autonomous thinking; it allows a greater sensitivity to new work and provides an opportunity for cross-disciplinary reading. Yet there are always some academics who capture your interest and stimulate innovative thinking.
I owe a lot to the universities where I have worked, embracing a much wider experience than most academics, in my case being a member of several Centres of Russian and East European Studies, spending a year in the Soviet Union, and later becoming the inaugural head of a Graduate School of Management operating without any government funds. In particular I thank Cambridge University, what once was Leningrad University, the University College of Swansea, La Trobe University and my colleagues at those institutions. An even greater thank you goes to my wife and my family, who have supported me and responded to my meanderings through the history of the world. Sandra, my wife, has been a real inspiration.
To my wife, Sandra – we have shared 50 years together.
For her the book probably seemed to take 50 years.