The present as challenge for the historian: the contemporary world in the 'Annales E.S.C. (1929-1949)

The 'Annales' school of historians, led by Lucien Febvre and Marc Bloch and centered on their journal, 'Annales: Economies, Sociétés, Civilisations,' emphasized the unity of all social sciences - and even the natural sciences - and deemphasized the distinction between past and present. The historian uses information from economics, sociology, political science, literature, even geography, geology and climatology, to reconstruct the environment in which societies existed in the past. Present events are incomprehensible except as continuations of the realities and trends of the past. The 'Annales' concentrated on issues of current importance: during the Great Depression, on economics; after 1933 on Nazi Germany (with little attention given to Mussolini and none to Franco); during the 1930's, on Stalin's USSR and Roosevelt's USA; in the late 1940's, on the rise of nationalism in the Maghreb. Since 1949, Fernand Braudel's triad of 'longue durée, conjonctures' and 'événements' became one of the leading currents of 'Annales' thought.