South Shields Local History Group

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Erickson John (Historian)

John Erickson, FRSE, FBA, FRSA (17 April 1929 – 10 February 2002) was a British historian and defence expert who wrote extensively on the Second World War. His two best-known books – The Road to Stalingrad and The Road to Berlin – dealt with the Soviet response to the German invasion of the Soviet Union, covering the period from 1941 to 1945. He was respected for his knowledge of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. His Russian language skills and knowledge gained him respect.

John Erickson was born on 17 April 1929 in the town of South Shields (then part of County Durham), England. He was educated at South Shields High School for Boys and St John’s College, Cambridge, where he graduated MA Hons.

He became a research fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford, from 1956 until 1958, during which he met his future wife Ljubica Petrovic, a young Yugoslavian attending Oxford to read English. At the culmination of their courtship, they sought the permission of the Yugoslav cultural attaché before their wedding in 1957.

Professor Erickson then taught at the universities of St Andrews in 1958, Manchester in 1962 and then Indiana in 1964 before becoming a reader in higher defence studies at the University of Edinburgh in 1967. In 1969 he became Professor of Defence Studies, a position he held until 1988, where he founded and was the head of the Centre for Defence Studies.  From 1988 to 1996 he was the director of the Centre for Defence Studies.

In recognition of Erickson’s achievement, Sir Michael Eliot Howard declared that ‘Nobody deserves more credit for the ultimate dissolution of the misunderstandings that brought the Cold War to an end and enabled the peoples of Russia and their western neighbours to live in peace.’

British Academy Biography
Terry Ford
Brian Mackley
Wikipedia John Erickson (historian) – Wikipedia

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