In 1989, Larry Summers Predicted Current Financial Crisis

04/28/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

IN 1934, the journalist Johannes Steel wrote a remarkably prescient book, "The Second World War," which described the social psychology that laid the groundwork for global tragedy.

Mr. Steel was trying to peer into people's minds and infer their actual world views and motivations -- in part by examining prewar cycles of social provocation in Germany and Japan and Italy. His timing about the war was wrong -- he expected it to start in 1935, not 1939 -- but he was correct about many fundamentals. Yet his early readers were often skeptical and blithely assumed that there would be no war.

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