I studied Modern and Medieval history, Italian and German literature at the Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf and the Universitá degli Studi di Napoli. My PhD (a biography of the Prussian Minister of War and German Chief of Staff, General Erich v. Falkenhayn (1861-1922), was funded by a scholarship of the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation and supervised by Wolfgang J. Mommsen.
Afterwards I started a major research project on international relations before 1914 (The Triple Alliance and European Great Power Politics, 1881-1915) which I completed as an Alexander-von-Humboldt-scholar in Vienna (1996-1998). I was awarded my Habilitation at the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf in 1999 and got later a honorary professorship.
From 1999 to 2002 I taught at the University of Düsseldorf. At the same time I won a major research grant by the Fritz-Thyssen-Foundation for research on Wilhelm II as Supreme Warlord during World War I. The result - a 1100 pages edition - was published by the Historical Commission of the Bavarian Academy of Science.
In August 2002 I became DAAD Professor of Modern German History at Emory University in Atlanta. Among other things I organised a large international conference in 2004 on the outbreak of war in 1914 which was opened by President Jimmy Carter. I left Atlanta in summer 2006 after accepting my current position at the University of Leeds.
My expertise lies in the following fields: the history of Europe in both World Wars, especially World War I with particular reference to late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century German, Austrian and Italian history in a European context. Also International relations in Europe since 1870, especially between Bismarck and 1914. I am also interested in the history of war more generally.