Bernard Wasserstein - Barbarism and Civilization: A History of Europe in our Time
Oxford University Press | October 1, 2007 | ISBN: 978 0198730743 | PDF | 928 pages | 5.6 MB
A vibrant new history of modern Europe, covering everything from war and politics to everyday life in a period of convulsive and dramatic change.
Here is the definitive history of contemporary Europe, a controversial but authoritative and lively narrative that is destined to become the standard account of the period from 1914 to the present.
In this important new book, University of Chicago historian Bernard Wasserstein offers the first serious, full-length history of a century of convulsive change. It is a history of barbarism and civilization, of cruelty and tenderness, of technological achievement and environmental blight, of imperial expansion and withdrawal, of authoritarian repression and of individualism resurgent. Wasserstein provides both a narrative of the main contours of the political, diplomatic, and military history and an analysis of the underpinnings of demographic, economic, and social developments. Most notably, the book explores the evolution of values and sensibilities in a period when, for the first time, God disappeared as a living presence in the minds of most Europeans.
Wasserstein argues that barbarism and civilization were not polar opposites: rather they marched hand in hand. Twentieth-century Europe saw incontestable improvements in living conditions for most inhabitants of the continent: average life span was extended by more than half; real incomes increased dramatically; illiteracy was all but eliminated; women, ethnic minorities, and homosexuals advanced closer to equality of respect and opportunity. Yet the century also witnessed some of the most brutish episodes in the recorded history of our species. Hence Wasserstein's conclusion that "greed, selfishness, lies, and cruelty are the stuff of the history of Europe in our time."
Drawing on the latest scholarly findings, including recent disclosures of intelligence materials and archival revelations that followed the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, Wasserstein captures the essence of contemporary European history in an engaging narrative that is by turns grim, humorous, surprising, and enlightening.
"Barbarism and civilization have been inextricably intertwined in 20th-century Europe, says University of Chicago historian Wasserstein in this tour-de-force.... At all times, he displays a clear writing style and an admirable balance, two traits that make this a rare gem of contemporary scholarship."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Bernard Wasserstein has written a beautifully balanced, exhaustive (yet never exhausting) history of Europe's bloodiest century. With admirable craftmanship, he as woven together the many 'Europes' of the past hundred years - Western and Eastern, urban and rural, spiritual and secular - into a single, seamless but exquisitely embroidered tapestry. His sanity and humanity illuminate every page." Niall Ferguson
"A very impressive historical synthesis. Wasserstein has a lovely brisk, dry stylewell researched and thoughtful but fast-moving and exciting. As narrative histories of the last century go, this is as good as it gets."-Dominic Sandbrook, Literary Review
"Wasserstein demonstrates his wit, humor and humanity...Highly recommended. All academic levels/libraries."--Choice
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