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The Struggle for Mastery in Europe: 1848-1918 (Oxford History of Modern Europe): A. J. P. Taylor
Oxford University Press, USA | ISBN: 0198221010 | 1955-12-31 | PDF (OCR) | 674 pages | 31.50 Mb
The system of international repression ended with the fall of Metternich in 1848. The conflicting ideals of international revolution and collective security came into being with Lenin and Wilson in 1918. Nationalism, tempered by the Balance of Power, dominated Europe in the intervening seventy years. Drawing on a wealth of diplomatic documents, A. J. P. Taylor examines the relations of the Great Powers, when Europe was still the centre of the world. Written in characteristically vigorous prose, this is a challenging and original diplomatic history, that also considers the political and economic forces which made continental war inevitable.
Summary: Masterly, and not a struggle to read
A.J.P Taylor's history is told through the prism of diplomatic affairs and great power jockeying for position. This is only one aspect of history, but in fact this book is an excellent guide to 19th century Europe overall, or its second half, and it has enough about economic and political developments to be readable as a general work. It is also extremely entertaining, both in a gossipy kind of way and because Taylor isn't afraid of going through the strategic intricacies of each situation. Don't be discouraged by the length; this is extremely readable. And it becomes wistful in the end, as your English summer slowly goes.
I once recommended this as a `top 3' to someone who knew very little history, but Taylor's well-known work appeals both to the novice and the knowledgeable amateur.
Summary: a british perspective on diplomatic history
What possessed me to purchase this book? There I was, in Bonanza Books, my favorite book store in my parent's home town. I looked at the title and thought, "Maybe I am interested in the struggle for mastery in europe (1848-1918).
I'm not at all a fan of european diplomatic history. Though the material has a certain "Wes Anderson" (filmmaker of Rushmore and Royal Tennenbaum) flavor to it. Lots of triple ententes, diplomatic notes and, my favorite phrase in the whole book- "secret diplomacy". You see, through out the time period of this book, few of the European Powers resembled the modern democracy of free press and public opinion. In fact- of the major powers (UK, France, Prussia/Germany, Austria Hungary, Russia and sometimes Italy and Turkey), only England was arguably a "demoracy" for the entire period.
So basically, European Diplomacy during this period resembled a version of Risk- alll the players plotting with first one partner, then the other, with the idea of maintaining a balance, rather then provoking a final reckoning. Taylor- an english historian who is widely acclaimed for being one of the first "tv" personalities from the history profession (though not on you tube), was also one of the very first "revisionist" historians. "Mastery" was originally published in 1954. Talor is revisionist in an American sense because he doesn't adopt a principled/moral perspective on the events of history. Although Taylor is "anti-German" in a broad sense, it's a more sophisticated perspective on world affairs then most americans are used to reading at the college level (though I'd imagine post graduate students of european history are required to read taylor.
In my reading, the nuances of each event (Colorful sub chapters like "The Andrassy Note" or "The Leauge of the Three Emperors" abound) are subsumed by the broad flow of Taylor's broader "anti-great men" of history approach. Taylor takes the position that most deailng in international affairs are dealing with a lack of solid information about their oppoenents and partners. I can think of at least twent occasions where Taylor was "But Minister X was wrong about his assumption."
That there largely was no war amongst the so-called Great Powers between the Crimean war of the 1850s and World War I of 1914 is largely ascribed by Taylor to the brilliance of Bismarck. Bismarck's genius is that he subscribed to a world view where Germany DID NOT dominate all of Europe. After he leave the scene, the German/Prussian leadership is gradually won over to the "German mastery over Europe." "German Nationalism" serves as an eerie prologue to events that this book does not cover, but the time period in Mastery is just as close to Napoleon's French Empire- an era also not covered in this book.
Summary: very good, but not for the casual reader
Taylor successfully tackles a sprawling, detailed subject -- seventy years of byzantine European diplomacy that set the stage for the First World War and, not so indirectly, the Second. He doesn't hold the reader's hand, and assumes you are familiar with many of the events and people he discusses. I wasn't, so I referred often to Britannica, Encarta, and Wikipedia as I read. By doing so, I learned a lot from this book.
Summary: obra maestra
El Prof. Taylor, de Oxford ,ha escrito una pieza maestra. Por decadas sera leido y recordado con furor. El libro es ameno y de facil comprension. Su estilo brillante y claro ha hecho historia en si mismo. Un libro para releer.
Summary: The Ne Plus Ultra of Modern European Historiography!
A. J. P. Taylor's book is the sine qua non for university students of European history. This is the real deal: Taylor was a genuine historian who never went further than his facts--and his facts are incredibly well researched, well documented, and bountiful. This is true historiography: the way history ought to be done! Plus, Taylor writes very well, in a lively and entertaining fashion. He has good language, wit, and trenchant observations.It must be noted that this is a history of diplomacy--with some political and military of necessity treated. What does this mean? Well, it means that the characters of Taylor's book are mostly forgotten professional diplomats, and therefore most of their names won't be familiar to those unschooled in modern European history--Bismarck and Disraeli excepted. But this esoterica only increases the value of Taylor's work; for it reveals these forgotten characters to us once again: a gem of historical literature.