Germany: The Tides of Power

Germany: The Tides of Power

Germany: The Tides of Power

Germany: The Tides of Power


In Germany - The Tides of Power , Michael Balfour sets out to explain the factors which have shaped the German social, political and economic character. Tracing the movement of power from the Middle Ages onwards, he seeks to lead the reader to an understanding of modern Germany - why Germany precipitated, and lost, two major wars this century; how the astonishing growth of wealth over the last half-century was achieved; the meaning behind the recent unification of Germany. As German economic expansion continues into the 1990's, Professor Balfour discusses the power held by this technologically advanced nation - and considers the acceptance of this power by the rest of the world.


In 1966-7 I wrote a book called West Germany for the series Nations of the Modern World. It described the history of Germany from Roman times to the formation of the Great Coalition in November 1966. By the time that it went out of print at the end of the 1970s, the series had been closed down. I then arranged for a fresh book to be published on its own which carried the story forward to the Federal Election of October 1980; this involved adding some forty ages. It was, however, felt that the utility of the book would gain if the length could be kept much the same. Accordingly the discussion of future problems, with which the earlier book had ended but which the passage of events had made largely otiose, was drastically cut and the treatment of the earlier centuries scaled down. This second book went out of print in the summer of 1990.

I have now repeated the process and added about forty pages; these include a few matters which occured before 1980 but came to light only after that date, such as the question of a German atom bomb. To avoid increasing the length, I have made compensating cuts, chiefly in the opening pages. I may therfore seem to have conceded the argument to those critics who said that there was no need for a book about today's Germany to start in the Dark Ages. But I remain impenitent in the opinion expressed in my first sentence, even if I have put it more succinctly.

Whereas the two earlier books nominally confined themselves to West Germany, reunification makes it neccessary to bring in East Germany as well. But until 1945 the story had been much the same for both parts, while even after that date it was impossible to make events in the West intelligible without referring here and there to the East. I have increased these references but I have not had room to go into the same detail as over the West.

A reviewer of the 1982 book commended me for 'not overtaxing my crystal ball', but even so I commited myself (like many other more distinguished people) to the statements that 'the Soviet Union will deploy all its resources rather than see its satellites pass out its control'. Today I find it even harder to forecast how the world is going to go and I have cut down my last pages as a result. I have halted my chronicle of events at 2

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