Total War and Historical Change: Europe, 1914-1955

Total War and Historical Change: Europe, 1914-1955

Total War and Historical Change: Europe, 1914-1955

Total War and Historical Change: Europe, 1914-1955


• What do we mean by social and cultural change?

• What is the nature of total war?

• How do wars come to happen?

• What are the consequences of war?

In exploring these four key themes, this collection provides a major resource for the study of twentieth century European history and exemplifies different historical methods and approaches. The authors are drawn from a range of disciplines including those of economics, literature and the arts as well as military, social and political history, and together they raise some of the most significant problems and debates in the study of history. The essays range from standard seminal works by Stanley Hoffmann, Arno J. Mayer and Charles Maier to more recent contributions by Richard Bessell, Mark Harrison and Hew Strachan.

This is an important reader for all students of modern European history.


Arthur Marwick and Clive Emsley

What do we mean by social change? Some historians conceive the answer in quite broad terms, in terms, indeed, of shifting patterns of dominance, of changing structures of power, of groups and classes overthrowing or replacing or reaching accommodations with each other, of, perhaps, a bourgeois class replacing a landed class and then, say, of the bourgeois class skilfully fending off the claims of a 'rising' working class. the Introduction to the Open University course Total War and Social Change: Europe 1914–1955, in conjunction with which this Reader has been designed, suggests a different approach which, rather than dealing with broad shifts in power relationships, tries to get at the detail of social change by denning ten overlapping areas: social geography (including basic population statistics, distribution of urban and rural populations, etc.); economic and technological change; social structure (including questions of class' etc.); national cohesion (questions of ethnic composition, etc.); social reform and welfare policies; material conditions; customs and behaviour; the role and status of women; high and popular culture; institutions and values.

What do we mean by total war? How is total war distinguished from other kinds of war? It is common practice to refer to both 'the Great War' of 1914–18 and the 'Second World War' of 1939–45 as total wars, and to see the former as the first total war in history. Questions then arise about how true the second generalization is, and about how far there were critical differences between these two wars. What is the relationship, if any, between the Great War and the revolutions which broke out in various countries towards the end of it? Between that war and the rise of Fascism and of Nazism? What are the differences, and what are the links, between total war, other international wars, revolutions, civil war and 'internal war' and genocide?

How do wars come about? As total wars, did the two major wars of the twentieth century have essentially similar origins? Were they perhaps just . . .

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