Europe's Uncertain Path, 1814-1914: State Formation and Civil Society

Europe's Uncertain Path, 1814-1914: State Formation and Civil Society

Europe's Uncertain Path, 1814-1914: State Formation and Civil Society

Europe's Uncertain Path, 1814-1914: State Formation and Civil Society

Synopsis

Europe's Uncertain Path is an introduction to Europe's turbulent history from 1814 to 1914. It presents a clear narrative of the major political events, set against the backdrop of social, economic, and cultural change.
  • An introduction to Europe's turbulent history from 1814 to 1914
  • Provides students with a solid grounding in the main political events and social changes of the period
  • Explains the causes and outcomes of major events: the effect of the emergence of mass politics; the evolution of political ideologies; and the link between foreign and domestic policy
  • Offers balanced coverage of Eastern, Western, and Central Europe
  • Illustrations, maps, and figures enhance student understanding

Excerpt

The book that follows is a political narrative. Why focus on political history rather than the other subdisciplines? In governing, rulers and politicians have to take military, diplomatic, economic, social, and cultural developments into account. For this reason, political history constitutes a nexus; all the other subdisciplines are connected by, and related, to it. Knowledge of political history thus provides a starting point for more advanced study of the other subdisciplines and, better yet, underlines the limitations of viewing any of them in isolation. Why should a student care about politics? Even if you do not take much interest in those who govern you, you can be certain that they take interest in you and that their decisions affect you from the cradle to the grave. Study of nineteenth-century Europe helps to explain why states have become so influential, for better and worse, in the lives of all citizens.

Europe’s Uncertain Path is divided into ten chapters and a conclusion. Two thematic chapters are dedicated specifically to discussion of demographic, economic, social, and cultural trends. Their function is to supplement the other chapters through consideration of how major trends affected government. International (including military) and domestic political developments are analysed in eight narrative chapters organized along chronological lines so that the reader can trace how they evolved. By carefully situating decision-making within its long- and short-term contexts, we can better understand the motivation of leading political figures and assess the consequences of what they did. Politics is a product of ideology (a more or less coherent system of ideals or values) and pursuit of material interest through the acquisition of power. Thus to comprehend politics we need to know the leading ideologies of the period. In assessing our own contemporary politicians, few of us would however be content to look solely at the ideals they express in campaign speeches, public addresses, or legislative debates. Rhetoric tells us something; yet there is much to be said for the adage that action speaks louder than words. What did political figures actually do? We cannot cover everything of consequence, but a major objective of this book is to provide the reader with sufficiently broad knowledge of principal developments that he or she will be prepared to undertake more specialized reading in the future.

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