Contemporary Europe: A History

Contemporary Europe: A History

Contemporary Europe: A History

Contemporary Europe: A History

Excerpt

The primacy of Europe was still taken for granted at the beginning of the twentieth century. Nearly all Europeans--and most non-Europeans as well--assumed that this little continent would continue to play the leading role in world affairs, as it had during the four centuries past. Very few suspected that the end of Europe's global supremacy was already on the horizon. The past half-century marks the end of the European age. But to reduce the history of Europe in the last fifty years to an impersonal, external record of decline and fall is to ignore an enormously rich and complex segment of human experience: the internal aspect of history. In the decades after 1914, Europeans were only rarely conscious of the historical fate that was overtaking them. They continued to live their lives as Europeans , absorbed in national and ideological struggles and in the maintenance and extension of their cultural heritage.

The origins and sequels of the two great European wars that became world wars--and the abiding menace of a third--bring into focus the problems that Europeans considered peculiarly their own: national rivalries, the struggles of the economically discontented, and the rise of ideologies claiming the total obedience of the citizen. These problems were never really "solved." Some became less acute; others lapsed into obsolescence as, after the

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Europe in 1914

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