Cold War Europe, 1945-1991: A Political History

Cold War Europe, 1945-1991: A Political History

Cold War Europe, 1945-1991: A Political History

Cold War Europe, 1945-1991: A Political History


Since "Cold War Europe" was first published, the reunification of Germany, the collapse of the USSR and the ensuing chaos in former Yugoslavia have considerably modified our perspective on the period. Substantially expanded and rewritten, this new edition takes account of these events and sets them in the context of over forty years of Cold War tensions. In particular, analysis of events in Eastern Europe has been greatly extended, a chapter on Italy has been added, and social and economic developments across Europe are drawn into a new introduction.


This book is intended as a general introduction to the political history of Europe from the end of the Second World War to the collapse of the postwar communist regimes in the East. This was an era characterised by US-Soviet tension, the division of Europe between communist and capitalist systems and, at the centre, the existence of two Germanies. It is impossible, in a short single work to deal with every important subject in over forty years of history, and so the book deals primarily with the major European states — the Soviet Union, West Germany, France, Britain and Italy — and with four other important developments — the rise and decline of Cold-War tensions, Western European unity, the triumph of liberal democracy in southern Europe and the failure of communism in the East. This approach inevitably means some overlap between chapters, but this is kept to a minimum. It also means that there is no detailed coverage of the smaller West European democracies, including the Scandinavian and Benelux states as well as Ireland, Austria and Switzerland. This does not mean that their history is insignificant, merely that pressures of space made such exclusions inevitable.

What follows in the introduction is a review of major developments, especially in Western Europe, in the period 1945-89. This is particularly important in providing a reference point for comparisons between the main Western European democracies, West Germany, France, Italy and Britain.

Reconstruction, 1945-1952

In May 1945, at the end of the greatest war in history, much of Europe lay devastated. Tens of millions of people had died, millions more were injured and there was a massive refugee problem. Food and fuel were in short supply, communications were broken, whole cities lay ruined, and industry . . .

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