Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books: Western Europe: Out of Ashes: A New History of Europe in the Twentieth Century/Rethinking the European Union

Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books: Western Europe: Out of Ashes: A New History of Europe in the Twentieth Century/Rethinking the European Union

Article excerpt

Recent Books

Out of Ashes: A New History of Europe in the Twentieth Century BY KONRAD H. JARAUSCH. Princeton University Press, 2015, 880 pp.

Rethinking the European Union BY NATHANIEL COPSEY. Palgrave, 2015, 272 pp.

As twentieth-century Europe recedes into the past, books are appearing that seek to make sense of it. Jarausch, a distinguished historian of Germany, views the period through the lens of the continent's experience of modernization: a rise in economic productivity of unprecedented speed and the consequent effects on social structure, cultural discourse, and political ideas. Jarausch focuses mostly on the last of those categories, interpreting the century as the battleground for a grand conflict among three ideologies that sought to shape European political action: communism, fascism, and (more or less social) democratic capitalism.

It's a story of war, revolution, and, in its final chapters, peaceful integration. This approach is insightful, although readers will learn little about how Europeans thought, felt, expressed themselves, or lived their daily lives. …

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