The dramatic events in Europe in 1989, the tumultuous developments that followed, and the growing realization of a single Europe underscore the need for reassessment of the history of Europe since World War II. In this book we seek to meet that need by examining the political and economic history of postwar Europe in both its domestic and international dimensions.
We begin by surveying the rise of Europe from the fourteenth through the nineteenth centuries, analyzing the forces of modernization that led to its preeminence at the beginning of the twentieth century. We then portray the decline of Europe from its pinnacle of strength and optimism through war, depression, and totalitarianism, culminating in the devastation of World War II, which left Europe deprived of both political and economic vitality. In Part Two we take up our central task of analyzing the international aspects of the phenomenal rebirth of Europe, beginning with its shattered state in 1945 and continuing through the revolutionary changes of the early 1990s. It is a story of division, Cold War confrontation, evolving West European integration, and eventual emergence of a reshaped Europe as an independent player on the global stage.
Part Three presents an in-depth examination of the major European nations and of many of the smaller states. The histories of these states do not always correspond with the flow of international events, and their consideration over a sweep of nearly a half-century thus affords a useful comparative analytical perspective. We discuss the main developments in these countries and place them in the larger international context; special attention is given to patterns of modernization, efforts to achieve economic growth and stability, and political responses to issues of social and economic justice. In our final chapter, we reflect upon Europe as a whole, attempt to place its history in a larger setting, discuss the deepening of the European Community, and consider the many challenges and opportunities facing the new Europe.
Rebirth is in some respects a descendant of a well-known text, Twentieth Century Europe, coauthored by Cyril E. Black and Ernst C. Helmreich