This book completes a trilogy that has occupied me for the better part of two decades. When I began the first volume, of course, I already had some notion of the third and was certain that it would treat "the social question." Yet I cannot now claim much clairvoyance about the actual contents. One needs only to scan the bibliography of scholarly publications to see how much progress has occurred in social history during recent years: over half of the titles listed have appeared since 1980. Before then, that is, many aspects of this study were literally inconceivable. There is thus good reason for me to be grateful to many colleagues who have labored mightily in the archives and whose findings have been indispensable for my own work. I hope that they, in turn, will view with some indulgence my efforts to gain footing in their areas of specialization.
A preface is hardly the place for true confessions, but the reader should realize that I was born in the United States as a son of immigrant parents (from Scotland) and as an offspring of the Depression and the New Deal. These circumstances help to explain a certain passion that I have brought to my research and writing. Not only do I hold that a society is obligated to offer equality of opportunity to citizens of every origin; I am also persuaded that politics should serve to promote that ideal, however unattainable it may be in practice. I therefore believe in the necessity of state intervention to deal with social problems. It is this premise, and not a preference for Germany over France, that has colored my judgment about events in Europe. Surely no American in my lifetime has any reason to observe with smugness the difficulties of late nineteenth-century France. In-