From the ashes of World War II to the advent of the Euro, the definitive history of the postwar rebirth of Europe by one of our finest young historians.
After a century of war, genocide, and ideological rivalry, Europe has at last emerged as a continent striving for stability, tolerance, democracy and prosperity. Yet the making of today’s Europe has not been easy. Its success was achieved only after a half-century of struggle between capitalism and Communism, between the forces of integration and the forces of nationalism, between the ideals of fairness and justice and a legacy of racism and inequality. In fact, as the recent rise of far-right extremism demonstrates, this contest is not over.
William Hitchcock’s sweeping new survey fills a critical gap in the writing on postwar Europe. The Struggle for Europe starts by assessing the impact of World War II on European politics and society and the foundations of Europe’s extraordinary economic recovery. It explores the role of the United States and the Soviet Union in shaping the postwar settlement and shows how Europeans often resisted and defied superpower dictates. In examining Cold War politics between 1945 and 1989, Hitchcock reveals the serious challenges mounted to the superpowers by such European leaders as Charles de Gaulle, Willy Brandt, and Margaret Thatcher. The book examines the collapse of Communism as an ideology and lays out the long-term factors that led to the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Concluding chapters show that Europe has made great strides in fulfilling the promise of economic and political union but has yet to overcome the troubling legacy of racial, ethnic, and national antagonism.
Europe stands on the threshold of enormous political and economic change that will profoundly shape world affairs. Now more than ever there is a need to review the continent’s postwar history. The Struggle For Europe splendidly fulfills that need.
About William I. Hitchcock
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Published January 21, 2003