Europe in 1945 was prostrate. Much of the continent was devastated by war, mass slaughter, bombing and chaos. Large areas of Eastern Europe were falling under Soviet control, exchanging one despotism for another. Today, the Soviet Union is no more and the democracies of the European Union reach as far as the borders of Russia itself. "Postwar" ...
Europe in 1945 was prostrate. Much of the continent was devastated by war, mass slaughter, bombing and chaos. Large areas of Eastern Europe were falling under Soviet control, exchanging one despotism for another. Today, the Soviet Union is no more and the democracies of the European Union reach as far as the borders of Russia itself. "Postwar" tells the rich and complex story of how we got from there to here. It tells of Europe's recovery from the devastation; of the decline and fall of Soviet Communism and the rise of the EC and EU; of the end of Europe's empires; and of Europe's uneasy and changing relationships with the memory of the war and with the two great powers that bracket it, Russian and America. With clarity and economy, he tells of developments across the continent as a whole, as well as of the contrasting experiences of Eastern and Western Europe. Along the way, we learn of Greece's Civil War, of Scandinavian social democracy, the stresses of multilingual Belgium, the struggles of Northern Ireland and the Basque country. And this is a history of people as well as of peoples, Churchill and Mitterand, General Franco and General Jaruzelski, Silvio Berlusconi and Joseph Stalin. And "Postwar" also has cultural and social histories to tell: of French and Czech cinema, of the rise of the fridge and the decline of the public intellectual, of immigration and gastarbeiters, existentialism and punk rock, Monty Python and brutalist architecture. Running right up to the Iraq War and the election of Benedict XVI, "Postwar" makes sense of Europe's recent history and identity, of what Europe is and has been, in what can only be described as a masterpiece: Europe in our time.
The best book on WWII that I have read. Mr. Judt had incredible background knowledge on every one of the countries, both before and after the war, and goes over each ones strategy is detail for the rebuilding. His style, knowledge, facts and details are superb, and he tells it all very eloquently. I have read many books on WWII, all mostly about what took place during the actual event. This book is about the aftermath, which by comparison, is definitely the more complicated. It takes some time to read because you have to slow down and put things in their proper perspective, but the bottom line is this is a must read for anyone wanting to understand how and why the world developed into what it is today.
Jan 9, 2009
What Really did happen after the shooting
This is the first post war Europe book I've read. I was stationed in Eurpoe in the early 70, in Germany, so I had some idea of the topic. The author filled in the gaps between what I saw and what I thought I saw. Put me in some mind of DeTuqueville's narrative of the difference between North and South at their border. The true and real stoery is how the individual answered and lived with their answers to the conflict and its aftermath. A really good read.
Jul 10, 2008
Europe's History 1945-2005
Can't be praised more highly. Narrative clear and gripping, analysis full of insight but easy to follow, coverage comprehensive, and little prior knowledge needed to follow it.
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