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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.
“Professor Hitchcock’s The Struggle for Europe is not only shrewd and comprehensive, but written with a wit and vigour that makes it a real joy to read. It deserves to be the standard work on the subject for many years to come.” —Sir Michael Howard, formerly Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military History, Yale
“This a perfect book for a university classroom on postwar Europe. It is smartly written, lively, and firmly grounded in the new research coming out of Russian and East European archives. Hitchcock has a firm grasp on continental developments, from the disputed origins of the Cold War to the new Europe of Maastricht, the ‘Euro,’ and Brussels.” —Norman Naimark, Robert and Florence McDonnell Professor of East European Studies, Stanford University
“Two features of this book stand out: its easy, lucid style, which allows deeply-thought-out analyses to be slipped into the readable narrative; and the confident way it treats regional complexities, from Ulster to Greece, yet preserves the larger picture of Europe’s remarkable transformation. This is a very deft and mature work.” —Paul Kennedy, author of Rise and Fall of Great Powers and Preparing for the 21st Century
“With a sure grasp of political events, and sometimes frighteningly graphic accounts of Europeans’ personal experiences as they dug out of war-devastated homelands, Hitchcock provides a comprehensive, detailed analysis of how those Europeans—with, and sometimes despite, U.S. help—transformed the devastation into world power that is now at the cutting edge of global change.” —Walter LaFeber, Cornell University
“Every now and then books come along that tell you who the master historians of the next generation are going to be. I had this sense as I read Will Hitchcock’s The Struggle for Europe. Shrewd, comprehensive, elegantly written, always convincing in its arguments, it is without question the most successful analytical synthesis of recent European history now available. This is the kind of book that could proudly cap the career of a senior scholar. That it comes from a young historian with years of productive writing and teaching ahead of him bodes very well for the future of our profession.” —John Lewis Gaddis, Yale University