DARK CONTINENT by Mark Mazower

DARK CONTINENT

Europe's Twentieth Century

KIRKUS REVIEW

A masterful account of Europe’s cursed century. When the smoke cleared from the ruins of the Second World War, many observers assumed that Europe as it had been known for centuries had come to an end. From the physical destruction of cities to the moral catastrophe of fascism and Nazism, it seemed as though those on the Continent had committed a collective suicide. A new type of war—cold—hovered on the horizon, leading some to envision the planet’s complete and final destruction. But as British historian Mazower (Univ. of Sussex; Inside Hitler’s Greece, 1993) makes clear, things weren—t always like this. The century had begun with high hopes, dashed by the bloody conflict of the Great War. Moreover, Europe’s reconstruction and the relatively peaceful close of the Cold War give reason for hope. More insightfully, Mazower stresses that the very concept of “Europe” has metamorphosed with startling rapidity over the last hundred years. And this ability to change may well prove to be the continent’s saving grace, he avers. The book is organized around the major three-way ideological struggle of the century: that between liberal democracy, fascism, and communism. Both fascism and communism claimed not only to be on the side of history, but also to be offering an end to it. Liberal democracy, the most modest of ideologies, appears to have weathered the storm best. Yet Mazower refuses to offer such platitudes as that liberal democracy “won” the Cold War or that we—ve therefore arrived at history’s “end.” Instead, as he explains in an epilogue, the task of “making Europe” continues to this day. Well written, with an excellent grasp of sources in several languages, this is a landmark study for the general reader. (10 maps)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-679-43809-2
Page count: 512pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1998




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