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From the ashes of World War II to the conflict over Iraq, William Hitchcock examines the miraculous transformation of Europe from a deeply fractured land to a continent striving for stability, tolerance, democracy, and prosperity. Exploring the role of Cold War politics in Europe’s peace settlement and the half century that followed, Hitchcock reveals how leaders such as C From the ashes of World War II to the conflict over Iraq, William Hitchcock examines the miraculous transformation of Europe from a deeply fractured land to a continent striving for stability, tolerance, democracy, and prosperity. Exploring the role of Cold War politics in Europe’s peace settlement and the half century that followed, Hitchcock reveals how leaders such as Charles de Gaulle, Willy Brandt, and Margaret Thatcher balanced their nations’ interests against the demands of the reigning superpowers, leading to great strides in economic and political unity. He re-creates Europeans’ struggles with their troubling legacy of racial, ethnic, and national antagonism, and shows that while divisions persist, Europe stands on the threshold of changes that may profoundly shape the future of world affairs.


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From the ashes of World War II to the conflict over Iraq, William Hitchcock examines the miraculous transformation of Europe from a deeply fractured land to a continent striving for stability, tolerance, democracy, and prosperity. Exploring the role of Cold War politics in Europe’s peace settlement and the half century that followed, Hitchcock reveals how leaders such as C From the ashes of World War II to the conflict over Iraq, William Hitchcock examines the miraculous transformation of Europe from a deeply fractured land to a continent striving for stability, tolerance, democracy, and prosperity. Exploring the role of Cold War politics in Europe’s peace settlement and the half century that followed, Hitchcock reveals how leaders such as Charles de Gaulle, Willy Brandt, and Margaret Thatcher balanced their nations’ interests against the demands of the reigning superpowers, leading to great strides in economic and political unity. He re-creates Europeans’ struggles with their troubling legacy of racial, ethnic, and national antagonism, and shows that while divisions persist, Europe stands on the threshold of changes that may profoundly shape the future of world affairs.

30 review for The Struggle for Europe: The Turbulent History of a Divided Continent, 1945 to the Presen

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tudor

    I have used The Struggle for Europe as a companion for Judt's Postwar, and I think it worked out well. Similar to Postwar, The Struggle for Europe talks about Europe's between 1945 and 2002. The difference between the the two is that this book feels more of a textbook, in the sense that it discusses only the outermost important events/ figures from this period of time in section (all having descriptive titles!) of roughly 25 pages, which is really nice if you just want to read/ refresh your memo I have used The Struggle for Europe as a companion for Judt's Postwar, and I think it worked out well. Similar to Postwar, The Struggle for Europe talks about Europe's between 1945 and 2002. The difference between the the two is that this book feels more of a textbook, in the sense that it discusses only the outermost important events/ figures from this period of time in section (all having descriptive titles!) of roughly 25 pages, which is really nice if you just want to read/ refresh your memory about a particular topic. I was only superficial familiar to de Gaulle, Thatcher, Attlee before reading the book, and I enjoyed those chapters as least as much as I enjoyed the corresponding in Judt's book. About one quarter of the book is about the Eastern bloc, with a special emphasis on USSR and GDR, but those sections are very good: in total they sum to a very good/ fast 100 pages overview of the Eastern bloc. Similar to Postwar, there is no big underlying theme/ motif in the book, but many "foxy" events whose presentations are pretty self contained. A main focus is on West and East Germany, starting with the separation at the beginning of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall, the change of politics from Adenauer's Westpolitik to Brandt's Ostpolitik, and Kohl's efforts for reunification. Great effort, strongly recommended if you want to brush up your European history or if you want a fast, but not superficial introduction to post WW II Europe. It has a nice collection of pictures, too!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cora

    The short version: part of me didn't want to read another history of post-WWII Europe, being of the firm opinion that Tony Judt's Postwar is a brilliant accomplishment and any other similar book is only going to pale in comparison. And indeed I missed Judt's erudition, wide-ranging insights, and the occasional bitchy aside. What got me over that was the impression that the book covered more recent history that the late Tony Judt is alas no longer here to write about. I would indeed be interested The short version: part of me didn't want to read another history of post-WWII Europe, being of the firm opinion that Tony Judt's Postwar is a brilliant accomplishment and any other similar book is only going to pale in comparison. And indeed I missed Judt's erudition, wide-ranging insights, and the occasional bitchy aside. What got me over that was the impression that the book covered more recent history that the late Tony Judt is alas no longer here to write about. I would indeed be interested to read a book that included the events of the last few years, but it turns out that I was misinformed. Hitchcock wrote this book in 2003 and it shows: the story of Greece, from civil war to coup to the democratic present, concludes with the (no longer so happy) observation that the country's economy is solid enough to qualify it for the euro. What this book actually turns out to be is the greatest hits of European political history from 1945 to the recent past, all the expected classics like the Suez crisis, Paris '68, Willy Brandt, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the violence in Yugoslavia. All of this is presented clearly, and Hitchcock's focus on Europe casts some familiar stories in a new light. (For example, he gives a large amount of the credit for the Cold War alliance system to UK foreign minister Ernst Bevin, which--in America--is usually seen as Truman's accomplishment.) But while this is a solid introduction, particularly for Americans, to modern European history, I found myself hoping that Hitchcock would go deeper than he ultimately did.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nate

    Rise to Globalism by Steven Ambrose has been one of my favorite books since university. This book, too, gives a very thorough examination of the history of Europe, since the last days of WWII. However, where Rise to Globalism is viewing that story from the United States, The Struggle for Europe tells that story from Europe. This change in focus and the author's own scholarship makes this an historical survey well worth reading! Rise to Globalism by Steven Ambrose has been one of my favorite books since university. This book, too, gives a very thorough examination of the history of Europe, since the last days of WWII. However, where Rise to Globalism is viewing that story from the United States, The Struggle for Europe tells that story from Europe. This change in focus and the author's own scholarship makes this an historical survey well worth reading!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Duncan Cameron

    It's hard to believe that this superb work was written by an American author. If not for the odd Americanism e.g. his use of the word "color" (and after a quick google),I would swear he was writing from personal experience. Normally I find recent European history slightly unattractive, probably because I think I know it all, but this account is not only enlightening but good enough in my view to serve as a standard modern studies textbook. It's hard to believe that this superb work was written by an American author. If not for the odd Americanism e.g. his use of the word "color" (and after a quick google),I would swear he was writing from personal experience. Normally I find recent European history slightly unattractive, probably because I think I know it all, but this account is not only enlightening but good enough in my view to serve as a standard modern studies textbook.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kerri

    I'm surprised at how much I liked this book. It was clear and easily comprehendible and the imagery was superb. It got a little hard to get through all of it, but it was worth the time. I'm surprised at how much I liked this book. It was clear and easily comprehendible and the imagery was superb. It got a little hard to get through all of it, but it was worth the time.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Will

    A cursory account of European history post-45. The book's biggest contribution is putting in context just how remarkable Europe's transformation has been, as well as warning that a number of other, bleaker paths to the modern age could have been taken. The story will nonetheless be a familiar one for students of contemporary European history. Hitchcock attributes Europe's success story to four major factors: 1. “First, Western Europe had a good Cold War. Between 1945 and 1990, Western Europe pro A cursory account of European history post-45. The book's biggest contribution is putting in context just how remarkable Europe's transformation has been, as well as warning that a number of other, bleaker paths to the modern age could have been taken. The story will nonetheless be a familiar one for students of contemporary European history. Hitchcock attributes Europe's success story to four major factors: 1. “First, Western Europe had a good Cold War. Between 1945 and 1990, Western Europe profited from the American military and political commitment to Europe. The division of Europe into rival blocs, though a tragedy for many Germans and virtually all Eastern Europeans, nonetheless provided a sense of cohesion and purpose to the states of Western Europe.” (2) 2. “A second factor of European success was, paradoxically, the very intensity of the war. World War II, despite its destructive impact on the landscape and peoples of Europe, had in the long run a positive effect on the European economy… the war forced Europe to rebuild its industrial capacity anew. The reconstruction effort provided an opportunity for Europe to retool among modern lines.” (3) 3. “A third explanation for contemporary Europe’s success is that many Europeans over the past half century fought and died in the name of a free, democratic and just Europe.” (3) 4. “Here lies a fourth factor of Europe’s success: during the past half century, the continent has avoided the pitfalls of violent revolution and moved toward democratization along a path of modernization and compromise.” (4)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    I really enjoyed this book - Hitchcock's writing was clear and understandable, and I learned about a lot of history that I feel is often mentioned in class and never fully explored. The chapter on the 1990 Bosnian War is particularly good (though very sad). I enjoy the fact that he doesn't assume the reader knows what he's writing about, so he lays everything out with much clarity. Very well done. I really enjoyed this book - Hitchcock's writing was clear and understandable, and I learned about a lot of history that I feel is often mentioned in class and never fully explored. The chapter on the 1990 Bosnian War is particularly good (though very sad). I enjoy the fact that he doesn't assume the reader knows what he's writing about, so he lays everything out with much clarity. Very well done.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Randy Endemann

    This was required reading in one of my College History courses. I loved it, but to those who with a mild interest in European history, it might be a bit dry. While backpacking around Europe after college, I saw this book in a bookstore and used it for reference while on my journey. It provided the perfect context for this history buff. I read it so long ago that I can't remember any specifics. So I suppose that this review is rendered useless..... This was required reading in one of my College History courses. I loved it, but to those who with a mild interest in European history, it might be a bit dry. While backpacking around Europe after college, I saw this book in a bookstore and used it for reference while on my journey. It provided the perfect context for this history buff. I read it so long ago that I can't remember any specifics. So I suppose that this review is rendered useless.....

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa

    I read this for a history class. It's a pretty weighty read to pack into 10 weeks but it's interesting and after reading it I feel comfortable talking to others about many aspects of Postwar Europe. I read this for a history class. It's a pretty weighty read to pack into 10 weeks but it's interesting and after reading it I feel comfortable talking to others about many aspects of Postwar Europe.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bianca

    Love!!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    There was a grammatical error, but overall, this was a really interesting read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    One of the central themes of this book is an attempt to answer the question: What is a European? Such a simple question, but a good one. It goes to the heart of many failed and flawed attempts to unite Europe throughout its history. It seems many people have a different answer to the question, and that has led to different outcomes.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    I had to read this book for my HIST 337 class, and I this book did not hold my attention. We read other books in this class that were better.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ruth St Jonston Roach

  15. 5 out of 5

    Aubrey

  16. 4 out of 5

    Clayton Whisnant

  17. 4 out of 5

    Holtsolutions

  18. 4 out of 5

    James Downs

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brett Champion

  20. 4 out of 5

    Matt Suder

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

  22. 4 out of 5

    Anna

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chaifanatic

  24. 5 out of 5

    Michael Brock

  25. 5 out of 5

    Steven

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

  27. 5 out of 5

    Walter Moss

  28. 5 out of 5

    Annie

  29. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jtb

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