Political cartoons are a valuable, though often neglected, source of historical information and understanding. In "Great Nations Still Enchained," Roy Douglas uses these cartoons as a lens through which to examine the examine the political and social arenas of Europe, and the events which changes the landscape.
Douglas includes cartoons from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Russia, the major powers of the day. These drawings illustrate how those people living in the midst of the events discussed perceived and interpreted them, acting as a barometer of public opinion, and reflecting their assumptions and ideas. As the cartoons are taken from various countries, they display how different, and often conflicting national attitudes developed.
The period examined here, between 1878 and 1914, holds a particular significance in European history: 1878 marked the Congress of Berlin, which removed (or postponed) the very real risk of war between some of the Great Powers', and was the last effective assertion of the Concert of Europe. After this time, the Powers drifted increasingly into smaller, limited alliances, which, among other factors, played a large part in the genesis of the First World War.
Douglas has brought his gift for concise, clear explanation to this period, as has in his previous books "Between the Wars 1919-1935" and "The World" "War: 1939-1945." His work has brought currency and vitality to events which can often be lost in actual accounts. It should be of interest to any reader in European history and political science.