The definitive history of a divided Europe, from the aftermath of the Second World War to the present.
After the overwhelming horrors of the first half of the 20th century, described by Ian Kershaw in his previous book as having gone 'to Hell and back', the years from 1950 to 2017 brought peace and relative prosperity to most of Europe. Enormous economic improvements transformed the continent. The catastrophic era of the world wars receded into an ever more distant past, though its long shadow continued to shape mentalities.
Europe was now a divided continent, living under the nuclear threat in a period intermittently fraught with anxiety. Europeans experienced a 'roller-coaster ride', both in the sense that they were flung through a series of events which threatened disaster, but also in that they were no longer in charge of their own destinies: for much of the period the USA and USSR effectively reduced Europeans to helpless figures whose fates were dictated to them depending on the vagaries of the Cold War. There were, by most definitions, striking successes - the Soviet bloc melted away, dictatorships vanished and Germany was successfully reunited. But accelerating globalization brought new fragilities. The impact of interlocking crises after 2008 was the clearest warning to Europeans that there was no guarantee of peace and stability.
About the Author
Ian Kershaw is Professor of Modern history at the University of Sheffield. For services to history he was given the German award of the Federal Cross of Merit in 1994. he was knighted in 2002 and awarded the Norton Medlicott Medal by the Historical Association in 2004. He was historical advisor to three BBC series: The Nazis: A Warning From History, War of the Century and Auschwitz.
His most recent books are Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris and 1936-1945: Nemesis, which received the Wolfson Literary Award for History and the Bruno Kreisky Prize in Austria for the Political Book of the Year, and was joint winner of the inaugural British Academy Book Prize; Making Friends with hitler: Lord Londonberry and Britain's Road to War, which won the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography in 2005; and, most recently, Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions that Changed the World, 1940-1941.
An expert and meticulous look at the events that shaped the continent... it should have a prominent place on the shelf of anybody, professional or layperson, who wants to make sense of present-day Europe -- Josef Joffe * Financial Times *
This is a remarkable pan-European survey, and one can only admire the vast range of scholarship lightly worn -- Robert Tombs * The Times *
A supreme achievement, wearing its immense learning lightly and written with page-turning energy * Literary Review *
In synthesizing and evaluating an enormous body of scholarship, not only on Europe, East and West, but also on the wider world and the globalisation processes that have so deeply affected European history, Ian Kershaw has produced a historical masterpiece. * Times Literary Supplement *
A formidable historian of detail * Telegraph *