Civilization & Barbarity in 20th Century Europe

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9781573926454: Civilization & Barbarity in 20th Century Europe

The "civilization" of 20th-century Europe included many of the most revolutionary scientific advances in human history, some of the most original movements in art and music, and the creation of a "welfare state" offering greater and more varied opportunities to the ordinary citizen than any previous civilization. It democratized both traditional intellectual and artistic culture, and the popular culture of mass media entertainment, travel, and athletics. It witnessed the gradual extension of the concepts of human rights and religious and racial toleration. But the same century also included the two most destructive wars in human history; a large number of authoritarian, arbitrary, and incompetent dictatorships; and, in the forms of Nazism and Stalinism, the most vile and sadistic regimes of which we have any documented record. How can we understand the combination of such prodigious accomplishments and such devastating violence? And what can we learn from these contrasting events?

Against this backdrop, eminent historian Gabriel Jackson deals with the political and cultural history of Europe in the 20th century. His book is not, however, a mere chronological survey concentrating on political and economic developments. Rather the major aspects of those developments, and of international relations-both peaceful and warlike-are seen as the necessary background for the consideration of European culture, values, practical expectations, and the lifestyles available to, or imposed upon, the population as a whole.

In his discussion of its art, politics, and science, Jackson conveys the current significance, and the possible future, of a democratic and pluralistic Europe. Clarity of exposition makes the book ideal not only for scholars but for the lay reader as well.

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About the Author:

Gabriel Jackson served as a U.S. Army cartographer during World War II and has been a Fulbright scholar in both France and Spain. He has taught at Wellesley College, Knox College, and the University of California at La Jolla. His published works include The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, and A Concise History of the Spanish Civil War. He currently serves on the Commission for Cultural, Educational, and Scientific Exchange between the United States and Spain.

Review:

"The chapters about the Second World War and the German occupation of Europe count among the best which have been written..." -- Wilhelmshavener Zeitung, 31 July 1999

...the description of society. Thus emerges a fascinating panorama of Europe: knife sharp, dissecting, unsparingly candid. -- Darmstadter Echo, 18 May 1999

Jackson has produced as noteworthy a book as the Nestor of English social history, Eric Hobsbawn. -- Zurich Tages-Anzeiger, 20 September, 1999

no less concerned with European cultural developments [than with wars]. This distinguishes this book from more narrowly focused retrospective works. -- Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 11 October, 1999

the chapters...concerning scientific and artistic history...a sober assessment of the great creations of the contemporary era. -- Saltzburger Nachtrichten, 9 October 1999

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