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Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century [Paperback]

Mark Mazower
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 9.09 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

24 Jun 1999

From award-winning historian Mark Mazower, Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century retells the story of a century of division, charting the struggles of rival ideologies to create a new world order for mankind.

The end of the First World War saw old empires swept away and the opportunity to build a better society from the ruins. Yet the result was division and bloodshed on an unprecedented scale, as liberal democracy, communism and fascism struggled against one another for mastery of the world.

Dark Continent radically overturns the myth of Europe as a safe haven of democracy to redefine our view of the twentieth century.

'Original, thought-provoking, iconoclastic'
  Frank McLynn, Irish Times

'Fascinating and forceful'
  Martin Gilbert, Literary Review

'Mazower leaves us, in this wonderful book, with an account of our century that anyone who takes an interest in Europe's present and future will enlarge their mind by reading'
  John Keegan, Daily Telegraph

'There are few who can walk with A.J.P. Taylor. One is Mark Mazower ... a tour de force'
  Alex Danchev, TLS

'Combines narrative verve with wise and humane analysis. For anyone who wants to know how Europe came to be the way it is in the years since 1900, this is the work to provide the answers'
  David Cannadine, Observer Books of the Year

Mark Mazower is the author of Inside Hitler's Greece, The Balkans, which won the Wolfson Prize for History, Salonika: City of Ghosts, which won both the Runciman Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize and Hitler's Empire.


Frequently Bought Together

Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century + Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 + The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914: Global Connections and Comparisons (Blackwell History of the World)
Price For All Three: 40.67

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (24 Jun 1999)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0140241590
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140241594
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Mazower is the author of Inside Hitler's Greece, Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century, The Balkans, which won the Wolfson Prize for History, and Salonika: City of Ghosts, which won both the Runciman Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize. He has taught at the University of Sussex, Princeton University and Birkbeck College, University of London. He is now Professor of History at Columbia University.

Product Description

Review

'Brilliant ... this superb book is a frightening reminder of how fragile democracy has been' -- Orlando Figes, Times

'Combines narrative verve with wise and humane analysis. For anyone who wants to know how Europe came to be the way it is in the years since 1900, this is the work to provide the answers' -- David Cannadine, Observer, Books of the Year

'Fascinating and forceful' -- Martin Gilbert, Literary Review

'Original, thought-provoking, iconic' -- Frank McLynn, Irish Times

'They are few who can walk with A.J.P Taylor. One is Mark Mazower ... a tour de force'
-- Alex Danchev, Times Higher Education Supplement

Review

'Original, thought-provoking, iconic'

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
At a 'Congress of Dethroned Monarchs' held at Geneva in 192-Europe's erstwhile crowned heads tried to win back their old supporters. Read the first page
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making sense of madness 8 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a 58 year old Briton I learned a long time ago that the cartoon-style version of European History we were taught at school was nonsense. Representing Nazism as just collective madness or Stalin's tyranny as the product of "brain-washing" never made sense. Many of the ruling ideas of the early 20th c were followed through in all their brutal logic by those regimes.

Fantasies of racial superiority were just as popular in Britain, France and (especially) the USA. Sub-Darwinian ideas that conflict was necessary to maintain the blood-line and that poor or sub-normal people should be prevented from breeding were widespread throughout the Western world. Intellectuals of left, right and liberal tendencies were in love with dreams of the "march of progress" and historical predestination. Jews were widely despised and national purity conflicted with the problem of minorities.

Such a continent was full of dark possibilities which Mark Mazower deftly shows shaped the last century. We were not civilised by the flowering of our better nature but by exhaustion, the threat of atomic war and the partitioning of Europe by the victors of WW2.

Yet, at the end this book tastes of realism and not hopelessness. The fact that such lucid hindsight is possible and that all the fantasies of nationalism, liberalism and socialism have been found wanting suggests that Europe might find a humbler way of living with itself and the wider world.

"Dark Continent" is packed with enlightening quotations and allusions. The endnotes are comprehensive. Good value in terms of money and reading time.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is an excellent short history of Europe in the C20, which reminds us that the current general commitment to democracy in the continent is a relatively recent phenomenon. The book is particuarly strong on the failure of liberal capitalism and "narrow" parliamentary democracy in the inter-war period. I liked the prominence given to regions (Eastern and Central Europe) which, from a British perspective, are often neglected. While I felt the treatment of the boom years of the 50s and 60s was also excellent, my only complaint is that the final passages about the 80s and 90s (collapse of Communism and former Yugoslavia) feel like something of an afterthought and that not enough is done to make connections between these events and the broad themes set out earlier in the book. But vg nevertheless.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
In this fascinating history, author Mark Mazower traces this history of Europe from the end of the First World War, through to when the book was written in 1998. This is not a list of dates and battles, but so much more than that. The author traces the evolution of Europe's thought, and as such culture. It begins with the 1920s' embrace of democracy and the rise of the minorities issue, continues with the 1930s' rejection of democracy, the rise and fall of the extreme Right in the 1940s, the evolution of the two halves of divided Europe, and on to Europe's post-Communist development.
I have read many, many history books; most being the standard list of names and dates, battles and elections. But every once in a while I encounter a fascinating book that goes into depth explaining how things developed and why. This book is definitely one of the latter. I especially enjoyed the inter-war period, which explained so much that was unclear to me; things like the development of the race issue, and the reasons behind the ethnic troubles that rocked so many middle and eastern European countries in that era.
This book gave me a lot of food for thought. If you like a book that makes you think, then I highly recommend that you get this one. It is a fascinating and highly informative look at post World War One Europe.
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55 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Europe painted black 13 Nov 2001
Format:Paperback
This is an excellent book, well worth the time. On the other hand, it is not a good introduction to 20th C. European history, it is too polemical (my copy has a blurb recommending it as survey reading for undergraduates, something which it definitely is not - the ideal reader should already have a good idea of European history before tackling this).

Bad points:

I nearly took a star off (or even two stars off) for the sentence in chapter 8 which attempts to allocate (at least part of) the blame for the Stalinisation of postwar eastern Europe to the west.

He generally seems to go easy on the excesses of communism, and Stalinism in particular: yes, there is plenty of condemnation, but also a slight impression of omelettes and broken eggs.

The discussion of the post-war west degenerates into a rant in places, where the first half of the book is a much more considered and convincing polemic. Something a little less intemperate would have made a more effective point.

It is difficult to say for certain in a book that attempts to cover so much in 400 pages, but I get the impression that Mazower's grasp of economics and economic history is not on par with his social or political history (that omelette again).

The analytic epilogue is weak.

Good points: the (resolutely pessimistic) argument for most of its course is well argued and provoking.

The discussion of the fall of communism, if isolated from the discussion of the West that came before is very good.

The central argument, which ties up with an analysis of the disaster of the collapse of Yugoslavia (where Mazower is on home ground) as the last working out of WWI is elegant and provoking.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Invaluabe book for understanding modern Europe.
Published 2 days ago by Paul Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars A lot of things that the "ordinary" people rarely, ...
A lot of things that the "ordinary" people rarely, if ever, hear about. The book provides some explanations for the way Europe has developed(?) over the 20th.century. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Anthony Breed
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting and it put in the right perspective information I had...
Very interesting and it put in the right perspective information I had from the period. It also helped to understand better our present state of afairs in Europe. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Gabriella
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Need the book for an up and coming Open University course.
Now have book at good price. . .problem solved.
Published 7 months ago by beally
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
I bought this book as part of my set reading for my history degree. It is insightful and interesting and I shall continue to read it long after my degree is finished
Published 10 months ago by alicaz
5.0 out of 5 stars Things might have turned out differently
This is a marvellous book, well written, rich in insight, scholarly and judicious in its assessments - mostly (it is true that he indulges in some editorialising in some of the... Read more
Published 10 months ago by F Henwood
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative, interesting and compelling
This book is everything I need for my study. It is informative, interesting and compelling. I am learning things about Europe that I never even imagined.
Published 10 months ago by james carter
3.0 out of 5 stars Dark
As I am doing a history degree this is one of my set books so dipping in and out as required.
Published 10 months ago by Wendy Findlay
5.0 out of 5 stars COLD WAR STUDIES? get this book
One of our A2 exam questions asked about the USA's self interest - this book answers the question perfectly....... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Kathryn
3.0 out of 5 stars Heavy going
This was a useful read but I found it heavy going. I would recommend it to others but wouldn't go overboard in praising it.
Published 11 months ago by Matt
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