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Europe 1850-1914: Progress, Participation and Apprehension (Longman History of Modern Europe) Paperback – 6 Nov 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 422 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (6 Nov. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405801344
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405801348
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 2.2 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 99,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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From the Back Cover

This innovative survey of European history from the middle of the nineteenth century to the outbreak of the First World War tells the story of an era of outward tranquillity that was also a period of economic growth, social transformation, political contention and scientific, and artistic innovation.  During these years, the foundations of our present urban-industrial society were laid, the five Great Powers vied in peaceful and violent fashion for dominance in Europe and throughout the world, and the darker forces that were to dominate the twentieth century – violent nationalism, totalitarianism, racism, ethnic cleansing – began to make themselves felt.

 

Jonathan Sperber sets out developments in this period across the entire European continent, from the Atlantic to the Urals, from the Baltic to the Mediterranean.  To help students of European history grasp the main dynamics of the period, he divides the book into three overlapping sections covering the periods from 1850-75, 1871-95 and 1890-1914.  In each period he identifies developments and tendencies that were common in varying degrees to the whole of Europe, while also pointing the unique qualities of specific regions and individual countries. Throughout, his argument is supported by illustrative material: tables, charts, case studies and other explanatory features, and there is a detailed bibliography to help students to explore further in those areas that interest them.

 

Jonathan Sperber is Curators’ Professor of History at the University of Missouri.  His many publications include the prize-winning Popular Catholicism in Nineteenth Century Germany (1984) and The Kaiser’s Voters: Electors and Elections in Imperial Germany (1997) and definitive textbooks such as The European Revolutions, 1848-1851 (2nd. ed., 2004) and Pearson’s Revolutionary Europe 1780-1850, the predecessor to this volume.

About the Author

Jonathan Sperber is Curators’ Professor of History at the University of Missouri.  His many publications include the prize-winning Popular Catholicism in Nineteenth Century Germany (1984) and The Kaiser’s Voters: Electors and Elections in Imperial Germany (1997) and definitive textbooks such as The European Revolutions, 1848-1851 (2nd. ed., 2004) and Revolutionary Europe 1780-1850, the predecessor to this volume.


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Format: Paperback
Written very clearly. Divided into 3 periods, the ages of progress, uncertainty and classical modernism, which in turn are divided using the same sub-headings for each age, making it exceedingly useful for last minute revision e.g.: you can follow the development of the arts across the ages.

Knocked off a star because the First World War and the revolutions of 1848 are not included, although Sperber has written on the latter in another work.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9de85300) out of 5 stars 1 review
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9db72480) out of 5 stars Excellent 29 Jun. 2013
By R. Albin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
An excellent, concise overview of the second half of the 19th century in Europe. Sperber divides 1850-1914 into 3 subperiods and necessarily adopts a thematic approach. The 3 periods are the Age of Progress (1850-1871), the Age of Uncertainty (1871-1894), and the Age of Classical Modernism (1894-1914). For each period, Sperber opens with an overview chapter and then has chapters on demography & economics, social history, the arts & sciences, developments in politics at the popular-mass level, developments in politics at the state level, and more traditional diplomatic-political history. The thematic structure serves Sperber very well as he follows important themes across the second half of the 19th century.

The initial Age of Progress was characterized by expanding populations, economic growth stimulated by industrial expansion with spreading rail networks, increasing regional economic specialization and integration, rising standards of living, political reform with increasing guarantees of human rights and some expansion of political participation, great expansion of civil society, an intellectual trends towards positivism and exhaltation of the sciences as a model of inquiry. Ntionalism was an increasing force, in some cases, such as Napoleon III's France or Bismarck's Germany, coopted by conservatism governments to bolster their legitimacy and national integration. This period also sees the breakdown of the European state system established by the Congress of Vienna with Russia humbled, France re-emerging as a great power on the European stage, Austria weakened, and Prussia establishing preeminence in Europe.

Many of these theme continue into the Age of Uncertainty, notably the force of nationalism, the continued expansion of civil society, increasing urbanization, and substantial scientific progress and increasing economic impact of the natural sciences. This period also sees considerable disatisfaction with developments of the prior quarter century. Economic growth sluggish and was retarded by a major economic depression, nationalism created problems in the surviving great empires, increasing urbanization and industrialization produced considerable strains, and the liberal version of politics with dominance of a property owning elite was challenged. This period sees increasing intellectual doubts about views of progress, re-invigoration of conservatism and nascent socialist movements, and the emergence of political Catholocism but relatively well managed international politics, due in good part to Bismarck's intelligent diplomacy.

The succeeding age of Classical Modernism sees many features of the 20th century world assume familiar form. Substantial economic growth resumed driven by the emergence of new industries. Mass politics and their correlate, substantial interest group lobblies, emerge and government plays an increasing role in people's lives. The sciences see the emergence of markedly different new approaches. International politics become increasingly enmeshed in imperial-colonial adventures, and the European state system of the Bismarckian era fell apart with the realignments setting the stage for the combatants of WWI.

Clearly written and with an excellent bibliography, this is an excellent introduction and analytic overview. Some points emphasized by Sperber, such as the growth of civil society, the emergence of political Catholicism, and his shrewd discussions of the interaction of domestic politics and diplomacy in the years leading up to WWI, are often passed over in discussions of this period. Unlike many historians, Sperber is not afraid to use numerical data in the form of charts and graphs to summarize key points. His emphasis on the importance of the natural sciences in both intellectual history and economic history is also relatively distinctive and highly appropriate. There are some minor flaws. The maps used are not particularly good. I would have liked more demography. While Sperber is much better than most historians on developments in the sciences, he misses some truly important developments such as the emergence of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. This leads him to somewhat overestimate the revolutionary nature of early 20th century physics. Nonetheless, for anyone looking for an entry into the complicated history of this period, this is the place to start.
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