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One Hundred Years of Socialism: The West European Left in the Twentieth Century Paperback – 6 Aug 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 1008 pages
  • Publisher: I B Tauris & Co Ltd (6 Aug. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848852975
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848852976
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 6.4 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,428,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

'Admirable...a compelling guide to the recent history of Social Democratic parties' --Tony Judt, TLS

'The author has scaled a mountain of scholarship and returned with an indispensable work of reference and reflection' --Norman Birnbaum, Political Quarterly

'A majestic work. Nothing like this great survey exists in any language...an unfailing pleasure to read' --The Economist

From the Back Cover

“A remarkable new work of historical analysis, which will soon establish itself a classic, Donald Sassoon’s lucid and erudite 'One Hundred Years of Socialism', demonstrates that … the effective parties of the left, whether social democratic or (in a few cases such as France and Italy) communist … have served to regulate and socialise the wealth-creating and directionless economic dynamism of capitalism, not replace it.”
ERIC HOBSBAWM, 'Guardian'

“A majestic work. Nothing like this great survey exists in any language … stylishly written, with an ironic wit and vivid gift of metaphor, the book is an unfailing pleasure to read.”
ECONOMIST

“Epic … an encyclopaedic comparative work drawing freely on the histories of countries as diverse as Britain, Germany, Greece, Denmark and Finland … its greatest strength lies in his placing of the left-right ideological battle within the context of the change and development of a capitalist system. Thus, [Sassoon] says, there has been no defeat of socialism by capitalism; the crisis of socialism was precipitated by the expansion of and changes in capitalism.”
ALAN THOMPSON, 'Times Higher Education Supplement'

“Brilliant … Sassoon’s view is based on quite phenomenally extensive reading and knowledge. Yet we never feel ourselves to be drowning in a morass of unconnected or undigested detail. Nor does learning here preclude liveliness and wit … an astonishing achievement, which deserves to become a classic of socialist history.”
ANTHONY ARBLASTER, 'Tribune'

“Sasson’s book is remarkable. A massive and original synthesis which deserves to become a classic, there is nothing comparable to it in the English language.”
DAVID MARQUAND

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Donald Sassoon has truly created a major work of research with the book "One Hundred Years of Socialism". Despite the general title, in reality the book deals in-depth (and then I mean REALLY in-depth) with the socialist political parties of all sorts in Western Europe throughout the last century, their various interpretations of socialism, and their electoral successes and losses. Sassoon clearly emphasizes the UK and Italy, but pays attention to all major nations of Western Europe and quite some smaller ones too, like the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, etc. Not only this, but he also gives full attention to the social-democrats as well as the communists, various independent socialists, and their internal as well as external conflict.

The book is very well supported by copious amounts of statistics, tables, overviews etc. containing anything from election results to relative productivity increases. Each party's attitudes towards domestic issues, foreign policy, economic policy, as well as to the Wars and the Cold War is meticulously registered, and every change of leadership or strategy explained in-depth. A complaint could be that, despite promises of the entire 20th century, by far the greater part of the book is about post-war Europe (in fact only the first four chapters address the period 1900-1945). But when Sassoon engages something, he does it above all thoroughly, and so there is nothing anyone could possibly want to know about postwar socialism that is not in this book.

The writing is very dry and factual, at times encyclopedic in style. Sassoon himself takes care not to take sides in any internal disputes between various socialist views (communist vs reformist etc.), but clearly does have a general sympathy for socialism.
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Format: Paperback
Socialism did a great deal to civilize our century through providing the welfare state and socialized health and educational services. This book provides a wealth of information on the major social democratic parties in W.Europe (and also the Italian communists) from the end of the last century up until near the end of this (20th) one.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Massive history of Western European socialist parties in the 20th century 3 Dec. 2006
By M. A. Krul - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Donald Sassoon has truly created a major work of research with the book "One Hundred Years of Socialism". Despite the general title, in reality the book deals in-depth (and then I mean REALLY in-depth) with the socialist political parties of all sorts in Western Europe throughout the last century, their various interpretations of socialism, and their electoral successes and losses. Sassoon clearly emphasizes the UK and Italy, but pays attention to all major nations of Western Europe and quite some smaller ones too, like the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, etc. Not only this, but he also gives full attention to the social-democrats as well as the communists, various independent socialists, and their internal as well as external conflict.

The book is very well supported by copious amounts of statistics, tables, overviews etc. containing anything from election results to relative productivity increases. Each party's attitudes towards domestic issues, foreign policy, economic policy, as well as to the Wars and the Cold War is meticulously registered, and every change of leadership or strategy explained in-depth. A complaint could be that, despite promises of the entire 20th century, by far the greater part of the book is about post-war Europe (in fact only the first four chapters address the period 1900-1945). But when Sassoon engages something, he does it above all thoroughly, and so there is nothing anyone could possibly want to know about postwar socialism that is not in this book.

The writing is very dry and factual, at times encyclopedic in style. Sassoon himself takes care not to take sides in any internal disputes between various socialist views (communist vs reformist etc.), but clearly does have a general sympathy for socialism. When he assesses policy, he generally does so in a balanced and judicious manner. At most one could argue that he is probably a bit too critical of the SFIO as well as the 'unreformed' communists, who are never portrayed in a positive light, but that is a minor issue. Finally, the epilogue is a competent if somewhat vague assessment of the results of socialists in the 20th century, and a critical view towards the future.

A good indication of the encyclopedic and thorough nature of the work is that the notes, bibliography and index together already form 187 pages: truly a mastodontic work of history. If Sassoon can spend the time to make another such work about, say, socialism outside Europe, or socialism in Eastern Europe, he could be the greatest 'outsider' chronicler of socialist strategy since H.P.G. Quack.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but specialized 5 Sept. 2005
By Marc and Susan Osborne - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sassoon's book is good, but very dense, and the topic is more specialized than you'd think from the title. It's a history of Western Europe's socialist and Communist political parties, and Sassoon often assumes a familiarity with a variety of other subjects that intersect with his, such as the development of socialist thought, twentieth century economic theory, and the basic political history of all the countries of Western Europe, including the smaller countries. These omissions are not fatal, but they do limit the book to people with a strong background in political science. Where Sassoon does provide background information outside his strict topic area, the results are top notch, such as his very useful discussion of the development of feminist thought. For those with the background to keep up with Sassoon, the book is very good.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great overview of Socialism. Good for reference library. 31 Jan. 2012
By K. Wilkinson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book makes a wonderful starting point for researching socialism in pretty much any country. It goes into enough depth for shallow research, and provides good starting references for further research. I bought it for a class on working-class movements, but it earned a place in my personal library for its utility.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dense 23 July 2014
By Brenda Reeser - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very dense reading but worthwhile
9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Empirical History at its best 21 Nov. 2000
By Tom Munro - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Communism was an invention of Lenin. It was based on the notion of a small conspiratorial political party seizing power and achieving radical social transformation often flying in the face of popular will.
Socialism was an invention of the Bernstien, Bebel and others. It involved the achievement of a democratic franchise, the use of trade unions to achieve worker rights and state intervention to achieve social equality. This book is a history of West European socialism in the twentieth century.
After the war socialism or the mixed economy was accepted by even conservative and centre parties. From the 1950's to the early 80's the doctrines of John Meynard Keynes and a belief that the state should intervene to iron out the problems of the free enterprise state dominated government.
From the 1970's to the 1990's things began to change. In retrospect the basis of the consensus over how to manage the economies in the 50's and 60's was not based on a successful economic doctrine but on a long boom. The oil crisis led to stagflation a phenomena thought impossible by Keynsians. By the late 1970's all governments began to jettison what had been central aspects of economic certainty. The fist to go was the governmental responsibility for demand management and the maintenance of full employment. By the end of the 1990's most governments had dismantled exchange controls and were allowing the free movement of capital in and out of their countries. Public utilities were being sold off and more and more traditional areas of government were being handled by contracting out.
This book is a history of the rise, decline and fall of socialism in Europe. The author appears to be a committed socialist but the book is dispassionate and objective. It contains thousands of facts and figures including voting trends, taxation rates and material on economic performance. It is a serious analytical analysis of a hundred years of practical pragmatic politics. As such it might lack the populist flair of some more stringent ideological tracts but is a fascinating account of real history.
It would seem that despite the current ascendancy of "Economic Rationalism" the old polices had positive outcomes. Most European countries have less poverty than the United States a country that has always been resistant to liberal ideas. Further European countries appear to have better working education and health systems. Further some of the core policies of Bernstien such as a free and open franchise and the importance of education have become firmly established by all segments of society.
This book will not doubt become a classic and should be read by all interested in either history or politics.
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