What is a ‘Companion’ for?
This large edited volume on the history of post-1945 Europe is one of the latest additions to the extensive and steadily growing series of Blackwell Companions to History, whose volumes cover a wide range of fields in British, European, American, and World history.
The title of this volume is something of a misnomer or, at least, there is a crucial word missing from it.
To write a general history of two neighbouring countries spanning 100 years is no easy task. Furthermore, in 1905 Norway became independent of Sweden, meaning that there was no natural linkage between the two, geography apart.
Whatever the medievalists might say when they think you’re not listening, 20th-century European history is hard, and post-1945 history can be the trickiest bit. The decades after 1945 are much less precisely understood, in historical terms, than the decades before. They are more subject to unchallenged platitudes and uninformed controversy: they are surrounded by white noise.
Neil Davidson’s substantial and erudite book is a concerted defence of the concept of ‘Bourgeois revolution’.(1) It is composed on a heroic scale. Numerous theorists, both historical and contemporary, are laid-out, discussed and critiqued with unflagging intellectual energy.
What a great idea! The only wonder is why no publishing house thought of commissioning a book on the topic before. The reader’s delight starts straight from looking at the cover illustration – a ‘translation’ of Harry Beck’s celebrated London Tube Map, in which Waterloo Station becomes Gare de Napoléon.
There were times during the resurgence of the economic crisis in 2015 when it seemed as if ‘Greek-bashing’ had become a pan-European pastime.
In Fear and Progress, Antonio Cazorla Sánchez has produced a first-class survey of life in the years of the Franco regime (1939–75). His compelling narrative is supported by insightful analysis into the nature of the regime and a welcome abundance of source material including oral history interviews and government documents.