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.
This review was written jointly with Dr Matthew Broad of the University of Reading.
When Otho of Bavaria, the young king-designate of newly independent Greece, first stepped on Greek soil at Nauplion in early February 1833, he met a heartwarming spectacle.
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.
It is a brave man who would take on the job of writing a history of Germany and the Holy Roman Empire between 1493 and 1806. Many historians would maintain that neither Germany nor even German national consciousness (certainly not German nationalism) existed during this period; as for the Holy Roman Empire, there is a long-running dispute over what it actually amounted to.
After a period in which much historical attention has been directed to the rise of the early modern state, it now seems to be becoming fashionable to take the state out of the centre of the picture again.
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.
Jonathan Sperber has so far been mainly known as a historian of 19th-century Germany, and of the Rhineland in particular.
‘If the Euro fails, Europe fails’, Angela Merkel boldly declared in September 2011; a potent reminder of how monetary integration lies at the heart of today’s European Union.(1) Yet the Eurozone has not been the first attempt at European monetary cooperation.