Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century by Mark Mazower. New York. 1999. January 1999. Knopf.  0679438092.  491 pages. hardcover. Jacket photograph: Halifax, 1948, by Bill Brandt. Jacket design by Archie Ferguson.




DARK CONTINENT is a searching history of Europe’s most brutal century. Stripping away the comforting myths and illusions that we have grown up with since the Second World War, Mark Mazower presents an unflinching account of a continent locked in a finely balanced struggle between tolerance and racial extermination, imperial ambition and national self-determination, liberty and the tyrannies of Right and Left. It is an attempt to trace the origins of ‘Western values’ - the ideological terms we now live by - and to ask what remains of the struggles of previous generations. Instead of seeing Europe as the natural home of freedom and democracy, Mazower argues that it was a frequently nightmarish laboratory for social and political engineering, inventing and reinventing itself through war, revolution and ideological competition. Fascism and communism should be regarded not as exceptions to the general rule of democracy, but as alternative forms of government that attracted many Europeans by offering different solutions to the challenges of the modern world. By 1940 the prospects for democratic government looked bleak, and Europe’s future seemed to lie in Hitler’s hands. Yet freedom was given another chance with the defeat of the Nazi New Order, and it prevailed decades later across the continent with the collapse of the Iron Curtain. Mazower’s extraordinarily skilled and insightful analysis provides us with a new perspective on events of the century now drawing to a close. From the beginnings of the First World War to the establishment of the European Union, he depicts a battle for hearts and minds that reached more deeply than ever before into the daily lives of ordinary people. Vividly written and vigorously argued, DARK CONTINENT presents both a comprehensive history of twentieth-century Europe and a provocative vision of its future.



Mazower MarkMark Mazower is Reader in History at the University of Sussex. He is the author of the prizewinning INSIDE HITLER’S GREECE: THE EXPERIENCE OF OCCUPATION, 1941-44. He writes and broadcasts regularly on current developments in the Balkans.






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