By Bernard Wasserstein
Here's the definitive background of up to date Europe, a debatable yet authoritative and full of life narrative that's destined to turn into the normal account of the interval from 1914 to the current. during this fantastic quantity, esteemed historian Bernard Wasserstein bargains the 1st critical, full-length heritage of a century of convulsive swap. it's a heritage of barbarism and civilization, of cruelty and tenderness, of technological fulfillment and environmental blight, of imperial growth and withdrawal, of authoritarian repression and of person rebirth. Wasserstein presents either a story of the most contours of the political, diplomatic, and army background and an research the underpinnings of demographic, fiscal, and social advancements. Drawing at the most up-to-date scholarly findings, together with contemporary disclosures of intelligence fabrics and archival revelations that the autumn of Communism in jap Europe, Wasserstein captures the essence of up to date ecu historical past in a fascinating narrative that's by way of turns grim, funny, brilliant, and enlightening.
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Extra resources for Barbarism and Civilization: A History of Europe in Our Time
Alongside institutionalized religion, and often mixed up with it, countryside superstitions, magical remedies, and folk customs died hard. In some places witches would still be called upon to remove evil spirits from troublesome cows or pigs. In the Polish countryside, Wres were lit on the eve of St John (24 June) to help crops grow. Polish peasants would not dare to touch a swallow’s nest or even to look too closely at a bird Xying in or out of it. Belief was widespread in wood-sprites, banshees, cloud-dwelling spirits, old women who ate children, and local devils in the guise of owls, cats, bats, or reptiles.
Concentrations of urban squalor aVronted social consciences and led well-meaning theorists to advocate resettlement of workers on the land. But such bucolic utopianism rarely achieved meaningful results. The great density of urban populations, it is true, aVorded dangerous breeding conditions for epidemic disease; on the other hand, preventive public health measures reached urban populations before being extended to more remote rural areas. Most big cities had piped water (not always puriWed) and drainage systems although working-class homes rarely had bathrooms or inside toilets and one tap often served several households.
Nor were women limited to milking, fruit-picking, or other light tasks. Often they performed backbreaking labour: Millet’s female hay-binders, faggot-gatherers, potato planters, sheep-shearers, and gleaners were still hard at work in the early twentieth century. Denmark provides an example of one of the most eYcient agricultural economies in Europe. Her farms were highly specialized and succeeded in expanding productivity fast in the years before 1914. Danish farmers were well educated and quick to adopt new techniques and machinery.