The second installment of the eminent English historian’s comprehensive overview of modern European history. After the overwhelming horrors of the first half of the twentieth century, the years from 1950 to 2017 brought peace and relative prosperity to most of Europe. Yet in the shadow of its own history Europe was now a divided continent, still rife with tensions and uncertainty.
The final instalment in the Penguin series, spanning 1950-2017, coherently brings a long and complex narrative up to date ... At times, Kershaw seems to take the primacy of politics too far: more culture and more voices would have been welcome, but his ability to bring together complex stories from Portugal to Ukraine to create a coherent history of transformation is impressive.
... the second volume of his expertly crafted history of modern Europe ... a heavy but elegant book—primarily a work of political history that segues into socio-economics and culture. While Mr. Kershaw offers no major reinterpretation of the period, he has produced an accessible scholarly synthesis, panoramic in scope and sound in judgment ... given the emphasis he places on the quality of leadership, one cannot but look with some angst at its absence today.
...an adept and useful synthesis of an extraordinarily complex era ... Kershaw’s book is a competent and comprehensive survey of Europe in the second half of the twentieth century... Something about the unexpected magnitude of the current crisis, its deep roots, and its lack of an obvious solution seems to have spooked Kershaw, who ends by wondering whether 'the ghosts of the past [are] likely to return to haunt the continent.' But he doesn’t want to give an answer, and ends the book on a bland note: 'The only certainty is uncertainty.' It’s as if he senses that the European story that seemed to have ended so well just a few years ago—with the Europe 'whole and free' that so many wanted for so long—could yet go awry in unpredictable ways. It might soon need yet another reassessment, even more thorough than this one.