By Bernard Wasserstein
This is the definitive historical past of up to date Europe, a debatable yet authoritative and vigorous narrative that's destined to turn into the traditional account of the interval from 1914 to the current. during this amazing quantity, esteemed historian Bernard Wasserstein deals the 1st severe, full-length historical past of a century of convulsive switch. it's a background of barbarism and civilization, of cruelty and tenderness, of technological fulfillment and environmental blight, of imperial enlargement and withdrawal, of authoritarian repression and of person rebirth. Wasserstein presents either a story of the most contours of the political, diplomatic, and armed forces heritage and an research the underpinnings of demographic, financial, and social advancements. Drawing at the most recent scholarly findings, together with fresh disclosures of intelligence fabrics and archival revelations that the autumn of Communism in japanese Europe, Wasserstein captures the essence of latest eu background in an interesting narrative that's via turns grim, funny, impressive, and enlightening.
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Additional resources for Barbarism and Civilization: A History of Europe in Our Time
In Russia there was no income tax at all. In France there was none until July 1914 when it was adopted at a rate of 2 per cent, though collection did not start until 1916. 8 per cent; it was levied only on the one million people with annual earned incomes above £160, thus excluding the working class altogether. An important accelerator of economic growth was ever-greater ease of communications. The prevalent long-distance modes were still by water and rail; motorized road traYc was relatively light and air transport in its infancy.
15 Peasants were heavily dependent on the vagaries of the agrarian cycle. When blessed with good harvests, as in Russia immediately before 1914, they might succeed in accumulating a small surplus. But if crops failed they would often be compelled by the threat of starvation to mortgage or even sell their land. In Russia and Prussian Poland, the expansion of land banks, credit unions and co-operatives in the years before 1914 helped peasants to acquire or retain title to their land, to buy farm implements, and to market products.
Germany’s rapid economic expansion since the foundation of the empire in 1871 had led to a big shift in population. Then two-thirds of the population had been rural; by 1914 nearly two-thirds was urban. Germany pursued a vigorous policy of internal colonization, providing incentives for Germans to settle on the land, especially in East Prussia and Prussian Poland where Germans feared being outnumbered by Slavic elements; but the Xow of population to the cities continued inexorably, a symptom of the crisis facing the largest social group on the continent: the peasantry.
Barbarism and Civilization: A History of Europe in Our Time by Bernard Wasserstein