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Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, from 1453 to the Presentby Brendan Simms
Synopses & Reviews
If there is a fundamental truth of geopolitics, it is this: whoever controls the core of Europe controls the entire continent, and whoever controls all of Europe can dominate the world. Over the past five centuries, a rotating cast of kings and conquerors, presidents and dictators have set their sights on the European heartland, desperate to seize this pivotal area or at least prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. From Charles V and Napoleon to Bismarck and Cromwell, from Hitler and Stalin to Roosevelt and Gorbachev, nearly all the key power players of modern history have staked their titanic visions on this vital swath of land.
In Europe, prizewinning historian Brendan Simms presents an authoritative account of the past half-millennium of European history, demonstrating how the battle for mastery there has shaped the modern world. Beginning in 1453, when the collapse of the Byzantine Empire laid Europe open to Ottoman incursion and prompted the dramatic expansion of the Holy Roman Empire, Simms leads readers through the epic struggle for the heart of Europe. Stretching from the Low Countries through Germany and into the North Italian plain, this relatively compact zone has historically been the richest and most productive on earth. For hundreds of years, its crucial strategic importance stoked a seemingly unending series of conflicts, from the English Civil War to the French Revolution to the appalling world wars of the 20th century. But when Europe is in harmony, Simms shows, the entire world benefits—a lesson that current leaders would do well to remember.
A bold and compelling work by a renowned scholar, Europe integrates religion, politics, military strategy, and international relations to show how history—and Western civilization itself—was forged in the crucible of Europe.
"Bloody European statecraft and the interminable battle over Germany make the world go round in this magisterial history of modern international relations. Cambridge historian Simms (Unfinest Hour) surveys five centuries of European — and occasionally American — diplomacy, alliance-building, and warfare, from the 16th-century clashes between Spanish-Austrian Habsburgs and their French and Dutch rivals to today's wrangles over E.U. budgets and overseas military deployments. At the center of his account is Germany, the sleeping giant whose fragmentation under the Holy Roman Empire, he argues, tempted foreign hegemons into endless military adventures — and whose unification under the Kaisers and Hitler sparked world wars. Simms chronicles this kaleidoscope of conflicts and coalitions with a graceful briskness that teases larger themes out of the welter of detail. His perspective is the antithesis of Annales-style, bottom-up social history: here it is the lofty power plays of kings and diplomats, egged on by hawkish publics, that create modernity by driving transformations in politics, religion, finance, and ideology. It sometimes overreaches — was the Russian Revolution really 'a protest... against the failure of the Tsar to prosecute the conflict against Germany more vigorously'? — but Simms's vision of great-power rivalry as the motor of history offers compelling insights amid a grand narrative sweep. 20 b&w photos, 8 maps. Agent: Michael Carlisle, Inkwell Management." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
If there is a fundamental truth of geopolitics, it is this: whoever controls central Europe controls the entire continent, and whoever controls all of Europe can dominate the world. In this authoritative account of the past half millennium of European history, prizewinning historian Brendan Simms shows how the battle for mastery over the heart of the European continent has long shaped global affairs. Beginning in 1453, when the collapse of the Byzantine Empire laid Europe open to Ottoman incursion, Simms leads readers through the epic struggle for control of the European heartland—a fight that continues in the twenty-first century.
A commanding work of history by a renowned scholar, Europe integrates religion, politics, military strategy, and international relations to show how the modern world was forged in the crucible of Europe.
About the Author
Brendan Simms is a fellow at Peterhouse College, Cambridge and Professor in the History of International Relations at the Center for International Studies, University of Cambridge. The author of five books, including Three Victories and a Defeat and Unfinest Hour, which was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson prize.
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