Paul Betts

Sep 30, 2021

Ruin and Renewal

Civilising Europe After the Second World War

Basic Books 2021

"One of the most enduring myths of history writing about Europe in the 20th century is that the century can be neatly divided into a tale of two halves, with the first half made up of episodes of war, revolution and mass violence while the second is a tale of relative peace and prosperity”.

In Ruin and Renewal: Civilising Europe After the Second World War (Basic Books, 2021), Paul Betts challenges this two-halves historical narrative. This modern political history of the use of the concept of “civilisation" confronts the self-image of the European Union with lessons for core debates about democracy and the rule of law today.

Paul Betts is a professor of European history at Saint Antony's College, Oxford, whose work centres on modern cultural history with a special focus on 20th century Germany. His Within Walls: Private Life in the German Democratic Republic (OUP Oxford, 2010) received the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History awarded by the Wiener Library.

*The author's own book recommendations are: Project Europe: A History by Kiran Klaus Patel (Cambridge University Press, 2020) and Free: Coming of Age at the End of History by Lea Ypi (Allen Lane, 2021).

Tim Gwynn Jones is an economic and political-risk analyst at Medley advisors (a division of Energy Aspects).

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