The Struggle for Supremacy, 1453 to the PresentBook - 2013
At the heart of Europe's history lies a puzzle. In most of the world humankind has created enormous political frameworks, whether ancient (such as China) or modern (such as the United States). Sprawling empires, kingdoms or republics appear to be the norm. By contrast Europe has remained stubbornly chaotic and fractured, often into tiny pieces, with each serious attempt to unify the continent (by Charles V, Napoleon, Hitler and perhaps now the European Union) thwarted.
In this ambitious and exciting new book, Brendan Simms tells the story of Europe's constantly shifting geopolitics and the peculiar circumstances that have made it so impossible to dominate, but also so dynamic and ferocious. It is the story of a group of highly competitive and mutually suspicious monarchies and republics, whose rivalries drove the process of overseas expansion, especially in the Americas. It is also the story of a continent increasingly prone to interference from apparently 'semi-detached' elements, such as Russia, the Ottoman Empire, Britain and (just as centrally to Simms' argument) the United States.
At the heart of the book lies Germany- the region that to the present remains Europe's great dynamo. Its wealth, population and central position have in its long periods of weakness made it a tempting target for predators, and in its periods of strength made it an overwhelming threat to the rest of the continent.
Europe- The Struggle for Supremacy will become the standard work on this crucial subject - and an extremely enjoyable, surprising and vivid one. As Europe's future seems once more disturbingly unclear, this could not be a more timely book.
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