Ruin and renewal Civilizing Europe after World War II

Paul Betts, 1963-

Book - 2020

"In 1945, Europe lay in ruins. Some fifty million people were dead, and millions more languished in physical and moral disarray. The devastation of World War II was unprecedented in character as well as in scale. Unlike the First World War, the second blurred the line between soldier and civilian, inflicting untold horrors on people from all walks of life. A continent that had previously considered itself the very measure of civilization for the world had turned into its barbaric opposite. ...Reconstruction, then, was a matter of turning Europe's "civilizing mission" inward. In this magisterial work, Oxford historian Paul Betts describes how this effort found expression in humanitarian relief work, the prosecution of war crimes against humanity, a resurgent Catholic Church, peace campaigns, expanded welfare policies, renewed global engagement and numerous efforts to salvage damaged cultural traditions. Authoritative and sweeping, Ruin and Renewal is essential reading for anyone hoping to understand how Europe was transformed after the destruction of World War II."--Publisher description

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2nd Floor New Shelf 940.55/Betts (NEW SHELF) Due May 28, 2022
Subjects
Genres
Informational works
Published
New York : Basic Books 2020.
Edition
First Edition
Language
English
Physical Description
v, 536 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9781541672468
1541672461
Main Author
Paul Betts, 1963- (author)
  • Introduction: Old world made new
  • Call to Alms
  • Punishment and pity
  • Faith and frontiers
  • Science, shelter, and civility
  • Empire reclaimed
  • Decolonization and African civilization: Ghana, Algeria, and Senegal
  • World civilization
  • Socialism's civilizing mission in Africa
  • Religion, race, and multiculturalism
  • Conclusion: New iron curtains
  • Afterword and acknowledgments.
Review by Library Journal Reviews

World War II ended with Europe in ruins: reconstruction was the immediate necessity. But prewar notions of what constituted Western civilization also needed to be reconsidered. Betts (European history, St. Antony's College, Oxford; Within Walls) looks not only at how international humanitarian aid was undertaken after 1945 but how nations, NGOs, and private philanthropies attempted to form and export their own notions of civilization to a recovering and developing world. The result is an excellent study of post-war changes in what Betts refers to as "the political language of civilization." In the 1940s, appeals to civilization justified restoring Germany to the community of civilized nations in the aftermath of heinous war crimes. Betts's admirable study slights neither Eastern nor Western efforts and proceeds to detail the complicated struggle of emerging African nations to define themselves rather than being defined by others postcolonization. This wide-ranging work also describes how Europeans hoped to put aside ideological differences in order to create a unified postindustrial society to present to the world. VERDICT This eminently readable study thoroughly details how European nations sought to redefine and rebuild themselves in the postwar era. It's indispensable reading for those seeking to better understand modern world affairs.—David Keymer, Cleveland Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

The award-winning Oxford historian and author of Within Walls offers a panoramic account of post-World War II Europe that examines the humanitarian relief organizations, war-crime prosecutions and peace campaigns that expanded to salvage damaged cultural traditions. 35,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Winner of the American Philosophical Society’s 2021 Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History

From an award-winning historian, a panoramic account of Europe after the depravity of World War II.

In 1945, Europe lay in ruins. Some fifty million people were dead, and millions more languished in physical and moral disarray. The devastation of World War II was unprecedented in character as well as in scale. Unlike the First World War, the second blurred the line between soldier and civilian, inflicting untold horrors on people from all walks of life. A continent that had previously considered itself the very measure of civilization for the world had turned into its barbaric opposite.

Reconstruction, then, was a matter of turning Europe's "civilizing mission" inward. In this magisterial work, Oxford historian Paul Betts describes how this effort found expression in humanitarian relief work, the prosecution of war crimes against humanity, a resurgent Catholic Church, peace campaigns, expanded welfare policies, renewed global engagement and numerous efforts to salvage damaged cultural traditions. Authoritative and sweeping, Ruin and Renewal is essential reading for anyone hoping to understand how Europe was transformed after the destruction of World War II.