Paul Betts, "Ruin and Renewal: Civilising Europe After the Second World War" (Basic Books, 2021)


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"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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