Introduction to Contemporary History by Geoffrey Barraclough

By Geoffrey Barraclough

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Rather its foundation was the conviction that policies which aimed merely to defend established positions were fighting a losing battle, and that a more positive reaction was necessary. This reaction has been called 'the last attempt to reorganize modern Europe'. 1 The form it took was an attempt to weld together in the heart of Europe the core of a German-dominated empire strong enough to compete on terms of equality with the other great world powers of the time, imperial Russia, the United States, and the British empire.

E. Carrington in Survey of International Affairs, 19561958, p. 444. 38 THE NATURE OF CONTEMPORARY HISTORY change due not to settlement of outstanding problems, but to the realization that the old issues were no longer the insistent issues, and that in any case there was no practical alternative, in the world as it was, to some form of coexistence. The result was an abatement of ideological strife and a growing impatience with ideologies which originated in the European past and were no longer congruent with the realities of a world which had ceased to be centred on Europe.

The rising generation will inevitably look back over the 35 AN INTRODUCTION TO CONTEMPORARY HISTORY twentieth century with different priorities from ours. Born into a world in which - as all present indications suggest - the major questions will not be European questions but the relationships between Europe, including Russia, and America and the peoples of Asia and Africa, they will find little relevance in many of the topics which engrossed the attention of the last generation. The study of contemporary history requires new perspectives and a new scale of values.

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