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Roller-Coaster: Europe, 1950-2017 Reviews

Roller-Coaster: Europe, 1950-2017 by Ian Kershaw

Roller-Coaster: Europe, 1950-2017

Ian Kershaw

3.83 out of 5

6 reviews

Category: Non-fiction
Imprint: Allen Lane
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication date: 30 Aug 2018
ISBN: 9780241187166

n this remarkable book, Ian Kershaw has created a grand panorama of the world we live in and where it came from. Drawing on examples from all across Europe, Roller-Coaster will make us all rethink Europe and what it means to be European.

  • The TimesBook of the Year
5 stars out of 5
18 Aug 2018

"This is a remarkable pan-European survey, and one can only admire the vast range of scholarship lightly worn"

Kershaw...again demonstrates his enviable capacity for lucid analysis and does not waste words. This is the book to go to if you want an authoritative and concise account of the playing out of the Cold War, Europe’s “economic miracle” in the 1950s and 1960s, social democracy in Western Europe, the growth of resistance to Soviet dominance in Eastern Europe, cultural shocks such as the arrival of rock’n’roll, the student rebellions of the 1960s and much more. This is a remarkable pan-European survey, and one can only admire the vast range of scholarship lightly worn.

 

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
8 Nov 2018

"his ability to bring together complex stories from Portugal to Ukraine to create a coherent history of transformation is impressive"

At times, Kershaw seems to take the primacy of politics too far: more culture and more voices would have been welcome, but his ability to bring together complex stories from Portugal to Ukraine to create a coherent history of transformation is impressive. As in his previous work, he emphasises Germany as the continent’s fulcrum, now the “vital pillar of stable liberal democracy”... Kershaw is too wise to predict the future, noting that “the only certainty is uncertainty”: disruptive technology and the environmental cost of earlier growth already present clear challenges. In writing this book, he reflects: “I have learnt immeasurably more than I knew before about the events and changes that have shaped my life.” There are few greater tasks for our confusing and myopic age than to understand how and why we have come to be where we are now.

2 stars out of 5
29 Sep 2018

"I fear that he has bitten off rather more than he or his readers can chew"

Kershaw’s canvas is vast, for his Europe includes the former Soviet Union. Although his main themes are political and economic, he tries to cover social, scientific and cultural history too, and I fear that he has bitten off rather more than he or his readers can chew. His desire to include absolutely everything means we are given just enough detail to whet the appetite for more, but more is not delivered.

3 stars out of 5
Simon Heffer
20 Aug 2018

"A history of post-war Europe marred by virtue-signalling"

this cannot have been an easy book to write, given its scope, and most readers will learn something from it... For the most part, Kershaw is reasonable and the values in his analysis sensible. If anyone already wants to relive the often depressing events of our lifetime, his book has all one needs to do so, but the reader should not forget that jury is still, as the cliché has it, out.

2 stars out of 5
Michael Burleigh
16 Aug 2018

"far too nostalgic to justify its thrilling title"

There is very little thrilling or surprising in Kershaw’s bland, split-screen account of the evolution of Western and Eastern Europe (until the fall of the Berlin Wall reunited the continent), partly because Sir Ian, a leading member of the Anglo-German Left Establishment, has too omniscient a view to convey the grubby realities of business, the media and politics after a lifetime in the academy. The Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm gets four times as many mentions as The Sun, the most widely read newspaper in Britain. 

4 stars out of 5
15 Aug 2018

"an expert and meticulous look at the events that shaped the continent"

Roller-Coaster brings a perspective to bear that deftly weaves national histories into an all-European tapestry stretching from Portugal to Poland, and into Russia. This is the book’s most impressive achievement — a far cry from the encapsulated histories we learnt in school... So teachers of contemporary European history should rejoice. Roller-Coaster will help to close a gaping lacuna in their syllabuses.