Can Europeans really find no way of living together in democracies other than living apart?

Timothy Garton Ash

  • Dark Continent: Europe’s 20th Century by Mark Mazower
    Penguin, 496 pp, £20.00, March 1998, ISBN 0 7139 9159 3

Back in the now remote summer of 1990, when we were still celebrating the birth of a ‘new Europe’, a book was published simultaneously in several European languages. Written by Jean-Baptiste Duroselle and entitled, in the English edition, Europe: A History of Its Peoples, it is a classic example of the Whig interpretation of European history, a historical supplement to Jacques Delors. Already on page 21, Duroselle finds it ‘possible to discern in Europe’s history a general if halting growth in compassion, humanity and equality’. Discussing several different ways of viewing the post-1945 history of Europe, he writes: ‘one may, finally, see this phase of history in a European light’ – by implication, all other lights are somehow un-European – ‘and observe how many objective factors have combined with creative acts of will to make possible the first step towards a united Europe.’

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