Editor's Introduction

Dan Stone

in The Oxford Handbook of Postwar European History

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199560981
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Editor's Introduction

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  • History
  • European History
  • Contemporary History (Post 1945)
  • Methods and Historiography



It is tempting to tell the story of Europe in the twentieth century in two halves: the first, a sorry, bleak tale of poverty, war, and genocide; and the second, a happy narrative of stability and the triumph of boring normality over dangerous activism and exuberant politics. When one examines the ‘return of memories’ which could not be articulated in the public sphere during the Cold War, one can see that the years since 1989 are intimately connected to World War II and its aftermath. In many ways, we are only now living through the postwar period. The impact of World War II, the largest and bloodiest conflict in world history, did not end in 1945. This book modifies the emphasis usually placed on the Cold War as the main historical framework for understanding the postwar period. It questions the extent to which 1945 was really a ‘zero hour’ and examines various facets of postwar life – from high politics to economics to tourism and consumerism.

Keywords: Cold War; Europe; postwar period; history; politics; World War II; zero hour; economics; tourism; consumerism

Article.  17729 words. 

Subjects: History ; European History ; Contemporary History (Post 1945) ; Methods and Historiography

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