Basking in the Afterglow

Richard Mayne: Postwar: The Dawn of Today's Europe; Schocken Books; New York.

It is common today to describe Western Europe as facing a crisis. Its physical problems are manifold: economic stagnation, high unemployment, political dissatisfaction, demo­ graphic decline, military flaccidity. It would appear, however, that these overt problems are surface manifestations of a deeper malaise-the loss of confidence in tl1e existing governmental and institutional structures that have been the basis of postwar Europe. It is the origins of this postwar Europe (1945-1957) that Richard Mayne examines. Mayne, who was an active participant in crucial parts of this history as a senior official of the European Economic Community, does not present a detailed history of Europe during this period, but rather focuses on those efforts crucial in the forging of a new Western European order. Mayne's emphasis is on the remarkable success postwar Europe had in rising out of the ashes of war and establishing a prosperous and humane social order. He says in summation: "The men and women of postwar Europe had saved themselves by their exertions. Their example, like their achievement, still stands."


It would seem that an implicit purpose of the work is to counter the present...

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