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The Struggle for Mastery in Europe: 1848-1918 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) [Paperback]

Alan J. P. Taylor
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 4, 1980 0198812701 978-0198812708 Reissue
The system of international repression ended with the fall of Metternich in 1848. The conflicting ideals of international revolution and collective security came into being with Lenin and Wilson in 1918. Nationalism, tempered by the Balance of Power, dominated Europe in the intervening seventy years. Drawing on a wealth of diplomatic documents, A. J. P. Taylor examines the relations of the Great Powers, when Europe was still the centre of the world. Written in characteristically vigorous prose, this is a challenging and original diplomatic history, that also considers the political and economic forces which made continental war inevitable.

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Editorial Reviews


"It is a classic."--History Today

From the Back Cover

The fall of Metternich in the revolutions which swept Europe in 1848 heralded an era of unprecedented nationalism, which culminated in the collapse of the Habsburg, Romanov, and Hohenzollern dynasties at the end of the First World War. In the intervening seventy years which are the subject of this book, the boundaries of Europe changed dramatically from those established at Vienna in 1815: Cavour championed the cause of Risorgimento in Italy; Bismarck brought about the unification of Germany; while the Great Powers scrambled for a place in the sun in Africa.

In this, one of his most enduring works, A.J.P. Taylor shows how the changing balance of power determined the course of European History, during this, the last age when Europe was the centre of world history. Throughout, Taylor's narrative is so vivid that the book is as much a work of literature as a contribution to historical scholarship.

A.J.P. Taylor was one of Britain's most respected and influential historians. His numerous publications include: English History 1914-1945, Revolutions and Revolutionaries, and The Origins of the Second World War. He died in 1990.

Product Details

  • Series: Oxford History of Modern Europe
  • Paperback: 674 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reissue edition (December 4, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198812701
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198812708
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 5 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Struggle for Mastery in Europe March 8, 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What A. J. P. Taylor's The Struggle for Mastery in Europe suffers from in being nearly fifty years old, it more than makes up for in style. It is a riveting book that is smattered with wit and an author's thorough knowledge of his subject. Alternate titles might have been The Struggle to Prevent the Mastery of Europe, or the Decline and Fall of the Balance of Power.
Taylor's unyielding faith in diplomacy reflects a Cold War notion that any political problem can be solved by maintaining a diplomatic balance. He deftly navigates the Byzantine web of diplomatic intrigue to show how negotiations, not war, ultimately resolves crises. His whig interpretations are at times blatant. Conservative Russia and Prussia are often "humiliated" and "old fashioned" while liberal France fell victim to its own "ingenuity" or suffered "shattered prestige."
Not all events are treated equal. The 1867 Anschloss or the 1894 Dreyfus Affair receive practically no attention, while obscure diplomatic conventions receive detailed analysis. Great leaders like Napoleon III or Bismarck receive Taylor's praise while British statesmen of lesser stature receive criticism. Taylor is also anti-imperial, stating that colonies are a sign of weakness (though he later seems to suggest the opposite). His treatment of the coming of World War One is perhaps his greatest weakness, or perhaps this is where the book is most dated. He seems to be somewhat surprised that war erupted in the face of diplomatic failure. He fails to see that many at the time lost faith in diplomacy and allowed the war to happen.
In the end, though, this is a fine work. Taylor interjects personal philosophies throughout the book. "Men learn from their mistakes how to make new ones (p.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All We Need to Know April 19, 2001
I think what made me start loving Alan Taylor is the passage from "Struggle" about Louis Napoleon's government being "run by gangsters". After a lifetime of school histories unwilling to venture a judgement, scrupulous in their aridness, this was a revelation.

Taylor suffered ostracism for his outspoken views, especially from Oxford, where his trampling of sacred cows prevented him from gaining a professorship. On the other hand, his rival, Hugh Trevor-Roper, played the tory historian and prospered. (It was, of course, Trevor-Roper who staked his reputation as an historian on the authenticity of the fraudulent Hitler diaries of 1983, hopefully giving Taylor the last laugh. But being an establishment historian, Sir Hugh was immunized from serious career consequences -- quite the contrary, having been raised to the peerage.)

If you want to understand the century past, you must begin in the century previous, in about 1848. When Taylor deposits you in 1918, you will be on secure footing for reading his The Origins of The Second World War, or Piers Brendon's The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s, leading you in turn to WWII, which brings the nineteenth century to a close in 1945.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A. J. P. Taylor's book is the sine qua non for university students of European history. This is the real deal: Taylor was a genuine historian who never went further than his facts--and his facts are incredibly well researched, well documented, and bountiful. This is true historiography: the way history ought to be done! Plus, Taylor writes very well, in a lively and entertaining fashion. He has good language, wit, and trenchant observations.
It must be noted that this is a history of diplomacy--with some political and military of necessity treated. What does this mean? Well, it means that the characters of Taylor's book are mostly forgotten professional diplomats, and therefore most of their names won't be familiar to those unschooled in modern European history--Bismarck and Disraeli excepted. But this esoterica only increases the value of Taylor's work; for it reveals these forgotten characters to us once again: a gem of historical literature.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book in order to understand Europe�s history November 21, 2003
A. J. P. Taylor's The Struggle for Mastery in Europe is the book to start reading about those 70 crucial years in Europe's history.
The book begins with the Revolutions of 1845, that's why it would be a good thing to have some knowledge regarding the Napoleonic Wars and its outcome (Treaty of Metternich). Taylor analyses the out coming system of the Balance of Power that governed European diplomacy until War World I. According to This system, the five great powers (England, Prussia, Austria, Russia and the defeated France) would balance each others force, avoiding the out come of war.
The system worked pretty well until the fall of Bismarck. That is because Bismarck, as his successor once said, knew how to "play with three balls at the same time". He could keep Russia and Austria tied to Germany at the same time. Thus, France was checked. Nevertheless, when Germany didn't renewed its treaty with Russia the obvious move was Russia's alliance with France.
It could be said that by 1885 the outcome of a Great War was a matter just of time. The system of alliances so well designed by Metternich and so well understood and curried out by Bismarck was at the same time the cause of War World I. Without a great politician as Bismarck nobody could make Metternich's system work.
All through his book, Taylor explains what I have just summarized in a really better way. I highly recommend the lecture of this great book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to read
I read a lot of history and this was the most unintelligible of them. Had to start it 3times and gave up after 20-30 pages each time. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Joseph Meth
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic diplomatic history.
This is a classic history of European diplomacy and foreign policy from the revolutions of 1848--the Springtime of Nations--to the end of World War I. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Thomas Mitchell
1.0 out of 5 stars liars
Contrary to their representation, the book was highly marked up. On every page there were bold and long ball point pen marks relieved only by pages on which in addition to lines... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Arthur Cody
3.0 out of 5 stars diplomatic history of tumultuous, chaotic nationalist machinations
This is the story - told from the point of view of the diplomatic players - of the last decades of European domination of the world. Read more
Published on June 5, 2012 by Robert J. Crawford
5.0 out of 5 stars A Well Documented and Clearly Written Diplomatic History
A.J.P. Taylor (1906-1990) wrote THE STRUGGLE FOR MASTERY IN EUROPE: 1848-1918 in 1960. This book makes the diplomatic connections and clearly explains the causes and effects of... Read more
Published on April 21, 2010 by James E. Egolf
5.0 out of 5 stars circles on the water of times
Ouch , what a journey through the times , how many hours and resources wasted on study of other books for nothing , while in this work even ignoramus as me can see our static... Read more
Published on November 14, 2009 by Z. Hanzlik
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterly, and not a struggle to read
A.J.P Taylor's history is told through the prism of diplomatic affairs and great power jockeying for position. Read more
Published on November 20, 2008 by reader 451
4.0 out of 5 stars very good, but not for the casual reader
Taylor successfully tackles a sprawling, detailed subject -- seventy years of byzantine European diplomacy that set the stage for the First World War and, not so indirectly, the... Read more
Published on June 11, 2006 by Douglas R. Wieringa
5.0 out of 5 stars obra maestra
El Prof. Taylor, de Oxford ,ha escrito una pieza maestra. Por decadas sera leido y recordado con furor. El libro es ameno y de facil comprension. Read more
Published on August 21, 2005 by Héctor Parra
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