Geoffrey Wheatcroft

The perils of peace

In 1945, Europe lay prostrate after the greatest and most terrible war in history. More than 35 million people had been killed, Tony Judt says (other estimates are even higher), with combatant deaths easily outnumbered by civilian; whole countries were starving, scores of cities were razed. That was not what optimistic souls — or maybe anyone — had foreseen in the first decade of the century, when Europe seemed to be living through an age of peace, rising prosperity and increasing freedom which promised to last for ever.

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