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Publisher's Summary

Only three lifetimes ago, Europe was a farming society ruled by families of monarchs. But with two seismic tremors-capitalism and democracy-Europe's economic and royal foundations were shattered forever and modern European history began.
In this series of 48 fascinating lectures, Professor Childers makes the history of Europe from the 1750s to the present-events both horrible and magnificent-as immediate as today's headlines, employing the historian's craft and a storyteller's skill to find the causes of what otherwise could seem to be the march of folly. The result is an intellectually exhilarating journey through a period of three lifetimes such as the world had never experienced. You'll see how in the span of just one life, England became an industrial, urban culture; tens of thousands were guillotined in France; Napoleon's Empire - the greatest since Rome-rose and fell; and revolution swept the capitals of Europe; how in the span of just one more, the Russian serfs were freed; Italy and Germany were created from a loose collection of city-states; European powers divided and conquered Africa; Darwin, Marx, Freud, and Einstein published world-shaking ideas; and millions died in a Great War; and how in that third lifetime, the world was plunged into economic depression, global war, and genocide; Europe abandoned its African colonies; the Soviet Union rose and fell; Fascism and Communism failed as democracy became the dominant form of government; and the same European powers that had bled each other for hundreds of years created a Common Market and unified currency.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©1998 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1998 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Quaker on 05-01-14

Oh my, where do I begin? A fantastic listen.

If you could sum up Europe and Western Civilization in the Modern Age in three words, what would they be?

A must listen.

What did you like best about this story?

I selected this audio series because I'm planning a trip to France and wanted to brush up on France's modern history. I ended up racing through all 24 riveting hours, covering Europe from the Enlightenment and French Revolution through the Cold War.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes! Though at 24 full hours that would have been impossible. As the course continued, I found myself racing through it, listening wherever and whenever I could.

Any additional comments?

This course overlaps substantially with another outstanding title from The Great Courses by Professor Robert Bucholz, Foundations of Western Civilization II, which I listened to last year and loved. I could not begin to tell you which course is better.

Bucholz's course ("Foundations") covers a wider geography and time period, and is memorable particularly for his rich descriptions of life under the great pre-enlightenment monarchies (particularly that of Louis XIV of France), and for the vivid portrait he painted of the mood in Europe through the industrial revolution leading up to World War I.

Professor Childers is an equally gifted historian and storyteller, and listening to this course was a similar experience in that once it got going, I couldn't stop listening.

More than the "foundations" course, this course -- particularly the first half -- focused much more on the political and philosophical evolution within the era covered. There is ample discussion of the contributing forces and evolution of nationalism, conservatism, imperialism, capitalism, liberalism, communism, socialism, fascism, and more. But make no mistake -- this is not simply a philosophy class. Childers paints vivid pictures of the leaders of the day, and of the many circumstances and turning points that propelled Europe through the last 200 years. Highlights for me included the several lectures which offered a detailed dissection of the rise, reign, and philosophy of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers ("Nazi") party in Germany in the 1930s.

It was not until the final lecture that I realized this course was recorded a good 15 years ago. Childers ends his accounting of history as the new millennium is dawning. While it would be nice to hear Childers' take on the 21st century, it's to his credit that his summation in lecture 48 remains meaningful, and in the end the age of the course is irrelevant. Loved it.

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18 of 18 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Matt on 10-28-14

Gripping Whistlestop Tour of 200 Years' History

I was amazed at how much Prof Childers managed to get into this course whilst maintaining his exciting, virtuosic, easy to absorb pace. It's tremendous value for money.

I like to listen when I'm doing other stuff, cooking, gym housework, shopping, falling asleep etc - so the material needs to have a strong narrative and a good measure of drama and voice modulation to keep me engaged. This fully lived up to my needs.

A good lecture delivered to a live audience has a certain compelling energy that's hard to replicate in even the best book reading. This lecture set is a really good example of that kind of energy. I honestly don't recall a boring moment. The quality of his story telling and his involvement with the characters kept me glued to my headset.

Every 30 minute lecture covers an important aspect of the period. It's all carefully distilled so that you get the essentials without getting lost in detail.

I came away with an much better understanding of modern politics and how things came to be as they are: Napoleon, Liberalism, Capitalism, Nationalism, Anti Semitism, the conflict between Germany and the allied powers - he fits everything together, piece by piece ending in a magnificent climax soon after the end of WW2.

This is a first class educational work in every respect. Thoroughly entertaining, too. My only gripe is that Audible does not seem to offer the lecture notes that were published by the original publishers.

Strongly Recommended. I've listened to quite a few of the Great Courses History series now and this is my favorite so far.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By D. Kelly on 07-04-15

The time flew by, listening to these lectures

I'm a big fan of the Teaching Company and this set of lectures does not disappoint. Recommended

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4 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By tugeladiver on 09-29-17


Professor Childers is excellent. His style of presentation keeps the listener completely engaged as he takes you on a journey through the key events of the past two hundred years of European history.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Alison on 10-28-16


masterful. thoughtfully and beautifully presented. highly recommended for anybody wanting to understand modern European history.

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