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Global Supremacy and Faith in Progress

Europe 1850-1914

by Paulmann, Johannes

Rarely was change as pervasive and rapid as it was in the second half oft he nineteenth century. In his authoritative synthesis, Johannes Paulmann shows how drastically life changed for Europeans between 1850 and 1914. During this time period, foundations were laid that are still in place at our present day.

The future seemed open and dynamic. The use of fossil fuels facilitated enormous gains in productivity. Industrial society reshaped the European centres; people and products were increasingly mobile, within Europe and globally. At the same time, Europe experienced the climax of its imperial power – never again would the continent reach the degree of global predominance that it held in the years before 1914. Yet the comprehensive changes also raised doubts. Progress itself, and a widespread faith in its value, went alongside criticism of materialism and environmental destruction, of inequality and oppression, of colonialism and violence. It its on this background that competition and intensifying nationalisms as well as diverse forms of cooperation across borders worked together to give shape to European relations before the First World War.

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