"I do not think it possible to understand the troubles and instabilities of Central and Eastern Europe today without reading Ivan T.Berend, the finest comparative historian of this region.
In History Derailed, he has produced a characteristically lucid and masterly synthesis of its economic, social, political and cultural history in the 'long nineteenth century' which every reader of his much admired study of inter-war Central and Eastern Europe, Decades of Crisis, will need to read, and anyone interested in the continuing problems of the region will want to read."Eric J. Hobsbawm, Emeritus Professor of Economic and Social History at the University of London and author of many histories including The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914-1991
"This multi-faceted and lavishly illustrated analytical history of Central-East Europe before World War I, written by the world's foremost scholar of the region, explains how and why the paths of modernization and development diverged so markedly between East and West Europe. Ivan T. Berend's tour de force of historical interpretation must be essential reading for anyone seeking a true perspective on modern Europe."Derek H. Aldcroft, University Fellow in the Department of Economic & Social Science, University of Leicester
UCLA history professor Berend (Decades of Crisis: Central and Eastern Europe before World War II) succeeds in capturing the common as well as the diverse features of the parts of a notoriously complex region during the period from the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 to the start of WWI. Berend has made the smart decision to organize his book topically: individual chapters cover economics, politics and culture, but he hews closely to the field in which he first made his mark, economic history. The opening chapter provides an effective synthesis on the origins of backwardness in the region, from the "second serfdom" in the Baltic region to Ottoman domination in the Balkans. But Berend also demonstrates that Balkan societies were themselves resistant to the modernizing impulses coming from the West. Perhaps surprisingly for an economic historian, the author is equally good at covering cultural and political developments, especially the grand appeal of romantic nationalism. By showing how modernized, literary languages were reformed and even invented by nationalist intellectuals, Berend sides with those scholars who believe in the "constructed" nature of ethnic and national identities. Yet he is also keenly aware that nationalism developed upon preexisting religious and regional identities. The later chapters depict the belated, and incomplete, industrialization and the conflicts between democratic and authoritarian politics. Berend's prose is always clear if not exactly inspired. For those readers looking for a sober, effective historical synthesis on a very complicated region, this is a good place to start. 97 b&w photos, 2 maps. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.