Dark Continent Critical Summary

The first four chapters of Mark Mazower’s Dark Continent cover a vast range of topics pertaining to democracy, and general forms of leadership throughout the inter-war years.  Several countries struggled to reform their own government, while simultaneously attempting to find a system that would work for the entire continent.  According to Mazower, the inter-war period in Europe was a time of great instability, and a constant struggle between democracy and absolutism, and each country has its own specific history that ultimately impacted the continent as a whole.

Each chapter of Dark Continent has a broader theme, then Mazower provides a brief introduction, and goes on to divide the topic into sub-categories.  At the end of each chapter, he concludes the topic neatly and concisely.  This is a very useful method of depicting different events in history, because the reader is able to view the progression of a certain phenomenon while reading, and easily locate that information later.  For example, the first chapter describes the rise and fall of democracy.  Mazower takes the reader through the history middle-class reforms, the Soviet system, facism, political polarization and the eventual downfall of democracy.  Though each specific story is incredibly specific, and somewhat circuitous, Mazower manages to present the information in such a way that allows the reader to understand several different angles of one overarching topic.

Mazower also succeeds in producing a book that discusses a rare period of history in Europe: the inter-war era.  Many sources describing European history throughout the early- to mid-1900 are focus primarily on the first and second World Wars.  However, Mazower provides an invaluable glimpse into European history between the wars.  For example, instead of writing about Hitler’s Germany within the context of World War II, he described Hitlerism’s antagonistic relationship with the League of Nations, and how this impacted Europe as a whole.  The comparison between Hitlerism and the League of Nations, and many other crucial elements of European history, are not often discussed because they tend to be overshadowed by the two World Wars.

I would recommend Dark Continent to any undergraduate, graduate student, or anybody who is interested in learning about this fascinating era following World War I.  Mazower succeeds in presenting his ideas in an organized, concise and entertaining way.

2 thoughts on “Dark Continent Critical Summary

  1. There is a grammatical error in your first sentence. Change “cover” to “covers”. This gives off an immediately negative impression as a reader and detracts from the potential potency of the entire review. Proof read. The thesis at the end of your introductory paragraph is a run on sentence, it was awkward to read.

    After the first two sentences in your second paragraph, it would be great if you could provide an example. You do not have any quotes or examples of Mazower’s text directly, which makes it hard to understand your claims. The last sentence of your second paragraph uses the word “specific” twice. Proof read.

    Third paragraph was solid overall.

    You are not quite specific enough, the grammar is sloppy, and you are missing interpretations of some key factors of book reviews. You fail to provide textual examples. You do not discuss the types of sources Mazower utilizes, or his writing style.

  2. Thank you for your comments. They were useful for the most part, and I will definitely try to provide more evidence and quotes in future blog posts. I would like to note, however, that the first sentence does not have a grammatical error. The statement, “the first four chapters” is collective; therefore, “cover” is the correct word choice.

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