Mark Mazower’s first four chapters in his book Dark Continent illustrate the hardships, issues, changes, and efforts that nations had to endure post the First World War. These chapters are full of information and facts creating a clear picture of the social, political, and cultural problems occurring in Europe in the 20th century. Although Mazower clearly states important information, his text does seem to be lengthy.
Each of the four chapters depicts a different issue that occurred post WWI when Europe was trying to rebuild itself. The first chapter talks about the different forms of government, focusing on democracy. He goes into much detail about Russia and the Russian revolution. The second chapter talks about the triumph of nationalism, empires coming into action, and minorities wanting to be protected. The third chapter goes into detail about social policies and government initiatives for the populations. And finally, the fourth chapter talks about the chaos in the economy and trying to rebuild it as well as the rise of communism and issues that arose with it.
Mazower backs up all of his statements with evidence that is directly relevant to his topics. For example, when Mazower talks about the League of Nations and minorities starting to rise as a political problem since they wanted to have more power. He states: “The victor powers at Versailles tried a different approach- keeping minorities where they were, and giving them protection in international law to make sure they were properly treated so that in time they would acquire a sense of national belonging” (Mazower, 42). Mazower’s statements are clear and in order.
Throughout the four chapters Mazower text is very informative, but also extremely lengthy. For example, in chapter three, when he describes the new social policy of declining birth rates and regulating populations. From page 76-84 is his whole discussion on the issue of cutting back on the birth rate.
Overall, I believe Mark Mazower’s book Dark Continent is a very good book and is perfectly suited for a European history class. Mazower provides a lot of detail context, which makes it easy for students, especially those who aren’t history majors, to read along and understand what is going on.