Political Violence in Twentieth-Century Europe

Political Violence in Twentieth-Century Europe

Robert Gerwarth and Donald Bloxham (2010)
Cambridge University Press: Cambridge and New York

This is a comprehensive history of political violence during Europe’s incredibly violent twentieth century. Leading scholars examine the causes and dynamics of war, revolution, counterrevolution, genocide, ethnic cleansing, terrorism and state repression. They locate these manifestations of political violence within their full transnational and comparative contexts and within broader trends in European history from the beginning of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in the late nineteenth-century, through the two world wars, to the Yugoslav Wars and the rise of fundamentalist terrorism. The book spans a ‘greater Europe’ stretching from Ireland and Iberia to the Baltic, the Caucasus, Turkey and the southern shores of the Mediterranean. It sheds new light on the extent to which political violence in twentieth-century Europe was inseparable from the generation of new forms of state power and their projection into other societies, be they distant territories of imperial conquest or ones much closer to home.

Link to the publisher’s website


‘In conceptualising political violence in a way that is both broad and manageable, in identifying its variation over time and space as a central intellectual undertaking, and in suggesting systematic ways to interpret it, this ambitious volume points to the way ahead.’ – Stathis Kalyvas, English Historical Review

‘This book is notable for the seamless explanatory linkages it establishes between the many horrific episodes of political violence that characterized the European twentieth century. With impeccable scholarship and deft writing, the authors explore the causes and consequences of war, civil war, terrorism, colonial violence, genocide and ethnic cleansing in a broad geographical setting stretching from the Ottoman Empire and the Caucasus, to Spain and Ireland.’ – Norman M. Naimark, Stanford University

‘So much has been written about the European cataclysm between 1914 and 1945 that essential questions about the origins, evolution and ongoing nature of state (and sometimes anti-state violence) on the twentieth-century continent have often been lost to view. By means of a broader chronology, wider geographical remit and system-centred approach, the team of leading historians who have come together to produce this volume, offer not simply a cogent, incisive and thought-provoking reassessment but actually a new paradigm for the study of modern European violence in a global context.’ – Mark Levene, University of Southampton