The Postwar Challenge
This volume charts the cultural, political, and social changes which took place in Western Europe during the first thirteen years after the Second World War. It brings together seventeen essays by experts from Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and the USA. Western European nations faced many challenges during this period: the psychological and material aftermath of the war; the need for economic and social restructuring; and the impact of the Cold War on domestic
political, social, and cultural developments. To explore the responses to these challenges, transnational and national perspectives need to be combined. Thus the first two sections compare key developmental processes in Britain, France, West Germany, and Italy. They ask how these nations came to terms
with their most recent history, and how they addressed the problems of economic and social restructuring. A solely comparative approach along national lines, however, does not do justice to the historical reality of these societies. After all, they were not hermetically sealed national units, but connected by individual and institutional contacts and the transfer of goods and ideas. The third section examines the area in which these links had become most obvious after 1945-the debates about the
beginnings of European integration. The fourth section focuses on the influence of the USA on the social and cultural re-organization of Western Europe. It abandons national subdivisions altogether and examines some agents of American influence in Western Europe.