We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE


A History of the Twentieth Century from Europe’s Edge

Dan Diner, Translated by William Templer with Joel Golb

Publication Year: 2008

Cataclysms is a profoundly original look at the last century. Approaching twentieth-century history from the periphery rather than the centers of decision-making, the virtual narrator sits perched on the legendary stairs of Odessa and watches as events between the Baltic and the Aegean pass in review, unfolding in space and time between 1917 and 1989, while evoking the nineteenth century as an interpretative backdrop.
     Influenced by continental historical, legal, and social thought, Dan Diner views the totality of world history evolving from an Eastern and Southeastern European angle. A work of great synthesis, Cataclysms chronicles twentieth century history as a “universal civil war” between a succession of conflicting dualisms such as freedom and equality, race and class, capitalism and communism, liberalism and fascism, East and West.
    Diner’s interpretation rotates around cataclysmic events in the transformation from multinational empires into nation states, accompanied by social revolution and “ethnic cleansing,” situating the Holocaust at the core of the century’s predicament. Unlike other Eurocentric interpretations of the last century, Diner also highlights the emerging pivotal importance of the United States and the impact of decolonization on the process of European integration.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (39.4 KB)
pp. vii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (74.3 KB)
pp. 3-10

"This narrative unavoidably contains omissions; no historical presentation located beyond mere chronological recollection can avoid the hazards of selection. For the historian, the abundance of material that reality offers necessitates a reduction of..."

read more

1 Interpretations: Two Varieties of Universal Civil War

pdf iconDownload PDF (323.3 KB)
pp. 11-58

"On 10 November 1942, shortly after the landing of American troops on the shores of the North African coast, Ernst Jünger noted in his diary that through his entanglement in current events, he felt like someone caught less in a world war, more in a 'universal civil war'—a Weltbürgerkrieg. The intensity of the struggle at work here was of an entirely different nature than what..."

read more

2 Conversions: Nation and Revolution

pdf iconDownload PDF (312.1 KB)
pp. 59-105

"From the war had sprung revolution, and not just the Russian insurgency. The Great War was the progenitor of all those looked as if it were hurtling toward radical transformation. In Berlin, the Spartacus League staged an uprising. In Vienna, all signs..."

read more

3 Regimes: Democracy and Dictatorship

pdf iconDownload PDF (309.3 KB)
pp. 106-152

"The twenty-seventh of March 1930 is a fateful date in modern German history. It marks the resignation of the last parliamentary cabinet of the Great Coaltion..."

read more

4 Cataclysms: Genocide and Memory

pdf iconDownload PDF (306.9 KB)
pp. 153-198

"In the less-than-happy chronicle of Turkish-Greek relations, 15 May 1919 is an especially grim day. On this day, Greek troops landed in Smyra, on the western coast of Asia Minor. Furnished with a mandate from the Supreme..."

read more

5 Dualisms: Decolonization and the Cold War

pdf iconDownload PDF (335.4 KB)
pp. 199-250

"On 21 February 1947—a late Friday afternoon, just before closing-time—Loy Henderson, head of the newly established Office for Near Eastern and African Affiars in the U.S. State Department, received an urgent telephone call from the..."

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (33.2 KB)
pp. 251-252

"This book is obliged to many. When it saw light in German in the year 1999, it was by and large the outcome of my teaching on the twentieth century at the history departments of the universities of Essen and of Tel Aviv in the mid-1990s. To a wider audience the subject matter was presented during my stay as a visiting..."


pdf iconDownload PDF (346.0 KB)
pp. 253-301


pdf iconDownload PDF (156.6 KB)
pp. 303-322

E-ISBN-13: 9780299223533
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299223502

Publication Year: 2008