In This Review

History Derailed: Central and Eastern Europe in the Long Nineteenth Century
History Derailed: Central and Eastern Europe in the Long Nineteenth Century
By Ivan T. Berend
University of California Press, 2003, 600 pp

For Berend, history is a whole, and when cultural, economic, social, and political trends are taken together, they distinguish central and east Europeans from the rest of Europe, notwithstanding important differences between the Balkans and east-central Europe. The region, he argues, has long lived in the shadow of the European states to the west, sometimes avidly borrowing from them, as with early-nineteenth-century German romanticism, which soon turned into a century-long grounding for eastern Europe's special, embattled nationalisms. More often, however, the influences coming from Europe's other half were warped or stymied by the frustrations and excesses of peoples denied a natural path to freedom, as well as by social and economic forms laggard since the sixteenth century. Berend, a first-rate economic historian, treats the often neglected economic dimension with special skill.