Ruin and Renewal: Civilising Europe after World War II

Hosted by the Department of International History

Zoom, United Kingdom


Professor Paul Betts

Professor Paul Betts

Professor Sir Richard J. Evans

Professor Sir Richard J. Evans

Professor Mary Vincent

Professor Mary Vincent


Dr David Motadel

Dr David Motadel

Book Discussion

The panel discussed Paul Bett’s new book, Ruin and Renewal: Civilising Europe after World War II (Profile Books, 2020). In 1945, Europe lay in ruins. Some fifty million people were dead, and millions more languished in physical and moral disarray. The devastation of World War II was unprecedented in character as well as in scale. Unlike the First World War, the second blurred the line between soldier and civilian, inflicting untold horrors on people from all walks of life. A continent that had previously considered itself the very measure of civilization for the world had turned into its barbaric opposite.

Meet our speakers and chair

Paul Betts is Professor of Modern European History at St Antony’s College, Oxford, and is the author of several books, most recently Ruin and Renewal: Civilising Europe after the Second World War (Profile Books UK/ Basic Books US, 2020). He has co-edited seven books, including (with Jennifer Evans and Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann) The Ethics of Seeing: Photography and 20th Century German History (Berghahn, 2018) and (with Stephen A. Smith), Religion, Science and Communism in Cold War Europe (London: Palgrave, 2016). From 2014 to 2018 he was Co-Investigator of a 4-year AHRC-funded collaborative project on “Socialism Goes Global: Connecting the Second and Third Worlds,” from which a co-edited volume called When Socialism Went Global will appear with Oxford University Press in 2021.

Richard J. Evans is Regius Professor Emeritus of History at Cambridge University and the author of many books on modern European history, including The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914 (a volume in the Penguin History of Europe), The Third Reich in History and Memory, Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History, and most recently, The Hitler Conspiracies: The Third Reich and the Paranoid Imagination. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and in 2012 was knighted for services to scholarship.

Mary Vincent was appointed Interim Vice-President for Education for The University of Sheffield from September 2020 and her role is to ensure excellence and innovation in teaching and learning for all taught students, including those studying for University of Sheffield qualifications overseas. She has a chair in Modern European History and main research interests lie in the history of modern Spain, particularly in the period of the Civil War and the Franco dictatorship (1931-75).

David Motadel is Associate Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He works on the history of modern Europe and Europe’s entanglements with the wider world.

More about this event

The Department of International History (@lsehistory) teaches and conducts research on the international history of Britain, Europe and the world from the early modern era up to the present day.

Sponsored by the department's Conflict and Identity in Europe since the 18th Century research cluster.


This public event is available as a podcast - listen here. Podcasts and videos of other past events can be found in our website.

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