This book is a fascinating introduction to the complex era from 1878 to the end of World War I. The forty years before 1914 were a period of extraordinary peace and prosperity, but this world came to a dramatic end with the start of the First World War. Stone explores the political history of the period running up to the war, setting events in the context of social, economic and cultural changes. The period was marked by complexity: in politics parties were emerging, dividing and revising their alliances: international affairs were complicated by the maneuvering of six major European powers; at the same time dramatic economic and social changes were occurring, populations were increasing, the family altering, education developing and attitudes to religion changing.Norman Stone makes sense of this confusing era by exploring these common European themes and establishing a political and international chronology for readers to follow. He reveals the individual character of the European countries, discussing the five Great Powers in essay rather than narrative form. He treats war and revolution in a separate section and concludes by considering the cultural developments of the period.