by Julio MacLennan
European history is deeply embedded in the global civilization that has emerged in the 21st century. Europa - How Europe Shaped the Modern World will show how the world's essential elements have been provided by Europe.More than two thirds of today's nation-states have been European colonies or protectorates in the past. Europe's legacy is evident in the trajectory of the United States, and it has influenced aspiring hegemonic powers like China. For almost five centuries Europe lay at the epicentre of the world as well as the heart and soul of the West - the only civilization capable of international projection. European powers enjoyed unprecedented global hegemony, not only by military and economic means, but also through their influence on politics and culture.
The rise and fall of the European era of world supremacy constitutes one of the most epic histories of all time. The extraordinary changes that evolved after the Renaissance explain why Europe managed to impose itself over other civilizations, but it was Columbus's fortuitous discovery of America which provided the key to its meteoric rise, with Spain and Portugal forming the first global empires, closely followed by Holland, Britain, France and Russia.
The exploits of navigators like Vasco da Gama and Captain Cook, the conquistador Hernan Cortes, missionaries like Henry Livingstone and many others explain Europe's rapid expansion. Deeper global changes were possible thanks to millions of Europeans migrating to other continents, thus spreading their culture and values. But Europe's hegemony cannot be explained only through imperialism and expansion, but also in terms of its own internal development: eminent statesmen, scientists, inventors, philosophers, writers and revolutionaries were responsible for transforming the continent into a civilization that inspired universal attraction. This explains why all major events within Europe's borders would eventually have an impact on the rest of the world.
For centuries Europe was no more than a geographic expression of a continent deeply divided by national rivalries. Paradoxically, it was their expansion through the world that made Europeans increasingly aware of the cultural heritage and identity that they shared. Eventually this was to play a crucial role in Europe's rebirth - after reaching the nadir of imperial decline and self-destruction in the twentieth century - once again becoming a model of progress for the world and trendsetter for many nations' future. Europa - How Europe Shaped the Modern World is an original, innovative narrative history of Europe, its impact on the world beyond the artificial frontiers of nation-states and the psychological barriers of national cultures