It is often the destiny of small nations to be swallowed by the big ones. Human history has witnessed more than a few of them disappear as if they never existed. However, after the First World War, many of them, long forgotten, resurrected. The all-proclaimed right of self-determination gave birth to several new countries, old nations. Among them were three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It was, however, their ill fortune that the peace established in Versailles was not destined to last long.
Introduction Throughout history, famine and other similar disasters plagued humankind. Those were usually caused by natural forces beyond human control. Yet, the 20th century proved that nature was never able to match human errors in its destructibility and fatality. Disregarding the intentional killing and destruction of modern warfare, the most disastrous event of that century was the famine caused by the Great Leap Forward (GLF) campaign in China. It was unintentional, a perfect storm of errors and stubbornness, faulty reasoning, and reliance on ideology rather than factuality.
Introduction The Cold War is often depicted as an era marked by a struggle for global dominance between two blocs led by the USSR and the US. Such representation is quite reasonable, yet it clouds our view on the past by focusing it on only a fraction of the historical horizon. There were more nations and states than just the two giants, many of which gained independence in their struggle against colonialism and imperialism.
Background In the early 20th century, the world found itself in a global conflict. World War I, or the Great War as it was known at the time, lasted from 1914 to 1918, pitching Central Powers (Germany, Austro-Hungary, Ottoman Empire) versus the Entente/Allied Powers (Russia, France, Britain, and later the US), with a myriad of smaller allies on both sides. Without going into the question of reasons and causes of the war, many fighting at the time thought of it as a “war to end all wars”, a notion which proved to be too idealistic.
The 1990’s, a decade of changes. Not only the end of the 20th century was nearing its end but also the whole system that arose from World War Two. Europe, made of two blocks, was changing its clothes. It was entering the age when all of its nations strived to become one. Still, some of these nations were on their way to break down. One, however, did it for the sake of everyone involved. This is the story of probably the most civil breakup in history - the breakup of Czechoslovakia.
As a new world emerged from the ruins of World War II, a novel confrontation began to emerge. It was much less volatile, earning the nickname “Cold War”. It was an ideological and political struggle between two major world powers – the Soviet Union representing communism and the United States heralding capitalism. This simmering hostility went on to define international politics for the rest of the 20th century. Yet this simplified portrait of the struggle between eastern and western blocs is rather misleading because as it depicts two alliances as unified monoliths. This wasn’t true in neither case, but it was substantially more prominent in the communist sphere where two larges countries came to the brink of an actual armed confrontation.
As World War II came to an end, both Europe and the world slowly started to divide between two major powers – the US in the west and the USSR in the east. Though in the immediate post-war years these two blocs tried to at least present themselves as friends, by the late 1940s it was clear that the two ideological camps entered a confrontation that was quickly dubbed the Cold War. It was painted as an ongoing struggle for world supremacy of two ideas – capitalism in the west and communism in the east.
Introduction The history of Libya has been a long walk from one invader to another. For two and a half millennia, indigenous Berber tribes have seen many foreign invaders ruling this part of North Africa. From Carthaginians and Romans to Vandal tribes who arrived after the Western Roman Empire collapsed. In the second half of the 7th century, an Arab invasion swallowed Libya with the rest of North Africa. The arrival of Arab invaders changed the image of the region for good, establishing the domination of Islam and Arab ethnic population for good.
Introduction What appears to be the end, always turns into a beginning. When World War Two ended in 1945, people truly believed the world had learned its lessons. The all-consuming war exhausted the material and human resources of the belligerent countries. The European continent was left ruined from Moscow to London. Hardly anyone would believe at that moment that only 10 years later the continent would slide into yet another partition.