The Incredible Century

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The collapse left the Western world with an intolerable burden. Not only did the empires disappear—and with all their grave faults they at least provided a framework that kept Europe from fragmentation and chaos—but something far more costly had happened to men’s minds, to their way of looking at the world they inhabited. The old certainties had been destroyed. Quite naturally, the ordinary man had lost faith “in the civilian leadership that had been unable to avert the catastrophe of general war, and in the military leadership which seemed incapable of winning it.” The next quarter-century would do very little to restore that faith.