War, Peace, and Power: Diplomatic History of Europe, 1500-2000

Course No. 8820
Professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius, Ph.D.
University of Tennessee
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Course No. 8820
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Course Overview

For much of the past five centuries, the history of the European continent has been a history of chaos, its civilization thrown into turmoil by ferocious wars or bitter religious conflicts—sometimes in combination—that have made and remade borders, created and eliminated entire nations, and left a legacy that is still influencing our world.

Is there an explanation for this chaos that goes beyond the obvious: political ambition, religious intolerance, the pursuit of state power, or the fear of another state's aspirations? Can we discover a hidden logic that could possibly explain the Thirty Years' War, the Napoleonic Wars, two World Wars, and other examples of national bloodletting? Is it possible to formulate a meaningful rationale against which to order a history as tumultuous as Europe's, gaining insights that enrich our understanding of Europe's past and future, and perhaps even of ours as well?

In War, Peace, and Power: Diplomatic History of Europe, 1500–2000, Professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius answers these questions and more as he offers everyone interested in the "why" of history a remarkable look into the evolution of the European continent and the modern state system. In 36 provocative lectures, he allows us to peer through the revealing lens of statecraft to show us its impact on war, peace, and power and how that impact may well be felt in the future—an approach that historians have been using for thousands of years.

"Diplomatic history is one of the oldest varieties of historical analysis," Professor Liulevicius notes. "Indeed, it's sometimes traced back all the way to Thucydides and the vision that he offered of Greek state interaction and politics.

"Diplomatic history offers a tremendously powerful intellectual tool to understand how states relate to one another. Because states are still relating with one another today, it is of undiminished relevance for our own times. ...

"As we conclude our course, we'll be able to ask, 'Where is Europe headed today, and what implications will follow for the world at large?' as we survey what had begun as a European state system [but which] has now become a global system of states in international politics."

Learn How Europe's Most Pivotal Moments Shaped History

Far more than just a history of ambassadorial missions and other diplomatic efforts, this course re-creates Europe's most pivotal historical moments—in the context of their times—showing how contemporary pressures and historical precedent combined to influence individuals, governments, structures, and even non-state organizations.

These events would happen not only on history's bloodiest battlefields but also in quieter settings where so many of the factors that would govern Europe's future would be set into place:

  • You'll see how the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, negotiated at the first great diplomatic conference of modern times, not only brought to a close the ordeal of the Thirty Years' War but also overthrew existing ideals and claims of universal authority to create the European system of independent sovereign states, setting into motion new concepts of international law that would codify the new politics of power.
  • You'll experience the dawn of Europe's "classical balance of power," as the 1815 Congress of Vienna—amidst the exuberance and glitter of great balls and banquets—responds to the defeat of Napoleon with its creation of the so-called Concert of Europe, a new order opposed to revolution and based on conservative solidarity that would keep Europe from general war for nearly a century.
  • And you'll be in Paris in 1919 for the aftermath of the shattering of the Concert of Europe, as the victorious allies gather to draft a comprehensive Paris Settlement—including the Treaty of Versailles—meant to build a new and lasting European order on the ruins of the old.

Each of these key points on history's timeline represents an attempt to establish a lasting idea of order in the European world, a task with which Europe's states have been wrestling since the birth of modern diplomacy in Renaissance Italy.

Explore the Dynamics of International Politics

In examining how these and other attempts have succeeded or failed, Professor Liulevicius offers a key to understanding the dynamics of international politics, as well as how such key concepts as the balance of power, power itself, sovereignty, and "reason of state"—the raison d'état first enunciated by France's powerful Cardinal Richelieu—fit into those dynamics. There's even a fascinating discussion on the implications of instantaneous communications technology—not only for the practice of diplomacy, but also for whether that technology makes diplomats themselves more important or less so; historians line up on both sides of the debate.

Beginning with a snapshot of where Europe stood at the dawn of the 16th century, Professor Liulevicius weaves his analysis of statecraft into a vast tapestry of international history.

It's a tapestry that includes not only 500 years of military outcomes, the long-term impact of their settlements, and the "grand strategies" of which they were a part but also the many issues against which statecraft and diplomacy cannot help but brush. These include peacemaking; international law; the passions—even wars—so often brought about by intractable religious differences; the defense of human rights and minorities, including the abolition of slavery; the efforts of international organizations like the Red Cross; the challenges smaller states face when trying to implement foreign policy; and the efforts at achieving a stable European order that have culminated in today's European Union.

Throughout these lectures, as great and small states feint and clash, as ambitions are realized or thwarted, and as Europe's map is drawn and redrawn several times over—very often in blood—Professor Liulevicius returns to several key themes that tie together this wide-ranging array of material:

  • How earlier experiences and precedents influence later maneuvering, and the ways in which geopolitical problems that have persisted across the centuries have helped shape the world we live in today
  • How elusive the pursuit of the goal of stability can be in an international arena marked by constant change
  • How diplomatic methods, customs, protocols, and approaches can sometimes be as important as the actual substance of international questions and their solutions
  • How critical the impact of the evolving concept of Europe itself is on those participating in this five-century diplomatic drama.

Vivid Images of the Actors Who Shaped Europe

Educated not only in the United States but also in Denmark and Germany—with award-winning teaching skills, tremendous experience in the subject matter of this course, and a wonderful command of both the visual and audio media—Professor Liulevicius creates vivid images of the figures whose actions, whether overt or subtle, onstage or off, helped shape the Europe we know today, including:

  • Prince Klemens von Metternich, the masterful Austrian diplomat known as the "Coachman of Europe," who presided over the Congress of Vienna and orchestrated many of its results
  • Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand, the French statesman sometimes called the greatest of diplomats, but whose skills at political survival and reputation for duplicity reportedly led Metternich to remark, when informed of Talleyrand's death, "I wonder what he meant by that?"
  • German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the brilliant, pragmatic, and ruthless inventor of Realpolitik—the "politics of realism"—who spearheaded German unification under Kaiser Wilhelm I but whose complex arrangement of interlocking alliances could not survive his absence after his dismissal by the brash young Kaiser Wilhelm II
  • French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, "the Tiger," who represented his nation during the Paris Settlement and who was so devoted to French security that legend has it he requested his corpse be buried standing up and facing the Germany he so deeply mistrusted, the better to give warning if need be
  • Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the exiled Russian revolutionary whom the German high command shipped from neutral Switzerland back to Russia by train in order to infect the new Russia with revolution—with Lenin's train car "sealed" and closely guarded to protect Germany from his dangerous ideas
  • George F. Kennan, the American historian and diplomat whose famous 1946 "Long Telegram" from Moscow and anonymous 1947 article in Foreign Affairs magazine became the intellectual foundation of the United States' policy of "containment" of the Soviet Union.

As War, Peace, and Power: Diplomatic History of Europe, 1500–2000 underscores, the impact on history of each of these figures—along with many others—was profound. But as Professor Liulevicius notes, our own impact as citizens, even if less momentous, can also be critical.

"Public involvement in and knowledge of foreign affairs—whether by ordinary citizens taking out a passport to travel, or seeking understanding of the past as well as the present in its diplomatic dimension—all of this is perhaps also a diplomatic act of participation and promise for the future.

"This is an undertaking open to all of us: to seek to understand diplomatic history in its past and present as we seek to understand the scourge of war, even when it seems necessary; the profound gift of true peace, when it's achieved; and the potentiality—as well as the perils—of the use of power."

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36 lectures
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 1
    Foundations of Diplomacy
    This lecture defines key concepts—such as power, reason of state, and balance of power—and introduces the debates that repeatedly resonate in international history, including the competing schools of Realism and Idealism and the question of who or what ultimately steers the foreign policy choices of states. x
  • 2
    Europe in 1500—Ancient and New Monarchies
    We set the historical stage of early modern Europe, including Europe's encounter with a wider world in the form of trade, diplomacy, and an expanding Ottoman Empire; the challenge to older authority represented by the "new monarchies"; and the emergence of an embryonic diplomacy. x
  • 3
    Renaissance Statecraft in Italy
    The city-states of Renaissance Italy pioneer patterns of modern diplomacy that will be of lasting significance to this day, including representation by resident ambassadors. The balance of power among these states lasts from the 1454 Peace of Lodi until the invasion by outside powers in 1494, a year so important that some historians date the modern age from it. x
  • 4
    Religion and Empire
    From 1500 to 1618, the battle to rule the European continent begins to shape the modern European state system. We look at the intense rivalry between the Habsburg dynasty of Austria and Spain and the Valois royal family of France, as well as the challenge of the Protestant Reformation. x
  • 5
    The Thirty Years' War
    The Thirty Years' War rages across the center of Europe from 1618 to 1648, intertwining explosive elements of religion and politics and drawing in an ever-increasing number of major powers. The resulting exhaustion produces an epochal change in how international politics is understood and practiced. x
  • 6
    The Peace of Westphalia, 1648—A New Era
    The Thirty Years' War ends with the first of the great diplomatic peace conferences of modern times, creating the European system of sovereign states, setting the stage for the rise of France as a superpower, and establishing new concepts of international law. x
  • 7
    French Superpower
    France takes on the role of the strongest European power, and neighboring kingdoms seize on coalition diplomacy to contain it, asserting a European balance of power that would be ratified in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. x
  • 8
    The Great Powers
    We survey the other great powers of the day from 1648 to 1740, focusing first on the evolving profession of the diplomat and then on the fortunes of the Dutch Republic, Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Spain, tracing the distinctive styles and approaches of each of these states to the dangerous international scene. x
  • 9
    Northern Earthquake
    From 1648 to the 1770s, political convulsions in northern and eastern Europe bring new dynamic players—Sweden, the Commonwealth of Poland–Lithuania, and Russia—into the European state system as additional factors in diplomatic calculation. x
  • 10
    18th-Century Competition
    We explore how the paradoxes of the Age of Enlightenment affect international relations. On the one hand, Enlightenment thinkers craft plans for a permanent peace based on reason, tolerance, and international law. At the same time, military and diplomatic competition achieve a new level of cynicism. x
  • 11
    The era of the American and French Revolutions transforms the European continent. Nationalism and mass politics are unleashed, and the French Revolution of 1789 touches off a quarter-century of war in Europe that will reorder politics and redraw the diplomatic map. x
  • 12
    Napoleon's Glory and Defeat
    This lecture follows the Emperor Napoleon's remarkable career to his ultimate defeat in 1815. Bestriding the European mainland, Napoleon establishes both his Grand Empire and a system of allied states linked in the Continental System, even as guerrilla war in Spain portends trouble. x
  • 13
    The Congress of Vienna
    The Congress gathers the powers that had triumphed over Napoleon (joined by the restored French kingdom) to construct a new order founded on conservative solidarity and the values of legitimacy and opposition to revolution. This new "Concert of Europe" will enjoy remarkable success for close to a century. x
  • 14
    The Concert of Europe System
    We focus on the operations of the Concert of Europe from 1815 to 1848, with special attention to the periodic international congresses convened under its auspices and their determined efforts to stamp out what they considered the dark and dangerous forces of Nationalism and Liberalism. x
  • 15
    Eastern and Western Questions
    We examine the problems posed by events and dynamics at the margins of the European arena from 1815 to 1848, including the fate of the Ottoman Empire, U.S. resistance to an expansion of the balance of power system across the Atlantic, and the beginnings of renewed European Imperialism overseas. x
  • 16
    The Challenge of 1848 and Napoleon III
    We cover the period from 1848 to 1870 and examine two diplomatic surprises: the lack of widespread war caused by the revolutions of 1848—in contrast to the French Revolution—and the rise to power of a new Napoleon, an enigmatic figure who champions Nationalism and Liberalism while hatching diplomatic conspiracies to redraw Europe's map. x
  • 17
    Britain's Empire
    This lecture examines the waxing and waning of the British Empire over the course of the 19th century, including its industrial and economic might, its liberal advocacy of international free trade and the abolition of slavery, and its fateful dominion over India. x
  • 18
    The Crimean War
    The Crimean War of 1853–1856 reflects even deeper tensions and diplomatic problems in the European order. We see how Russia's defeat batters the Concert of Europe and its vision of conservative solidarity and sets the stage for dramatic changes. x
  • 19
    Italian Unification
    The 1858–1861 unification of Italy as a nation-state fulfills a long-standing dream. But the achievement also relies on changes on the international scene and assistance from France, skillfully engineered by Count Camillo di Cavour, the prime minister of Piedmont. x
  • 20
    German Unification
    The 1862–1871 unification of the German Empire—steered by the Prussian "Iron Chancellor" Otto von Bismarck—upsets political certainties. Will this new power at the center of the continent anchor peace or disrupt stability? x
  • 21
    The Bismarckian System
    Bismarck's challenge is to reconcile the new empire's neighbors to the fact of the "German revolution" and to present Germany as a guarantor of stability. We follow the building, functioning, and eventual breakdown of the Bismarckian system of diplomacy from 1871 to 1894. x
  • 22
    High Imperialism
    The European powers launch a scramble for empire, cruelly carving up entire continents. We examine the wave of High Imperialism from the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the "Scramble for Africa" to 1898, with France and Britain on the brink of a colonial war. x
  • 23
    The Reconfigured World of 1900
    New alignments emerge, with decisive changes in diplomatic patterns. Telling trends include popular movements for peace while Europe arms on land and sea, Japan's defeat of the Russian Empire, greater American presence in international venues, and increasing regional crises. x
  • 24
    Balkan Instability
    This lecture, covering the years 1900 to 1913, returns to the long-standing "Eastern Question" concerning the future of the Ottoman territories. With the Turkish realm perceived as being in terminal decline, the question has now reached a critical stage. x
  • 25
    The Outbreak of World War I
    The outbreak of World War I in the summer of 1914 is the object of one of the biggest debates in modern history. How did European diplomats and statesmen bring the continent to the brink and then plunge it into an ever-widening war? x
  • 26
    World War I—Total War
    World War I, with its all-encompassing mobilization of mass armies, entire economies, domestic societies, and vitally needed allies, produces extraordinary changes, including the overturning of long-standing diplomatic patterns, the collapse of four empires, and the emergence of two future superpowers: the United States and Soviet Russia. x
  • 27
    The Paris Settlement
    After four years of devastating war, the victors of World War I gather in Paris in 1919 to draft a comprehensive settlement and create a new international order, replacing that of the Congress of Vienna. The controversial results will alter the balance of the century. x
  • 28
    Interwar Europe
    At the dawn of the postwar decade, Europe has a new map, and great hopes have been vested in the League of Nations. Yet relations between France and Germany remain tense, the new states of eastern Europe are arguing over borders, and the United States has withdrawn from European politics. x
  • 29
    Europe into Crisis
    The Great Depression of 1929 and the shift toward Authoritarianism and Fascism in European politics move the continent toward another disaster. We track the rise to power of Mussolini in Fascist Italy and Hitler in Nazi Germany and the calculations of Stalin in the Soviet Union. x
  • 30
    World War II
    We examine the diplomatic bombshell that paved the way to war—the Nazi–Soviet Pact of August 1939; outline Hitler's ambitions and their culmination in his invasion of his Soviet ally; and discuss the complicated alliance among the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union x
  • 31
    Aftermath and Peace Plans
    This lecture devotes special attention to the immediate aftermath of World War II, including the lack of a final, comprehensive settlement; the founding of the United Nations; the Potsdam Conference; Stalin's reimposition of harsh personal powers; and growing tensions among the victors. x
  • 32
    The Cold War Begins
    In the key years from 1946 to 1949, the split between former allies—the United States and Great Britain on one hand and the Soviet Union on the other—widens, and the so-called "Cold War" begins, bringing with it a distinctive brand of crisis diplomacy. x
  • 33
    Blocs and Decolonization
    We look at two key processes from 1949 to 1956. The first is decolonization, with Europe's powers losing most of their once-huge imperial holdings. The other is the increasing Cold War polarization of Europe, configured into the military alliances of NATO and the Warsaw Pact. x
  • 34
    The European Project
    In response to a half-century of war and tension, Europe's leaders depart from the competitive politics of statehood inaugurated at the Treaty of Westphalia to take a new direction. The European project of unity from 1957 onward will culminate in today's European Union. x
  • 35
    The Fall of the Wall
    With unexpected rapidity, the Communist states of eastern Europe and the Soviet Union itself collapse near the end of the 20th century. This lecture, covering the years 1980–1991, discusses the deeper causes leading to this startling transformation. x
  • 36
    Post–Cold War to the Present
    This lecture covers the years from 1991 to the beginning of the present century, including the expansion of NATO and the European Union, renewed Balkan violence, and Russia's search for its new international role. We end by considering several questions—including whether Europe is now entering a fundamentally new era of statecraft, or if the historical dynamics of war, peace, and power still apply. x

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Your professor

Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius

About Your Professor

Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius, Ph.D.
University of Tennessee
Dr. Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius is Lindsay Young Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Study of War and Society at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He earned his B.A. from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving his doctorate, Dr. Liulevicius served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford...
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War, Peace, and Power: Diplomatic History of Europe, 1500-2000 is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 73.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thorough and Well Presented I enthusiastically watched and studied all the CDs. Very worth while.
Date published: 2019-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful course A fabulous course if you want a wonderful description European history over the last 500yrs. Being British (and a European who voted remain) this course has given me a great deal of insight into the complexity of European history and is extremely relevant. even though the course if a few years old now, Prof Liulevicius seems to predict the changes happening in the relationship with Russia in the present day. I would highly recommend this course to Americans as well, as the developing role of the USA and the relationship with Europe over the last few centuries is fascinating. Prf Liulevicius is an excellent lecturer, and I will definitely be watching the whole course again because it is so full of fascinating history and so well presented. Many thanks indeed.
Date published: 2019-07-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely great This is an amazing course. The content is great and the professor is fantastic. The only thing that I hope he considers is to slow down a bit. Sometimes he is too fast, at least for me. I had another course by him too, I just love to have more of his courses. Bravo professor L.
Date published: 2019-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent This is why I listen to The Great Courses. This is definitely one of the best that I have listened to so far. First, this is an outstanding overview of European history from 1500-2000. By tracing the diplomatic history of Europe over this period, the professor effectively described most of the key moments in European history during the same time period and put the events in context. I especially liked how he included Eastern Europe, which is often overlooked. The professor's presentation was clear, concise and informative. Even though I have studied European history for many years and consider myself fairly knowledgeable, I still learned a great deal. The professor also provided very good insights into diplomatic motivations and styles. This is an excellent course.
Date published: 2019-05-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Dry, pedantic review This series provided comprehensive facts of the period covered, and the lecturer makes it clear at the beginning it covers diplomatic history (as opposed to a focus on cultural developments, for example). However, it was fairly dry. Perhaps in an effort to stay balanced and respectful, much of the colorfulness of the history, and the view of events from common people, seemed left out.
Date published: 2018-11-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Standard Survey with Few Insights This is a standard survey of Europe's diplomatic history. For those whose interest lies in a review of diplomacy and conflict between European states, this course will fit your needs. I had already studied Bartlett's Development of European Civilization and Weiner's The Long Century prior to reviewing this. I felt the course could have handled weightier issues. I was left feeling the course could have offered more. The course begged the question as to just how effective diplomacy was in light of the continued conflicts in Europe 1500-2000. The peace based on the balance of power initiated by Congress of Vienna in 1815 was essentially ended by the feckless Crimean War, some 40 years later. WWI was a massive diplomatic failure, concluding with WWII in which USA and Soviet Russia gained ascendancy and relieved Europe of the responsibility waging peace. There was in the end little discernible positive diplomatic effect on nation state relations within the period studied. This issue was left unexplored. I did find recommended reading of A J P Taylor's Struggle for the Mastery of Europe very enlightening and great addition to the course. It needs to be said that the professor's History of Eastern European and WWII, both of which I studied, are valuable courses.
Date published: 2018-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great! Terrific! Might be The pivotal course. As above. It has everything--detail, humanity, wisdom, humor, personalities, observations, scope....--, and drove me to the Internet for several books, incl. Fouche's and Metternich's autobios. And I'm not through the lectures yet. They deserve fullest attention, note-taking, and separate research.
Date published: 2018-10-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from new takes on familiar stories This is a very useful and informative course. I am pretty familiar with the general context--i.e. the history of Europe, 1500-2000--but Professor Liulevicius’s specific approach, with an emphasis on diplomatic and militarist themes, introduced me to old ideas in new and instructive lights, and gives me deeper appreciation of the whole period. It makes me wish the Teaching Company would do a similar thing with other subdivisions of history--e.g. An Economic History of Europe. (Hint, hint...! I know there are 2 courses on European cultural history, 19th and 20th centuries--and I’ll have to listen to those one of these days.) These lectures are important stories told in an engaging manner.
Date published: 2018-10-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Thorough Overview of a Complex Subject! I've listen to Professor Liulevicius other lectures series on WWI and the History of Eastern Europe, and his excellent historical analysis and teaching continues to impress me! Necessarily this series is an overview of centuries-in-the-making themes and trends of European diplomatic history, and so it does not have the detail of his other productions. However, he makes up for that by brilliantly explaining the connectivity between countries, leaders, ideologies, geopolitics, and tradition, creating a clear and cohesive picture of the diplomatic history of Europe. Its a fascinating exploration of a critically important subject, and I'm very grateful to Professor Liulevicius for teaching me so about it!
Date published: 2018-10-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another Great Course from Professor Liulevicius! I previously listened to Professor Liulevicius's course on WWI, which was very informative and interesting. I purchased this one and was very pleased.
Date published: 2018-08-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A fascinating ride through 500 years of history I have always been fascinated by European history and the intricate relationships between the various powers. So when I saw this course in the catalog I almost started drooling. A no-brainer to purchase. However, I was afraid it wouldn't live up to my high hopes and standards. Turns out I had absolutely nothing to worry about. This was indeed a Great Course. It had fascinating historical narrative covering the history of European diplomacy, war, and peace from 1500-2000 including the rise and fall of numerous powers throughout the period and the various ever-shifting relationships between them. The professor did a good job of explaining the often times complicated diplomatic relationships and actions by nations in an easy to understand manner. A plethora of intriguing topics were covered: balance of power, maintaining an empire vs. nationalism, rebellion, colonialism, isolation, world war, and Cold War. Although much of the course is focused on the big five of Britain, Prussia/Germany, France, Russia, and Austria the professor also included major events involving many other European nations. To name a few: Italy, Spain, Greece, Netherlands, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, and Czechoslovakia. Minor gripes: - Sometimes the professor’s explanations or rationales behind a country’s diplomatic decisions or alliances seem too oversimplified; Only one possible rationale is provided when these decisions are likely much more complicated and intricate and deserve multiple considerations/hypotheses - The professor sometimes tended to use long winding sentences and because he would sometimes pause to either formulate his wording or avoid “filler” words there were times when it was difficult to follow his meaning or I’d forgot where he was going with something because it took so long to get out that I had forgot the beginning of the sentence! I also wish a little more analysis could've been provided on the fall of the Communist governments in the late 20th century. But these are minor gripes and the good far far outweigh them. The mark of a great course for me is one that has me enthralled so much that I can't stop listening from one lecture to another vs. taking breaks to allow a lecture to sink in or balance with other listening options. This one definitely passed the test and I would recommend it to anyone with any type of interest in European history, war, or diplomatic relations.
Date published: 2018-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course! I really enjoyed this course, never got bored!!!!!
Date published: 2018-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great Course This is a 5 star course and don't be mislead by the few lower ratings. Too much detail is not a problem in my opinion, as a few suggest. It is a course on Diplomacy, so understand its purpose and if you are interested you won't be disappointed. The professor provides a great deal of insight into these historical times. He does an excellent job of providing background information and explaining the personalities of each Diplomat. This is important and it greatly assisted me in grasping a sense of each Diplomats style and level of shrewdness. You will definitely understand who the smartest Diplomats were and how they masterminded some of the most historical treaties during this time.
Date published: 2017-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Solved a lot of Problems I was having trouble with a couple of co-workers at work, and my boss told me I needed to be more "diplomatic", so I listened to these episodes. After I finished the course, I decided to adopt a Bismarckian policy of "realpolitik" at work, and let me tell you, it worked great. In fact, I got promoted and I am conducting a couple of hostile takeovers as I write this review. If you're having similar issues, I think this course could really help. I suppose if your name is Henry Kissinger or Cardinal Richelieu, this course might seem a bit basic. But if you're looking for a solid, introductory survey, this course will serve nicely. There is a lot here. I thought that this course might have been better as two 24-episode courses instead of one 36-episode course. 1914 would be a natural dividing point. Professor presentation: I listened to audio, so I only heard Vejas's voice. It was easy to listen to and clear. He pronounced German names very well. His French pronunciation wasn't as strong (although totally adequate), but I have a more sensitive ear for that on account of my background. One thing you might miss if you only listen to audio is the maps. I'm guessing (it's only a guess, mind you) that the video version has maps. They are in the course guidebook, but if you have a decent grasp on European geography, audio should be fine. If you are shaky on geography, you probably should learn some geography. As for me, I'm a bit worried I might get a boss like Wilhelm II. If that happens, I'll probably get fired because that's what happened to the real Bismarck according to these episodes.
Date published: 2017-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent survey course I think Professor Liulevicius is one of The Great Courses' best lecturers, and he again gives a strong performance in this survey course. He sticks closely to the course's theme and diligently marches through 500 years of diplomatic history, offering his always interesting insights along the way. If you are already one of Professor Liulevicius's fans, you will not be disappointed, and if you have not yet viewed one of his courses, this is a good one with which to start. I purchased the video version, which I would recommend in light of the many maps and photographs in the course. Another excellent course by an articulate and engaging professor!
Date published: 2016-09-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very Good Course Overall The lecturer has a good presentation style and addresses a topic that I found fascinating. I learned a tremendous amount, and plan to watch it again at some point. For me, the period between the 15th century and 1900 was the most interesting, since I was already familiar with twentieth century international politics. My only complaint is that I felt he was extremely unfair to the Napoleonic-era French diplomat Talleyrand. Although Liulevicius depicts Talleyrand as corrupt and traitorous, his comments struck me as somewhat simplistic. It is more helpful to view Talleyrand within the context of his times and consider his broader aims, which were, arguably, far more humane and sensible than those of other French political leaders during that era. While Talleyrand betrayed Napoleon, this does not necessarily mean that he was working against the interests of France and Europe when he did so. But otherwise I thought the course was quite good.
Date published: 2016-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Surprisingly Good I normally don't favor survey courses. Typically, they only scratch the surface and rarely go into any of the depth that would, for me, make the purchase of a course worthwhile. This course appealed to me because I wanted to fill a gap in my knowledge of Europe in the 16th-19th centuries, plus I was intrigued by the focus on the diplomatic side. Yet, I bought with trepidation. In fact, and surprisingly, Professor Liulevicius did a splendid job of giving good broad coverage to such a long span of history and satisfying my need to get some depth and richness out of some of its key episodes. I'm not exactly sure how he did it, but he did! Among other things, the professor put a lot of thought and work into organizing the course. He was disciplined and efficient in his teaching, thus getting the maximum value out of the time he had. He brought balance and intelligence to bear, which added even greater value. For a job very well done on a job that I doubted could be done well at all, I give this worthy course a rare grade of 5 stars.
Date published: 2015-12-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Vivid This is my fourth wide survey course on the Early Modern and Modern periods – the others being Western Civ II, Development of European Civilization, and “The Rennaissance, the reformation and the birth of nations”. I enjoyed all of them tremendously… Although they do overlap to some extent in their narrative, each has its own angle and perspective. In fact, after having heard them I felt that they cover so much content that it wouldn’t hurt to listen to some more wide survey courses on this era before diving into more specific topics such as the french revolution, WWI and WWII for example. This course served the purpose well. Professor Liulevicius did a very nice job in sticking to the subject that he committed to in the title: he provided a solid introduction to what diplomatic history is, and then proceeded to analyze the history of Europe over these 500 years but from a strictly diplomatic point of interest. The difficult bit in such a course that focuses strictly on one aspect of history, is to be able to provide enough general context so that the listeners can make sense of what the Professor is trying to say. I feel that this was achieved admirably. The lectures were highly coherent and focused, and provided not only the diplomatic narrative of the wars and peace treaties, but also deeper analysis of diplomatic paradigms and paradigm shifts. A key example is the concept of “the balance of power” in Europe that was to rule European diplomacy for most of the 19th century only to finally fade away in WWI. Professor Liulevicius provided many examples of diplomatic humor that tends to be very elitist and ironic. These were not only highly entertaining, but also gave an interesting sociological perspective on how diplomacy was carried out in different eras. Overall this has been a spectacular course. Professor Liulevicius seemed extremely enthusiastic in teaching the subject, and the Diplomatic history and its paradigm shifts are so interesting and important for understanding some of the watershed events of modern history not least of which are WWI and WWII, that hearing the course was easily worth the time and effort.
Date published: 2015-10-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Heavy emphasis on diplomacy, heavy going ! The professor is very deeply familiar with his subject, indeed he is a remarkable scholar and academician. This course places heavy emphasis on diplomacy throughout the lectures on half a millennium of European history. There are many graphics and maps, but I feel there ought to have been many, many more to illustrate the speaker's points. "Statecraft" appears to be the key to this series of talks. This is a heavy course, requiring detailed attention. In many instances, tremendous detail is offered. . Overall, I have mixed feelings about this course; it is not one of my favourites, among the c200 I have bought and viewed.
Date published: 2015-08-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great diplomatic History of Europe I was looking for a course that was wide in its scope of course content after listening to courses like WW I and the Pelopenysian War that were on specific events. Course is highly recommended. First, the lectures tie together and reference each other so there is a flow to them. But they involve distinct historical periods and actors so you can pick up where you left off without being confused. I never understood the importance of the Crimean War nor 19th century British politics but I do now. I'm also a sucker for the witty historical quote and there are several in these lectures. Great purchase.
Date published: 2015-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Impressive grasp of the material Prof. Liulevicius has a intricate and expansive grasp of the material and delivers it with enthusiasm and clarity. One wonders how he could have such an understanding of this broad topic given his relative youth. The only criticism I would offer is that, though he had many graphics, more pinpoint maps would have been helpful.
Date published: 2015-02-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from War Peace and Power: Diplomatic History of Europe Solid overview that is more like a survey course than an analytical or critical study. Professor spoke in monotone and frequently repeated himself. Useful but not a great course
Date published: 2015-01-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Comprehensive and detailed Very comprehensive, but for me, too much detail on a very large topic, especially in the second half of the course. I would prefer more time spent on overall analysis and results.
Date published: 2014-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Very Good Overview This was a fantastic course filled with a lot of information and well organized. he has a vast knowledge and enthusiasm for his subject matter and I definitely got alot out of this course. Due to the extension information being presented, I think I would need to review the course again.
Date published: 2014-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Overview Great overview of European History. Professor was animated, but not over the top. I liked him enough to immediately buy another course from him (World War I)
Date published: 2014-03-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An interesting overview of modern European history Sometimes I wonder why I buy some of the TTC courses that I do but with almost 200 of them under my belt I have to keep looking for new topics to explore. After reading a lot and listening to many courses on history I found this one to be a very interesting, good overview of trends going on across all of Europe in the last 500 years. I love looking at the history of Poland as a way to look at what is going on in central/eastern Europe. While other countries (France, Spain, Portugal, Italy) gained their identity, if not their borders, early, Poland has been part of/with Lithuania, Austria, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Czechoslovakia, and only recently is clearly an independent state. Without specifically using Poland as an example, Professor Liulevicius shows how the trends in diplomacy have been instrumental first in the establishment of a "balance of power" between the European states (hence the constant shuffling around of the Polish area), to the current redefinition toward a centralized Europe (the EU). I liked that he treated Europe as one integrated area. Many years ago I travelled around southern Europe and constantly compared it to the United States. The only problem was it had all those borders to cross :-). Can you imagine if we had to have a passport and go through customs when we travelled from one state to another? Areas of our country are almost as varied as the different countries in Europe, yet we have an identity as one unit -- why not Europe? While many reviewers felt that this course covered too long a time span, I appreciated that it did. To stop at, say, WWI, would have left us hanging. Professor Liulevicius needed to bring his topics full circle. And if he had a crystal ball I would love to see where these trends are headed.
Date published: 2014-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from excellent survey of modern European history I've enjoyed and rated very highly several of Prof. Liulevicius' earlier courses, most prominently his detailed history of WW I. Thus I bought this new course as soon as it was released. I found "War, Peace, and Power" to be an excellent survey, flowing smoothly and covering the main points very clearly and cogently. He had edited the material well, going more deeply into the main points. I enjoyed every lecture. Most TC customers are old enough to have been well aware of the history covered in the latter lectures, such as the Cold War, fall of the Berlin Wall, modern European integration via the European Union, breakup of the Soviet Union, and the conflicts in the Balkans in the 1990s. I enjoyed the way that Prof. L covered these developments and tied them into the more remote events and themes that make up the bulk of the course, which starts just before 1500. All in all, this is a great course, worth taking by anyone with an interest in history.
Date published: 2013-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from If Only My University Professors Were This Good Even for the most avid history enthusiasts, Europe between the Renaissance and WWI can be a difficult period to make sense of, as it was marked by ever-shifting alliances and incessant wars among multiple parties. Thankfully, there is Dr. Liulevicius to guide us through the turbulence. Like many great teachers, Dr. Liulevicius has done a tremendous job presenting the key events within a logical and informative structure. Yet, most importantly, he also introduced the overarching concepts that help you understand the dynamism which shaped the history and propelled the events themselves. At the same time, Dr. Liulevicius also brings up different interpretations of the events when controversies take place. Personally, the course resolved many of my long-standing questions regarding this period of European history. With the help of the guidebook, I felt that for the first time I genuinely understood the cause and effect of the historical development across those five crucial centuries. I highly recommend this course to anyone who seeks to understand this confusing historic period and the overarching forces that shaped it. As a political science major, I will say that If this course had been taught at my university, it would have been one of the best classes I've taken.
Date published: 2013-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highest rating possible. I liked this series so well on CD that I listened to the whole thing over the course of less than two weeks of driving. For me, it followed "The Other 1492," sort of a natural progression given that it starts with the 16th century. Even at 36 lectures, it couldn't possibly cover 500 years in equivalent detail, but it seemed to me that it struck the proper balance between detail and overview. I appreciated the maps and the timeline in the course guidebook. I liked the entire course, but I particularly liked the final four lectures covering 1949 to about 2007. Perhaps my only slight nitpick with anything in the course is that a lot of credit is given to M. Gorbachev for steering the sinking Soviet ship of state with very little mention of R. Reagan's role in sinking it. Given that the title is "War, Peace, and Power: Diplomatic History...." a comment about the diplomatic strategy behind SDI (or Star Wars) might have been included. And I did notice it when he seemed to set up an equivalence between the French war in Indochina with the US involvement in war in Viet Nam. IMHO, there is no equivalence beyond location. Yet overall I saw essentially no political bias, implied or overt. I was left at the end with my own belief that the world is much less in danger of general war or a World War III today than it was even forty years ago, not that such an idea was proposed in any way during this course. Other than a few bad actors in the form of small middle-eastern states (and thanks, Professor, for explaining where that phrase came from), there seems to be NO desire on the part of major, first-world countries to annex territory from anybody else. Perhaps the Falklands was the last such incident, and even that concerned territory that had been contested for years. That doesn't mean we don't have real danger around us, but it does mean it's a different kind of threat than we used to face. Today it's from non-governmental associations of terrorists or even from religious demographic pressure. Von Metternich would recognize it. And of course one can infer the dangerous position we are in as the result of our dependence on foreign oil, which leaves us vulnerable to regimes who can ignore our otherwise superior position in wealth and military power. My best compliment may be that I am now looking forward to Prof. Liulevicius' courses on WWI and "Utopia."
Date published: 2012-11-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Trouble with a Survey Course The trouble with any survery course is the sheer amount of material available to the professor. A survey course allows for a broad view of major themes and ideas but can never hope to provide any significant depth. Professors must choose evidence that supports course themes while covering the milestone events and personalities of the topic at hand. These are difficult decisions that ultimately determine the success of any survey course. Professor Liulevicius has made a valiant attempt to capture the essence of European diplomatic history over the last five centuries. It is a grand task indeed. I found the course to be informative as a very broad introduction to major events but the course falls short on how these events are linked to overarching themes. It is not that themes are absent from the course but that these themes are not clearly connected to events - and for this there is a reason. The course lacks a single pupose that pulls t together attempting at once to be a history of European relations, a history of diplomacy, and a history of the European state system. Any of these approaches would have served a purpose as would have an ordered way of weaving these ideas togerhter in a framework that guides all lectures. In the absence of a single purpose, the course sometimes, seems to decay into a list of related facts that are unconnected a big idea. Some reviewers have noted the alignment of the course with Henry Kissinger's work in "Diplomacy". I find this to be somewhat true and perhaps the course suffers from the scholar versus statesman dichotomy that characterizes Kissinger's work. I say this in the sense that Professor Liulevicius never really decides what type of a survey he wants to present: European history? Diplomacy? International Relations? Power Realtionships? It is not that Professor Liulevicius has not mastered the material; it is that his course organization decisions made it difficult for him to communicate his mastery. I listened to the audio version of the course so I have seen seen the professor and cannot comment on the "sloppy" appearance comment made by an earlier reviewer. I might add that I would not have made such a point in a review as it is entirely irrelevant. Were the facts sloppy as also indicated by this reviewer? This is a rather overstated criticism. There are some errors as there in any survey course, but I rather sense that some of the "sloppy" errors noted by the same reviewer may be the result of alternate interpretations of events rather than egregious errors of fact. If nothing else, this course is a survey of European history with an emphasis on relations between European states. For a more detailed coverage of the subject consult Black in "European International Relations, 1648-1815", Bridge and Bullen in "The Great Powers and the European State System, 1814-1914" and Norman Rich in "Great Power Diplomacy."
Date published: 2012-08-10
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