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Common Destiny: A Comparative History of the Dutch, French, and German Social Democratic Parties, 1945-1969

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Common Destiny

A Comparative History of the Dutch, French, and German Social Democratic Parties, 1945-1969

Dietrich Orlow

352 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-57181-185-1 $145.00/£107.00 / Hb / Published (March 2000)

ISBN  978-1-57181-225-4 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (January 2002)

eISBN 978-1-78238-987-3 eBook

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"The book draws on a very wide range of archives ... offering a very wide range of specific insights and bringing out the complexities behind any simple story about the development of social democracy."  · Journal of Modern History

"... a solid work of scholarship and analysis. The book is an authoritative account of a significant component of cold war European political history."   · The International History Review

"Dietrich Orlow succeeds admirably to link the different experiences of the three social democratic parties and relate their developments to each other ... obligatory reading for the comparative history of European social democratic parties."  · Archiv für Sozialgeschichte Online

"A well researched, very well written, reflective and splendid comparative study."  · Diethelm Prowe, Carleton College


Although the Socialist or Social Democractic parties played a key role in West European politics during the quarter century after the Second World War, they have been studied far less than their political rivals, the Christian Democrats. The story of West European Social Democracy after 1945 begins with a dilemma: Democratic marxism, which had been the parties' ideological and organizational principle until the Second World War, was becoming politically irrelevant. The three parties analyzed here represent the spectrum of reactions among Social Democratic parties to this realization. The debate over the parties' programs and ideologies did not, of course, take place in a vacuum: the author devotes considerable space to a comparative analysis of the parties' leaders and organizational structures as well as the evolution of Social Democratic domestic and foreign policies. Immensely readable, this book not only offers an in-depth analysis of the postwar period crucial for the history of Social Democracy but also, because of its cross-national treatment of these three major parties, adds significantly to our understanding of the processes of European integration and the evolution of the Atlantic Alliance.

Dietrich Orlow has been teaching at Boston University since 1971. A specialist in contemporary European history, he is the author of histories of the Nazi Party and the politics of Weimar Prussia.

Subject: History: 20th Century to Present
Area: Germany


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