Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



The legacy of World War II was a heavy load for statesmen to bear. The collapse of Germany, Italy, Japan, and their lesser allies left a power vacuum, temporarily filled by the armies of occupation. Military losses were half again as high as in World War I. Even greater was the different in civilian losses. For every civilian who died a war death in 1914-1918, at least a score (a total of some 20,000,000) perished in 1939-1945. Material losses in housing and productive capacity were staggering. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section XVIII: The Western World in the Twentieth Century: The Historical Setting. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.