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Anything as revolutionary as World War I could not help but convulse the social order. Within each state the sense of community induced by the common war effort did not survive into the postwar world, with its tensions old and new. Demobilized soldiers, trained to fight, found it difficult to adjust themselves to civilian life. The uncertainties of war, revolution, and economic instability undermined confidence among individuals, classes, and states. Only in a very narrow sense did the armistice of 1918 bring peace. [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.