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In the first year of war, while Poland succumbed to German armored columns, on the western front the contestants were stalemated. Then, in the spring of 1940, Germany struck through the neutral Netherlands and Belgium and overran France. Norway and Denmark were also captured. Scenting carrion, Mussolini acted the jackal and brought Italy into the war on Germany's side at what he confidently expected was the moment of victory. For a year only Britain held out against the Axis, protected by her island position and the air umbrella provided by the Royal Air Force. Late in 1940, Mussolini invaded Greece, but when he ran into unexpected resistance he had to call on the Germans for help. To accommodate Mussolini, Hitler had to conquer Yugoslavia. Then, frustrated by Britain's resistance, he turned on Russia in the summer of 1941. Back and forth the battle line swayed across the plains of eastern Europe as the two giants slugged it out. [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.