The Shock of America is based on the proposition that whenever Europeans contemplated those margins of their experience where change occurred over the last 100 years or more, there, sooner or later, they would find America. How Europeans have come to terms over the decades with this dynamic force in their midst, and what these terms were, is the story at the heart of this text. Masses of Europeans have been enthralled by the real or imaginary prospects
coming out of the USA. Important minorities were at times deeply upset by them. Sometime the roles were reversed or shaken up. But no-one could be indifferent for long. Inspiration, provocation, myth, menace, model: all these categories and many more have been deployed to try to cope with the Americans. Attitudes
and stereotypes have emerged, intellectual resources have been mobilised, positions and policies developed: all trying to explain and deal with the kind of radiant supremacy the Americans built in the course of the twentieth century.
David Ellwood combines political, economic, and cultural themes, suggesting that American mass culture is a distinctively incisive form of American power over time. The book is structured in three parts; a separation based on the proposition that America's influence as a decisive force for or against innovation was present most conspicuously after Europe's three greatest military-political conflicts of the contemporary era: the Great War, World War II, and the Cold War. It concludes with the
emotional upsurge in Europe which greeted the arrival of Obama on the world scene, suggesting that in spite of all the disappointments and frictions of the years, the US still retained its privileged place as a source of inspiration for the future across the Western world.
David Ellwood's first major book was Italy 1943-1945: The Politics of Liberation (1985) then came Rebuilding Europe: Western Europe, America and Postwar Reconstruction (1992). The fundamental theme of his research - the function of American power in contemporary European history - has shifted over the years to emphasise cultural power, particularly that of the American cinema industry. He was President of the International Association of Media and History 1999-2004 and a Fellow of the Rothermere America Institute, Oxford, in 2006.
PART I: 1898-1939; PART II: 1941-1959; PART III: 1989-2009