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But postwar Germany also was a driving force of European integration that led to the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the expansion of NATO and the European Union. The key for German and European stability was America’s engagement on the Continent.

The book went to press during a period of what Mr. Simms calls “an exceptional European uncertainty.”

“Nobody knows whether the Franco-German-led Eurozone will survive the onslaught of the markets or whether it will be pulverized by the outside world,” he writes.

Mr. Simms says the question is whether a united Europe will find a common position on the challenges and opportunities of the Arab Spring, on Russia’s ambitions and the growth of Chinese power.

If not, Europe could fragment into its component parts, only to be dominated again by Germany.

Frank T. Csongos was a longtime reporter, editor and news executive with United Press International and Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty.