The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the vast Soviet Empire have led to an unexpected revival of nationalism and national thinking in Europe. Long forgotten national claims, minority conflicts and nationalist rhetoric have once again taken the stage. The liberated nations in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe seem to be plunging back into a traumatic past when rampant nationalism tore apart societies, destroyed existing states, and created new ones. The former Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Soviet Union are only the latest victims of a most powerful ideology. It has ravaged the world - first Europe, then Asia and Africa. Peter Alter traces the origins of modern nationalism and analyses its highly varied manifestations over the last 200 years. He discusses the social basis and organizational structure of nationalist movements, the glorification of the nation-state, and the arguments put forward by supporters and opponents of nationalism. At the end of his incisive and cross-national survey, Alter turns to the present: to the significance of the national ideology in the process of decolonization since World War I, its re-emergence in today's world and, finally, its seemingly disastrous role in post-communist Eastern Europe.