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Publisher's Summary

When the Great War ended in 1918, the West was broken. Religious faith, patriotism, and the belief in human progress had all been called into question by the mass carnage experienced by both sides. Shell-shocked and traumatized, the West faced a world it no longer recognized: The old order had collapsed, replaced by an age of machines. The world hurtled forward on gears and crankshafts, and terrifying new ideologies arose from the wreckage of past belief.
Historian Philipp Blom argues that in the aftermath of World War I, citizens of the West launched into hedonistic, aesthetic, and intellectual adventures of self-discovery. It was a period of both bitter disillusionment and visionary progress in which artists, scientists, and philosophers grappled with the question of how to live and what to believe in a broken age. America closed its borders to European refugees and turned away from the desperate poverty caused by the Great Depression. On both sides of the Atlantic, disenchanted voters flocked to Communism and Fascism, forming political parties based on violence and revenge that presaged the horror of a new World War.
Vividly re-creating this era of unparalleled ambition, artistry, and innovation, Blom captures the seismic shifts that defined the interwar period and continue to shape our world today.
©2015 Philipp Blom (P)2015 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"This historical account will be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in cultural analysis." (Library Journal)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Jean on 07-23-15

Lots of good trivia information

I am reading this book as part of my World War One anniversary project.

Philipp Blom asks the central question that arose for so many everyday people after WWI. “What values were there left to live for?” Blom is thorough in documenting the many attempts to answer the question. He discusses some stories of the day such as the stirrings of fascism by Italian poet D’Annunzio. H.G. Well’s scathing review of Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis. He discusses the various forms of art and the prominent artists of the time period. Blom reviews the activism of America’s eugenics enthusiasts. He also discussed the increase of totalitarian regimes, Dadaism, the lost generation and an excellent section on Jazz and the Blues.

Blom discusses the hopeless and lost feelings of the time and the dread, paranoia and anger that pervaded everything. The book is well written and brings a refreshing clarity to uncertain times of any era including our own. Ralph Lister narrated the book.

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4 of 5 people found this review helpful


By John on 11-29-15

Clap trap with a British accent

Lots of cliched superficial so-called history. Dull writing. A bore
The book just treads water

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1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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