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Dec 16, Marks54 rated it really liked it. This book is the first of a projected two volume history of Europe in the 20th century. Ian Kershaw is a superb historian who is noteworthy for a two volume biography of Hitler. His intent is to tell the story of how 19th century Europe was destroyed by the First World War, whose unaddressed causes and consequences led to the Second World War. By the end of that war, Europe was totally ruined but was amazingly reborn in the next fifty years. Kershaw seeks to explain how this happened.

The first This book is the first of a projected two volume history of Europe in the 20th century. The first volume this book covers the descent into hell. The second volume will chronicle the way back. The allure of writing a comprehensive history of such a period must be large - what a thrill it would be to tell the whole story in a compelling and engaging way.

Kershaw is not the first historian to try this, whether in a book or a class.


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I recall in college long ago I had a professor who taught a course on "The World since ". Since he was born in , students called the class "The world since me". There is a problem in writing such a big grand history - to tell the overall story, the author has to knit together a large number of more specific historical stories that make up the whole. To tell a compelling grand story, the author has to do a good job in tying together the particular stories and I suspect that historians can be very picky about such efforts. Kershaw notes this in his introduction by mentioning that virtually every paragraph he includes has been the subject of significant prior work in sufficient detail to justify multiple books.

To put the problem in practical terms, look at some recent books whose agenda overlaps that of Kirshaw. Adam Tooze in Deluge provides a detailed analysis of the relationship of World War I and World War II and the Cold War from the perspective of how these results evolved but were not view as certain at the time. This is directly analogous to Kirshaw's interest in showing the linkages of the two wars into the "Second Thirty Years War". For the proposed second volume, the comparison book would be Tony Judt's masterful Postwar.

Both are marvelous books and it seems ambitious to seek to improve on these. Overall, the book is effective. Kershaw covers the basics well and does not leave huge aspects out of what is a long survey. He covers the issues of why World War II followed from World War I well and balances the determinants with a healthy skepticism regarding what other paths might or might not have been possible.

Remes, Ilkka

The book is also extraordinary in doing a good job of linking military, political, and economic factors. This is often a shortcoming of these books, especially when covering the push to war in the s. It is the overall story that is critical here, however, and Kershaw does a good job. I look forward to seeing the second volume. Kershaw geeft hier een uitgebreide beschrijving van wat er in Europa gebeurde tijdens de eerste helft van de 20ste eeuw. Alhoewel de ondertitel spreekt van geeft Kershaw ook al een analyse van de politieke situatie eind 19de eeuw.

Alleen zo kunnen we begrijpen wat de aanleiding was tot het uitbreken van WO I. Zijn analyse is zeer volledig. Hij tracht weer te geven hoe verschillende gevoelens en emoties racisme in het algemeen en jodenhaat in het bijzonder, nationalisme, klassenstrijd, Kershaw geeft hier een uitgebreide beschrijving van wat er in Europa gebeurde tijdens de eerste helft van de 20ste eeuw. Hij behandelt ook de economische, culturele en intellectuele factoren en tracht uit te leggen hoe dat allemaal heeft kunnen leiden tot de 2 catastrofale wereldoorlogen die op ons continent gewoed hebben.

Maar Kershaw is geen begenadigd verteller en dit soort non-fictie leest niet zo vlot. Het is allemaal nogal droog voorgesteld en door zo volledig mogelijk te willen zijn wordt het al snel saai volgens mij is het sowieso onmogelijk is om 50 jaar te analyseren binnen de bladzijden. Ik heb het dan ook zijn tijd gegund en het boek regelmatig aan de kant gelegd om mij toe te laten het net gelezene te verwerken en te vermijden dat ik het helemaal beu zou worden.

Zodoende heb ik er wel bijna 5 maanden over gedaan. Apr 01, Gordon rated it really liked it Shelves: Ensconced in an escapist period novel, I look back on my March as the month dedicated to Miss Sullivan who demanded that I read history every day. Thus, I read SPQR, Games without Rules tracing the history of Afghanistan , and finished with To Hell and Back, and immense, in places turgid, and always detailed history of Europe from until , a time that began with the Victorians believing that Cousin Willie the Kaiser would never make war on them and ending with the smoking ruins of Eur Ensconced in an escapist period novel, I look back on my March as the month dedicated to Miss Sullivan who demanded that I read history every day.

Thus, I read SPQR, Games without Rules tracing the history of Afghanistan , and finished with To Hell and Back, and immense, in places turgid, and always detailed history of Europe from until , a time that began with the Victorians believing that Cousin Willie the Kaiser would never make war on them and ending with the smoking ruins of Europe and Japan, the site of two atomic bomb attacks. The book includes the culture, technology, and daily life of the people of Europe. How they raged about presumed slights and unfair advantages and how they starved and died in the killing fields that WW II consigned them to.

It takes time to develop Nazi Germany and the intelligent men that misunderstood Hitler and attempted to appease him while they desperately rebuilt their armies and navies that had been ignored during the grey depression that Wall Street stupidity had condemned them to. The book lets us realize how able the men we want to call names were, how much more astute they were than we are, and how much more civilized and sensitive the average German was than we are now.

We daily claim more morality and ability than those who lived through the misery of WWI and WWII, but were are less able and less moral. Will we be wiser? I found this about the best survey of the period of the two wars and their aftermath that I have read. Ian Kershaw manages to combine a broad view of Europe's self-destruction with telling detail.

The book is well written and ranges widely across the whole spectrum of military and political history, religion, economic changes and the shift to what we now see as popular culture. He highlights the different approaches to the post war reconstructions after and ; he is not afraid of making I found this about the best survey of the period of the two wars and their aftermath that I have read. He highlights the different approaches to the post war reconstructions after and ; he is not afraid of making judgements and not surprisingly finds the management of the recovery from the greater destruction between and to be more effective in every way despite the separation of Europe into the Communist and non Communist worlds - I exempt the two authoritarian regimes in the Iberian peninsula from this.

Dec 13, Paul Dinger rated it it was amazing. This turned out to be an incredible experience. I enjoyed this book because Kershaw uses the withering view of history, nothing and noone is spared his critical glance, there are no sacred cows.


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  • Jan 04, Jim rated it it was amazing. A history encompassing the politics, economics, and high and low cultures of nearly two-dozen countries, from Ireland to Russia and from Norway to Greece, cannot hope to be comprehensive, and, given its sat A New Warning From History Professor Ian Kershaw, best known for his landmark two-volume biography of Adolf Hitler titled Hubris and Nemesis takes on a gargantuan project in To Hell and Back: Instead, he starts with an analytical framework, a set of four trends that Kershaw sees as crucial to understanding why Europe spent three decades attempting suicide—committing several genocides along the way: These four trends started to feed on each other before the First World War began.

    As the 20th century opened, European elites, distrustful of democracy and nervous about working and middle class demands for more political power and better living standards, sought to develop a kind of mass politics more to their liking: Not only in response to the perceived threat from left wing governments, but also to help governments with little or no mass backing to widen the base of their support, populist counter-movements emerged. These were often sponsored directly or indirectly by industrialists or landholders, keen to deflect potential class-based opposition into more controllable channels.

    In the Ottoman Turks introduced the concentration camp—which the British had developed in South Africa—to European soil. They subsequently slaughtered 1. Tsar Nicholas II, whose incompetent war leadership and unwillingness to implement anything other than cosmetic reforms of his government convinced Russians that their only hope lay in revolution, lost his crown and his life.

    Civil war, famine, Red and White Terror, and the deaths of millions followed. Meanwhile, a bit further west, fear of Bolshevism in Germany led to the rise of murderous right-wing paramilitary organizations whose bloodlust against fellow Germans is reflected in the words of three young murderers, auguring the nightmare Germany would soon become: The traditions of all dead generations weighed on their heads as they made their decisions.

    When they goofed, it was often because they still held to discredited ideas or misplaced feelings of national pride. When some of them, like Keynes, came up with ideas that might have saved Europe, or at least mitigated the worst of its problems, few were willing to listen until crisis had become cataclysm. That economic, political, and moral disaster was born out of its own peculiar circumstances and pressures and is unlikely to be replicated.

    Contemporary economic and political elites also have a penchant for using xenophobic propaganda to keep the masses from questioning the status quo. While the American and European far right rails against racial, ethnic, and sexual out groups, Western governments, in thrall to the discredited policy consensus of austerity, fail to address the widening inequality in global capitalism, condemning a generation of young workers to a poorer financial future. A Warning From History. What Kershaw has written in To Hell and Back, besides a compelling historical narrative, is another warning, one just as vital to read.

    A professor recommended this book to me as a great overview of Europe in the first half of the 20th century. Now, after finishing it, I have to say: My knowledge of the 2 World Wars and the interwar period stemmed largely from history lessons at school. This book impressively illustrated how selective these lessons were: Ian Kershaw here interweaves the overall geopolitical situation with explanations regarding society, economy, culture etc.

    This ensures that this bo A professor recommended this book to me as a great overview of Europe in the first half of the 20th century. This ensures that this book never becomes boring in the way many history books tend to be. Subchapters on trends in society, economy and culture managed to shed light on different aspects that would usually be overlooked in the usual historical overview focused on who attacked whom when and where. Additionally, the author never forgot to mention the differences in experiences of individuals of different nationalities, regions and countries. This made the reading experience even livelier and more relatable to me.

    Ian Kershaw also cleverly mixes in references and ironic comments concerning certain decisions of politicians or general trends. It is incredible how many aspects of this time period now almost years ago mirror today's trends or are still influential in contemporary society and politics.

    Infernal Angel

    To sum up, I cannot recommend this book highly enough to anyone interested in history in general, European history or the 20th century! Sep 04, Joe Basile rated it it was amazing. Were the only attributes of this volume its readability particularly given the sweeping scope of its subject matter and the thoroughness of the research that underpins the writing, the book would be well-worth the read. In addition, however, Kerhsaw's work includes prescient warnings for our present day from the history of the first half of the 20th century in Europe.

    One such warning is the centrifugal effect of excessive nationalism, and the danger that this force poses to peace. One can onl Were the only attributes of this volume its readability particularly given the sweeping scope of its subject matter and the thoroughness of the research that underpins the writing, the book would be well-worth the read. One can only shake one's head at the current efforts by some to weaken the European Union notwithstanding the contribution that it has made to peace during the past 50 years after centuries of enervating warfare in Europe.

    The second warning, even more chilling, is the study of how ethnic-racist nativism, class conflict, and a protracted crisis of capitalism combined to cause citizens of a number of European countries to accept, indeed in some cases to choose, authoritarianism over liberal democracy. One cannot help but think that there is no reason to believe that this dynamic was unique to its time and place. Mar 15, Son Tung rated it really liked it. The book delivered what i expected to know more about the two world wars. To me, i doubt that i will read enough books for the topic. However, on the mental journey of collecting bits and pieces of past century knowledge, the book fascinated me with many things.

    Evidently shown by the weaknesses and hesitat The book delivered what i expected to know more about the two world wars. Feb 27, Bram Olijve rated it it was amazing. It's a great book and it was wonderful to read. Very clear and it gives you a good understanding about how at the end of WW1 , ww2 was almost unavoidable! A big pro for the book is the really good tempo. It keeps a tempo but doesn't become superficial.

    Jan 25, Briynne rated it really liked it. I picked this up in an attempt to fill in some of the gaps in my understanding of the inter-war years. It served very well in that capacity; the book glosses over WWI and gives only a general overview of WWII, but discusses the time between with interesting insights. Jun 27, Neil Fox rated it really liked it. The story of Europe's Century of insanity really begins with the outbreak of World War 1 in , as the preceding decade really belongs to an earlier age that had effectively ended before mankind realized it was over.

    WW1 represented the implosion of the old order, with Empires swept away and a generation of lives destroyed in a senseless catastrophic orgy of madness. The forces, tensions and instability unleashed by WW1 were never really resolved in the inter-War years, and the foundations of civilization so weakened by the war were simply not strong enough to allow democracy, political stability and economic prosperity to take hold before the Great Depression struck, leading to the rise of Fascism and totalitarism in the 30's.

    Where WW2 may be considered a morally just War compared to the senseless, unjustifiable waste of WW1, it nevertheless represented new depts of depravity and pure evil, a descent into a hellish cauldron of inhumanity and slaughter. Ian Kershaw, the noted historian and biographer of Hitler, undertakes an ambitious chronicling of the events of the 20th Century up to in this, his first of a 2-part narrative of Europe's 20th Century history. Kershaw explores how Europe went over the abyss - to hell and somehow back again - chronologically revolving around 4 main causal themes: But that part of the story is left for volume II, a painstaking and courageous process of rebuilding that sadly appears to be forgotten or belittled by those elements in European politics today who would have us revert to a climate of Nationalism, victimization and persecution of minorities, xenophobia and isolationism.

    Kershaw's yet-to-be-published second volume of Europe's 20th Century covering the re-emergence of the Continent from the maw of War and destruction and surviving the Cold War in the process, will no doubt be something that should be essential reading for us all, especially those in enthrallment to the rhetoric of the Nigel Farage's of Europe who would Belittle the Herculean achievements of reconciliation and restoration of prosperity to Europe after the Wars.

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    From the vantage point of the first decade of the 20th Century, a decade of scientific discovery and exploration, explosion in communications and popular entertainment, expansion in trade and great strides in medicine, the horrors of Verdun, Ypres, the Somme, Stalingrad and Auchwitz could never have been imagined, and yet they lay just beyond the horizon. How distant into the future from our society of latte-sipping while texting and fretting over WiFi coverage could the jackboots marching on the cobblestones be? Especialmente de la Segunda Guerra Mundial.

    Porque se llega a la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Kershaw dice que los nazis eran de derecha. Busco en internet y encuentro diferentes opiniones. Pareciera que los "de derecha" dicen que Hitler era de izquierda, y los de izquierda dicen que Hitler era "de derecha". Apr 17, Jakub rated it liked it. Huge expectations, huge disappointment.

    I consider Ian Kershaw one of the greatest historians of our times. His biography of Hitler is nothing less then superb. Naturally, I was thus expecting a lot from To Hell and Back. The opening chapters on 1ww are one of the weakest and had troubles to get through. There is so much excellent literature on 1ww, that it cannot be a problem for historian of Kershaws quality to write better synthesis than the one presented her Huge expectations, huge disappointment.

    There is also a lot of the small things and details that were just getting on my nerves.

    For example, fascist Oswald Mosley, while very interesting figure but absolutely marginal, gets 8 mentions in the book. On the other hand, Stanley Baldwin, who dominated the government in the UK between the wars and three times prime minister, gets also 8 mentions. Then there are other small mistakes and details. Horthy never announced his intentions to switch the sides in ww2, there were secret negotiations going on with Allies, that Hitler found about. Not all the fascist movements welcomed Nazis in their countries, there were some in France and also in Czechoslovakia for example, that joined the resistance and defended their countries.

    And on and on I could go. In general, this is a good book, well written, with some amazing parts. With a little more effort however, it could have been so much better. Feb 12, Adam Morris rated it liked it. Nothing new or especially insightful. While generally readable, I was challenged on numerous occasions when the au A little disappointing. I also did not care for his approach tho statistical material which I even found questionable.

    He also noted that towards the end of the war that German losses were 10, per day. By pouring everything out with equal vigor or monotony it is hard to distinguish the truly important or momentous events from the merely incidental. In the end it is probably an okay overview but hardly the grand scholarly enterprise that many of the reviewers both paid and voluntary have suggested. Please add a book cover 4 17 Nov 02, He was a lecturer first in medieval, then in modern, history at the University of Manchester.

    He retired from academic life in the autumn semester of Other books in the series. Penguin History of Europe 8 books.

    Remes, Ilkka [WorldCat Identities]

    Books by Ian Kershaw. Trivia About To Hell and Back No trivia or quizzes yet. Quotes from To Hell and Back The architects of the Versailles Treaty in , however good their intentions, faced insuperable problems in attempting to satisfy the territorial demands of the new countries formed out of the wreckage of the old empires. Die russische Journalistin Vera Dobrina wird in Helsinki ermordet. Doch es stellt sich heraus, dass Julia heimlich Materialien zum Untergang der Estonia gesammelt hat, bei dem ihre Grosseltern ums Leben kamen.

    Thriller by Ilkka Remes Book 10 editions published between and in 3 languages and held by 22 WorldCat member libraries worldwide Nach einem Flugzeugabsturz werden zwar Wrackteile, nicht aber die Opfer gefunden. Thriller by Ilkka Remes Book 13 editions published between and in German and Finnish and held by 21 WorldCat member libraries worldwide Am 6. Damit soll die englische Regierung erpresst werden, die Wiederaufbereitungsanlage Sellafield abzuschalten. Dabei stellt sich heraus, dass es um mehr geht als nur um einen Kunstraub. Karjalan lunnaat by Ilkka Remes Book 13 editions published between and in Finnish and held by 15 WorldCat member libraries worldwide.

    Thriller by Ilkka Remes Book 5 editions published between and in Finnish and German and held by 14 WorldCat member libraries worldwide Aaro und sein Freund Niko geraten in einen gross angelegten Rauschgiftschmuggel. Ein Schlag ins Herz: Finnish German 75 English 10 Arabic 1.