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Beschreibung des Verlags
TELEGRAPH BOOKS OF THE YEAR AND EDITOR'S CHOICE 2015
In the summer of 1914 most of Europe plunged into a war so catastrophic that it unhinged the continent's politics and beliefs in a way that took generations to recover from. The disaster terrified its survivors, shocked that a civilization that had blandly assumed itself to be a model for the rest of the world had collapsed into a chaotic savagery beyond any comparison. In 1939 Europeans would initiate a second conflict that managed to be even worse - a war in which the killing of civilians was central and which culminated in the Holocaust.
To Hell and Back tells this story with humanity, flair and originality. Kershaw gives a compelling narrative of events, but he also wrestles with the most difficult issues that the events raise - with what it meant for the Europeans who initiated and lived through such fearful times - and what this means for us.
Kershaw (The End), an acclaimed British historian and biographer of Hitler, looks at a 36-year stretch of the 20th century when Europe was dominated by Germany, from the outbreak of World War I to the nation's division in the aftermath of World War II. Kershaw's strength is political and economic history he devotes less attention to military, social, and intellectual matters and he uncovers a number of largely forgotten events, including the 1919 1921 conflict between Germans and Poles in the Baltics and Upper Silesia that claimed 100,000 lives. Unfortunately, Kershaw's book suffers from three significant shortcomings. His prose is dull, in part because there are insufficient telling anecdotes, and he is prone to capturing history via tangential statistics. He also stretches himself thin in writing about peripheral states, as when he addresses the nature of authoritarian rule in Estonia in the 1930s, which takes up more space than his attention to the surrender of France to Nazi Germany in June 1940. Finally, while Kershaw possesses superb knowledge of Britain and Germany and is adequate on the U.S.S.R., he repeatedly glosses over developments in France during the period. These deficiencies make Kershaw's fact-laden and well-organized history less than satisfying. Maps & illus.