A searing and highly original analysis of the First World War and its anguished aftermath
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize - History
Finalist for the Kirkus Prize - Nonfiction
In the depths of the Great War, with millions dead and no imaginable end to the conflict, societies around the world began to buckle. The heart of the financial system shifted from London to New York. The infinite demands for men and matériel reached into countries far from the front. The strain of the war ravaged all economic and political assumptions, bringing unheard-of changes in the social and industrialorder.
A century after the outbreak of fighting, Adam Tooze revisits this seismic moment in history, challenging the existing narrative of the war, its peace, and its aftereffects. From the day the United States enters the war in 1917 to the precipice of global financial ruin, Tooze delineates the world remade by American economic and military power. Tracing the ways in which countries came to terms with America’s centrality—including the slide into fascism—The Deluge is a chilling work of great originality that will fundamentally change how we view the legacy of World War I.
Tooze (The Wages of Destruction), professor of history and codirector of international security studies at Yale University, successfully maps the "emergence of new order of power" from the ashes of WWI. That order was U.S.-centered and had "three major facets moral authority backed by military power and economic supremacy" and, Tooze argues, it arose in the context of a "multisided, polycentric search for strategies of pacification and appeasement." America intervened somewhat unwillingly in WWI, after the Eurasian crisis dragged out for several years. Its entry into the war allowed the Entente to secure a victory, but the Treaty of Versailles yielded only a "patchwork world order." The U.S.'s synergy of "exceptionalist ideology" and "Burkean wisdom" gave it a conservative perspective on its future a perspective that, Tooze argues, clashed immediately with its "pivotal role" in a fragile global economy. The "great democratic alliance" imploded during the Great Depression not from "deluded idealism," but from a search for a "higher form of realism." Tooze's grand economic history is stimulating, persuasive, and surprisingly accessible. Illus. Agency: Wylie Agency.