Keith Lowe's "Savage Continent" is an awe-inspiring portrait of how Europe emerged from the ashes of WWII. The end of the Second World War saw a terrible explosion of violence across Europe. Prisoners murdered jailers. Soldiers visited atrocities on civilians. Resistance fighters killed and pilloried collaborators. Ethnic cleansing, civil war, ...
Keith Lowe's "Savage Continent" is an awe-inspiring portrait of how Europe emerged from the ashes of WWII. The end of the Second World War saw a terrible explosion of violence across Europe. Prisoners murdered jailers. Soldiers visited atrocities on civilians. Resistance fighters killed and pilloried collaborators. Ethnic cleansing, civil war, rape and murder were rife in the days, months and years after hostilities ended. Exploring a Europe consumed by vengeance, "Savage Continent" is a shocking portrait of an until-now unacknowledged time of lawlessness and terror. Praise for "Savage Continent": "Deeply harrowing, distinctly troubling. Moving, measured and provocative. A compelling and plausible picture of a continent physically and morally brutalized by slaughter". ("Dominic Sandbrook", "Sunday Times"). "Excellent". ("Independent"). "Unbearable but essential. A serious account of things we never knew and our fathers would rather forget. Lowe's transparent prose makes it difficult to look away from a whole catalogue of horrors...you won't sleep afterwards. Such good history it keeps all the questions boiling in your mind". ("Scotsman"). Keith Lowe is widely recognized as an authority on the Second World War, and has often spoken on TV and radio, both in Britain and the United States. He is the author of the critically acclaimed "Inferno: The Devastation of Hamburg", 1943 (Penguin). He lives in north London with his wife and two children.
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Lowe's book is an excellent portrayal of the huge problems facing the Allies at V-E day. Millions of displaced people, ethnic conflict, food problems, a huge, utterly-defeated army. Read this book in concert with "In the Ruins of Empire" by Ronald Spector to contrast the problems in Europe with the equally daunting, but completely different problems faced by the Allies in Asia. There, for instance, they faced millions of Japanese troops many of whom (particularly in Korea, Manchuria, Indochina) had not lost a battle and came from a culture that did not accept surrender. Two great books to read one after the other.
Aug 30, 2012
Views of a New Generation of Historian
A new generation of historians is looking over what for the older generation is a mainly settled and agreed view of World War II and its aftermath. A new generation of European historians not hindered by psychological and nationalist baggage, however subtle, is taking a new look at the 20th century. Lowe's insights are very interesting. Presented as a part of a continuum of hatred and resentments stretching from at least the 19th century onward, Lowe's book leaves you with the recognition the past is continuing into the present as Faulkner observed, it isn't even past.
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