An evocative re-creation of the European political climate of the 1930's, called by W.H. Auden ""the low, dishonest decade."" By evoking eight watershed events of the Thirties, Large (History/Montana) shows that the decade was no oasis of tranquility, but rather an era of parliamentary impotence and corruption, civil and colonial war, and purges and Putsches--""a dress rehearsal for the greater cataclysm to come."" The eight events Large covers are: the Stavisky affair in France, which exposed the political weakness and corruption of the Western democracies; the 1933 suspension by Dollfuss of constitutional government in Austria, illustrating the fragility of the states artificially created in the wake of WW I; Hitler's ""Night of the Long Knives"" in June 1934; Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia, which exposed the impotence of the League of Nations and further emboldened both Mussolini and Hitler; the ""Jarrow crusade"" of ""Red Ellen"" Wilkinson in England, which symbolized Britain's economic malaise and its ultimate decline as an industrial power. Also: the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War, an atrocity that became a rallying point for Basque separatists; the Stalinist purges and show trials, to Large the quintessential example of modern political terror; and the Munich conference of 1938 and Neville Chamberlain's infamous ""peace for our time"" declaration, which, steeped in a fear of global war, allowed a minor power--Czechoslovakia--to become the cause of another world conflict. Large does a fine job of connecting these events, and of showing the era's pervasive recourse to violence as a solution to complex problems.