Taylor’s history provides plenty of relevant lessons for today—and not only for Europe.

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THE DOWNFALL OF MONEY

GERMANY'S HYPERINFLATION AND THE DESTRUCTION OF THE MIDDLE CLASS

A well-organized, fast-moving political narrative situating the absolute breakdown of Germany's currency in 1923 in the double context of the international drive for World War I reparations and the violent effects of internal political extremism.

Royal Historical Society fellow Taylor (Exorcising Hitler: The Occupation and Denazification of Germany, 2011etc.) examines the historical span from the overthrow of the “once unshakeable representatives of the monarchical state” in November 1918 to the end of 1923 at the height of the crisis. The introduction of the “fixed-value Rentenmark” in November 1923 was followed rapidly by the beginning of new negotiations on reparations and apparent stability. Early on, Taylor identifies the major players in his drama. First, Erich Ludendorff, and his military associates, who seized on Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points and launched their campaign against the betrayal of the armistice and the “stab-in-the-back” of the Versailles Treaty. Then, the author examines extremists of right and left, out of which the Nazis emerged. The former organized armed units under Ludendorff and assassinated leaders like Matthias Erzberger and Walther Rathenau, whom they associated with the Versailles sellout. The latter took to the streets and organized military units for Soviet-style revolution. Meanwhile, the Allies maintained their embargo on German food supplies and other trade until they were satisfied that reparations were forthcoming. Against this backdrop, Taylor methodically traces the fall of the currency and growth of the debt. By November 1923, a loaf of bread could be bought for 140 billion marks, and the middle class was left with next to nothing. Tax reforms and collections, social welfare cuts, impoverishment of students and government workers all played their part.

Taylor’s history provides plenty of relevant lessons for today—and not only for Europe.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-62040-236-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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