Though Kershaw doesn’t offer a wealth of new material, this is a terrific roundup by a trusted historian, featuring an...

READ REVIEW

THE GLOBAL AGE

EUROPE 1950-2017

The second installment of the eminent English historian’s comprehensive overview of modern European history.

Kershaw’s latest, following To Hell and Back: Europe 1914-1949 (2015), is equally as massive as the previous volume, as he explores “the most striking legacy of the war for the immediate post-war world,” which was “twofold: Europe was not a continent divided down the middle by the Iron Curtain; and the new age was a nuclear era, with both of the superpowers in possession of super-weapons of mass destruction.” The astounding advances in material wealth and medical well-being across Europe, thanks to the miraculous economic recovery from the war, were accompanied by provincial attitudes that would take another generation to explode. These included blatant race-based discrimination; increased influence of Christian churches; and intolerance regarding homosexuality, women’s rights, and abortion, among other human rights concerns. While the Soviet Union was pursuing dominance over its satellite nations (“The Clamp” is Kershaw’s chapter title), Europe was developing a middle class well into the 1970s (“Good Times”), encompassing the newly modernized life enjoyed by postwar parents. The baby boomers, however, took their parents to task (“Culture after the Catastrophe”), asking questions about their participation in World War II, agitating against the Vietnam War and general anti-imperialism, and often exploding into violence, as in the student riots in Paris in 1968 and the Baader-Meinhof Group in Germany. Kershaw sees 1973 and the Arab oil embargo as the tipping point, when the price of gas soared and the economy tanked. “Change was on the way,” he writes. “But the oil crisis was a massive accelerant.” The author notes that in 1950, oil had provided 8.5 percent of Western Europe’s energy supplies, while 20 years later, it had risen to 60 percent. In the latter portion of the book, Kershaw directs his considerable talents to the fall of the Berlin Wall, reunification of Germany, and the “global exposure” of newly vulnerable Europe.

Though Kershaw doesn’t offer a wealth of new material, this is a terrific roundup by a trusted historian, featuring an extensive bibliography for further reading.

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2398-1

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • National Book Award Winner

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more