THE LAST EUROPEAN WAR by John Lukacs

THE LAST EUROPEAN WAR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Europe warring against itself for the last time""--Lukacs chooses the first two years of the war, when Hitler's defeat was anything but certain, and examines the events, institutions and the patriotic currents from the viewpoint of a classic Continental conservative. Lukacs writes with polished assurance and he's best with Grand Illusion ironies, including those painful to himself, like the ""sleepwalking bourgeoisie"" fleeing battle zones in limousines, and the Franciscan priests of Croatia who murdered and mutilated like crazed peasants. More fundamentally, Lukacs sees Hitler as a brilliant autodidact who used German nationalism to create the Nazi war machine but underestimated the ferocity of nationalism elsewhere in Western Europe. Specifically he underestimated the Churchill faction, believing that constant German overtures to the British would ensure the ascendancy of the Halifax group and its collaboration in Hitler's ""diplomatic revolution"" which was ultimately to be directed Eastward. Lukacs gives this view an irreverent, anti-British flavor and, while disdaining the Americans, leaves them on the edge of the scene. Unfortunately, he cares little for historical rigor, and when easy insight fails, he tends to flounder. He describes being impressed during his youthful travels with the full employment and happy faces in the Germany of 1939, then, to document the abundant food consumption under the regime, he reproduces charts which in fact show that the 1942 meat intake had sunk to the level of the ""turnip"" starvation year of 1917. Still, despite lapses and personal reveries, a valuable account of the origins and early days of WW II.

Pub Date: March 5th, 1976
Publisher: Anchor Press/Doubleday