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Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II Hardcover – 5 Apr 2012

109 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (5 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067091746X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670917464
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4.2 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Keith Lowe was born in 1970 and studied English Literature at Manchester University. After twelve years as a history publisher, he embarked on a full-time career as a writer and historian, and is now recognised on both sides of the Atlantic as an authority on the Second World War and its aftermath. His first novel, Tunnel Vision, was shortlisted for the 2001 Author's Club First Novel Award. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Inferno: The Devastation of Hamburg 1943, and Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II. His books have been translated into ten languages.

Product Description

Review

Graphic and chilling. This excellent book paints a little-known and frightening picture of a continent in the embrace of lawlessness and chaos (Ian Kershaw)

Moving, measured and provocative (Dominic Sandbrook Sunday Times)

Savage Continent is a powerful and disturbing book, painstakingly researched and written with both authority and an impressive historical sweep (James Holland)

Grimly absorbing, conveys the pity of war and its sorry aftermath with integrity and proper sympathy (Ian Thomson Sunday Telegraph)

Extraordinary, disturbing and powerful ... it is to Lowe's great credit that he resists the temptation to sit in moral judgment ... it is time we acknowledged the hidden realities of perhaps the darkest chapter in all human history (Daily Mail)

Extraordinary...exceptional...reveals a continent where moral values were often missing and basically lawlessness prevailed for several years (Trevor James The Historian)

Impressive and heart-rendering study...Lowe marshals all the elements of the story with cool even-handedness, especially where statistics are concerned, and explains how subsequent generations have manipulated the historical record to suit their own purposes, either to diminish their guilt or demonise others. (Christopher Silvester Daily Express)

An excellent account...Lowe's vivid descriptions of Europeans scrambling for scraps of food, rampant theft and 'destruction of morals' are a timely reminder that a certain humility is in order when we look at less fortunate continents today. (Brendan Simms The Independent)

A major new historical talent has arrived... a brilliantly organised and scrupulously objective survey of a continent on the floor (BBC History Magazine)

Brilliant (Sun)

Savage Continent is a blood-soaked thing, charting the continued fanaticism and brutality that emerged from the ashes of war and wracked this sad continent long after Nazism was defeated (Telegraph, Christmas Round-up)

An unforgettably gritty and blood-soaked book. Makes for deeply harrowing reading (Dominic Sandbrook Sunday Times, Books of the Year 2012)

The chaotic interlude between the second world war and Europe's 'cold peace' in the 1950s receives brilliant treatment in Lowe's scrupulously objective book (Financial Times, "Books of the Year")

About the Author

After spending more than a decade as a history publisher, Keith Lowe is now a full-time writer. He is widely recognised 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. He lives in north London with his wife and two children.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

98 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Gil_Gibbs_Hotch VINE VOICE on 12 April 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A truly jaw-dropping read. As Keith Lowe explains right from the very start the Second World War was so much more than the allies versus the axis and the fight of good against evil. If you wish to get a better understanding of what this struggle perpetuated beyond the usual military texts, then you must read this book. The majority of people would associate the term ethnic cleansing with the Holocaust;full stop. However, events throughout the European continent AFTER May 1945 will leave readers absolutely stunned. In Czechoslavkia, Italy, Poland, Western Ukkraine and Yugoslavia ethnic and religious cleansing was conducted on a truly horrifying scale. Centuries of hatred and mistrust within individual countries and communities within those countries rose to the surface. The undercurrent was undoubtedly right versus left, capitalist versus communist, but the specifics are much more shocking.

The machinations of political parties to achieve their objectives and the ineptitude of the 'Superpowers' to deal with these events lead directly to the Cold War and during the period 1945 to 1950, thousands upon thousands of innocent civilian deaths. Revenge for atrocities carried out during the war lit the flame, but much more sinister plans were at work.

I will not quote specific examples from the text as I would hope that by reading this outstanding account of a period of history that formed the basis of European life for the next 50 years, the reader will be as appalled and enlightened as much as I was.

For anyone interested in this period of history this is an essential read. I cannot recommend this strongly enough.
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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Bobby Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 12 May 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a quality work of art from the pen of Keith Lowe. Taking a little documented period of history, the fragmented and vengeful end of the war and the spill over into the years 1945-1950 - and beyond in some cases - the dispute between Lithuania and Russia for example, he manages to show that genocide, anti-Semitism and hatred in general did not end when the war ceased. Looking back nowadays it is almost beyond belief that such hate continued, given the events of 1939-45. But they did. I cannot speak too highly of this book as it looks in detail at issues normally skirted around by the academic world - such as the vengence of slave workers and concentration camp inmates and of population expulsions - be they ethnic Germans, Poles or Ukrainians. I learnt so much from this book; the political fall-out from WW2, the Greek civil war but also how the human spirit can rise above the most hurtful and damaging of situations. Ultimately, amid the tales of destruction and sorrow, this is the message that emerges. Superb.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Gavin Boughton on 31 July 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read this book, the title "Savage continent" begins to sound like an under statement. I thought I knew how WWII and the terror/horror/loss of life was mind blowing, but was unaware of the sheer scale of what was euphemistically referred to by the Allies as "displaced persons" in all its various guises including ethnic cleansing, particularly in the aftermath of WWII with the inevitable scramble for territory. Documenting atrocity after atrocity I almost became desensitized to what I was reading - the total collapse and ensuing chaos of Europe. Out of such very, very recent total destruction, whereby murder on a grand scale literally became the "norm", it is a miracle how the EEC/EU with all its good intentions/foibles, was ever conceived and maintained.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Olav on 23 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback
This book is a very thorough and evenhanded review of Europe after World War 2. The author touches on most aspects of goings-on in Europe 1944-1949. The book is filled to the brim with stories about a continent torn apart, trying to reconcile itself with what's happened. It is not an easy read, but a rewarding one if you're tired of the myths of a unified Europe on the one hand and the Holocaust deniers and conspiracy theorists on the other.

No punches are pulled in the retelling of post-war genocide and pogroms, as well as stories about mistreatment of german POW's and civilians and the abuses of girls who loved german soldiers. We are told about how some axis countries got off lighter than others, how fascists sometimes stayed in power and how some reforms in the name of justice became undone. We also get a good account of how communists seized power in many countries and the conequences thereof. To recount all the grim stories in this book would be counterproductive and would take far too long.

This is a thoroughly researched book with excellent critique of its sources, and the author goes to great lengths to elaborate whenever numbers he cites are in dispute. He also strives to serve stories and numbers in their proper context, ensuring that the reader manages to follow the authors thread throughout.

I found this book to be a remarkable eyeopener regarding post-war Europe. The consequences of the war are felt to this day.
Read it!
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Derek Tunnicliffe on 6 May 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An important book, that should be on the history syllabus of high schools across Europe. This is a balanced account of a history that has never been written about in such depth, across such a wide spectrum of action, and on a Europe-wide basis. Having said that, as the author makes clear, many of the statistics and accounts of this after-war period are still hotly disputed - for all the reasons he lays out. There are always more than two sides to every tale, and the author tries to put forward as many as possible. His list of sources alone (originals in 38 different languages) is extensive; and his notes show the extent to which he drew on them.

The horrors of physical and moral destruction are set aside a litany of vengeance, ethnic cleansing, political violence and civil war, that lasted until the 1950's and still has repercussions today. It is a compelling, at times gripping account - very readable.
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