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The Long Shadow: The Great War and the Twentieth Century [Kindle Edition]

David Reynolds
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In Britain we have lost touch with the Great War. Our overriding sense now is of a meaningless, futile bloodbath in the mud of Flanders -- of young men whose lives were cut off in their prime for no evident purpose. But by reducing the conflict to personal tragedies, however moving, we have lost the big picture: the history has been distilled into poetry. In The Long Shadow, critically acclaimed author David Reynolds seeks to redress the balance by exploring the true impact of 1914-18 on the 20th century. Some of the Great War's legacies were negative and pernicious but others proved transformative in a positive sense. Exploring big themes such as democracy and empire, nationalism and capitalism and re-examining the differing impacts of the War on Britain, Ireland and the United States, The Long Shadow throws light on the whole of the last century and demonstrates that 1914-18 is a conflict that Britain, more than any other nation, is still struggling to comprehend.
Stunningly broad in its historical perspective, The Long Shadow is a magisterial and seismic re-presentation of the Great War.

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'A century on, there is no end to the fighting and the writing ... Who better as remembrancer than David Reynolds, with his customary lucidity, his long view, his comparative perspective, his contemporary sensitivity, his scholarly sanity and his crisp humanity? ... This is the work of a master historian' Alex Danchev, THES

'The First World War, David Reynolds notes, has turned sepia in the popular imagination and is 'memorialised' as a thing of mud, trenches and poets. The Long Shadow looks instead at the way the conflict influenced the main issues of the century that followed, from politics and economics to national borders and intellectual parameters' Michael Prodger, New Statesman

'Few are better equipped to [unscramble myths] do so than Cambridge professor David Reynolds, already the author of several outstanding works. His latest book explores the political, cultural and social legacy of the First World War, and offers correctives to many popular delusions. Perspective is critical to a comprehension of history, and Reynolds has no peer in helping us to achieve this' Max Hastings, Sunday Times

'This is a challenging thesis, presented with a masterly array of sources across a busy century, at once thought-provoking and thoroughly informed; the prose is fluent and zestful, and the arguments are constructed with a fine level of critical observation' Richard Overy, Guardian

'Books on the First World War are already filling bookshops ready for the 2014 centenary. Few are likely to be as challenging - or as readable as The Long Shadow. This is magisterial work by one of Britain s foremost historians' Diane Lees, The Times

'Written by an outstanding historian at the height of his powers, this book is a brilliant study in legacies and refractions ... There is burgeoning interest in the debate about the place of the Great War in modern history, to which Reynolds has made a definitive contribution' Piers Brendon, Independent

'As an introduction to the controversies and complexities of a period of history that will be on all our minds next year, it is unlikely to be bettered' Tom Holland, History Today

'Reynolds, a Cambridge don who has written extensively on political and international history, addresses the parliamentary, cultural, military and social legacy of the war, and corrects many of the myths veiling it...If you read no other book on the conflict, it should be this one' Keith Simpson MP, Total Politics Magazine

'This book s deepest message is about the inescapability of history, whether we choose to live in its shadow or to turn our backs on the warnings it offers to the present' 4 star review, Christopher Clark, Mail on Sunday

'This is a masterly study in every sense: by an historian at the top of his game, deploying wide-ranging research in important arguments, sustained alike with rich detail and dry wit' Peter Clarke, Financial Times

'. . . deploying the Great War as his lens, Reynolds has given us one of the most illuminating studies in the history of ideas to appear for many years. Beautifully written, with a masterly command of the diverse subject matter it addresses, The Long Shadow is an immensely rich book . . . if our leaders really want to learn from history, they could start by reading this book' John Gray, Literary Review

'This is broad, big-theme history at its very best, brilliantly written by a giant of the discipline' Times Higher Education

'This hugely impressive work examines the impact of the war on the following century, focusing largely on the British perspective… he exposes the shallowness of this view in a series of perceptive and intellectually exciting essays… it is a book that deserves to be read, and that deserves to endure' --BBC History

About the Author

David Reynolds won the Wolfson Prize in 2004 for his superb book on Churchill, and is the author of Summits (2007) and most recently America: Empire of Liberty (2009). He has made critically acclaimed films and series for both BBC4 and BBC2 including films on Churchill and Attlee.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 8796 KB
  • Print Length: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (7 Nov. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #75,534 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great War Myths 15 Nov. 2013
By Dr Barry Clayton TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
'History is not what you thought. It is what you can remember'. (1066 and All That).

Previous books by David Reynolds on America, Churchill, Origins of WW2 and the Cold War established him as a leading historian. His book on Churchill, in particular, was received with widespread acclaim.

The current flood of books on the Great War with many more to come (these will be followed by books on the anniversary of each of the four years of the war, with no doubt emphasis on the Somme) concentrate on the outbreak, fighting, and final victory over Germany and her allies in 1918. Very little is said about the consequences of a war that toppled four Empires, saw America emerge as a world power (a reluctant one), and caused over 12 million military deaths at a cost of at least 6 billion dollars. David Reynolds book seeks to rectify this. He succeeds spendidly.

Many historians have implied that between 1914 and 1945 Europe took leave of its senses. These, it is said, were years of death, misery and degredation. The horrors of Stalinism and Nazism overshadow the era. Reynolds acknowledges the shadow that the Great War cast over Europe in particular. On the other hand, the revulsion at the suffering plus war weariness served to create an atmosphere which embraced new ideas of openness, discussion and morality.

The author argues we 'have lost touch with the Great War'despite the number of novels and poems written about the war. The war, he says, has become a 'literary war, detached from its moorings in historical events'. Our view of the war is now one of mud, blood and futility. He argues that by reducing the war to personal tragedies we have lost the big picture: 'history has been distilled into poetry'.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best history books I have read. 28 Sept. 2014
By F Henwood TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This is a World War One book with a difference. It is less about the war and more about how it has been remembered, understood and interpeted, both by the generation that experienced it, and their descendants. The principal focus is on Britain but other major belligerents are not neglected.

Assumptions are made not just about the nature of the First World War but about the eras preceding and following it. Edwardian England was an age of innocence. The lights went out and were not lit again. The 1920s and 1930s were `morbid decades'.

One of the great strengths of this book is to correct some of these clichés. Edwardian England was rent by bitter class and ethnic antagonisms - not least in Ireland, which was on the brink of civil war. It was striking to learn that today's debates about the status of the UK are in many ways reprises of Edwardian controversies. Home rule was on the cards for Scotland in 1914. Winston Churchill devised an elaborate scheme for no less than 7 English regional parliaments.

As for the morbid years of 1930s, Britain was politically more stable than she was before 1914, more prosperous and peaceful than its continental neighbours (on account of relatively generous welfare benefits and widespread home-ownership). A book like this does not refute the conventional understanding of the immediate pre and post war years but reveals it to be too partial, too shallow. The reality was and is a lot more interesting. And not just for England. The influence of the Battle of the Somme in Ireland is absolutely fascinating, a battle in which many thousands of Irishmen, Protestant and Catholic, perished.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an exceptionally interesting book about the after-effects of the First World War, though much of what Reynolds writes about cannot strictly be described as its after-effects, and in Part One there is also a good deal of pre-war material and of attitudes during the War itself. There is, for example, a beautiful chapter about the English poetry written and the paintings made DURING the War. (Their impact AFTER the war is analyzed with equal brilliance in Part Two of the book.) But Part One is mostly about the history of the European countries and of the United States in the inter-war period, and even readers who are familiar with it will surely find here many nuggets and aperçus of which they have been unaware.

In particular Reynolds aims to show how little, compared with the continent, the War destabilized Britain and why this was so. Even though it was not always apparent in the strident language of some conservative politicians and newspaper about the dangers of the Labour Party or in that of the more militant trade unions, there was in fact a much stronger consensus about democracy and about distrust of the far left or the far right. Especially in times of crisis, Britain's opposing parties came together in coalitions: how many readers were conscious of the fact that coalitions governed Britain for 21 of the 31 years between 1914 and 1945? In a very technical chapter on economics, Reynolds also shows that, despite well-known distress (to some extent mitigated by the dole), the British economy actually "came through the 1930s much better than most of the developed world". He also pays exceptionally close attention to Irish affairs.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars ... was a present for a family member who really enjoyed it.
This was a present for a family member who really enjoyed it.
Published 1 month ago by Eileen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very good - it explains the reasons for the post first world war mrss that Europe finds itself in.
Published 1 month ago by John Forrest
5.0 out of 5 stars All our yesterdays
David Reynolds treats the legacy of the first world war as a case study in the shifting perspectives of history. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Intermeddle
4.0 out of 5 stars brill
controversial but well thought book,i have been reading this subject,ever since I visited tyne cot cemetery in early eighties,it is provacatiev but also worth a read,for any child... Read more
Published 4 months ago by galloping male
5.0 out of 5 stars Europe's Self Destruction 1914 - 1945
One of the most thoughtful and mind-opening accounts of the effects of WW1 on the 20th century. Opens up new perspectives and written by a superb university mind. Read more
Published 4 months ago by LFJ Hardwick
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great read
Published 4 months ago by Faye Woodmore
5.0 out of 5 stars Debunking the myths surrounding the First World War and the interwar...
The book is not a revisionist account of the first WW but an attempt at debunking some recent myths which took shape in the popular imagination around the 1960's and 70's thanks to... Read more
Published 6 months ago by docread
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great War has entered collective memory in this country not ...
In my view 'History' begins first not with the events of their creation but the interpretation of those events. Read more
Published 7 months ago by vernon holgate
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
bought as a present
Published 7 months ago by CJ
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging approach to received wisdom about attitudes to the Great...
Clear analysis of the origins and prosecution of the conflict, and the shifting attitudes of different parties to the war over time.
Published 7 months ago by walton
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