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Customer Review

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars People have always worried, 30 Oct. 2009
This review is from: The Morbid Age: Britain Between the Wars (Hardcover)
We feel threatened by all manner of disasters from terrorism to global warming. Has it always been so? Richard Overy takes us back to the era between the two world wars of the 20th century to emphasise that fear of change and the future is nothing new. Then it was concern about biological sickness in 'inferior' individuals, families and groups, inescapable psychological sickness inherent in our pre-natal development, the evils of the capitalist system, dread of future, even more catastrophic wars and the resulting dilemma - was it better to fight fascism or remain a pacifist whatever the provocation? Some fears proved justified but others didn't, not least because information was increasingly avialable. Awareness of what people have achieved through knowledge and protest is much more comforting than recourse to alcohol or valium. This is a splendid, irresistible book by an academic who explains the issues clearly but in a scholarly fashion that treats readers as serious students, not dilettanti. The reader returning to each reading session re-enters a lecture theatre in the author's presence. Read it to feel less helpless.
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Initial post: 7 Nov 2010 15:10:55 GMT
Last edited by the author on 7 Nov 2010 15:17:56 GMT
I enjoyed your review Mr Denman, but found it's comforting implication that "fear of change and the future is nothing new" rather misleading. I suggest that for Europe's inter-war population, fear of the future was very sensible indeed. That generation had already suffered some 20,000,000 casualties in the trauma of World War One and could clearly see they were facing another fratricidal slaughter in their immediate future, which could only be even more costly/destructive in human life and national wealth!

If you were facing the very real possibility today of some 50,000,000 fellow members of your society being massacred, some 30% of the industrial plant/housing stock being destroyed, of hunger/famine etc... being deliberately inflicted upon you and your family for years, would you not have good reason to be anxious?

When looked at from this perspective, the answer is obvious and I further suggest that our own era's feelings of unease on issues such as nuclear power/weapons proliferation, racial/religious hostility, enviromental degradation etc..... are equally well grounded in reality. The only real difference between then and now is that we know how the 1930's ended, whilst the tensions of our own era have yet to play themselves out.
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