The Deluge: The Great War and the Remaking of Global Order 1916-1931 Hardcover – 29 May 2014
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Bold and ambitious . . . probably the best of the current books about the First World War (Observer)
A remarkable new synthesis which draws on [Tooze's] two particular areas of expertise, Eurasia and especially Germany, and the global financial system revolving around London ... the great strength of his book is that he invites us to look at familiar events in unfamiliar ways ... Tooze's account brims with contemporary resonances ... He is too good a historian, however, to turn this into a simple argument for Keynesian deficit financing ... the general public and policymakers alike will - must! - turn to Adam Tooze for instruction (Brendan Simms Tablet)
It is particularly refreshing to read Adam Tooze's book ... it confirms his stature as an analyst of hugely complex political and economic issues ... Tooze's book covers a huge geographical sweep ... he shows himself a formidably impressive chronicler of a critical period of modern history, unafraid of bold judgements (Max Hastings Sunday Times)
Adam Tooze's masterly book should be required reading for anyone who wants to truly understand the significance of the war ... Extensively researched and written with exemplary clarity, this work is as monumentally ambitious as its subject ... his powers of description and analysis range across all inhabited continents ... this is a valuable look at the ways in which the years after the war came to define the rest of the 20th century (BBC History Magazine)
Interesting, engaging and very readable ... Underpinning this account is an impressive facility with numbers and an ability to analyse them that is increasingly rare among historians nowadays ... he has also delivered, for the first time, ...a clear and compelling rationale as to why it is actually worth going back and looking at the era of the First World War at this particular moment in time ... The Deluge reminds us, then, why we write history and why we should read it (Literary Review)
Tooze made his name with The Wages of Destruction . . . His study of the post-1918 era is equally impressive, explaining why the US and its allies, having defeated Germany, were unable to stabilize the world economy and build a collective security system in Europe (Tony Barber Financial Times BOOKS OF THE YEAR)
From the Inside Flap
In the depths of the Great War, with millions of dead and no imaginable end to the conflict, societies around the world began to buckle. As the cataclysmic battles continued, a new global order was being born.
Adam Tooze's panoramic new book tells a radical, new story of the struggle for global mastery from the battles of the Western Front in 1916 to the Great Depression of the 1930s. The war shook the foundations of political and economic order across Eurasia. Empires that had lasted since the Middle Ages collapsed into ruins. New nations sprang up. Strikes, street-fighting and revolution convulsed much of the world. And beneath the surface turmoil, the war set in motion a deeper and more lasting shift, a transformation that continues to shape the present day: 1916 was the year when world affairs began to revolve around the United States.
America was both a uniquely powerful global force: a force that was forward-looking, the focus of hope, money and ideas, and at the same time elusive, unpredictable and in fundamental respects unwilling to confront these unwished for responsibilities. Tooze shows how the fate of effectively the whole of civilization - the British Empire, the future of peace in Europe, the survival of the Weimar Republic, both the Russian and Chinese revolutions and stability in the Pacific - now came to revolve around this new power's fraught relationship with a shockingly changed world.
The Deluge is both a brilliantly illuminating exploration of the past and an essential history for the present. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
In his new book he addresses the events of 1919 to 1939, and asks 'Why did the western powers lose their grip in such a spectacular fashion?'. His thesis is that the chief culprit by far was the USA. It was America's failure to 'cooperate with the efforts of the French, British, Germans and the Japanese to stabilise the world economy and establish new institutions of collective security ' that caused the problems that emerged after the Great War ended in 1918. He denounces the USA for this. He clearly thinks little of President Wilson.
After the Armistice, an error that allowed Germany to claim she had not been defeated, representatives laboured for 6 months before signing what came to be called the Treaty of Versailles. They had faced enormously complex problems in a world fragmented and in turmoil. 65 million men had been mobilised from around the globe. At least 9 million lay dead, and some 21 million more were wounded, diseased or mutilated. It has been estimated that each day deaths on the battlefield were 10 times greater than in the American Civil War. Some 22 million civilians had been killed or wounded. Famine was rife across parts of Europe-Germany was still blockaded. In many capitals there was bitter fighting. At least 14 wars raged. Thousands of square miles of France had been devastated. In Poland, and elsewhere,there was rampant inflation-prices in Russia had risen by a factor of 400,000,000! Revolutions broke out in Germany, Hungary, Austria and Poland and in other parts of Europe. 4 Empires had collapsed. A major civil war that involved the West was being fought in Russia. Boundary changes were bewildering, and hanging over everything was nationalism fostered by the war and Wilson's 14 Points which concludes the right of self-determination. In the East, Japan was emerging as a major power and beginning to flex her military muscles on land an sea. In East Africa, the use by the Germans of guerilla tactics against the British demonstrated that the latter were not invincible.
The European economy was in ruins. Britain, and France were heavily in debt to America, as a result there was a determination to make Germany pay ludicrous reparations. The war had cost an estimated $603 billion. Gradually Europe slid into a major depression by 1920 that has almost been ignored by historians. From 1918, an influenza pandemic swept the world killing some 12 million, 5 million in India alone. It killed more Americans than did the war.
In the midst of this turmoil the peacemakers bickered and battled-often among themselves-to bring order and peace. Wilson threatened on more than one occasion to leave Paris and return home. How to deal with Germany was a major issue. The only state that emerged almost unscathed from the war was America. France and Britain were no longer world powers. This is why Tooze believes America should have used its power and led the world on a path of peace instead of withdrawing behind the walls of fortress America. His is a painstaking analysis but is he perhaps a little unfair in his attack on Wilson and those that followed him in the White House?
This reviewer thinks he is, for the following reasons:
America was not the economic and military superpower in 1918 that she was in 1945;
America had several major domestic problems of her own to deal with; the US constitution placed severe constraints on Wilson that hampered his diplomacy; Wilson's personality and beliefs about peace were in sharp conflict with many in his party and in the Republican Party, the consequences of the Civil War stiill reverberated through the land, and the sheer size and complexity of the numerous issues facing Wilson and the other peacemakers in 1918. In some respects, these were greater than those post 1945 when Germany had not only been defeated on The battlefield but occupied as well. Even then, of course, colossal errors were made by the victors.
The President was not worldly-wise. He was a scholar who was never highly regarded as a President. He suffered ill health for much of his life, and his political opponents in the Senate gave him no rest. Also we should not forget that relations between America and the other key peacemakers were at times frigid and highly suspicious. British imperialism was detested in many parts of the USA. In particular, several Republican senators were angry about our refusal to grant Ireland independence. Finally, even an historian of Tooze's stature is perhaps a little guilty at times of basking in the comfort of hindsight.
A book to be be read alongside Macmillan's outstanding 'Peacemakers', and Mulligan's 'The Great War For Peace' in order to get a balanced picture.
These books and many others demonstrate it is much more difficult to forge a peace than fight a war. The failure to ensure peace was not America's fault. It was the delberate actions of Hitler, Mussolini and the military gang in Tokyo. Even if America had not become isolationist this would not have stopped those intent on taking their frontiers for a walk. Remember also that the League, even without the US, Germany and Russia, was not a complete failure in all respects.
At Versailles, the peacemakers had no experience of formulating a peace treaty, the only 'template' available was that of Vienna in 1815, and that was useless given the conditions that faced Clemenceau and others.
Wilson denigrated the long-established European balance of power system that had been in place for the previous 100 years but his vision of a new system spelt out in his 14 Points proved to be premature. Harold Nicholson also pointed out the organisational faults of the Paris Conference, for example,the lack of coordination, the numerous committees, the haphazard agendas, the underestimation of the importance of economic matters, and the failure to take into account the needs of the smaller powers were only a few of the problems that bedevilled and prolonged the Conference. It was again Harold Nicholson who said at the time that if we had known the US would withdraw from active participation, 'the Covenant and the Reparations details would have been drafted quite differently'. He added that 'there is a tendency to expect too much from America'. How right he was.
Of the utmost importance was the fact that the key peacemakers were all politicians; they were all therefore subject to pressures from their party, the opposition, the media and the public. Time pressure was yet another problem. In the end, the Treaty of Versailles and the other treaties, were thrown together in a great flurry. Few present had even read the whole treaty on the day it was signed.
Tooze also pays insufficient attention to the fear among the peacemakers of communism spreading after the coup of 1917. Demands by Trotsky, and others for world communism did little to appease these fears. Hence, the worry that if Germany was treated too harshly she might not form the necessary barrier to the spread of communism. Foreign Office files make this all too clear. Not for nothing was communism frequently referred to as a 'virus'.
The retreat into isolationism by America was undoubtedly bad former peacemaking after 1918 but many, many other reasons contributed to the 'deluge'. The war was America's first serious encounter with European conflict and global diplomacy. She had deep suspicians about the intentions of the other Powers, an intense dislike of colonialism, a view of world justice that was both messianic and naive. America was and is a 'salad bowl' of peoples. Many were pro Germany and anti Entente. Their elected representatives reflected these views in Congress making Wilson's job all the harder.
Ironically, Tooze castigates the US for failing to pick up the leadership baton in 1918 while others attack her today for trying to act like the world's policeman. Thanks to her and the Soviet Union Hitler was defeated in 1945. During the Cold War, and various 'hot wars' since, America has, fortunately for the rest of us, used her superpower status to lead the West despite criticism, some of it justified.
Although not everyone will agree the author's judgements on a very complex, question, this is an outstanding book. Not an easy read but well worth the effort. Deserves more than 5 stars.
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