Fracture: Life and Culture in the West, 1918-1938 Paperback – 7 Sep 2017
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An enthralling masterpiece, epic in scale and human in detail... Blom is a masterly storyteller, with a taste for atmosphere and drama, continually finding new angles, details and juxtapositions... Tremendous -- Alwyn W. Turner * Daily Telegraph * Vivid as its individual parts are, Fracture succeeds in being more than a gathering of illuminating details... He makes a strong case and makes it elegantly. Like other good popular histories, Fracture will make the uninitiated think, and the initiated think twice. -- Kevin Jackson * Literary Review * Blom delivers an orderly sense of the maelstrom of incidents and ideas with panache. * Financial Times * [An] eminently readable tome full of splendid anecdotal detail. Mr. Blom's ability to convey a mood and to synthesize complex issues, is admirable... Anyone reading this book today in the context of our own culture of doubt will feel an immediate affinity to the anxious and even desperate celebration of life that it portrays * Wall Street Journal * A fluent, often entertaining account of the period * New York Times * [A] thoughtful portrait of the interwar years... this well-written account brings a refreshing clarity to such uncertain times. * Publishers Weekly (starred review) * A book to be absorbed, marveled at and admired for the wide range of research linking events and thoughts. * Kirkus Reviews *
A sweeping and vibrant history of Europe and America during the inter-war years, by the acclaimed author of The Vertigo Years.See all Product description
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The inter war history shown in Fractured, paints a world faced with serious moral and political problems. They are both well worth reading. The people, the history and the social currents are are well illustrated in the various chapters. Each chapter looks at society from a different prospective. The Vertigo Years should be read first.
What does it mean to be "beautifully crafted"? For one thing, the epigraphs are poignant. Here are some short excerpts: "… World history has broken into two halves. There is time before me. And a time after me …" (Hugo Ball, p. vii) or "… the abyss of history is deep enough to hold us all." (Paul Valery, p. 39). And then suddenly there are chapters without epigraphs, because those chapters highlight topics such as Stalin's ravaging of the Ukraine by both starvation and purge, episodes that defy easy or pithy encapsulation. Blum realizes that no quip can do that type of inhumanity justice.
For another thing, the best writing often conveys not just information but also viscerally impacts the reader (who didn't experience sheer horror while reading Bugliosi's "Helter Skelter" or a sense of oppression and anger while reading Victor Klemperer's diaries?). So too with Blom's effort. As Western Civilization desperately searches for something to believe in we feel the anxiety and restlessness of people turning to fascism and racial nationalism as central tenets (and like a Greek chorus who foresees the outcome we want to shout, "No").
The book appropriately places extraordinary emphasis on avant-guarde and nascent political cultures as leading indicators of mass sentiment. The consequences seem to flow quite naturally from their lead. Ideas matter and narratives matter, while unintended consequences lurk nearby (which is something to keep in mind, perhaps).
The writing is superb throughout, while the author expresses an impressive historical sensibility. A sentence from the book's excellent Epilogue serves as a good example: "Modernity, it turns out, stubbornly remains morally neutral as it continues to unfold and to change our identities with every passing day" (p. 406).
'Fracture' cannot serve as a stand-alone history of the interwar years and readers will benefit from knowledge acquired from other credible sources, but 'Fracture' achieves something rare: it expresses a perspective on those years in an original and powerful way, it frames this fateful era, and it can cause us to confront the "drivers" of history (then and now). Read it!
Many people not involved in the War were still subject to dysfunction from technology and the concentration of population into city life from rural farmland. The term neurasthenia was originally a term used exclusively for men who were having issues of coping with urban life.
The text is far ranging and far reaching. It knit together a fabric of social analysis that was unknown to me.
Lucid, colorful, and infinitely readable, this is an excellent work, along with the author's A WICKED COMPANY and THE VERTIGO YEARS.
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