Small Wars, Far Away Places: The Genesis of the Modern World 1945-65 Paperback – Unabridged, 13 Mar 2014
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Superb, scholarly, insightful and often witty ... magnificent (Literary Review)
Terrific ... Burleigh writes with a keen eye for self-righteousness, hypocrisy and unintended consequences. He is quite brilliant at puncturing the vanities of history's great and good. (Dominic Sandbrook Evening Standard)
A brilliant, complex, contradictory story, replete with character and incident, pungent and pithy and refreshingly free of preaching ... the author delights in the detail, the small moment illustrating a large truth (Ben Macintyre The Times)
Vividly written and stimulating ... the raw truth, conveyed in scintillating language by a master of historical irony and of the grimly entertaining. If history for grown-ups is what you're after, this is it. (George Walden Sunday Telegraph)
Burleigh is an equal opportunity moralist, not an ideologue, and he stalks his prey with feline grace ... This is a story of personalities as much as one of geopolitical shifts, and Burleigh is a master of bringing it alive with sharp character insights. (Christopher Sylvester Financial Times)
The violent geopolitical shifts of the immediate postwar years constitute a dramatic saga, which Burleigh recounts with panache and wit ... lucid and persuasive. (Piers Brendon The Sunday Times)
Burleigh is the don of elegant, historical writing and every vignette in this book is arresting. His ability to command his material is truly breathtaking ... damnably good. (John Lewis-Stempel Sunday Express)
Harsh and vivid (Max Hastings Financial Times)
Magnificent and entertaining (Daily Express)
None of these stories is new, but the rich detail with which Burleigh writes, as well as his piercing analysis, makes them seem so. He nails his cast of politicians, generals and revolutionaries to the page in a series of ruthlessly observed character sketches ... as a description of the way imperial power drained from Europe to America, his book is quite brilliant. (Keith Lowe Mail on Sunday)
Longlisted for the 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize, a trenchant and thought-provoking account of the death of empire by one of our finest historiansSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
So the work has broad sweep and is put in the context of trends in global history. At the same time it goes nitty-gritty and engages with the characters that participated and shaped events. The book does not look to put all these conflicts in one bucket but rather identifies how people shaped events and some conflicts turned out better than others.
Nuanced and entertaining, I do hope Michael Burleigh publishes again soon. Given that Burleigh's career-defining topic has been political religion, perhaps he could have a look at the monetary policies of the twentieth century and where they have led us....
The range of conflicts covered is impressive: Algeria, Congo, Cuba, the Hungarian revolution, Indo-China, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Kenya, Korea, Malaya, the Philippines, Rhodesia, the Suez crisis, & culminating in Vietnam. There are also concise and illuminating (and critical) summaries of leaders who shaped the postwar world, including Castro, Churchill, de Gaulle, Eden, Eisenhower, Ho Chi Mihn, Kennedy, Khruschev, Macmillan, Mao, Stalin, & Truman.
As a consequence Burleigh shows how and why the peoples of many undeveloped nations now distrust or even hate the West - his book explains so much about the antagonistic state of the world in the 21st century. (Especially relevant to current international affairs is the account of how MI6 & the CIA manipulated Iranian politics to keep Oil under the control of British & American oil companies.) I have found it an illuminating and insightful survey, and rank it among the most important books on Modern History I have read over the past decade. Five stars doesn't do it justice.
He is particularly scathing about the British action in Kenya and the attitude of the settlers who were apparently loathed as arrogant upstarts by just about everyone up to and including Winston Churchill. He notes that the number of settlers murdered was less than those killed in road accidents this is not particularly relevant. It is one thing to have a friend or family member killed in a road accident and quite another to have to watch ones children chopped to pieces from the feet upwards or ones women staked out and raped to death. No mention that more Africans suffered at the hands of the Mau Mau than European settlers.
As someone who lived through the Che Guevara era he confirms that he was as arrogant and incompetent as one gets and completely wrecked the Cuban economy. He notes he ordered a Cuban industrialist to turn over his property or have his sons shot causing the man to commit suicide. Not surprising then that one of the mans sons was a leading member of the CIA team that finished him off.
Against all local advice he took himself off to Africa to push his brand of revolution among people who believed magic water was proof against bullets and would not dig foxholes as it would disturb the spirits of the dead..Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A brilliant insight into the politics of empire and the rise og cold war geopolitics.Published 10 months ago by paul schofield
I enjoyed reading this, but it is a bit light on original sources for reference or substance. A witty, engaging writer with perhaps a less formal style, although the character... Read morePublished 14 months ago by catholic reader
I found this a very readable book. I would agree with other reviewers when they point out that there is nothing particularly new in terms of historical content. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Nico
I thought this book was well written and covered a broad range of subjects; admiitedly some of them in not too much depth, but enough to encourage the reader to seek out more... Read morePublished on 2 July 2014 by Jilted John
I felt thoroughly depressed after reading this book and began to wonder whether Britain would have suffered greater humiliation had we thrown out lot in with Hitler!Published on 23 April 2014 by J. Rutley
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