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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Think you know what happened in the run up to and the first three years of World War II?, 15 Aug. 2010
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This review is from: Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization (Paperback)
Think you know what happened in the run up to and the first three years of World War II? Nicholson Baker will make you think again. Baker has trawled through newspapers, books, diaries and other accounts from the time, revealing that during the war, many people thought very differently to what was going on than is common today.

The book has been widely criticised for being selective in its use of source material, but the exclusion of what Baker brings to the table by the vast majority of other accounts exposes the rest of the literature as no better.

Churchill and Roosevelt come across as war mongers on a par with Hitler, using war to further their own careers - and even personal enjoyment at times. Baker finds many contemporary voices against war from Jewish, Quaker and secular communities. The war itself is not heroic, and not the simple good vs evil battle that we so often comfort ourselves that it was. It was "The End of Civilization" that Baker subtitles the book.

As ever Baker's writing is of a light touch, but filled with his own passion for what he is writing about. Don't expect an "objective" read. It isn't fiction, but it is not journalism either. I hope this isn't Baker's last foray into historical material.

An excellent account.
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