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Between the Wars by Philip Ziegler: 1919 says "Haha like that'll ever happen again." 1939 says ಠ_ಠ




HO BOY. World War I and World War II. What happened between them! Philip Ziegler can tell you. Some of it, anyway.

If history isn't even really your thing, this book feels particularly timely, as it shows how the unthinkable occurred. There's a reason World War I used to be called the Great War. Everyone thought 'Well, this was the absolute worst NO WHERE TO GO BUT UP FROM HERE.'






The thing is, most people nowadays, except for those who have a complete set of Churchill's The Second World War (my parents have two sets in case you need one) pretty much think of WWII as England/France/America vs Germany/Italy/Japan. And then Russia's kind of running back and forth between them, like a confused kid playing Red Rover.

I loved having a more expansive view of the year "between the wars" opened up to me. I didn't know SHIT about Picasso's Guernica. I didn't know anything about the actual Guernica that inspired it. I didn't know about General Franco's  rise to power. I didn't know anything about the conflict between China and Japan and how China's Nationalists and Communists were fighting tooth and claw for dominance. High school history classes don't cover it all and as you grow up, your interests specialize.

Which is why I love essay collections and broad overviews. I tend to read highly specialized books (see Lucretia Mott's Heresy: Abolition and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America) and while those are great for drilling down into a subset of an already narrow topic, sometimes you need to zoom out and look at a macro version of events.

The way Between the Wars does it is kind of the best of both worlds, because it covers the globally-related countries involved in WWII, but it zooms into specific issues they were dealing with in particular years (example chapter: The Fascists Take Madrid1939).

Ziegler is an English author born in 1929, so the book is a little England-focused, but since England was a prime player in all this, that seems fine. There's also a SLIGHT question around his feelings on the Jewish people. Not to a shocking extent, but more of an Annie from Community reaction:




I could do with more history books like this, split up into essays about topics that all dovetail together into one suddenly unavoidable event. Between the Wars: you will learn things.

Comments

  1. I should probably learn something about this time because yeah I know pretty much nothing. And it seems important. Not just because of now but OMG especially because of now

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