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Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II Paperback – July 2, 2013
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“A superb and immensely important book.” ―The Washington Post
“A breathtaking, numbing account of the physical and moral desolation that plagued Europe in the late 1940s. Authoritative but never dry, stripping away soothing myths of national unity and victimhood, this is a painful but necessary historical task superbly done.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Lowe's work, thoroughly researched and written with scrupulous objectivity, promises to be the year's best book on European history.” ―Financial Times (London)
“Deeply harrowing. Moving, measured, and provocative. A compelling picture of a continent physically and morally brutalized by slaughter.” ―The Sunday Times (London)
“A graphic and chilling account of the murderous vengeance, terroristic reprisals, and ferocious ethnic cleansing that gripped Europe following--and often as a direct continuation of--the Second World War. Keith Lowe's excellent book paints a little-known and frightening picture of a continent in the embrace of lawlessness, chaos, and unconstrained violence.” ―Ian Kershaw, author of The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1944–1945
“Savage Continent is a powerful and disturbing book, painstakingly researched and written with both authority and an impressive historical sweep.” ―James Holland, author of Italy's Sorrow and The Battle of Britain
About the Author
Keith Lowe is the author of two novels and the critically acclaimed history Inferno: The Fiery Devastation of Hamburg, 1943. He is widely recognized as an authority on the Second World War, and has often spoken on TV and radio, both in Britain and the United States. Most recently he was an historical consultant and one of the main speakers in the PBS documentary The Bombing of Germany which was also broadcast in Germany. His books have been translated into several languages, and he has also lectured in Britain, Canada and Germany. He lives in North London with his wife and two kids.
Top Customer Reviews
This book,which comes to fill in this void, has four main parts and its main theme is that of vengeance. Its other themes are those of displacement, famines, moral destruction, rape and civil wars.
In other words, after WW2 there was an atmosphere of chaos and violence almost everywhere and people decided to take the law into their hands. It was also the time to settle old scores. Yogoslav partisans decided to cut off the noses of their opponents, while Sudeten Germans were butchered in Czechoslovakia. Dutch and Belgian collaborators were summarily executed and their houses were set on fire, while in Italy the bodies of Fascists were displayed in the streets where they could be spat at by passers-by. In Hungary, members of the far-right Arrow Cross were forced to exume mass Jewish graves in very hot weather while local people threw sticks and stones at them. In France, clandestine prisons were set up where suspected collaborators were subjected to multiple forms of sadism including mutilation, rape, enforced prostitution and every type of torture imaginable.
This book is also about the history of ethnic cleansing and inter-communal and political violence. Poland harnessed the wartime hatred for Ukrainians to launch a program of expulsion and forced assimilation. Slovaks, Hungarians and Romanians embarked on a series of population exchange.
Take, for example, Berlin. It was there where Hannelore Thiele was raped by seven in a row, "like animals".Read more ›
Author Keith Lowe brings home the terror of these early post-war years:
* He describes the near-total destruction of European cities. Some cities like Warsaw had nearly 100% of their housing stock destroyed and most of their pre-war populations obliterated. They might as well have been vaporized with hydrogen bombs. The prewar economy in all of Central and Western Europe was defunct due to loss of life, worthless currencies, and obliteration of urban and industrial infrastructure. America did its part to restore economic order in Europe with billions of dollars of aid via the Marshall Plan, but this took several years to produce results.
* People resorted to desperate means to survive even in places where the war ended relatively early, such as Southern Italy. Lowe illustrates degrading scenes like those in Italian railway stations and public buildings where hundreds of Italian women lined up to prostitute themselves on the public benches for American soldiers who traded sex for a tin of rations. Later on this happened in Germany. This was a time of starvation rations when the lifeline of many families depended on having a young woman in the household to trade for sex.Read more ›
Here is the story of many of these conflicts, something that Americans are not so familiar with. For example, Yugoslavia, Greece and Italy had "partisans" who fought the Germans, and after the war continued, were unwilling to lay down arms and still at war with factions. Yugoslavia was created as a country under strongman Tito, but ultimately broke apart in more bitter civil war decades later, after Tito's death.
Disease and privation was rampant--though we remember the Berlin airlift, other parts of Europe saw diseases of starvation such as pellagra (a niacin deficiency) --especially in Romania where corn is a staple and processed corn is notably lacking in that nutrient.
More disruption and violence; a civil war in Greece, the subjugation of Eastern Europe under the Soviet bloc. It's all in this worthy history and lest we forget how Europe formed itself, with blood and tears after the worst war in its history, we should read this and remember. Recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very good, if grim. Filled in some history I was missing.Published 12 days ago by Pamela M. Campbell
This book brings some relevance to the conflicts that we face today, also, shows the nature of humanity, how mean humans can be.Published 1 month ago by Karim Mansouri
Excellent book. Hard to take. Brutal. Honest. And important that we know this .Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
A truly fascinating book that delves into the relatively unknown and violent events that occurred in the aftermath of the War.Published 1 month ago by A. Murphy
Wow, I thought of the European aftermath as food & housing shortages &, of course, I had seen the movie "Exodus. Read morePublished 1 month ago by georgina
- accounting of what is still officially lauded as "The Good War." Author Keith Lowe has provided a comprehensive survey of the "war after the War" that sought,... Read morePublished 2 months ago by R. L. Huff
Savage Continent by Keith Lowe is an interesting book because it presents a very compelling case that the history that Americans know and learned throughout school is wrong. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Michael Griswold
It's no accident that this book was chosen as one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post in 2012. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Halma21