Industrial Deals Beauty Oprah's Book Club STEM nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Starting at $39.99 Wickedly Prime Handmade Wedding Shop Shop Popular Services powers4premiere powers4premiere powers4premiere  Doppler $139.99 All-New Fire 7 Kids Edition, starting at $99.99 Kindle Oasis dm3 Shop Now toystl17_gno_dm3

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

Showing 1-10 of 52 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 68 reviews
VINE VOICEon December 20, 2014
First, a comment or two on the negative reviews. The negative comments have two point- first, that the book is poorly written and edited and 2. that it is unoriginal in content.
As to the first, I can only disagree. I read nothing but scholarly nonfiction and, while Tooze is not a great writer, he is a fine writer of history.
I did not find that it could have been a much shorter book either. He is covering a lot of territory and he tries to do it justice. The only real problem I had with the editing occurs with Figure 3 on page 357. I have no idea what the Y axis represents. If anyone knows, please leave an explanation in the comments.
As for the content, while I am no expert in this period of history, I found the content to be original and fascinating. Americans of a certain age were told that Wilson tried to change what wars were fought for and how the international community would handle conflict in the aftermath of WW1. Tooze's story is more complicated, nuanced and believable.
Tooze's basic theme is the recasting of American power in the aftermath of WW1. America through its military, economic and cultural strength(by which I mean the appeal of Wilsonianism) was able to provincialize (Tooze's ugly word) Europe. America was economically able to veto or render impotent many of the governmental policies of Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, China and Russia. The fact that there was real differences of opinion between the Congress and the Presidents (Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover) which made it difficult for the other powers to know what to expect from the U.S. in terms of consistent policy made it that much harder for any of them to know what to do.
I feel that Tooze tells his story with great understanding of the individual politics of each of the above countries. We read how the Irish conflict and the struggle of Indian independence limited Britain's options, of the different parties contending for power in Japan and of the struggles for control by different factions of Chinese warlords and parties. We also get a good sense on how the business and political communities in each country clashed over policy.
As stated above, I am no expert. If there is a book that tells this story better and more comprehensively, I wish the critics would name it so I can read it. What I can tell you is that this book has driven me to read some of his sources. Tooze has awakened my interest in this period of history by exposing my ignorance. For that, I bow in his direction.
1515 comments| 96 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 11, 2014
It seems the central themes are 1) economic power and public policy shaped the course of The Great War far more than is the conventional wisdom and 2) far from being an isolationist Wilson and successors aggressively sought to achieve hegemony, particularly at the expense of Britain, by ending Imperialism and employing early twentieth century American capitalism to create the great American empire. Much of the book I found compelling, however I felt at times the author made important assertions supporting his themes that did not necessarily follow from the facts as presented. My reading of this period suggests the incredibly complex dynamics preclude attribution to the flow of this history to just these factors. Still, for me a terrific read.
0Comment| 20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 18, 2016
Adam Tooze is a British historian, and a professor at Columbia University. He writes a largely economic history of the 1916-1931 period. His book is not an easy read. The prose is dense and his narrative can be confusing, but there is a lot of fascinating information. By the end, Tooze leads you to conclude that America’s disengagement from global affairs after WW1 resulted in the world becoming a more dangerous place. However, Europe went a little mad between 1918 and 1945. The U.S. probably could not have prevented the rise of fascism and communism, and it did not really want to try.

In 1916 America had become the world's largest economy and it was the banker to France and Britain. Tooze starts the book in 1916 because that was the year when the GDP of the U.S. exceeded that of the British Empire for the first time. In 1914 the U.S. was not yet part of the European diplomatic conversation, but after 1916 Tooze claims that “American economic might would be the decisive factor in the shaping of the world order.”

Before 1914 the European empires had usually kept the peace around the world. That world order was irrevocably shattered, firstly by the war, and secondly by the economic weakness and political instability of Europe in the 1920s. Germany was a mess. The Austrian and Ottoman Empires had been dismantled by the Allies. France ceased to be a major power, although it still had an empire. Russia succumbed to a revolution in 1917 and then fought a civil war. It became inward-looking during the 1916-1931 period as it implemented communism. Britain was the last European power standing, but it was also broke. Under the 1923 settlement of British war debt, London had to pay $4.6bn to the US at an interest rate of 3.3%. The annual payment of £162m was equivalent to the British national education budget. Tooze also blames Britain and France for living in the past and not realizing the days of the empire would soon be over. Britain and France took on responsibilities in the Middle East that they could no longer afford.

President Wilson wanted to end imperialism and saw the Europeans as a problem. Tooze states that "the world he wanted to create was one in which the exceptional position of America at the head of world civilization would be inscribed on the gravestone of European power.” At the 1919 peace conference, he pushed for American hegemony and dominance. He also wanted “the collective humbling of all the European powers.” The departure of the Europeans from the world stage would create a power vacuum, which the U.S. was unwilling to fill. Wilson had encouraged nationalism and self-determination throughout the world and this created tensions. The IRA and Gandhi were fans of Wilson. Wilson lacked support at home and Congress was reluctant for the U.S. to assume a leadership role. It preferred isolationism. Congress did not ratify the Versailles peace treaty and refused to join the League of Nations. The U.S. also declined to underwrite collective security arrangements in Europe and contributed to its economic problems via its treatment of war debt and the Wall Street Crash.

A popular assumption is that the Treaty of Versailles inflicted such cruel reparation terms on the Germans that WW2 was inevitable. Tooze does not believe that the payment of reparations necessarily turned Germany into a failed state. It did not have much external debt. He believes what crushed Germany was the Wall Street Crash in 1929. The collapse of the world economy plunged Germany into economic and political chaos. In 1932, the unemployment rate in Germany was worse than that in the U.S. Tooze believes that the Great Depression led to Hitler’s electoral victory in 1933.

Authoritarianism began eclipsing liberal democracy across Europe in the 1920s, and by 1939 many countries were run by dictators or strongmen. For example, Poland's new democracy, created in 1921, was ended by an army coup in 1926. During the 1920s and 1930s Japan, Italy, Germany, and the Soviet Union, expanded their political and economic influence by force and threat. Many Europeans seemed to find fascism and communism attractive options. By the 1930s France and Britain could only deter any new German aggression with American support, and that was not forthcoming.

Tooze leaves you with the nagging suspicion that had America assumed a more active role in global affairs after WW1 things might have turned have out differently. Tooze gives us the American perspective and explains the pressures and motivations behind U.S. behavior. Tooze is critical of Wilson but he also believes that pre-WW2 America was not ready to assume a leading global role. However, in 1945 the U.S. took an active role in the rebuilding of post-war Europe and we have had peace and prosperity.​
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 19, 2015
Cambridge-Yale historian Adam Tooze has long been a master at his craft - one can't call it a mere profession. This work supplements his earlier "Wages of Destruction" in defining the post-1918 Versailles world, by taking us back to its origins in WW I and forward to its collapse fifteen years later. Yet for all his elegance in form and exquisite detail of research - making it worthy of four stars - I have to withhold the fifth because his perspective is not an "original revision" at all. It boils down to a fairly conventional tour over well-trod paths. Three main points leaped at me as proof.

First, in Wilson's about-face regarding European war, Tooze would have us believe it was the great threat of German militarism to liberal values - combined with the democratic liberation of the Russian Revolution - that tipped his hat into the ring. Yet as David Kennedy makes clear in "Over Here," Wilson had already decided on war by late 1916, to the dismay of his early Progressive supporters. His electoral rhetoric of that year must stand beside Lyndon Johnson in 1964 in the records of campaign duplicity. Tooze himself lets it out of the bag when he recognizes that the specter of French and British default on war loans - should Germany prevail - would cause such havoc on Wall Street that it might have led to a Great Depression 12 years earlier. Thus Wilson was "forced" into intervention by factors that had nothing to do with the safety of Democracy, unless defined by dollar value.

Which brings me to Professor Tooze's take on the Russian Revolution, again treated in conventional Western manner. Tooze does offer some half-forgotten insights - that the revolutionary defensists of the Provisional Government echoed Wilson's earlier idealism; and that Wilson's surrender to war left them holding the globe of peace on shoulders much too frail. Yet the collapse of Western democracy in Russia was more fundamental than the trope of "Bolshevik subversion" Tooze reiterates. Russian politicos tried to create a Western-style middle-class democracy in a country without an appreciable middle class. The rise of soviets represented a bottom-up, direct style of self-rule suited to workers, peasants, minorities and soldiers who were as segregated from official state and society as Delta sharecroppers. It's revealing that Tooze does not once use the term "soviet democracy," the ubiquitous phrase throughout 1917. It was in this breach of opposing, class-based definitions that Lenin found his opportunity. And also in Kerensky's Wilsonian hope, in continuing the Tzar's war over the wishes of those forced to fight it, that Allied victory in Germany would rescue Russian democracy before collapse.. This proved as vain as Lenin's own hope for socialist revolution in Germany (but with better luck for him).

This is also demonstrated in the elections to the Russian Constituent Assembly in late 1917. Yes, it was the greatest uncorrupted example of participatory, representative democracy to date, shadowed by Lenin rather than the US Supreme Court. But Tooze makes a common mistake in believing this process, as reflected in party lists, represented reality on the ground. The Russian voter was more radicalized than the leaderships of these parties - whose ad hoc frailty should not be forgotten. Neither did his participation mean a disavowal of the October insurrection. The canny peasant voter - and many workers and soldiers with him - sought to play both against the middle by voting his choice on one hand, and with the other accepting whatever the new Soviet Power could give him. That Lenin made short-run good on slogans of land and peace had as much to do with the "loss of democracy" in Russia as closing down the Tauride Palace by force of arms, and explains why the latter was possible. The Russian Democrats feared the Constituent Assembly would be too radical, as Lenin feared it would be too "bourgeois." The Provisional Government, as good middle class liberals, repeatedly postponed it because they feared "the dark people" - the unwashed, illiterate, incitable masses of the villages, factories, and barracks - as much as they did the Germans,

Finally, Tooze seems to exclude the US itself from the class of political revolutionaries who upended the postwar order. FDR's New Deal was right up there with the New Orders of Hitler, Stalin, and Japan in its radical recoordination of state and capital and in crash militarism. Tooze seems to feel that since no overt political revolution or bloodpurge was necessary in the US its democratic continuity remained. Yet the American "power state" he ascribes to the post-WW II world arose in the late 30s based on a military-industrial nexus, exactly as in the revolutionary triumvirate above. It's revealing that in Washington no revolution needed betrayal, no democracy overthrown, to do so.
0Comment| 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 16, 2015
I found this to be an excellent work of scholarship that navigates a chaotic period really well. What stood out for me was the multi-dimensional perspective that the author takes. He provides a compelling analysis of the "balance of power" and complex interactions among the relevant variables (military, economic, political, etc.). He sketches a credible worldview (cultural biases, fears, ideology, etc.) of the key actors, which helps explain the decisions they took and the uncertainty they faced. What was clear from the book, for example, was that many actors did not understand the paradigm shift that was at play when the US stepped into the power vacuum vacated by the European powers. Lastly, I was impressed by his handle on economic issues. Combined with the socio-political angle, the analysis can help clarify the economic history of the period (which many economists still struggle with when relying on standard theories).

In terms of reading experience, it feels a little bit uneven. I suspect that the book has been condensed significantly by the editors. Hence, it doesn't transition smoothly always. Some readers did not like the style as it is more academic. For me this is not an issue as I am interested in the analysis. In sum, (mis-)using Isaiah Berlin's categorization, this book gives an excellent multi-faceted fox like view of the period. Readers who want a simpler story-like narrative will probably find it boring.
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 29, 2017
The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916 – 1931 by Adam Tooze is a remarkable book. Quite easy to read and full of insights about the Great War, and its aftermath, right up to today. Yes, our modern world of 2017 is deeply affected by World War One.

Tooze advances many questions that he answers, sometimes necessarily at length, but one I find provocative is, did declaring a perpetual peace imply a profoundly conservative commitment to upholding the status quo?

This question about preserving the status quo is crucial. France, desperate to control Germany, saw the status quo as an existential issue. The Germans, Japanese, and Italians, among others, considered themselves have-not nations and they were going to change that status. If they could not ascend to the summit of world power peacefully, then they would turn to war. The Soviet Union decided to foment worldwide communist revolution and sent its agents to carry that out. By disrupting the status quo, held to by the victors, these nations would rip away the power of the elites for themselves.

Of course, the paths were disjointed. The USSR and Germany may have had a similar idea, to smash the status quo, but the communists were tearing down capitalism while the Germans were tearing at the superior power of their opponents. All the outs, Germany, Japan, Italy, the USSR, and others, had plans to overthrow the system established after WWI and replace it with another, but the various “outs” all had divergent ideas about what the nature of a changed order would look like.

Tooze hits on the major problem of WWI’s aftershock in his introduction, and follows it through to the Great Depression with a focused mind. The problem, as stated by Tooze: “If the idea of reordering the world around a single power bloc and a common set of liberal, ‘Western’ values seemed like a radical historical departure, this is precisely what made the outcome of World War I so dramatic.”

That upset the apple cart. The victors of WWI were going to change the world, prevent another holocaust, and spread the ideas of liberty; although they differed on what liberty meant. What the author effectively points out is a lot of other world leaders simply did not like what appeared as a western cabal oozing power. With the US pulling away and fracturing the west, the power of the group plunged incredibly. Tooze closely examines the derailment of liberalism in the 1920s and, in an in-depth analysis, explains what went wrong on a worldwide basis.

The victors of WWI failed to establish a stable economic foundation for their new creation. The Great War had cost so much that the old economic order was in shambles. Then the victors decided the vanquished – which ended up being Germany alone – would pay for it all. The fact that Germany was smashed and had no money bothered few in political power at the time, even if it bothered leading economists a lot. By walking away after Versailles with no economic arrangement they imperiled their liberal experiment. Arguments over German repatriations scarred every political aspect of the 1920s, and the inflexibility of the US on repayments of war loans destroyed any chance of fixing the problems. The French were destitute and wanted US war loans forgiven. The US would not consider it. Germany was starving and impoverished and could not pay France the required repatriations, some of which would have gone to repay US war loans. In the 1930’s the repatriation and war loan problem was solved by recycling. The US sent money to Germany, who sent it to France, who sent it back to the US. Tooze is able to explain in detail how this ludicrous funding problem harmed the world dramatically.

On top of all this, the western world was goaded to return to the gold standard and the resulting deflation hurt recovering economies and, if Tooze is correct, may have been a key factor bringing on the Great Depression. The economic and political problems of WWI combined to crack the world order based on a single power block of liberalism and capitalism.

The Deluge is one of the best books on WWI and its consequences that you can read. Tooze’s book on the Nazi economy, The Wages of Destruction is also excellent. Another outstanding book on the run up to World War I is Dreadnaught by Robert K. Massie. Massie’s book on the Great War, Castles of Steel is good, although I preferred his pre-war analysis in Dreadnaught. For an overview of the effects of WWI on the USA a must read is David Kennedy’s, Over Here. If you are looking for a good analysis of the fighting itself, I recommend The Great War, Strategies and Tactics of the First World War, part of the West Point Military History series edited by Thomas E. Griess. The American Way of War, by Weigley, has a chapter on WWI that is worth reading. My book, The Super Summary of World History, Revised, has chapters on WWI and WWII that I think are the best in my book. I might be prejudice.

I highly recommend The Deluge.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 24, 2016
I enjoyed this book very much. It took me almost two months to read it but I made underlines or marginal notes on almost every page. It covers a period of history right in the middle of my wheelhouse of interest and yet I still learned a lot The book ambitiously stakes out what almost amounts to a history of the world between 1916 and 1931 with impressive amounts of attention given to internal political and economic events in China, Japan, and Russia as well as Germany, France, Italy, England and the US. The author provides deeper definition to the history of this time-period. By drilling down to specifics and avoiding some of the two-dimensional cartoonish images we might have about what happened at that time we learn that there was a lot more complexity than the casual student of history might think. One theme (that the author does not necessarily stress but that I picked up on) is the seemingly enormous influence and power of the JP Morgan bank in New York over international political events during this time, indirectly making decisions that could cause foreign governments to fall or survive, and creating good fortune or misery in various global hot spots depending on the bank’s decisions. The author also helpfully distinguishes between the immediate 10 years after the war up until about 1930 or so versus the decade of the 1930s preceding World War II. He argues that it is unhelpful to simply talk about the “interwar period” because the 20s and 30s were very different from each other. In the 1920s there was still a hope for a “liberal peace” among free democracies governed by liberal principles. The 1930s in contrast was dominated by the authoritarian rogue states of Germany, Russia, Japan, and Italy which were trying to challenge the Anglo-American world hegemony.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the subject. Tooze – although an academic scholar - writes in a breezy, readable, almost journalistic style. All of his points are well-documented and footnoted and there is an extensive set of notes and bibliography at the back of the book.

Regrettably, as seems increasingly the case these days, the book would have strongly benefited from sharper-eyed editorial review and proofreading. It is marred by various annoying mistakes such as indicating that the Versailles Treaty of 1919 was signed by Germany 50 years to the date after the formation of the German Empire. The math doesn't add up: 1919 was only 48 years after the 1871 formation of the German Empire. This to mention only one of the minor errors that pop up annoyingly, such as a reference made to someone being the US Secretary of the Treasury when in fact he was not but instead a deputy or assistant in that cabinet department. I also am fairly certain there are times that years get misstated, 1923 cited when 1922 was meant – that kind of thing. Plus there's a certain repetitive overuse of words and phrases – the author continually refers to individuals or nations indulging in "fantasies" about this or that. Alternative ways of saying the same thing would've made for simply a better written English language work. Some historic personalities are fully introduced twice within a matter of pages while others are mentioned by last name only and we are never told who they are. It's just a problem with a lot of books these days.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 15, 2015
World War I, the Allied leaders, President Wilson, The Treaty of Versailles, Japan, China, and the Russian Revolution. This is one of the best telling of the decisions, disputes, deceptions, and disappointments that resulted from the post-WWI settlements I've ever read. This is not a re-hash of the usual "Idealistic Wilson" being taken in by the "wise, angry, vengeful Europeans." It is one of the most in-depth and wide-ranging accounts of the period after WWI. Tooze details the difficult decisions that had to be made as well as the complex interaction of emotion and history that led to results few could anticipate. In fact, knowing that World War II is just down the road almost makes this work a Shakespearean tragedy as much as it is a brilliant documentation of the struggle to come to grips with how to handle a defeated Germany.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 9, 2014
A must read for any serious student of the twentieth century. Well written and totally engaging Tooze takes on a review across disciplines with insightful analysis buttressing epic views of global events.
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 18, 2016
Adam Tooze brings new research and insights to a story that I thought I already knew pretty well. As a result much of America's self-description of how the United States came in the 20th century to dominate the world economy and world politics has to be re-examined. Adam's description of the Woodrow Wilson administration in particular neatly turns the accepted narrative on its head. This is a must read for those who would like to understand some emerging 21st century views on the first of the two major 20th century world wars
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse