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Review: Between the Wars by Philip Ziegler

Purchase on  Amazon

Purchase on Amazon


At the end of 1918 one prescient American historian began to write a history of the Great War. "What will you call it?" he was asked. "The First World War," was his bleak response.

In Between the Wars Philip Ziegler examines the major international turning points - cultural and social as well as political and military - that led the world from one war to another. His approach is panoramic, touching on all parts of the world where history was being made, examining Gandhi's March to the Sea and the Chaco War in South America alongside Hitler's rise to power.

It is the tragic story of a world determined that the horrors of the First World War would never be repeated, yet committed to a path which in hindsight was inevitably destined to end in a second, even more devastating conflict.

Each chapter bears the unmistakable stamp of Ziegler's scholarship: a keen eye for the telling anecdote, elegant and fluid prose, and calm and fair judgments. In a world that grows ever more uncertain, its perspective on how hopes of peace can dissolve into the promise of war becomes more relevant with each passing day.


I have always been deeply interested in history, with all things considered it can be both great insight into the future and into the past, and so I think that it's great for folks to delve into it to better understand our world and the troubles we face. Between the Wars is a book, one of considerable ambition and enthusiasm, that delves into the years following the First World War and ending before the Second, giving historical readers a great overview of a time that has been highly overshadowed by the times before and after.

Between The Wars, in my opinion, is an absolutely great primer for learning more about the early 20th century. The author does a stellar job at trying to point out ways in which these events inevitably had an effect on the following World War. Another truly wonderful thing you can get out of this book is a list of events, people, and things to look more in depth at at your own leisure. The chapter on James Joyce was especially interesting to me as someone interested in literature, because it raises the theory that art reflects society and Ulysses was certainly a book of disorder.

Of course with these sorts of books, events and whatnot must be picked by the discretion of the writer and I am not in anyway an in-depth historical buff, so it is difficult for me to say if he picks out the most pertinent points. I will say that from my perspective as someone casually interested in history, the book was a very intriguing read and really helped shed some bright light on a time period that's always been deeply overshadowed.

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