The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West

The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West

Niall Ferguson

Language: English

Pages: 880

ISBN: 0143112392

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West

Niall Ferguson

Language: English

Pages: 880

ISBN: 0143112392

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Astonishing in its scope and erudition, this is the magnum opus that Niall Ferguson's numerous acclaimed works have been leading up to. In it, he grapples with perhaps the most challenging questions of modern history: Why was the twentieth century history's bloodiest by far? Why did unprecedented material progress go hand in hand with total war and genocide? His quest for new answers takes him from the walls of Nanjing to the bloody beaches of Normandy, from the economics of ethnic cleansing to the politics of imperial decline and fall. The result, as brilliantly written as it is vital, is a great historian's masterwork.

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of able-bodied Germans into the armed forces meant that Germany itself began to be ‘colonized’ by foreign workers. The number in the Reich rose from 301,000 in 1939 (less than 1 per cent of all employees) to around two million in the autumn of 1940, to more than seven million by 1944 – nearly a fifth of the workforce. They came from all over Europe, some voluntarily, others under duress: from Belgium, Denmark, France, Holland and Italy; from Hungary and Yugoslavia too. At first, it was skilled

never visited the Soviet Union, Hitler’s visions of Lebensraum were a strange mélange of Lives of a Bengal Lancer and the cowboy yarns of Karl May – part North-West Frontier, part Wild West. Curiously, in view of his commitment to the idea of an empire of colonial settlement in Eastern Europe, he seems to have found the former rather more attractive as a model for his own empire. In Mein Kampf, he made much of the ruthlessness of British rule in India, which he contrasted with German naivety on

shooting of PoWs after they had given themselves up in battle would be…a stiffening of the enemy’s resistance, because every Red Army soldier fears German captivity’. Orders against ‘senseless shootings’ went largely unheeded by soldiers on the ground, however. Indeed, the practice of prisoner killing became routine: ‘We take some prisoners, we shoot them, all in a day’s work.’ The fear of retaliation helps to explain why many Germans found the prospect of surrender unpalatable even when their

restore Poland to her pre-war borders against Stalin’s wishes: Foster, ‘Times and Appeasement’, pp. 448ff. 587 ‘exist a line beyond which Stalin will not go’: Nicolson, Letters and Diaries, May 1945, p. 464. 588 evidence of the fate that awaited those handed back to Stalin: Applebaum, Gulag, pp. 248, 394ff. 588 Polish church in Hrubieszów and threw grenades at the congregation: See e.g., Lotnik, Nine Lives, pp. 158–60, 172. 588 continued to be directed against the surviving Jews in Poland:

assets in southern Manchuria, notably the South Manchurian Railway Company; but politically Manchuria was to remain a Chinese possession. Not everyone in Japan was satisfied with these gains; radical nationalists formed an Anti-Peace Society and there were riots in Tokyo, Yokohama and Kōbe. The essential point, however, was that the Western powers were now clearly obliged to treat Japan as an equal; there was no serious objection when the Japanese proceeded to annex Korea in 1910. At the same

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