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A World on Edge: The End of the Great War…
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A World on Edge: The End of the Great War and the Dawn of a New Age (vuoden 2018 painos)

– tekijä: Daniel Schönpflug (Tekijä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
7310288,589 (4.12)3
November 1918. The Great War has left Europe in ruins, but with the end of hostilities, a radical new start seems not only possible, but essential, even unavoidable. Unorthodox ideas light up the age: new politics, new societies, new art and culture, new thinking. The struggle to determine the future has begun. Sculptor Kthe Kollwitz, whose son died in the war, is translating sorrow and loss into art. Captain Harry Truman is running a men’s haberdashery in Kansas City, hardly expecting he will soon go bankrupt―and then become president of the United States. Moina Michael is about to invent the zremembrance poppy,y a symbol of sacrifice that will stand for generations to come. Meanwhile Virginia Woolf is questioning whether that sacrifice was worth it, and George Grosz is so revolted by the violence on the streets of Berlin that he decides everything is meaningless. For rulers and revolutionaries, a world of power and privilege is dying―while for others, a dream of overthrowing democracy is being born. With novelistic virtuosity, Daniel Schnpflug describes this watershed time as it was experienced on the ground―open-ended, unfathomable, its outcome unclear. Combining a multitude of acutely observed details, Schnpflug shows us a world suspended between enthusiasm and disappointment, in which the window of opportunity was suddenly open, only to quickly close shut again.… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:autumnturner76
Teoksen nimi:A World on Edge: The End of the Great War and the Dawn of a New Age
Kirjailijat:Daniel Schönpflug (Tekijä)
Info:Metropolitan Books (2018), 320 pages
Kokoelmat:Toivelista
Arvio (tähdet):
Avainsanoja:to be read

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A World on Edge: The End of the Great War and the Dawn of a New Age (tekijä: Daniel Schönpflug)

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Es noviembre del 1918 y el mundo es un lugar asolado que debe reconstruirse: la guerra ha terminado y todo debe empezar de nuevo. ( )
  pedrolopez | Jun 17, 2021 |
Tämä arvostelu kirjoitettiin LibraryThingin Varhaisia arvostelijoita varten.
Review of: A World on Edge: The End of the Great War and the Dawn of a New Age,
by Daniel Schönpflug
by Stan Prager (1-31-21)

A familiar construct for students of European history is what is known as “The Long Nineteenth Century,” a period bookended by the French Revolution and the start of the Great War. The Great War. That is what it used to be called, before it was diminished by its rechristening as World War I, to distinguish it from the even more horrific conflict that was to follow just two decades hence. It is the latter that in retrospect tends to overshadow the former. Some are even tempted to characterize one as simply a continuation of the other, but that is an oversimplification. There was in fact far more than semantics to that designation of “Great War,” and historians are correct to flag it as a definitive turning point, for by the time it was over Europe’s cherished notions of civilization—for better and for worse—lay in ruins, and her soil hosted not only the scars of vast, abandoned trenches, but the bones of millions who once held the myths those notions turned out to be dear in their heads and their hearts.
The war ended with a stopwatch of sorts. The Armistice that went into effect on November 11, 1918 at 11AM Paris time marked the end of hostilities, a synchronized moment of collective European consciousness it is said all who experienced would recall for as long as they lived. Of course, something like 22 million souls—military and civilian—could not share that moment: they were the dead. Nearly three thousand died that very morning, as fighting continued right up to the final moments when the clock ran out.
What happened next? There is a tendency to fast forward because we know how it ends: the imperfect Peace of Versailles, the impotent League of Nations, economic depression, the rise of fascism and Nazism, American isolationism, Hitler invades Poland. In the process, so much is lost. Instead, Daniel Schönpflug artfully slows the pace with his well-written, highly original strain of microhistory, A World on Edge: The End of the Great War and the Dawn of a New Age. The author, an internationally recognized scholar and adjunct professor of history at the Free University of Berlin, blends the careful analytical skills of a historian with a talented pen to turn out one of the finest works in this genre to date.
First, he presses the pause button. That pause—the Armistice—is just a fragment of time, albeit one of great significance. But it is what follows that most concerns Schönpflug, who has a great drama to convey and does so through the voices of an eclectic array of characters from various walks of life across multiple geographies. When the action resumes, alternating and occasionally overlapping vignettes chronicle the postwar years from the unique, often unexpected vantage points of just over two dozen individuals—some very well known, others less so—who were to leave an imprint of larger or smaller consequence upon the changed world they walked upon.
There is Harry S Truman, who regrets that the military glory he aspired to as a boy has eluded him, yet is confident he has acquitted himself well, and cannot wait to return home to marry his sweetheart Bess and—ironically—vows he will never fire another shot as long as he lives. Former pacifist and deeply religious Medal of Honor winner Sergeant Alvin York receives a hero’s welcome Truman could only dream of, but eschews offers of money and fame to return to his backwoods home in Tennessee, where he finds purpose by leveraging his celebrity to bring roads and schools to his community. Another heroic figure is Sergeant Henry Johnson, of the famed 369th Infantry known as the “Harlem Hellfighters,” who incurred no less than twenty-one combat injuries fending off the enemy while keeping a fellow soldier from capture, but because of his skin color returns to an America where he remains a second-class citizen who does not receive Medal of Honor he deserves until its posthumous award by President Barack Obama nearly a century later. James Reese Europe, the regimental band leader of the “Harlem Hellfighters,” who has been credited with introducing jazz to Europe, also returns home to an ugly twist of fate.
And there’s Käthe Kollwitz, an artist who lost a son in the war and finds herself in the uncertain environment of a defeated Germany engulfed in street battles between Reds and reactionaries, both flanks squeezing the center of a nascent democracy struggling to assert itself in the wake of the Kaiser’s abdication. One of the key members of that tenuous center is Matthias Erzberger, perhaps the most hated man in the country, who had the ill luck to be chosen as the official who formally accedes to Germany’s humiliating terms for Armistice, and as a result wears a target on his back for the rest of his life. At the same time, the former Kaiser’s son, Crown Prince Wilhelm von Preussen, is largely a forgotten figure who waits in exile for a call to destiny that never comes. Meanwhile in Paris, Marshal Ferdinand Foch lobbies for Germany to pay an even harsher price, as journalist Louise Weiss charts a new course for women in publishing and longs to be reunited with her lover, Milan Štefánik, an advocate for Czechoslovak sovereignty.
Others championing independence elsewhere include Nguyễn Tất Thành (later Hồ Chí Minh), polishing plates and politics while working as a dishwasher in Paris; Mohandas Gandhi, who barely survives the Spanish flu and now struggles to hold his followers to a regimen of nonviolent resistance in the face of increasingly violent British repression; T.E. Lawrence, increasingly disillusioned by the failure of the victorious allies to live up to promises of Arab self-determination; and, Terence MacSwiney, who is willing to starve himself to death in the cause of Irish nationhood. No such lofty goals motivate assassin Soghomon Tehlirian, a survivor of the Armenian genocide, who only seeks revenge on the Turks; nor future Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss, who emerges from the war an eager and merciless recruit for right-wing paramilitary forces.
There are many more voices, including several from the realms of art, literature, and music such as George Grosz, Virginia Woolf, and Arnold Schönberg. The importance of the postwar evolution of the arts is underscored in quotations and illustrations that head up each chapter. Perhaps the most haunting is Paul Nash’s 1918 oil-on-canvas of a scarred landscape entitled—with a hint of either optimism or sarcasm—We Are Making a New World. All the stories the voices convey are derived from their respective letters, diaries, and memoirs; only in the “Epilogue” does the reader learn that some of those accounts are clearly fabricated.
Many of my favorite characters in A World on Edge are ones that I had never heard of before, such as Moina Michael, who was so inspired by the sacrifice of those who perished in the Great War that she singlehandedly led a campaign to memorialize the dead with the poppy as her chosen emblem for the fallen, an enduring symbol to this very day. But I found no story more gripping than that of Marina Yurlova, a fourteen year old Cossack girl who became a child soldier in the Russian army, was so badly wounded she was hospitalized for a year, then entered combat once more during the ensuing civil war and was wounded again, this time by the Bolsheviks. Upon recovery, Yurlova embarked upon a precarious journey on foot through Siberia that lasted a month before she was able to flee Russia for Japan and eventually settle in the United States, where despite her injuries she became a dancer of some distinction.
I am a little embarrassed to admit that I received an advance reader’s edition (ARC) of A World on Edge as part of an early reviewer’s program way back in November 2018, but then let it linger in my to-be-read (TBR) pile until I finally got around to it near the end of June 2020. I loved the book but did not take any notes for later reference. So, by the time I sat down to review it in January 2021, given the size of the cast and the complexity of their stories, I felt there was no way I could do justice to the author and his work without re-reading it—so I did, over just a couple of days! And that is the true beauty of this book: for all its many characters, competing storylines, and what turns out to be multilevel, deeply profound messaging, for something of the grand saga that it is it remains a fast-paced, exciting read. Schönpflug’s technique of employing bit players to recount an epic tale succeeds so masterfully that the reader is hardly aware of what has been happening until the final pages are being turned. This is history, of course, this is indeed nonfiction, but yet the result invites a favorable comparison to great literature, to a collection of short stories by Ernest Hemingway, or to a novel by André Brink. If European history is an interest, A World on Edge is not only a recommended read, but a required one.

https://regarp.com/2021/01/31/review-of-a-world-on-edge-the-end-of-the-great-war... ( )
  Garp83 | Jan 31, 2021 |
Tämä arvostelu kirjoitettiin LibraryThingin Varhaisia arvostelijoita varten.
World War 1 has often been considered one of the fundamental turning points in the 20th Century, and a lot has been written about the war and the events that led to armies fighting across Europe. Not as many books though have been written about the aftermath of the war, or have taken such a broad look at how the aftereffects of the war resonated throughout the years, influencing people, politics, and policies many decades later. Daniel Schönpflug tackles this period, from 1918 to around 1920 in A World on Edge. He looks are a broad collection of people, from writers and artists, composers and soon-to-be politicians, ordinary people that had gone through extraordinary situations, and distills their experiences into a collection of vignettes and scenes to show us how the Great War and the "peace" that followed changed not only individual lives, but the course of the 20th Century.

Schönpflug starts out as World War 1 is ending, giving us a great perspective on the war and the effects that it has had on the world up until that point. We see the events that lead to the armistice on November 11, 1918, and how people reacted. We are introduced to men weary of war, who must do their duty to their country, but who dream of what peace may bring. Schönpflug then follows this collection of people in the years following the war and we see how they continued to change. And it is a diverse collection of people, from the ordinary to the famous (or infamous). From people who would set policy and politics in the future like Matthias Erzberger, Terence MacSwiney, T.E. Lawrence, and Harry S. Truman, to men who fought in the trenches like Henry Johnson and Alvin C. York. Also the artists like Virginia Woolf, George Grosz, and Walter Gropius, or the future revolutionaries like Mohandas Gandhi and Nguyen Tat Thanh (Ho Chi Minh). And the woman who worked to make the poppy the symbol for the horrors of the war, Moina Michael. This is just some of the very diverse group of people Schönpflug introduces us to and through whose eyes we see how the war and the following "peace" changed everything.

A World on Edge may not appeal to some readers of history. By working with a large group of people Schönpflug is not able to dive too deep into any one person's struggles or experiences. We are given brief glimpses of each person's life, but not enough to really understand each person. These are not in depth biographies, but brief glimpses for each person. Schönpflug himself says in the afterword that he was wanting to create scenes for each of the people that would carry through the entire narrative. Personally, I liked this approach as I got a broad, very high level look at how the years after the war were shaped by the war itself, and the peace that followed. It gave a holistic approach that allows you to see how many different and widely spaced events - the post-war turmoil in Germany, the rise of the Republic of Ireland, and the future revolutions in places far removed from Europe (India and Vietnam), were all shaped by the aftermath of the Great War.

I recommend A World on Edge for anybody interested in history, especially the history of World War 1, and who don't mind a high-level, very holistic approach to these events. I learned a lot of information and was able to "fill in" my understanding of this period. ( )
  GeoffHabiger | Feb 28, 2019 |
Tämä arvostelu kirjoitettiin LibraryThingin Varhaisia arvostelijoita varten.
I received an uncorrected proof review copy of this from the publisher through LibraryThing Originally published in German in 2017, the American English edition was published in October 2018.

The back cover says that this is the "story of the aftermath of World War I..." And "[w]ith novelistic virtuosity" Schönpflug describes that aftermath. This is a story. It reads often like some of the true crime genre...creative nonfiction...Schönpflug obviously has to embellish the narrative to create the flow, but the reader does not know how far he goes, because there are no notes! There is a bibliography of references of the panoply of characters (real life people, yes), but no citations anywhere in the text. And of the characters, Americans will recognizer some, but likely not many. Schönpflug pulls from many of those resources, not a few that were autobiographies and more than a few biographies, to create an interwoven but distinct accounting of perspectives. Schönpflug seems to have access to some rare sources - one example, Marina Yurlova's part two of her memoirs, Russia, Farewell, was never reprinted after 1936 and volumes are quite rare.

And those perspectives are told in third person present tense. This may be Schönpflug's standard, or it may be to create for the reader a presence in the moments. Either way, it's not a common form and some readers may not like it.

The aftermath that is the primary focus does not even begin to be explored until page 130 of 280, and really not until the latter third of the book. The first half considers events of the last days and hours of the war, and Schönpflug spends considerable time introducing all the players and their involvement. From Marina to Alvin York to Harry Truman, Virginia Woolf, Arnold Schönberg, Ferdinand Foch, and so many more, this is not a standard history of the end of a war that was the greatest devastating event to date. And though written by a German author, it looks at American, British, French, Russian, and more national perspectives.

Recommended for those interested in details of the first World War and what came from it - with the caveats of the third person present tense and that the focus in not entirely the aftermath. ( )
  Razinha | Jan 12, 2019 |
Tämä arvostelu kirjoitettiin LibraryThingin Varhaisia arvostelijoita varten.
A World on Edge recounts the experiences of a diverse collection of individuals immediately after the end of World War I, from November 11, 1918, roughly through 1919. It personalizes each of their thoughts, hopes, and aims, as they strive to navigate the fractured societies that emerged from the terrible conflict. Nations and empires were in the process of breaking up and re-forming, and the situation was somewhat chaotic and (literally) revolutionary. Traditional histories tell this story from the overall view of great men and women and events; but this book instead focuses on these real people and what they went through as they come to terms with a new world and what they must do to achieve their dreams of a better society, whether it is in North America, Europe, or Asia. I have a particular interest in this subject, as my father was born in Czechoslovakia (then Hungary), in 1912, so he lived through those years. The book helped me to see what it was like then on a human level, trying to cope with those turbulent times. ( )
  RickLA | Jan 11, 2019 |
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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November 1918. The Great War has left Europe in ruins, but with the end of hostilities, a radical new start seems not only possible, but essential, even unavoidable. Unorthodox ideas light up the age: new politics, new societies, new art and culture, new thinking. The struggle to determine the future has begun. Sculptor Kthe Kollwitz, whose son died in the war, is translating sorrow and loss into art. Captain Harry Truman is running a men’s haberdashery in Kansas City, hardly expecting he will soon go bankrupt―and then become president of the United States. Moina Michael is about to invent the zremembrance poppy,y a symbol of sacrifice that will stand for generations to come. Meanwhile Virginia Woolf is questioning whether that sacrifice was worth it, and George Grosz is so revolted by the violence on the streets of Berlin that he decides everything is meaningless. For rulers and revolutionaries, a world of power and privilege is dying―while for others, a dream of overthrowing democracy is being born. With novelistic virtuosity, Daniel Schnpflug describes this watershed time as it was experienced on the ground―open-ended, unfathomable, its outcome unclear. Combining a multitude of acutely observed details, Schnpflug shows us a world suspended between enthusiasm and disappointment, in which the window of opportunity was suddenly open, only to quickly close shut again.

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