The Second World War might have officially ended in May 1945, but in reality it rumbled on for another 10 years....
The end of the Second World War in Europe is one of the 20th century's most iconic moments. It is fondly remembered as a time when cheering crowds filled the streets, danced, drank and made love until the small hours. These images of victory and celebration are so strong in our minds that the period of anarchy and civil war that followed has been forgotten.
Across Europe, landscapes had been ravaged, entire cities razed and more than thirty million people had been killed in the war. The institutions that we now take for granted-such as the police, the media, transport, local and national government-were either entirely absent or hopelessly compromised. Crime rates were soaring, economies collapsing, and the European population was hovering on the brink of starvation.
In Savage Continent, Keith Lowe describes a continent still racked by violence, where large sections of the population had yet to accept that the war was over. Individuals, communities and sometimes whole nations sought vengeance for the wrongs that had been done to them during the war. Germans and collaborators everywhere were rounded up, tormented and summarily executed. Concentration camps were reopened and filled with new victims who were tortured and starved. Violent anti-Semitism was reborn, sparking murders and new pogroms across Europe. Massacres were an integral part of the chaos and in some places-particularly Greece, Yugoslavia and Poland, as well as parts of Italy and France - they led to brutal civil wars. In some of the greatest acts of ethnic cleansing the world has ever seen, tens of millions were expelled from their ancestral homelands, often with the implicit blessing of the Allied authorities.
Savage Continent is the story of post WWII Europe, in all its ugly detail, from the end of the war right up until the establishment of an uneasy stability across Europe toward the end of the 1940s. Based principally on primary sources from a dozen countries, Savage Continent is a frightening and thrilling chronicle of a world gone mad, the standard history of post WWII Europe for years to come.
©2012 Keith Lowe (P)2012 Tantor
"Authoritative but never dry, stripping away soothing myths of national unity and victimhood, this is a painful but necessary historical task superbly done." (Kirkus)
I think this book might be better in print -- as an audio book it comes off more as just a listing of events with X number of victims and Y location, repeat. I've read a ton of WWII books and I've read (listened) to all the available post-WWII books on Audible, this is not one of my favorites. I have a pretty high tolerance for facts and figures in audio format and even with that this book came off as dry with the exception of a few chapters. If you're a very tough listener and very interested in this period of time give it a listen -- also check out other reviewers and see what they think and don't just rely on this opinion alone.
Eastern Poland was my home until collage years, as kids we find unused ammunition quite often, once whole 9 yards of anti aircraft bullets. What took place there during my parents generation is so horrible, so unimaginable and yet somehow real. I see this book as mirror reflection of humanity, it was not meteor or volcano but people like us living couple hundred kilometers away first east then west who came and destroy pretty much everybody and everything. Can we even comprehend today what really took place then? One quick story, after socialism collapsed in '89 on of our neighbor was finally recognized for being in resistance after war, he was one one of those partisans, he get some medals and government pension. He absolutely deserve it, it was also a common knowledge he shot and kill a 14 years old boy who came with polish army and stationed with them helping around horses, reason? he was Russian, lost every member of his family and just followed whoever did not deny him piece of bread.
One shortcoming of this book is just that, too short. Author scratch surface but he did not take sides or have hidden agenda. I honestly cry couple times and choke in almost every paragraph. I only hope future politician reads it now and learns about human nature a thing or two and as result we all will have peaceful future. Personal Thank you Mr Keith Lowe.
The story is thorough, well researched and comprehensive. The sheer amount of new information was well worth the listen.
The narration was painful. Every accent sounded like a caricature of Count Dracula. There was so much accent switching that after a while, what was meant to be helpful in distinguishing the locations/nationalities being discussed turned into moments of dread for me. Overall, I would say that audiobook producers should look very closely at the necessity for performing accents - rarely have I found them to be helpful or desired.
This is an excellent story marred by narration that is painful for me to listen to at times.
The story covers a chapter in European history that I haven't seen addressed on its own before. The beginning of the story is a rehash of some of the worst atrocities that occurred during WWII, followed by an examination of life after the war.
The narrator has an accent (Scottish, to my hear) that is fine, and he speaks clearly most of the time. However, he frequently tries to also assume the accent of the character that is being quoted, as if that character spoke English: English with a "German" accent, English with a "French" accent, English with a "Russian" accent, etc. He never quite pulls it off satisfactorily and the result is almost painful to listen to. It distracts me to the point that instead of listening the story, I find myself trying to figure out if he's supposed to be a Russian or a Serb or whatever. A narrator like George Guidall could have made it work, but unfortunately John Lee doesn't.
I plan to buy the book and read it since the subject matter is fascinating to me, but this was a difficult listen.
Worth reading / hearing. Narrator uses accents a LOT, to indicate quotes from various nationals. But his skill is such that all Eastern European accents sound like amateur Dracula impersonator, but the other accents were more helpful.
i have never read a history book that has managed so successfully to keep pulling the rug from under me. Evert time i thought i understood and sympathized with a country/a cause i would be shown things from another perspective. This is how history should be taught.
you won't forget this book in a hurry
its fine - a little over enunciated for my liking
the whole book is moving, appalling ( i needed breaks) and even handed as far as i can tell. it is a fearsome examination of cycles of revenge that genuinely teaches something profound, rather than revel in apocalyptic pornagraphic imagery.
a profound study that opened my eyes to, among other things, the cold war.
Something new to add to post war Europe.
Possibly, the changing of accents frequently gets to be a bit much.
The reality of the damage to Europe was staggering. I had no idea of post war Europe before this book.
Instructrive about how a large war end. Most of us that did not participate to the event remember only the glorious parade.
Absolutely It tells the history of the aftermath of World War II one that we were not taught in school. Very well done. It goes well with Winter World. A must read
Disturbing, moving and revealing
There are no characters in the traditional sense, but players on the world stage: everyone from Stalin to Italian peasants, from unimaginably evil to heroic, from victims to perpetrators and all those caught in between.
John Lee's performance has the flavor of a 1940's radio announcer, jarring at first but finally perfectly suited to the subject matter of this depressing but wonderful book.
It is difficult to remain unmoved by the plight (or the horrific actions) of the various groups, in part because we in the US have such strong blood ties to Europe. One reviewer lamented the endless inventory of horrors, but there is really no other way to bring home these events without personalizing them with specific examples.
Lowe's book goes a long way to undoing the myth of post-war unity, and also to giving the reader an understanding of the structure of modern Europe and of its vast range of ethnic minorities and their often painful interrelationships.
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