Year Zero is a landmark reckoning with the great drama that ensued after war came to an end in 1945. One world had ended and a new, uncertain one was beginning. Regime change had come across Asia and all of continental Europe. It was the greatest global power vacuum in history, and out of the often vicious power struggles that ensued emerged the modern world as we know it.
In human terms, the scale of transformation is almost impossible to imagine. Great cities around the world lay in ruins, their populations decimated, displaced, starving. Harsh revenge was meted out on a wide scale, and the ground was laid for much darkness to come. At the same time, in the wake of unspeakable loss, the euphoria of the liberated wasextraordinary, the revelry unprecedented. The postwar years gave rise to the Europeanwelfare state, the United Nations, American democracy, Japanese pacifism, and the European Union. Society-wide reeducation was imposed on the vanquished on a scale that had no historical precedent. Much that was done was ill-advised, but in hindsight these efforts were relatively enlightened, humane, and effective.
A poignant grace note throughout his history is Buruma's own father's story. Seized by the Nazis during the occupation of Holland, he spent much of the war in Berlin as a slave laborer and by war's end was literallyhiding in the rubble of a flattened city, having barely managed to survive starvation rations, Allied bombing, and Soviet shock troops when the end came. His journey home and attempted reentry into "normalcy" stand in, in many ways, for his generation's experience.
A work of enormous range and stirring human drama, conjuring both the Asian and European theaters with equal fluency, Year Zero is a book that Ian Buruma is perhaps uniquely positioned to write.
©2013 Ian Buruma; 2013 Blackstone Audiobooks
If you're interested in WW II this is a great book to add to your reading list. Since it only deals with 1945 it helps the reader understand the results, compromises, and fallout from the Allied win. One can see the makings of world events that came as a result of decisions made at the end of the war. Narration is excellent.
I've always been interested by what happened just after after WWII, WWI, and the Civil War ended. How do you go from wartime to peace, how is it to live day to day. I grab whatever books are available on Audible for the subject so this book interested me in that regard.
So how does the book do? Well it's hit and miss. This is by no means a serious historical read, while it covers a lot of ground it doesn't cover anything in-depth. Also it was funny to me that near the end of the book the author uses the phrase "American smugness" since from the beginning of the book I was thinking that this book heavily suffers from typical European smugness. NOTE - it's not anti-American by any means, it's just that smarmy European attitude. So if you can deal with that, and it's by no means the worst I've ever heard, there is a lot of interesting information to be found.
The reader does a good job, it's mostly a straight read but the reader has good pacing and timing, very professional. Also he'll throw in a few different voices to help you along - so if it's an American speaking he'll do his American accent, etc. This can help you keep track of who he's quoting so it's welcomed.
Overall you're getting what the description of the book claims, if that sounds interesting to you, you should enjoy the book.
This book covers an under-reported area of the WWII era. I think it will help younger people realize why that pivotal time still shapes the world they inhabit today. World War II is no longer part of the collective memory of the majority. I was born in 1945 so even as a kid I heard the people in my life talking about it. But to younger people WWII seems as distant as the Civil War-- it is hard for them to relate to.
I have a large WWII library, yet Year Zero filled in a lot of blanks in my understanding of events. I only had some generalities on how awful things were after the "peace." Year Zero was very enlightening.
I would recommend the book - the information is very interesting and well presented.The audiobook presentation is starting to make my ears bleed!
Anybody else - Mr. Jackson reads as if he's dictating to a stone cutter
4.5 stars. A truly illuminating piece of historical research and writing. Buruma, son of a Dutch man who survived years in a Nazi forced labor camp, has looked at year most of us likely think we know. 1945. Through a variety of sources, including interviews and first person accounts via journals and memoirs, he has simultaneously expanded our view of the war and its aftermath and focused our attention on the human impact. His writing brings alive the discomfiting mixture of joy and sorrow, triumph and defeat, liberation and death, that attended the end of World War II. He juxtaposes the celebrations in many European capitals of VE Day with the stunned horror of troops liberating Nazi camps. He highlights how good intentions gave way to unfamiliar realities as troops tried to feed emaciated camp inmates only to have the unaccustomed rich and plentiful food kill them. He winds his way through Europe and Asia, through the war crimes trials and the partition of territory between East and West, through US occupation of Japan and a split Germany. These stories are at once familiar and new, as he gives the reader the vantage point of lesser known details and unintended consequences. This is not just the story of a pivotal year in modern history, but the prologue to many of the years to come. A truly enlightening work that everyone, especially those with a grounding in WWII, should read.
Had no idea.
I don't know of any other books that rip open the past and expose the misdeeds of everyone--those who we knew to be "the villains" and those who we know as the "victims." Maybe Citizens of London in that one learns of the heroicism and courage of the Poles and Nazi-fighting Germans, something left out of most history books as it doesn't fit the rubric.
Too much heartache.
I have a great deal more sympathy for the "everyday" Germans, Japanese, Poles and other citizens of Axis countries who were against the Nazis and the Axis powers but unable to actively fight them from within their countries. Also sympathy for those merely caught in the crosshairs, such as the Japanese who settled in Manchuria before the war. These citizens suffered horribly under the Nazis and Axis powers, under attack by the Allies and afterwards.
I suppose it's a good history, I don't doubt it's validity but it is very grim. It certainly makes you realize how lucky we were in the U.S. not to have the fighting on our shores. I would have liked more of the history of what governments did in this year about getting back on their feet.
yes, I think I am done with WWII.
the narration was very good and it did open my eyes to things I never knew happened.
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