Fracture: Life and Culture in the West, 1918-1938

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Atlantic Books, Apr 14, 2015 - History - 496 pages

When the Great War ended in 1918, the West was broken. Religious faith, patriotism and the belief in human progress had all been called into question by the mass carnage experienced by both sides. Shell shocked and traumatized, the West faced a world it no longer recognized: the old order had collapsed, replaced by an age of machines. The world hurtled forward on gears and crankshafts, and terrifying new ideologies arose from the wreckage of past belief.

In Fracture, critically acclaimed historian Philipp Blom argues that in the aftermath of the First World War, citizens of the West directed their energies inwards, launching into hedonistic, aesthetic and intellectual adventures of self-discovery. It was a period of both bitter disillusionment and visionary progress. From Surrealism to Oswald Spengler's The Decline of the West; from Fritz Lang's Metropolis to theoretical physics, and from Art Deco to Jazz and the Charleston dance, artists, scientists and philosophers grappled with the question of how to live and what to believe in a broken age.

Morbid symptoms emerged simultaneously from the decay of the First World War: progress and innovation were everywhere met with increasing racism and xenophobia. America closed its borders to European refugees and turned away from the desperate poverty caused by the Great Depression. On both sides of the Atlantic, disenchanted voters flocked to Communism and fascism, forming political parties based on violence and revenge that presaged the horror of a new World War.

Vividly recreating this era of unparalleled ambition, artistry and innovation, Blom captures the seismic shifts that defined the interwar period and continue to shape our world today.

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User Review  - Shrike58 - LibraryThing

Picking up where "Vertigo" left off, Blom continues his examination of the impact of Modernity on Western civilization. The difference here with this year-by-year examination of the shocks of the ... Read full review

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User Review  - Stbalbach - LibraryThing

Fracture is the 5th book by Blom I have read, he is one of my favorite historians. Blom shows the interwar period was characterized by social and technological revolution that started in 1900 and ... Read full review

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About the author (2015)

Philipp Blom was born in Hamburg in 1970. After some years in Vienna, he moved to Oxford where he obtained a PhD in Jewish philosophy. He has worked in publishing and as a journalist and translator in both London and Paris. He lives in Vienna with his wife Veronica Buckley.

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