Year Zero

Year Zero : A History of 1945

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Many books have been written, and continue to be written, about the Second World War: military histories, histories of the Holocaust, the war in Asia, or collaboration and resistance in Europe. Few books have taken a close look at the immediate aftermath of the worldwide catastrophe. Drawing on hundreds of eye-witness accounts and personal stories, this sweeping book examines the seven months (in Europe) and four months (in Asia) that followed the surrender of the Axis powers, from the fate of Holocaust survivors liberated from the concentration camps, and the formation of the state of Israel, to the incipient civil war in China, and the allied occupation of Japan. It was a time when terrible revenge was taken on collaborators and their former masters; of ubiquitous black markets, war crime tribunals; and the servicing of millions of occupation troops, former foes in some places, liberators in others. But Year Zero is not just a story of vengeance. It was also a new beginning, of democratic restorations in Japan and West Germany, of social democracy in Britain and of a new world order under the United Nations. If construction follows destruction, Year Zero describes that extraordinary moment in between, when people faced the wreckage, full of despair, as well as great hope. An old world had been destroyed; a new one was yet to be built.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 147 x 231 x 30mm | 593g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Export/Airside ed
  • 1 x 16pp b/w plates
  • 1848879377
  • 9781848879379
  • 133,084

About Ian Buruma

Ian Buruma is Professor of Human Rights and Journalism at Bard College, in New York State. Murder in Amsterdam won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. He was awarded the Erasmus Prize in 2008.

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Review quote

Charles Simic, "The New York Review of Books" ""Year Zero."..covers a great deal of history without minimizing the complexity of the events and the issues. It is well written and researched, full of little-known facts and incisive political analysis. What makes it unique among hundreds of other works written about this period is that it gives an overview of the effects of the war and liberation, not only in Europe, but also in Asia... A stirring account of the year in which the world woke up to the horror of what had just occurred and--while some new horrors were being committed--began to reflect on how to make sure that it never happens again." Adam Hochschild, "The New York Times Book Review" "Ian Buruma's lively new history, "Year Zero," is about the various ways in which the aftermath of the Good War turned out badly for many people, and splendidly for some who didn't deserve it. It is enriched by his knowledge of six languages, a sense of personal connection to the era (his Dutch father was a forced laborer in Berlin) and his understanding of this period from a book he wrote two decades ago that is still worth reading, "The Wages of Guilt: Memories of War in Germany and Japan."" "Wall Street Journal" "[Buruma is] one of those rare historian-humanists who bridge East and West...Year Zero has a down-to-earth grandeur. Through an array of brief, evocative human portraits and poignant descriptions of events around the globe he hints, rather than going into numbing detail or philosophical discourse, at the dimensions of suffering, the depth of moral confusion and in the end the nascent hope that 1945 entailed...Year Zero is a remarkable book, not because it breaks new ground, but in its combination of magnificence and modesty." "The Economist" "[Buruma] displays a fine grasp of the war's scope and aftermath. Little conventional wisdom survives Mr. Buruma's astringent prose. Perhaps his most important insight is that the war w

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