Year Zero: A History of 1945 (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews


The year 1945 was the bridge between World War II and the development of the modern world. Award-winning global thinker Ian Buruma has written a highly readable history, packed with lesser-known facts, new insights, and an especially compelling analysis of the impact of the War on Asia. (Praveen)

— From Staff Picks - Praveen

Description


"A marvelous global history of the pivotal year 1945 as a new world emerged from the ruins of World War II"
"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 on a global scale: across Asia (including China, Korea, Indochina, and the Philippines, and of course Japan) and all of continental Europe. 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 horror to come. At the same time, in the wake of unspeakable loss, the euphoria of the liberated was extraordinary, and the revelry unprecedented. The postwar years gave rise to the European welfare state, the United Nations, decolonization, Japanese pacifism, and the European Union. Social, cultural, and political "reeducation" was imposed on vanquished by victors on a scale that also had no historical precedent. Much that was done was ill advised, but in hindsight, as Ian Buruma shows us, these efforts were in fact relatively enlightened, humane, and effective.
A poignant grace note throughout this 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 laborer, and by war's end was literally hiding 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 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. It is surely his masterpiece.

About the Author


Ian Buruma is the Henry R. Luce Professor of Democracy, Human Rights, and Journalism at Bard College. His many books include "Anglomania" (Random House), "Inventing Japan" (Modern Library), and "Murder in Amsterdam" (Penguin), which won a "Los Angeles Times" Book Award. He is a regular contributor to many publications, including the "New York Review of Books", the "New Yorker", the "Guardian", and the "Financial Times".
Product Details
ISBN: 9780143125976
ISBN-10: 0143125974
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: September 30th, 2014
Pages: 368
Language: English