Fracture: Life and Culture in the West, 1918-1938
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.
An enthralling masterpiece, epic in scale and human in detail... Blom is a masterly storyteller, with a taste for atmosphere and drama, continually finding new angles, details and juxtapositions... Tremendous -- Alwyn W. Turner * Daily Telegraph * Vivid as its individual parts are, Fracture succeeds in being more than a gathering of illuminating details... He makes a strong case and makes it elegantly. Like other good popular histories, Fracture will make the uninitiated think, and the initiated think twice. -- Kevin Jackson * Literary Review * Blom delivers an orderly sense of the maelstrom of incidents and ideas with panache. * Financial Times * [An] eminently readable tome full of splendid anecdotal detail. Mr. Blom's ability to convey a mood and to synthesize complex issues, is admirable... Anyone reading this book today in the context of our own culture of doubt will feel an immediate affinity to the anxious and even desperate celebration of life that it portrays * Wall Street Journal * A fluent, often entertaining account of the period * New York Times * [A] thoughtful portrait of the interwar years... this well-written account brings a refreshing clarity to such uncertain times. * Publishers Weekly (starred review) * A book to be absorbed, marveled at and admired for the wide range of research linking events and thoughts. * Kirkus Reviews *
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.