A World on Edge: The End of the Great War and the Dawn of a New Age

Daniel Schönpflug, trans. from the German by Jefferson Chase. Metropolitan, $30 (320p) ISBN 978-1-62779-762-7
In this engrossing account, German historian Schönpflug examines the last days and aftermath of WWI from a cultural and social perspective, primarily by following the lives and careers of military heroes, future world leaders, artists, and more. They all cope with postwar life in different ways. Harry Truman retired from the military to open a haberdashery whose eventual failure spurred him to the political career that landed him in the White House in 1945. Harlem-born soldier Henry Johnson, whose combat exploits earned him the nickname “The Black Death,” enjoyed a period of fame and fortune as America’s first black war hero, but his candor regarding his experiences quickly rendered him unmarketable, leading to a lonely, impoverished death in 1929. Schönpflug presents, almost lyrically, a complicated mixture of jubilation, exhaustion, anticipation, trauma, and recovery, giving an intimate, humanizing look at a world still reeling from war. In addition to inner experience, this history touches briefly on larger-scale matters: the fledgling Weimar Republic’s growing pains, the development of new schools of music, art, and architecture (jazz, dada, Bauhaus), and the restructuring of the world in general. Schönpflug achieves his goal of portraying a world still traumatized and shell-shocked by war, optimistic about the future, and disturbed by the changes taking place, striking a good balance between a broad topic and in-depth exploration. Agent: Barbara Wenner, Fritz Agency. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 11/12/2018
Release date: 10/16/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-250-21853-7
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-250-23070-6
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