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A searing and highly original analysis of the First World War and its anguished aftermath. In the depths of the Great War, with millions dead and no imaginable end to the conflict, societies around the world began to buckle. The heart of the financial system shifted from London to New York. The infinite demands for men and matériel reached into countries far from the front A searing and highly original analysis of the First World War and its anguished aftermath. In the depths of the Great War, with millions dead and no imaginable end to the conflict, societies around the world began to buckle. The heart of the financial system shifted from London to New York. The infinite demands for men and matériel reached into countries far from the front. The strain of the war ravaged all economic and political assumptions, bringing unheard-of changes in the social and industrial order.A century after the outbreak of fighting, Adam Tooze revisits this seismic moment in history, challenging the existing narrative of the war, its peace, and its aftereffects. From the day the United States enters the war in 1917 to the precipice of global financial ruin, Tooze delineates the world remade by American economic and military power.Tracing the ways in which countries came to terms with America’s centrality—including the slide into fascism—The Deluge is a chilling work of great originality that will fundamentally change how we view the legacy of World War I.


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A searing and highly original analysis of the First World War and its anguished aftermath. In the depths of the Great War, with millions dead and no imaginable end to the conflict, societies around the world began to buckle. The heart of the financial system shifted from London to New York. The infinite demands for men and matériel reached into countries far from the front A searing and highly original analysis of the First World War and its anguished aftermath. In the depths of the Great War, with millions dead and no imaginable end to the conflict, societies around the world began to buckle. The heart of the financial system shifted from London to New York. The infinite demands for men and matériel reached into countries far from the front. The strain of the war ravaged all economic and political assumptions, bringing unheard-of changes in the social and industrial order.A century after the outbreak of fighting, Adam Tooze revisits this seismic moment in history, challenging the existing narrative of the war, its peace, and its aftereffects. From the day the United States enters the war in 1917 to the precipice of global financial ruin, Tooze delineates the world remade by American economic and military power.Tracing the ways in which countries came to terms with America’s centrality—including the slide into fascism—The Deluge is a chilling work of great originality that will fundamentally change how we view the legacy of World War I.

30 review for The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    “World War I had seen the first effort to construct a coalition of liberal powers to manage the vast unwieldy dynamic of the modern world. It was a coalition based on military power, political commitment, and money. Layer by layer, piece by piece, issue by issue, that coalition had disintegrated. The price that the collapse of this great democratic alliance would exact defies estimation. The failure of the democratic powers opened a strategic window of opportunity in the early 1930s. We know wha “World War I had seen the first effort to construct a coalition of liberal powers to manage the vast unwieldy dynamic of the modern world. It was a coalition based on military power, political commitment, and money. Layer by layer, piece by piece, issue by issue, that coalition had disintegrated. The price that the collapse of this great democratic alliance would exact defies estimation. The failure of the democratic powers opened a strategic window of opportunity in the early 1930s. We know what nightmarish forces would tear through that window…” - Adam Tooze, The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931 When my oldest daughter was around four or five, we had a nightly battle of wills at the dinner table regarding the eating of vegetables. I would put several baby carrots on her plate, and she would stare at them with disdain. The rest of the meal consisted of me trying to get her to eat them, and her refusing. Eventually, she came up with a tactic for finishing the unpleasant chore in one swoop. She’d shove every carrot in her mouth and chomp them all up, until her cheeks were as swollen as a chipmunk. At that point, unable to swallow, she would hold the masticated shards in her mouth until directed to spit them out in the trash. Why do I present you with this extra-special glimpse into my life? Because reading Adam Tooze’s The Deluge reminded me of my daughter and the carrots. In short: there were times it seemed I had bit off more than I could chew and swallow. The Deluge is a massive book. It’s not simply the length, which is a not-inconsiderable 500-plus pages. It’s the content. This is as information-dense of a book as I’ve read. The ideas are packed in tight as sardines, while the scope is dazzling in its array. The topic is World War I and its aftermath, a tangled and complex web of events that – even with a century’s worth of hindsight – are often hard to interpret. Tooze begins the book in 1916, with the Allies struggling to hold the line against the Central Powers. By 1917, with the French Army mutinying, with the Allies running out of men, and with the collapse of the Russian Empire, only one thing could possibly save Great Britain and France: the United States of America. The war itself is drawn in broad strokes, because this is decidedly not a military history. In fact, Tooze’s major focus is on economics, and he deftly describes how America’s increasing financial entanglements with the Allies made her entry into the war a fait accompli. After loaning the Allies millions of dollars, there was no way America could simply allow them to be vanquished, resulting in massive defaults. Despite the obvious financial motivations, President Woodrow Wilson – the conflicted, contradictory giant at the center of this tale – made it his mission to reframe the First World War into something noble. Essentially a garden-variety European power struggle gone mad – a redux of the Napoleonic Wars, with the sides shuffled, and poison gas added to the mix – Wilson tried to convince everyone this was actually a conflict to make the world safe for democracy. To that end, he delivered his famous (or infamous) Fourteen Points, led the colonized peoples of the world to believe (futilely) in self-determination, and tried to use America’s leverage to bend the old powers of Europe to his moral vision. In Tooze’s telling, Wilson was not an internationalist, but a “high nationalist,” who believed in American exceptionalism as a global force that wielded the dollar rather than guns, bombs, or battleships. A great deal of time is spent on the postwar settlements, beginning with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which Tooze finds pretty fair in terms of self-determination (arguing that it formed a number of independent countries that still exist to this day). Obviously, the Treaty of Versailles – as snarled a saga as you can imagine – dominates long portions of The Deluge. I give Tooze a lot of credit for refusing to make bold accusations or bottom-line judgments. His treatment of the subject is nuanced, refusing to artificially label “good guys” and “bad guys.” On one page he might castigate German conservatives for their risible “stab-in-the-back” narrative, noting that the Germans were lucky to have maintained their sovereignty at all (a unified Germany was less than fifty years old, and could easily have been dismembered along with the Austro-Hungarians and the Ottomans). On the next page, though, he might be defending Germany against France’s monetary demands, or the land-hunger of the Poles. The breadth of the coverage here is really head spinning. Tooze travels all over the map. There is an extended discussion of the rise of Japan and the emergence of China onto the global stage. Even as China tried to unite, Japan took over Germany’s Chinese concessions, setting the stage for a titanic war beginning in 1937. Tooze also covers the aftershocks of the Russian Revolution, Ireland’s struggle for home rule, the Indian independence movement under Gandhi, and the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. While interesting, it can be a lot to digest. As Tooze writes, the postwar – or interwar – period does not contain a seamless story. It was not one long plunge from one war to the next. Of course, there were more than a few low points. Chief among them is the tragedy of the League of Nations, which President Wilson worked hard to establish, but could not convince his own country to accept. Notwithstanding the setbacks, Tooze also points to moments of international cooperation that might have paved the way for a better world. These moments included the Washington Naval Treaty, which prevented a naval arms race, and the Dawes Plan of 1924, which was meant to resolve the issue of war reparations. All these good works came to naught when the Great Depression began its stranglehold on the international economy. According to Tooze, this calamity was compounded by the uniform decision among the economic powers to tackle the Depression by deflationary measures. Tightening the money supply in this context was not unlike putting leeches on a man who just had his throat cut. The First World War tore down the old order in Europe. What followed was a search among the ruins for a new order to replace it. The Deluge asserts that President Wilson and the United States entered the war to organize the world along capitalist lines, replacing autocracy and militarism with free markets. Unfortunately, America was – in Tooze’s words – too “immature” to accept its responsibilities. After putting its fingers decisively on the scale of military victory, it retreated from a central role in securing the peace. As a British diplomat aptly put it, America was “the ghost at all our feasts.” The Deluge is not popular history. It was, at times, an extremely difficult and exhausting read. Yet it was also worthwhile. Approached with patience – and a prior understanding of the background against which the book is set – it is a valuable exploration of events that have markedly shaped the world we inhabit today.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    This was an excellent and comprehensive examination of America's ascent to the center of geopolitics in the WWI and post-WWI world. Of course we all know how this song ends: Depression, isolationism, rise of Fascism, WWII. But the path to get there was much more interesting than what we learned in school (WWI-Versailles-"Return to Normalcy"-Depression-WWII). There were genuine democratic revolutions occurring in Russia and China, the Entente were rarely on the same page as each other, and Americ This was an excellent and comprehensive examination of America's ascent to the center of geopolitics in the WWI and post-WWI world. Of course we all know how this song ends: Depression, isolationism, rise of Fascism, WWII. But the path to get there was much more interesting than what we learned in school (WWI-Versailles-"Return to Normalcy"-Depression-WWII). There were genuine democratic revolutions occurring in Russia and China, the Entente were rarely on the same page as each other, and America's insistence of the full repayment of inter-ally debt caused more problems then most history books give it credit. This was a dense but rewarding read and opened my eyes to an fascinating period of history I was not very familiar with. I don't think our (American) educational system does a very good job in impressing on its students just how dynamic the first third of the 20th century was. These was a massive remaking of the globe as centuries old empires (Russia, Austria, Ottoman, Chinese) were swept away and new powers were on the rise (America, Japan) to contend with the surviving Great Powers, Britain and France (sorry Italy). But more than that that financial history of the period really alters how it is viewed. To give you an idea of just how powerful America was right after the war: But what no one disputed was that at the time of the Washington Naval Conference in November 1921, the British government owed the American taxpayer $4.5 billion, whilst France owed America $3.5 billion and Italy owed $1.8 billion. Japan’s balance of payments was seriously deteriorating and it was anxiously looking for support from J. P. Morgan. At the same time, 10 million citizens of the Soviet Union were being kept alive by American famine relief. No other power had ever wielded such global economic dominance... The most powerful states of Europe were now borrowing from private citizens in the United States and anyone else who would provide credit. Lending of this kind, by private investors in one rich country to the governments of other rich developed countries, in a currency not controlled by the government borrower, was unlike anything seen in the heyday of late Victorian globalization. The War exhausted the European powers (winners and losers) and provided America an unprecedented opportunity to remake the World Order. But instead of having visionary leaders who could grasp this opportunity to make the world a better place we were stuck with Wilson and Hooer: For all their forward-looking vision, progressives both of Wilson’s and Hoover’s generation were fundamentally committed not to a radical overcoming of these limitations, but to preserving the continuity of American history and reconciling it with the new national order that had begun to emerge in the wake of the Civil War. This then is the central irony of the early twentieth century. At the hub of the rapidly evolving, American-centred world system there was a polity wedded to a conservative vision of its own future... However, the world he [Wilson]wanted to create was one in which the exceptional position of America at the head of world civilization would be inscribed on the gravestone of European power. The peace of equals that Wilson had in mind would be a peace of collective European exhaustion. The brave new world would begin with the collective humbling of all the European powers at the feet of the United States, raised triumphant as the neutral arbiter and the source of a new form of international order. Wilson’s vision was neither one of gutless idealism nor a plan to subordinate US sovereignty to international authority. He was in fact making an exorbitant claim to American moral supremacy, rooted in a distinctive vision of America’s historic destiny. Of course the European Powers did their part to stymie American goals and preserve their own share of power. Basically the post war process was a giant clusterfuck with the Allies having difficulty agreeing to anything. The French were out for blood, the Americans wanted a sustainable peace driven by disarmament, and the British wanted to regain their place as the preeminent world power. Then you had the Spanish Flu, a world wide recession, a bunch of repayment crises among the Allies, political disruptions across the globe, and just a general sense of unease all led to a backlash against any sort of interventionalist American policy Senator Warren G. Harding had coined the phrase that was to define not only his campaign but his presidency: ‘America’s present need is not heroics but healing; not nostrums but normalcy.’ But he went on to add another telling line. What was called for was ‘not submergence in internationality but sustainment of triumphant nationality’. Triumphant nationalism is as apt a description of the policies of the Republican administrations in the 1920's as it was of Wilson’s own administration. Triumphant nationalism was not inward-turning or isolationist. It was by definition addressed to an outside world, but it spoke in terms that were unilateral and exceptionalist. The European powers faced issues with their colonies and the economic disruptions the War economy caused them. Nascent democratic movements in Russia and China withered on a vine from Western neglect, and France continued to put the screws to Germany, going so far as to seize the Ruhr and Rhineland, isolating them from the rest of Germany and reaping the benefits of its natural and industrial resources. Things were a bloody mess. As the book puts it: World War I had seen the first effort to construct a coalition of liberal powers to manage the vast unwieldy dynamic of the modern world. It was a coalition based on military power, political commitment and money. Layer by layer, piece by piece, issue by issue, that coalition had disintegrated. The price that the collapse of this great democratic alliance would exact defies estimation. I am really only skimming the surface here (I barely spoke at all about how contentious and devastating Inter-Allied debt was or how things were unfolding during this time in East Asia) but I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It links together many important events and trends that seem to go ignored in most mainstream discussions of the period ignore. I can assure you that you're view of the time period will be expanded and enriched greatly while giving you an new perspective of just how we got into the mess of the 1930's and 40's. (Also be sure to check out the many passages I have highlighted to get a good sample of some of the ideas and concepts I touched upon in my review)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

    Finally done! I learned a great deal about a period I've never studied in any great detail. I particularly liked the inclusion of China and Japan, given that so often books on these subjects skim over what was happening in non-Western countries. For more detailed summaries, etc - the reading notes will have to suffice! Finally done! I learned a great deal about a period I've never studied in any great detail. I particularly liked the inclusion of China and Japan, given that so often books on these subjects skim over what was happening in non-Western countries. For more detailed summaries, etc - the reading notes will have to suffice!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Who would have thought that when Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s hapless chauffer, Leopold Lojka, made a wrong turn with his covetable, convertible 1911 Gräf & Stift 28/32 PS Double Phaeton onto Sarajevo’s Franz Joseph Street on that fateful 28th day of June, 1914, unwittingly stopping before a waiting assassin, Gavrilo Princip, that a fuse had been lit to a calamitous future. Mr. Tooze has written an excellent account of how this nominally well-ordered world descended into the chaos of ensuing years Who would have thought that when Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s hapless chauffer, Leopold Lojka, made a wrong turn with his covetable, convertible 1911 Gräf & Stift 28/32 PS Double Phaeton onto Sarajevo’s Franz Joseph Street on that fateful 28th day of June, 1914, unwittingly stopping before a waiting assassin, Gavrilo Princip, that a fuse had been lit to a calamitous future. Mr. Tooze has written an excellent account of how this nominally well-ordered world descended into the chaos of ensuing years. Mr. Tooze challenges the reader to reassess the standard accounts of the interwar years, whether viewed through interstate relations, economics, finance or internal politics; there’s plenty of condemnation and shame to go around. I had this thought that somehow, someway, from something akin to Fred Sanford’s junkyard, the state of affairs following World War I, an atomic bomb and an iron curtain were assembled. How this came to be is the story of an extra-ordinary interplay of seemingly random, unforeseen and unbelievable events. The years Mr. Tooze examines, 1916 to 1931, were filled with wishful thinking, myopic and hypocritical behaviors, often heavily influenced by that most pernicious of human weaknesses, base emotion; to boot, there were ample instances where leaders kicked the can down the road, either to delay an unpleasant day of reckoning or to avoid that day entirely. To me, many global leaders were mortally infected with a historical bias for a world that no longer existed, which acted to hinder an appreciation for the new, technological, interconnected era in which they then lived. I do really want to believe the politicians and technocrats steering our current ships of state have learned the lessons so painfully exposed in the 20th century. Have they?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    Outstanding. Tooze has amassed and presented a tremendous amount of political and economic information to buttress his arguments about how complex the period between 1916 and 1931 was. First he explains the financing and end-game of the the war. This forms the foundation for the real argument, that any view of the period from 1918 to the mid-thirties as fairly consistent ‘between the wars' is missing the convulsions that played out as the war-time loans between entente countries, the destruction Outstanding. Tooze has amassed and presented a tremendous amount of political and economic information to buttress his arguments about how complex the period between 1916 and 1931 was. First he explains the financing and end-game of the the war. This forms the foundation for the real argument, that any view of the period from 1918 to the mid-thirties as fairly consistent ‘between the wars' is missing the convulsions that played out as the war-time loans between entente countries, the destruction of northern France during the war, and the creation and destruction of nations that occurred in 1917 and during the Versailles conference led to impossible-to-resolve conflicts of interest. The next fifteen years were a roller coaster of domino economic crises that fueled the nationalist movements and resulted in continuing instability of ministries and traditional parties. Tooze is particularly strong on the finance and economic aspects of this period. He details how they influenced every political decision. American banks had financed the war, and that let them call a lot of shots afterward. But an isolationist Congress often blocked the logical soltuion. Fans of Woodrow Wilson will come out black and blue, if not hemorrhaging. Tooze cites dozens of instances of his blundering during the war, the Versailles conference, and back home. One can’t hope to really cover this book in a short review. I recommend it highly, as still very relevant.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Pieter

    If one were to be a fly against the wall of the Versailles palace in 1919. What were US president Roosevelt's reasons to design a new, liberal world order? Which countries supported him and which were against? It is clear that the seeds of WW II were sown during that time. The Fourteen Points may have had some obvious good intentions, no doubt Roosevelt used them to push US on the front of the international political scene. Stripping Germany and other Central powers geographically and financiall If one were to be a fly against the wall of the Versailles palace in 1919. What were US president Roosevelt's reasons to design a new, liberal world order? Which countries supported him and which were against? It is clear that the seeds of WW II were sown during that time. The Fourteen Points may have had some obvious good intentions, no doubt Roosevelt used them to push US on the front of the international political scene. Stripping Germany and other Central powers geographically and financially did not bring world peace nor were in line with the principle of self determination (Sudeten Germany, Eupen, South Tyrol). The author highlighted the imbalance between president Wilson's liberal foreign agenda and his domestic Southern past. More than that, I doubt whether his foreign agenda was as anti-imperialistic as Mr Tooze states. Several authors have pointed out that before the sinking of Lusitania, US government was preparing for war and already heavily engaged in support to the Entente. PS: the Dutch edition has a lot of typos.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Pete H

    Ambitious, and with a breathtaking scope, I can't help but feel that Tooze bit off a bit more than he could chew-even a 500 page book isn't adequate space to cover the development of the entire international order from 1916 through 1933. His characterization of Wilson as a man seeking to assert American fiscal hegemony may be criticized by some, but I find it hard to disagree with his thesis. The author often makes assertions that he seems to lack the time or space to fully explore, and there are Ambitious, and with a breathtaking scope, I can't help but feel that Tooze bit off a bit more than he could chew-even a 500 page book isn't adequate space to cover the development of the entire international order from 1916 through 1933. His characterization of Wilson as a man seeking to assert American fiscal hegemony may be criticized by some, but I find it hard to disagree with his thesis. The author often makes assertions that he seems to lack the time or space to fully explore, and there are a few boggling factual errors that he or his editor really should have caught- for example, he describes the Japanese battleship Mutsu as a cruiser, which may seem like nitpicking but, as Tooze himself asserts, battleships were seen as a sign of national pride and strength, and this error is therefore significant. Despite these flaws,this is a well-written and readable book, recommended to all serious history fans.

  8. 4 out of 5

    A.L. Sowards

    The simplified version of history I’ve always heard goes something like this: “after WWI, the US retreated into isolationism, went through the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression, and then got involved in WWII.” Of course, the real story is a lot more complicated, and Tooze did a good job exploring the final years of the Great War up to the coming of the Great Depression. The book covered a good portion of the world, focusing on the combatants from WWI, including Japan and China. It also c The simplified version of history I’ve always heard goes something like this: “after WWI, the US retreated into isolationism, went through the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression, and then got involved in WWII.” Of course, the real story is a lot more complicated, and Tooze did a good job exploring the final years of the Great War up to the coming of the Great Depression. The book covered a good portion of the world, focusing on the combatants from WWI, including Japan and China. It also covered events across the British Empire like what was happening in India and Ireland. It shed light on how interconnected so many things were--across borders and domestically for the various countries. He talked a lot about diplomacy, treaties, and monetary policy--subjects that, frankly, could have been really dry. But he made it interesting. (Also, the audiobook had a good narrator.) I don’t think this book is for everyone, but I enjoyed it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Marks54

    This book is an ambitious interpretive history of WW1 and its impact. The starting point is that claim that we have come to understand the war from the perspective of it being followed by WW2 and the Cold War, leading to a modern world that is hugely different from the world of 1914 and dominated eventually by the United States after the fall of the Soviet Union. Adam Tooze's claim is that course of world history was far from certain after WW1 and that world observers saw matters very differentl This book is an ambitious interpretive history of WW1 and its impact. The starting point is that claim that we have come to understand the war from the perspective of it being followed by WW2 and the Cold War, leading to a modern world that is hugely different from the world of 1914 and dominated eventually by the United States after the fall of the Soviet Union. Adam Tooze's claim is that course of world history was far from certain after WW1 and that world observers saw matters very differently from how they eventually turned out. The book then attempts to explain how the world got from 1916 to the present (or really 1931) while steering clear of the story that has become accepted and often taken for granted. Tooze argues that the key players involved in this complicated story were not stupid or even narrow. They all realized the important role of the US as the new super state that would soon dominate the world. In response, the protagonists, including such extreme actors as Trotsky and Hitler, all sought an international solution that transcended narrow nationalism and provided a counterweight to the foreseen dominance of the US. Why didn't it work out? Well, to the normal dynamics of politics and economics and chance, it is first necessary to add megatraumas that constrained what everyone else could do. The first was the catastrophic slaughter of WW! and the political crisis and each of the warring states had to surmount. A second reason was the great depression, which threw stabilization plans out the window and ruined the efforts of moderate reasonable efforts to stabilize the world. This left the door open for the extremist totalitarians. Tooze provides an interesting perspective on Wilson here too and how he was constrained at home. One of the more interesting ideas in the book is the linkage of Progressivism and Wilson with the reaction of the US attempt to adapt to modernity following the Civil War - and the reactions to those efforts. Another strength of the book is the author's command of the economic issues ranging from war loans, reparations, the hyperinflations, the gold standard, and the transatlantic role of Wall Street and JP Morgan in interwar finance. The book ends in 1931-1932, with the onset of the Great Depression, and the rise of Hitler and Roosevelt. This makes the book a soulmate of the Ira Katznelson book "Fear Itself" which uses a similar analytic/interpretive strategy to examine how FDR and the New Deal took the US from the depths of the depression to the Cold War. The similarities are general. The Katznelson book is focused, with a deep look at US Congressional history. The Tooze book is broader in scope and breathtakingly complex, in that it is linking multiple levels of analysis both domestic and international, along with military, political, and economic for the US, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, USSR, China, and Japan.... and it works very well. This review only scratches the surface of this amazing book. It is a dense history infused by a nice argument that the author keeps going and ocncludes well. It is not for the timid but is very worthwhiile. The move from the twenties to depression to the early 1930s is covered quickly and I am unsure I followed how the interpretive story was concluded. I have to think about it more. It is wonderful to finish a book the forces you to do that.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Pecunia nervus belli est. Not for the faint of heart, Adam Tooze describes and analyses the interplay between politics and finance in the final years of the First World War and the post-war era in this vast and detailed work. The short version is that the Europeans were involved in a war they really couldn't afford and the Detente (essentially Britain and France) turned to America to finance and eventually win the war. The problems of the post-war settlements were made vastly more difficult by A Pecunia nervus belli est. Not for the faint of heart, Adam Tooze describes and analyses the interplay between politics and finance in the final years of the First World War and the post-war era in this vast and detailed work. The short version is that the Europeans were involved in a war they really couldn't afford and the Detente (essentially Britain and France) turned to America to finance and eventually win the war. The problems of the post-war settlements were made vastly more difficult by America's refusal to consider forgiving those debts to allow their allies to get back on their feet, by the huge financial burdens of reparations placed on Germany, which before the war had been the engine of the European economy, and by the rise of the Soviet Union as a player in the new world system. The narrative also covers developments in China and Japan, thus illustrating the global nature of the political and financial instabilities of the time. All this is grist for Tooze's thorough mill. It's also an entertaining read - not something one can say about every economic history - despite its length and the depth of his coverage. A very very good book indeed.

  11. 5 out of 5

    BertieRussell

    Great book: hugely informative, with the material dramatically presented and almost no dull patches. Some of the very fascinating events that Tooze describes are the following: 1) Up to mid-1916 the Entente borrowed money through J.P Morgan mainly, from the US's private capital market, thereby committing a substantial part of the US economy to the Entente's war effort, without the US government's permission. Wilson discouraged americans from buying anymore of the Anglo-French bonds issued by J.P Great book: hugely informative, with the material dramatically presented and almost no dull patches. Some of the very fascinating events that Tooze describes are the following: 1) Up to mid-1916 the Entente borrowed money through J.P Morgan mainly, from the US's private capital market, thereby committing a substantial part of the US economy to the Entente's war effort, without the US government's permission. Wilson discouraged americans from buying anymore of the Anglo-French bonds issued by J.P Morgan, in order to impose his vision of 'peace without victory'. The war may have ended then, if the Germans weren't convinced that too much was at stake for the US economy for them to remain neutral. After the US entered the war, the Entente powers borrowed directly from the US government in an unprecedented scale. 2) Nowhere did taxation keep up with rising war expenditure, so governments issued bonds to pay for the war effort. Some of those were bought by banks, who later resold them to Central banks for cash. Thus indirectly the supply of money was expanded leading to inflation. The post-war inflation all over the world, decreased the buying power of the workers, and thus led to strikes and renewed class war. Powers like the US and Britain that had issued government bonds, got into a competition of who would deflate more drastically, to restore their credibility, and honour the people who had devoted their money to the war effort. Plans to spend money on social welfare were scrapped in the UK. Lloyd George wanted to make the Germans pay for widow's pensions through reparations. What if they had resorted to a capital levy instead ? 3)The Great Deflation, as Tooze calls the squeeze on economic activity to fight inflation that the British and US governments carried out, had the effect of pacification both on the left and on the far-right: by decreasing military spending it resulted in the demobilization of the paramilitaries, and surging unemployment weakened the trade unions. 4) Since the US did not commit itself to military collective security, the next best thing was to prevent 'knaves'(aggressive nationalists, socialists etc.) from coming into power by adherence to the gold standard. Post WW1 economies thus falled into three categories a)those who had aggressively deflated(US, Britain) b)those that had just stabilized after the massive inflation (France, Italy, Japan) and c) the basket cases or those who were experiencing hyper-inflation. 5)Nationalists had to break the fetters of economic liberalism to implement their plans(Stalin , Hitler, Hirohito) 6) What implications does this analysis have for Greece's options within the EU today ?

  12. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. Adam Tooze's book The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931 is an impressive and, at times, intimidating examination of WWI. I say intimidating because Tooze takes a deep dive into the history and minute events that make up the entire Great War period. His focus is global, shifting between German offensives in Russia, to Lenin's writing, to Britain's social movements, to the American Congress, to I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. Adam Tooze's book The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931 is an impressive and, at times, intimidating examination of WWI. I say intimidating because Tooze takes a deep dive into the history and minute events that make up the entire Great War period. His focus is global, shifting between German offensives in Russia, to Lenin's writing, to Britain's social movements, to the American Congress, to Japan's Diet. The work is dense and I think Tooze recognizes this, so each section is started with a general summary of the chapter, highlighting the important elements he'll discuss. But even though this book is about WWI, it is really an examination of America's entrance on the world stage. Tooze does an excellent job of tracing the many different ways that virtually every other superpower (or wanna-be superpower) of the time ended up falling apart, leaving the US as the dominant global voice. He also illustrates how this emergence transmits a low, throbbing panic to many leaders and becomes part of the fanatical zeal of WWII tyrants like Hitler and Mussolini. But the author also points out that the US felt a wariness about being a global participant and often operated as a silent or "ghost" leader in various negotiations and international disputes. This book is definitely academic in nature, but if you are interested in the early history of the modern world, WWI, or global power relations, then The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931 will be an informative read. It isn't light reading in any sense and you'll need more than a passing knowledge of world leaders and military events, but it is a book that will enlighten you and illustrates an important transition in world power that we tend to overlook.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Frank Theising

    This is a very demanding read, epic in scope and at times overwhelming. In The Deluge, economic historian Adam Tooze explores the unprecedented pace, scope, and violence of change experienced in world affairs from the late nineteenth century onwards. The defining feature of this change was the sudden emergence of the United States as a novel kind of super-state, exercising veto power over the financial and security concerns of the other major states of the world (6). It is common in books on int This is a very demanding read, epic in scope and at times overwhelming. In The Deluge, economic historian Adam Tooze explores the unprecedented pace, scope, and violence of change experienced in world affairs from the late nineteenth century onwards. The defining feature of this change was the sudden emergence of the United States as a novel kind of super-state, exercising veto power over the financial and security concerns of the other major states of the world (6). It is common in books on international relations to speak of the United States as inheriting the mantle of British hegemony. Yet the author argues that this was not a succession but a paradigm shift (15). Great Britain had created an empire on which the sun never set but lacked the hegemonic capacity to preside over it (20). The United States alone had the diplomatic, economic, and military potential to anchor a new global order (21). According to the author, the central preoccupation of this book is tracing the ways in which the world came to terms with America’s new centrality during this restructuring of world order. The chief value of this book (in my humble opinion) is not based on any bold new arguments, insightful interpretations, or original discoveries. Rather its true value lies in the light it shines on the extraordinary complexity of world affairs that shaped the decisions made during this turbulent time. People look back on the events of WWI and its aftermath and ask questions that presuppose nations are unified, rational actors: “why did France demand such harsh treatment of Germany at Versailles?” or “why did Great Britain draw new national boundaries (Poland, Middle East) that way?” This book, more than any other I’ve read on the period, reveals how so many important decisions were shaped not only by the contest between winners and losers, but by intense inter-Allied disagreements and fierce infighting amongst political factions of just about every country involved (U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Japan, China). The most famous of course is the U.S. Senate’s decision not to ratify the League of Nations agreement, even though it was championed by President Woodrow Wilson. This book is so voluminous and covers so many different areas that it would be futile to accurately summarize all the important points contained within. Nevertheless, I have tried to capture some of the key points that I found interesting or that demonstrate that interconnected, complex web of relationships and their impact on decisions following the war. The author starts his book in 1916, the year when the economic output of the United States exceeded that of the British Empire. America’s economic ascendancy would have far reaching consequences during WWI and the inter-war period that followed. The author argues that America’s impending global dominance was so pervasive that Hitler and Trotsky both hoped the British Empire would rise up and challenge it lest they all become vassal states (26). Ironically, America had little interest in assuming this mantle. It would take the devastating Second World War before America’s massive power was married with a sense of providential purpose to become a truly transformative force in world affairs (27). While America’s economy had been rising for years, it did not become the center of global finance until WWI as the most powerful states in Europe became dependent on foreign creditors (36-38). The vast majority of this foreign credit came from the United States. By late 1916, American investors had wagered two billion dollars on an Entente victory (48). The Central Powers had no comparable source of external credit to draw on. Consequently, they made their fateful decision to conduct unrestricted submarine warfare. Although they judged correctly that the United States was fully committed (economically) to the Entente, their decision would prove disastrous (48). Woodrow Wilson, desperately desired to play the role of peacemaker. Deeply influenced by Reconstruction in the South following the Civil War, he believed that lasting peace in Europe could only be established if it was accepted by all parties. The only way to produce such an outcome was through a “Peace without Victory” (53). Any peace forced upon the loser would only produce grievance to justify future conflict (54). Unfortunately, the Germans sabotaged the best opportunity for American arbitration by their unrestricted submarine warfare and the Zimmerman telegram seeking to draw Mexico into the war (66-67). In hindsight, these decisions were even more imprudent than they originally appeared. France and Russia were both physically exhausted and the British (in summer 1917) were within days of insolvency. The U.S. entry into the war removed that risk of disaster as it upended British reliance on private capital markets and opened up the politically driven government-to-government lending (78). The author also explores the counterfactual possibility of a democratic future for Russia. Russia was facing the challenges of civil war. Had the Allies responded positively to some of the peace initiatives floated by some voices from within Germany, Russia, and the Vatican, then Russia could have extricated themselves from the war and may never have fallen to the Bolsheviks (87). In December 1917, the Bolshevik regime and the Central Powers began negotiations for peace. Four months later they signed the Brest-Litovsk Treaty (108). This treaty stripped Russia of territory containing 55 million people, a third of the empire’s pre-war population. The decision to sign these harsh terms were one of those decisions driven by complex interactions among participants. The Bolsheviks needed to consolidate power but did not want to suffer the embarrassment of surrender. Withdrawing from the war would also draw the ire of the rest of the Entente. Trotsky proposed a policy of “no peace, no war”…i.e. they were not quitting but would not fight either. Unfortunately, Germany refused to accept that decision, expanding military action to drive the Russians back to the negotiating table (132-136). By March, the Germans advancing unopposed had captured Kiev. Trotsky’s gamble backfired. Lenin however desperately pressed for Russia to sign the treaty without delay or qualification, despite the embarrassment and shame it brought, in order to save the communist movement (136). While Brest-Litovsk should have been considered a glorious peace of stupendous dimensions, it actually fractured German unity as some political parties labeled it a “peace of violation” (139). The very harsh terms for Russia would later be used against the Germans when discussing the Treaty of Versailles. In the lead up to the signing of Brest-Litovsk, the British general staff feared that Germany would impose hegemony on all of Russia, forcing upwards of 2 million men into the war on behalf of the Central Powers (156). This could drag the war out for another year or longer. To avoid that fate, they pressed for intervention in Russia itself. A force of 50,000 Czech POWs (in Siberia) seemed like a core force to spearhead this effort. In the midst of Russian infighting, this force captured much of the transcontinental railway. In return for their efforts, they demanded a quid pro quo from Wilson, namely the death of the Hapsburg Empire (158). To screen the Czech withdraw, Wilson authorized U.S. and Japanese forces to enter Siberia (159). The British hoped to use this intervention to bring about a democratic Russia but Wilson refused to commit to such an audacious scheme. Lenin continued to press for signing the Brest-Litovsk treaty but infighting amongst Russian factions prevented it. Brutal waves of assassinations and repressions were carried out by the Bolsheviks (including the murder of the Romanov family) (165). Following this Red Terror, Lenin got the treaty signed averting a total collapse in the face of German advances. U.S. funds loaned to London, Paris, and Rome gave the Entente their crucial margin of advantage over the Central Powers (206). Unfortunately, accumulating such debt put them at the mercy of the U.S. (207). The Allies could have fought without U.S. financial backing but it would have been a different kind of war. They chose a deliberately high-risk strategy as part of an all-out effort to deliver a knock-out blow (208). This would have ramifications that impacted the rest of the 20th century in dramatic ways. Realizing, their hopeless position, in October 1918, German Chancellor Max von Baden asked Wilson to negotiate a peace based on the principles laid out in his 14 Points. This opened the window back up for a chance at “Peace without Victory”. Wilson’s unilateral diplomacy outraged the Allies, creating a huge amount of friction within the Entente. After England, France, and Italy had gone into massive debt to win, Wilson was on the verge of letting Germany off the hook (224). Wilson pressed ahead, demanding proof of German moves toward democracy. This amounted to a demand for the Kaiser’s abdication which caused an incendiary mutiny amongst the German officers. Their failed attempt to bring about an apocalyptic final confrontation led to revolution within Germany and the breakdown of the Kaiser’s regime (225). The newly formed Reichstag revolutionary government would sign the armistice terms set by Wilson. Had the British and French known how close Germany was to total collapse due to the ongoing revolution, they could have derailed Wilson’s coup. Germany would not have been unable to resist any military advance (228). While Clemenceau (France) and Lloyd George (UK) couldn’t really challenge Wilson, his domestic opponents did. His decision to negotiate with the enemy while our boys were dying in the fields of France caused outrage back home (230). For the Entente there was nothing that was more clear in the wake of the war than that it’s economic and financial position had changed forever. France future position of subordination was already more definitely marked out by 1919 than was that of Germany’s (289). France tried to rebalance the European economy at the expense of Germany. However, finding a realistic (how much could Germany actually pay) and politically acceptable solution amongst the Big Three (US, UK, France) proved to be divisive. France having suffered the worst of the war and needing to rebuild demanded 55% of all German reparations. While the UK had not been invaded they had suffered huge losses in shipping and had run down its stock of capital to finance France. They feared their less visible losses would go unacknowledged (292-3). Several nations, notably the UK, France, and Italy floated the proposal that Washington consider forgiveness of foreign debt (298). The Europeans argued that the U.S. could afford this seeing they were relatively unscathed and rich. The U.S. swiftly dismissed these proposals. As the Allies haggled over these matters, the situation in Germany continued to deteriorate. Many of the military officers called for military action rather than submit to some of the more humiliating demands (especially those that gave swaths of Prussian heartland to the new state of Poland, especially since they had been victorious on the Eastern Front). These events would culminate in the Kapp Putsch that attempted to overthrow the Weimar Republic. The negotiations at Versailles would have impacts on the other side of the world as well. The refusal to insert a racial equality clause in the League of Nations had embarrassed the Japanese. To secure their signature, they essentially traded away Chinese territory (which resulted in China’s refusal to sign the charter) (322-329). While the U.S. appeared to be best situated to escape the impacts of the war, the cost of living was rising dramatically (343). This economic dislocation created friction within the U.S. The Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board were at odds on how to respond. The Fed wanted to increase interest rates to attract investors but the Treasury resisted such calls as gold was draining out of the U.S. (because it was the last stable currency convertible to gold) (344). As the U.S. was dangerously close to leaving the Gold Standard the Treasury reversed course and agreed to jack rates up to 6%. The deflationary impact was drastic resulting in an abrupt tightening of credit and sending the US economy over a cliff (345). The author argues this event was probably the most underrated event in the twentieth century (354). This rippled across the world. France owed $3 billion to the US and $2 billion to the UK…all of which had to be repaid in dollars or gold. With the deflationary pressure brought on by the US, they could do nothing to promote a growth in exports to bridge the gap. So, they turned to the only source left to them…reparations from Germany (367). While the UK was victorious in the war, their global empire came to be seen as a landscape of rebellion. The talk of rights and self-determination proposed by Wilson created a common political language exploited by smaller nations the world over (374). The UK quickly found themselves dealing with uprisings in Ireland, Egypt, and India at a time when they were trying desperately to reduce military expenditures. While the US had proven unwilling lead in Europe, having failed to ratify the League of Nations agreement, in 1921 the US surprisingly hosted a conference to discuss disarmament in the Pacific. This agreement fixed the ratio of battleships for the US, UK, and Japan at 5:5:3 (Japan agreed to the lower number because their very inclusion conferred on them the status as one of the great powers). The UK tried to build on this success with a conference in Genoa in 1922 in hopes of restoring the European economy. Lloyd George envisioned a grand (and convoluted) scheme whereby aid to Russia would allow them to rebuild (and return to the capitalist fold), this would open a market for German exports and increase their capability to make reparations payments to France. France in turn would be able to repay debts owed to the US (428). The conference would prove a failure. The French, caught in the middle, threatened (and eventually did) use force to occupy the Ruhr region of Germany (440-441). In occupying the Ruhr, France could now extract coal to recoup $850 million gold francs a year. The Germans watched this invasion with growing resentment. The Germans responded with passive resistance refusing to work in the mines. When the government in Berlin declared official support for the strike the German economy tanked. Eventually, the German government gave in (448). However, Germany’s long-simmering civil war was coming back to boil. The German Communist Party claimed to have 113,000 men ready for to launch an uprising (449). When the uprising was put down, Hitler (himself serving 15 months in prison for revolutionary activity) concluded that the only way to topple the system was from within. If economists agree on anything, it was that the deflationary consensus and collective austerity of the early 1930s was disastrous (487). The issue was larger than fear of Weimar-style inflation or conservative efforts to cut welfare. The Gold Standard was tied to visions of international cooperation...the “golden fetters” also constrained the militarists (487-8). A cyclical recession was a small price to pay to uphold international peace and order. The perverse consequence was that advocates of economic growth found themselves increasingly in the insurgent nationalist camp (488). The Germans began top secret negotiations with Vienna on forming a customs union (494). It was intended to widen Germany’s room to maneuver but in effect narrowed it as domestic and international pressure began to grow (495). Growing economic tensions led President Hoover to step in and announce a freeze on all debt payments. As this would benefit Germany at the expense of France they vetoed this proposal. During the ensuing debate, Germany’s financial system collapsed (497). In Japan, participation in the various disarmament talks had angered Army and Navy lobbies (499). In the following months, prominent internationalists in the government were assassinated. Misery across industrial swaths of the Great Britain forced them to abandon the gold standard (500-501). This started a global event causing banks to fail in America and panic in Berlin. Britain had initiated a death spiral of protectionism and currency wars (501). This collapse unfettered the Japanese militarists. The Japanese defense budget doubled from 1930-1934. Politicians trying to slow the growth were gunned down. By 1937, military spending was five times what it was in 1930 (502). The consequences for Germany would become unbearable. Germany had no reserves to weather the storm and could not devalue their currency because their debt was denominated in dollars. Hitler’s Nazi party, promoting work-creation programs, swept to victory with 37% of the vote (503). By 1933, FDR announced that the US would be leaving the Gold Standard. This depreciation of the dollar made it hard to export to the US (505). By July, FDR stated that he would not stabilize the value of US currency, rather it would float to whatever level suited the US economy regardless of its impact on the rest of the world. Hitler took the hint, withdrew from the League of Nations and announced a default on all international obligations (506). Great Britain and France followed suit, suspending payment on billions of dollars of debt (507). This failure of the Democratic alliance opened a strategic window of opportunity in the early 1930s. A window that nightmarish forces in Germany, Japan, Italy, and the Soviet Union would rush through (511).

  14. 5 out of 5

    Frank Stein

    This books barely has an argument, or even a coherent thread tying it all together. The tagline is that world politics after World War I was all about accommodating or opposing the economic dominance of the United States. But the author understands that this is a best a single piece of his puzzle, and often spends whole chapters barely mentioning the US. The book is also sloppy, sometimes mixing up names and secretaries and dates. What the book does provide, however are dozens of little argument This books barely has an argument, or even a coherent thread tying it all together. The tagline is that world politics after World War I was all about accommodating or opposing the economic dominance of the United States. But the author understands that this is a best a single piece of his puzzle, and often spends whole chapters barely mentioning the US. The book is also sloppy, sometimes mixing up names and secretaries and dates. What the book does provide, however are dozens of little arguments and ideas, many of them insightful or even revelatory, which makes this a great book if not a careful one. For one, Tooze shows the plausibility of the "defensist" position proclaimed by the Petrograd Soviet (before the Bolsheviks took them over) in July 1917, which renounced imperial war claims but called on the populace to fight a defensive war for democracy. This demand inspired the Independent Labor Party in Britain and the Independent Social Democratic Party in Germany to try to unite for a new peace on these terms, and for a moment inspired Woodrow Wilson. But it was the rabid reaction of British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, and the demand to fight to the end, which sullied this attempt and ensured the eventual triumph of the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks themselves did not have a coherent alternative to this position, and barely approved the Brest-Livotsk treaty at Lenin's insistence. Lenin eventually signed an addendum to Brest-Livotsk that all but made Russia an ally of imperial Germany, and it was this tying together that led to the British, American, and Japanese attacks in 1918 and 1919. The book also explains how US President Woodrow Wilson's "Peace Without Victory" speech in January 1917 set up America not as a neutral arbiter, but as a nation that was just as determined to fight Britain as Germany. It was only Germany's unrestricted submarine warfare, started just days after Wilson's speech, that led him into the war three months later on Britain's side. At Versailles, Wilson hoped to dismantle as much of the Entente's empires as those of the Central Powers. His reformist tendencies also led him to endorse David Lloyd George's argument that the German reparations payments should include widow's pensions, recently created, which now ensured German enmity. Despite it's subtitle, over half of the book covers the ground from 1916 to 1919. But on this otherwise well-trodden territory, this book sets of lots of little sparks. Even if they don't illuminate the whole era, they do provide a new look at a pivotal moment in world civilization, one which ensured decades more of bloodshed and authoritarianism.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Josh Friedlander

    Tooze knows an enormous amount of facts. His history is global, and economically informed. But he's not the most fun to read. His sentences are crisp and learned, but this book is lumpy, crooked. It presents fascinating anecdotes which abruptly end. I kept asking myself what the central thesis is, and though I have some ideas, I'm still not sure. In an odd twist, most of the book covers a few years around WWI in great detail, while the last bit rushes through about a decade in almost no time, sk Tooze knows an enormous amount of facts. His history is global, and economically informed. But he's not the most fun to read. His sentences are crisp and learned, but this book is lumpy, crooked. It presents fascinating anecdotes which abruptly end. I kept asking myself what the central thesis is, and though I have some ideas, I'm still not sure. In an odd twist, most of the book covers a few years around WWI in great detail, while the last bit rushes through about a decade in almost no time, skipping the rise of Stalin and the Great Depression. But here is what I think is his point: between WWI and the 1930s, the world shifted from being a multilateral sphere of competing imperial Great Powers, to one of tenuous international organisations with the dominant presence of American might (and Wall Street finance) overshadowing it. Much of the war was paid for by loans from JP Morgan and his friends, and afterwards the victors were in nearly as bad financial shape as the losers. Much of the German repayments from the Versailles Treaty went straight from Britain and France to America, where at some points they were lent back to Germany. And the book ends with Ramsey McDonald's courageous decisions to go off the gold standard and finally, unthinkably, default on war debts, saying: Payments that would upset the financial order such as it is would be treason to the whole world. We have to take upon ourselves the thankless task of putting an end to the folly of continuing to pay Mr Tooze is sympathetic to the pacifists and liberal internationalists, the animating spirit behind the League of Nations and the Kellogg-Briand ban on war, and Woodrow Wilson's desire for American influence to obtain "peace without victory" in the Great War, a New World Order rather than an intervention in favour of one side. Such ideas in his view weren't utopian folly but a way of dealing with new conditions: imperial might was untenable when everyone but the US was drowning in debt (and later when even the US looked ropy). Prior to the war, the Prussian or Westminster models of government (or "Liberal Imperialism") were seen as superior to democracy, but the tumultuous forces of nationalism, liberalism among imperial subjects, and the crushing economic depression eviscerated that order and set the stage for the violence of the next war, and the arrangement of the present time.

  16. 4 out of 5

    DC Palter

    I read the book. The entire book. All 518 pages. I don't feel like I learned much. Not because there wasn't much to learn--those 518 pages were chock full of information, but because the level of detail on every page was overwhelming. 518 pages is both too long and too short. It's too long because it went into far more detail than someone who isn't already intimately familiar with all the events and people can follow. But also too short because it covers 15 years of often day-by-day events in som I read the book. The entire book. All 518 pages. I don't feel like I learned much. Not because there wasn't much to learn--those 518 pages were chock full of information, but because the level of detail on every page was overwhelming. 518 pages is both too long and too short. It's too long because it went into far more detail than someone who isn't already intimately familiar with all the events and people can follow. But also too short because it covers 15 years of often day-by-day events in something like 10 different countries from US, Britain, France, Germany and UK, to China, Japan, India, Italy, Poland, Turkey, Greece plus the politics of the Baltics, Caucuses, Ottoman, and Slavic regions. It ties the inability of the British to deal with Indian protests against British rule to decisions made to strip Turkey of its Middle Eastern territories. Which by itself would be fascinating, but gets a single page. There are a lot of events in 15 years. Not just the big things, like the war and the depression and the battle between capitalism, communism, and fascism, but who said what at a conference (and there seemed to be a conference nearly every day) that boxed himself in at the next conference or with his political rivals back home. So it ends up feeling like a 518 page wikipedia article. Better written, of course, but without links to focus on the interesting parts. And it ends in 1931, just when things start to happen. Overall, a great book for someone who is already highly familiar with the politics of the post-WW1 period. It is a highly detailed analysis of how the rise of the US as a superpower that relied on economics instead of soldiers but had no interest in leading the world. It asserts how the US gave hope to the promise of peace, then dashed it by ignoring the details of maintaining peace and resolving the contradictions and instability inherent in the transition from colonialism to self-determination.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    Tooze provides excellent coverage of the world situation in these years, and it’s especially refreshing to see China, Japan and India included in a book about World War I. If you need an overview of the major geopolitical events during this period look no further. On the downside, economic issues are over emphasized. Be prepared to read about monetary policy, central banks, trade, debt, etc. This focus detracts from cultural, political and military issues, some of which are of greater or equal si Tooze provides excellent coverage of the world situation in these years, and it’s especially refreshing to see China, Japan and India included in a book about World War I. If you need an overview of the major geopolitical events during this period look no further. On the downside, economic issues are over emphasized. Be prepared to read about monetary policy, central banks, trade, debt, etc. This focus detracts from cultural, political and military issues, some of which are of greater or equal significance. There also doesn’t seem to be much new research here, which you can see when you browse through the notes. Essentially, this is a very well written synthesis. A little disappointing after reading his other work on the Third Reich.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nils

    A brilliant account of America's arrival as the greatest of the Great Power as a result of the calamities of the Great War. The best account available of the riven internal politics within each of the Great Powers as an explanation for the desperation-driven strategic and negotiating shifts in the last two years of the war and then in its aftermath. Tooze's beautifully written synthesizes a vast literature about the war and its aftermath, and weaves it together with a thoroughly original thesis. A brilliant account of America's arrival as the greatest of the Great Power as a result of the calamities of the Great War. The best account available of the riven internal politics within each of the Great Powers as an explanation for the desperation-driven strategic and negotiating shifts in the last two years of the war and then in its aftermath. Tooze's beautifully written synthesizes a vast literature about the war and its aftermath, and weaves it together with a thoroughly original thesis. Tooze is an economic historian by background, and this tells in this classic piece of diplomatic history that focuses above all on the way that debates over loans and debt drove America to the center of global influence. Methodologically, it is a classic piece of diplomatic history, focused above all on the great powers involved in the war (Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Russia, China, Japan, the Ottomans, and the United States) and the negotiations that took place over the major treaties and war strategies. Several things set Tooze's account apart. First, he is exquisitely attentive to the internal political battlelines within each country that drove their leaders' strategy and bargaining positions both on war aims in the second half of the war, and in the various negotiations that took place after the war. Second, as an economic historian, he is wonderfully deft at showing the singular importance of financial matters in driving strategic concerns -- the way that financial concerns drove the U.S. into the war (to make sure that the enormous loans that Morgan was giving to the Entente would be repaid), and how in the aftermath of the war, as the U.S. emerged as a huge creditor, and Britain and France as huge debtors to the U.S., that this became an enormous driver for these latter countries (especially France's) insistence on reparations from Germany in order to cover their debts to the Americans. How debt and its associated inflations and deflations drove different factions out of and into power within countries, and therefore affected their negotiating positions, is always clearly delineated. At the same time, however, Tooze is no economic determinist. He has a wonderful eye for personality and telling quotes, and has deep sensitivity to how the contingency of decisions and sequences of events determined world-historical outcomes. The role of emotional vectors like humiliation (a word that re-appears dozens of times, and not just in reference to the politics of East Asia) is made centrally clear. Nor is Tooze shy about making moral judgements about different regimes: the word "odious" appears ten times, mostly to describe the Bolsheviks. Worth the price of admission alone is his brilliant revisionist reading of Woodrow Wilson not (as the dominant narrative has it) as a Presbyterian prig prmoting starry-eyed cosmopolitan internationalist idealism, but rather as a mournful Southerner attempting to forge a non-punitive peace that would allow the master races of Europe to make up their differences in order to be able to renew on liberal terms their collaborative domination of the benighted races. As with any book that takes on such a vast terrain, there are omissions and occasional missteps. It focuses almost exclusively on the major powers, taking only relatively quick glances at the positions of other players, like the Irish, Poles, Indians, Ukranians, Arabs, or Balkans of various stripes. While the book cannot help but be written with the backward shadow of impending Nazism and postwar Stalinist and Maoist domination of the East, he takes pains to emphasize that the actors at the time could of course not have known the horrors that were coming and were therefore not interpretting the course of events in that light. Still, he himself lapses into occasional anachronisms. For example using the term "third worldist" to describe the global revolutionary faction at the Baku Comintern meeting of 1920 (the term "third world" only arises after WWII and "third worldist" is a term from the 1970s). And he describes the confrontational labor politics of 1919 in the United States as being led by the AFL-CIO -- though the CIO was not formed until 1935, and then in opposition to the perceived lack of radicalism on the part of the American Federation of Labor (the two organizations would merge only in 1955). But these are obviously minor quibbles in a book of such ambitious scope and marvelous execution. A tour de force. Highest recommendation.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Emmanuel Gustin

    This is a genuinely interesting book, but one that I have some mixed feelings about. At 518 pages plus appendices, its lucidity and quality of writing are uneven. Some sections are revealing and fascinating and stimulate reading. Others are sketchy and jarring, sequences of bald statements with little detail. You get the feeling that despite the length of the book, Tooze did not achieve all his ambitions for it. In places it requires real perseverance. In a way, it is an optimistic book. Tooze s This is a genuinely interesting book, but one that I have some mixed feelings about. At 518 pages plus appendices, its lucidity and quality of writing are uneven. Some sections are revealing and fascinating and stimulate reading. Others are sketchy and jarring, sequences of bald statements with little detail. You get the feeling that despite the length of the book, Tooze did not achieve all his ambitions for it. In places it requires real perseverance. In a way, it is an optimistic book. Tooze shows us that conventional narrative of the end of WWI and the interbellum, the often told story of idealism losing out against the forces of nationalism and narrow-minded conservatism, is unfair. Instead many, if not almost all, players on the world stage tried to find new solutions for the new problems they were confronted with. Ultimately, they failed, but in many cases it was not because of lack of imagination or good intent. In its security, the USA is revealed to have been the most conservative player, while states such as France and Japan were not nearly as hidebound as is often assumed. As an economic historian, Tooze devotes many pages to the financial crises that racked the post-war world. He is very critical of the USA's determination to see full payment of wartime debt, building a strong case that its insistence on getting its pound of flesh was destabilising, loaded the international financial system with vast amounts of "bad debts", and blocked actions that could have prevented the worst. That lesson continues to resonate until today. Tooze is at his best when he introduces us to unknown events, forgotten wars, treaties and negotiations that got lost in time, ideals and political programmes that are no longer part of our culture. In this books (and this is a sad thing for a historian) he seems at his worst when he tries to make sense of it all. No clear conclusion emerges. In the mid-1930s, the world was heading for disaster again, but the reasons remain so complex as to defy full interpretation. Tooze makes a good case that the Wilsonian idealism was too narrow, and a too dubious combination of naked self-interest with self-righteous idealism, to be a real answer. He indulges in a bit of historical speculation here and there, suggesting what the alternatives could have been, but it is not very convincing. In summary, I'd say that for anyone really interested in the period, this is so loaded with information and insights that it qualifies as a must-read, even if it can be hard work. But it certainly can't be the last word on its subject.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    An extraordinary book that changed my view of this critical period of economic history. I had enjoyed Adam Tooze's Wages of Destruction on World War 2 from an economic history viewpoint. His latest book goes back to map the making of the world order as the US moves into the position of being the most economically powerful country in the world. He explains how the US was essentially financing the First World War and how its financial interests gradually acquired a strong stake in the outcome and An extraordinary book that changed my view of this critical period of economic history. I had enjoyed Adam Tooze's Wages of Destruction on World War 2 from an economic history viewpoint. His latest book goes back to map the making of the world order as the US moves into the position of being the most economically powerful country in the world. He explains how the US was essentially financing the First World War and how its financial interests gradually acquired a strong stake in the outcome and helped the US join in. He also explains the failures of the post war settlement and the failures of 1920s economic management that led to the collapse of banking systems and international trade in the 1930s and almost guaranteed the path to the Second World War. A well written incredibly well researched book though I though he flagged a little in the late 1920s or maybe it was just me flagging.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Keith McGowan

    I was drawn to this book for its promise. It did not deliver. For all those reviews that talked about this book's wonderful thesis, please tell me what it is. That America became the leading power because of the economic turmoil? Does it really take 518 pages to develop and prove that thesis? The author obviously did an incredible amount of research and provides excruciating details of the events from 1916 to 1931. What the book lacks is any correlation to modern times. There is no discussion of u I was drawn to this book for its promise. It did not deliver. For all those reviews that talked about this book's wonderful thesis, please tell me what it is. That America became the leading power because of the economic turmoil? Does it really take 518 pages to develop and prove that thesis? The author obviously did an incredible amount of research and provides excruciating details of the events from 1916 to 1931. What the book lacks is any correlation to modern times. There is no discussion of underlying themes or synthesis of ideas - merely a recitation of events as they occurred. We are faced with similar economic turmoil, but the author wholly fails to offer any lessons for today. This failure leads to a book that is only an academic exercise with 65 pages of footnotes.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Scott Jones

    This book was very ambitious in its aims and scope. Overall the author did a nice job. My goal was to learn more about the morass that was created as a result of the Great War, and how that led to the eventual Second World War. it gave some great insight into that. So, goal accomplished! I did feel that the author could have had a bit more focus at times, but the jumping around (especially toward the end of the book) may have been necessary. Or, maybe he was in a rush to finish the book and thoug This book was very ambitious in its aims and scope. Overall the author did a nice job. My goal was to learn more about the morass that was created as a result of the Great War, and how that led to the eventual Second World War. it gave some great insight into that. So, goal accomplished! I did feel that the author could have had a bit more focus at times, but the jumping around (especially toward the end of the book) may have been necessary. Or, maybe he was in a rush to finish the book and thought the mid-late 1920s only needed a few dozen pages to cover. Overall worth the read and definitely recommended!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Fisher

    At times immensely informative and humbling in scope -- Tooze moves away from typical martial narratives of grand power and hones in on the economic reconfiguration of the post-Versailles world -- a world in which it is the balance sheets which undergird the balance of power -- this approach yields an excellent work of history, with a few exceptions, most notably an antipathy towards the Bolshevik regime that borders on lunacy. This (admittedly, quite partisan) qualification aside, its considera At times immensely informative and humbling in scope -- Tooze moves away from typical martial narratives of grand power and hones in on the economic reconfiguration of the post-Versailles world -- a world in which it is the balance sheets which undergird the balance of power -- this approach yields an excellent work of history, with a few exceptions, most notably an antipathy towards the Bolshevik regime that borders on lunacy. This (admittedly, quite partisan) qualification aside, its considerations of the new post-1917 negotiated world is worth studying.

  24. 4 out of 5

    David

    While the subject is sprawling and difficult to encompass in a single volume, the author does not fully succeed in adding coherence to the history. His conclusions are somewhat muddy, both in detail and in the postscript, and I had a very hard time unpacking the crucial economics of the period. This is not to impugn his magisterial treatment of the diplomatic history and the impressive detail balanced with the need for (relative) brevity.

  25. 4 out of 5

    David

    Exhaustive and exhausting. Not so much a reading as a beating. And yes, all the other reviews are correct. It is an academic work of monumental research. It covers many topics that are too often ignored. It lays the groundwork for understanding the period between the wars. etc. etc. I guess I needed the abridged version for my small brain.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    This book is really dense in terms of topics and I needed a bit more hand holding at times in terms of background. But in my mind if you are interested in this topic, it will definitely get you the info you need. I guess I just needed a bit more of an "Economics and Politics of WWI for Dummies" type book. But that won't stop me from reading Tooze's book on the financial crisis. This book is really dense in terms of topics and I needed a bit more hand holding at times in terms of background. But in my mind if you are interested in this topic, it will definitely get you the info you need. I guess I just needed a bit more of an "Economics and Politics of WWI for Dummies" type book. But that won't stop me from reading Tooze's book on the financial crisis.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pinko Palest

    revisionist history just for the sake of being revisionist. Many interesting points, but it doesn't hang together. A strong current of anti-communism permeates the whole. Interesting that AJP Taylor doesn't even get a mention in the text revisionist history just for the sake of being revisionist. Many interesting points, but it doesn't hang together. A strong current of anti-communism permeates the whole. Interesting that AJP Taylor doesn't even get a mention in the text

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Hallstrand

    This book was my favorite read in this genre since Guns Germs and Steel. It sheds so much light on the imperial designs that left the world ready for a re-ignition of conflict for WWII.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Will

    "But however determined this programme of domestic consolidation, following the Reichstag election results of May 1924, not even the votes of the SPD were sufficient to carry the constitutional amendments necessary to ratify the Dawes Plan, which included an international mortgage on the Reichsbahn. Over a quarter of the German electorate had voted for the far right - 19 per cent for the DNVP, almost 7 per cent for Hitler's NSDAP. Almost 13 per cent had opted for the Communists. The two-thirds m "But however determined this programme of domestic consolidation, following the Reichstag election results of May 1924, not even the votes of the SPD were sufficient to carry the constitutional amendments necessary to ratify the Dawes Plan, which included an international mortgage on the Reichsbahn. Over a quarter of the German electorate had voted for the far right - 19 per cent for the DNVP, almost 7 per cent for Hitler's NSDAP. Almost 13 per cent had opted for the Communists. The two-thirds majority would have to include at least some deputies from the DNVP, intransigent foes of the Versailles Treaty and the progenitors of the 'stab in the back' legend. So concerned were the foreign powers that the American ambassador Alanson Houghton intervened directly in German party politics, summoning leading figures in the DNVP to explain bluntly that if they rejected the Dawes Plan, it would be one hundred years before America ever assisted Germany again. Under huge pressure from their business backers, on 29 August 1924 enough DNVP members defected to the government side to ratify the plan. In exchange, the Reich government offered a sop to the nationalist community by formally renouncing its acceptance of the war-guilt clause of the Versailles Treaty. Nevertheless, on 10 October 1924 Jack Morgan bit his tongue and signed the loan agreement that committed his bank along with major financial interests in London, Paris and even Brussels to the 800-million Goldmarks loan. The loan was to apply the salve of business common sense to the wounds left by the war. And it was certainly an attractive proposition. The issuers of the Dawes Loan paid only 87 cents on the dollar for their bonds. They were to be redeemed with a 5 per cent premium. For the 800 million Reichsmarks it received, Germany would service bonds with a face value of 1.027 billion. But if Morgan's were bewildered by the role they had been forced to play, this speaks to the eerie quality of the reconfiguration of international politics in 1924. The Labour government that hosted the final negotiations in London was the first socialist government elected to preside over the most important capitalist centre of the old world, supposedly committed by its party manifesto of 1919 to a radical platform of nationalization and social transformation. And yet in the name of 'peace' and 'prosperity' it was working hand in glove with an avowedly conservative adminstration in Washington and the Bank of England to satisfy the demands of American investors, in the process imposing a damaging financial settlement on a radical reforming government in France, to the benefit of a German Republic, which was at the time ruled by a coalition dominated by the once notorious annexationist, but now reformed Gustav Stresemann. 'Depoliticization' is a euphemistic way of describing this tableau of mutual evisceration. Certainly, it had been no plan of Wilson's New Freedom to raise Morgan's to such heights. In fact, even Morgan's did not want to own the terms of the Dawes Settlement. Whereas Wilson had invoked public opinion as the final authority, this was now represented by the 'investing' public, for whom the bankers, as financial advisors, were merely the spokesmen. But if a collective humbling of the European political class had been what lay behind Wilson's call for a 'peace without victory' eight years earlier, one can't help thinking that the Dawes Plan and the London Conference of 1924 must have had him chuckling in his freshly dug grave. It was a peace. There were certainly no European victors."

  30. 5 out of 5

    Emre

    The First World War was a deluge, a devastating and cataclysmic flood that was washing away the old older, allowing for a new global balance, with its new leaders and its new rules, to take its place and transform the world. This is the process that historian Adam Tooze undertakes to describe in his book, through his own uniquely perceptive account and analysis. The story begins in 1916, when the Entente and the Central powers were locked in titanic and total struggle, and where the balance of p The First World War was a deluge, a devastating and cataclysmic flood that was washing away the old older, allowing for a new global balance, with its new leaders and its new rules, to take its place and transform the world. This is the process that historian Adam Tooze undertakes to describe in his book, through his own uniquely perceptive account and analysis. The story begins in 1916, when the Entente and the Central powers were locked in titanic and total struggle, and where the balance of power seemed so close that the entrance of Romania into the war could be enough to determine the future of the world. Both sides looked to the newly emerged great power, the United States, to tip the balance into their side’s favor. But the Americans had their own ideas. The Deluge describes how the American leaders sought to remake the world into their own image, perhaps for the sake of world peace, but also for their own advantage. Such a world would abandon war as an instrument of policy, and would adopt the rationalizing principles of business and international adjudication to resolve conflicts. But such a world would crucially depend on the assent of the United States for all of its major decisions, because America was the financial anchor upon which the post-war system of war debts, reparations, and the pursuit of a gold standard depended. But how would this warless world enforce its rules? And how would national self-determination take shape in a financialized international system? How would this new system deal with the gigantic Eurasian pariahs, namely the Soviet Union and China? Could the industrial countries control the emerging social forces of modernity while pursuing austerity and deflationary fiscal policies? It turned out that the “deluge” of the Great War, far from presenting a clean slate for progressive leaders to work on, had left its own terrible mess. Tooze describes the important conferences and treaties of the time period, and explains the motives of the actors involved, as well as the complicated circumstances that pressured their decisions. His account is very astute, distinguishing within nations between different political and social forces, as well as drawing international connections between these actors. His account is also broad, involving, beyond the Atlantic, the political histories of the British dominions, India, Turkey, Egypt, China, Japan, and the Soviet Union. Tooze’s book describes the tumultuous attempt to create a liberal world order based upon financial internationalism, disarmament, and sovereignty, but uncovers the implicit contradictions of this process, contradictions that would be exploited by the “insurgents”, such Atatürk, Gandhi, Hitler, and Sun Yat-Sen. In his analysis he does not approach these developments with the contempt of hindsight. Instead, he emphasizes the tragedy of the unfortunate coincidences faced by the contemporary elites. He describes some of their misguided beliefs and strategies. He ultimately identifies the central paradox that would unravel the post-war order before it was re-created it into the world we know today. And if “the world we know today” can be described as a deteriorating liberal order struggling to reconcile internationalism with nationalism, Tooze’s story of the world in the 1920s is very relevant to our own predicaments. It even has a familiar cast, though some have changed roles.

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