Author(s): Ian Kershaw
In the summer of 1914 most of Europe plunged into a war so catastrophic that it unhinged the continent's politics and beliefs in a way that took generations to recover from. The disaster terrified its survivors, shocked that a civilization that had blandly assumed itself to be a model for the rest of the world had collapsed into a chaotic savagery beyond any comparison. In 1939 Europeans would initiate a second conflict that managed to be even worse - a war in which the killing of civilians was central and which culminated in the Holocaust. To Hell and Back tells this story with humanity, flair and originality. Kershaw gives a compelling narrative of events, but he also wrestles with the most difficult issues that the events raise - with what it meant for the Europeans who initiated and lived through such fearful times - and what this means for us.
Few authors would have the ability, and perhaps the determination, to take on the history of both world wars and the connecting decades at this level of sophistication, depth and breadth -- Robert Tombs The Times It is a great achievement to cover such vast historical territory in under 600 pages and with such scrupulous balance, care and good sense. Other historians' books on the same period may be flashier or more provocative. But to read Kershaw on Europe's bloody century is to be driven through a ravaged landscape in the sleek, smooth comfort of a Rolls-Royce, guided by a historian who probably knows the territory better than anybody else on the planet -- Dominic Sandbrook Sunday Times
Ian Kershaw is the author of Hitler, Fateful Choices and The End.