Dreamland: Europeans and Jews in the Aftermath of the Great War.

Sachar, Howard M.

Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2002
ISBN 10: 0375409149 / ISBN 13: 9780375409141
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Octavo in dust jacket, xii, map, 386 pp., notes, bibliography, index, maps. Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: The Great War, as World War I was known in its time, was described by its survivors and contemporary historians as “the war to end all wars,” “the war to make the world safe for democracy.” By its end, in November 1918, Europe’s authoritarian old empires had fallen, and new and seemingly democratic successor states and governments were rising from the ensuing debris. In chronicling an era that was both visionary and tempestuous, Howard M. Sachar directs our attention to the fate specifically of Europe’s Jewish minority as a classic litmus test of the Continent’s transformation.

Writing with his characteristic lucidity and verve, Sachar enriches his narrative by focusing on the careers of some of its major players: Poland’s Józef Pi´lsudski, Rumania’s King Carol, Czechoslo-vakia’s Tomás? Masaryk, Austria’s Sigmund Freud, Germany’s Rosa Luxemburg, and France’s Léon Blum, among many other protean figures, Jews and Gentiles alike. With surgical precision, Dreamland traces the fate of Europe’s early postwar idealism under the pressures of demographic and political revolution, nationalist and economic frustration, and Depression-exacerbated xenophobia.

In the richness of its human tapestry and the acuity of its social insights, Dreamland masterfully expands our understanding of a watershed era in modern history.

Review: Would a new, liberal, and ecumenical Europe emerge from the bloody horrors of World War I and the dismantling of long-entrenched autocracies? The answer, according to Howard Sachar's authoritative Dreamland, is a resounding "No." Sachar describes what we now know was the rapid collapse of post-war idealism by tracing the social and political fortunes of the continent's most fragile, resilient, and high-profile minority: the Jews. Though the bedrock of the book is a wide-ranging analysis of the highly complex European stew of nationalism, xenophobia, re-invention and revolutionary movements, Sachar manages to turn it into a narrative of sorts by focusing on the lives of a half-dozen or so "canaries in the mine": Sigmund Freud; Marcel Proust, Rosa Luxemburg, Franz Kafka, and Hungary's Bela Kun among them. Dreamland is a formidable work of erudition and scholarship; illuminating but extremely detailed and demanding. --H. O'Billovitch

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Title: Dreamland: Europeans and Jews in the ...
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Publication Date: 2002
Binding: Hardbound
Book Condition: Very Good
Edition: First Edition

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