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The Vertigo Years: Europe, 1900-1914

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The Vertigo Years: Europe, 1900-1914 Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Europe, 1900–1914: a world adrift, a pulsating era of creativity and contradictions. The major topics of the day: terrorism, globalization, immigration, consumerism, the collapse of moral values, and the rivalry of superpowers. The twentieth century was not born in the trenches of the Somme or Passchendaele — but rather in the fifteen vertiginous years preceding World War I.

In this short span of time, a new world order was emerging in ultimately tragic contradiction to the old. These were the years in which the political and personal repercussions of the Industrial Revolution were felt worldwide: Cities grew like never before as people fled the countryside and their traditional identities; science created new possibilities as well as nightmares; education changed the outlook of millions of people; mass-produced items transformed daily life; industrial laborers demanded a share of political power; and women sought to change their place in society — as well as the very fabric of sexual relations.

From the tremendous hope for a new century embodied in the 1900 World's Fair in Paris to the shattering assassination of a Habsburg archduke in Sarajevo in 1914, historian Philipp Blom chronicles this extraordinary epoch year by year. Prime Ministers and peasants, anarchists and actresses, scientists and psychopaths intermingle on the stage of a new century in this portrait of an opulent, unstable age on the brink of disaster.

Beautifully written and replete with deftly told anecdotes, The Vertigo Years brings the wonders, horrors, and fears of the early twentieth century vividly to life.

Review:

"Virginia Woolf famously declared that 'human character changed' in the year 1910; this dizzying survey of European history and culture before WWI elaborates. Historian Blom (Enlightening the World) examines every innovation of the turbulent period that, in his estimate, gave birth to modernity and its discontents. Automobiles, airplanes and electricity gave humans unprecedented speed and power; the explosive growth of industry, cities and consumerism shattered and rebuilt communities; women, moving into schools and workplaces, demanded new rights; mass politics and mass media challenged traditional authority; psychoanalysis and the theory of relativity challenged ideas about humans and about time and space. The panorama is almost too much to take in, especially since Blom rightly complicates the picture by exploring the diverse ways in which different countries experienced these upheavals. His stab at a unifying theme — a perceived crisis of masculinity that panicked everyone from Proust to proto-Nazi racists as sex roles changed and a machine-driven, bureaucratic economy made muscle-power and martial virtues obsolete — is fruitful, but it only partially illuminates the times. This is a stylish, erudite guide to an age of exhilaration and anxiety that in many ways invented our own. Photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"We, of course, know how the story ends, but Blom succeeds in infusing this outstanding chronicle with drama, compassion, and poignancy." Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"Blom's profiles of numerous artists, architects, writers, activists, politicians, and just ordinary Europeans gives the reader a sense of the magnitude of the transformation that took place in pre-World War I Europe." Library Journal

Review:

"Impressive and thought-provoking....[E]ncapsulate[s] complex historical and biographical events pithily and in an illuminating context....The book brings the fears, enthusiasms and blindspots of the period brilliantly to life." The Economist

Review:

"The vertiginous atmosphere of a tumbling prewar society — at the same time exciting and frightening — is described with atmospheric clarity. The combination of easily worn scholarship, fascinating character studies and fluent story-telling that is often very funny makes this a hugely enjoyable and illuminating book....A work of narrative history at its best." The Guardian (U.K.)

Synopsis:

The old order gives way to the new in a vast panoramic history of Europe on the brink of the Great War.

Synopsis:

From the tremendous hope for a new century embodied in the 1900 World's Fair in Paris to the shattering assassination of a Habsburg archduke in Sarajevo in 1914, historian Blom chronicles this extraordinary epoch, year by year.

About the Author

Philipp Blom holds a doctorate from Oxford University and is the author of To Have and To Hold and Enlightening the World. He frequently contributes articles to The Financial Times, The Independent, and The Guardian among others. He lives in Vienna.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Found Highways, February 23, 2009 (view all comments by Found Highways)
Philipp Blom's excellent social history, The Vertigo Years: Europe 1900-1914 covers politics, philosophy, architecture, art, music, opera, literature, film. It tells the stories of actors, kings, scientists, and murderers of both kinds (the psychopaths who killed one person at a time and political leaders who enslaved millions).

It's the story of what George Bernard Shaw called “the New Man, demoralizing himself with a halfpenny newspaper,” someone who (according to Octave Mirbeau) “can no longer stand still . . . impatient to get going once he has arrived somewhere because it is not somewhere else. . .”

But everyone who lived then wasn't like Shaw, in essence a person of the nineteenth century. There were artists (like Picasso and Matisse) and scientists (like Einstein, Curie, and Edison) who saw what benefits this new world of speed could bring to humanity if it were allowed to.

The Vertigo Years asks: how would we have experienced the first fifteen years of the twentieth century if the rest of it (with Nazism, Stalinism, two world wars, and the atomic bomb) didn't haunt us from the future?

The Vertigo Years is very readable history, not counterfactual fantasy, but it does prove what Emile Durkheim said: “Reality seems valueless by comparison with the dreams of fevered imagination.”

Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(27 of 56 readers found this comment helpful)
cindylou15, January 17, 2009 (view all comments by cindylou15)
this was an interesting book.i also enjoyed it very much.
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(2 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780465011162
Subtitle:
Europe, 1900-1914
Publisher:
Basic Books
Author:
Blom, Philipp
Subject:
General
Subject:
General History
Subject:
Europe - General
Subject:
History
Subject:
Civilization
Subject:
Europe Civilization 20th century.
Subject:
Europe History 1871-1918.
Subject:
Europe Social conditions 20th century.
Copyright:
Edition Description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Publication Date:
November 2008
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
from 9
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
488
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in 23 oz
Age Level:
from 18

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Western Civilization » 20th Century
History and Social Science » Western Civilization » General

The Vertigo Years: Europe, 1900-1914
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 488 pages Basic Books - English 9780465011162 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Virginia Woolf famously declared that 'human character changed' in the year 1910; this dizzying survey of European history and culture before WWI elaborates. Historian Blom (Enlightening the World) examines every innovation of the turbulent period that, in his estimate, gave birth to modernity and its discontents. Automobiles, airplanes and electricity gave humans unprecedented speed and power; the explosive growth of industry, cities and consumerism shattered and rebuilt communities; women, moving into schools and workplaces, demanded new rights; mass politics and mass media challenged traditional authority; psychoanalysis and the theory of relativity challenged ideas about humans and about time and space. The panorama is almost too much to take in, especially since Blom rightly complicates the picture by exploring the diverse ways in which different countries experienced these upheavals. His stab at a unifying theme — a perceived crisis of masculinity that panicked everyone from Proust to proto-Nazi racists as sex roles changed and a machine-driven, bureaucratic economy made muscle-power and martial virtues obsolete — is fruitful, but it only partially illuminates the times. This is a stylish, erudite guide to an age of exhilaration and anxiety that in many ways invented our own. Photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "We, of course, know how the story ends, but Blom succeeds in infusing this outstanding chronicle with drama, compassion, and poignancy."
"Review" by , "Blom's profiles of numerous artists, architects, writers, activists, politicians, and just ordinary Europeans gives the reader a sense of the magnitude of the transformation that took place in pre-World War I Europe."
"Review" by , "Impressive and thought-provoking....[E]ncapsulate[s] complex historical and biographical events pithily and in an illuminating context....The book brings the fears, enthusiasms and blindspots of the period brilliantly to life."
"Review" by , "The vertiginous atmosphere of a tumbling prewar society — at the same time exciting and frightening — is described with atmospheric clarity. The combination of easily worn scholarship, fascinating character studies and fluent story-telling that is often very funny makes this a hugely enjoyable and illuminating book....A work of narrative history at its best."
"Synopsis" by , The old order gives way to the new in a vast panoramic history of Europe on the brink of the Great War.
"Synopsis" by , From the tremendous hope for a new century embodied in the 1900 World's Fair in Paris to the shattering assassination of a Habsburg archduke in Sarajevo in 1914, historian Blom chronicles this extraordinary epoch, year by year.
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