Winner of the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize
“A superb and immensely important book.”—Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
The Second World War might have officially ended in May 1945, but in reality it rumbled on for another ten years...
The end of World War II in Europe is remembered as a time when cheering crowds filled the streets, but the reality was quite different. Across Europe, landscapes had been ravaged, entire cities razed, and more than thirty million people had been killed in the war. The institutions that we now take for granted—such as police, media, transport, and local and national government—were either entirely absent or compromised. Crime rates soared, economies collapsed, and whole populations hovered on the brink of starvation.. In Savage Continent, Keith Lowe describes a continent where individual Germans and collaborators were rounded up and summarily executed, where concentration camps were reopened, and violent anti-Semitism was reborn. In some of the monstrous acts of ethnic cleansing the world has ever seen, tens of millions were expelled from their ancestral homelands. Savage Continent is the story of post–war Europe, from the close of the war right to the establishment of an uneasy stability at the end of the 1940s. Based principally on primary sources from a dozen countries, Savage Continent is the chronicle of a world gone mad, the standard history of post–World War II Europe for years to come.
"A superb and immensely important book."—The Washington Post
“A breathtaking, numbing account of the physical and moral desolation that plagued Europe in the late 1940s. Authoritative but never dry, stripping away soothing myths of national unity and victimhood, this is a painful but necessary historical task superbly done.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Lowe’s work, thoroughly researched and written with scrupulous objectivity, promises to be the year’s best book on European history.”—Financial Times (London)
“Deeply harrowing. Moving, measured, and provocative. A compelling picture of a continent physically and morally brutalized by slaughter.”—The Sunday Times (London)
“A graphic and chilling account of the murderous vengeance, terroristic reprisals, and ferocious ethnic cleansing that gripped Europe following—and often as a direct continuation of—the Second World War. Keith Lowe’s excellent book paints a little-known and frightening picture of a continent in the embrace of lawlessness, chaos, and unconstrained violence.”—Ian Kershaw, author of The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler’s Germany, 1944–1945
“Savage Continent is a powerful and disturbing book, painstakingly researched and written with both authority and an impressive historical sweep.”—James Holland, author of Italy’s Sorrow and The Battle of Britain
Europe in the Aftermath of World War II