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A World on Edge

A World on Edge

The End of the Great War and the Dawn of a New Age

Daniel Schönpflug

Metropolitan Books

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The story of the aftermath of World War I, a transformative time when a new world seemed possible—told from the vantage of people, famous and ordinary, who lived through the turmoil

November 1918. The Great War has left Europe in ruins, but with the end of hostilities, a radical new start seems not only possible, but essential, even unavoidable. Unorthodox ideas light up the age: new politics, new societies, new art and culture, new thinking. The struggle to determine the future has begun.

Sculptor Käthe Kollwitz, whose son died in the war, is translating sorrow and loss into art. Captain Harry Truman is running a men’s haberdashery in Kansas City, hardly expecting he will soon go bankrupt—and then become president of the United States. Moina Michael is about to invent the “remembrance poppy,” a symbol of sacrifice that will stand for generations to come. Meanwhile Virginia Woolf is questioning whether that sacrifice was worth it, and George Grosz is so revolted by the violence on the streets of Berlin that he decides everything is meaningless. For rulers and revolutionaries, a world of power and privilege is dying—while for others, a dream of overthrowing democracy is being born.

With novelistic virtuosity, Daniel Schönpflug describes this watershed time as it was experienced on the ground—open-ended, unfathomable, its outcome unclear. Combining a multitude of acutely observed details, Schönpflug shows us a world suspended between enthusiasm and disappointment, in which the win… More…

The story of the aftermath of World War I, a transformative time when a new world seemed possible—told from the vantage of people, famous and ordinary, who lived through the turmoil

November 1918. The Great War has left Europe in ruins, but with the end of hostilities, a radical new start seems not only possible, but essential, even unavoidable. Unorthodox ideas light up the age: new politics, new societies, new art and culture, new thinking. The struggle to determine the future has begun.

Sculptor Käthe Kollwitz, whose son died in the war, is translating sorrow and loss into art. Captain Harry Truman is running a men’s haberdashery in Kansas City, hardly expecting he will soon go bankrupt—and then become president of the United States. Moina Michael is about to invent the “remembrance poppy,” a symbol of sacrifice that will stand for generations to come. Meanwhile Virginia Woolf is questioning whether that sacrifice was worth it, and George Grosz is so revolted by the violence on the streets of Berlin that he decides everything is meaningless. For rulers and revolutionaries, a world of power and privilege is dying—while for others, a dream of overthrowing democracy is being born.

With novelistic virtuosity, Daniel Schönpflug describes this watershed time as it was experienced on the ground—open-ended, unfathomable, its outcome unclear. Combining a multitude of acutely observed details, Schönpflug shows us a world suspended between enthusiasm and disappointment, in which the window of opportunity was suddenly open, only to quickly close shut again.

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Daniel Schönpflug

Daniel Schönpflug is an internationally recognized historian at the Free University, Berlin. He has also lectured at Harvard University, the Sorbonne, and the University of London. As the author of numerous docudramas and a consultant on radio and television programs, he has also successfully brought history to a wider public.

image of Daniel Schönpflugo
Andreas Labes

Daniel Schönpflug

Metropolitan Books

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