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The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s

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Overview

In this sweeping history, distinguished historian Piers Brendon brings the tragic, dismal days of the 1930s to life.

Like the classic work of Barbara Tuchman, The Dark Valley captures the vast scope of history as well as the minutia of everyday life, rendering a huge topic comprehensible and creating a gripping, page-turning drama. Brendon’s alternating chapters on the eight principle countries–Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, ...
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Overview

In this sweeping history, distinguished historian Piers Brendon brings the tragic, dismal days of the 1930s to life.

Like the classic work of Barbara Tuchman, The Dark Valley captures the vast scope of history as well as the minutia of everyday life, rendering a huge topic comprehensible and creating a gripping, page-turning drama. Brendon’s alternating chapters on the eight principle countries–Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Russia, and the United States–examine the internal situation of each against the backdrop of the world. Perhaps the definitive work on this pivotal decade, The Dark Valley will appeal to any reader of serious history.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The 1930s were an uncertain and turbulent time. The Great Depression brought rampant unemployment and hardship, while Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini came to dominate the political scene in Europe. Focusing on the United States, Germany, Italy, France, Britain, Japan, Russia, and Spain, historian and scholar Piers Brendon presents a massive and authoritative look at the world in the days before the carnage of World War II.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Brendon's latest book is ambitious, covering the world's convulsive descent from the economic and political chaos of the 1930s into the global slaughter of the war-torn 1940s. Taking his title from Churchill's address to Stalin on May 8, 1945, Brendon (Hurrell Froude and the Oxford Movement; etc.) analyzes the decade from the start of the Depression to the eve of WWII, a period of economic collapse in the democracies and aggressive totalitarianism in the nations that would ultimately form the Axis. Brendon traces how each of seven nations (the U.S., Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Russia and Japan) responded to the era's economic upheavals. In Germany, Italy and Japan the answer to the Depression was massive rearmament, to which the democracies responded, as Brendon details, with temporizing and appeasement. Brendon is especially interested in mechanisms for distorting the truth, including propaganda and censorship. His writing is superlative, his vocabulary precise and extensive; he displays remarkable talent for the revealing phrase and the polished anecdote. Each of the decade's personalities, from Hoover to Orwell, from Haile Selassie to Harry Hopkins, is pinned down in a trenchant sketch, and the dominant characters, such as Roosevelt, Mussolini and Hitler, are examined carefully. Most important, Brendon demonstrates why one cannot understand the appalling violence of the Second World War without first mastering the tumultuous decade in which the seeds of the war were planted. 24 pages of photos not seen by PW. Agent, Andrew Best. 50,000 first printing. (Oct) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
Relying on a wide variety of secondary sources, Brendon (Churchill Archives and Churchill Coll., Cambridge) surveys the domestic and international scenes in Britain, France, the United States, Japan, and the Soviet Union during the tumultuous 1930s. Although primarily a narrative, the book presents useful analytical insights into the causes and consequences of governmental policy in both dictatorships and democracies. Brendon advances no radical reworking of the historiography, but he offers useful perspectives into Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. His chapters on the United States and Great Britain give readers insight into the rise of totalitarianism and the maintenance of democracy during crisis. One of the book's main strengths is in demonstrating the interdependence of international events throughout the decade. Although the author focuses primarily on political and economic issues, he gives some analysis of everyday life. This well-written book is recommended for most libraries.--Frederic Krome, Jacob Rader Marcus Ctr. of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Logan Hill
[Brendon's] massive, donnish history of the Great Depression around the world is great for history geeks.
New York Magazine
Mark Mazower
Scattered throughout the book and enlivening its pages are numerous vivid vignettes of leading politicians...Brendon has read widely and synthesizes complex research in a readable and pleasing way.
New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
A majestic and highly readable history of the most distressing of decades.
From the Publisher
“A masterful survey of that troubled decade.”–Foreign Affairs

“Page by page this synoptic tour de force…propels the reader towards the inevitable cataclysms of the ‘40s.”–Time

“An innovative format, a wealth of detail gleaned from prodigious research, and stylistic gifts worthy of a great novelist…gives Brendon’s book a magisterial quality unmatched by other histories of the period.”–The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Brilliantly written and meticulously researched, The Dark Valley provides a depth of understanding of the misery of the Great Depression that few Americans alive today can grasp.” —The Denver Post

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375408816
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/1/1900
  • Edition description: 1 AMER ED
  • Pages: 816
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.65 (h) x 2.01 (d)

Meet the Author

Piers Brendon is the Keeper of the Churchill Archives, and a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge.
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Read an Excerpt

The 1930s were perhaps the seminal decade in twentieth-century history, a dark time of global depression that displaced millions, paralyzed the liberal democracies, gave rise to totalitarian regimes, and, ultimately, led to the Second World War. In this sweeping history, Piers Brendon brings the tragic, dismal days of the 1930s to life.

From Stalinist pogroms to New Deal programs, Brendon re-creates the full scope of a slow international descent towards war. Offering perfect sketches of the players, riveting descriptions of major events and crises, and telling details from everyday life, he offers both a grand, rousing narrative and an intimate portrait of an era that make sense out of the fascinating, complicated, and profoundly influential years of the 1930s.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2003

    Descent into the Horror of WWII

    An exhaustive study of the history of the 1930s, how countries descended into the horror of World War II. This is a massive book that took me 3 weeks to get through but provided more insight from a wider variety of national events and viewpoints than any other book I have read on the subject. This book would be excellent for a college or senior high school history class and for anyone interested in the time period. Not the easiest reading but deeply insightful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2008

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