Paul Addison

Picking up the Pieces

The Fear and Freedom: How the Second World War Changed us

By

Viking 561pp £25 order from our bookshop

‘This book’, writes Keith Lowe, ‘is an attempt to survey the major changes – both destructive and constructive – that took place in the world because of the Second World War.’ It is an ambitious project encompassing many different topics and fields of history: the Cold War; colonial empires; science and technology; the world economy; the demographic impact of war; the rights of women; the commemoration of the Holocaust. Many chapters range thematically across national frontiers, while others focus on specific nations and regions. The Soviet Union, the United States and Israel have chapters devoted to them but Britain, intriguingly, does not. The Bengal famine of 1943–4 is here, as are the civil wars that ravaged Indonesia, Korea and Vietnam, but the absence of both China and Japan leaves a disappointing gap. No matter: this is a book overflowing with insights and ideas and steeped in curious and evocative detail. In each of the twenty-four chapters Lowe tells the story of an individual whose life exemplified the disruptive and deracinating effects of war. His account of the horrific experiences of one Korean comfort woman, Choi Myeong-sun, speaks volumes about the fates of all the rest.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Here's reviewing Rachel Kushner's novel about a woman caught in the injustice of the US prison system,… ,
    • 'Hart sets out to unsettle, startle and disturb. In this strange, disconcerting, radical version of a strange, disc… ,
    • Here is @MannJessica's June crime fiction round-up, discussing books by Georges Simenon, Jack Grimwood,… ,
    • John Stubbs reviews Stephen Greenblatt's latest, 'Tyrant: Shakespeare on Power' ,
    • RT : What happened when US military strategist Herman Kahn - one of Kubrick’s three models for Dr Strangelove - took LSD… ,
    • 'Pollan has no doubt that the use of psychedelics could have a powerfully beneficial effect on a range of condition… ,
    • A memoir about an Untouchable family and the 'formation of modern India': 'Ants among Elephants' by @gidla_sujatha… ,