The Triumph of the Dark: European International History 1933–1939 by Zara Steiner - review by Alex Danchev

Alex Danchev

The Road To War

The Triumph of the Dark: European International History 1933–1939


Oxford University Press 1,130pp £35

The Triumph of the Dark is the sequel to The Lights that Failed (2005), which covered the period from 1919 to 1933: together they are a whopping 2,000 pages long. The author clearly sees the two volumes as a single whole, and has written them as such; she herself observes that the concluding section of the first, a recapitulation of what she calls ‘The Hinge Years’, is the necessary introduction to the second. If an abridged version is ever published, it is tempting to suggest that Steiner’s magisterial essays, ‘Europe Reconstructed?’ (1918–29), ‘The Hinge Years’ (1929–33), and the conclusion of this volume, which might be called ‘Slouching Towards Berchtesgarten, or The Second Hecatomb’ (1933–39), should be brought together as the Steiner interpretation.

In the meantime, we have the whole nine yards. Steiner’s opus is part of the Oxford History of Modern Europe, commissioned by Alan Bullock, who did not live to see its completion. Its predecessor in the series, A J P Taylor’s The Struggle for Mastery in Europe: 1848–1918,

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