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The Vanquished

Why the First World War Failed to End, 1917-1923
Narrated by: John Banks
Length: 10 hrs and 33 mins
Categories: History, 20th Century
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

For the Western allies, 11 November 1918 has always been a solemn date - the end of fighting which had destroyed a generation and a vindication of a terrible sacrifice with the total collapse of their principal enemies: the German Empire, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. But for much of the rest of Europe, this was a day with no meaning, as a continuing nightmarish series of conflicts engulfed country after country.

In this highly original, gripping book, Robert Gerwarth asks us to think again about the true legacy of the First World War. In large part it was not the fighting on the Western front which proved so ruinous to Europe's future but the devastating aftermath, as countries on both sides of the original conflict were wrecked by revolution, pogroms, mass expulsions and further major military clashes. If the war itself had in most places been a struggle purely between state-backed soldiers, these new conflicts were mainly about civilians and paramilitaries, and millions of people died across Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe before the USSR and a series of rickety and exhausted small new states came into being. Everywhere there were vengeful people, their lives racked by a murderous sense of injustice, looking for the opportunity to take retribution against enemies real and imaginary. Only a decade later, the rise of the Third Reich and other totalitarian states provided them with the opportunity they had been looking for.

©2016 Robert Gerwarth (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

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  • Elaine
  • 04-01-2017

excellent summary

A most enjoyable book. Succinct, well written, informative on a tangled era of european history.
Only negative is its sometimes prolonged and possibly unnecessary descriptions of extreme violence.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Mr
  • 15-12-2016

Now I get why there are so many problems in our world

Wow. A comprehensive study of the violent chaos in Europe and beyond following the cessation of hostilities on the western front. Real and direct resonance with the causes of today's turmoil in these same areas.

8 people found this helpful

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  • S. Moorcroft
  • 26-01-2017

A Terrible Legacy

Well narrated history. A comprehensive history of the fall out from the 'Great War. Recommended reading.

6 people found this helpful

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  • nigeyb
  • 24-02-2017

An exceptional book

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, I now realise that my rather lazy and Anglo-centric view of the period following WW1, as a relatively peaceful era, was completely wide of the mark. Robert Gerwarth brilliantly describes how for many countries and regions, the Armistice on 11 November 1918, was just the start of five more years of violence and upheaval.

What other book might you compare The Vanquished to, and why?

Perhaps the Anthony Beevor WW2 books - certainly in terms of its thoroughness and authority

What does John Banks bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

A crisp, no nonsense but clear narration

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The story of Europe in the years between 1917 and 1923 is crucial for understanding the cycles of violence that characterised the continent’s 20th century history

Any additional comments?

Four empires broke up in the aftermath of WW1: Austria-Hungary, Germany, tsarist Russia and the Ottoman empire. 'The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End' is a fast-paced, fluent and authoritative analysis of the turmoil in the territories of the four shattered empires, as well as in Greece and Italy. Civil wars overlapped with revolutions, counter-revolutions and border conflicts between emerging states, many sowing the seeds for WW2. This turmoil was frequently characterised by extreme violence and political disorder, with racial and religious minorities often suffering more than most.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Yusuf
  • 07-03-2017

If you thought the First World War ended in 1918 you need to read this book!

A well written corrective to the common belief that the First World War ended in 1918. The guns on the Western front may have fallen silent on 11th November but all across the eastern zone of the conflict they continued to fire. The end of the Romanov,Habsburg and Ottoman empire's and the birth of nationstates were paralleled by population exchanges and bloodshed. Anyone who is interested in history of any kind needs to read this book.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Mr
  • 26-02-2018

Grim but fascinating look at a neglected period.

If there's one message to take away from this book - it is "don't ever delude yourself that your government are on your side".

Most people in the west are told that the First World War ended in November 1918. But as this book illustrates, for much of Europe, for Russia, and the Middle East, this date is almost meaningless, as violence and suffering continued and even increased in the years after the fighting on the western front ended.

Gerwarth describes whole wars that I had never even heard of, despite being better read than most in the field, and the litany of savagery and cruelty in these racial and ideological struggles is shocking and numbing even for students of the period. It's hard not to see the seeds of the crimes of the 1940s in the hatreds and brutality of these conflicts, as well as the visions of ethnic and political purity that were the explicit aims of many of those involved.

It also makes you understand that, whatever the failings of the men who wrote the Treaty of Versailles, they were dealing with an impossible cauldron of hatred, jealousy and fear, that are hard to see a solution for even with the perfect wisdom of hindsight.

The narrator handles the complex material well.

3 people found this helpful

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  • r
  • 05-12-2016

RD Cool H

This is the best war in history I have listened to so far It explain more about the two wars and problems we have up to the present day today. The atrocity committed in Eastern Europe after fall of the Ottoman Empire. Carving up of the Middle East. And the new European map of Europe this is more than history lesson.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Ai King
  • 20-11-2018

Very dry, good facts well researched but narratives does not explain whole picture

Very hard going even with audible

Don’t hold attention due to reciting facts

The other book To he’ll and back by Ian kershaw is 200x better that book I would recommend

2 people found this helpful

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  • Farniboy
  • 28-04-2017

The Aftermath of a War To End All Wars, But Didn't

Would you listen to The Vanquished again? Why?

Yes. Like all factual books it's always good to refresh your memory.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Vanquished?

The burning of Smyrna by the Turks in 1922, as Allied war ships looked on, is especially moving.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me angry because there were incidents taking place that would continue to affect Europe for the rest of the century.

Any additional comments?

An interesting read about the evil that men do.

2 people found this helpful

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  • wells
  • 04-02-2017

well written account

well written account and excellent analysis, put across in simple easy reading. I very much enjoyed this book and it bares the facts and confronts the truths of the war in a non partisan way.the narrator is serious and good.

2 people found this helpful