The Lights That Failed

By Zara Steiner,

Book cover of The Lights That Failed: European International History 1919-1933

Book description

The peace treaties represented an almost impossible attempt to solve the problems caused by a murderous world war. In The Lights that Failed: European International History 1919-1933, part of the Oxford History of Modern Europe series, Steiner challenges the common assumption that the Treaty of Versailles led to the opening…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked The Lights That Failed as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This is a book for academics, college professors, graduate students, and those members of the educated public who are interested in historical scholarship at its best.

This, at first sight intimidatingly large volume makes a deep dive into the diplomatic history of the first decade after the first world war. All angles, diplomatic, intelligence, and economic are examined from the perspective of the actors of the international stage, large and small alike.

The magnitude of Steiner’s work can be compared to Gibbon’s opus on the Roman Empire – it will remain a classic in the genre. It took a lifetime…

From László's list on the search for truth in history.

This might seem an odd choice for my list at first glance. Lights is a highly detailed, traditional sort of history. But the title is revealing. Most accounts of these fourteen years look back on the horrors of the Second World War and argue either that the Versailles Treaty, ending the first, was fatally flawed and made the second inevitable, or that the First World War itself failed to resolve the German question and it made the second inevitable. The strength of Steiner’s story is how much nations managed to accomplish—including but hardly limited to the now-derided League of Nations—despite…

From Michael's list on history books for teaching and learning.

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