All Against All: The Long Winter of 1933 and the Origins of the Second World War

Harper. Apr. 2020. 480p. ISBN 9780062433527. $32.50. HIST
Jankowski (Raymond Ginger Professor of History, Brandeis Univ.) narrates the significant developments in geopolitics during the pivotal years of 1932 and 1933. He gives special attention to the problems of disarmament, tariffs, reparations, and war-debt repayment. While he focuses on the actions of the major powers of the day—the United States, Germany, Japan, France, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain—he also gives attention to the roles played by Yugoslavia, Poland, and others. The League of Nations was unable to address the world’s problems and the victorious allies of World War I were unable to agree on what to do. Dictatorial governments and ideological extremism exacerbated the crisis, Jankowski argues, which led to the Second World War. While filled with interesting insights into the thoughts and ideas of world leaders and newspapers, Jankowski’s book suffers from a lack of a clear thesis or purpose. Is he trying to show that internationalism is essential? That disarmament or economic cooperation should have been pursued?
VERDICT Readers with an interest in reflective philosophical history will appreciate this book. Those looking for a more straightforward narrative of the period and how the two world wars relate might find Ian Kershaw’s To Hell and Back a better choice.

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