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 of a second European war. In a radically original way, this book characterizes the 1920s not as a frustrated prelude to a second global conflict but as a fascinating decade in its own right, when politicians and diplomats strove to re-assemble a viable European order. Steiner examines the efforts that failed but also those which gave hope for future promise, many of which are usually underestimated, if not ignored. She shows that an equilibrium was achieved, attained between a partial American withdrawal from Europe and the self-imposed constraints which the Soviet system imposed on exporting revolution. The stabilization painfully achieved in Europe reached it fragile limits after 1925, even prior to the financial crises that engulfed the continent. The hinge years between the great crash of 1929 and Hitler's achievement of power in 1933 devastatingly altered the balance between nationalism and internationalism. This wide-ranging study helps us grasp the decisive stages in this process.
In a second volume, The Triumph of the Night, Steiner will examine the immediate lead up to the Second World War and its early years.
`Zara Steiner's work has ensured that we will have to treat that neglected decade [the 1920s] with proper respect. She has told the story with impeccable scholarship, clarity and compassion...Her book will rightly become the definitive work on the period.'
Margaret MacMillan, TLS
`Any reader who wants to understand the inter-War period should consult this book and any serious student of the period should buy it. For there is simply nothing to compare with it in terms of erudition or exposition. Above all Zara Steiner ensures that we read history forward not backward.
`[A]..majestic and authoritative volume...The Lights that Failed skillfully and judiciously deploys the fruits of extensive reading and long reflection...Embedded in its comprehensive survey of the main protagonists and themes is a radical and fascinating argument.
Mark Mazower, BBC
`A dazzling account...This combination of human drama and a broad international perspective, shifting between western, eastern and Atlantic viewpoints, is a governing strength of the narrative, at once providing fascinating detail, balance, and vivid variety of pace and content. Steiner's long, wise view of international relations during the last epoch when western Europe confidently believed itself the centre of the world is compelling reading for anyone
concerned with the continent's past - or future.'
David Stevenson, London Review of Books
Part I: The Reconstruction of Europe, 1918-1929
1: The Hall of Mirrors: Peacemaking in the West
2: Distant Frontiers: Peacemaking in the East
3: Revolution from the Left: The Soviet Union and the Post-War Settlement
4: The Primacy of Economics: Reconstruction in Western Europe, 1919-1924
5: The Primacy of Nationalism: Reconstruction in Eastern and Central Europe
6: Revolution from the Right: Italy, 1919-25
7: The Geneva Dream: The League of Nations and Post-War Internationalism
8: New Dawn? Stabilisation in Western Europe after Locarno
9: Faltering Reconstruction: Cracks in the Locarno Façade
10: Troubled Waters: Uncertainties in Italy, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union
11: Faltering Internationalism: Disarmament and Security after Locarno
Conclusion: Europe Reconstructed?
Part II: The Hinge Years, 1930-1933
12: The Diplomacy of the Depression: Economics and Foreign Policy
13: Beyond Europe: The Manchurian Crisis
14: The Poisoned Chalice: The Pursuit of Disarmament
Conclusion: The Hinge Years