Year Zero: A History of 1945

By Mullen, Thomas | America in WWII, February 2014 | Go to article overview

Year Zero: A History of 1945


Mullen, Thomas, America in WWII


Year Zero: A History of 1945

by Ian Buruma, Penguin Press, 370 pages, $29.95.

World War II ended in 1945, but peace would have to wait. Scores needed to be settled, resentments nourished, populations relocated, justice served, revenge taken, and property seized. Victims continued to suffer without redress or restitution. Long-term strategists schemed for continental dominance in Europe and Asia. Colonies clamored for independence. Battlefield nations from France to China emerged from the war with populations of mixed loyalty and faced the possibility of civil war. Even with the Axis broken, the world seemed to teeter on the brink of bedlam.

This is the promising subject taken up by Dutch scholar and writer Ian Buruma in Year Zero. He casts a wide net, encompassing everything from British elections to Parisian reprisals to Manchurian executions. In a book of just 370 pages, such breadth comes at the cost of depth. Yet for a work focusing on social, cultural, and political trends in the immediate postwar period, this is justifiable.

Buruma organizes his history of 1945 topically, with unexpected chapter titles such as "Exultation," "Hunger," "Revenge," and "Draining the Poison." He explores each theme imaginatively, calling on research that was less like strip-mining global archives than selecting illuminating accounts from novelists, writers, and scholarly works. Relatively few military memoirs appear in these pages.

Buruma focuses on nations reinventing themselves, rather than on the campaigns of victors and losers. This is a departure from most histories, but it permits him to present a very different cast of characters than is normally seen, ranging from French writer Marguerite Duras to German author Gunter Grass to Dutch sexual reformer Win Storm.

Starting out with a strong hand in the first chapter, "Exultation," Buruma explores the surge of repressed emotions in newly liberated countries. US and Canadian troops enjoyed unmatched material and sexual dominance in liberated and vanquished countries alike. Buruma describes well the complexity of these relationships, with both sexes hunting the other. He quotes Simone de Beauvoir referring to a young Parisian woman whose "main distraction" was "American hunting."

Buruma writes skillfully of the wicked turmoil of the immediate postwar era and the efforts to tame those wild times. Order and peace took priority over justice, and one of the most interesting aspects of the book is the calculated, strategic, highly political efforts made to tether the forces of disintegration. These ranged from President Charles De Gaulle in France (disarming the Left but also rehabilitating it) to General Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines (favoring established landowners) and Japan (sparing Emperor Hirohito from war crime indictments). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Year Zero: A History of 1945
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.