David Clay Large, Between Two Fires: Europe's Path in the 1930s (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1990).
David Clay Large wrote an interesting account of the situation in Europe during the 1930s. His account was interesting for three reasons that will be discussed throughout this review. Firstly, his purpose was clear and he managed to follow it throughout the book. Secondly, his organizational structure was logical, appropriate and well designed. Finally, his innovative approach to a conclusion tied things together for his reader and allowed them to think about the ideas that he presented in the body of the work in a new manner. All in all, this book provides a useful overview of Europe in the 1930s as seen from several different geographical and thematic standpoints.
In the "Introduction" of Between Two Fires: Europe's Path in the 1930s Large outlines the topics he plans to deal with in the rest of the book. Large introduces his eight topics and then deals with them in the following eight chapters (13-22). An introduction is supposed to do exactly this and so, normally it would be unworthy of a mention. This case, however, is rare because Large actually does in the rest of the book what he said he was going to do in the Introduction.
Between Two Fires was organized, as was mentioned above, into eight chapters that dealt with various aspects of Europe in the 1930s. It does so from both a thematic and a geographical standpoint as was outlined in Large's "Introduction." Chapter One, entitled "Down with the Robbers!" is about the Stavisky Affair and the last days of the Third Republic in France (23). Chapter Two, "The Death of Red Vienna" deals with the Austrian Civil War (59). Chapter Three is called "The Night of the Long Knives" and discusses Nazi Germany and the Blood Purge of 1934 (101). Chapter Four, "Revenge for Adowa" explores Italy and the beginnings of the Ethiopian conflict (138). Chapter Five concentrates on the Northeast of Britain during the Great Depression and is titled "'Red Ellen' Wilkinson and the Jarrow Crusade" (180). Chapter Six delivers an account of the Spanish Civil War and of the destruction of Guernica. It is given the rather lackadaisical title of "Death in the Afternoon" (223). Chapter Seven, "The Revolution Eats Its Children" discusses Stalin's Great Purge of 1937 (267). And finally, Chapter Eight is called "Peace For Our Time" and covers the policy of Appeasement and the Munich Conference (317). He then offers an epilogue discussing the more modern aspects of these events (364). An introduction, eight chapters, eight topics and an epilogue provide a perfectly balanced and well-organized approach that would be an asset to any history book.
A book that had been about 1930s European intrigue, conflict, hatred,...