David Conway reviews for Law and Liberty Keith Lowe’s significant account of the aftermath of World War II in Europe, Savage Continent. Conway opens his assessment of Lowe’s book of by observing that Savage Continent should force us to reassess much of what we think about this period.
If the past is another country, some history books revisit periods so harrowing they should carry a health warning: ‘Not for the faint-hearted; ‘To be opened only at the reader’s peril’, they should declare on their dust-jackets.
If any book merits bearing such a warning, Keith Lowe’s epic survey of Europe during the years following the Second World War does. So gruesome are the multifarious horrors it relates that its readers cannot help wondering at times for what purpose Lowe decided to substitute them for the rosier image that most Americans and Britons still harbor of them.
Indeed, some might wonder whether even considerations of historical accuracy justify Lowe in replacing the famous iconic image of an American sailor embracing a young lady in Times Square on Armistice Day with the sordid scenarios that he claims provide more faithful representations of that period of European history.