Fire and Blood (Verso Books) looks at the European crisis of the two world wars as a single historical sequence: the age of the European Civil War (1914–1945). Its overture was played out in the trenches of the Great War; its coda on a ruined continent. It opened with conventional declarations of war and finished with “unconditional surrender.” Proclamations of national unity led to eventual devastation, with entire countries torn to pieces. During these three decades of deepening conflicts, a classical interstate conflict morphed into a global civil war, abandoning rules of engagement and fought by irreducible enemies rather than legitimate adversaries, each seeking the annihilation of its opponents. It was a time of both unchained passions and industrial, rationalized massacre. Utilizing multiple sources, Enzo Traverso depicts the dialectic of this era of wars, revolutions and genocides. Rejecting commonplace notions of “totalitarian evil,” he rediscovers the feelings and reinterprets the ideas of an age of intellectual and political commitment when Europe shaped world history with its own collapse.
Enzo Traverso is the Susan and Barton Winokur Professor in the Humanities at Cornell University. He specializes in contemporary Europe, focusing on intellectual history and the political ideas of the first half of the twentieth century, in a comparative and transnational perspective. Before coming to Cornell, he has been a professor of political science at the University Jules Verne of Picardy, France, and a member of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). He has been visiting professor at several European as well as Latin American Universities. His publications, all translated in different languages, include more than ten authored and other edited books. Several of his works investigate the impact of political and mass violence on the European culture. He is currently preparing a book on the representations of the Jewish intellectual in Germany, France and Italy at the turn of the 20th Century.
Sponsored by the Historical Studies program at the New School.
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