All Against All: A cautionary tale – and what 1933 can tell us about now

Book review: Economic turmoil, rising nationalism, echoes of 1930s difficult to ignore

 1932 election posters in Berlin for  candidates Hindenburg and Hitler. The  Nazi Party had won less than 3% of the vote in the 1928 general election. Photograph: Ullstein Bild via Getty

1932 election posters in Berlin for candidates Hindenburg and Hitler. The Nazi Party had won less than 3% of the vote in the 1928 general election. Photograph: Ullstein Bild via Getty

In the current climate of economic turmoil, resurgent nationalism and anti-global policies, people could be forgiven for looking to the distant past for suitable parallels that might offer guidance on where we are heading. With right-wing authoritarianism on the rise, the echoes of the early 1930s are difficult to ignore even if the parallels should not be over-stretched.

Paul Jankowski makes precisely this point in his engaging and thoroughly researched book, All Against All, which examines the dramatic changes that occurred in Europe and Asia during the long winter of 1932-33, when nationalist egoism triumphed over whatever was left of global cooperation for peace and prosperity. Jankowski, a history professor at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, has previously written about pivotal moments in early 20th-century European history, notably in his critically acclaimed book on the Battle of Verdun, the longest military engagement of the first World War.

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