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How the Second World War helps explain our world

A new book argues that in coping with what they had witnessed, traumatised populations in 1945 adopted new ways of thinking

By Ben Wilson   August 2017

The Fear and the Freedom: How the Second World War Changed Us by Keith Lowe (Viking, £25)

The Fear and the Freedom should be first in the suitcase this turbulent summer. Keith Lowe’s compelling study of the impact of the Second World War over the last seven decades helps explain our world.

Surveying the wrecked cities and traumatised populations in 1945, Lowe emphasises the apocalyptic mood. In coping with what they had witnessed, people adopted new ways of thinking. “They were shown a universe populated with heroes, monsters and martyrs. They imagined…

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