The Vertigo Years

Europe, 1900-1914

by Philipp Blom

Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9780465020294
  • 9780786726707
Europe, 1900–1914: a world adrift, a pulsating era of creativity and contradictions. The major topics of the day: terrorism, globalization, immigration, consumerism, the collapse of moral values, and the rivalry of superpowers. The twentieth century was not born in the trenches of the Somme or Passchendaele—but rather in the fifteen vertiginous years preceding World War I.

In this short span of time, a new world order was emerging in ultimately tragic contradiction to the old. These were the years in which the political and personal repercussions of the Industrial Revolution were felt worldwide: Cities grew like never before as people fled the countryside and their traditional identities; science created new possibilities as well as nightmares; education changed the outlook of millions of people; mass-produced items transformed daily life; industrial laborers demanded a share of political power; and women sought to change their place in society—as well as the very fabric of sexual relations.

From the tremendous hope for a new century embodied in the 1900 World's Fair in Paris to the shattering assassination of a Habsburg archduke in Sarajevo in 1914, historian Philipp Blom chronicles this extraordinary epoch year by year. Prime Ministers and peasants, anarchists and actresses, scientists and psychopaths intermingle on the stage of a new century in this portrait of an opulent, unstable age on the brink of disaster.

Beautifully written and replete with deftly told anecdotes, The Vertigo Years brings the wonders, horrors, and fears of the early twentieth century vividly to life.


  • Basic Books; October 2008
  • ISBN: 9780786726707
  • Read online, or download in secure ePub format
  • Title: The Vertigo Years
  • Author: Philipp Blom
  • Imprint: Basic Books
Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9780465020294
  • 9780786726707

In The Press

Guardian
“The vertiginous atmosphere of a tumbling prewar society - at the same time exciting and frightening - is described with atmospheric clarity. The combination of easily worn scholarship, fascinating character studies and fluent story-telling that is often very funny makes this a hugely enjoyable and illuminating book….A work of narrative history at its best.”

The Economist
“Impressive and thought-provoking....encapsulate[s] complex historical and biographical events pithily and in an illuminating context…The book brings the fears, enthusiasms and blindspots of the period brilliantly to life.”

Globe and Mail
“In this enthralling, panoramic sweep of the 15 years preceding the First World War, Blom convincingly argues that it was this decade and a half that truly marked the start of the modern age, with all its grandeur and calamities…. With his impressive synthesis of historical literature, old and recent, and his finely drawn portraits of both emperors and workers, Blom's Vertigo Years will surely enlighten and interest another generation of readers in an era far in the past, yet worth understanding all the same.”


About The Author

Philipp Blom holds a doctorate from Oxford University and is the author of To Have and To Hold and Enlightening the World. He frequently contributes articles to The Financial Times, The Independent, and The Guardian among others. He lives in Vienna.

Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9780465020294
  • 9780786726707