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The Long Road Home: The Aftermath of the Second World War
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The Long Road Home: The Aftermath of the Second World War

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  89 ratings  ·  22 reviews
At the end of World War II, long before an Allied victory was assured and before the scope of the atrocities orchestrated by Hitler would come into focus or even assume the name of the Holocaust, Allied forces had begun to prepare for its aftermath. Taking cues from the end of the First World War, planners had begun the futile task of preparing themselves for a civilian he ...more
Hardcover, 490 pages
Published February 22nd 2011 by Knopf (first published April 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

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Lauren Albert
Imagine millions of people torn up from their roots by history and evil and thrown hither and thither usually with just the clothes on their back. Then, imagine that many if not most of them are malnourished and traumatized by cruelty and loss—of loved ones and of everything they knew. Many have no place to go. Many do not wish to return to their original countries. Mix in some politics—the Russia wants its people back even if they don’t want to return, borders have been redrawn, countries that ...more
John Gaynard
This book by Ben Shephard is an impressively researched account of the successes and failures of the UNRRA programs that were put in place by the allies (often hindered by the Soviet Union) to deal humanely with the millions of people displaced during and immediately after WWII. The human stories it covers range from the many nationalities brought into Germany to do war work, through how the Eastern Europeans were received in their new homes after the war in Britain, the US, Canada and Australia ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
The most lauded aspect of Shephard’s book is his ability to put aside historical hindsight and to see postwar scenarios the way the Allies and others saw them. For example, in the 1940s, the world had not yet grasped the extent of the Holocaust—the word itself had not even come into common usage—so the Jews of Europe were considered part of the “displaced people” problem. Critics also valued the way Shephard tells the story of those refugees through extensive archival research. Overall, reviewer ...more
Nicole Marble
I have studied history since I can remember, and there was always a gap in the texts –
the gap between the end of WWII (1945) and the beginning of the Marshall Plan (1948) that revived Europe. What happened? There were many millions of ‘displaced persons’, or DP’s, to sort out and get home. So who sorted them? How did they get home? DID they get home?
This is the book I have been waiting for; the book that explains in engrossing detail who those millions of people were, where they came from, wher
...more
Stephen Hayes
Occasionally one comes across a book that explains some things that one has always wondered about, and this is one of them. I've read several histories overing the period of the Second World War, and even did a History Honours paper on modern Germany, which covered that period. but there were some things that I never understood, and this book has helped to explain some of them.

The things that I find most interesting in history are transitions: from peace to war, or from war to peace; transition
...more
Michelle
Well, this took me a while to get through. It was very thoroughly researched. But I found it a bit dry--I was hoping I guess for more stories and experiences of the refugees themselves, and what I got was a lot of bureaucratic wrangling and who didn't like whom in the refugee organizations that were formed.
Margaret Sankey
Broad synthesis of the messy aftermath of WWII, from the wartime planning of the UNRR program to its operations with refugees, liberated camp survivors, displaced people and all of the fragmentation in between--collaborators, anti-Communist Poles, angry Ukranians, nationalist Balts, Zionists, homeless peasants and their immediate needs, not to mention presence stretching into 1950 and various national (Australian, Canadian--not a lot of Baltic intellectuals signed up to herd sheep or do logging) ...more
cameron
If you read the other favorable reviews I have nothing to add except to reiterate how little I've read about the 3 or 4 years after WW2 and the devastation on every level in Europe. I mean I knew many cities in Germany were obliterated but not the over all picture.

In the last few years I've read a few books on the British experience after the war and I hadn't known about their disastrous situation either.

However, the conditions in Europe were so much worse with hundreds of thousands of displaced
...more
Hadrian
Interesting subject - the repatriation and recovery of displaced persons after WWII. Unfortunately the writing style and organization of the book were a tad murky, and I would have liked to see some information on the Pacific Theater. But interesting information all the same.
Christoph Fischer
A fantastic account of the chaos that was faced by displaced people in the aftermath of world war 2, very well written and informative. I needed this book as research for my own book and found it a very useful and trustworthy resource. Highly recommended.
Rae
A decent summary of what happened to those people uprooted by the war in Europe. The repercussions of war are quite fascinating. In this case, as in most, the cleanup was sloppy at best. And nothing was said of the Pacific theater--another book, perhaps?

Lisa M
Primarily focused on Europe and in particular the British and American Zones of West Germany this book was about the millions of Displaced Persons in Germany in the immediate aftermath of the European war. Not just Holocaust survivors but also millions of forced or slave labourers bought into Germany during the war, Germans expelled from Poland after new national boundaries were drawn and many escaping from Soviet rule in the East after the war. Immediate problems were simply finding enough food ...more
Daniel Fisher
Excellent book dealing with a key, but often neglected, issue in post WWII reconstruction of Europe.
Jenny
Another fascinating and heretofore underreported story from the post-war era.
Frances Johnson
For most of us, the history of the Second World War ended when the armies stopped fighting. However, for thousands of people there was still a very long road ahead. Displaced persons were sometimes treated as harshly as if the war was still taking place. This book examines most aspects of the trials and traumas suffered by not only the Jews but displaced people who were living on the wrong side when boundary lines were drawn after ther war or their homeland may have been taken over by the Russia ...more
Karen
As an avid reader of history regarding the buildup to, and then the actual history of WWII, I was always aware of how close my birth was to what I considered "the end" of the war. This book opened up a whole new world in my knowledge of history. It fills in the gaps after the Allied victory, and even informed me of the continuing thread of this period of worldwide turmoil into late in my life. ( Germany was paying reparations until 2007!) I am so grateful for this book, because I find so much mo ...more
Kyra
A very thorough study of the problem of displaced persons from WWII. The story begins before the war even ends, as the Allies (with their collective failures from WWI) plan for relief and rehabilitation. That, of course, is before they really know the enormity of the problem. The book offers a detailed account of the bureaucratic and political machinations involved in creating an international effort to meet the problem, complicated by what they didn't know about Holocaust/trauma victims, and by ...more
Richard Quis
This is a tough but necessary read. Tough because of man's inhumanity to man; necessary because of what it takes to straighten things out after a war. When millions of displaced persons can't go back and can't move forward, how do they find a sense of purpose to become an intergal part of a productive society? There was no leadership because the leaders themselves were affected. Family, tradition, rules of law, morality and codes of conduct were gone, personnal survival was the rule of the day.
B
...more
Renee
This book was difficult to read. Not just because I was reading two other related works, but because the subject matter is so traumatic. Shephard uses a number of contemporaneous original source material to follow the flow of "Displaced Persons" (DP) during and immediately following the cessation of hostilities and some years after WWII. As modern readers, sensitize and accustomed as we are to post-Nuremberg-trial terminology; it is difficult and complicated to realize that the "Holocaust" with ...more
Dana Mees-athuring
In a world where journalism has become suspect, and equivocation the norm, this well researched and reasoned book is a gift. I only give it 4 stars because it misses being a "must read" by one star. Well written and edited -- NOT by Mr. Gates' Monster.
Svetlana Karlin
After reading a number of accounts by former DPs and UNRRA employees this book helped me put personal impressions in the broader historical context. Shephard did a good job showing the plight and controversy of the DP existence, as well as the politics behind the relief work.

I only wish that the author would be more thorough in covering various aspects of the DP life and UNRRA work in Europe. For example, I know that UNRRA provided scholarships for college study to DPs. It also set up university
...more
Karen
I couldn't help feeling that this book could have been written more engagingly. With an incredible premise - the end of World War II, much of the world in total disarray, millions dead, more millions displaced, ill, and in want - how did all these needs get addressed and what kind of lives did people ultimately succeed in making for themselves? To some extent, Shepherd does tell this tale, but he directs the story mostly toward that of the political entities involved. While this is legitimate, p ...more
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Ben Shephard (1948 - ) is an English historian, author and television producer.
He was educated at Diocesan College, Cape Town and Westminster School. He graduated in history from Oxford University and has made many historical documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4, including producer of The World at War and The Nuclear Age.
More about Ben Shephard...
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