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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

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  138 Ratings  ·  28 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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Interesting, well written and impressively researched, even though a bit too focused on the administrative issues facing the international organizations responsible for managing the so-called "displaced people"; very specific administrative issues, such as the relationship with the military authorities and the requisitioning of resources, are analyzed in unnecessary and excruciating detail, sometimes at the expenses of a proper treatment of the human tragedy factor behind the millions of Europea ...more
Lauren Albert
Jun 12, 2011 Lauren Albert rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-world
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
Feb 07, 2014 cameron rated it it was amazing
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 of obliteration everywhere.

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 million
John Gaynard
Jul 14, 2012 John Gaynard rated it really liked it
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
Apr 06, 2011 Bookmarks Magazine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: may-june-2011
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
May 22, 2011 Nicole Marble rated it it was amazing
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
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
Mar 04, 2011 Michelle rated it liked it
Shelves: history, holocaust
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
Aug 08, 2011 Margaret Sankey rated it liked it
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
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
Jan 15, 2013 Christoph Fischer rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 31, 2011 Rae rated it liked it
Shelves: history-ww2
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?

Daniel Fisher
Mar 12, 2013 Daniel Fisher rated it it was amazing
Excellent book dealing with a key, but often neglected, issue in post WWII reconstruction of Europe.
Apr 27, 2011 Jenny rated it liked it
Another fascinating and heretofore underreported story from the post-war era.
Jan 09, 2017 Bridget rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I picked up this book to fact-check Beyond the Call a bit, and from what I can tell, that story checks out. As a bonus, I ended up really enjoying this book on its own merits. It was SO topical, despite being published six years ago (before the recent refugee crisis). This book is all about the refugee crisis that happened after World War II, and it does not shy away from investigating its impact on any nationality, age, or situation. It is about ALL of the "displaced persons" after the war, and ...more
Richard Quis
Nov 19, 2012 Richard Quis rated it it was amazing
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.
May 02, 2012 Renee rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 06, 2012 Kyra rated it really liked it
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
Frances Johnson
Aug 23, 2012 Frances Johnson rated it it was amazing
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
Debra Leigh Scott
Jul 29, 2016 Debra Leigh Scott rated it it was amazing
I reviewed Ben Shephard's book when it was published, on behalf of the New York Journal of Books.
Some of what I had to say was, "While much has been written about the human devastation of the camps, the ruination and waste of postwar Europe, the shift of international powers and geographic boundaries, comparatively little has been written about the geographical and psychological devastation of those who were “liberated” from the Nazi death camps or from the grips of war. Those “displaced persons
Jan 15, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it
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
Lisa M
Nov 29, 2014 Lisa M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 10, 2011 Karen rated it liked it
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
Svetlana Karlin
Jan 16, 2012 Svetlana Karlin rated it really liked it
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
Jun 23, 2015 Emily rated it really liked it
A very detailed and informative account of the refugee crisis after WWII and how the world reacted to it. Not much that was new or surprising but more detail than the usual histories of the period provide. Recommended for the history buff.
Oct 29, 2015 Larry rated it really liked it
Shephard's detailed account of how the Allies coped with the problem of refugees and displaced persons following the Second World War makes for interesting reading, especially in the light of today's flood of refugees into Europe from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Eritrea, etc.
Dana Mees-athuring
Apr 25, 2015 Dana Mees-athuring rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 08, 2014 Marc rated it liked it
Shelves: library
Shephard's desire to avoid hindsight-based analysis skews this book toward a history of resettlement organizations (rather than their efforts) and glosses over the negative implications of the most extensive indentured servitude program in modern history
Tiffany rated it did not like it
Apr 14, 2013
Velga rated it it was amazing
Jul 06, 2013
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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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