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The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  1,133 ratings  ·  136 reviews

A searing and highly original analysis of the First World War and its anguished aftermath. In the depths of the Great War, with millions dead and no imaginable end to the conflict, societies around the world began to buckle. The heart of the financial system shifted from London to New York. The infinite demands for men and matériel reached into countries far from the front

Hardcover, 672 pages
Published November 13th 2014 by Viking (first published August 22nd 2014)
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 ·  1,133 ratings  ·  136 reviews

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Apr 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
“World War I had seen the first effort to construct a coalition of liberal powers to manage the vast unwieldy dynamic of the modern world. It was a coalition based on military power, political commitment, and money. Layer by layer, piece by piece, issue by issue, that coalition had disintegrated. The price that the collapse of this great democratic alliance would exact defies estimation. The failure of the democratic powers opened a strategic window of opportunity in the early 1930s. We know wha ...more
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an excellent and comprehensive examination of America's ascent to the center of geopolitics in the WWI and post-WWI world. Of course we all know how this song ends: Depression, isolationism, rise of Fascism, WWII. But the path to get there was much more interesting than what we learned in school (WWI-Versailles-"Return to Normalcy"-Depression-WWII). There were genuine democratic revolutions occurring in Russia and China, the Entente were rarely on the same page as each other, and Americ ...more
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Finally done! I learned a great deal about a period I've never studied in any great detail. I particularly liked the inclusion of China and Japan, given that so often books on these subjects skim over what was happening in non-Western countries. For more detailed summaries, etc - the reading notes will have to suffice! ...more
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Who would have thought that when Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s hapless chauffer, Leopold Lojka, made a wrong turn with his covetable, convertible 1911 Gräf & Stift 28/32 PS Double Phaeton onto Sarajevo’s Franz Joseph Street on that fateful 28th day of June, 1914, unwittingly stopping before a waiting assassin, Gavrilo Princip, that a fuse had been lit to a calamitous future. Mr. Tooze has written an excellent account of how this nominally well-ordered world descended into the chaos of ensuing years ...more
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-plan, history

Tooze has amassed and presented a tremendous amount of political and economic information to buttress his arguments about how complex the period between 1916 and 1931 was. First he explains the financing and end-game of the the war. This forms the foundation for the real argument, that any view of the period from 1918 to the mid-thirties as fairly consistent ‘between the wars' is missing the convulsions that played out as the war-time loans between entente countries, the destruction
Aug 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: geschiedenis
If one were to be a fly against the wall of the Versailles palace in 1919. What were US president Roosevelt's reasons to design a new, liberal world order? Which countries supported him and which were against? It is clear that the seeds of WW II were sown during that time. The Fourteen Points may have had some obvious good intentions, no doubt Roosevelt used them to push US on the front of the international political scene. Stripping Germany and other Central powers geographically and financiall ...more
Pete H
Jun 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ambitious, and with a breathtaking scope, I can't help but feel that Tooze bit off a bit more than he could chew-even a 500 page book isn't adequate space to cover the development of the entire international order from 1916 through 1933. His characterization of Wilson as a man seeking to assert American fiscal hegemony may be criticized by some, but I find it hard to disagree with his thesis.

The author often makes assertions that he seems to lack the time or space to fully explore, and there are
A.L. Sowards
The simplified version of history I’ve always heard goes something like this: “after WWI, the US retreated into isolationism, went through the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression, and then got involved in WWII.” Of course, the real story is a lot more complicated, and Tooze did a good job exploring the final years of the Great War up to the coming of the Great Depression. The book covered a good portion of the world, focusing on the combatants from WWI, including Japan and China. It also c ...more
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is an ambitious interpretive history of WW1 and its impact. The starting point is that claim that we have come to understand the war from the perspective of it being followed by WW2 and the Cold War, leading to a modern world that is hugely different from the world of 1914 and dominated eventually by the United States after the fall of the Soviet Union. Adam Tooze's claim is that course of world history was far from certain after WW1 and that world observers saw matters very differentl ...more
Pecunia nervus belli est. Not for the faint of heart, Adam Tooze describes and analyses the interplay between politics and finance in the final years of the First World War and the post-war era in this vast and detailed work. The short version is that the Europeans were involved in a war they really couldn't afford and the Detente (essentially Britain and France) turned to America to finance and eventually win the war. The problems of the post-war settlements were made vastly more difficult by A ...more
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book: hugely informative, with the material dramatically presented and almost no dull patches. Some of the very fascinating events that Tooze describes are the following:

1) Up to mid-1916 the Entente borrowed money through J.P Morgan mainly, from the US's private capital market, thereby committing a substantial part of the US economy to the Entente's war effort, without the US government's permission. Wilson discouraged americans from buying anymore of the Anglo-French bonds issued by J.P
Oct 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Adam Tooze's book The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931 is an impressive and, at times, intimidating examination of WWI.

I say intimidating because Tooze takes a deep dive into the history and minute events that make up the entire Great War period. His focus is global, shifting between German offensives in Russia, to Lenin's writing, to Britain's social movements, to the American Congress, to
Frank Theising
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war-wwi, economics
This is a very demanding read, epic in scope and at times overwhelming. In The Deluge, economic historian Adam Tooze explores the unprecedented pace, scope, and violence of change experienced in world affairs from the late nineteenth century onwards. The defining feature of this change was the sudden emergence of the United States as a novel kind of super-state, exercising veto power over the financial and security concerns of the other major states of the world (6). It is common in books on int ...more
Frank Stein
Feb 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
This books barely has an argument, or even a coherent thread tying it all together. The tagline is that world politics after World War I was all about accommodating or opposing the economic dominance of the United States. But the author understands that this is a best a single piece of his puzzle, and often spends whole chapters barely mentioning the US. The book is also sloppy, sometimes mixing up names and secretaries and dates.

What the book does provide, however are dozens of little argument
Josh Friedlander
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: modern-history
Tooze knows an enormous amount of facts. His history is global, and economically informed. But he's not the most fun to read. His sentences are crisp and learned, but this book is lumpy, crooked. It presents fascinating anecdotes which abruptly end. I kept asking myself what the central thesis is, and though I have some ideas, I'm still not sure. In an odd twist, most of the book covers a few years around WWI in great detail, while the last bit rushes through about a decade in almost no time, sk ...more
DC Palter
Feb 08, 2021 rated it it was ok
I read the book. The entire book. All 518 pages. I don't feel like I learned much. Not because there wasn't much to learn--those 518 pages were chock full of information, but because the level of detail on every page was overwhelming.

518 pages is both too long and too short. It's too long because it went into far more detail than someone who isn't already intimately familiar with all the events and people can follow. But also too short because it covers 15 years of often day-by-day events in som
Mar 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-world-war
Tooze provides excellent coverage of the world situation in these years, and it’s especially refreshing to see China, Japan and India included in a book about World War I. If you need an overview of the major geopolitical events during this period look no further.

On the downside, economic issues are over emphasized. Be prepared to read about monetary policy, central banks, trade, debt, etc. This focus detracts from cultural, political and military issues, some of which are of greater or equal si
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: geopolitics
A brilliant account of America's arrival as the greatest of the Great Power as a result of the calamities of the Great War. The best account available of the riven internal politics within each of the Great Powers as an explanation for the desperation-driven strategic and negotiating shifts in the last two years of the war and then in its aftermath. Tooze's beautifully written synthesizes a vast literature about the war and its aftermath, and weaves it together with a thoroughly original thesis. ...more
Emmanuel Gustin
This is a genuinely interesting book, but one that I have some mixed feelings about. At 518 pages plus appendices, its lucidity and quality of writing are uneven. Some sections are revealing and fascinating and stimulate reading. Others are sketchy and jarring, sequences of bald statements with little detail. You get the feeling that despite the length of the book, Tooze did not achieve all his ambitions for it. In places it requires real perseverance.

In a way, it is an optimistic book. Tooze s
Mar 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An extraordinary book that changed my view of this critical period of economic history. I had enjoyed Adam Tooze's Wages of Destruction on World War 2 from an economic history viewpoint. His latest book goes back to map the making of the world order as the US moves into the position of being the most economically powerful country in the world. He explains how the US was essentially financing the First World War and how its financial interests gradually acquired a strong stake in the outcome and ...more
Keith McGowan
Feb 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: history, economics
I was drawn to this book for its promise. It did not deliver.

For all those reviews that talked about this book's wonderful thesis, please tell me what it is. That America became the leading power because of the economic turmoil? Does it really take 518 pages to develop and prove that thesis?

The author obviously did an incredible amount of research and provides excruciating details of the events from 1916 to 1931.

What the book lacks is any correlation to modern times. There is no discussion of u
Scott Jones
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was very ambitious in its aims and scope. Overall the author did a nice job.

My goal was to learn more about the morass that was created as a result of the Great War, and how that led to the eventual Second World War. it gave some great insight into that. So, goal accomplished!

I did feel that the author could have had a bit more focus at times, but the jumping around (especially toward the end of the book) may have been necessary. Or, maybe he was in a rush to finish the book and thoug
Nathan  Fisher
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
At times immensely informative and humbling in scope -- Tooze moves away from typical martial narratives of grand power and hones in on the economic reconfiguration of the post-Versailles world -- a world in which it is the balance sheets which undergird the balance of power -- this approach yields an excellent work of history, with a few exceptions, most notably an antipathy towards the Bolshevik regime that borders on lunacy. This (admittedly, quite partisan) qualification aside, its considera ...more
Apr 13, 2016 rated it liked it
While the subject is sprawling and difficult to encompass in a single volume, the author does not fully succeed in adding coherence to the history. His conclusions are somewhat muddy, both in detail and in the postscript, and I had a very hard time unpacking the crucial economics of the period.

This is not to impugn his magisterial treatment of the diplomatic history and the impressive detail balanced with the need for (relative) brevity.
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ebook, nonfiction
Exhaustive and exhausting. Not so much a reading as a beating.
And yes, all the other reviews are correct. It is an academic work of monumental research. It covers many topics that are too often ignored. It lays the groundwork for understanding the period between the wars. etc. etc. I guess I needed the abridged version for my small brain.
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is really dense in terms of topics and I needed a bit more hand holding at times in terms of background. But in my mind if you are interested in this topic, it will definitely get you the info you need. I guess I just needed a bit more of an "Economics and Politics of WWI for Dummies" type book. But that won't stop me from reading Tooze's book on the financial crisis. ...more
Pinko Palest
Jun 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
revisionist history just for the sake of being revisionist. Many interesting points, but it doesn't hang together. A strong current of anti-communism permeates the whole. Interesting that AJP Taylor doesn't even get a mention in the text ...more
Brandon Hallstrand
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was my favorite read in this genre since Guns Germs and Steel. It sheds so much light on the imperial designs that left the world ready for a re-ignition of conflict for WWII.
Dec 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
"But however determined this programme of domestic consolidation, following the Reichstag election results of May 1924, not even the votes of the SPD were sufficient to carry the constitutional amendments necessary to ratify the Dawes Plan, which included an international mortgage on the Reichsbahn. Over a quarter of the German electorate had voted for the far right - 19 per cent for the DNVP, almost 7 per cent for Hitler's NSDAP. Almost 13 per cent had opted for the Communists. The two-thirds m ...more
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The First World War was a deluge, a devastating and cataclysmic flood that was washing away the old older, allowing for a new global balance, with its new leaders and its new rules, to take its place and transform the world. This is the process that historian Adam Tooze undertakes to describe in his book, through his own uniquely perceptive account and analysis. The story begins in 1916, when the Entente and the Central powers were locked in titanic and total struggle, and where the balance of p ...more
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Adam Tooze (born 1967) is a British historian who is a professor at Columbia University. Previously, he was Reader in Modern European Economic History at the University of Cambridge and professor at Yale University.

After graduating with a B.A. degree in economics from King's College, Cambridge in 1989, Tooze studied at the Free University of Berlin before moving to the London School of Economics f

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26 likes · 9 comments
“Ill-timed German aggression had tipped Wilson onto their side. But if the Russian revolution had started a few months earlier, if Germany had postponed its decision to resume unrestricted U-boat warfare until the spring, or if Wilson had been able to stay out of the war until May, what might have been the result? Could the war have continued? Might democracy in Russia have been saved? As the departing German ambassador to Washington Count Bernstorff noted in agonized retrospect: If Germany over the winter of 1916–17 had ‘accepted Wilson’s mediation, the whole of American influence in Russia would have been exercised in favour of peace, and not, as events ultimately proved, against’ Germany. ‘Out of Wilson’s and Kerensky’s Peace programme’, Germany could surely have rescued a peace” 4 likes
“Economics was the pre-eminent medium of American power, military force was a by-product.” 2 likes
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