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1947: Where Now Begins
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1947: Where Now Begins

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,806 ratings  ·  299 reviews
An award-winning writer captures a year that defined the modern world, intertwining historical events around the globe with key moments from her personal history.
The year 1947 marks a turning point in the twentieth century. Peace with Germany becomes a tool to fortify the West against the threats of the Cold War. The CIA is created, Israel is about to be born, Simone de B
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 30th 2018 by Other Press (NY) (first published August 2016)
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Bob That is the thesis of Asbrink's book. She believes that there was a critical point (or more-correctly, critical period) at the end of the Second World…moreThat is the thesis of Asbrink's book. She believes that there was a critical point (or more-correctly, critical period) at the end of the Second World War in which we can identify many events which, although appearing unremarkable at the time, have contributed (both individually and collectively) to shaping our current circumstances. So the "Now" that I experience can be said to have its genesis in those events in 1947. Of course, you can argue that your "Now" is not the same as mine and had its beginnings in different events at a different time. Regardless of our personal experiences, it is arguable that a change at some point in the past would have had major repercussions on the present we know. To select just two elements from 1947, imagine an alternative history/future in which Palestine was not partitioned and Kalashnikov did not invent his weapon. Would the Now we lived in then be the same as today?(less)
Meg Meyer The book is definitely non-fiction. She’s done a lot of research into what happened that year.

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Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rather than taking a year and giving a full account of what happened during it, this book is something slightly different. Yes, the year is split by months; , but, while it is certainly factual, it is also full of poetic writing and is also quite personal at times. Although the book has a worldwide perspective, it is Eurocentric and takes a cast of characters (some you will have heard of, such as Christian Dior, Primo Levi and Simone de Beuvoir, while others are less well known, such as Raphael ...more
You will find incredible real history under this cover!
It turns out that people lived their life after World War II. The Nazis were running through Sweden to Argentina, the allies were to refuse "punishing all the Nazis for their crimes" in favour of "we need a strong anti-communist Europe". The Jews were trying to get into Palestine, the Arabs were trying to stop them, the British did not want to quarrel with the Arabs, and the French - with the British. Simone de Beauvoir went to the United St
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that’s going to change the way I look at the world forever…

To quote part of the blurb:

In 1947, Elisabeth Åsbrink chronicles the creation of the modern world, as the forces that will go on to govern all our lives during the next 70 years first make themselves known.

It’s a remarkable book. It charts world events – month by month, city by city – for the year of 1947, as the world recovers from the cataclysm of WW2. And even if you think you are reasonably up to speed wit
Benjamin Bookman
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Reviews are often very specific to the reader, more so than the text. For me, this book was just the right thing at just the right time, but I suspect that at a different point in my life, or if I were a different person, my perception would be completely different.

First, this is very clearly a translation - not necessarily in terms of words or meaning - but it is very European in pacing and cultural perspective. I really enjoyed this aspect; it is nice to read something that isn’t the American
Nov 16, 2018 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Antonomasia by: 2018 longlist, Warwick Prize for Women in Translation
UK English Audiobook, read by Joan Walker
(I also read parts of the book, or read and listened at the same time.)

A mostly enjoyable and interesting light popular history that feels like hearing or reading news from 71 years ago (if it were in the style of contemporary broadsheet news with a culture section).

I haven't read any others of the crop of popular histories named after individual years, but I understand that this one is different from the usual, because it concentrates not on a specific
Judy Baumgarten
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-group-read
Completely absorbing. Highly recommend.
Quite a novel way to write a history book. At times it reads like a novel with lyrical writing, that is sometimes quite personnel.
A range of sometime little remembered people, an interesting set of events and a premise of the number of inventions, systems, issues that occurred in 1947 and went on the form today. It's a balanced look covering mainly Europe and the US, literary giants, Christian Dior, an original computer designer, the fate of escaped Nazis, the fight to recognise that genocide o
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: translated, history
Loved this history of a year told in significant events from many sectors and slowly-creaking-along-developments, from well- and lesser-known perspectives (including the author’s father’s critical movements during that year in postwar Europe.) From the first few pages it felt like something special. Gorgeous, haunting writing that makes history feel like it’s playing out in front of you, and so many little things that surprised me. No joke about that “where now begins” part.
For starters I am the complete mark for this type of book. The style of writing, how it looks at the history between the cracks. There is no need to have George Orwell counting eggs in this book, but it's delightful.

When I start to love a book I start to love the book itself, how it lays open, where is crinkles, how the page feels under my finger as I turn a page. It was a good book.

I adored Asbrink's writing, it was the type of book that seemed more about myth making than history, this was in l
I gave up. I almost never do. I mean I've read a number of "Year X" books, incl. those about 1945 & 1946 - no less painful ones. However, E. Asbrink apparently has a penchant for excess dramatizing or seeks opportunity to fictionalize what should have been a work of nonfiction. Whenever some sad opportunity presents itself, the author jumps at it and turns her narration into something I could only compare with slow disembowelment of a wriggling reader - extracting one's long guts by slowly wrapp ...more
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some reviews of this work have linked it comparatively to recent anniversary histories (such as the flood of 1914 titles), but Asbrink makes a much broader claim for her work. This is not merely a 70th commemoration of the year 1947 but its recognition as a pivotal period in shaping the world as we know it. She asserts that this was the time when now began.

But she does not build her case through a chain of cause and effect. As a journalist, Asbrink provides the reader with a chronology of (appa
Apr 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I learned a fair bit from this book, and it does give food for thought. One thing I took away from it is that there's no reason to be surprised at the resurgence of fascism we are experiencing at the moment: fascism never waned, let alone died. As soon as WWII was over, Nazi survivors and sympathizers regrouped and started agitating again. Of course I was aware that many Nazis had managed to flee to South America, but what I didn't realize was that they had a fair bit of help from Swedish sympat ...more
Casey Wheeler
I received a free Kindle copy of 1947: Where Now Begins by Elisabeth Asbrink courtesy of Net Galley and Random House, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review to Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my nonfiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus pages.

I requested this book as I the subject of the book sounded interesting and I have read a great deal around this time period. This is the first book by
Berit Lundqvist
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
1947. A year when everything was still weighing. A year when everything could have been different. But it didn’t. Or did it?

I’ve worked with safety analyses for radioactive waste for many years. Predicting the development for a repository for nuclear waste in a one million years perspective is like looking through a funnel. Things outside the funnel can’t happen, because of physical restrictions. Things inside the funnel, the volume you can actually see, are all the combinations of possible even
Rodrigo Acuna
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"What a difference a year made 365 little days."

This is a fantastic book, full of valuable information and ideas it exposes the interconnectivity of event and because of the distance of our time and place, we can see the historical developments of those ideas and congregations.

1947 is the year that gave as 1984 the book; The United Nations recommended a partition of Mandatory Palestine at the end of the British Mandate. The resolution supported the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States
Scribe Publications
Gripping, overwhelming, and completed with such stylistic and factual consistency that you almost lose your breath. It does not happen often, but occasionally: good journalistic craftsmanship rises and becomes great literature.
Sydsvenska Dagbladet

Elisabeth Åsbrink has written a book about history that distinguishes itself from many other history books by its poetic beauty … 1947 is as much an adept history book as it is a beautiful and well-written piece of fiction. Read it!
Sydsvenska Dagbladet

This book, my first of 2020, had quite a profound effect on me I must say! It is a work of nonfiction, based on numerous historical facts, events, people, and references, but it reads beautifully, flowing like a work of fiction. Elisabeth Åsbrink’s prose is stunning and poetic, there were several parts that literally took my breath away.

1947 - Where Now Begins is based on the thought that the events that transpired in 1947 collectively shaped the world for how it turns today. The book is divide
Lisa of Hopewell
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
First Book of 2019

For my first book review of 2019, I’ve picked a book that looks at how the current “world” started and how “time” is conceived. If you are a challenge lover, this book is a translation, too. It was originally published in 2016 in Swedish.
The Premise

Time, historical time, daily time–how do we understand it? How does it create us and our reality? This is a big philosophical question for a small book to answer, but I believe it does so just fine.
The Structure

The author focuses on
Candy Wood
Life began for me in 1947, so I couldn’t resist this book. Its author’s father was a ten-year-old Hungarian Jewish refugee that year, and the extensive acknowledgments and bibliography document the research in published and unpublished sources, as well as interviews, that Elisabeth Asbrink undertook to create her account of a time before she was born. It’s a series of vignettes, month by month with the most personal section, “Days and Death,” halfway through. The resulting juxtapositions are fas ...more
Donna Bijas
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Many aspects of this book are excellent. George Orwell writes 1984, his last novel, a UN committee tries to solve the Palestine problem, refugees abound throughout Europe with no help from the US or Great Britain which led to many more deaths. The Swedish Poet, Nelly Sachs, writes of the Holocaust through her poetry. It is said she creates her homeland in the language of the night, a place where neither history nor geography forms a boundary, and where the dead and living walk past on ...more
Jan 13, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book would be lovely but there is no mention of China or Algeria or Japan. I do not understand how a book can be written that is allegedly about "Now" that does not mention China or Japan or the independence movements in South East Asia or the anti-colonial tide that is about to rise in Africa.

This book is the same warmed over Eurocentric view of "Now" that has been peddled for 500 years. The writing is interesting and the details are fun but the racism of this book's erasure of Asia and A
Aaron Spiegel
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Asbrink says 1947 was the year that set in motion the world as it is today. After reading her book I think she's right. Well written, well researched, and well told, she chronicles world events of 1947 month by month. Her micro view of one year post WWII illustrates how we often view history only in its macro form and miss the real meaning. I think more of us need history's perspective. ...more
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is so enlightening. I think it should be required reading. I learned so many things I didn't know (but always wanted to understand) such as how Palestine was formed. Plus, it's very easy to read and gives you a world perspective.

Jean Smith
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
So much in this book - I think it would be beneficial for me to read it again. Very interesting account of post world war 11 and the year 1947.
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish-themes
Lyrical and riveting and poignant.
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
i liked the simone de beauvoir and christian dior parts a lot. - gave context to feminism and a break from world struggle
Jan 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
1947. What a year! This book was fascinating and beautifully written and researched. Sadly, we don’t seem to learn...
Mikko Saari
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally I felt this could be one of the best books I've read this year, but that feeling didn't last. I still think Åsbrink writes really well and I like the style this book is written in: it covers big things in history, but at a very human level. The workings of the Palestinian committee and the division of the India had very long-lasting results, reverberations of which are still felt today.

But in the end I felt the scope of the book was too small. It was, in a fairly unusual combination,
Hannah McIntyre
Mar 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this book. I really did. The idea was so good. The execution, however...

It was just too disjointed. I liked the pacing, and the style, and the prose. The beautiful prose is probably the only reason this didn't turn into a DNF for me. And I liked how informative it was.

Unfortunately, they were overshadowed by things like the author's overuse of trickery in telling the stories. You know, the 'and that little boy grew up to be ADOLF HITLER' type stuff. And then there was a random s
Nov 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
War leaves behind many many horrific scars and a lot goes into getting back to regular life after it ends.
This book is about the aftermath of WW2 and the significant events that occurred in 1947, on the heels of the end of the war.
The Nuremberg trials and the attempts to resolve the Palestine conflict are two of the major topics it describes along with the start of a new music culture, development of fashion trends and numerous other events that shaped the post WW2 world into what it is today.
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