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Hot books/small group reads > "Fracture: Life and Culture in the West, 1918-1939" by Philipp Blom

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message 1: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments As requested, here's a hot reads group for Fracture: Life and Culture in the West, 1918-1938 by Philipp Blom.

Fracture Life and Culture in the West, 1918-1938 by Philipp Blom

The synopsis for Fracture on Goodreads is:
"At the end of the First World War, the West was traumatized, impoverished, and facing a geopolitically uncertain future.

In "Fracture: Life and Culture in the West, 1918-1938", critically acclaimed historian Philipp Blom argues that, amid this uncertainty, Europeans and Americans directed their energies inwards toward aesthetic and intellectual self-discovery. Europe produced strange new brands of art, science, and spirituality—such as Surrealism and Art Deco—while flocking to exciting but dangerous new ideologies including communism and fascism. In America, the Harlem Renaissance marked the flourishing of black culture, and flappers sparked new thinking about the place of women in society. Yet undercurrents of racial and class conflict were pronounced, fueled by immigration quotas and the poverty of the Dust Bowl.

"Fracture: Life and Culture in the West, 1918-1938" is a sweeping evocation of the tumultuous interwar period, and the sublime cultural movements and terrifying ideologies it spawned."

The book is broken up into chapters by year, like The Vertigo Years was. Each chapter/year discusses a different theme with a different subject.


message 2: by Val (new)

Val Thanks Bronwyn. I will be joining you when I have finished the books I am currently reading.


message 3: by Bronwyn (last edited Jul 22, 2016 09:10AM) (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments I started this last week and am currently in the middle of 1924: Men Behaving Badly - about Dada and Surrealism.

So far I have read:
1918: Shell Shock - about soldiers returning home
1919: A Poet's Coup - about Gabriele D'Annunzio
1920: Moonshine Nation - about Prohibition
1921: The End of Hope - about (post-)Russian Revolution
1922: Renaissance in Harlem - about the Harlem Renaissance
1923: Beyond the Milky Way - about Hubble, etc.

So far I have really enjoyed the chapters on D'Annunzio, Prohibition, and the Harlem Renaissance. I'm also enjoying the current chapter about Dada and Surrealism.

It's a really interesting book so far. :)


message 4: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments Val wrote: "Thanks Bronwyn. I will be joining you when I have finished the books I am currently reading."

You're welcome! I should've thought of setting it up anyhow, since it did do so well in the polls. :) I look forward to others joining in!


message 5: by Val (new)

Val I am reading about the Harlem Renaissance at the moment: Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance, which is a series of essays written to accompany an exhibition of visual arts at the Hayward Gallery.


message 6: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) Bronwyn - I love the sound of this read . I think as soon as I finish up the book I am reading now , I will hop on this one . This is a book that seems to describe the period we love in this group perfectly ! I really look forward to finding more information about things I did not know so much about , like the Russian Revolution, the Dust Bowl part of the Depression era, and it was really amazing to me that during the Harlem Renaissance there were many interracial relationships and acceptance between the races were less tense and then later on we come about with extreme conservatism and racial tensions pop up !

This period was just a period of exploration on all levels ! It is amazing to study this time in my opinion .

Dawn


message 7: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments Val wrote: "I am reading about the Harlem Renaissance at the moment: Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance, which is a series of essays written to accompany an exhibition of visual a..."

Oh that looks interesting. :) I definitely need to read more about the Harlem Renaissance and by its authors.


message 8: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments Dawn wrote: "Bronwyn - I love the sound of this read . I think as soon as I finish up the book I am reading now , I will hop on this one . This is a book that seems to describe the period we love in this group ..."

I agree. It's definitely the kind of overview I like. It tells you pretty well about a topic, but maybe just too little and so you want to find out more. After reading The Vertigo Years I picked up King Leopold's Ghost (though still haven't read it...) because the chapter about the Belgian Congo was just so interesting. I really like books that can be a gateway to other books or topics you might not have considered before - like King Leopold's Ghost, I'd seen it dozens of times before when browsing at the store, but it didn't sound like something I'd be interested in until after The Vertigo Years.


message 9: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) Bronwyn - yes ! I see this book as a wonderful start or an outline to lead me to MORE GOODIES! My curiosity is insatiable! I can't read fast enough! I wish I was like that character on that TV show Criminal Minds who has a photographic memory . He just turns the pages and the book is done. Of course I do not know the actual percentage of people in reality in the world with this skill . I guess I can google it ?? Ha!
Dawn


message 10: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1526 comments I just ordered the book.


message 11: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) Alright Jan !!! Glad you will join in with us ! This group is coming alive again !

Are you reading the Rebecca West book too? I am trying to finish it up before staring this one . I love this Rebecca West Bio too! It is an awesome hot read !!!

Dawn


message 12: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1526 comments I haven't actually started the Rebecca West book yet. But I have activated it on my Kindle.


message 13: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments I hope you enjoy this one, Jan, when it comes.

I forgot to mention before, I have found a couple typos (saying someone was 29 when it should be 19, and saying Upton Sinclair not Sinclair Lewis wrote Babbitt), but I'm not super concerned as they seem relatively minor and as overall I've found the info I do know about to be well done and well condensed into just a chapter or part of a chapter.


message 14: by Val (last edited Jul 26, 2016 02:04PM) (new)

Val The first might well be a typo, but the second is a mistake and I am a bit surprised that Blom made it, since Upton Sinclair is a polemicist and Sinclair Lewis is a satirist, although both are critical of the 'American Dream' idea in their own way. Perhaps he hasn't actually read the book.

I would recommend Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance by the way, if you already know a bit about early twentieth century art movements. It is well put together and includes some great paintings and photographs, but some of the essays presume that the reader knows quite a lot about the various establishment views of 'negro art' and would appreciate a new perspective.


message 15: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments I was surprised by it too. Both are mentioned in the book so all I can think is that somewhere it was just Sinclair and he/someone lost track of which. Though you'd hope someone would've caught it before.

I've added it to my to reads. It sounds really interesting. Thanks! :)


message 16: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) Val and Bronwyn ~ The Harlem Renaissance was amazing for music, literature and art ! I was so lucky to have taken a class at Ole Miss on this subject alone . It just so happens our library has one of the largest collections of Music from the Jazz and Blues era. My literature teacher was very big in teaching the whole historic period including the influences in every creative area . I was so lucky . The Harlem Renaissance was sort of how New Orleans modeled itself . New Orleans is so wonderful and exciting and the art is beautiful too!

I still want to look at this book too !
Dawn


message 17: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1526 comments Dawn wrote: "Val and Bronwyn ~ The Harlem Renaissance was amazing for music, literature and art ! I was so lucky to have taken a class at Ole Miss on this subject alone . It just so happens our library has one ..."

And it has great food. We went there for a meeting. It was the best time we ever had at a meeting. And I became hooked on gumbo.


message 18: by Val (new)

Val I have only read the Introduction and a bit of Part I so far, but it is proving very interesting and I like his analysis.


message 19: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments Val wrote: "I have only read the Introduction and a bit of Part I so far, but it is proving very interesting and I like his analysis."

Isn't it interesting? I like the topics he's chosen.

I'm now into 1926. 1924 was Dada, Surrealism, Freud; 1925 was the Scopes Trial and eugenics; 1926 is Metropolis, machines, revolutionary ideas. I felt weird reading about Metropolis; I really love the film and have never picked up on the coding that was in it... It's an odd feeling! Not like Birth of a Nation where it's all very obviously racist, but apparently there's lots of coded imagery that would've been anti-Semitic and pro-German/pastoral. I had no idea!


message 20: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) Bronwyn ~ this would be my favorite part of the book ! I have yet to get a copy ! Still waiting ! Getting anxious !
Dawn


message 21: by Val (new)

Val Our local art house cinema had a season of German films through the C20th some years ago, preceded by lectures about the historical context of the films. The lecture for "Metropolis" pointed out some of the references I don't think I would have noticed otherwise. The German romantic pastoral idealism is fairly obvious, but not the anti-Semitic sub text.


message 22: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments Oh that would've been really neat! I saw it at the art museum in Detroit but it was just the film. A lecture would've been amazing.

Yeah, some of the pastoral stuff is obvious but there were mentions of things I didn't pick up on. I think I need to rewatch it! :)


message 23: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments Continuing in 1926, it's discussing mechanization and then efficiency, and all I can think of is the father in Cheaper by the Dozen and his timing everything to be more efficient! :)


message 24: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments I've read through 1927 and 1928 now, so I'm up to section two, Pre-War. 1927 was about various uprisings, focusing on Austria and France. The part on Vienna was a bit familiar from reading The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt's Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. 1928 was about flappers and BYTs, so of course it was a pretty interesting chapter. '28 was titled Boop-Boop-A-Doop, but barely talked about Helen Kane or Betty Boop so it seemed a bit odd, but that's a quibble.


message 25: by Val (last edited Aug 04, 2016 07:17AM) (new)

Val I will probably get to 1928 later today, but I have noticed that the title and opening of each chapter is often only a springboard to a wider subject. Betty Boop was a sort of cartoon flapper, wasn't she, so it links in to the rest of the chapter.

The artistic and cultural movements of the time are his forte and these have all been excellently covered so far. The social movements are perhaps a bit sketchier or less detailed, but it would upset the format of the book if he went into too much political analysis and his way of covering them does show how different trends were spreading. The 1926 chapter for example links Henry Ford's production lines with Gastev's soviet ones and with Bauhaus architecture, then has dystopian films and novels as a counter.

I thought the Hubble, Heisenberg, Schroedinger, etc. chapter (1923) was very interesting, particularly how he tied scientific developments into wider social concerns, but I was already interested in the science.

PS I might force myself to take a short break when I get to the end of Part 1 and read part of one of the other books I am supposed to be 'currently reading', but have abandoned because this is the one I keep wanting to read.


message 26: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments Hmm, I'd have to go back and take a look at titles vs. chapter content. This was the first one that felt like the title really didn't have much to do with the chapter.

I agree that he's better with the art and culture parts, but I figured that was just because I like those better so I'm maybe not paying as good of attention in political chapters... lol. :)

I'm with you on only wanting to read this. I have been in such a funk with books lately, that it feels really good to want to be reading again. I haven't knit in almost two days! Haha. :)


message 27: by Val (new)

Val I am now reading the 1928 chapter about flappers etc. and agree that the link to Betty Boop is tenuous. It might have been better to go straight to Clara Bow as the flapper icon and call the chapter 'It', since quite a lot of it so far is about relaxation of pre-war morality and expected behaviour by the young. It would put a greater emphasis on sex though, whereas he may have thought Betty symbolised the simply having fun side more.
It is logical to start the chapter in the US, where the economy had benefited from the war, and then move to Europe, where several countries were finally starting to recover, and show all of them having a final party before everything starts going wrong.


message 28: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1526 comments My book finally came today!


message 29: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments Yay! I hope you enjoy it. I'm on hold for a little while - I borrow some books from a friend so I want to get through them quickly -, but I've really enjoyed it so far. :)


message 30: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments *borrowed


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