The World On Fire
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By: Anthony Read (432/35836)
Publisher: Jonathan Cape ISBN: 9780224075954

While the Western leaders in Paris were drafting a peace treaty that would punish German militarism and ‘make the world safe for democracy’, the world itself was fighting a new war, against terrorism. The great evil was now Bolshevism, which had burst onto the scene in 1917 and rapidly seared itself into the world’s consciousness.

The Allied powers’ attempts to destroy this threatening ideology at its source by intervening in the Russian Civil War were both unsuccessful and controversial, ultimately providing effortless propaganda for the Bolsheviks in their fight against western capitalist conspiracy. Furthermore, the tremors of the Russian upheaval eighteen months earlier were being felt throughout the world, resurfacing in bloody revolutions and even bloodier counter-revolutions in Germany, Hungary and the Baltic States, as well as in the massive strikes, riots and civil unrest that paralysed the rest of the world.

The United States suffered a year of industrial mayhem in which four million workers took part in 3,600 strikes: military revolts involving thousands of British army and navy personnel saw a group of sailors imprisoned for taking over their ship, hauling down the white ensign and hoisting the red flag in its place. In Ireland Michael Collins and the IRA were conducting a successful terrorist campaign against the British; in Italy Benito Mussolini deserted the socialist camp and drew up the Fascist Manifesto.

Canada, France Spain, Egypt, India, Afghanistan and South America also had intimations of this immense but unexpected threat – and in the United States a series of terrorist bombings, later labelled the Great Red Scare, created a wave of hysteria that shook the very foundations of free and democratic society. This absorbing and revelatory book chronicles and examines the running battle with Bolshevism, insurgency and fear during the most revolutionary year since 1789.

June 2008


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