Piers Brendon's magisterial overview of the 1930s is the story of the dark, dishonest decade - child of one world war and parent of the next - that determined the course of the twentieth century.
Dealing individually with each of the period's great powers - the USA, Germany, Italy, France, Britain, Japan, Spain and Russia - Brendon takes us through the ten years dominated by the Great Depression and political turmoil. When Broadway, Piccadilly Circus, the Kurfurstendamm and the Ginza - neon metaphors of hope after four years of carnage - grew dim as the giants of unemployment, hardship, strife and fear took their hold. From the concentration camps of Dachau and Kolyma, the Ukraine famine and the American Dust Bowl, to the Moscow metro, the Empire State Building and the Paris Exposition, The Dark Valley brings the 1930's back to life through meticulous scholarship.
Brendon examines the great leaders - Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao Tse-Tung, Haile Selassie and countless others - not with hindsight but in the context of their age; but also, through a vivid chronicling of contemporary experience, he gives us a sense of what it was to be living then.
A fantastic, sweeping history of the 1930s… Brendon is a superb writer, taking an exceptionally complex, dense topic and building a compelling narrative.
The best history book I've read since Orlando Figes' A People's Tragedy... Wonderful and enthralling
Brilliant, cinematic, utterly illuminating... No other historical account I know can rival this... Masterly
A delight to read, a literary triumph sparkling with moments of real humour and compassion
Piers Brendon's long book has such brilliance and narrative power, and contains so much fascinating detail, that reading it has all the excitement of novel